A Letter of Apology to My Adult Children

Time to write a letter

Over the last few weeks, I have heard a few rumblings from my kids about my current rate of blog postings. I explained, in case they missed it, that I am doing a challenge. Here are some of the comments, which have fueled me to write a letter to my kids.

“Mom, once a week was fine. I am happy to read your WEEKLY blog posts. Weekly. Around Day 6, I knew I was in trouble. How long will this thing go on?”

“You’re killing me!”

“My in-basket is overflowing.”

“You’re thinking about blogging about (fill in the blank). I can see it in your eyes.”

“Your obsessed.”

Alright, that last one was my husband, but you get the point. So, here goes:

 

Dear Kids,

I know this past month has been difficult for you. How challenging it must be for you when every day there is something to read that your mother wrote. Your mother – the one who loved you before you were born. The one who carried you for nine long months, six of which involved a lot of puking. The one who helped you with your homework and drove you all over town. The one who watches your children so you can go out with your spouse. Sigh.

I am sorry for the pain and suffering which this Ultimate Blog Challenge has caused you and I want you to know that I understand. You want to support me, yet you feel overwhelmed.

There is also the matter of the monthly test about my blog content which I require you to take. I know there’s a lot of pressure to do well, so for this month, and this month only, I will make your test multiple choice instead of essay. I will also give you an extra week to turn it in to me for your grade.

Happy Reading!

Love,

Mom

 

And, to my regular readers who have been with me for a while, thanks for sticking with me. I appreciate you.

 

This is Post #23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

I’m Just a Singer in a Living Room Band

I haven’t written any tell-all articles about my parents. This is the closest I’ll get to that.

I started life as a child of two performers. One was reluctant. One certainly was not. My mom was the former. She took voice and dance and piano lessons. She even performed on the radio when she was a kid. She has a great singing voice and she plays piano well, too.

Here’s the tell-all part – she pretty much hated every minute of it. She does not like the spotlight. Yet, when I was a kid, whenever we had company, my two sisters and I were rounded up to come and sing for them. Mom accompanied us on the piano. I guess she figured the focus would be on us, so she put her love of music in front of her dislike of performing in front of people.

Now, I’m not trying to get all Moody Blues on you, but that was my young life. My theme song was – I’m just a singer in a living room band.

Thinking back on it, I didn’t really understand her doing this to us until I factored my dad into the equation. Dad was a performer. He was a magician, and we were forever asking him to do tricks for our friends. It only stands to reason that he would rope my sisters and mom into performing, too. That combined with how much Mom loved to hear us sing – well, if we had still been in the era of radio, I imagine we would have been on it just like her!

I always tried to protest this coercion, but secretly I liked it. Singing was one of the few things I thought I could do well at that stage and I loved the accolades.

Mom and Dad 1966 or 67

I don’t remember all the songs that we would sing, but the set would always include, Take Me Out to The Ballgame. Mom was and still is an avid Baltimore Oriole fan, so this combined her two passions.

My older sister became quite accomplished on the piano, while I struggled along with the clarinet until the neighborhood took up a collection to make it disappear. I was terrible. My little sister found her love in gymnastics, which are hard to sing to.

What did I take away from that kind of childhood forced labor (of love)?

I became comfortable in front of other people. Even though they were family and friends, I would have to put away fears and nervousness. It was a tremendous help for my future, plus a love of music was planted in all of us. Being yourself in front of family and friends who love you was a good beginning to speaking in front of others. Having fun sharing your gifts with others as a form of entertainment was the best part.

After we’d sing, we were dismissed to go play with cousins or maybe if it was Sunday go watch the Wonderful World of Disney. One thing, on one screen, to watch together. It was a great childhood. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Last night before we turned in for bed after a long day full of family and fun, we had a performance in our living room. It was because my mom wanted to hear her great-granddaughters (my granddaughters) sing. Yes, she’s still at it! And, by the way, they were amazing.

 

My three granddaughters singing in my living room.

 

 

This is Post #22 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

The Perfect Ten

My daughter, her four kids, and their dog arrived late last night. I didn’t expect to get any blog ideas from them this soon, but that was silly of me.

I have become accustomed to a rather quiet start to my day, but I happily throw that out the window when grandchildren are around. Ten-year-old Jett was the earliest riser and we enjoyed a chat before I had even downed my first cup of coffee. Of course, I’m not sure how coherent I was, but Jett picked up the slack and kept the conversation moving.

We discussed everything from villains and heroes to the states of matter. Jett likes science and excels at math. Personally, I think he will become an engineer. I recognize that gifting and love to see his creative mind in action, but we’ll see. He likes to write, too, so the world is his oyster.

Soon the rest of the family gathered. One of his sisters said, “Oh, my gosh,” in response to something. The end of the statement kind of dropped off, so her mom (Dena) reminded her how much that sounds like, “Oh, my God.”

“You don’t want to take the name of the Lord in vain,” Dena said.

 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” – Exodus 20:7

 

The breakfast conversation turned to the Ten Commandments – not the movie, the actual Ten from Exodus.

Image result for free pictures of the ten commandments

We talked about what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. It means say it in jest or take his name lightly. It was a great conversation.

And then Dena broke out in song. She and her brother sang The Perfect Ten as part of a program that our church children’s choir performed quite a few years ago. She breezed through nine out of ten commandments before she got stumped. We had to look up #10 and remind ourselves not to covet.

Here’s the video of the song for your enjoyment. It’s still as helpful as ever.

 

By the end of the conversation, I think Jett was catching on. He doesn’t want to take God’s name in vain or use it lightly. “Well,” he said, “I guess from now on, I’ll just say – Oh my Gollum.”

There you have it. You never really know if you’re getting through to kids, but it sure is interesting trying.

 

 

This is Post #17 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bazaar Beach Bumble Leads to Sting Operation

Friday was my mother’s 91st birthday. My younger sister, Linda, and I took her to her favorite place – the beach.

Through no fault of her own, Mom’s birthday falls during spring break and bike week. If you live in Florida, you avoid the beach like the Walmart on Black Friday, especially Daytona Beach, during this overlap of motorcycles, college students, and vacationing families. It’s just plain crazy, loud, and crowded.

For my mother’s part, she did not plan on being born in March. In fact, she was due in May. (I do think she may have preferred May. It’s quieter down here then.)

In keeping with the quiet celebration theme, we headed down back roads past the southern tip of New Smyrna Beach. Pastureland with signs pointing to pigs or fresh eggs for sale dotted the scenery. The roads were nearly deserted making for a relaxing drive.

My favorite sighting of the day was Phil. Phil the Knife Sharpening Guy was positioned at a prime intersection to attract bikers, spring-breakers, or anyone else who may need to sharpen their weapons and knives before arriving at the beach. It was a little disconcerting, but I’m going with the thought that fishermen need sharp knives.

Phil's Knife Sharpening

I should note that Phil did not pose for this picture and I did not ask his permission. He was on a corner of Hwy 44 and I was able to snap this from the opposite side of the road at a traffic light. I did google him though, and was surprised at his celebrity. Therefore, I don’t think he’d mind the publicity. He is known all over Florida and beyond for peddling his bike and trailer and sharpening knives of all kinds. He especially likes Bike Week.

With my writer’s mind at ease from picturing all kinds of daunting circumstances, I marvel at Phil’s ingenuity and work ethic, not to mention his ability to pull that rig of his, which he has been doing for about 30 years. I should have stopped and talked to him, but honestly he looked a little scary from a distance, plus I left all my knives at home.

But let me take you back to the beach – Bethune Beach, which is just south of NSB. It has a paved walking area which gives a great view of the sand and surf – just what Mom was hoping for. We took a stroll and then set up our chairs. It was a perfect day – mid-80s, sunny and a light breeze.

Mom encouraged Linda and me to go for a walk on the beach. You don’t say no to your mom on her birthday. Toes in the sand and the sun on a heavily sun-screened face is revitalizing. We were strolling along, enjoying being together and picking up the occasional seashell when it happened. A piercing, burning sensation in my foot. It was like one of Phil’s perfectly sharpened knives stuck me right in my toe.

We weren’t even in the water! I lifted my foot and there underneath it was a bee. A stupid honeybee. (No offense to the smart ones.) What in the world was he doing all alone on the sand? The entire thing was upsetting. It doesn’t even make for a good story. It could at least have been a sand shark (I assume they are named for lying low in the sand before pouncing). Even a jelly fish would have been more exciting.

I hobbled over to nearby stairs and examined my poor throbbing little toe. There was a stinger hanging out of it with bee innards dangling from that. Gross and ouch! Thankfully, I always have my tweezer-like fingernails on-hand (literally) so it was easily removed and the gross part scraped off with a seashell. We headed back to Mom walking in the 65-degree ocean water to dull the pain. It had been a while since I’d had a bee sting. I hurt quite a lot.

My sister told me that if I put wet tobacco on it that would dull the pain. She has never smoked, but she lives in Georgia and once when she had a bee sting someone had dosed her sting site with it and lo and behold it worked. So, we started looking for smokers – kind and generous ones who would help a fellow human in need.

Alas there were no smokers to be found, but Linda did come up with a discarded, half-smoked cigarette. Yes, it’s gross, but it was also an act of love to pick it up. We rinsed my foot and applied the damp tobacco. Funny, but damp tobacco or just about anything else short of chewed gum will not stick to the bottom of your foot. Gravity wins every time so I may never know the true medicinal properties of someone’s discarded cigarette.

When we got home from the beach, I decided to play Bob’s favorite game with him – the guess what game. I know that no matter how much he rolls his eyes, he loves it. So, I made him guess what stung me at the beach. He guessed bee right away. And he didn’t think this counted as an operation either. Not even applying old, wet tobacco can take away the sting of that.

 

 

From Treasure to Trash to Treasure

After our smelly yet productive garage sale last week (read about that here), I was very proud of myself for loading all the leftover treasures into the back of my car for Goodwill and the used book store. We also filled our garbage cans with the enormously heavy metal boxes and things too piddly to give away. I only brought two things back into the house – small glass candle holders. Success!

It felt good to lighten our load and pare down. I barely even thought about the acrylic Tupperware dishes in the back of my car. Dishes which I loved but never used. Dishes that just might have a purpose which I hadn’t thought of yet. Unbreakable yet pretty dishes that my grandkids could use by the pool…

No! Be strong, Bonnie!

Anyway, the day after I posted my blog, I received a text from my daughter-in-law, Julie. I think she and Dad had a kindred spirit regarding how you never know when you’ll need something or could re-purpose it. You know where I’m going here.

Yes, that’s proof that Julie reads my blog. That makes three for three in the daughter-in-law department. I have the best daughters-in-law!

Also, by now you’ve likely guessed that she had a request – “Any chance your trashcan still holds the musty film reels? I have some ideas on how to re-purpose them (as long as they can be aired out).”

Snatched from the jaws of the garbage crusher.

I have a rapport with the trash collectors and want to keep them happy, so Bob and I divided up the heavy metal boxes between different garbage cans and only put two of them to the curb for the first pick-up day. I didn’t want anybody throwing their back out. So that meant that there was still one smelly box in our garbage.

I’m sure my dad was smiling down at me as I dug through the can to retrieve it for Julie. You win again, Dad! One more thing that didn’t quite make it to the curb!

 

One Man’s Treasure is Enough to Knock Me Over

The year was 1953 and my dad didn’t go to Alaska.

As you may remember, in September 2017, we quickly moved my mom and dad into our home. The decision was made on a Monday and the move took place on Friday, just two days before Hurricane Irma hit.

In our haste, we couldn’t go through everything. There wasn’t time or energy for that. My dad micromanaged the move, so that meant lots of stuff that we wanted to throw away was kept, including every slide, movie and photograph he ever took. These couldn’t be left in their home because of the threat of Irma. We’d have to go through them later.

Later came this past weekend. We joined in with the neighborhood garage sale in order to get rid of a large glass patio table and chairs. It was the perfect time. They do the advertising and we put our stuff out. I figured I might as well go through the rest of the house to clear out some things that have gone unused since we moved 3.5 years ago.

That didn’t take long and it felt good to lighten the load, but then Mom asked if I wanted to go through her closet.

Dun, dun, dun!!!

My parents have two very different philosophies of stuff. Mom is a pitcher and Dad is a keeper. Many a time he would go to the curb to retrieve something that Mom deemed useless. Mom is always ready to thin out the stuff. She’s a great example for me, but going through all that stuff…

I hadn’t really looked in there since Dad died and we sold their home. There were pictures and slides and movies. Oh my! I gathered my courage and went in. On the floor were three metal boxes. I don’t even remember seeing them before! I tried to lift one and nearly threw my back out. I scooted it and peered inside, and oh boy did it smell bad. This was a job for Bob.

Bob is great in so many ways, not the least of them being his sense of smell is not as keen as mine. But he did notice a musky odor, so he knew my super-sniffer must have been going nuts.

There were three of these things. This is the small one – it held nine movie reels. I thoughtlessly threw away the other two before taking pictures. They each held a dozen reels and probably would have been of value to a collector with a poor sense of smell.

The first label I came across said Alaska 1953. As I looked over the collection, I was surprised that Dad had not forced us kids, I mean offered for us to watch these. He was infamous for showing us stuff we didn’t want to see whenever it was time for home-movie night. Home-movie night was not limited to movies. In those days, slides were all the rage. We wanted to see pictures of ourselves when we were little and cute, and he wanted to see Hawaii, something I came to appreciate in my adult life.

Dad had hundreds of carousels of slides, but those from business trips to Hawaii were always on the top of the stack. Landscape after landscape after landscape – mostly in living black and white.

But I digress. I asked my mom, “Did Dad go to Alaska in 1953?”

“Oh, no,” she replied. “All of those movies belonged to your great Uncle Hayward. I don’t think we ever looked at them.”

Uncle Hayward died in 1978 at the age of 79, which leads me to believe those movies traveled from Arizona where they lived, to Maryland and then probably to Florida where they have been stored in their fancy, smelly humidors for over forty years. That’s right – the cans which I pitched were labeled as humidors. I don’t think they were meant to hold up for over six decades though – at least that’s what I gathered from the smell of deteriorating film and musty metal, which was akin to the smell of aged Tupperware with leftover cabbage in it.

All in all, it was a successful weekend. We sold our table so we didn’t have to figure out how to haul it away. We got rid of a lot of things from Mom’s closet and found a few gems, too. Like this pair of movie projectors, which you see Bob examining here. One is for the movies which we threw away. I think someone could make a lamp out of it and it probably has some value, which will be determined.

Notice the projector in the foreground. You do find some interesting things among your parents’ possessions.

Plus, best of all. I threw out all the slides of Hawaii and found some cute ones of me and my siblings. If I can ever figure how to digitize them, I’ll be sure to share them!

 

 

Culture Shock!

I was a stranger in a strange land. Gone were the familiar greens and blues. Everything was white. And cold. Very cold!

I knew that it had been a harsh winter in Michigan. I heard about the polar vortex and kept current on conditions because our son and his family live there. But I was not prepared to be dropped into a setting of white.

As we began our descent into Grand Rapids, this was my view.

Close up was a lot more intimidating. Driving with snow drifts higher than your car is stranger than driving after Hurricane Irma left piles of debris along our Florida streets. Our Irma debris held on for over two months. I think the Michigan snow drifts might beat that.

It was embarrassing finding myself commenting on the snow. As a Floridian, I’m used to people talking about the weather. Our summers are long and hot. The heat can be oppressive and unrelenting. And the rain – the rain can sneak up on you and be delivered not only downward but sideways in sheets that take all visibility away. But just as suddenly as it began, it can be gone.

Snow is not like that. Snow stays and gets pushed around by convoys of plows. It gets piled high as an elephant’s eye. It gets dirty and then covered by fresh snow. The plows come day after day. The piles grow. Ice storms mess with your footing. You have to borrow boots from your daughter-in-law (thanks, Dacia!). You have the feeling that you don’t belong here. It’s otherworldly.

So, comment I did. I couldn’t stop talking about how white everything was. My sweet daughter-in-law seemed amused by my snow befuddlement. I did grow up in Maryland. We had snow there. But not like this! I stared out the window in amazement. I couldn’t get over it. Finally, I realized I needed someone to help me with my culture shock, so I called in an expert – my four-year-old grandson. Felix loves snow. He was a little baffled by my lack of experience with it, so he offered his point of view.

 

I figure if it’s a little too much snow for a four-year-old, it’s okay that it’s a lot too much for me.

The Hamilton Hype

A few years ago, way back in 2015, I began to hear about a new, hit, Broadway musical called Hamilton. I am familiar with Alexander Hamilton as I have seen ten-dollar bills, plus I remember from American history that he was a part of the founding of our country. There was something about a duel with Aaron Burr, and also, he was the first Secretary of the Treasury. So, you can see, I’m somewhat of an expert.

Since I am on Facebook, I was privy to several friends’ posts which revealed that they were desperate to see this musical. Some even flew clear across country just to see the show. I marvel at that kind of commitment.

I like Broadway shows. I like musicals. I thought to myself, maybe someday Bob and I will see this show.

We have a daughter, Dena, who loves, loves, loves this musical – even though she had not seen, seen, seen it. When I visited her last year, she exposed me to the music. I was not surprised to learn that she and her daughters were fluent in Hamilton. They knew all the words. I mean really knew them. Dena could stand in for any of the actors. (If any of you are reading this, contact me to contact her. You won’t be sorry.)

What did surprise me was that Hamilton is largely a rap. Of course, we have no recordings from that many score years ago, but I am reasonably certain that a group of men who wrote the letter “S” to look like an “F” did not use rap for anything but their Virginia tobacco, and that one starts with a W.

Still, even though I am not a fan of that musical medium, I enjoyed the quick banter and musical story enough to overlook it. Dare I say, I even enjoyed listening to the sound track. Okay, I will. I enjoyed it.

This brings us to December when the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando began selling tickets for Hamilton. Bob and I decided to try to get them for each other for a Christmas present. When I say try, I mean that. It took hours waiting in a cyber line for Bob to procure the tickets. Five hours. Each person was allowed to purchase four, so we gave the other two to Dena and her husband for Christmas.

Meanwhile, Bob thought he, too, should listen to the soundtrack so he could begin to familiarize himself with it. Oh, I wish you could have seen the expression on his face when he looked at me and said, “Wait a minute. This is a rap? Is the whole thing a rap?”

The man who waited patiently to buy those tickets was unaware that this would subject him to hours of rap music, albeit historical rap music.

So, the four of us we went to see the show. It was excellent, as rap musicals go. We quite enjoyed it, and somehow Dena restrained herself from singing along – quite the self-control!

The next day, Dena’s friend, Praise, called to talk to her and I managed to grab the phone unbeknownst to Dena. Praise has been like another daughter to me, so I enjoyed a few minutes of impersonating Dena before I let on to her that it was me. Then she asked me how Hamilton was.

I told her we liked it fine and that Bob was surprised to discover it was a rap. She couldn’t believe that he didn’t know that prior to buying tickets. She was somewhat appalled and lovingly told me that we didn’t even deserve to go to the show.

That is the passion that this musical brings out of people. Plus, Praise had to get back at me for impersonating Dena. I guess we’re even, but not truly even. We got to see the show.

 

Are You Ever too Old for SeaWorld?

SeaWorld used to be a calm, risk-free place – a place for animals and shows with one lone roller coaster to break things up a bit. Now, it’s the opposite.

For Christmas we gave our local grandsons (10 and 12 years old) a day at SeaWorld with us. We love to give an event when possible. It’s so easy to wrap! We had the date prearranged with our son and his wife to make sure our calendars didn’t collide. The fun began on the way there. (more…)

Bath and Body (didn’t) Works

I was in Bath and Body Works yesterday sniffing through their vast collection of holiday hand soaps. Currently in my house, last year’s soaps adorn the sinks. I tend to over-buy so at the end of the season, I put those soaps under the sink until the next year. With a small amount of people in our house, it takes a couple Decembers to go through one. With my current stock, it will be 2021 before I need to buy again.

This year I decided to avoid that shop like I avoid leaving Florida in the wintertime. I’m in North Carolina as I write this, so I guess both plans went south, or in the geographic case, north.

So, I’m freezing and trying not to let my comments about how cold it is be all that I say to people. “Hi, I’m Bonnie. I’m freezing.” How’s that for an ice-breaker?

Anyway, no matter what the temperature, I want to see my kids and grandkids, so I loaded up my car for a quick trip to see my daughter, who also happens to be my shopping buddy. She has four children so they can go through a container of pump soap in about 36 hours. She is the reason why Bath and Body Works is so successful.

I got to thinking. Everybody loves Vanilla Bean Noel, Twisted Peppermint, and Winter Candy Apple. They are names that grab you. Names you want to look at everyday when you wash your hands. But what names didn’t make the cut? What names were wash-outs and what did they smell like? Here’s my list:

Charred Santa – Fire in the chimney with a little bit of toasted jolly and fluff

Cranberry Reindeer Droppings – Subtle and spicy undertones of cranberry with a hint of reindeer excrement

Burnt Vanilla Cookie – Even with a truly unpleasant fragrance, this soap cannot be resisted. You’ll smell like you just burned a fresh batch.

Holly and Poison Ivy – Fresh smell of holly with a trace of Calamine Lotion

Tinsel Trauma – Slightly metallic smell that will take you back to your childhood. Use in a well-ventilated room and keep away from children.

May you have a wonderful, clean-smelling Christmas Season!