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Elder Swag

The greatest part of being old. You get to speak in code. Oh, the younger people think they have their very own language, i.e. Urban Dictionary. But I have just begun to realize the benefits of being old. I didn’t always look forward to it. But now I know, I’ve accepted my fate. I’m not worried. I know I have, what I like to call, ‘Elder Swag.’


I guess it came as quite a shock, that I am actually counted among these stodgy people. I never imagined this day. I think it hit me a few weeks back, when I was in Denny’s. I sat at a table, with my son, his father, my brother and my mother. As the waitress handed us our menus, my ex husband said, “You know, you get a senior discount.”

After I finished choking on my coffee, (which was also discounted) I commented, “But I’m only 55!” “Yea, it says right here,” he began to point at the menu, and had I not needed to put my glasses on, I would have missed it.

“What in the world? That is waaaaay too young!” I said. A little irritated and somewhat excited at the same time. As if winning some kind of a prize, only to find out it was a re-gift, of a bad fruitcake.

“I don’t know if I should be happy or mad!” I said. But at that moment Rick looked at me and said, “Be happy until you’re finished eating. Then get mad.”

At this point I looked around and thought, “Hey, wait a minute! Everyone at this table, except my son, qualified for this discount.” Now I don’t feel so bad. I seem to have a lot of company.Then I started feeling sorry for the poor kid. Having such old people for parents.

Today, as I walked with my mom, she continued talking about her kids. I felt bad when she said, “she really doesn’t hear from her kids.” I tried to convince her that I am her kid. I just don’t want her to feel she’s neglected. But to no avail. She’s just not believing that I belong to her. I have been sad at times and at others amused, that she really doesn’t remember. I find that after an argument, she forgets we had one. When I place her, ‘memory patch,’ on her, I rub a little off for myself.

I felt better to finally understand that I don’t have a need for her to know I’m her daughter, as it is important that she knows, her children haven’t forgotten her. I told her this. “Mom, I just want you to know your daughter hasn’t neglected you. I am your daughter.” “Oh, come on! Do you think I’ve lost my mind?” She asked. I didn’t answer, although it was sitting at the very edge of my mouth, (no, just a part of it)

I sat and watched some shows with her later and I was laughing at all the medical problems which seemed to be an epidemic now. Or am I just more aware, since I’m a senior? I wondered out loud, “Why do all these problems come in code now? Acronyms for something which I’ve never heard of as being a condition. I wouldn’t say that the inablity to keep your legs still is a problem. If it is, my son has it too. But then there has to be a condition for being stuck in the sofa, like my mom. I’m sure I haven’t heard of it yet.

OAB-overactive bladder? Why don’t they just say, “I pee a lot? Or call it IPAL?” “Hey man! Don’t use a long word, where a short one will do.” Didn’t Mark Twain say that? My mother was laughing. She has not lost her humor. That’s good. I said, “Mom, they say that if your legs move to much, you have “Restless Leg Syndrome.” She is incredulous, as she says, “What?” I said, “Yea, I’m convinced that the doctors are making this stuff up, so they can sell medication.”

I told her, I’m sure that AARP, had something to do with this code language too. They started the whole club mentality. Like we should covet the idea of being accepted. All these ailments with the leaky pipes and things which always were normal, for old people. I guess it’s more exciting in the old conversations too. It’s like a special club and if you don’t know what the codes stand for, you sure aren’t in it! I picture an old dude standing at the entrance to the senior center, like a spy thriller, “What do you got?” Hmmm, as the old guy with his walker looks down, “Oh yea, IBS, with a side of Gert!” “Okay, come on in.”

Then they tell us that, if you have one of these conditions and are prescribed medicine, You are the one responsible to tell your doctor about all your medical history. Hey, isn’t that the doctors job? Why do we have to pay them, if we have to tell them what’s wrong?

The next dilemma is the whole Medicare/Social Security paperwork. My ex husband came over to ask for help in filling out his paperwork. Complicated more by his newly diagnosed cataracts. He said, “Don’t you think it’s kind of goofy, that when you’re this age, and you’re at the most difficult stage of your life, that you have to read and fill out all of this?” “Hmm, I said. That’s a valid point. Believe me, it’s designed to confuse. “Yea,” he said. “But think about someone like your poor mom trying to figure this out. The really take advantage of older people!” Incidentally, that’s a key strategy to point out old people which you consider much older than you. It minimizes the impact. (I do it all the time)

He sure is right about that. And it can only get worse. If I’m the one in charge of these other old people and we are all in this together; the trip to Denny’s is the easiest part of the journey. I’m thinking that the Old Fogies should have their own dictionary very soon. My mother has been telling my son for years, that, poop is not a word. “Poop deck or pooped out,” but no word such as poop!” She says. Well, I had to break the news about Al Roker’s own use of the word on national television. She was in shock at this. “See mom? It is now a part of our vocabulary. You know it is if someone like, Al Roker said it.”

In the old days, people just talked about their surgery’s and compared scars.These days the stars and football players alike, are modeling Depends. Oh sure, they say they’re not wearing them, just for advertising. (Yea, sure, whatever you say) But it won’t be long. May as well get comfortable.

We will be sitting in our rockers trying to text each other with those large print braille phones. Good thing we got a jump on the technology, so some of our abbreviations are part of normal conversation now. Since our arthritic fingers, just won’t be able to type on a keyboard and we sure want to tell our old buddies about the latest medical discovery. Which will most definitely be something cool. Like, BBS, (Butt, Boob Sag) With some great medication to tighten it all up.  Or perhaps, CFS, (Crooked Finger Syndrome) from all those fist bumps, or bird flipping, we did in our rebellious youth. Oh, and don’t forget about the PF(Purple Flurp) My son use this to describe the purple hue of bruising on our hands. All the years, of slapping our hands in ‘high fives.’ All the wear and tear, especially on those true sports jocks. How painful.


We will not be able to hear each other, since we’re part of that, “Teenage Wasteland,” which has now become an ‘Old Fart Dumping Ground.’ I’m already beginning to see the future. When I watched the Stones the other day, I was scared. Why haven’t I ever noticed that even Keith Richards looks ancient? Okay, he has always been scary. But for some reason, he was the one person I thought I could always count on, as just having the crazy look. How could he possible become old, when he was using the medicines, long before he needed them? That was a real dose of reality. No more denying.

I’ve made up my mind; I’m signing off and filling out my AARP, before I forget what it is!

Pulling Down Strongholds

A view from the Prayer Tower in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. reminded me of the power of prayer.

This is any “vain imagination which sets itself against the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” I’ve been dealing with this on a daily basis. Well, every believer should be. It’s a part of our walk. It seems I’m in the front line of the battle ground.

A good example was just the other day. I had wanted to have rain gutters placed on my house after all these years,to avoid the debris in the pool. It has been an exhausting exercise to clean the dirt, which floats from the roof. Although I have screens around the pool, this would definitely decrease the amount of dirt and, the screens, also need to be replaced. It’s just ongoing maintenance. So this would be the next project.

Well, at least, that’s what I thought, until my neighbor called me over. While I was engaged in conversation with the guy about the gutters. He had asked if I could speak to him about my back fence. I told him, as soon as I was finished with this guy, I’d be over.

I already knew the back fence was just hanging by a thread, since the last hurricane, and it had to come down. “We’d be willing to go half with you, and I’d do the labor,” he said. “Oh, that would be fine.” I said.

As if I didn’t already have enough going on. If you’d already read my previous post about my kitchen, leaky roof, blah blah,blah. And that tent is looking better all the time.

So, they say, if I go pull the permit, they’ll mark the property.I go online and get all the info. Print the paperwork. My son, his dad, my brother and my neighbors all pitch in to tear down the back fence. It was nice to get rid of it and we were commenting on how nice it was to be able to talk to each other.I had gotten to know them for the first time and we were saying that it is a completely different experience from Northern living. In the North, there aren’t boundaries as you would notice in this part of the country. And we found in crisis, such as hurricanes, we all started to speak to each other. That’s where we realized how much we had in common.. It was almost funny, because as it is in every situation, it’s amazing to know how we can be experiencing such trauma’s and be so isolated, when we are side by side. It’s also very sad. What emotional support we could be for one another, if we could just walk next door rather than call someone 1000 miles away. We’re so afraid to trust a stranger.

But the reason we’re afraid to trust is because we’re bullied on a daily basis. It’s the things which happen to us, which teach us not to trust. Mean and cruel. Such as this fence deal.

I am contacted by the city to be told, after paying the $150.00 permit fee,that I cannot receive this permit yet,because someone named, Tony, had left some notes. “Yea,” I’m thinking. They’re always named ‘Tony.’

I go in to get the notes. So what were these notes, that Tony had written about my fence? Well, apparently, he could not find any record for a permit for my pool or my deck, from the records. And he continued in his notes, that, “this would affect the requirements for my fence.”

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding! This house was built in 1974! Is he serious? Like I have the permits for a pool and a deck?

Ok, now I talk to my friend and he says, “No way! They keep those records offsite, in the archives. They’re yanking your chain.” “Yea, I know where they keep them,” I said. “In that room with the second set of books! With Tony and a bunch of dark shady characters smoking cigars and a stack of cash!” He starts cracking up as he says, “Yea, and he saying, “Hey, I got another one for ya!”

Oh, so the budgets are strapped for cash, so they’re going after everyone else now? Well, then they have to get everyone in the city to pull their records don’t they? This is ridiculous.

So my neighbor goes in to the woman and she tells him that “Tony is on vacation and can’t see him until next week.” Oh, that’s great, I said. I think this Tony guy, must be Tony Soprano. I’ve tangled with him before.That was about  my hair, this time it’s my pool. It’s all the same spirit and requires the same remedy. Prayer.

Then yesterday, I had an encounter with the roofing guy. I had talked to him the day before about coming over, and I usually know right up front, whether I want to give someone my business. Paul told us to, “test the spirits,know ye not that every spirit which proceeds from someone does not come from God?” So this is exactly what I do. And I pray that the Lord will give me discernment.

Well, some people just start out bad right from the beginning. I can’t tolerate a mean spirit and that’s what this guy had. He told me he would show up early and that was fine, because we all had work to do. I told my sons dad about this so he was on the same page.

This guy climbs up on the roof with his ladder he’s up there for a while.I told him what I saw and I knew the problem was a repair which I needed. It was isolated to two areas.

As he was finished his tapping, etc. I came out and he looked a little silly. I described the scene to my daughter. He arrived early with his buddy. He was wearing some  ‘daisy dukes.’ She was rolling. “What?!” “Well, I don’t know what else to call them. Ask Noah,” I said.

He looked to be in his early 60’s and not in bad shape, but I wouldn’t think he should be climbing up on rooftops.Nor should he be wearing those shorts.

“He pulls two rusty screws out of his pocket and looks at me like a shady car mechanic and says, I don’t know how to tell you this, but  you have a problem with your chimney cap.” “Wow,” I wanted to tell him to keep his paws off my chimney cap, and I don’t know where those rusty screws have been but I’m sure they didn’t come from my  chimney cap, as I’m sure my chimney cap has not seen the light of day in quite some time so he’d better keep those rusty screws away from her!”

I’m very annoyed at this point and I’m waiting for him to get to the news about my roof, as this is the reason for my call. He starts to talk about my chimney cap again. “Look, those are custom chimney caps, and they don’t make them anymore, so I put some (insert word) around it, but you may have a leak around that as well.”Yea, well, I’m not worried about it.Besides, if they’re custom made, that means, they’ll custom make one, if I need it.”  “No they won’t.” Now the guy start’s arguing with me! What in the world? Does he know they? Does he know Tony?

Ok, at this point, I’m sure I don’t but, I have to take my son to school, so I cut him off, as he start’s in again about the fact that they don’t make these chimney caps again. Hey either this guy is lusting over my chimney cap, or he is selling them on the side. I said, “You know, I’m kind of in a hurry. Can you bottom line this and give me the estimate for my roof?”

What he said next, blew my mind. “Listen, I’m in a hurry too! I mean I just took an hour (which he didn’t) to go up on your roof! So I’m trying to tell you what the problem is. (Which he wasn’t.) So, you have a small leak on the flat roof, and another one right on that eave, and if you want I can get some plastic to cover that chimney cap. It’ll cost 8 or $900.00! Then he just writes his name on a doorknob tag and leaves. He doesn’t even give me the written proposal.

My son was cracking up! I’m saying do you believe that guy? He’s mad because he’s being asked to do his job? And then he’s talking about something unrelated to his job? I’m wondering if this scam of his really works for him? I’ll give him credit. He gets up early to get his gig started. At least he’s not on a street corner.

My ex husband says, “Well, when I was a kid I remember these guys, going down the street and they would move the bricks on everyone’s chimneys. Then they would stop and tell people that their bricks were loose, and they would clip them for a few hundred bucks to mortar them. My mom and I were watching them go up and down the street.” “Yea, ” I said. “This guy is probably running around with two rusty screws, screwing everyone with a chimney!” He was just mad because I wasn’t going along with the plan.

I used to take Karate years ago, and there is a concept which is very powerful. It can be used in the spiritual world as well. You don’t fight against the power as much as you take the power tjats being used against you and turn it on your opponent. The full force of it will  backfire against them. This is the meaning of the words, “pray for your enemies.” An extremely powerful dynamic takes place. Only the Lord can change the heart of man. And the cruelty which is leveled against us will  return to land where it had it’s beginning in every situation.

We do need to “link up,” in the Body of Christ.  Prayer is powerful. But the most dynamic power is in its unity. “If one can chase away a thousand, two can chase away ten thousand.” Of course we know the numbers don’t make sense. But in God’s universe, they do. And this is what He wants us to understand. How important this reality is.


The Simple Life

My brother is just so funny. I feel blessed to have him in my life. He makes me laugh so hard.  It’s wonderful for my mother to share this time with him too, since he had been living apart from her for many years.

I’ve noticed that he and the other people with special needs bring home beautiful pictures. The other day I was looking at this picture and I said, “Kevin, this is not yours. You’ve taken someone else’s picture by mistake.” He promptly picked up a pen and crossed out the other persons name and wrote his own name on the top! Then he said, “There you go.” As if life is just that easy. Take what you want. I wonder how many times he’s seen that done I thought. “Hmm,” I said. “He’d make a great attorney!”

My mother and I were laughing so hard at him. In his world forgery was nothing. If you like it, make it yours.

I looked at all of the artwork and started looking at the things in my home. I realized that life is just too short to collect things. The beauty of simple things that the artwork my brother produces, is better than anything one can purchase.

I sat in my living room and was sad when I noticed a small cardboard box which held the belongings which my mother was left with after being moved from her home. I took a picture. I cried to think this was so important to her.The Barbie dolls which she used to knit clothing for. No one could believe that she could do this and it was something that she took great pride in. The little Charlie Brown that plays music. The pictures. I managed to get the bronze shoes from my brother Dennis who had passed away as a baby. These she somehow never lost in all of her shuffling through the years. It is difficult to see my mother’s life reduced to a cardboard box. But then I look around and feel the weight of all the things in my life holding me down. I don’t want anything in my life. I can’t stand things holding me back from what is important. I hate greed and what it does to people. It hurts me to see what it has done. I don’t want to take care of things. Although I love looking at my brother’s pictures. And my mother’s things. It’s cute, but we all have the propensity to collect. So I want to bring joy to other’s by giving.

Now I got my mom into a pottery class to learn something new. She was making me laugh with her antics. When the teacher told her to “pinch her pot,” she said, “What?” “Yea, I said, “That meant something completely different in the 70’s!” Now she’s learning a different skill at 82 and she’ll be able to make new memories and so will I.

I realized that life is not about owning things. In fact the more time I spend with my mother, the more fleeting I see that our time is on this earth. I see that those who have robbed and tried to fill their lives with things, are missing the most important qualities.

My mother and I listened to my brother talking last night. He was telling us about the lipstick that he was going to give his girlfriend at school. He was going to put it in his purse. It’s really a fannypack. He crams all kinds of stuff into that purse. Sometimes I’ll check it just too unload some things. It’s so stuffed full. I just have to see what he’s carrying around and it’s funny. Pictures of things unrelated. I try to connect the subjects, but can’t seem to and move on. The objects make no sense,but they amuse me.

The keychains that I have given him have all found a place on this pack. I have actually had to remove some,because it has become unsafe. The weight of this is ridiculous. And the fact that one of them is a round basketball for coins, makes it hilarious with his gait and when he bowls, underhanded, my son made the remark that it’s a good thing I didn’t give him the bull’s you know what, to hang from this pack, or it would be quite a sight to behold, when he bends down to bowl! This visual just made me crack up.

He is very animated. And when he tells us that someone threw up at school it’s hilarious. He is over the top. I don’t think it happened the way he tells us and at times, I only wish I could place a hidden camera on him. There was one day that he told me that one person threw up and another girl was told that “she stinks and needed to go into the bathroom,” while the teacher was spraying the bathroom. And later, he said the same girl was his girlfriend. My son, who is not easily grossed out, said, “Come on, I don’t want to hear this! You’re girlfriend stinks!” And my brother as proud as could be, said, “Yes, she stinks! Right?” Wow! That’s unconditional love at it’s best! And, all I can say is, those special education teacher’s work very hard, and deserve pay raises!!! Treat them well. They’re very special people.

But,people like my brother are also very special and he keeps me centered. I sometimes find I’m taking him for granted and when I come back to him, I find humor in his simple words and beauty in the world around him. It is just what God was trying to point out to all of us and the reason He told us that “the meek would inherit the earth.”

Look at what a mess we have made of all of this. Greedy people have tried to use people like my brother for selfish gain. I’ve had people say, “They look at your brother like a throwaway.” That has brought me unspeakable pain.” Yes, even at his birth they thought he wouldn’t live. But God had a different plan. And his plans were to bring men to repentance through my brother. Yes, my brother who is so innocent. Who would take an art project and cross someones name and sign his name, would do this with anything. He knows no difference. He tells me everything costs “a hundred dollars.”

But who cares? My brother puts everything in perspective. Whether it a billion dollars or a penny, in his mind it’s the same price. Just as the value of a soul is worth more than everything. And as the Lord has said, “Woe to the man who gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul.”

Full of Blarney! That’s my mom.

Yea, I said, ‘blarney, not to be confused with Barney, the purple dinosaur. She’s still got that sparkle in her eyes.

I look at my mom and think of everything she’s been through, but she still has that quality, which she’s seemed to pass down’ self-effacing humor. Nothing seems to bother her and she’ll do anything for the sake of a laugh. I love this about her.

At times she is so stubborn, I can barely handle it, and then I find myself laughing with her over the silliest things. She will go right along with my humor, since, between her and my father, I inherited this.

It was passed down to my son as well. I have to tell him that his humor is very sick, at times.. I can only predict it will become more so, as he ages and endures hardship.

Since my mom doesn’t do much, but watch tv, I find myself critiquing the commercials and programs, with her throwing in her own quips.

For example, there’s an ad for an Injury Attorney. These girls say, “You can tell Robert anything. If you have an accident, Call Robert.” This continues for quite a while, and at the end they sing, a horrible jingle, “You can tell Robert anything!” It’s so funny. When my mom starts complaining, I say, “Tell Robert!” At this she cracks up. My son came into the room and said, “I’m calling Robert to tell him, my colon is inflamed!” I said, “Go ahead, “You can tell Robert anything!”

I get a visual of some poor secretary answering, Robert’s phone. And explaining that this is an attorney’s office. “Yes, but I need someone to talk to and your ad states, “That I can tell Robert anything.”

My mom is still talking about her visit to my home. “I don’t live here!” She insists. “I’m from Wisconsin!” Ok, she’s on a 2 year visit. Her mail comes here and all her doctor’s, etc. Anyone who lives with an aging parent, probably deals with this.

I wonder who she would have to sit and joke about all the shows, if I wasn’t with her. My son’s relationship to her alone, is more than she’s had in the past. People may have come and gone from her home, but she never had this social interaction.

When I hear her blabbing away to my brother, with special needs, I really laugh. I sent him on a trip for a few day, and she was so excited when he returned. She has a buddy who is always present. Yet, I am amazed at their conversation. At times they are discussing two different things, and neither one seems to notice. They’ve gotten into arguments about things and that makes me laugh even more. My brother is pretty mild-mannered, but my mom can even annoy him!

Of course, he loves living here, so when she goes into her tirade about leaving, he tells her, “Go back to Wisconsin!” He will make a motion circling his head, and she “is crazy, dumb.” This is something he must have learned where he grew up. But my mom loves an argument, so this doesn’t phase her.

Once, his bus came to late,for his liking and my son came running in. “Mom! Kevin’s shaking his fist at the bus driver. He’s swearing at her and he gave her the finger!” “What?!” Oh no, I have to run out to do damage control. The woman just finished saying, “What did you say?” I had to gently remind her that he’s mentally challenged and accustomed to routine. He has a problem with change and is not violent. Yet, I had to laugh, because it’s difficult for most people to understand him, except with profanities, and hand motions are pretty much, universal.

What is strange is that, when he lost his hearing, he didn’t want to learn signing, since he loves using sign language for cursing.

This is where I can see that my mom’s temperament was passed to him, regardless of whether, she raised him.

My son’s idea of placing a camera in the room to tape their interactions is very tempting. He tattles on her when she’s sneaking junk food from her little stash. He watches her as she picks her skin,(which seems to be a nervous habit) She gets up to walk, she hunches over, and he will point to her and say, “Mom can’t walk.” At this she gets angry. “Of course I can walk!” She says.

But when I had left on my trips a few times, she had taken the wrong medicine. I had to tell my daughter and son to take out only the medicine for this particular day. My daughter told me she had been standing on her toes, trying to find the rest in the cupboard.”Grandma, you already took your medicine,” she told her. “Oh, I just wanted to see where your mom put it.” She told my daughter. “She treats me like I’m a little kid!”

Well, I figured out early, that this is her thing.As we all need to feel important, she had this little responsibility, and it is tied to her feelings of independence. I didn’t want to take this away, but she didn’t understand the dangers of ‘double-dosing.’ So I was talking to my son. “Hey, you know how grandma loves to take her medicine. As much as she loves her junk. We should put a fake pill container out, with candy in it! One to match each pill. She’d love it. Like jelly beans, boston baked beans. Those little chewy caramels, for the Chewy vitamin.” “Yea,” he said, we could get a Fruit Rollup, for her patch!” We started cracking up at this. Just thinking of her trying to stick that to herself. And then figuring out that it’s a snack.

But she’s so funny that she’d laugh at this too. That’s the part I love. As I shared it with her later, she just laughed and laughed.

So when I tell her I want to get pictures for the family, she’s always anxious. No matter how silly. She loves it! My kids said, “Grandma looks like a cross between, George Washington and Paul McCartney.” I tell my mom this, and she thinks this is hilarious. So I went out shopping, and finds a picture of George on the cover of Time magazine. “Hey mom, hold this, I’m going to take your picture.” She willingly does it as she’s laughing at the thought. We send it to my son.

Then Paul McCartney is on some show, and I said, “Hey mom! Look, it’s you!” And he did look like he was wearing lipstick, so not sure if she looks like a man, or he looks like a woman!

Then there was a Chicken Nugget which sold for $8000.00, because it looked like George Washington. Well, I took issue with this, since it clearly looked like my mom! And the funniest thing about that, is this is one of the commercials that annoy her. For some reason, she thinks McDonalds has no right to market chicken. “They should stick with hamburgers!” She says.

St Patty’s Day is no different. She states, “I’m not Irish!” I remind her that I am part Irish, and she doesn’t have to be, to have fun.So I place my green wig on her head, and she starts laughing. She loves this. I’ve seen it many times. A person transformed into a child again. I love to be part of the process and it’ a beautiful thing to watch. Living day to day with her, reminds me that childhood really is in the heart. And no amount of time or pain, will erase that.



Snapshots of My Mind

A 60's kid

Yea, I was a mishmash of everything. Look at me. Trying to find identity.

This picture was from 8th grade and I still can’t believe I let my friend Ann, chop off my hair like this. I went with my friend, Carol and her, to her house, and she pulled out the scissors, to do her work.Even at that time, I was adventurous. Always willing to experiment.

She was sharing the story about her stepmother, finding this green stuff, called, ‘marijuana, in her brother’s bedroom, and flushing it down the toilet. Then she told us he was into taking, ‘orange sunshine’ (LSD) Hmm, they made it sound so much like a dessert. Kind of like Tang. Don’t even think that stuff is around anymore. I mean, Tang, of course. However, we knew it was taboo, even then. But the stories, were exciting to listen to. We were the next generation.

Then one day we came over for lunch, and her mom gave my friend, Miriam, and me liver! That is the ultimate kiss of death! I mean come on. You know a person’s parent is giving you a pretty clear message with a meal like that.I was almost tempted to ask if they had any of that Tang, around, to doctor it up! My friend Miriam kept telling me, “just cut it up in small pieces and eat it with milk.” Well, I also hate milk. So that was a problem. Yea, I know. I’m from the dairy state, and that should be against the law. But so far, they haven’t charged me. But, I just couldn’t do it. So Miriam, ate mine. But, as much as I insisted, Ann’s mom couldn’t possibly like us, she said, “Oh sure she does. She just loves liver, and assumed we did too. “Yea, right. Cause we all know. Kid’s just love liver.”

Anyway, these were my  friends, at this time in my life. But a few years before, which are like decades, in kid years, it was Romaine Reed. She was my best friend. She was black. Well, of course that wouldn’t even need to be a statement, now, but we were in the midst of racial tensions at that time. But as children, our worlds, didn’t know anything but friendship.

I met her  after I had just moved into Parklawn. This was the project down the street from my school, Atonement Lutheran. She was in my second grade class. I lived on Sherman Boulevard and Congress. My house faced Sherman Boulevard, and I had some vivid memories of those days.

We had a whole cast of characters, living in that project. Although, Romaine was my best friend, I would say, Kathy was also another, best friend, if you could have two. I never liked saying, best, because it always kind of excluded someone. But you seemed to have people for seasons in your life.

Kathy became a best friend by my own stupid actions. I was sitting on a dumpster with a girl, Georganne. Georganne, clearly had a rivalry with Kathy, which I didn’t know about, and I was the new girl. And as Kathy approached, Georganne said, “here come Kathy, she think’s she’s so cool.”so. I really don’t know what it was she said, but she inspired such evil in me, that I took a rock I had in my hand, and I threw it. Never thinking I would actually land it. But land, it did. Right in her eye. I was mortified.

She turned around running into her house, crying. I had never been so mean. I left and ran into my own house to tell my mother what I had done. And my mom, made me go over to say I was sorry. I was scared. I thought she may look like a pirate with a patch or something.

As her mother opened the door, I realized how sweet an soft-spoken she was. There I saw, Kathy laying on the couch with an ice pack on her eye. Her eye was black and blue and swollen. Now I really felt terrible. I couldn’t believe I did that. I had always been extremely shy and compassionate. Yes, I could see how easy it was to swing, from the timid to the bully on the flip of a coin. I was precariously balancing on the need for this girls approval, and I didn’t like the way I was manipulated by her little voice in my ear. I learned a valuable lesson that day which I carried with me. I didn’t need to be liked by someone that much, that I would hurt someone else.

Now all I wanted to do was make it right. I felt so bad and just a little angry that I let Georganne get the best of me. Of course she was long gone and I’ve seen a lot of people like her in my life. Those kind, create trouble. They’re divisive and run at the first sign of trouble. They’ll leave you hanging when the storm begins to blow.  Kathy forgave me, and her and I became very good friends  after that.

I became friends with Georganne too, but always felt she was somewhat insecure, and kept her at arm’s-length Knowing that she couldn’t be fully trusted. I’m sure everyone has friends like this in their lives. And I’ve kind of used this as metaphors in my own. I see them come and go. I’ve been able to assess relationships in this way. The ones you know are keepers, and the ones you know are just around for a good time. But I am very cynical about those, who seem to call when they only need something.

But my friend Romaine and I never had such drama. She didn’t live in Parklawn either. She lived on the other side of the creek. She would come over to visit and I would visit her. I have some vivid memories that I recall and as my cousin was asking a question on Facebook the other day I had to think of one in particular. He said, he had memories of things like pictures in his mind.

I have always thought of one memory with Romaine, which seemed like a picture which should have been on the cover of Time, or some such magazine. I thought of this the other day, when my cousin brought up the vivid memories we carry with us during our lives. I’ve always had this one for some reason. The Snapshot. Frozen in my memory. A piece of history.  Her and I had no idea of what we were experiencing. We were so close. We were sitting on the corner of Congress and Sherman Boulevard and down the street were rumbling army tanks. One after another. We were two little girls. One black and one white. “Wow!” I said. “I wonder what is happening.” We were in awe. But many years later as I learned we were witnessing the National Guard on their way downtown to try to squash the ‘race riots.’

I had to think of the snapshot of that moment. What a picture of us on that corner from up above. And even the names of the streets. A Sherman tanks, and an act of Congress to call out National Guards. All of it a play on words.

This was our favorite corner to play on and once she told me, “Girl, you need to get you some soul! On that corner, she taught me how to dance. She showed me how to do dances of that time. Right before Soul Train had it’s beginnings. Don Cornelius, rest his soul.  There was ‘The Popcorn. The Mother Popcorn, The Hesitation, The Meditation, and who could forget the Funky Chicken? Well, actually how many of you are old enough to remember this? But man when the Bump came along, we were in heaven. That girl taught me everything.

The music was divine. A beautiful mix of love, peace, soul and political activism with,  The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and even Bob Dylan. Songs like ‘Eve of Destruction,’ which, I might add, would be very timely for today. So many artists responsible for the birthing of this great movement.

It was the generation which brought about change.A torch which has been passed down to the next generation. The snapshots were indelibly burned upon my mind and I did ‘get that soul, my friend Romaine talked about. But it was more than the dance.

She inspired so much more in me. I have always loved those who are the underdog. The beaten down. The forgotten ones. My friend Romaine and me, were friends no matter what color our skin.

I can still hear her laugh. I remember our trip to Capitol Court. It was an outdoor mall, before they had indoor malls. We would all go there to hang out when we were kids. We were about 10 years old and I probably was about 80 pounds. I tried on a pantsuit. It was cute. I remember thinking I liked the print. As she watched me put it on I looked down and asked her, “what the heck is this square thing in the front of the pants?” We both started laughing so hard. Everything seemed to fit, but there was this huge panel in the front of the pants, and we were cracking up at this very strange defect.

A saleswoman heard us and started yelling into the dressing room, for us to get out immediately. “Stop fooling around in there right now!” she said. I came out with Romaine, and we were both still laughing so hard, and the woman snatched the outfit from me. “What are you doing with that?” She said. “What is this?”” I asked her. “You know darn well that’s a maternity outfit. Now get out of here!” She said. “Oh my gosh!” Now we started laughing even harder.

Neither Romaine or I had any idea what this thing was. And it’s not like, even with all the kids my mom had, that she had ever worn something like this. That’s what made it even funnier. We were crying by the time we left this store,and the saleswoman made it all the funnier.

The thought of Romaine’s long legs in fetal position, laughing til she was in tears, in that dressing room, leaves me with just one more ‘snapshot,’ for the archives.

What ‘The Tuck?’

Strike a Pose!

Ok man, Jimmy Fallon had this new pose on his show, and I just can’t let him scoop this from our managers. I have been seeing them do this one for years, and I even blogged about this one Christmas years ago. Of course, I didn’t have the name, ‘The Tuck, like The Tebow.’

I called it, “the hand-clasp,bow-stance.”  Except, unlike the football exercise, to celebrate victory, this was the mock humility which comes from a superior, approaching us to reprimand us about something absurd.

I will never forget this incident, as I came up with a whole song in my head, as it was unfolding and a guy that I was working with was rolling in laughter as I started singing it to him, on the flight. He asked for my blog so he could read the post later.

I will try to recall events, to the best of my  knowledge, as this was a blog which has been abandoned and I was so fond of that post. I still remember the supervisor. Our manager’s have the best, “Tuck, which, as I said earlier, are the first, to receive the credit, well that is, after the Asian culture. I would also like to add that in the Asian culture, it is a bow out of authentic respect. In my example, it is only to reprimand, as sort of, submissive appearance.

Here’s the story; I had been wearing a Christmas sweater. It was Christmas.We were told we could wear a ‘tasteful holiday sweater.

A manager approached me in a hall a few days before Christmas. She grabbed her hands in anxiety and did the classic ‘hand-clasp,bow-stance, or ‘The Tuck,’ as it now football jargon. She began, in trembling voice, “I would be remiss if I did not speak to you.” I looked at her, waiting for her to say something very important. She spoke again, “I would be so remiss, if I didn’t speak to you right now!” She said it again. “Wow!” I thought. “This has got to be important! She stood to the side, with her hands wringing. And she said it, once more for effect, “I would be sooo, remiss, if I did not speak to you!” She said. “Oh, ok.” I said.

Now, she looked so serious, I waited, and she said, “Do you have a uniform sweater in your bag?” At this point, I thought I was going to burst out laughing, because, I was beginning to sing a little rap in my head. “We wish you a very remissmas, We wish you a very remissmas!” When she said this, I was totally caught off guard. “Ah, yes, I do. And by the way, I wasn’t wearing one of those, horrible, Jimmy Fallon, Christmas sweater’s either. It was plain black with red trim.

So, at this point, it came out of my mouth. I said, “Merry Remissmas!” I turned and went into my briefing with my crew members.I said, “Hey, I should get a picture of myself in my sweater and say Merry Remissmas to you! and send it to her.   This whole scene was hilarious and when I saw Jimmy Fallon doing this new pose, I had to say, there’s nothing new about this. I’ve seen it many times. And it is the best. But, the NFL tries to claim it, forget it man, it should have been trademarked by manager’s long ago!

Can You ‘Handle It’?

I just went grocery shopping with my son, and it always seems to turn into a mixture between, stress, and comic relief. First, he finds, a produce bag, fills it with air,and starts to see if he can keep it in the air as long as possible. He places the bubble on his head as a hat, and waits for all the comments to come in from passersby. It’s tilted like a fedora, and I have to admit, it’s funny.

Yesterday, he dared me to dance to Michael Jackson, in front of the screen at Brands Mart, which I did, and I had a group of people giving me thumbs up. However, when it was his dare, he left me hanging.”No way!” He said,”If I was with my friends, sure. But not with my mom!” “Oh, great, so does that mean if they dared you to smoke some weed or something, you would?” He rolls his eyes.”Come on mom!”

But,I was surprised,because he usually loves to perform. Which is why I actually got him to put on a little girls pink sparkly jacket today, and dance to, ‘ Bingo Was His Name-O’. I guess it just depends upon his mood.

pink is his color

Then we made a trip down another aisle and it was filled with ordinary food items, until my eyes seemed to drift to a string of plastic hanging on the side. “Hmmm. What is this?” I wondered. “Are they kidding?” I called my son over. “You’ve got to see this!” “Oh come on!” He said. “Who would make their kid use that?” “Well, probably some kid with a pocket protector, and coke bottle glasses.” “Yea,” he said, and a helmet!” “Wait, a minute” I said. “You are supposed to wear a helmet!” But before we started arguing, I took a picture of the incredibly silly object and told him to hold it.

Ice cream cone holder

Now before any inventor of such object, looks at my blog and gets angry, I’m sorry, but, much like the ‘Pet Rock,’ I just thought this to be hilarious. What kid, is going to use this without ever being able to live this one down? Really? Oh, and just so you know, this can be turned upside down, for a popsicle too! Now, are you this worried, as a parent, about those little drips, that you are going to force your child to live with the stigma of this taunting for the rest of his life? I mean, isn’t the fun of having a popsicle or ice cream cone, just licking it, before it melts? Sorry, but, kids are kids, and most would say, “dude, hold your own cone!”
I’m thinking that only someone like, Bree Van De Kamp, from Desperate Housewives, came up with this idea. It’s a kids nightmare. Or perhaps, Joan Crawford…”No more wire hangers! Yikes, that woman still scares me!

I can hear it now; “Charles, make sure you put your sweater on, before you leave the house, or you’ll catch a cold. (myth) And don’t forget your helmet. (He’s walking) Tie your shoes! Look both ways before crossing the street.Press the button for the cross-walk. Don’t jay-walk. Don’t forget your calculator, pocket protector, and lunch, and your ice cream cone holder, if you get an ice cream!”

Ice cream holder $2

It reminded me of a venture a family member had been involved in years ago, with some guys. They had put some money into that bottle holder, “The Handle It.” Well, I thought it was funny. I know, I just felt the same way as I do about the Ice Cream thing. Why in the world can’t a person hold their bottle of soda?

So, we were at my sister-in-law’s house, and her husband has the same sense of humor as I do. We took that ‘Handle It,’ and made it into all kinds of silly gadgets. We took pictures of it, as, a golf tee, a hat rack, salt and pepper shaker, etc. My ex husband,  and everyone got involved. We laughed so hard and had so many pictures at the end. We must have come up with 50 ideas for that thing. Her daughter’s husband was somewhat reticent at first, and then he really got into it.

Well, lo and behold, Christmas rolled around and they present the brother-in-law, who had been involved in this business venture, with a collage of all these pictures! He laughed so hard he was crying and said he was going to take it to his partners. It was even a surprise to me. It ended up being a bust in the end, but we all had some great laughs from the whole thing.

Of course the name of the collage was, “Can You Handle It?”

Hmm, come to think of it, both the ice cream holder and the bottle holder are clearly metaphors for life.

The Dim Bulb

I am watching Saturday Night Live and I’m just cracking up. It is a skit called, White People’s Problems, and I swear we had some people just like this on our flight last night.

Charles Barkley just said, “Man that problem is so white it should go snowboarding!” I was rolling! I had to think of the woman we were talking about. We just couldn’t figure her out.

The flight attendant I was working with said, she had first stopped her to say, “You know you guys need to advertise more to let people know you have food.” She obviously ate before getting onboard. But most people know we offer food.

Later she asked me for a club soda and a cranberry juice. After a while my flying partner told me she seemed to be too young to have this attitude. But she said, every time I walk by her she seems annoyed. She was right. She came to the back and in her most pretentious voice,she asked “Do you have spritzers?” I said, wine spritzers? “No,” and as if I was just stupid, she repeated herself. “Like spritzers.” “Ok,” I said, and before I ever got another word out, she acted irritated and said, “Just give me a ginger ale!” “Well, no if you mean juice and club soda, like you had earlier,that is a spritzer,””No” she said.I was thinking she really didn’t like being told that it wasn’t a premixed concoction. Because in her perfect world everything was what she wanted, and when she wanted it. Anyway, I want to just tell her to chill, the world’s about to end, in another year, so make learn how to make a sprizter….live a little.

Then she went on to the next complaint. “Oh, could you please write up my light, it’s really dim? I’ve been trying to read, and I  am having a hard time.It’s hard to believe she can find time to read with all the trouble she’s trying to stir up. “Is the bulb burnt out?” I ask her? “No It’s just really dim.” Hmm,I know what I was thinking, but I sure didn’t want to say it.

But across the aisle,sure enough, there was a man who could be her match.He was in 19F,and the flight attendant came back to tell me,He had called her over and told her quite abruptly, “You need to turn off this video!  There are only 3 people watching it!” I was cracking up. “What?” Another passenger was standing in back and said, “Hey I heard that guy. It’s a documentary about janitors or something. Maybe it bugs him.” “Well, he really seems mad about it.” My flying partner said. “He actually said that he can see only three people watching it, as it I’m supposed to turn off the video to the whole cabin.”

“I know! Maybe we should get him together with the dim bulb! 

These people are so self-centered. Or maybe it’s just another episode of White Peoples Problems!

Dear Santa, I’d like a ‘floating arm,’ for Christmas


This was a conversation that I had with my son when we went out today. I decided to go to Walgreen’s, to pick up a few things. Given that they had also given me a coupon for $10 off of any purchase of $30 or more, it seemed like a good place to spend my money. Besides, the Walgreen’s near me, has been the place to get all my last-minute things, including supplements for my mother.

While we were there, I went down the aisle that had all the item’s that she could use, for help. Lately she has had a difficult time walking and she grabs my arm, just to walk across the kitchen. It’s a short walk from my family room to the bathroom, but for some reason, she seems afraid to walk into open spaces, without holding on to someone, or something.

Now I find myself, staring at an assortment of canes. Wow! Who knew that you could be so stylish, while using a cane? My son was thrilled. “Hey! I like this one!” He grabbed one with camouflage and said, “I can’t wait to be old!” I was laughing to watch him, pretending to walk. “Look at me! I’m trippin on my grill!” One of his favorite expressions.

I told him, “I like the leopard one.” “No,” he said. “Grandma would look better with the pink flowers.” Now It’s an amusing thought, that we are actually trying to match her personality to a cane. I’m sure they couldn’t come up with anything to incorporate all her personality traits. My eyes drift at all of them, when I see one which is quite different.  “Wait a minute, look at this one. It glows in the dark.”

“Oh! That’s so cool!” My son is clearly excited now. “Let’s get this, it’s just so cool.” “Ok,” I said. But at this point reality is settling in. “You are the one that is going to convince your grandma to use it. I’m going to say, it’s a gift from you.” “Ok,” he said. “But I still think she’s going to make some excuse.”

He kept looking at the other geriatric products, and was amazed at the products available. “Man, it’s gonna be fun when I’m old!” He says. “Sure, that’s easy for you to say. I’m the one that’s next. And you better hope that I’m not as stubborn as grandma.”

We were laughing after I left the house, because my mom had picked up her calendar for the umpteenth time, and asked me what day it was. Every time she would ask, I would say, “It’s the 21st, Wednesday, mom. And don’t check it off again. Yesterday, she checked off today. And this is the reason, I have to hide her medicines. When I would come home to find them on the wrong days, I knew this method wasn’t working.

So, we come in with this cane and my son was over the top, when he saw it glowing. I had to pry off the bottom cap to place a small tripod on the bottom. Hoping this wouldn’t detract from the appearance too much. “Ok,” I told him. “You’re job is to now, sell this, to your grandma.”

We walked into the room, as I exclaimed, “Mom, we wanted to give you an early gift. It’s something that your grandson picked out and he really thinks you’ll like it.” He came running in and pretending to dance with this cane. At first, she started laughing, and then he said, “Grandma, it’s for you.” “Oh no! I don’t need that!” She said. “Mom, you’re grasping at walls, and need my arm, to walk across the room.” “I don’t need your arm, and I’m not an invalid.” She says. “Well, what will you do, when I am not here to walk you?” “I don’t need your arm!” She yells out. “Ok, I’ll leave it right here for when you may want to use it.”

Her response? “What’s the date today?” I lost my patience all together, and said, “Mom! It’s still the 21st. You’ve asked me so many times, it’s driving me crazy!”

Yes, I know, it’s not the correct response. I turned around to see my son cracking up. “Let’s go to the grocery store.” I say to him. “I’m just at a loss about how to help her.” Then he says, “Well I know what you can get grandma for Christmas? A floating arm!” Then we both start laughing at the thought. I said, “Hey, they should design a floating arm, on a contraption, like a zip-line.” He starts laughing so hard, as we are just imagining my mom, grabbing hold to ‘the arm,’ careening across the kitchen, into her designated place.

Then he says, “Hey, she’s probably asking Kevin, what the date is. Did you hear her when you didn’t answer her?” “No,” I said. “What did she say?” “Oh,” he said. “It was funny She looked at Kevin, and said, “Geesh! Well, I’ll get the answer from someone else.”

“Oh, my gosh, can you see them together?” At this thought, we both started laughing even harder. “My mom, questioning my mentally challenged brother, all day, about what the date is. I can see him grabbing his calendar, which he has by his side as well. He keeps track of all the Packer’s games, on his calendar.

“He probably gets sick of it too!” my son says. “He probably says, “Stop it!” Which is my brother’s favorite expression, when he’s fed up. He’ll put his hand up, in a stop symbol, and says, “Stop it!” Oh, this is just hilarious, to even imagine.

I tell my son, “we should get her a Planner.” “Oh, I can already see what would be written in it.” He says. “First, get out of bed. Check off the date. Wait for Carrie to leave the room. Sneak some chocolate. Wait til she comes back. Ask her what date it is. Check off the date.” Now I can’t stop cracking up at him. I said, “Come on, that’s not nice. “Mom, it’s our humor that keeps us going.” “You know what? That’s true.” I said.

Now my son says, I’d love to put a hidden camera in the room to watch them. It’s probably so funny.” He has a point. I’ve walked into the room to hear my mom, just talking away with my brother. It’s not as if it’s odd to talk to him, but she’ll actually talk to him as if, he is fully functioning. He doesn’t have a clue about some of the things she’s saying. And she’s even gotten into arguments with him. This is a complete mystery to me. As I have to remind my son, he is not at your level, so don’t argue with him.

The good thing about her lack of memory, is that she forgets as soon as she has an argument. She’s told me, “well losing short term memory isn’t all bad. There’s some things people don’t want to remember.” How true this is. If only we could pick and choose.

Now my son is dancing in front of the television with the cane, and he’s singing into it like a microphone. My mother is getting a big kick out of this. She tells him, “Well I’m glad you like it! You can keep it!”

So, the ‘cane argument’ has blown over and I walk into the room. “Hey! She says, “What’s the date?”

It's not Christmas without a cane!


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