Let Us Never Forget

Today we celebrate all who gave their lives and limbs for our country. Both my father and grandfather went to war; both of them seldom spoke about their experiences. All who went to war have their own stories, and most of them either do not or cannot talk about it. I can only imagine what they lived through.

Unlike so many countries, we in America enjoy our freedoms and our way of life. Other countries do not have this luxury. In our national anthem, we sing about the land of the free and the home of the brave. Unfortunately, we often take both for granted. On this special day, let us not forget how we came to have these freedoms.

Our veterans deserve our thanks and our respect. Please make today a time to remember and to thank any veteran that you know. Our cemetaries are full of heroes who have done the right things for this country.

God bless America and all those who have fought and died, and all those who made it back home.

“Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me!”

I don’t know if this is a man thing or that they just don’t care; the Crankee Yankee will take something out of the office and when I go to look for it it’s nowhere to be found. Days later I may find it out on the front porch, on the steps of the deck, or in his underwear drawer. Quite frankly, it drives me nuts.

I grew up in a home where everything had its own place, and Heaven forbid you put something away from where it belonged. But to be fair, the Crankee Yankee does so much around our house that it is becoming an icon of creativity and style. Many people stop and tell him how good everything looks; they’re right. The improvements he’s made makes our house look fantastic.

That said, I can be losing my mind trying to find the kitchen scissors; he has taken them and they could be anywhere. In his very creative brain, putting things away neatly and completely doesn’t fly. What counts is getting the thing done and done right. And while I deeply appreciate all his hard work, it drives me nuts when I can’t find the damned scissors!

So when I watch “Monsters Inc.” for the millionth time, I laugh my head off when they sing the “put that thing back where it came from or so help me!” It’s a current thing at our house—trust me!

*By the way, the title for this blog comes directly from Monsters Inc.

 

 

“Hawaii” by James Mitchner

I have had a “thing” for Hawaii since I was in my teens. There always seemed to be a pull to go there that I couldn’t explain. When *James Mitchner’s book, “Hawaii” came out and then the movie, I fell even deeper in love with Hawaii. How is it that we are drawn to places we have never been to before? Could it be a past life that we don’t remember?

Last year when I went to Oahu I felt immediately at home. Every day there were little rainbows in the sky along with white doves, and usually each morning there was a brief and gentle rain.

The tours I took were wonderful, and most of the tour drivers were born in Hawaii. On one occasion we drove by the house that the driver lived in, and all the aunties were sitting on the porch drinking tea. When the bus drove by, we all waved, and they waved right back.

As Hawaii’s history is vast and interesting, I’m sure that there are many books that tell all the stories of Hawaii, but James Mitchner’s book made it come to life. I also remember as a child when Hawaii and Alaska become part of the United States.

Isn’t it strange and wonderful how we are attracted to different places? Who knows? Perhaps we lived in places like Hawaii in another life. But all I know is how I felt being there for two weeks; somehow, I felt at home.

I’ve heard friends of mine say that they felt absolutely at home when they went to another country or another state. We may never know the answer as to why we feel so comfortable there; who knows? Just speaking for myself, I not only felt at home in Oahu, but I felt as though somehow that I had been there before.

If you get the urge to go somewhere, do it. You might find that you feel completely at home; perhaps from another time. All I know is that I love Hawaii unconditionly; the “why” doesn’t matter.

*From Wikipedia:

James Albert Michener February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author. He wrote more than 40 books, most of which were lengthy, fictional family sagas covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. Michener had numerous bestsellers and works selected for Book of the Month Club, and was known for his meticulous research behind the books.[2]

Michener’s books include Tales of the South Pacific for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, HawaiiThe DriftersCentennialThe SourceThe Fires of SpringChesapeakeCaribbeanCaravansAlaskaTexasSpace, and Poland, as well as The Bridges at Toko-ri. His non-fiction works include Iberia, about his travels in Spain and Portugal; his memoir titled The World Is My Home; and Sports in AmericaReturn to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.[2]

His first book was adapted as the popular Broadway musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and later as eponymous feature films in 1958 and 2001, adding to his financial success. A number of his other stories and novels were adapted for films or TV series.

Funny Stuff We Could Really Use Now

I wrote this years ago and it still makes me laugh. 

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Did you ever notice that when you whack your “funny bone” it isn’t all that funny? It’s the same with a sense of humor. What I may find hilarious you may dismiss as puerile, obvious or just stupid. What’s funny to some isn’t at all funny to others. I think it was Lou Costello (of the famous comedy team, Abbot and Costello) who said, “Comedy and tragedy are relative. If you fall down a manhole and break your arm, that’s comedy. If the same thing happens to ME, that’s tragedy.”

I grew up on a humor diet of the Little Rascals, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and my favorites, the Three Stooges. It was the humor of the times, and most of these talented folks started their professional lives on stage in vaudeville. They could sing, dance, play a few musical instruments and tell jokes non-stop. Physical comedy of that time included a lot of physical abuse. (Just Google up a few Three Stooges shorts and you’ll see what I mean.) It was humor of the ultimate non-PC type, and it was hilarious.

If you want to see me dissolve into a puddle of helpless laughter (which usually includes tears of joy from both ends), just show me poor old Margaret Dumont getting a pie in the face from Harpo Marx, or Laurel and Hardy unsuccessfully trying to move an expensive piano, or the Three Stooges “fixing” the plumbing. Certainly I get more cerebral humor; New Yorker cartoons, etc., but I am a product of the 50s and grew up in a time of low comedy we may never see again (thanks, PC movement!).

Ok, so what makes you laugh like a hyena or fall off the sofa in hysterics? I hope that you have a long list of things that tickle your funny bone. Life is way too short not to laugh a lot. Here are some humor highlights from my “personal best” list:

  • Any episode of the Dick van Dyke Show
  • Anyone slipping on a banana peel
  • Anyone catching a pie in the face
  • The Clowns’ Prayer: “A little song/A little dance/A little seltzer down your pants!”
  • Selected bits from Firesign Theatre, especially “Shoes For Industry”
  • Zippy the Pinhead from Zap Comics
  • “The Soup Nazi” episode from “Seinfeld”
  • Anything Nathan Lane says (the man could read the phone book out loud and be funny)
  • Farts
  • Monty Python, notably the “Dead Parrot” sketch
  • Soupy Sales
  • Tim Conway and Harvey Corman on the Carol Burnett Show (especially the classic dental sketch)
  • “Blazing Saddles”
  • Saturday Night Live with the original cast
  • Laugh In; especially Arte Johnson and Alan Sues
  • MASH
  • Suzanne Sugarbaker (played by Delta Burke)in “Designing Women”
  • the Super Bowl commercial a few years ago with cowboys herding cats
  • “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”

…and there is much more. Since I am older now (but not all that much wiser), I find more things to laugh about. Believe me, I am all too well aware of all the horrible, tragic, heartbreaking things going on today. It’s not that I ignore them–I just have to decide what if anything I can do about them.

When I can help alleviate pain or suffering, I do. When I can help lift someone up, I do. When I can be a positive force, I am. But when there is nothing I can do, I cannot waste my life and feelings on fear, anger or grief. I choose to look at the funny side because it is healing and positive. I choose laughter because it heals and it lifts the spirits. Not only that, but you never know who might be listening to your laughter and may be lifted up by it.

Live well, love hard and laugh a LOT.

Why Not Just Accept the Gift?

I wrote this a few years ago, and have since learned my lesson about accepting kindness, friendship, a fresh-baked cookie, and so on. It took me a while, but I think I’ve learned to accept things now.

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How many times have we coveted something; a new car, a fabulous spa day, a trip to Madrid, bling-y jewelry, a handmade pair of soft leather boots, etc.? And how many times have we then thought, ‘oh no; that’s not for me—I don’t deserve that.’

Even when I’m in a grocery store and walk by a free sample table of some food I love, I automatically say, ‘oh, no thank you.” WHY? Why can’t I just take that delicious cupcake/slice of pizza/crunchy strip of maple bacon/etc., and just enjoy it?

I’ll tell you why in my case; I carry around a party-pooper voice in my head that says, ‘oh, I don’t think you really need that, do you?’ As if I’m not worthy enough somehow to enjoy a free cupcake. And where does that get me? Cupcake-less, that’s what!

Whenever this happens, I walk away, full of self-righteousness about not accepting something I might have enjoyed, right along with that sick feeling of ‘I really wanted that!’ What earthly purpose does it serve for us to act like some up-tight Puritan walking away from America’s first Thanksgiving (and probably delicious) dinner?

Of course there are some things we ought to back away from; a rattlesnake in a bad mood, an angry driver, poison ivy, a bear trap, spoiled meat, a nail gun you’ve never used before, and so on. You get the picture.

But denying ourselves these little harmless pleasures is counter-productive. Why not take that free cupcake at the grocery store? Why not accept a compliment? Why not look in the mirror and say “hiya, beautiful!”? Why not allow yourself a treat now and then? Why not take a little break on a busy day and do something just for YOU?

And when you do allow yourself a treat, then inhale it, enjoy it, live deeply with it and smile about it because you know you deserve it.

As today is our shopping day, I am going to keep my eyes peeled for any freebies. And if I do, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy them!

 

What’s Wrong With Getting Older?

When I was a young girl I never thought that I would ever grow old. Oh, certainly I saw my grandparents and parents getting older, but I dismissed the thought of me ever getting older. Of course I realized that people do age, but being young, I just never worried about it.

Once when I was looking through the family scrapbook I saw a picture of my grandmother when she was probably in her mid-thirties. She was a doll! It was hard to reconcile that picture with the grandmother I knew with wrinkles, gray hair and stooped shoulders. Again, it never occurred to me that some day my looks would leave me and that I too would look old. But here I am, looking soon to be 69 years old; I too have wrinkles and laugh lines. But really, how bad is that? If those wrinkles and laugh lines mark me as a woman who laughs a lot, that’s fine with me.

I used to run up and down the stairs without a thought of slipping and falling or breaking a leg. These days I remember my dad telling me to always put my foot squarely on each step and to not be in a hurry.  That way, he said, I’d have less of a chance to trip and fall. So to this very day, I am extremely careful walking up and down stairs.

Getting older is exactly what you make it; you can moan and groan about what you cannot do anymore, or never look in a mirror again. Every so often I try to do something I used to do when I was younger; I try and then realize pretty quickly that I really can’t do it. Besides, who cares?

My granddaughters love to jump on trampolines; I used to love doing that too. I have a knee replacement that had to be re-done, and while it works well for me now, my days of jumping on trampolines are long gone. But that really isn’t a big issue; as we age we find other things to do that brings us joy. My granddaughters don’t understand that a bad knee means that I can’t join them jumping joyfully on their trampoline. However, instead of that, I taught them a version of Harry Potter’s quiditch sport, which involves riding brooms.

I would straddle a broom and run around after the girls, who would be screaming and laughing at the same time. Whoever got swished with the broom had to stop running and then jump on the broom and chase one of the girls and me. Not only is it fun, but it wears us all out so we can calm down and giggle.

There’s nothing bad about growing older. We have learned much and we have done much; we have gotten wiser and even a bit smarter. We find we need less makeup and more laughter, less worry and more joy, and we give and recieve more love. We can enjoy our old friends and keep our hearts open to new friends. We have learned along the way that it doesn’t matter what people think of us; what matters is that we live happily and gratefully.