A Day With the GrandGirls

Yesterday the Crankee Yankee and I went up to visit our granddaughters, Ava (7 1/2) and Juliette (2 1/2). It was a cold but gloriously sunny day, and as we drove into their driveway, we were serenaded with all three dogs barking their welcome, and grunts, hoots, squawks and whinnies from the farm animals.

Inside the house, the girls ran up for hugs and squeezes, each one talking over each other. Ava wanted me to help her “sort out” all her beads for her earring business, and Juliette kept asking if I wanted to see “something cool.” More on that later.

It was right around lunch time, so we all bundled up and went to Ava’s favorite diner. There was a Sunday brunch special, so the Crankee Yankee and I and the girls’ mom, Adria, had breakfast plates. The two girls asked for bacon and sausage and apple juice. Those little carnivores devoured everything, including their mom’s plate of toast.

When we went back to the farm, Ava wanted me to help her with all her earring makings. And of course, Juliette wanted me to see “something cool.” That turned out to be Juliette climbing up the ladder on Ava’s bunk bed, jumping on the bed and then hurling herself into my arms. Needless to say, three times was enough.

As I helped Ava sort through her “made” earrings and her “almost made” earrings, Juliette wanted attention from us both. They are at the ages where Ava wants to concentrate on her interests, and Juliette wants to be around Ava 24/7. Ava is a stickler for “the rules,” and each girl has a magnetic board upon which are magnetic buttons that read “be nice,” “pick up your clothes,” “no yelling,” “no fighting,” “do your chores,” and so on.

Because Ava wanted all of my attention, she threatened Juliette with removing one or two of her buttons. But honestly—Juliette couldn’t have cared less. I spent most of the time refereeing. But everyone finally settled down, and we all ended up downstairs.

As we said all of our “love yous” and goodbyes, Adria said that they act up this way because they both want my attention. There must be a special word that combines love, gratitude, amazement, wonder, joy and humility; that’s how I felt. Just for fun, I’m calling it bliss.



Veterans Day – Why It Matters

From the History website: “Veterans Day originated as *’Armistice Day’ on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”

My grandfather was in WW1 and my dad was in WW11. They, like so many others of their age, did not talk about their experiences in the wars. Men of those eras buttoned up their feelings about what they saw and what they had to do. The one thing my dad told me was how to erase the mind of bad things; he said to just think of it so often that it finally loses its power to hurt.

This is what I think of when I see those old and brave men sitting silently together at the local Rotary Club. They don’t say much, but you can see on their faces that some experiences never quite go away.

My step daughter is a West Point graduate, and currently serves as a US Army Reservist with US Pacific Command. She has deployed in support of the Global War on Terror five times in her 14-year career. I am, and always will be, proud of her and grateful for her service.

A dear friend of mine was married to a man who was part of the unit that went into the German death camps to liberate those who were still there. She told me that she had married a laughing and loving boy, and when he came home he was a different person. Oh, he still could tell jokes and laugh and he certainly loved his wife and children with all his heart. But that careless, happy-go-lucky boyishness was gone for good.

On this day of honoring all of those who gave life and limb for their country, let us remember that the freedoms we have did not come easily. They were paid for in blood and sacrifice. When you see a veteran today, please shake his or her hand and thank them for their service. At the very least we owe them our heartfelt thanks.

*From Webster’s Dictionary: definition of Armistice: a temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents: TRUCE.

Is This Really Who We Want to Be?

In light of the latest senseless shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA, and all the other terrible acts of violence we have seen lately, isn’t it time to reevaluate how we want to be as a nation? The horrific things that are happening now have become so common that we barely blink at the news.

Is this really who we want to be?

At this point in time in our country, we are witnessing a whole lot of people who are committing verbal violence against people in government offices, news media and so on. Never in my life have I seen such abuse and rancor from people who should know better. When did it become ok to harrass people who are out to dinner with their families or at the doors of their homes? This is NOT ok. Sadly, I predict that one of these days, someone’s going to get killed.

Is this really who we want to be?

Also, when did it become ok to mimic people in power on late night TV? Would those people enjoy having their families parodied like that? Our “comedy” has become cruel and hateful; the “funny” is gone.

Is this really who we want to be?

As for the acts of violence that sadly are escalating, it feels as though some people have decided that all of the rancor, hate and dissention we are experiencing somehow makes it ok to start bullying and hurting people.

Is this really who we want to be?

I wish I had an answer to stop all this. But there are people who are a lot more savvy than I am who are working on how to keep these things from happening. It is not as simple as restricting guns or holding hands and singing Kumbyah. It must come from a change of heart and mind, as well as “watchers” who might find the lost soul who hungers for attention before he or she commits an act of violence.

As a nation we have freedoms that no other countries have. We ought to be honoring these freedoms, not using them to smear people we don’t like or disagree with. Does anyone remember the Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The pulse of this country is getting frighteningly more erratic. Innocent people are dying every day. Everyone seems to have an axe to grind with polical parties, race, sex, and quite frankly anything that gets people angry. How did we get so far from the things we once held so dear?

Is this really who we want to be?

Good Enough

“Good enough” has been a watch word in my family for years. When I was a child, I knew that “no” meant “no” and whining and crying wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I grew up with “good enough,” and you know what? Good enough IS good enough.

My dad was always one to “improve” things. His lawn mower was a good one, but he felt it needed some ‘adjustments.’ So he duct-taped a huge piece of strong plastic on it so that the grass clippings wouldn’t gum up the blades. It looked funny, but it did the job and it was good enough.

When I was old enough to go to proms at school, I had one “fancy” dress that my mom bought for me for my first prom. As there was a prom each year, I felt I couldn’t wear that same dress again. But I had a friend whose sister was a wizard at sewing clothes. Her prom dresses were fabulous, and she made a new one each year. She had me try on one of her creations, a beautiful pink dress with a deep pink velvet sash. Luckily, it fit me perfectly—it was absolutely good enough for my next prom.

When I was old enough to drive, Mom cashed in an insurance policy she had bought when I was a baby. It was enough to pay for my very first car, a pre-owned yellow Honda with standard steering. Dad had taught me how to drive “stick,” and I loved it. This, my first car, was wonderfully good enough.

Having grown up with the “good enough” value system, I saved a lot of time and money. We Yankees tend to be a bit on the tight-fisted side, as we grew up with the adage: “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

When I left home and started working, I met a lot of people who loved to use credit cards so that they could have what they wanted right now and pay later. I am certainly not condemning them; I fell into the same ‘buy now and pay later’ trap. I learned the hard way that it’s a lot easier to save up and then buy. Once I cleared all my debt, I went right back into the “good enough” mode I grew up with. I didn’t make that mistake again, and, looking back, it was a good but expensive lesson.

Good enough!

It’s the Little Things…

Funny how the “little things” can be so powerful. They are the tiny, twinkling gems around a rare stone. The little things can be a hot cup of coffee when you really need one, and behold and lo—there’s just enough coffee left in the pot for that last cup. It can be a funny email with a silly video attached, a card from a friend, a beautiful cardinal in the garden, and so on.

One of our cats, Pookie, needs special meds for his occasional seizures (mostly slight stumbing and a few head bobs now and then). I dose him morning and night after meals, and he seems to take it better when I sing to him. His current favorite tune is from West Side Story:

“When you’re a Jet,
You’re a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin’ day.

When you’re a Jet,
Let them do what they can,
You got brothers around,
You’re a family man.”

We hardly ever get to the second verse, but he does seem to enjoy the tune; I think it takes his mind off the meds. Again, it’s a little thing, but it works.

A phone call from a friend is a gift. The music of a dear friend’s voice is a lit candle in the darkness, a rare gem, a comfort and a blessing. Another little thing, but how much it means!

When you look around, there are any number of wonderful little things in our lives. Years ago, I had a pair of pearl earrings that I cherished. I kept them in a special compartment in my jewelry box, and I was always careful when I wore them. One day I had decided to wear them, and I only found one earring in the jewelry box. I immediately panicked, and tried to think of when I wore them last.

After an hour and a half of looking for the lost earring, I gave up; it was nowhere to be found. I felt terrible that I had somehow lost the earring by being careless. I berated myself for most of the day, and felt awful. I went to bed angry (which is never good for a person), and slept badly.

The next morning I looked into my jewelry box once more. There inside were both pearl earrings, just where they should have been. Of course I was delighted, but how in the world did the other earring come to be back where it belonged? Had it been caught up in the folds of the silk interior of the jewelry box? Did some kind angel find the missing earring and put it back?

I will never know the answer, but I can tell you from my own experiences that miracles do happen. Generally, they are the little things, and little things have power.



“Don’t Be a Goat; Get Out and Vote!”

Boy, does that slogan date me! Way back in the 50s, anyone who didn’t vote or dragged their feet to vote was summarily called a goat. That said, today is a big day and voting is a right we cherish in America. By voting we are part of an event bigger than ourselves, and every vote makes a difference. If you read my blog often, then you know that I do not talk politics with anyone but my husband, the Crankee Yankee.

I am always surprised (and dismayed) when anyone asks me who I voted for; that is no one’s business but mine. Voting is a personal decision, and in my view anyway; private. I have seen what political discussions can turn into, and I don’t choose to be part of it. I have seen too many families and friends divided over politics, and, quite frankly, I’m not having it.

It’s bad enough that both parties have acted badly toward each other; there’s been a whole lot of dirty pool going on. In fact, I have never seen my country so divided as it is now. I’ve seen kindergarten children act better, and the vitriol coming from both sides is shameful.

I will admit that there have been presidents and members of Congress with whom I have disagreed. However, once the die is cast, it’s time to accept who is sitting in the president’s chair, the governer’s chair, the Senate and so on. For each and every one I disliked or disagreed with, I still prayed for their well-being and safety morning and night; I still do.

We may not like or respect the person sitting in those chairs, but we ought to respect the office that they represent. Aren’t these the things we learned in kindergarten? See below:

  • Don’t pout if you don’t get your way
  • Clean up your own mess
  • Don’t interrupt others
  • Wait your turn
  • No bullying or fighting
  • No swearing
  • No hitting
  • No making fun of someone
  • Be kind