Happy New Year to you all!!!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Happy New Year to you all!!!
MILK was an incredibly heartbreaking and beautiful film about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected government official. Sean Penn was brilliant, as was the entire cast. And whether you're open or not to gay issues, this was just a beautiful film, - a story about a man who wanted to make the world a better place. Bring tissues. I was holding back the big sobs.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Froggy LOVED aunt Dorothy (Dort as she was called.) Because we are unable to attend her funeral in Iowa, I wanted to share my favorite Aunt Dort memories.
My sister and I often visited Aunt Dort in Marshalltown, Iowa - a very small town boasting the simpler pleasures of childhood --a candy store, a pond with swans, and Aunt Dort's apartment. We lived in a house in the country, so spending the night in an apartment on a city street with the sounds of cars whooshing by, and the novelty of neighbors on the other side of the wall rather than a cornfield was well just....thrilling! Don't even get me started on the excitement evoked by a communal laundry room. It was like a domestic slot machine, Las Vegas in the middle of Iowa, the splendor of buttons, quarters, and swirling wonder of our pj's getting cleaned. Maybe we were easy to please, but there was something quaint and fascinating about this town, and of course Aunt Dort.
Dorothy never married, and for most of her life, lived with her sister Julie in a white house with fabulous front porch. My very faint memories of that house included an upstairs with slanted ceilings that held what seemed like a bomb shelter supply of paper towels. If ever there were a nuclear war, Aunt Dort and Aunt Julie would be the only two people able to clean up the big messes.
Dort was a wonderful artist, painting china and tiles, and when visiting, we were invited to paint with her. There was something very grown-up about her acrylics and tiny brushes. To be trusted with paint that would permanently stain furniture and table cloths was more fun than actually creating art. That is the beauty of spending time with someone who never had children -they don't know the destruction you are capable of, so they give you dangerous stuff - acrylics over finger paints.
It seems strange now, but one of our favorite things to do with Aunt Dort, was visit the local cemeteries. We'd pick flowers and find the graves of relatives I'd never met and honor them with a visit. I always felt sorry for the dead whose sites were neglected and overgrown with weeds. But Dort always wiped the stones of those we didn't know too, and placed a flower or two in the neighboring sites. One of the cemeteries had a pond that was home to swans and Canada geese. One year both swans were killed, coincidentally one day before Thanksgiving. It made big news in Marshalltown, but Aunt Dort said that maybe the people who killed the pair were poor and couldn't afford a turkey. It was surprisingly optimistic of her. But once you thought you figured Aunt Dort out, you were wrong. She was indeed multi-layered.
Dort said that "Everyday we must do one good deed." I've often thought of that and tried to apply it to my life. She was a big believer in corralling stray shopping carts, picking up litter, driving her elderly friends to church and ice cream socials. She outlived all of her friends, so when the time came that she could no longer drive, unfortunately few could return the favor.
When visiting, we'd stop at the local Wal-mart and Aunt Dort let us each pick out a toy and candy - again someone who had kids would NEVER let us do! But she was never in a hurry and let us spend hours in the pet store, our noses pressed against giant aquariums, and strolling the candy aisles carefully weighing the pro's and con's of gummy worms vs. pop rocks.
There was another side to aunt Dorothy, as there are with most people. We're all complicated and multi-dimensional, and if I didn't mention this, it would be like talking about a turtle and failing to mention that he lives in a shell. Aunt Dort was...well... a little crabby. And I'm not bringing this up as an insult, but because it made her interesting, lively and entertaining. She, like most people of her generation had failed to catch up with the politically correct terms for minorities and would speak loudly in crowded public places while using this outdated terminology. I won't give examples... you know what I mean.
And when my sister was thirteen, which is just an awful and self conscious age, Aunt Dort declared, "Well, you better be careful what you eat, or you'll get a big Johnson butt!" It was horrifying for my sis at the time, but has since become an endearing tale of Aunt Dortisms. She had an incredible ability to find the negative in any situation. And I don't mean this with any disrespect. We all need Aunt Dorts. Had the Kennedy Administration had an Aunt Dort, there never would have been a Bay of Pigs Invasion. She could access any situation with a little constructive criticism and a solution to improve. She was that sharp.
My Aunt Dorothy was a brilliant woman who was insightful until the end. She was a wordsmith, a historian, a connoisseur of current events. Nothing got by her, and as negative as she was, she was also appreciative of the little delights in life. She absolutely adored her great-great nephew E-boy and great-great niece Froggy. These two little hellions could do no wrong in Dort's eyes. Even at lunch, with both kids screaming and throwing food, Dort would come up with a wonderful excuse for their inappropriate behavior. It was anyone else's fault but theirs. She had such a soft spot for Froggy and E-boy and their naughty antics, which makes me think that she too was a little naughty at heart.
And if Dort is remembered for one thing, I hope it is her optimism in the midst of criticism. It was something you could trust. She was honest, always. If you needed to know if you'd gained a little weight, or if your head was balding, if someone was doing a good job...or not... she would let you know, without that Midwest polite reservation. She was what she was, and I loved her. We all did.
Good-bye Aunt Dort. You were one of a kind. May you always have someone as thoughtful as you to wipe away the dirt and weeds from your final resting place, and may we all remember to do atleast one good deed everyday.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Santa Claus brought her a tricycle, camera, clothes, princess computer, boucy ball, drum set, and more. Not like she's spoiled or anything.
Grandma W. made her famous butternut squash soup, and an incredible meal!
Sissysnuggiekins spent the whole day with us! (Those pictures are coming later - I took them with Froggy's new camera, but haven't read the manual yet.)
Buddy begged for turkey, and succeeded in some scraps.
FD and I were pampered with gift certificates galore!
We missed our Iowa family big time.
We had an incredible, amazing, exhausting, thankful, loving, delicious, beautiful Christmas!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
When our friend "J" said, "Let's take Froggy ice skating," I secretly thought, "You're CRAZY," but agreed to it anyway. I thought Froggy was a little too young, but this kiddo rises to any challenge with lightening speed. It was a blast! Froggy was a great little skater and of course wanted to do it by HERSELF!!!
After skating, we came back to our house for chili (that J made), cornbread and salad. We played the board game, or as FD calls it a "bored game" called "Battle of the Sexes." The girls won... of course.
It was so much fun to have Sissysnuggiekins spend the day with us. She and Froggy are two silly peas in a pod.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Run - by Ann Patchett
*Shantaram - by Gregory David Roberts
Water for Elephants - by Sara Gruen
What is the What - by Dave Eggers
*The Shadow of the Wind - by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
*The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - by Junot Diaz
The Book of Bright Ideas - by Sandra Kring
*Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - by Lisa See
*Out Stealing Horses - by Per Petterson
The Mercy of Thin Air - by Ronlyn Domingue
*The Interpreter of Maladies - by Jhumpa Lahiri
*The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - by Bill Bryson
*Foreskin's Lament - by Shalom Auslander
*Little Heathens - by Mildred Kalish
Non-fiction and yes a little cheesy Self-help:
*The Language of God - by Francis Collins
The Seat of the Soul - by Gary Zukav
The Dance of Anger - by Dr. Harriet Lerner
*In Defense of Food - by Michael Pollan
The Happiest Toddler on the Block - by Dr. Harvey Karp
*Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child - by Dr. John Gottman
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - by John Gray
by W. B. Yeats (my favorite)
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
by William Butler Yeats
I love the line "But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you. And loved the sorrows of your changing face." What a line. One of the best lines ever.
Sadly, like all great poets, Yeat's love was unrequited. He was enamored with a woman named Maud Gonne, who refused his many marriage proposals, saying, "You would not be happy with me. … You make beautiful poetry out of what you call your unhappiness and you are happy in that. Marriage would be such a dull affair. Poets should never marry."
I think poor Yeats was 'the nice guy'. And Maud went on to marry the 'bad guys.' It's true, poets are most happy and productive wallowing in gloom. But even though sweet William never married his love, we will always remember his name, his words, his love. And we can not say the same for her husbands.
You can read more about Yeats at my favorite website The Writer's Almanac.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The top story at 6 then moves to an overweight couple roasting marshmallows over an outdoor grill. The weather vixen asks the woman what in world she is doing, and the woman replies, "Dang, it's soooo cold. I had to buy a new jacket, it was like so cold," showing off her new jacket that isn't even zipped and exposing her halter top to the blustery blizzard that is the 65 degree Los Angeles tundra.
And then, because the weather is just too dangerous to stop reporting on, they move to another genius standing in his yard (without a jacket mind you), by his mechanical reindeer, and they ask him from the toasty studio, "So any advice about this weekend weather?"
I'm sorry. I'm from Iowa. I find this hilarious.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Froggy asked for a camera... in a rather stunned and quiet voice. It appears the big red guy scared the holiday poo out of her.
But not Hummingbird. She told Santa he MUST admire her shoes!
Bye Santa! Don't forget about that camera!!!
But no, FD said, "It's Santa Claus!" Whew, waaaay better than a shooting!
I hurriedly threw an outfit on Froggy (check out above photo), and we raced down the street.
Froggy asked, "Does he have my camera?"
"No Froggy, you get that on Christmas day."
After some disappointment that Santa wasn't giving out gifts, she was thrilled to see him, scared to sit on him, but relieved to see that his elf was indeed giving out candy, which is the next best thing to a present. Sooo much fun.
Froggy and FD have a cold. I had the stomach flu, and was recovering from a sinus infection, and Buddy...well he's as healthy as a pooch can be. Thank you Grandpa J. for coming over and helping FM take care of the little tadpole.
We are feeling MUCH better. But, this is the third cold Froggy has had this season. Not good. I'm at a loss.
She is not in preschool or daycare, I don't let her play in the indoor playgrounds at the mall or other cess pools of toddler germiness. We use so much alcohol gel on our hands that if you licked our fingers, you could actually get drunk. I sanitize the grocery carts, we wash our hands before every meal snack, and many times just for the heck of it, and we've all had our flu shots...so why, why, why, have we been so sick this year?
And it's not like we're too clean, preventing Froggy's immune system from building up her natural responses to germs. We have three hairy pets, Froggy goes to the park almost everyday, and we let her play in the sand and yes, sometimes dirt. She has regular playdates, but we always check with the parents if their kiddos have been ill.
I give up. Sometimes you have no control.