Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Birthday to a whole slew of Plummers and their relations

The beginning of the year is filled with birthdays in our family: Erica, Julie, Anne, Maxwell(yesterday).  Next week, is Spencer and then Rian.
Anne (22) with Maxwell (15) on his birthday.
Charles put together a slide show for each of their birthdays this year with funky unidentifiable music (at least, for me). It's a stab in the heart to see how whimsical time is.  Grandchildren are growing up and I am hurtling toward death.  This doesn't stop me from eating lots of cake--mostly the frosting--why waste calories on cake?

 Four people played this new game above, and some worked on a 1000-piece puzzle.  Rian's man, Tate, finished the frame.  Next week, we'll continue with the middle. 

I moved between the two rooms depending on how anxious the conversations made me.  Tom fell asleep on the sofa.  The grandchildren have scary plans for their futures like two years of Teach for America (pass the oxygen), so noble and unbelievably difficult.  This is probably why the very young do this optimistic work, while I hyperventilate.

It's raining today.  That's good!  Rain is good.

Erica, with baby Max

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why is it harder to drive to Provo than Salt Lake?

Yesterday, I had to drive to Provo and, low and behold, it was snowing when I left.  It hasn't snowed since Christmas.  We've had a couple of months of sunny days with temperatures in the fifties and sixties. Bulb plants are coming up too early; the flowering pear tree in front of my house is budding.

Sounds heavenly, doesn't it?  In fact, it's eerie.  What are we getting in March?  Drought, that's what.

Anyway, I backed out of the garage and said out loud, "Really, Lord?  Today?"

He evidently heard me, because it stopped in five minutes.  I apologize for cutting the snow storm short.  It's my fault.

Question:  Why do I find it more difficult to drive to BYU in Provo than driving to downtown Salt Lake?  They're about the same distance from my house.

I'm interested in your answers.

I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Talking the talk, or not

This morning I'm off to BYU to talk to two of Carol Lynch Williams's classes and to have lunch with Carol.  I don't do this sort of thing often anymore, but I said yes, because 1) I'd really like to visit with Carol, 2) because I've actually been writing some memoir, and one of the classes is a memoir writing class, and 3) I can't wait to hear what I have to say to the fiction class, because I haven't written a word of fiction in several years, nor have I talked about it.

I'm worried that I will fall into one of those verbal blank periods where I can't bring up words.  This actually happens every once in awhile.  I'll be talking to someone and suddenly can't bring up words.  I become dumbstruck, speechless.  I still have body language, but I don't think that will get me far in a classroom.  I've stuffed my bag full of recent writing, so I can always read, or I can make them write and read back to me.

There is probably some neurological explanation for my word-out periods, but what good would it do to have a diagnosis?  It all comes down to "You are old and sometimes wordless--adapt."

Carol is one fine fiction writer and knows more about fiction than I ever knew.  If I become wordless, she can be the ventriloquist and I'll be her dummy.  That should work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vintage Louise: Fatal Attraction

This has been a happy week.  No birds pooped on me.   I realized what a blessing this is this past weekend when I was walking through some OPEN HOUSES with my youngest son Sam, and his wife Sarah.  While we were outside, between houses, a hoard of seagulls appeared overhead, making a racket.

“Oh I don’t want to get pooped on,” Sarah cried.

“Do birds poop on you?” I asked.  “I mean, have you been pooped on a lot?”

“No, never, but I don’t want to be either.”

“I’m sixty-seven,” I said, “And I’ve been pooped on once.  I was about ten years old, standing on Eighth South in front of the Garrett’s house and PLOP right on my head.  I reached up and touched it.  Really disgusting.”

Sarah made a choking sound.  “Maybe you should wear a hat,” I suggested.

I didn’t tell her about my sister Marilyn's friend who wouldn’t walk early mornings with her, because birds pooped on her EVERYTIME SHE WENT FOR A WALK.  It’s like she had a target painted on the top of her head.  Marilyn persisted and finally her friend got up and went power walking with her, and guess what?  A bird pooped on her head.
How do birds know that she is the one?  Does she exude some kind of anti-bird odor or attitude?  Some kind of negative pheromone?

I didn’t tell Sarah about my poor judgment either. When Charles was about five, I urged him to go play in the backyard.  I stood at the kitchen window and watched while he stood in the middle of the yard deciding what to do when he fell into spasms of pain and wailing.

He ran into the house.  It was a bee sting.  Yes, they hurt.  I had a bee sting once when I was twelve.  It was at the Utah State Fair and I sat on the grass and unknowingly pressed my hand onto a bee.  It hurt a lot.

Charles would not leave the house for a week after that bee sting.  A five-year old kid can’t spend all summer in the house.  It’s not healthy.  “Look,” I said, “You’ve had your one bee sting and that’s it for the rest of your life.”  I promised him that like me, he would never get stung again.

So with frail courage, he returned to the great outdoors. I stood at the window and watched.  Two seconds later, he was stung again.

He was stung a half dozen times that summer. They weren’t bees.  They were wasps.  We had a nest of them in the storage shed.

The lesson here is never trust your mother.

The lesson is wear a hat or stay indoors.

Do you attract birds and bees and all their untidiness?  Or vermin or stray dogs?  What is it about you that makes you so attractive to unwanted attention?

Big dogs bite me. One bit me on the street in Cambridge, Mass. and it was on a leash and her owner yelled at me as if I started it. 

One dog bit me seven times and I went to the hospital to make sure I wasn’t rabid, although the owner assured me that her 175 lb dog had had its shots.  She gave me a loaf of banana nut bread to assuage my pain.  Grrr.

Horses hate me.  I rode a horse that tried to reach back and bite me.  I whined until it stopped. 

 “Don’t show fear!” that’s everyone’s advice.  But dogs and horses bite me; that’s why I’m afraid.

Hope your week is free of poop and bites.  So far, so good for me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Whiplashed by WHIPLASH

After a couple of hours at the Fiat dealer, we stayed in town to watch WHIPLASH with Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, who won the Oscar for his role.  My question was why didn't Miles Teller get nominated as well?  Talk about hard work for both actors.  The movie was tense and emotionally draining.  What I like best was it never fell into cliches.  It could have with the kind father, the kind girlfriend.  It could have ended with a standing ovation, instead it left a gap.  Loved the gap.  Love all gaps.  Without the gap it would have been Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!

It's R rated for all the swear words you've ever heard, creatively linked in long chains at loud decibels. Script, acting, directing, music is all terrific.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Best and worst of Oscar red dresses

Rosamund Pike in this red dress knocks me out.  Could anyone look more gorgeous?  On the other hand, this other babe--I don't know who she is, and I'm not sure I want to know--looks like she fell on a freshly seal-coated driveway.  Isn't that cold tar down the front of her dress?

I thought Julianna Margulies looked lovely in her red ballerina-length gown and short cropped hair, but evidently no one else thought so, because I can't find a photo of her this morning.

What is worse than watching the Academy Awards on Sunday night?

Watching it on Monday morning.

Why can't you stream it, people?

At least on Sunday night, you come to the show with hope and anticipation.  On a Monday morning I've already read that Patrick Neal Stewart was a snooze host after the opening number, so do I really want to watch all three hours? Not really.

We happened to see STILL ALICE on the weekend with Julianne Moore.  It was disappointing.  First of all, I expected it to take place at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. 02138, because that's where the novel takes place, but they moved it to Columbia.  Okay, that's small stuff.

The book was emotionally compelling, written in the first person by a female professor, who has early-onset Alzheimer's at age 50.  I thought some of the saddest memory lapses were when she was still teaching--at one point she sits at the back of her own class as if she's one of the students.  The worst scene for me was in a faculty meeting where they are evaluating a doctoral student's work.  Alice, who has already been patronized by some of her colleagues, makes an articulate argument for her position.  Her colleagues are stunned by her lucidity (as is the reader).  Then five minutes later, she repeats the entire argument again word for word.  That's where the reader feels how nasty and humiliating it is to have Alzheimer's.

Neither scene is in the movie.  I was never pulled into the movie.

I had a hard time with Alec Baldwin playing her husband.  I feared that any moment, he would step out of his role as an intellectual, understanding husband and actually become himself, or Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock.

The movie does show how lonely, boring and frightening it is to have the disease.  People talk around you, rather than directly to you.  Or they whisper about you.

It wasn't an Academy Award script or role, but as I've already read several times this morning, Julienne Moore won for her composite work.

And that bothers me too.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Setting an example for the grandchildren

Louis Plummer at his kindergarten graduation
Sarah invited me to Louis's first grade class to talk about the Netherlands, which is the culture they're studying this year.  I showed them pictures of my grandparents and their house in Breukelen.  "Isn't it beautiful?"   Then as an aside I said, "They moved from there to a stupid little duplex on 5th East."

Sarah heard Louis turn to the friend next to him and whisper, "My grandma always says bad words."

Apparently, "stupid" is a swear word in first grade even if it's attached to a duplex.

I don't want you to think that he's ashamed of me, because believe me, he loves it when the old lady turns subversive on his parents.

Boys need to be taught good behavior, yes; but too much "yes ma'am," "no ma'am," and "thank you, ma'am," and they begin slugging the dogs.

I know that the word "butt" is a boy's best friend and so is a silly grandma.

I'm off for the weekend.  Tom and I are going to catch up with a couple of films before The Academy Awards on Sunday.   See you on Monday!