Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A post in which I don't say what I intended to say

My maternal grandmother, who we called Opoe, was a beloved and revered woman in our family.  Maybe she was mythologized: she joined the Mormon church and brought her ten children with her, and those ten children had fifty-four children.  And heaven only knows how many children those children had.  Most of them had large families.  I'm the oldest of nine.  A couple of uncles had a dozen each. And according to Mormon belief, we are all sealed to each other for eternity.

Even Opa, my maternal grandfather, who never joined the church, was reeled in by the rest of us after his death.

I have been thinking a lot about Opa since I was in Holland a year ago.  I have been thinking about my father's family as well, none of whom felt it necessary to be Mormon, but they will be reeled in as soon as they die.

Did I just have a seizure?

I was going to tell you an inspirational story about Opoe, but instead I have wallowed into unbaptized waters. 

I think I'll wander off to bed.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How memory failed me. Part I: Queen Juliana of Nederland

This is Queen Juliana on her wedding day to Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1937.
Like all queens, Juliana rode her bike from castle to castle.
The queen, the prince and their four daughters, (oldest to youngest) Beatrix, Irene, Margriet (my age) and Marijka

Queen Juliana swinging with one of her daughters before biking home.                  
If I wrote recent Dutch history from my own memory, I would have sworn that Juliana was the Queen of the Netherlands when I was born there in September 1942.  She was included in a memoir I wrote and published. I grew up wanting to be one of her daughters, who seemed always to wear white (of course, all photos were in black and white).

What I learned from Wikipedia this weekend was that Juliana was not queen until September, 1948. Our family left the Netherlands the end of April, 1948. 

WIKIPEDIA MUST BE WRONG, I thought.  This echoes what my father used to say to me when I brought him a fact from the World Book Encyclopedia that opposed his world view: "The encyclopedia is wrong."

My father could be a real prat sometimes.

I am just like him.

The queen's mother, Wilhelmina, was still the queen when I was born.  How could this be?  Did my parents know?  Why didn't they tell me?

Oma used to send newspapers from Holland, which I certainly must have looked through, and by then, Juliana WAS the queen.

I have looked up the Dutch royal family before.  How could I have missed this?  I'm 72 years old.  I thought Juliana was my queen.

There's a crack in the universe.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My granddaughter, Rian, is getting married

Rian Plummer and Tate Black eating pizza in Chicago during spring vacation

They're engaged.  Beautiful ring!
So Tate's been showing up at family parties for many moons now.  At first, we thought he was shy.  He tended to sit on straight back chairs and smile pleasantly at the rest of us, not giving us many hints about himself. Slowly we learned he's rye with his humor (the best kind), he's kind, he's better at puzzles than the rest of us, and he drives a truck.  He's a Centerville boy.  He's graduating from the U this semester.  He and Rian met when they both worked for the U housing office.  They are a splendid couple.  They'll marry in August.  Let the hoopla begin!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tom prays over lunch

Two tuna salad sandwiches and milk.

He's thankful for the food, for the snow, for the two of us and our long love; may we continue many more years, and  through eternity.

I smile.  Maybe it's a smirk.  Amen.

He says  "Don't you want to spend eternity with me?"

"I already have," I say.

"You are a tough sell," he says.

Eternal sexual tension.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Visiting Dutch uncles and aunts

Louise, Om Joe (Dicou) and my sister,Janie.  He is 86.  He said he couldn't yodel anymore, but then he did.
Om Gov (Govert Copier), Tante Toni (Antonia) and Tante Fred (Frederika)  Ages 95, 92, 90.
My cousin, Anya Bateman, Om Gov, et.al.
Painting of Dutch scene given to Om Gov and Tante Fred for their wedding 70 years ago.
If I had to develop a theory of longevity based on  my mother's family, it would be tell a joke, laugh, sing loudly, yodel, enjoy eating, stay in bed a little longer,  recite memorized poems in Dutch, tell old stories and have a beer occasionally.

Tante Fred made Anya, Janie and me sing Om Gov's favorite hymn, "Where Shall I Turn for Peace,"
because the writer, Emma Lou Thayne, who wrote that hymn, was his friend.  We three sang alto, and he actually conducted us from his bed.  Performance is everything.  Well, it is for performers.

I've never had a beer.  I wouldn't consider myself a beer girl.  Last year, I tried some kind of champagne cocktail just for the fun of breaking a rule.  It was okay, but I prefer Dr. Pepper.  I plan on breaking quite a few more rules now that I'm old.  Nothing serious.  Nothing depraved.  No felonies. Nothing that will hurt anyone.

I plan to keep on loving those I love and ignoring the hateful.  I plan to keep on looking for what is beautiful.  It's everywhere.

I'm not giving up swearing, though.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Can you throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier?

This blog is about old lady boobs and bras.  If you have delicate sensibilities, you should move on.

I've never been for a bra fitting, because it involves having some young thing look at your sagging, aging torso.  My vanity just can't take it.  Yet, I knew my bra didn't fit, because years ago, I watched an Oprah show about bra fitting.

Last week I went out and bought a new bra, paying big bucks for it, because if you have a cup size larger than B, you need to pay big bucks for support.  If you know what I mean.

I decided I took a 44 H.  Yes, there is such a size.  It was a comfortable bra.

Saturday night, Charles and Erica came by and I put on a tunic I had ordered in the mail, thinking it was a slim look.  "Do I look fat in this?"  I asked.

Never ask that question.

What I really meant to ask and finally did was, do my hips look big?  Here's the thing: I don't have large hips, but I'm heavy topside. The tunic comes down over the large boobs and just hangs there over your buttocks, so that they look larger than they really are.

"It makes your butt look bigger than it is," Charles said.  I can rely on Charles to tell the truth.  And then he said, "Why are you hanging so low?"

A question for the ages.  Because I'm old like the old ladies in Emigration Ward whose breasts hung to their waists?  Why not just go out and buy a navy blue crepe dress with a lace collar and some lace-up Enna Jetticks?  Why not sleep with a plastic bag over my head tonight?

That night, I measured.  I was not 44 inches.  I was 38 inches. 

Over the weekend we bought a new power cord for the Ipad at the mall.  "Let's go look at bras," I said to Tom.  This is what every husband wants to do is shop for bras.  He found himself a chair in the lingerie department.

"I just bought a new bra and look how I sag," I said to Rachel at the counter.

"You need a fitting," she said.  I told her my measurement and the outrageous bra size I was wearing.

She went and got  a half dozen bras and took me to a dressing room.  "May I come in while you're changing?" she asks.  She is no older than 25.

"Are you kidding me?" I said.  "No, you may not watch me change. You are young and I am old.  I don't want to see you gagging at the sight of my body." I was wearing a jersey over a blouse over secret underwear over a bra.  No one was going to watch me take all of that off and put on a bra.

She leaves, but on the other side of the door, she says, "May I come in after you have the bra on?"

"Yes," I said.

The short of it is that Rachel fitted me into a 38 G.  But, people, I'm now a high rider.   I am ridiculously happy about this.  RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY.

I can't wait to show Charles.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


I awoke this morning in a happy dream.  Tom and I were invited to an academic banquet with students and faculty.  It was in a large Gothic hall, with one long table running through its center.  We celebrated a "find" of live extinct species.  There were bugs I'd never seen before crawling on the floor at one end of the table.  I was not at all repelled but wildly curious about them. 

What I liked best were the fat little birds flying about.  They were the size of finches with heads that looked like they'd been dobbed on with frosting, not at all aerodynamic. They exuded a palpable cheerfulness.

The students were bright and cheerful as well.  I enjoyed mixing and joking.  When we sat down to eat, a man stood and raised his glass and said, "We did it!  We put a man on the moon with art!"

I was delighted.