Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering to Remember

This was a memorable Memorial Day for yours truly.

My dad is buried in the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. It's a pleasant drive for us -- rolling hills, roads that are a perfect combination of straight and curved, with rural scenery that suits the eye. Arriving to see so many grave sites, each with a flag placed there by a caring volunteer, was a touching experience in itself. We found that someone had left a pot of white mums by Dad's tombstone, interestingly enough setting it off center as though she knew I would be there soon with an arrangement of my own. No card, but I have a good idea who put it there, and I appreciate that she cared enough about my dad to make the drive from San Francisco. I wish our paths had crossed so that I could have given her a hug.

Received an e-mail from a friend in Illinois. Her husband has an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. I didn't ask which side. What does it matter? What does matter is that every year at this time my friend and her husband visit their soldier's grave to leave flowers. Even though they never knew him personally. They knew of him, and sometimes that's enough. Visiting a cemetery on Memorial Day is an opportunity to care about all the heroes there, whether known to you or not.

Reminds me of a poem I wrote when my son went to Iraq. It started with, "There are those who leave and those who stay, those who fight and those who pray" and ended with "Those who live and those who die, and every mother wonders why." If you think that each flag at a grave site on Memorial Day represents one life lost, you're only partially correct. Each flag also represents many hearts broken.

Heroes are the ones who make personal sacrifices so that others can have a better life. Sometimes it's a soldier with a rifle slung over his shoulder, sometimes it's a passerby who pulls an old man from a burning car. Sometimes it's a mother who leaves her family to serve in a foreign country. Sometimes it's a father who stands by silently as a new baby gets all his wife's attention. Sometimes it's a new mom who doesn't get to take a shower for days, or a dad that comes home dirty from a hard day's work, but can't wait for a shower before he loves on his daughters. Sometimes it's a single dad who learns to cook and do laundry. Sometimes it's a single mom who simply does whatever she needs to do to give her kids a decent life.

I know all these people personally. And I know there are hundreds of thousands more heroes just like them, that I'll never know. Personally. But I care.

I knew a man named Ed, whose kids took his ashes this weekend to a favorite fishing spot. He was an interesting person. He was a hard worker and did more than his share of partying, but then who am I to judge? He was a Southern gentleman, complete with the sort of charm that has its own way with the truth, as others know it. My favorite story though is about that stage of Alzheimer's when his sons had to put him in "a home." They took his cigarettes away from him that day and when Ed, a chain smoker, patted his shirt pocket for a Camel, his sons said to him, "Dad! You quit smoking a long time ago!" He said, "I did?" "Yep," they told him. "A long time ago!" So he forgot about smoking, and forgot to have withdrawal symptoms, too.

Sometimes forgetting is a good thing. Sometimes remembering is a good thing too. So it's okay to remember to forget what's best forgotten, but never okay to forget to remember those people and events that make our lives worthwhile.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Startling News

Willie Nelson has cut his hair. It's not even shoulder length now. Barely below his ears. Not a stylish makeover, if you ask me. In the newspaper picture he looks like a very senior version of the face I used to see on Dutch Bow Paint cans.

I am distraught.

It seems to me there are some things in this world that we should be able to depend on, and Willie with long hair is one of them. What was he thinking? Or maybe he wasn't thinking, but that's nothing new and he's always been able to hold it together before, without thinking.

So what's the story?

Hmm... maybe he got a little too mellow?

Ah! Maybe his wife caught him cheating and went at him with a pair of scissors while he was sleeping. That at least makes a little sense. And casts her in a less unsavory light than Lorraina Bobbit from years past. It might also explain his gap-toothed grin in the picture, obviously finding her revenge more humorous than harmful. I mean, hair grows back without having to be sewn back on surgically.

A relatively small price to pay for a turn in the hay. Whoa! Did you catch that? I made a rhyme! A small price to pay for a turn in the hay. If we pay attention we might catch my words woven into the lyrics of Willie's next song! Dang!

I wonder what became of the loose locks. Hopefully, they were or will be donated to the charity that uses them in wigs for cancer patients. I'm trying to console myself, here.

Until we know fur sure what has become of the cowboy's braids, beware of rip-offs being offered on E-Bay.

End of Pulic Service Announcement.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Day to Remember!

Almost everyone knows the game. Three shakes of the hand in unison, then players either point two fingers that look like a scissors, show an open hand to represent paper, or keep the fist closed to resemble a rock. Paper covers the rock, scissors cuts the paper, and the rock smashes scissors. That's how you determine who "wins."

Well, yesterday following an awesome graduation ceremony for my now-first-grader-Annabella, Grampa and Gramma (that's us) played the game for hours with Annabella and her little sister, Evelyn. They are verrrry affectionate by nature, so we never suffer from a shortage of hugs and kisses; but on the other hand, there's no such thing as too much cuddling. So we introduced a new rule.

"Whoever loses," we explained to them, "has to give the winners a hug or a kiss." They were excited to incorporate this new twist into the game, and for what seemed like hours the four of us all shook our hands, made our choices, hugged, kissed, giggled and guffawed. What a great day it was.

I don't think they ever figured out that no matter who won and who lost, we were still getting lots of lovin' because with every "toss" we all hugged and kissed like crazy! If they did figure it out they enjoyed it as much as we did, so voiced no objection. They're pretty smart little cookies, so I'm putting my money on the latter. Bottom line: it was win/win/win/win and a good time was had by all.

That was my second favorite part of the day. My first favorite part was earlier when Annabella, sitting in the front row for her graduation ceremony, looked all around in the audience with a blank face, then spotted the two of us standing on a little hill behind five rows of chairs, where Grampa was videotaping the momentous occasion. She lit up, grinned like a Cheshire, wiggled and half stood, frantically waved her arms about over her head, and mouthed the most beautiful word in the entire English language: "Gramma!"

That was when I lit up, grinned like a Cheshire, jumped up and down and waved my arms overhead right back at her, which made her throw her head back and laugh in delight. The girl sure knows how to make this old heart sing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

And the Winner Is

Well, Lee DeWyze is no longer a paint salesman. He's the new American Idol. I was holding my breath and was so happy to see him win, I literally jumped out of my recliner.

It takes a lot to make that happen at my age!

Crystal was undoubtedly the better singer of the two, but heck, she came into the competition already a performer, from age 10. The only contest she should have been in is American Idol For Professionals. Same was true of Adam last year. Before Idol, my daughter actually saw him perform in a musical on stage with Val Kilmer in L.A. Having Adam and Crystal on Idol is like allowing an experienced dancer to compete on Dancing With the Stars. Not fair to the others who are pushing their bodies around the floor with blisters on their feet, not sure which is their right foot and which is their left. But they're learning and trying!

Normally we don't vote on Idol, but Lee won us over with Hallelulia. So once Casey was gone, we actually voted for Lee. I'm almost always a sucker for the underdog, but with Lee, we both just flat out felt he deserved to win, and Frank pushed the repeat button on our cordless phone until its battery died.

It's not just that he sang his heart out, it's that he obviously wasn't already a pro. More often than not he looked like a deer caught in the headlights, scared half out of his wits, and personally I found his lack of stage presence endearing. Whereas Crystal was a natural. That's not to say she didn't work to stay in the show, I'm sure she did. But she knew how to work at it. Lee had to feel his way around in the dark.

All the way into the spotlight. Way to go, Lee!

It's easy to do what comes easily to you. An obvious statement, but think about it. Doing something that requires little or no effort allows no room for growth. Lee met a huge challenge head on, giving it his all while wearing his nerves on his sleeve. That takes more than talent. It takes courage. From paint salesman to the winner's circle. Wow. That's not an American Idol, it's the American Dream!

Far more viewers will be inspired by Lee than by Crystal, which gives the show more meaning. It becomes about hope, and personal growth, and life's purpose -- not just about music. And who knows, someday we may have a paint salesman for President!

With that realization in mind, I'll leave my closing thought unstated. :-/

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Fixate -- Fix!

Our little granddaughters love the Monkey Bar set that we added to their playground, which is hidden behind a stand of trees in our back yard. In short order we discovered that our dog, Artax, also loved it. The ten foot diameter encircles a heavy layer of mulch, which we produced by gathering lots of dry limbs, twigs and leaves and putting them through our chipper. Then came the shoveling and spreading.

But enough about our aches, pains and bruises. Back to Artax.

Once their mother pried their twenty tiny fingers from the red and blue geodesic dome to take them home, Annabella and Evelyn had unknowingly surrendered their newly mulched area to our dog -- who decided it was the perfect pooping place. Which we didn't discover until a week later. More shoveling to do.

Then we asked the ever empowering question -- How can we fix this?

I said, "We need to put a fence around the Monkey Bar Set to keep the dog out, but let the girls in."

So Frank did the measuring, drove to Home Depot, bought enough chicken wire to surround the mulched area (the heavy duty stuff, so as not to insult Artax), loaded it into the truck, unloaded it at home, trimmed it, wove it through some trees to make it less offensive visually, used tent stakes to affix it to the ground, put a hook in a tree trunk at a height easily accesible to the girls, then tried it out and yes, it is easily openable by little hands but not by paws. We stood back and admired our job.

We're a great team. I usually come up with a good idea, then Frank does all the work.

He's very handy, and also has a wonderful way with words. To describe our relationship, Frank often says that I'm the kite and he's the string. Without me he'd just lie around on the ground, and without him I'd just disappear into space.

The moral of the story though is this: When confronted with a problem, don't fixate on it... fix it. A solution will come to you once you get past your initial reaction.

In this case ours was: "Well, crap!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Bout of Gout

If you've never had it, hope you never get it. Gout! Hurts like heck.

I had a bout of gout a year or so ago. Straight out of the blue. Suddenly one toe felt like it had been attacked by a North Korean missile. Frank found some pills for me to pop, from the health food store. I elevated my foot, and drank lots of water. Had to sleep with my foot on top of the covers, praying Frank wouldn't have a restless night. Couldn't let even the sheet touch that toe. Then it went away. The gout, not the toe.

Couple of days ago, guess what? Felt a slight twinge in the large toe of my left foot. Here and gone. Thought, "Hmmm... that was easy." Half hour later, large toe of right foot felt like it had been hit by a North Korean missile. Guess those nasty little crystals that cause all the pain took awhile to find a temporary home that suited them.

I found the health food store pills that I call Gout Out but are actually named Go-out Plex. Popped one with a big glass of water and rued the day before when I had overindulged in BBQ'ed spareribs. Drank lots of water. Propped the foot and used a cane to hobble from couch to bathroom and back again, yelping along the way. Frank googled and printed out a list of food do's and don'ts. Interestingly, corn was on both lists. Since red wine was on the do list I immediately dispatched Frank to the grocery store and was prepared to suffer through a glass or three, if that's what it took.

Few sips and the gout was gone. Had another glass, just to be sure.

Gout. Crazy stuff. Especially when I consider myself a healthy person. I visit the doctor once or twice a year, if that, and then typically for routine exams. When there are so many worse conditions that people struggle with long term, I refuse to carry on about this strange occurrence.

I consider it a reminder from my body to make healthier choices. More water, less meat. Got it. Oh yeah, and keep a bottle of red wine on hand, just in case.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost & Found

So if there is a Blogger blogging today blogging about anything other than the series finale of Lost, (s)he should be stripped of his/her Blogger Button.

Years ago I was a Trekkie by marriage - I enjoyed Frank's enjoyment of the Star Trek. When Lost came on the scene, I became a Lostie by marriage. It was a little too frustrating for my taste, but the characters captured my interest. And last night I enjoyed Frank's enjoyment of watching the show wind down. This morning, with coffee, we watched the recorded Jimmie Kimel aftershow. In a while I'll watch the discussion of Lost on The View, while I do a couple of miles on my glider or exercycle. And that, I hope, will be that. Though I somehow doubt it.

Tonight we'll settle in (or unsettle in) for the series finale of 24 and find out how Jack Bower is going to fare, since he has (yet again) gone off the deep end. Okay, let's be honest. Jack lives in the deep end. I had been pulling for a longlasting relationship with Renee, but the writers cheated me of that ending when they killed her off. And not at all nicely. Now the most I can hope for is that he retires to enjoy a quiet and somewhat sane life with his daughter and granddaughter. Unlike Lost, there are rumors of two movies to succeed the 24 series. If true, we can at least assume that Jack Bower survives tonight.

Rob Lowe on Brothers and Sisters wasn't so lucky last week, but those "in the know" expected him to leave the show one way or another, since his contract was expiring; so his demise wasn't much of a shocker.

Now that I know from Sunday night that McDreamy and McSteamy and their respective love interests survived the shooter-gone-mad-in-the-hospital season finale of Gray's Anatomy, all that's left to find out is who our next American Idol is. I've been thinking all along Crystal, but now I'm not sure. Lee has come into his own lately, and may pull it off. I now believe he deserves it more than Crystal, but Idol, like life, isn't always fair, so we'll see.

Lest you come to the erroneous conclusion from reading this that I don't have a LIFE, rest assured I do. And a good one, at that. However, something Frank and I both enjoy is really good writing. Which can be found on TV, one just has to search for it. If one cares. Sadly, many viewers apparently don't, thus TV gets a bad rap due to so many mediocre and less-than-mediocre shows that air. There are shows that sink to a level at which I refuse to waste my time, but there are also shows that stir the imagination, ignite the emotions, and challenge the intellect. Not sure where a ripped Josh Holloway shirtless fits in, but... oh well.

Frank and I are also avid readers. We're always in the middle of at least one good book (after another), sometimes reading two or three a time. I have to be careful to pace myself, otherwise I confuse Vince Flynn's characters with Stephen White's story lines. The same is possible with TV shows. The image of Sawyer (Josh Holloway) with his shirt off sometimes blurs in my mind with the image of Casey (Casey) with his shirt off, for example. In the final scene of Lost, I caught myself searching the crowd for Kittie McMcAlister's deceased husband (Brothers and Sisters). And I can't help wondering if Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) wasn't, in a previous life, maybe on an island, a rock star. This would explain his tendency to either whisper most of his lines, or scream them.

Bottom line: Most of our shows are ending for the season, or for good, freeing us up (with summer right around the corner) to more fully enjoy the great outdoors. If you hear of any new shows on the horizon, please don't bother recommending them. We are TV-ed out. In a good way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unhappy Endings

Shortly after my first trip to Alaska (about 30 years ago), we bought a puppy whose mother was 1/2 coyote. I named the puppy Alaska, because I loved the place. The part of her that wasn't coyote was German Shepherd, so she had the body and markings of a shepherd but she had the ears and personality of a Coyote. Needless to say, I spoiled her from day one, and she was properly cuddled by both my 3-year-old daughter and yours truly. Consequently, Alaska grew up believing she was a lap dog.

Any time someone new came to the house, her first instinct was to hide and observe. If the stranger seemed safe, her second instinct was to jump into his or her lap, and lick his or her face, expecting nothing short of... proper cuddling. Although not everyone loved her as much as we did, she wanted everyone to become her best friend for life.

At some point in my life I came to realize I had the same tendency. If someone was nice to me, I immediately wanted to form a lifelong friendship. Whenever that didn't happen, I was confused. Over time I grew to understand that some people are professionally nice, which means the niceness is superficial, carrying no weight at all outside of the social context. This is when I coined the term, "The Alaska Syndrome." What this means to me is that I need to inspect interactions within the framework of the other person's intentions, not my own. If someone is simply being professionally nice, I respond in kind. I stay out of their lap.

By nature I prefer in-depth over superficial. Not good at small talk, for example. Would rather dig in and discuss the meaning of life. This is the reason I form friendships based on quality rather than quantity. It's not about how long or how well you've known a person. It's about whether or not you connect in a way that influences both your lives. The reason I'm writing about friendship is that in the past few months I've been dramatically impacted by my friendship with four people I consider friends.

Debrah was the secretary of the Sports Science Department at UOP, where I teach Traditional Yoga as an adjunct professor. Although I've earned two doctorate degrees, I consider the world of academia a nice place to visit, but wouldn't want to live there, ya know? For the past eight years Debrah acted as liaison, cushioning me with her common sense from what I perceive as the madness of the higher education machine. Sadly, she died of cancer a month or so ago.

Julie was my aesthetician for years; also a client, who used my services after four failed attempts at in vitro fertilization. With hypnotherapy, I helped her conceive and deliver two babies. It was my honor, and my privilege. Sadly, two weeks after the birth of her most recent child, Julie died as a result of misuse of pain medication in the hospital. I felt her loss more deeply than I did that of my father, mother, or mother-in-law, all of whom passed away within the last couple of years.

As I wrote about in a previous blog, Susan was a classmate back in the fifties. Not a close friend but someone I remember, and whose loss I mourn. She was recently murdered (along with her husband) by their son-in-law. It disturbs me deeply to know she did not die quickly after being shot, but managed to first crawl out of her house into a wooded area, to dial 911.

Another friend, one I've known for about thirty years, is currently in a San Jose hospital as the result of an aneurysm-related stroke. I've sent a card, but cannot bring myself to visit her. She can't take calls, and the hospital staff gives very little information about her condition,; but I have been told she has a constant stream of visitors signing in, and more flowers than her room can handle practically. I need to call soon for an update, but I'm putting it off. I'm afraid of what I may learn. I need to hold on awhile longer to the memory of her as vital, spirited, and living out her lifelong dream of earning a PhD in History.

Why do I feel compelled today to write about these four friends? The answer comes to me in the form of a line from an old movie, The Competition. Lee Remick plays the part of a piano coach who warns her protege about becoming emotionally entangled with a young pianist against whom she is competing. Amy Irving's character looks up from the keyboard with a questioning glance, and Lee Remick says to her, "Oh no. Everyone has a story to tell, and you don't need to hear mine."

These four women have stories that do need to be told, if only briefly for now. Three of the stories have unhappy endings, and the fourth is still unfolding; but when we experience loss in such a manner as this, it's perfectly normal to experience a sense of helplessness. What can we do? Nothing. Except perhaps to find a way to acknowledge the lives that hold meaning for us.

Metaphorically, I climbed into these ladies' laps for awhile, and I simply want my readers to know that because I can forever embrace the memory, my life has been made better by the experience.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Drama of Life

In high school my English teacher was Jonathan Pearce. He was handsome, and particularly intriguing when he wore dark glasses outside the classroom, which gave him the look of a special government agent, or secretive spy. Everything he said was fascinating, articulated in a softly resonant voice. He received the respect of students by first respecting them. He called us "Mr. Jones" and "Miss Smith," for example. He was not a man to grin. Instead, he had a smile that played gently at the corners of his mouth. When angered or frustrated, he never raised his voice or slammed his fist on the desk. He let his eyes alone tell the story titled, "Beware."

My friends accused me of having a crush on him, but to this day I deny that. There was no crush. I was in love with him! As only a teenage girl can be when confronted with the first man to treat her kindly instead of constantly yelling obscenities at her and hitting her, as was my stepfather's way. I suppose I assumed all men were crude and crass, with a cruel streak. Till high school English, when this new man in my life was different. A gentleman! He gave me A's on my tests and essays. An A, in my book, meant "Acceptable," an exciting new concept for me, and so I strove for A+s. Better yet was the A+ that was accompanied by a favorable comment, written in red ink!

When I married my high school sweetheart at 18, it was basically to get away from my stepfather. But in true psychological fashion, I chose a mate with many of the same traits as my stepfather. Theory states that we do this in order to, on some level, remain comfortable with what is familiar to us. Later in life I surmounted that tendency, and married a man who, in retrospect, is more like Mr. Pearce. Kind to me, accepting, gentle, intelligent. There isn't the same mystery about him, however, since I actually got to know Frank, whereas I've always admired Mr. Pearce from afar.

We've stayed in touch off and on through more than fifty years. At some point I began, at his request, calling him Jonathan. By surname or first name, those who know me well understand when they hear me speak it that I'm talking about someone special to me. The similarity between him and my husband-now-of-34-years never dawned on me (consciously) until I had the privilege once of listening to the two of them in conversation when Frank and I spent some quality time with Jonathan a few years ago. Frank took a picture of us, posing me cross legged on the deck in front of Jonathan, seated on a bench at his home in Lake Tahoe. The photo is now framed and hanging on my office wall. We call it, "Seated at the Feet of the Master."

Jonathan is the reason I am a writer. Amazing what positive reinforcement from an important authority figure will do. He told me way back then that I was a writer, and I wanted to be, sensing this would please him. But it took me many years to grow into the assigned role. For a long time I was too busy living my life, to write about it.

I've always remembered one particular comment Jonathan made when encouraging me back then to write. He said about fiction, that we never have to search far for subject matter, because "there is so much drama cramming itself into our heads in real life." Oddly, this truth is what inspired me to write what I've been writing these past few moments. The drama of real life.

When I learned a few days ago that a classmate from the fifties had recently been murdered in Washington along with her husband, by their son-in-law, who then shot himself, I knew Jonathan would want to hear the news, tragic though it is. I believe the man remembers every student who ever sat before him in the classroom, and has never lost interest in the story of their lives. When I e-mailed him, sure enough he remembered Susan and her brother, who was in the class ahead of us. Jonathan replied with the comment that they were fine people, and that the news saddened him. I share those observations.

Thing is, when I sat earlier staring down at my keyboard and up at the blank screen of my monitor, my intention was to write about Susan, but I ended up writing more about Jonathan. I find this to be the nature of writing, when you trust it enough to let it take you where you didn't know you wanted to go. I think Susan would understand. Her husband was an educator for more than 40 years, and her class reunion autobiography states that she did "some writing and editing," herself. Obviously I wasn't the only one whose life has been influenced significantly by Jonathan.

My fervent hope is that there are more teachers out there of his caliber, but I find myself dubious. In the drama of life that might be too good to be true.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

As We Age

I'm 2-1/2 years older than Frank. So he trails behind me a bit in things like hearing a doctor give an explanation that begins with the words, "As we age..." Every time Frank mentions this to me, I say, "Welcome to my world."

I've been trying to figure out the process of aging for quite some time now, but I remain befuddled. I don't know how to dress anymore, for example. Do I dress young in an attempt to look young? If so, how do I accomplish that without looking like someone old, trying to look young? On the other hand, if I dress to look my age, then I'm dressing to look old, and that makes no sense at all, right?

More painful than my occasional aches and pains is... seeing myself in photos. Recently I asked Frank, "When did I become a frumpy old lady?" He said, "You are not a frumpy old lady. You are a distinguished older woman." I thought about that for a split second, and something went "click" inside my head. Yes, yes, it was indeed a compliment that I decided I could accept!

"Distinguished older woman" makes it a little easier for me to decide how to dress. My levis, for example. I don't have to give them up. I just need to dress them up! Add a little jewelry and shoes with high-ish heels, and I'm no longer an old lady trying to look cool in jeans, I'm a distinguished older woman. Trying to look... stylish!

But my hair, that's another story. I like long hair, and refuse to cut mine even though "they" say that "as we age" we are not supposed to have long hair. Maybe "they" don't mind sitting in a hair salon having cuts and trims and perms and new styles created, but I do. I'd rather go to the dentist.

And "they" don't know my hair the way I do. It's fine, for starters. Not fine as in, "Man, she's fine!" but fine as in limp. It has no body to it. At all. It won't hold a curl w/o a perm and a perm gives my hair a slight reddish tint, which causes darker roots as it grows out, giving the impression I've dyed it, even though I refuse to dye it. I have some silver streaks, and I like them. In fact, they're probably the only thing I like about my hair. Except for its length.

Long hair is symbolic of... a free spirit. At my age, it allows my Inner Rebel to have some fun. It's also easier to let it hang, pin it up, or pull it back with a hair band, than trying to manipulate it with rollers or a curling iron of some kind, which never works anyway.

I am a firm believer in, "How we look influences how we feel." That, of course, can easily be reversed -- How we feel influences how we look. But you have to start somewhere and in my opinion, it's easier to fix myself externally and let internally follow. Even though it's ALL in your mind. What you decide to wear, how you decide to do your hair. What, if any, make up to use. No matter how yukky you might feel, if you can somehow make yourself look better, I guarantee you'll feel better.

The same set of options can also connect or disconnect us with the world around us. Having been to Alaska twice (my favorite place), and going again in August (86 days to wait!), I know that for ten days I'll be in jeans, hiking boots, maybe a parka, and definitely no makeup. I'll fit right in. Forget distinguished older woman. If I were to hike the Chilkoot or raft the Mendenhall all gussied up, I'd feel silly and stick out like a sore thumb. In the wild, you don't want to call attention to yourself, which might attract a predator. You want to blend into the environment.

When I return to civilization, I'll need to readjust my thinking of course, and my appearance. Get back into my Distinguished Older Woman costume. Which means it's okay to be a little eccentric, but not a lot. We still need to keep ourselves safe. Not that I've noticed anyone chasing me lately.
Unlike my husband Frank, who still has cute little fifty-year-olds flirting with him. I love it. I find it reassuring. It confirms for me my belief that I made the right choice 35 years ago.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Attention, Multitaskers!

I'm old enough to remember when computers came on the scene. I was a legal secretary when I first began using one. The attorney I worked for at the time was soooo excited to see that a printer was spewing forth the product of one of my previous assignments, while I was in the midst of another, at the same time answering his phone to schedule a new client. Computers took multitasking to the next level, before multitasking even became a catch phrase, let alone a common practice.

Employers who value quantity over quality encourage multitasking. They think they're getting more for their money. Either they don't realize that dividing one's attention dilutes it, or they don't care. But the fact is (borne out by neuroexperimentation by scientists,) we only have so much mental energy to expend. When we are focused on one task and giving it our all in order to see one matter through to the exclusion of all others, the result far outshines what our accomplishment would be if we were, instead, spreading our attention more thinly amongst many matters within a short period of time. This is fact, not opinion.

Multitasking burns us out faster. Most employers don't care. They use the "Dixie cup" method of employment. When one employee is used up (burnt out) they toss him or her aside without a second thought and grab another.

Multitasking also takes more out of us as individuals. It doesn't allow us to relax into one single task in order to allow the subconscious (through concentration) to guide us through a specific process and to support our conscious activity. In other words, multitasking is stressful. Stress blocks communication from the subconscious mind (90% of our brainpower) to the conscious part (the other 10%); therefore, when we multitask we work harder in general, availing ourselves of less of our brainpower, thereby holding ourselves back from achieving our full potential in any one of the multiple areas we are addressing. We limit ourselves in many areas instead of excelling in one.

Why am I raising this issue? Because anyone who drives and texts or talks on a cell phone at the same time, is multitasking. Dividing their attention and their energy. The quality of both their driving and their communication suffers. A cell phone is one thing. A moving vehicle is another, and drivers who say "I'm great at multitasking" are posing the greatest risk of all, to themselves and to others on the road.

If you can easily dismiss the possibility of doing damage to another human being because you are on your cell phone while driving, understand there is a psychological term for this. Denial. It's easy enough to kid ourselves into thinking, "That won't happen to me. I'm paying attention." What might make a difference in your thinking is this: Imagine someone you LOVE being hurt (or worse) by a driver who was texting or talking on his/her cell phone. How would you feel about that?

Let this feeling motivate you to put your cell phone, your cigarette, your coffee, your sandwich, your makeup or whatever aside while you are driving. You are in control of a moving object that weighs a ton or so. That means you need to BE IN CONTROL. Not semi, sorta in control. Totally, 100% in control. And hope that other drivers are as well.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Little Monkeys

My granddaughter Annabella, 6 in August, graduates the end of this month... from kindergarten. I'm not sure if this will involve a robe and cap-with-tassel, but there was never any doubt in my mind that it would require a graduation present.

So. What to get a kid that has everything? If not two or three of everything. Her parents don't leave many blanks for us to fill in, but I do know that if something is either (a) big enough or (b) noisy enough, chances are her parents won't buy it for her.

So we bought her a Monkey Bar Set.

Thankfully, one of my sons and daughters-in-law came over and helped assemble it. Completed, it stands nearly 6' high, and its diameter is 10' -- which sounds obtrusive, except that we have a large yard and there is a stand of trees toward the back of the property, that pretty much hides the bright red and blue barred dome from sight -- until you cross over a little foot bridge we built, that leads through shrubbery to a hidden area we call "The Special Secret Playground Place."

Until today there was only a swing set there, with additional slide, teeter totter and so on. Oh yes and, of course, a rocking (jumping) horse and a little tent. Now, with the Monkey Bar Set, we're stopping -- before the the neighbors turn us in for operating a playground without a license.

When Annabella and her sister visited this afternoon, we announced we were giving her her graduation present early, and that it was something intended for her sister as well. We played "Hot and Cold" while she tried hunting for it, finally figuring out that she had to go through the back door before my clues went from "Warm, warmer," to "Hot." She then went straight to the vegetable garden, looking somewhat dejected. Maybe she was expecting zucchini. But I turned her toward the swimming pool and she raised her gaze, looked past it to the little footbridge, and past that to notice a hint of red and blue bars in the shape of a dome.

OMG. I don't think her feet hit the ground all the way to the new contraption, little sister Evelyn hot on her heels. Their grins could not have been any wider, and the squealing was delightful. They climbed -- upward, downward, sideways, in and out, and swung (swang?) by hands, arms, and knees. Over it, through it, all around it... without even stopping for breath. My little monkeys. Aside from lots of laughter and "Look-at-me"s, Annabella managed several "This is AWESOME!"s and "THANK you Gramma and Grampa!"s. I think we made a wise choice.

Underneath and around the Monkey Bar Set we've spread homemade mulch that took us weeks of arduous labor to produce in our chipper, gathering tree clippings and twigs and dried leaves from the yard. The mulch rests now like a mattress beneath the dome, about six inches deep. If the girls topple, I'm sure they'll bounce.

As for Gramma and Grampa, all I can say is, "Thank goodness for hugs and kisses, Epsom Salt, Ben Gay, Ibuprofren, a good night's sleep and sweet dreams filled with grandkids." I think her next graduation will be from 6th grade. By the time that rolls around, I'm sure she'll be thrilled with something as simple as a card with a check in it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

History at Its Best -- and Worst

We've been watching a documentary about the Lewis & Clark expedition.

I started out with great respect for the men (and one woman, Sacajawea), until they got hungry enough to kill a colt for meat. Not a mature horse mind you, that had lived a full life. But a colt. More tender, I suppose. I can't forgive them for that, sorry.

But wait, it got worse. Even though they were traveling beside and camping beside a river filled with salmon, FILLED WITH SALMON -- they didn't want to eat fish. Let's be picky shall we? Instead they traded at one Indian village for dogs. For meat. Now I know that some tribes thought nothing of eating dog, but these travellers were supposed to be civilized, at least by comparison! This wasn't a matter of "when in Rome," this was, in my opinion, men sinking to their lowest.

To end on a positive note though, I have learned that Sacajawea was only 16! And pregnant! She gave birth along the way, then travelled on foot cross country with a newborn. More than 8,000 miles, round trip. Gotta admire that. And talk about a coincidence! She had been stolen from her Shoshone tribe as a child, but many years later on this expedition when she settled into a tepee to translate, the Shoshone chief sitting across from her was her brother, whom she never dreamed she would see again. Wow!

Also amazingly, only one (human) life was lost along their travels -- a man with, historians suspect, appendicitis.

When the group finally reached the Pacific Ocean (which they considered "ugly... not pacific at all," in order to decide upon a location to settle in for the winter, the two captains put it to a vote, allowing everyone to have their say... including Sacajawea and Lewis's lifelong slave, a man named York. This was the first time in our history that a woman got to vote, and the first time a black got to vote! At the end of their arduous three-year service to President Jefferson, York asked Lewis for his freedom as a reward for his participation in the history-making event. Lewis called him "uppity" and beat him, but five years later did acquiesce.

After the party's return to civilization, Sacajawea eventually had another child, a daughter. When she fell ill and died, Clark (who spent the remainder of his career advocating for the Indians) adopted both of her children and raised them as his own. Lewis ended up eventually killing himself... by shooting himself simultaneously in the chest and in the head.

Now why isn't THAT stuff taught in our history class rooms? If it had been, back in the fifties, I might have actually paid attention! Instead we concerned ourselves primarily with such weighty matters as passing notes to our friends, and how to hang our history teacher in effigy.

To be fair, Frank says maybe it was taught, How would I know, since I wasn't paying attention?

Hmmm... gotta think about that one.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Can't Believe I Did That

My midlife crisis didn't hit until I turned 65. As a birthday present to myself that year, I decided to get a tattoo. A wolf. On my ankle. Looking back, I can't believe I did that.

Why a wolf? Because I love wolves. We actually raised two wolves from the age of 6 weeks to a year old. (Source: Wolf Rescue Program in the foothills.) The female was the runt of the pack and we named her Albertine. Her brother was named Mano (with a tilde over the n). They now live together on a beachside ranch just south of Ensenada, Mexico. She had been neutered, but he had not, and I understand he has fathered more than a few litters.

My favorite book is Women Who Run With the Wolves, and a representation of that on my ankle, for some reason, seemed like a good idea back when I turned 65. Please understand, I knew nothing about tattoos. Like the fact that getting one hurts like hell? Once I found that out, I swore "Never again!" even though I was pleased with the ankle art after I came out of shock.

So close to four years have gone by and today I decided my little critter needed a touch up. THIS TIME I used a little self-hypnosis! Damn, why didn't I think of that the first time? It still wasn't my idea of a good time, but I survived with far less anguish, and now my little wolf looks livelier AND has a setting sun behind him to make him more distinct from a distance! When my next birthday hits in September, I can prop my foot up and admire the artwork, drink a toast to Albertine, Mano, Clairissa Pinkola Estes (author of WWRWTW), and the tattoo artist.

His name is Rob, but I told him I'm going to call him "Almost".... because everytime he paused during the process, I asked, "Are we done?" and his answer was always the same. "Almost." I can't swear I'll never see him again, because he's marrying my granddaughter. I like him very much, but why couldn't she have landed a massage therapist????

Alpha Mare

My horse, Brandi, dropped too much weight over the winter. The vet checked her out and determined that her teeth in the back were worn down enough that she wasn't chewing her hay well and therefore it was passing through her without providing the proper nutrition.

Simon, who manages the ranch where she's boarded, suggested moving her to the back pasture, where there are now four horses being fed pellets (condensed hay that requires less chewing). I thought of this as "the old horses pasture" -- sort of like an old folks home. Although I actually have no idea of the ages of the others there. Still, the move at first made me very sad, but I trust Simon's judgment so that's been her new home for the past six weeks.

Every time I go to the back pasture to bring her in or take her back, I pass the pasture where she used to reside. One of the horses there is named Isabella. She is, literally, skin and bone. Dying of cancer. I always check to make sure she's still there, because one of these days she won't be. But it occurred to me that Isabella isn't in the back pasture, and I'm not sure why. Maybe her person doesn't want to fork out the extra hundred bucks a month that it costs? Well, whatever the reason, somehow it made me feel better about where Brandi is now. Made me think that getting old isn't such a bad thing after all. (Mind you, Brandi is only 22, and horses live well into their thirties if they're well cared for. So it's not like she's on her last legs or anything. She's just not in her hay day, pardon the pun.)

In her former pasture, Brandi was alpha mare for a looooong time. That's the one who "runs" the herd. But then a younger, feistier mare came along and challenged her. I could see that Brandi was working hard at holding her number one position, but the competition was going on for too long. One day on our walk I said to her, "You know, you can just give in to her. It's not like you're stepping down from the alpha position, you would just be stepping aside." She got it, and life actually became easier for her then.

In the new pasture there was a little tug-of-war going on at first, pretty much just posturing to show they "still have it." But they put an end to it quickly and now they're all getting along fine. As far as I can tell they pretty much ignore each other. It's actually a nicer pasture than where she was before, and she seems quite content. In fact she has put her weight back on, and she now has a bounce in her step that's been missing awhile. She seems more like the shapely, shiny, self-assured horse I bought seven years ago. If that's not worth an extra hundred bucks a month I don't know what is.

Lessons to be learned: (1) When you decide in a situation to give up your control, you are actually in control, because you're the one doing the deciding. I was choked unconscious once, many years ago. I remember deciding to stop struggling because the more I fought, the tighter the grip became on my throat. When I blacked out and hit the floor, he thought he had killed me, and left. If I had kept fighting him instead of "giving in," I might not be here today to tell the story.

(2) Getting old isn't something you have to "give in" to. What I've discovered from my own place in life is that this is the time to work even harder at taking care of myself. I pay closer attention to what I eat, and I am more committed to exercise than I ever was in my lower digit years. Seeing contemporaries who are less fortunate in matters of health, makes me appreciate (and guard) my own rather than take it for granted or just let it go.

Brandi and I had a great time together yesterday. Some people at the ranch talk about "working" their horse. I say to Brandi, "Let's go play." We've had our battle of wills back when she behaved for me in the arena but didn't want to leave the ranch property to ride the country roads. Now that she's finally caught on that she needs to take me where I want to go, she actually enjoys our outtings as much as I do. My definition of a good ride? When my horse and I end up in the same place at the same time, and I'm still the one on top. The same could be said of life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frank Doesn't Snore

Sometimes we get a call from a woman who wants us to use hypnotherapy to help her husband stop snoring. This works, as long as HE sees it as a problem and believes that somehow his life will be better without it. If she's the only one who wants an end to it, we can help... by seeing HER for a session.

Snoring has to do with the level of relaxation in a piece of tissue that hangs down at the back of your throat. Too relaxed, and air moving over it causes excess vibration, and noise. Losing weight can help (less tissue there), and avoiding alcoholic drinks at night can help (less relaxation in that area). It also helps to sleep in a position other than on your back, which changes the angle of the dangle of the floppy tissue. Hypnosis helps by giving suggestions to the snorer to easily and comfortably make those changes.

But sometimes a husband (or wife who snores) isn't aware of his or her snoring, or is but doesn't care! That's when we have to see the person sleeping close by and give suggestions to that person to lessen the perceived noise level and/or choose a more helpful reaction to it.

In our business we sometimes use an indirect approach. Sometimes the subconscious mind is more receptive to "soft" suggestion rather than a hard command (STOP SNORING!). I like to talk during hypnosis about crickets. How the sound they make can either be annoying and keep you awake, or can be interpreted as sweet and soothing, like a lullaby that puts you to sleep. You actually have a choice in the matter, and if someone else's snoring has been p.....sing you off and keeping you awake at night, once you change your (subconscious) mind, you change your reaction, and improve your own sleep!

Frank doesn't snore. What he does though, on a regular basis, is this: After he has dressed in the morning, he brings his shoes and socks out of the bedroom and sits on a diningroom chair to put them on. Then when he stands he NEVER pushes the chair back under the table's edge. He just LEAVES it. Right where he USED it. Can you see how that would ANNOY me?

Well, only a little, and once I noticed my reaction (years ago) I decided to change it. Now when I find the chair out of place I smile and say to myself, "Ah, isn't that cute?" Then I remind myself of all the women out there who WISH they had a husband with such a harmless habit, and I put it where it belongs. The chair AND the minor aggravation.

He also has a tendency to leave his tools lying around, and papers piled, that he's brought home from a meeting, and a necktie draped across the coffee table. I call these "signs of life." If I lived alone in a sterile household, they wouldn't exist. (This realization helps when my granddaughters visit also. We let them have the run of the house, and when I'm tripping around Barbie dolls and stepping over color crayons, I smile and say a little thank you. )

If I lived alone I'd only have to pick up after myself.

I hope it never comes to that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Love My Cat

I love my cat. Her name is Mismatch. That's because if you look at her straight on, one front leg is black and gray stipes, the other is orange and white mottled.

There are three things about her that I find particularly endearing.

One is, when I'm sitting up she'll jump into my lap, put her chest on mine, reach out with her arms to gently place one paw on each side of my face, and put her little pink nose just an inch or so from the end of mine. Then she just stares into my eyes. It's sort of like a feline mind meld.

The second is when I'm lying down with my face turned to the side, if she has the opportunity she will settle in close, stretch out her neck and put her chin over my cheek so that her throat is resting right on my ear, and then she purrs. It's like a soft, audible massage. Mmmm...

The third thing is, because I am actually allergic to cats, she can't sleep with us. But once I'm out of bed in the morning, if the bedroom door is left open she'll rush in and curl up in the very spot that I have left. She looks so comfy, that I don't want to disturb her, so... the bed doesn't get made. I check in now and then to see if she's decided to exit the forbidden zone and, if so, I then make the bed.

Almost always. Sometimes I forget. But when I go to climb in that night, I forgive myself. I figure there are worse things in life than an unmade bed.

Which reminds me. Tip to parents: Take a picture of your teenagers' rooms when they are at their worst, and save it to show to their children once they hit their own teen years. Your kids won't like it, but your grandkids will love you for it. ;-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One Word Can Make a Difference

Amazing how sometimes one word can make such a difference. For Casey on Idol, tonight that word was "Safe!" But sometimes it's not what's said, it's what isn't said.

A month or so back Frank and I were new members of a small business group, and when asked to submit a bio for their web page, I did. I was as concise as I felt I could be, considering there are two of us and we've been in business 18 years. But nonetheless the gentleman (so to speak) in charge e-mailed me back asking me to shorten it. I did.

At the next meeting as he approached the place where I was sitting, I asked him over my shoulder, "Did you get my e-mail?" He said, without slowing down, without even glancing in my direction, "Yes. I didn't have time to read it." That seemed to set the tone for the remainder of that meeting, which quickly and dramatically went downhill for us from there. Consequently we resigned our membership.

The one word from him that would have made all the difference is... "Sorry." And how much energy does it take to look at someone as you're saying it, maybe even with a smile?

I'm a firm believer that everything that happens, however, happens for the best. As much as we tried to fit into that group, it was like trying to be comfortable in someone else's shoes. Not a good fit. We had planned to wait out the 3 months for which we had paid dues, but this combination of factors, in our view, was Life (capital L) letting us know the time to move on was Now (capital N).

On Idol it's the voters who send contestants either home or onto the next level. I always feel bad for those leaving the competition. Fact is though, some of the "losers" have made it bigger than some of the "winners." As Annabella, my granddaughter, told me once when she was 4 -- "It's just part of Life, Gramma."

I always find it interesting how we may have a goal, a wish, a plan for ourselves and our lives. We want to go "here" and do "this," but I believe there's a Bigger Plan and if our place in that plan is to go "there" and do "that," Life has a way of letting us know we need to change direction. Once we get the message and find our footing again on the path that's meant for us, it seems so obvious and feels so right.

Makes me think of a little verse that came to me years ago, which I'm happy to share. "When life is good, the air is sweet, and the earth is soft beneath our feet." When you are where you are meant to be, doing what you are meant to do, damn! It just don't get no better. A challenge is one thing, a battle is something else. Don't confuse one with the other. If you're a round peg, don't waste your time or energy trying to force youself into a square hole. To mix metaphors. As I often do.

And as for Casey, I imagine voters will send him home next week, but he's in the top three and wherever he goes, I hope Life continues to treat him well. Yes he's cute, yes, he can sing. But more than anything else about Casey, I really like his energy. There's a gentleness about him that strikes me as sincere. Also a certain strength. He strikes me as the kind of guy who wouldn't mind looking you in the eye with a quick smile to say, if appropriate, that one word that is so often lost in silence... "Sorry."

SJCFCCA - What a Mouthful

SJCFCCA -- what a mouhtful. Wanna guess what it stands for? Simply Jumping Can Frequently Cause Crippling Arthritis, you say? No, sorry. Not even close. Try: San Joaquin County Family Child Care Association. And why is this important, you may be asking. I will hold you in suspense no longer.

Last night Frank, James and I were guest speakers at the monthly SJCFCCA meeting. What an impressive and fun group of people. Allow me to digress. I love public speaking. When my daughter was 12 she spent her summer "writing a book." When I asked her, "How's it going?" she said, "Great! I can't wait to finish it so I can find out how it ends!" That's how I feel when I give a presentation such as the one last night. It's always fun to find out what I'm going to say. After Paula Baca (SJCFCCA President) introduced me, I thanked her for inviting us, thanked the audience members for coming, introduced Frank and James, and then said to the room full of child care providers, "If I had a hat on I'd take it off to all of you. There is nothing in life more important than taking care of children. They are our most valuable natural resource."

When I heard myself say that I thought, "Wow, that was cool, Ginny. Way to win them over with a simple and sincere statement of fact!" (This is called trusting your subconscious mind to provide the right words at the right time. Or -- allowing yourself to be spontaneous.) After which we talked to the group about our book, Charming Children -- How the Relaxation Game helps Good Parents Raise Great Kids.

Sometimes a group is hard to "read." Are they interested, you ask yourself internally while your mouth is moving around other words directed outward. Are they listening? Are they getting it? Do they care? Sometimes their faces, their body langauge, give you no hint. So you keep talking, giving it your best shot, and console yourself with the fact that no one is throwing tomatoes at you. "But..." your ever-insecure inner child whispers, "no one would do such a thing at the cost of vegetables these days!"

So you just have to wait and see, and what we saw last night after we wrapped it up was a happy crowd asking interesting questions, sharing some personal experiences, and then... buying lots of our books to become our first official Advocate group. (For more information on how our book can be used by you as a fundraiser, go to

It was a geat way for the three of us to spend our evening, and I, at least, fell asleep feeling very pleased with the knowledge that some valuable information is now in the hands of more parents and providers of care for kids. You know, it used to be that I'd often say, "The teen years are tough. Teens need all the help they can get." Unfortunately, the younger years have become tough too, in their own way.

It's not the same world I grew up in, where having your braids dipped into an ink well was the worst that could happen to you at school, or having your pony get loose and run home without you so you had to walk those long, dusty miles back to the ranch. Maybe even barefooted.

Just kidding. I'm not THAT old! But you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Favorite Time of Day

My favorite time of day is morning. Frank thinks coffee tastes better when I make it and I think it tastes better when he makes it, so I make a pot for him and he makes a pot for me (decaf). Problem solved. They should all be that easy.

So we've been sitting in the living room to drink our coffee, Frank where he can read the newspaper by the light coming through the window, and I where I can play scrabble to wake up my brain cells, or read a book if I'm into a good one. Or sometimes we actually talk. My favorite talks are philosophical.

We're between seasons right now. Still using the last of the pellets in our pellet stove when it's a bit nippy indoors, but soon we'll be outdoors on the deck, beside the waterfall, watching squirrels skitter about. Well, we used to call it the deck. Since our last trip to Kauai we call it the "lanai" -- because I've decorated the area with a Hawaiian theme and we play soft, Hawaiian music through the window of my home office that opens conveniently near the glass top table where we sit and relax. It helps to keep the memories of that trip alive.

That was when Frank became SCUBA certified, and on his first ocean dive the first thing he saw was a sea turtle. We recently found a cement one that is life size (pretty darn big if you ask me), so it adds to the ambience of our back yard. We named him Tyrone. Tyrone Turtle. Closer to the waterfall is my Samantha. Samantha Seal. She's getting old, has a flipper that needs cement apoxy, but she's still sweet, with those big brown eyes of hers. Tyrone's winning feature is his cute smile.

But I digress. We also plan our day together first thing in the morning. That way I know what Frank has going on and he knows what I have going on. Over dinner we look back and laugh about how close we came - or not - in reality. Life is full of surprises.

I don't know if it was original with Depak Chopra, but he was the first one I heard say, "The past is history, the future is a mystery, but each day is a gift -- which is why it's called the present." I think that fits the bill perfectly. It's always fun to open a new day, sort through the contents, and find out what it holds for you. Sometimes when it seems drab on the outside, it gets really exciting as you dig into it. Sometimes it's the other way around. In either case, it's always nice to fall asleep looking forward to the next one life brings your way.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It Never Fails

It never fails. We're usually in bed around 10:00 but if, for some reason, we decide to stay up late (figuring we can sleep in the next day), our phone rings at some God-awful early hour and wakes us up. We figured we would be safe this morning, since we saw all of our kids over the weekend so odds are they wouldn't be calling us. But sure enough at 6:00 a.m. the damn phone rang.

It was our CharmingChildrenTheBook line though, so we got all excited.

Wrong number.

We stayed up until midnight last night watching TV. The newest Jesse Stone adventure (No Remorse). I'm not a huge Tom Selleck fan but I love the character he plays in this series. A police chief with human frailities and emotional scarring, who pulls no punches letting others know who, how and what he is. It's all out there without apology, accessorized with a take-it-or-leave it attitude. It's honest, unlike the old Colmunbo character, which was cutesy and contrived. This show ended oddly, but was obviously a set up for a sequel, therefore is foregivable.

Then we watched Brothers and Sisters. Great show, great casting, great acting, and characters that are fun to analyze. Sally Field IS Nora, and I admire her for allowing herself to show the signs of aging, without chagrin. The gay kissing puts me off a little, but not like 25 years ago when I saw two guys (newly out of the closet) going at it live on New Years Eve. Now same-sex PDA (Public Display of Affection) is becoming more common, and in time I suppose even older folks like moi will think nothing of it.

We also watched Army Wives, which often has a message wrapped in the story line. This one was all about our soldiers and the sacrafices they make in defending our freedom, such as separation from family on special occasions like Mothers Day. I found the Ann Margaret role distracting and unbelievable, but oh well. The actress has gotten quite thick though the middle, which gave me a warped sense of satisfaction. They attempted to camoflage the extra weight with props and camera angles, but that failed to fool me. Maybe I can relate. I didn't spot a double chin though, which is the part I wish I could camoflage on myself. Oh yeah, and the thighs. I mean I think of myself as a quarter (1/4) cowgirl, but I could nicely do without the saddlebags.

This makes me think of a corny little joke. Cowgirl says to a city slicker, "This here is Brandi. She's a Quarter Horse." ""Cool," says the city slicker. "What's the other three-quarters?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day This Year

Mother's Day this year was my best ever! It was actually Mother's WEEKEND since my daughter and her family spent quality time with us on Saturday and both my sons came by today, (plus one daughter-in-law). Long distance surprises: My granddaughter in North Carolina sent an arrangement of choclate covered strawberries, and my grandson in Texas called and talked for 35 minutes.

I'm still smiling over my youngest granddaughter Evelyn (3-1/2) RUNNING through my door hell bent for leather, with her mom standing behind her saying, "Run! Run! Run!" Evelyn's enthusiasm made my heart soar and I echoed, with arms spread wide, "Yes, Baby, run, run, run!" anticipating one of her awesome hugs. In just seconds she dashed right past me to the bathroom and my daughter said, looking at my empty arms, "She had to pee."

My sons are both very attractive. Craig - think Clint Eastwood in his prime, just as handsome but with a better build. Chiseled jaw, no-nonsense demeanor, wry sense of humor demonstrated subtly. Jeff - think Josh Holloway (he plays Sawyer on "Lost") and truthfully Sawyer's the only reason I watch the damned show. Like Sawyer, Jeff is gorgeous, has his mysterious moods on occasion, but he oozes charm and when he smiles he lights up a room like a hallogen bulb.

Jennifer reminds me of me, only over the top. She's cuter, smarter, more creative, much better at math, and can actually operate electronic gadgets large and small. She can be sweeter than me, but she can also be bitchier. (I know she'll read this and I can already imagine the look and sound of disdain over that comment. Same reaction I would have, only more so. I rest my case.) Most importantly, she's an awesome mother, but then she had her entire life to prepare for the role, since I convinced her from birth that there is no job in the world more important, more challenging, or more rewarding than motherhood. Disregard any comment she may make in regard to this paragraph. She's pregnant, therefore hormonal, therfore not responsible for her emotions. :-)

When I leave this earth in the -- I hope distant -- future, I'll do so knowing full well the greatest contribution I've left behind has been my kids. I'm really crazy about them. Oh wait -- is that the same as "they drive me crazy?" LOL.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thrift Store Finds

Thrift store finds are always fun, especially in the form of a good book that adds to a collection for our home library. Jonathan Kellerman is one of my favorite authors, and when we dropped off two bags full of stuffed animals this afternoon, Frank found The Conspiracy Club for me in the book section of Shelter Thrift, just a few blocks from our house.

It begins with interesting interaction between a pathologist and a psychologist. I don’t like gruesome, graphic medical descriptions, but I am intrigued by human behavior, so if pathology outweighs psychology I’ll stop reading it and pass the book along to my daughter-in-law, who loves the parts I can’t handle. If psychology dominates, I might hang in there to the end. We’ll see.

A pleasant surprise was on page 35, where the hospital staff psychologist uses hypnosis to calm a patient with lupus, scared out of her wits in anticipation of a bone marrow aspiration. With her lupus in remission, the patient refused sedative medication that might have messed up her system. No possibility of harmful side effects to hypnosis, however, so there you go! Success!

Flash back to when he first used hypnosis with a 12-year-old girl about to undergo a spinal tap. A little too detailed for me as to the extraction itself, but what pleased me was the accurate portrayal of hypnosis in a medical application. Too often in books and movies, hypnosis is misrepresented. Drives me nuts. But Kellerman did a fine job here of being honest with his readers.

One of my favorite real-life stories is about the client who came to see me years ago because she had to have an MRI but was claustrophobic and couldn’t go through with the procedure. Hypnosis made all the difference, of course, but the interesting thing is that her nursing job at the hospital was to assist in conducting – MRI’s!

Poor Casey

Poor Casey (on American Idol). He didn’t stand a chance last week. I liked the clowning around combined with good advice that Harry Connick, Jr., gave the contestants, but when it came to Casey, Harry screwed up.

What the heck happened? Casey hit it out of the park at rehearsal an hour before show time, then dropped the ball when Idol went live. Well, here’s exactly what happened: Just before Casey went on, Harry wagged his finger in Casey’s face and said, looking into his eyes to hold his attention, “Don’t blow it!” Ooops.

Casey was already stressing (only natural) about performing. This made him more susceptible on a subconscious level, and the subconscious mind can’t process a negative. It turns every negative into a positive, so what it heard was, “… blow it!” The subconscious simply accepts suggestions, and then influences our attitude and behavior. Harry’s comment, though well intentioned, “programmed” Casey to mess up. And he did.

Wish I could get the word to him, “It wasn’t your fault.” Because I like Casey. (What’s not to like? Sigh…) But all I can do is to be grateful he wasn’t voted off the island (Oh, sorry, wrong show), and look forward to seeing/hearing/enjoying him next week. I don’t think he can pull off the number one spot at the end of the season, but every week he’s on is another week to ogle him, even though I’m putting my money on Crystal. Someone for the guys to ogle.