Thursday, November 20, 2014

Harrison flies away from home

Charles, Harrison and Erica

This photo makes me so happy, I could dance the watusi.  Look how joyous they are.  Life just doesn't get better than this.  Harrison is on his way to the MTC in Buenos Aires for six weeks and then onto Montevideo, Uruguay for two years. He's a missionary.  It's a rite of passage.  It's stunning to an old woman to see this repeated in the family and to realize that it matters.

As for the watusi, I used to dance it in my living room to Petula Clark's, "Downtown."  I danced it for Jonathan when he was one and sitting in his little bouncy seat waving his arms to the music.  Who can sit still to "Downtown"?  I'll dance it today for Harrison with a chaser of Excedrin.

Make the world a better place.  Dance the Watusi!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I sing the SOS PAD

Once in awhile I use a product and I think, I should be a spokesperson for this product, I love it so much.  Take, for example, the SOS pad.  The SOS pad is a miracle cleaner for those of us who don't always clean up after ourselves immediately after eating.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.

I'm not just talking pots either.  I clean my stove top with SOS and the granite counter.  Every stubborn, sticky residue comes up.  SOS is sandpaper with soap.  And it smells good too.

I should also like to push Comet or Ajax, products I didn't use for years in place of Scrubbing Bubbles or some other liquid product.  But I have returned to Comet, because it's cheap and it gets the job done.
These products are like me, abrasive.  I like that.  I like abrasive.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sam's birthday celebration

We were first to arrive at Sam's birthday dinner.  I said to the birthday boy, "Take our picture; we're color coordinated."  Because his birthday is all about me.  I'm the one who had to push 10 lbs of Sam out of me.  Natural childbirth.  Why?  Because it makes you feel strong as a gorilla; that's why.

At Sam's request, Sarah made him a rocket cake.  Light the candles and the rocket takes off.  Well, sort of.

I was standing at the tip of the rocket when I first saw it, and said, "Oh, it's a bear cake!"  So there was that mother-in-law faux pas.

The children, large and small, went downstairs to play computer games, which left me playing Tenzi with Sam, Harrison and Charles.  I wanted to organize the die (dice) and never won.  We decided to play two against two.  Charles said, "No one wants Mother on their team."

"Wait," I cried.  "When did I become that person that isn't picked in the first round?  I've never been that person."

Tom said on the way home, "Remember when your parents would come to visit us and we thought they were the old people?"

"Yeah," I said.

"That's us now."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Shock Therapy

As much as we like chatting about the fruitful family traditions of the holidays, there can be a downside to setting precedents requiring rigid follow-ups year after year after year. I’m speaking for myself, of course. Most years, I’m up for the holidays, but occasionally, exhaustion, depression and lassitude creep up like a fog of skunk oil. I become my true introverted self and wish for a cave where I might spend the holidays alone with a single candle and a Snicker’s bar. This state of mind happened one Thanksgiving when I was in my late forties. Three out of four sons were at home; one was on a mission in Bullfrog, Arizona. I had told my parents that we would not be attending the grand family fest: all the numerous loved ones squashed into a bungalow like potato bugs under a rock. I told you I was depressed. We would have our own private Thanksgiving at home. Did we have to do the big turkey thing and the stuffing thing and the mashed potato thing? I whined my anguish to Tom, my husband. Did we have to look like a Norman Rockwell painting, oozing cheer and patriotic, robust health? Did we have to do the traditional hoopla? “I just want to make a really good chiffon pumpkin pie,” I said. “I don’t care about the rest.” “We can do whatever we want,” he said. I married well. We decided on a turkey breast, stove-top stuffing, mashed potatoes made from flakes. There must have been a salad of some sort. It was the kind of meal one might get in a junior high school cafeteria in a neighborhood where the sun never shines. Then, having given ourselves permission to have such a pathetic Thanksgiving meal, we had the best idea ever: we’d take the boys to Blockbuster the day before Thanksgiving and everyone in the family would choose a film. Over the next three days, we’d all watch everyone else’s film. No matter what. We’d have a Thanksgiving Film Fest. Our boys loved the idea. We piled into the car and went to Blockbuster. These are the films we chose: 1) Tom: Der Letzte Mann, a German expressionist film (silent) from 1924. 2) Louise: Raintree County , a civil war drama. 3) Jonathan: Pet Sematary, a Stephen King horror film. 4) Charles: Lean on Me, in which the Morgan Freeman character saves his inner-city high school. 5) Sam: NFL Highlights. If Edmund had not been celebrating Thanksgiving in a trailer court in Bullfrog City, he would most certainly have chosen Top Gun, with Tom Cruise, which was his favorite film of the decade. And we could not have resisted watching it yet again, to see if Goose really does die. The agony! We began with NFL Highlights early in the evening. Tom and the boys sat in the family room watching, and I stood behind the adjoining kitchen counter rolling out pie dough made with lard, the one and only true recipe for pie dough. The NFL Highlights included some goofy plays made along the way. We were entertained. Lean on Me followed. I beat the egg whites. Of all the movies chosen, this was the most family appropriate. I finished the pumpkin pie and sat with them following the tense negotiations of the Eastside High Principal in Patterson New Jersey to upgrade his falling down high school. He did it, and we felt good, and went to bed. The next morning, realizing that no one wanted to watch Rain Tree County, but me, I began it in mid morning. The boys wandered in and out standing long enough to see that it was a period piece with Elizabeth Taylor speaking with a southern accent; they fled quickly to another part of the house. Passive desertedness. Who could blame them? After an hour, even I deserted the movie. It was so fifties, so old fashioned. It was insipid. We ate dinner in the dining room on china. How hard is that? I’m sure there were flowers. I’m better with flowers than with food. No one complained. I doubt anyone noticed. The chiffon pumpkin pie should have won a blue ribbon. Then came the piece de resistance, Jonathan’s choice: Pet Sematary. This may have been my first experience with a Stephen King movie. It begins innocently enough, with the pleasant and young Creer family, who move into a house in Ludlow, Maine on a large property but on busy highway. A neighbor shows them the Pet sematary [sic] at the back edge of the property and warns them to be careful with it. Careful, how? We don’t know. If there are semis speeding in front of the house in a movie, you know there’s going to be trouble. It begins with the family cat getting run over. Everyone is sad about this cat. What better thing to do than to bury it in the pet sematary, which is what they do with full rites and dignity. Poor, poor kitty cat. A few days later, the cat reappears. The same cat, their pet, reappears. Magic! Only this cat’s eyes shine maniacally red occasionally. I’ve never been a cat person myself, but I’m pretty sure that cats’eyes do not glow red when they are unhappy with something. This cat swipes and hurts people. Frankly, I don’t remember what happens to the cat. But it’s not a good sign of things to come. Of course, then the cute, blonde curly-haired toddler is hit by a semi, and guess what? The dad seeing that the cat came back from the dead, thinks that the baby also ought to be buried in the pet sematary, because who knows? So that’s what happens and this baby boy does come back from the dead and in the rest of the movie, he slashes his family to death in cunning and surprising ways. I think his eyes turn red too when he’s about to lose it, as they say. It had our full attention. We grasped each other as we watched. Then my parents show up to say hello. Our family is near the end of the movie where blood is flying and limbs are flailing and we say, “Sit down; we have to see the end of this.” My parents pull up chairs. “What is this?” my father asks. “Pet Sematary,” we yell. “Isn’t it great?” “Goodness,” says my mother. I can’t remember who dies. Someone leaves town, but I don’t remember if the toddler baby can travel. Sam, who was ten, had nightmares for days. I write Edmund about poor Sam’s nightmares. He writes back: “How could he not have nightmares? You showed a ten-year old Pet Sematary? What were you thinking?” I don’t know what we were thinking, but every one of our boys remembers this as the best Thanksgiving ever. Even Sam, once the nightmares ended. No one, not even Tom, watched the silent, German film he’d chosen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We invite you to join us in preparing our 11th Lucy tree. When friends and family of Lucy come together, great things happen!

Support the Lucy Tree 

Eleven years ago, at our first ultrasound with our first baby, we found out things were not developing properly. Our baby girl was diagnosed with a rare birth defect (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) that required regular follow-up doctor visits and monitoring at the hospital. After a full-term pregnancy, Sarah gave birth to our beautiful Lucy.
Our girl was semi-stabilized on a ventilator and taken to the Newborn ICU at Primary Children's hospital. There she was placed on a heart and lung bypass machine (ECMO), and had surgery two weeks later. The following weeks and months were made of miracles and tears, medications, hugs, and books at her bedside. We celebrated simple milestones (IV placement! Full diapers!), and she fought hard for us to see her smile.

Despite the fierce, pure qualities we could see, her physical health took a serious downturn. She could not breathe on her own, and her heart and brain were not in good shape. In August of 2004, the last act of service we could provide for Lucy was to snuggle her close until her last breath.

The care and support we received from medical staff, along with our desire to keep her memory close by, has fueled our continued participation in the Festival of Trees. All of the money raised here will be used to create Lucy's tree, which will be sold by auction.All of the money raised from auction will go to help children and families at Primary Children's Hospital.

Over the years we have decorated 10 trees for the festival, and have raised over $18,000. Our previous sponsor is not able to support the decoration of the tree this year, but we have high hopes to continue with this wonderful cause. With your help, this tree will not only be beautiful, but it will provide an outlet for our grief, and will support families who need our help. Thank you.

Support the Lucy Tree 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Overheard conversation after BIRDMAN

After watching Birdman, which is weirdly disorienting and redemptive, I heard this conversation between two old men outside the Broadway theater:

#1  I'm always cold.  I bought this electrical wrap for my middle that keeps me really warm, but my nipples still get cold.

#2  You need nipple warmers.  Maybe made of felt.

#1  I don't know, but it's really annoying.

#2  I used to get rock tit when I was young.

#1 I have cold nipples now.  I have to go home.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Old crows

This is a collage painting I did of old women, since I'm into old women in a highly personal way.  I experience aging with serenity one day and rage the next.  I can't stand most articles written in the newspaper about aging, most recently the one in the NY Times: "What if Age is Nothing but a Mindset?" by Bruce Grierson (age 57).

Delusion is also a mindset.

It is the night before Halloween and I'm eating miniature Almond Joys.  I bought one small bag, because Tom and I will be at the movies tomorrow night.  We live in one of those neighborhoods where outsiders bring their children because 1) the most fantastically decorated house in the city is on our block, and 2) it's safe and looks like Disneyland.  The only nod I give Halloween now is a skeleton on the door.  Last year, I had a half dozen pumpkins, but I didn't get around to those this year.  I do have a couple of pots of dead plants out in front, but I think that may be more neglect than holiday spirit.