Mommy’s Jumping Jelly Bean

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My daughter, Janine will turn forty on May 19 and hopefully this post captures how special she is to me. . . . just saying , , , , I love you, Mom

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Aging & Attitude

My daughter phoned a few weeks ago and after a good hour- long conversation told me, holding back tears, I was on her gratitude list. It was not Mother’s Day but it was the best Mother’s Day present ever.  I hung up the phone, and put a long list of ‘if only I had’ in the trash, to reminisce about my little girl.

She was not a fussy infant and slept through the night at six weeks, never cried or climbed out of her crib, and woke with a cheery “Morning.”  By the third call, I would have her in my arms. Asked if she would give baby Donna her bottle, Janine said yes and drank from a cup. She potty trained easily wanting to wear big girl pants like Christie.

Most days, after playing in the park we lingered on the stoop outside to wait for Daddy. At two and a half years old, Janine would climb the brick steps, teeter across a cement ledge and jump to the ground holding my hands. She was long and lean, like a green bean, and called Beaner  Her incessant jumping gave birth to the rhyme, J is for Janine, Mommy’s jumping jellybean.  I struggled to match  my daughter’s  energy and enthusiasm.

The summer of 1980 we traveled to Chicago, by sleeper train, to visit Aunt Judy and Uncle George.  Independent Janine maneuvered the way from our cabin to the dining car, bouncing side to side. You could not hold her hand. The dining tables wore white linen table cloths, and the wine served in a stemmed glass.

I have a vivid picture of Janine sitting in a Winnetka ice cream parlor, her chin even with the table, ready to place her order, a chocolate cone. Uncle George, who was treating, suggested a dish of ice cream might be safer. Determined, she stately sweetly, “I want a cone,” to Uncle George’s continued feeble attempts to persuade her other wise. There was no terrible two-temper tantrum only the pointing of her pinky and index finger like devil horns saying, repeatedly, “I want a cone.” Uncle George did not comment after her pretty dress was covered in chocolate.

The first day of  kindergarten she wore a sucker of a rhinestone pin given to her by Great Granny B for dress up, and left the house saying; “Mom, I’m going to be the prettiest girl in the class.” My response, “Yes, you will.”

Early on, she wanted to know if you went to college to be a cocktail waitress, to which her father and I had no reply, amazed at her insight that attending college and waitressing somehow went together.

These days, Janine is miles away, and missed. People notice her kindness, generosity, quiet determination, and independence. She pounds the streets of New York City and a chorus joins me in cheering, J is for Janine, Mommy’s jumping jellybean.

Thank you daughter, for loving me.

 

                                                                                         …. Just saying Happy Birthday

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Malala, Girl Up and Girl Rising

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Aging & Attitude

   “I am Malala,” the title of a book, written by the Pakistani girl shot for championing girls’ right to education, has become a familiar slogan. Malala has addressed the United Nations, been interviewed by Diane Sawyer and John Steward, and visited with the Obama family. She was a 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and runner-up for Time “Person of the Year.” Frida Ghitis, a writer for CNN,  considers her not getting the Nobel Prize a missed opportunity by the committee.

Malala has been a crusader for girls to be educated, since 2009. She published her journal, with the help of her father and teacher, Ziauddin Yousafzai, under the pen name of Corn Flower and become well-known. The Taliban threatened by her beliefs attempted to kill her in October 2012, as she rode the bus to school.

If you have not heard her speak, please listen now on youtube. The grace, poise and maturity that go with her wisdom is extraordinary. She sums up the absurdity of men shooting children because they fear books, paper and pens and defending their behavior as religious.

Malala is like the child in Grimm’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” exclaiming the Emperor is not wearing any. Her father’s response when asked if he put his daughter in danger was, “Where were the others?  Ziauddin said he did not expect to fall in love with his daughter, but did, the first time he looked in her eyes, and named her for the mythological hero who led her people to victory.

Severely injured, Malala was flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England for treatment.  She believes, “God and the prayers of many, many people,” spared her. During her three-month stay, she underwent many surgeries and a cochlear transplant to restore her hearing. When Diane Sawyer asked about her condition and more surgery, Malala explained there is talk about improving her smile and feeling in her face. Then the young girl’s eyes grew softer and she said gently, “Diane, I am recovered.”

During Malala’s United States visit, I received an email about attending “Girl Rising. The film, not a documentary, presents the stories of nine girls from around the world, and emphasizes education as key to their survival. Although the invitation stated that Malala was not in the movie, I went eagerly and assumed she was involved in the educational aspect.

The film is uplifting and depressing, but drives home the necessity of education for girls. In many developing countries girls are not allowed to attend school. Considered a burden by the family, girls are often sold or bonded into labor by their parents. One story is about a five-year old child bonded by her parents for twenty-five hundred dollars. The money bought a used truck for her brother. Others are married at eleven years of age or fall into sex trafficking because of  their lack of skill and knowledge.

When the movie ended, the audience was informed they could go on-line at Rising Girl to make contributions.  I checked out the website, and everything about “Girl Rising” is impressive. Many celebrated writers and actors take part in the project originally called “10×10”. The website clearly states the organization’s mission; “We use powerful storytelling to deliver a simple, critical truth: Educate Girls and you will Change the World.” The money raised goes to that effort.

  • Girl Rising is a grassroots global campaign for education
  • Girl Rising is a film project, not a nonprofit foundation.
  • Girl Rising partners with established nonprofit organizations, Katahdin Foundation and Tides Foundation,to distribute donations to programs that  help girls get in school and stay in school.
  • Girl Rising is a partner with Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation Leadership club for American girls*.

Girl Rising, Girl Up and The Malala Fund are inspiring and encourage young girls to help each other. Although the missions are similar, The Malala Fund is an independent non-profit organization supported by the United Nations Foundation and Girl Up.

   The first Malala Fund Grant awarded this year provides for 40  girls, ages five to 12, who would otherwise be engaged in domestic labor, or at high risk of entering the workforce in Pakistan, to attend school. The organization works with the families to enrolled the girls in school and provide school uniforms, shoes and learning materials. Each family will receive a monthly stipend.

   Malala Yousafzai is not alone with her passion but has a gift of courage, humility and wisdom to speak the words, “They thought the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And then, out of that silence came thousands of voices.”

. . . just saying

*Girl Up is an innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation. We give American girls the opportunity to become global leaders and channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls

K is for Kaleidoscope – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

New Thoughts on Words

Remember looking through a kaleidoscope as a child, the view filled with wonder and excitement.

For me, it was like going to Lowe’s Paradise Theater on Fordham road in the Bronx. There was a hole in the ceiling that allowed patrons to peak at the moon and stars while enjoying a movie. I did not know it was pretend until a teen, and stepped outside to daylight after the show.

As with a kaleidoscope, once the device met my eye, I traveled to an exotic place where imagined shapes and colors lived.

The kaleidoscope, invented by David Brewster; a scientist experimenting with light polarization around 1815, quickly became a popular toy with sales reaching two hundred thousand in three months time.

Webster’s dictionary defines a kaleidoscope as an “optical instrument which by an arrangement of reflective surfaces exhibits an infinite variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms of its content.” The effect achieved by angling mirrors towards each other to create multiple reflections.  Usually bits of glass or paper are put in the cylinder’s “object chamber” to be reflected, although it could be anything, including liquid.

Paul Dewa explains how a kaleidoscope works in his you/tube video.

We are familiar with the inexpensive cardboard and wood cylinder type but there are many others resembling art forms.

Frank and Janet Higgins worked with stain glass for years and called their studio “Kaleidoscope”  but did not design and build kaleidoscopes until the mid-90’s. Their aim is “to make high-quality playthings for grown-ups, concentrating equally on innovative design, the internal images and the external presentation.”  That means, they strive to be the best.  You can view the slide show at Picture Trail.

What makes a kaleidoscope fascinating is perception. We reflect differently on the same thought or memory, and the hope that change will make life better.

….just saying

    

    

I is for Indignant Indigestion

Aging & Attitude

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New Thoughts on Words

What do Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Patton and Yvonne Brill have in Common? Indignation, all three women have reason to be angry about accusations thrown their way.

Megan Daum’s thoughts under a headline, “Mrs. Degree? Maybe” highlights the controversy and raises the question again, husband or career? Daum writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Susan Patton got herself into trouble writing a letter to the Daily Princetonian suggesting female students check out the pool of eligible man on campus before graduation. Then attempting to clarify, shot herself in the foot, suggesting a professional life is not fulfilling.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and best-selling author, advises woman to “lean in”. Statistics confirm that women have a problem advancing and Sandberg outlines the criteria to fix it; sit at the table and keep your hand up, make partners real partners and don’t leave until you leave.

Yvonne Brill is deceased and cannot defend a preference to being called Mrs. and comments, “Good men are harder to find than a good job.” However many were offended by a New York Times obituary beginning with, “She made a mean beef stroganoff.”

A rocket scientist might consider that more of an accomplishment. The pertinent question, was she equally compensated with male counterparts?

These three women, unlike men, are being criticized in the media for their decisions regarding work, marriage and family.

Women are judged for their choices, and even Hilary Clinton was defined by her hair when Secretary of State, as will John Kerry.

Would we be having this discussion if Sandberg, Patton and Brill were male?

So what’s it all about Alfie?

The issue is a woman’s identity.

Women conflicted over life choices, feel guilty and a person’s identity cannot be founded on guilt.

If a man wishes to be a beer drinking- Belcher and farter, the world does not attempt to persuade him otherwise. If he wants to be president, that is fine too.

Some things are hard to swallow but we do and realize after, it was a mistake and indigestion is sure to follow.

Please pass me the pepto-bismol.

…just saying

Total Memory Makeover

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Aging & Attitude

   I thought myself shallow remembering life more by what I wore than people and places; and hesitate to confess longing for clothing and the fond memories surrounding them.

Memories attached to  a sweet sixteen birthday gift given by my grandmother. The glove box embossed with Gimble’s logo, and secured with a gold elastic ribbon tied in a tiny bow that rested in the top corner. I recall peeling back the layered tissue paper to reveal creamy white kid gloves with a real pearl closure; and feeling adult. After a day in the city, I washed the gloves in the bathroom sink by wearing them, rolled the gloves in a towel, and laid them out to dry. In the morning, I finessed the stiff pair of gloves back to elegance.

Younger memories are of a so-soft white rabbit muff, black velvet head-scarf, green coat and matching leggings with zippers near the ankle, that I wore to Sunday mass and on walks to school.

A red and white candy cane striped dress with a red velvet bodice dominates my thoughts of family Christmas gatherings. A Brownie uniform, the sash stiff with sewn on badges, reinforces a childhood relationship with Vicki Love. Shiny patent-leather shoes with heavy metal toe and heel taps dance my feet through lessons. A black herring-bone pencil skirt purchased for 25 cents at John’s Bargain Store brings back fun shopping trips.

Later a royal blue wind-breaker takes me skiing on Windham Mountain in High School and I’ll never forget that pink and white check swim suit with poor boy pants and a zipper up the back that I wore to Puffy’s Pond where I learned to smoke.

Bell-bottom pants introduced me to my college roommate, and a clear plastic bubble umbrella and rain hat are reminders of my first job at The Berlitz School of Languages. Paper underwear; I have yet to meet anyone who remembers them, a throw away item that was short-lived (they ripped easily) but I had a few pair.

Now thanks to Marilu Henner, yes the actress in Taxi, I can free myself from guilt.

Marilu has legitimized this type of recall, defines it primary memory tracking, and believes it is a pathway technique to other memories.  She says, “It could be a sports track, a travel track, relationships, jobs that they’ve had, hairdos. I’ve heard bats even,” that connect you to your past.

She was recently interviewed by Diane Rehm, and discussed her book Total Memory Makeover. Tested and identified as autobiographical by Dr. James McGaugh, Marilu joins a select group of twenty, formed after the television show “60 Minutes” featured his research in 2010.

Autobiographical memory is distinctly different from photographic and Dr. McGaugh says people with autobiographical memory don’t’ simply remember the date Princess Diana died, they remember in detail their life on that day. MRI’s, of this small group of people, show their brains are different in size, shape and conductivity.

This trip to Washington DC for Diana Rehm’s interview, produced a drop down menu of other visits stored in Marilu’s mind by dates, going back to the first, on Saturday, January 18, 1969.

Marilu is smarter than most and has a gift, however, her Dad helped by breaking down the steps to remembering as; anticipation, participation and recollection. After holidays and family occasions they gather for a recollection party, now that sounds like fun. Sure they talked about what Uncle Jim did, but they seared the happening in their mind.

Her advice, “Find your track. It’s like in the jigsaw puzzle of your life, what are those hard-edged pieces to help you make a bigger picture? Or as my brother-in-law said, in the murky forest of your memories, what pebbles have you dropped along the way?”

I am thinking about memories and remembering differently and look forward to reading her book.

I am ready for a memory makeover.

…just saying

Do You Tweet?

Aging & Attitude

 

“Do you Tweet?” Christine asks me, as the waitress approaches the table.

We are having lunch at The Olive Garden. It is a celebration of sorts; Christine has a new website  and food blog, Pudbudder. Tricia’s, children’s book, “Detective You’re” is in the hands of an illustrator, and my short story, “Wheels of Circumstance” is an FWA selection.

The waitress interrupts to tell us the specials and ends by saying, “I’ll be back to take your order.”

“I have a Twitter account but never Twit?” I responded

“It’s Tweet, you tweet, not twit on Twitter.” Twitter links to LinkedIn and can increase your followers. I have 452 followers. I’m doing resumes for people in Australia”

Tricia and I, thankful to know someone tech savvy are impressed, and leap on the opportunity to ask questions we feel too stupid to otherwise ask.

“If it is called twitter, why do you tweet and not twit?”

Soft spoken Tricia  inquires politely, “What’s Twitter?”

“Twitter is an online social networking service where people can send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as ‘tweets’.”   Wikipedia’s definition; “a short burst of inconsequential information, and ‘chirps from birds’.” Christine says smiling.

“I think I was a bird in a former life,” I comment.” But why characters? Why not spaces?”

Tricia asks, “Couldn’t they send a short email?”

“I don’t know.” Christine rolls her eyes and continues, “This is like trying to convince cavemen they’d be better off using matches.”

The waitress is back and takes our orders.

When she is gone, Christine leans across the table to Tricia and questions, “Do you know what a hash tag is?”

“Don’t be a twerp, how would I know about hash?” Is Tricia’s not so polite, reply.

“It’s a number sign, # you can use it to share a twitter story.” Christine taunts and proceeds to inform us; Twitter is undergoing changes and now has Tweetups, Tweetie, New Twitter, and Retweets.

I have a headache.

We leave the restaurant two hours later laughing about Twitter, tweets and twits.

Later that evening I login in to my Twitter account, take the Twitter -Tour and learn, one has to follow to get followers.

So, who will I follow?

Mr. Wonderful is watching the ALDS series, the Yankees are playing Baltimore.  I type Yankee in the search bar.  Mike Blooomberg, aka Mayor of NYC, tweets, “Go Yankees”

Ruth Westheimer, aka Dr. Ruth, Psychosexual Therapist,(I am surprised is still alive) tweets, “So-A-Rod benched”

Nothing exciting is happening here.

I  plan to watch Blue Bloods on CBS and figure the TV program is a safe search.

Jim Wahlberg, Dorchester, MA, no known relation to Danny, Donnie Wahlberg, real life brother to Mark Wahlberg well know for the movies, Ted and The Fighter is tweeting, really flirting with Paula NKOTB.

Not of interest to me.

However, Donnie was recently interviewed by Gayle King, of whom I am a big fan. She asks an interesting question, waits and respects the answer.  Sunday morning Gayle tweeted she’d been to Streisand concert and to the Barclay for burger bash with her favorite mayor.  I am jealous.

Gayle has 589, 454 followers and one more, me.

As of today I have one follower, dear Christine, but who is counting.

                                                                               …just saying

Peculiar

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Picasso Blue Nude   Aging & Attitude

My only aunt died recently at the age of ninety-two. Peculiar is how my mother describes her sister. It is a kind word choice considering, and gives my aunt personality and style, rather than label her strange.

Born on January 13, 1920, her dad, Charles Achilles DeSalvo, proudly named her Marie Antoinette, (while her mom was sedated) though she was called Carol; and legally changed her name once twenty-one.

As a twelve-year-old, I thought her a princess arranging articles of clothing (padded bras, garter belts and silk panties) on the bed, to wear after a bath. She wore high heel, open toe, sling back shoes lined with Kleenex tissues, as slippers; bathed with Palmolive soap, used a pumice stone to ward off foot callous, brushed with tooth powder and applied makeup sitting at a dressing table in a house coat. The final step once I zippered her newest dress was to take out the Bobbie-pins and comb through her hair. She did not dilly-dally wanting to be only fashionably late for cocktails.

Aunt Carol was frozen in time. Nothing changed for her since 1958 when she owned a green Buick.  She had a Nancy Regan style, but never went to Washington. Her hair-do the day she died was the same as the day my parents married. She never had children and did not marry until sixty. She did not wear slacks, low shoes, socks, or sneakers. Every dress she owned was individually surrounded with plastic and stored in a closet. I still can hear her response to the mention of denim, “Only cowboys wear denim,”  she said with a sharp rise in her voice, clutching a tissue.

Picasso Blue Nude

Aunt Carol loved to shop and demonstrated peculiar behavior at the checkout.  She watched carefully every item rung up as though it was her first trip to Disney then waited for the cashier to ask, “Will that be cash or charge?” which did not happen. Aunt Carol eventually said “Credit Card,” with a look of distain, opened the metal clasp on her black leather purse, and removed a zip lock bag.  A wallet wrapped in Kleenex tissue; the tissue secured by a blue rubber band was inside the plastic. Unwrapping, the wallet was a slow process that suspended time for everyone around her. Eventually she removed a credit card and paid. I wonder what her life would have been as Marie Antoinette DeSalvo.

                                                                                  …just saying

Zero Ending Birthdays

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Aging & Attitude

A dear writing friend, Marsha, recently celebrated a  zero ending birthday or a “big one” and shared her thoughts about the occasion. She offers an interesting perspective I think you’ll enjoy.

Zero Ending Birthdays

                                      by Guest Blogger, Marsha

Birthday Blog

 (to no one in particular – just because I feel like writing a blog)

I recently celebrated one of those “milestone” birthdays. For the last ten years there has been just a one digit change to the years of life number, but now all of sudden both digits have changed! That comfort zone has been lost to a whole new era of unfamiliar and intimidating numbers. Plus there is this new theory that you are actually ten years younger than your age now, based on the wonders of baby boomers living longer than their predecessors, which presents an entirely new issue of confusion.

Graduating to the new number has also brought to light the birthday cards designed for the consumer to address this milestone. And for some reason, many well wishers seem to think they need to send a card with the new number boldly emblazoned on the front of the card. I hadn’t received a number card before that I could recall, although I probably did for the big 40 (can’t really remember at this point – and it was probably a funny card), as we see a lot of decorations available for this particular birthday milestone in the party stores.

But my recent birthday seems to have prompted a bevy of different salutations that shouted “you should feel excited to be alive at a time when you are really free to live”,” liking what you have become”, or “ this day is to celebrate the beginning of the most beautiful years of your life.”

Seriously – does this make me feel good? Is this a happy birthday greeting?

I’m sorry, but I find this disconcerting and almost downright rude. Do people really think we want to hear this stuff? Isn’t it enough that we are in the quagmire of not yet qualifying for Social Security, dealing with healthcare insurance issues and grappling with where to invest our hard earned retirement money?

You have probably guessed my new number by now.

Please understand that I don’t mind the aging process. I can live with that. What I object to is being reminded that my double digit birthday is a landmark that is being shouted from the rooftops by these ridiculous cards that come our way at a time when you would rather celebrated the day with a simple “Happy Birthday” or a piece of cake……

As my friend Claudia would say

                            ….Just saying

Mommy’s Jumping Jellybean

My daughter, Janine will turn forty on May 19 and hopefully this post captures how special she is to me. . . . just saying I love you, Mom

Aging & Attitude

   My daughter phoned a few weeks ago and after a good hour-long conversation told me, holding back tears, I was on her gratitude list. It was not Mother’s Day but it was the best Mother’s Day present ever.  I hung up the phone, and put a long list of ‘if only I had’ in the trash, to reminisce about my little girl.

She was not a fussy infant and slept through the night at six weeks, never cried or climbed out of her crib, and woke with a cheery “Morning.”  By the third call, I would have her in my arms. Asked if she would give baby Donna her bottle, Janine said yes and drank from a cup. She potty trained easily wanting to wear big girl pants like Christie.

Most days, after playing in the park we lingered on the stoop outside to wait for Daddy. At two and a half years old, Janine would climb the brick steps, teeter across a cement ledge and jump to the ground holding my hands. She was long and lean, like a green bean, and called Beaner  Her incessant jumping gave birth to the rhyme, J is for Janine, Mommy’s jumping jellybean.  I struggled to match  my daughter’s  energy and enthusiasm.

The summer of 1980 we traveled to Chicago, by sleeper train, to visit Aunt Judy and Uncle George.  Independent Janine maneuvered the way from our cabin to the dining car, bouncing side to side. You could not hold her hand. The dining tables wore white linen table cloths, and the wine served in a stemmed glass.

I have a vivid picture of Janine sitting in a Winnetka ice cream parlor, her chin even with the table, ready to place her order, a chocolate cone. Uncle George, who was treating, suggested a dish of ice cream might be safer. Determined, she stately sweetly, “I want a cone,” to Uncle George’s continued feeble attempts to persuade her other wise. There was no terrible two-temper tantrum only the pointing of her pinky and index finger like devil horns saying, repeatedly, “I want a cone.” Uncle George did not comment after her pretty dress was covered in chocolate.

The first day of  kindergarten she wore a sucker of a rhinestone pin given to her by Great Granny B for dress up, and left the house saying; “Mom, I’m going to be the prettiest girl in the class.” My response, “Yes, you will.”

Early on, she wanted to know if you went to college to be a cocktail waitress, to which her father and I had no reply, amazed at her insight that attending college and waitressing somehow went together.

These days, Janine is miles away, and missed. People notice her kindness, generosity, quiet determination, and independence. She pounds the streets of New York City and a chorus joins me in cheering, J is for Janine, Mommy’s jumping jellybean.

Thank you daughter, for loving me.

                                                                                          …. Just saying

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Tell Me What Rain Smells Like

 The Smell of Rain

Aging & Attitude

Steel metal colored clouds consume the sky and come my way. The sun disappears behind them and the light turns out. A crack of lightning jumps in the sky and the sound pierces my ears.

It is raining in Florida. The rain falls heavily, straight down and creates a blur. Like Niagara Falls, a sheet of rain cascades off the roof gutters and I imagine “The Maid of the Mist” weathering the storm on the rocks below. The loud sound of rain pinging is comforting.

Floridians call it “big rain,” and pull to the side of the road the visibility is so poor.  It is not a monsoon, a season of precipitation, although it rains more in April and May, torrents of this nature occur anytime.

This daytime rain smells sweet. A smell so fragile I need to inhale deeply to guess its fragrance, clean and crisp like mountain air.  Childhood memories of searching for four-leaf clover, cartwheels, and skipping home to snack on Wonder bread, buttered and sugared permeate my mind.  Coolness surrounds my shoulders and I close my eyes to relish the moment and the smell of rain.

I cannot capture the words.

Help me, what do you think rain smells like?