Sep 30, 2016

Elections and Kindergarten

Elections are hard on everyone it seems. They challenge our beliefs in democratic ideals and certainly make us pay close attention to basic rules of civility. All those things we learned in kindergarten just go out the window. Sometimes in the midst of it all we forget about simply being nice and accepting that other do not share our beliefs and never will.

My 8 year old grandson evidently was paying attention in kindergarten when he was taught those 16 rules written by Robert Fulghum all those years ago because he called me on one this summer.

We have a new car and I have claimed it for my own for this one summer. My husband drives the big car back and forth to the golf course and I scoot around in the little car with grandchildren in the back seat. The big car will stay in Tucson when we return next spring.

Brayden asked me why I didn't share the new car with his grandfather. That is what his dad would do. 

I was very quiet for a few seconds as I channeled the "Finding Nemo" seagulls, then I answered "Because it's mine."

"Really Grandma! You need to share." he said very emphatically.
Brayden when he was 6 or 7.

See what I mean. But, as it turns out, sharing does not come naturally for some of us. 

Brayden would also tell you not to hit people or be mean and if you do, to say you are sorry. 

Darn, I wish we were seeing more of that during our elections. The diverse political philosophies too often overlook sharing, playing fair and not hurting people.

When you look at Robert Fulghum's list, you see that "share everything" it as the very top of the list. Right under it is "Play Fair". I invite you read this one more time. It is a good reminder. 

It is just a thought.

1. Share everything. 
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Sep 29, 2016

On Shopping!

Once every summer one or the other or all of my grandchildren get a special day with me. Grandma deserves it so there you have the reason.

It is not easy on my grandchildren. Several years ago the oldest little one went home, melted down and had a bad case of stomach problems! I take the blame but I still remember how much fun it was...for me!

It is all about me and everyone knows that.

So....yesterday I took Shay shopping for school shoes. She is four. Here is how the day went.

10:30 AM Breakfast Croissant
12:30 PM Shoe Shopping

5:00 PM Ballet
See what I mean!


Sep 26, 2016

The Trouble With "Stupid"

English: Albert Einstein Fran├žais : Portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Fran├žais : Portrait d'Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." Albert Einstein

When I was a young woman I happened to be in the Smithsonian when it was celebrating Albert Einstein's 100 birthday. It was 1979.  As I stood before the exhibits, I wondered how such a smart man could have struggled so with school. I was a teacher and I began to wonder about how I taught and what I was missing.

I am always inspired by such an awesome intellect. While I have no idea how physics works, I do know that Einstein's did spend time thinking about things that I understood. One website described him as "humble, likeable, kind, played violin and could talk to anyone. " ...and he was very quotable. He said:
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
I fell a bit in love with Albert Einstein back all those years ago. But I had not thought about him lately. Then this morning a friend sent me this cartoon in an email. Read the quote and tell me if you understand why he was saying it. His mind did not work like everyone else's did. When he was put in the classroom with material that fit everyone else, he did not succeed. He was a fish that could not climb a tree. When he talks about education he is speaking from personal experience.

Stupid is not a word I use lightly. I don't allow my grandchildren to use it ever. When the urge to swear that word outloud comes to my lips, I remember that the person I am getting ready to blast may just be different and might even be a potential Einstein. Like the fish that tried over and over to climb the tree, that person probably has not been put in the water yet.

Sadly enough, what we believe about ourselves is a self fulling prophecy. If we were told or shown that we are less than worthy, it was hard not to believe it.

Luckily Einstein managed to overcome school. They thought him retarded but his stubborn nature won and he did not buy it...not in the end. Eventually he swam in a very big ocean. We can all be thankful for that.

Any thoughts?


Sep 24, 2016

How Do You Feel About Bragging?

I noticed on twitter that the #beautifulblog gets a lot of traffic. Should I use that to promote MYSELF? Would I be bragging?
Beautiful Enough?

Yesterday I found a beautiful blog called Nature Whisper. This young blogger gave tips on making Chocolate Ball and included images that took my breath away. When I used twitter to support her, I led with #BeautifulBlog. I'm not as good at using that media as I could be and I wondered if the hashtag went out there into the web without a notice. Today I checked and #BeautifulBlog turns out to be a well used hashtag by lifestyle bloggers.

I don't usually tweet myself up but once in awhile it seem appropriate and when I do that I often include a # to get more attention. Does it help...I have no idea.

It occurred to me that I think my blog is beautiful! Call me a bragger if you want but if I won't vote for myself, why should anyone else. Still, for some reason, it just doesn't seem right to brag does it?

What do you think? Do you promote your blog on twitter and what # do you use?


Sep 23, 2016

"I want to do what your doing," she said.

Elena with Carole's goats, age 12
Earlier this summer I wrote about the most important investment my husband I had ever made. It turned out it was not about money or mutual funds or retirement plans...not that we didn't take advantage of all those things... but that was not it. It was the investment we made in the lives of our children.

You need to understand that I was told from the time that I could understand what "work" really was that I needed to get an education or I would end up having no choices. My father said going to college was the only way to avoid doing the things I might hate.

That guidance somehow changed the way I saw the world. Education became my bell-weather for so many judgements made for myself and my family.

Today one of my grandchildren checked into her dorm room at a college here in Oregon. She is bright and strong willed. As we were shopping for school clothes the other day she said that her goal was to be like us. She wanted to have the money to travel and see "everything" like we had.

That is the other side of being educated. That learning opened door for not only us but for our children.

As I said earlier this summer in that post, the best investment we ever made was the upbringing and education of our children. She is the next generation. And it remains important to get an education. If she has children I hope she remembers to pass that gift on as it is being passed on to her.  She will find that what she sows, so will she reap.

So, the beat goes on. Family grows up, leaves home, finds new traditions and lives of their own. And those of us that invested in them will benefit from what they learn and do in so many ways. It is all good.


Note: The notion of education has changed a lot in the last few years. The ways that young people can arrive at their goal can are varied. Traditional college education is not the end all be all anymore.

Sep 20, 2016

Voices Inside My Head

b+ 2016
I am taking a class on nutrition right seems that my blood sugar is going up a little each year. My doctor suggested that I go because she knows that I think I know everything and doesn't have the time to argue with me.

I thought I would hate going to school. But, as it turns out, I kind of like it! For one thing I am glad that I am as healthy as I am. And the instructor is good and asks us some very interesting questions not related to eating. She has me thinking that what goes on inside of our head has as much to do with our general health as a lot of the food choices we make. Interesting huh?

So the other day she asked me to pay attention to what effect walking has on my writing. Could there possibly be a cause and effect between being VERY active and how my brain works. Maybe.

For many years I woke in the morning with the first sentence of a story running through my mind. I had no idea where the story would go and I never found out because life got in the way. Now I awake clear headed and there is no sentence at all. But, if occasionally there is a sentence, I simply sit at my computer and write. I love that part of my life.

But as I walk, I find solutions and make decisions and remember what I thought I had lost. The very act of walking fast and running out of breath frees my mind up to let all the drawers open. Things come tumbling out I thought I would never remember and I return to my house with enthusiasm for the rest of my day.

On a recent walk I decided that I would plant herbs in our new empty bed in the front. It also became clear to me that all that food planning could be a lot simpler that I originally thought. I have cleaned cupboards of clutter and am letting a lot of stuff go. It is evident to me that old spices are never going to be used and one patterned napkin is of no use.

But best of all is have discovery that I actually like to walk every day possible. Each time I go out I am surprised at what I find both in the world and inside my brain.

So yes, there are voices inside of my head but they are mine and I am working on one problem while solving another. I like that a lot.


Sep 19, 2016

The Obituaries Asks "How remarkable are you?"

I originally posted this article in 2012 and then forgot all about it. I think it asks a question that we need the think about. How remarkable must you be before your family or friends will pay to see your life in print?

I am not a reader of the obituaries. However, my husband needs to keep me up to date on the news and sometimes the obituaries catch his interest. No matter how much I beg, he will continue reading like he did not hear me (which is entirely possible). I will admit I like to listen to him.

Obituary for Pere Antoine in the 20 January 18...
Obituary for Pere Antoine in the 20 January 1829 
edition of "The Bee" newspaper, 
New Orleans. (Wikipedia)

As for the obituaries, I am amazed at the lives that people have led. This morning it was a Russian woman. She was a refugee during WWII as a small child. She was thrown on a plane with another family and raised by the family as their own. She graduated in cybernetics from university and later worked inside the Kremlin in the archives. She was acquainted with the leaders of Russia at that time. She had lived in the United States for 20 years. Her obituary said that she believed that we must accept our family because they are just that, but friendship must be earned. Then there was a list of friends. I liked that.

Another man was an activist that pushed against the grain and fought to have more minorities admitted to his university. He graduated in the 1960's with a doctorate in Social Science. He sought out minority men and women to introduce as possible candidates for a upper education for many years. He taught at various colleges throughout the United States. I admire a human with a purpose.

So what is my point? We all know that nothing is free. Obituaries were just one of the many services that newspapers provided to their community for the past. But now, if a family or friends want to see those words in print, they must pay. So the question that came to mind was: How remarkable must you be before your family or friends will pay to see your life in print?

Just a thought!


Sep 17, 2016

When Mom and Dad Grow-up and Leave Home

2007 Christmas Past
When one of my older grandsons was a small boy he would talk about how his grandfather and I would have to go to work like his mom and dad when we grew up. He was a little boy when we retired and did not remember us ever going to work.

He had jobs picked out for us too. I was going to go to work at the "Untangling Store". I don't remember what grandpa was going to do. But for Ethan our lives were all planned.

That was 20 years ago. He is a Marine now and has been stationed in Australia for over 6 months. His mother and father are both retired. His mother has moved on to a new job and his dad is doing what he loves.

His sister is leaving for college and that family will officially be empty nesters. The time has come for their parents to grow up and leave home too.

I wonder how those children will feel when no one is home at Christmas or even for their birthday. It seems that young people don't really want to create a world without mom and dad. It is only right that they wouldn't.

A young woman I talked to yesterday was having a hard time visualizing the reality that her parents, like her, were going to leave the nest and spread their wings. While the parents will come back, it just will not be the same if they are not home for the holidays.

My husband and I have done this very thing and it is wonderful and not wonderful at the same time. We remember when our children depended on us to keep the traditions alive and that was an extremely happy time for us. When we grew into a retirement life they were forced to create those of their own. It is a tug of war sometimes to find a place for all of us.

I admit that we have called on a holiday to tell about how much fun we were having and where we were. It could have been that they were lonesome for us and maybe even a little envious. That was how the young woman appeared to me.

I did tell her that she needed to create traditions of her own with her family. It is only fair to her parents. Soon there would be grandchildren and new adventures in her life.

As for me, we continue to grow into our aging life. We are the luckiest people in world when it comes to our children. They have never once made us feel guilty about the life we live now. But on some days, I want to turn back the clock for just a few days. I miss our younger selves I guess.

Just a thought on this rainy Saturday. Fall is officially here!


Sep 12, 2016

Are You a Good Listener?

Black Norwegian Elkhound
A very good listener. (Black Norwegian Elkhound Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think that learning to listen is one of the hardest skills to learn. In fact, I wonder if you can actually do that.

Could it be that some people are born naturally interested in what other have to say? Are they born with an inner calm that lets they hear what is going on around them?

Sometimes it seems to me that we are shouting so we can be heard over what others are saying. Impatience or disinterest will not let us wait until it is our turn or even on some occasions, to a later day.

I often say jokingly that "It is all about me!" When that is true I simply don't listen at all.

So, how good of a listener are you? Tell me one thing that you learned about another person this last week. I will listen because I truly am interested. :)


Sep 3, 2016

Are You Sucking the Joy Out of Your Children Leaving the Nest?

This post is worth revisiting. September is here and children have or are leaving the nest for the first time. Are you celebrating their rite of passage or are you making it all about you. Read this and let me know.

I know I have written about almost every issue that Boomer parents deal with. Boomerang kids, downsizing, grandparenting and wrinkles...but I do not believe I have ever taken the time to say what I really think about Empty Nest Syndrome. Boomers going into a deep funk when their children grow up and leave the nest is something I have a hard time buying into.

It took a conversation with my daughter who will become a mother with grown children before long to make me face how I really felt. When I mentioned the fact that parents her age are having a hard time letting their children go, she just wrinkled her nose. She couldn't imagine. We share the life experience of leaving home to attend college. It was a wonderful time in our lives. I believe that neither of us would want to deny the next generation that same opportunities to find a life of their own. My parents did not want to give me any reason to think that growing up and moving on was not the best thing in the world. I did the same for my children.

So you can understand why I think the thing that is missing in the empty-nest conversation is the effects this trendy syndrome has on the growing children. In fact, I think that boomerang kids may be the fallout from parents bemoaning the child's independence in the first place.

But it is all the trend to talk about Empty Nesters and the burdens they must bear. The New York Times carried an article in their Style and Fashion section called Empty-Nest Book Hatchery. It was taking note of all the books coming out right now with "The Empty Nest" theme. In the article one author promoted the idea that previous generations were not focused on their children. I could only think that my generation must come off as a bunch of slackers in that book. I took exception to that notion with more emotion that I thought was possible. Here is a quote from that article:
“There is a huge difference between this generation and previous ones,” said Wendy Aronsson, a therapist in Greenwich, Conn., and the author of “Refeathering the Empty Nest: Life After the Children Leave.” Unlike their forebears, who cheerfully waved goodbye as their offspring headed into the world, “parents today are challenged because they are much more front and center in their children’s lives,” Ms. Aronsson said. “They approach their parenting as a career, regardless of whether they work outside the home.” from Empty-Nest Book Hatchery, NYT
Mother/Daughter Team
Really?  Really?

Later in the article another "expert author", Christie Mellor of Los Angeles, the author of “Fun Without Dick and Jane: Your Guide to a Delightfully Empty Nest", was quoted. She said:
“The next time an empty-nest expert suggests that you might be feeling lonely, sad and abandoned, run as fast as you can in the other direction,” she continued. “You’re not a bad parent because you’re excited about finally having your freedom.”
That is more where my generation fell in the scheme of things. But there was a reason...we rejoiced in our children's opportunities. It was not a given that child would go to college or even have a job and be able to leave the nest. We did not take that for granted and neither did our children.

From the child's perspective, the whole world was waiting to be explored. I even felt that way when I left the nest to go to college. I don't think my parents were unhappy and if they were, they did not tell me. Why should they? I would have had a hard time understanding how they could feel sad when I was so excited and happy.

What is missing in this discussion is the voice of the child...growing up and trying their wings for the first time. Why should any mother or father burden their child with the image of them pining away because the child has done exactly what they were reared to away? It doesn't seem fair to me. If the child were to be asked, I think they would tell their parents to grow up too. They are all starting a new stage in their life and that is the way it should be.

I might also add that if a child can go to college they are very privileged...there are so many that will never have that opportunity. Finding a job and moving out to become independent is a real accomplishment. Joining the military is an act of courage. I applaud the tenacity of young people today. Let's be happy for them...OK?

What do you think?

Meat and Potatoes vs Sweet and Savory

Most people over a certain age were raised on basic seasonal food. Potatoes and gravy with garden vegetable in the summer and canned in the winter. Salty was salty and sweet was sweet. It reflected the life we lived.

The small changes from year to year and season to season were barely noticeable. If you are like me, you remember the first time you used oregano in the pasta sauce or ate your first bite of

pizza. It was revolutionary and many decided that they were never going down that path. And so they didn't.

As for dessert, the idea of adding a small wedge of cheese to the top of apple pie seems almost evil...I mean who did that?

In our lives we were very narrow too. Cultures did not mix and food from another's world seemed strange and not so good.

As I look back on that world compared to the one I live in now I am amazed at how the foods we ate then and the foods we eat now reflect where we have been, who we know and what we think.

I have come to love sweet and salty or sour together the same way I love living in a world that includes so much more. Isn't it wonderful?

Do you see the connection?


Pictures are of meals we have eaten at home or with family in their homes. I did not ever have anything like these meals when I was growing up.

Sep 1, 2016

On Sharing With Ants, etc.

 Somewhere in this yard, an ant
colony is hiding. I don't know what I would
do if I actually found it. I have a hard time
murdering ants! Sigh.
I suppose I wrote last year about sharing my life and my house with ants. If I didn't well here is the way it is. Ants crawl everywhere and are impervious to almost every formula to rid the house of them.

They mock me at every chance. A stray crumb can become a big reminder that they have no respect for the clean kitchen. If I drop ONE they are just waiting to gather around and do a big crumb dance before toting it back to the ant hill where they will spread the word and a thousand more will come in search of more.

They don't like mint very much so I spray a mixture of essential mint oil on the counters and let it dry. That does keep them at bay but, because I don't use mint perfume, they crawl up my arms at the speed of lights and wander willy nilly around my neck. Just telling about it makes me itch.

Yet, I somehow find the little creatures charming. They form a line to and from the nest. They kiss every ant they pass going back and forth passing the secret of the crumb quest. It is really is so fun to watch.

I have not been sick so I don't think they are carrying anything that I will be affected by. Still, it just doesn't seem right to share my house with ants.

Like the squirrels we watch every day yet don't want to share anything with, the ants would be very welcome if they would just stay out of the house. They really are their own worst enemy.

As for the squirrels, I was fine with them until they tore my deck furniture apart to build a nest. But that is another story!

Have a wonderful day!

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