Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gem of a Give-away...or Give-away of a Gem?

           Are pearls gems? I wasn’t sure, so I googled the question, and one source identified them as “organic gems.” That works for me. And these organic gems happen to be nestled in a silver  wire nest with a mama bird hovering above. (I’m sure it’s the mama, as hovering over our babies  comes naturally to us.) Bird and nest are attached to a silver chain, the creation of Jill Gladfelter of DreamRose Design. She designed it for my niece Amy Bird to sell in The BookNest, her book “nook” in Springfield, OR.
            Now that you have all the information about what’s being given away, I’ll tell you why.  If any of you have followed my posts since March of 2012, you know I entered this whole blogging experience Screamin’ and Kickin’. I like—make that love—to write but didn’t want to commit to a blog. Many reasons fed my reluctance, but the main one was fear. What if I shared some of the zillion thoughts rattling around in my head at any given time and no one really cared? What if I bared my soul and no one read my words? The night I launched my blog, I clicked “Publish” with trembling finger and trepidation. The next morning, I checked my stats and discovered I had thirty-three hits. Yes, thirty-three!!! I was thrilled. Even if those hits came from men in Russia needing wives or insomniacs mindlessly surfing the net, at least my blog hadn’t died from loneliness during the night. And from there it started to grow—slowly and steadily—to the point I recently passed my 10,000th hit. (Actually, over 11,000 by now.)
            Okay, okay, I can hear the virtual snickers. I know some bloggers get that many hits in a hour. But I don’t do this for a living, I’m not selling anything (except my book), and I’m not Gwyneth Paltrow. All I know about “search engine optimization” is that it exists. So for me, 10,000 hits is a personal goal realized. I’m breaking out the bubbly and the noisemakers and celebrating. I’m also giving away this necklace as a way of thanking followers, readers, and all those who clicked on “baby boomers exercise” and didn't find the useful exercises for baby boomers they were expecting.
            Now for the how. If you’re a follower, your name is already in the drawing. If you make a comment (i.e. share a personal goal you’ve achieved), your name goes in. If you’re a follower AND make a comment, your name is in twice. If you sign up to follow me, your name goes in once. Sign up AND make a comment, name goes in twice. The deadline is June 17, 2013.
            Hope to hear from you, and again, thank you for making blogging a gem of an experience for me! 



Friday, May 24, 2013

Circle of Friends: The Lost Wife Offers Inspiration in Midst of Tragedy


           A lot was special about the Friends’ meeting this past week. First, we had almost record attendance, as only two of our active members were absent. Second, we didn’t have to cook! Well, one of us did. Host Carol prepared the entire meal for us, featuring her wonderful chicken divan, which I think should be called chicken divine. She said it was her way of saying “thank you” for the support she received last fall in the loss of her husband. Third, we met on Tuesday rather than Monday night, since danger and uncertainty churned across much of Oklahoma on Monday. Relief and thankfulness prevailed at this meeting, and there was a special joy in realizing we were all alive and able to gather. But, in true Friends’ spirit, there were also sadness and sympathy for our neighbors in Moore—fellow Okies who were picking through the ruins of demolished homes and nursing the raw emotional wounds of losing precious loved ones. For Faye, one of our members, the tragedy touched very close to home. Her son and his wife lost their house and belongings.
            Our reading selection for this month was The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman. As with most
historical fiction, the story is based on an incredible yet true scenario. After being separated before World War II, a husband and wife reunite after sixty years and thousands of miles of separation. Richman takes that seed of reality and adds many more facts—some horrifying, some intriguing—about the Holocaust. She takes the reader inside the Jewish ghetto at Terezin with its inhuman conditions. But she also shows the intrepid hearts and souls of some of its occupants, particularly those who chose to fight the Nazis the only way they knew how—with their art. In juxtaposing the worst and best of humanity, she weaves a tale that is at once heartbreaking and uplifting.
            I felt this novel was particularly appropriate for the Friends this month. If ever people need to be reminded of the strength and resiliency of the human spirit, it is in times of heartache and disaster. The Lost Wife answers the call. Her female protagonist Lenka, offers valuable insight for surviving tragedy: “...not to look back, but to focus on each new day.” As evidenced by the photos below, Oklahomans excel at that.
Devastation, Moore, Oklahoma May 23, 2013

Focusing on a new day...worn by woman helping her sister
and brother-in-law salvage their belongings

Rising from the rubble

Thursday, May 16, 2013


             Hubby Bill announced he was going to the AT&T store for a phone update and asked if I would like one, too. I tagged along with mixed emotions—excitement and dread. Yes, it would be nice to have more speed and to take sharper pictures. But entertaining no delusions about my computer skills, I also knew I was in for a lot of frustration.
            To preserve her anonymity and to ensure I don’t get sued, I’ll call the AT&T sales rep Holly. Holly was pleasant and, no doubt about it, knew her stuff. After she sold Bill and me two new iPhone 5s, she downloaded our contacts into them. Then she told us the instruction pamphlet in the box contained everything we needed to know. But I had a question:  “Can I transfer all the photos from my old phone onto this one?”
            Any grandparent will understand the importance of this request. For most of my life, I’ve carried no more than two or three pictures in my wallet, but now I need all 491 of my pics and videos with me at ALL times. I never know when someone will ask to see my grandsons blowing out birthday candles. Or sliding down a slide. Or turning over. Or...You get my point.
            Holly said, “Oh, sure. You can do it through iTunes. It’s simple.”
            Her language shocked me. I couldn't believe she used the s-word: simple.
            AT&T might have done an excellent job training Holly to sell and program phones, but they fell short in the customer-relations department. Did the girl even look at me? Were my gray hair and Clarks sandals and the leopard-print case on my old phone not enough to scream, “BABY BOOMER!”? And did she not know that to a Baby Boomer NOTHING associated with technology is ever REMOTELY simple?
             It’s not that Boomers are stupid. It’s just that, unlike her generation, we weren’t trained to use a computer before we were trained to use the potty. And while they might be able to text with their thumbs, I could teach them a thing or two about using the nominative case of pronouns correctly.
            But not wanting to appear stupid, I asked no more questions and took the phone home.  After hours of googling and searching without transferring a single photo, I returned the next day to the store and to Holly. She patiently punched in some numbers on my phone and explained my pics had been stored on my iCloud. All I had to do was download them. Right. 

Thanks, Apple, for shattering my "cloud" fantasy.
            For all my life, a cloud has been a cottony puff of bliss, associated with floating above life’s problems and experiencing euphoria. But Apple has shattered that fantasy. Now, for me, cloud is just another word for stress. My photos were somewhere, floating on my own, personal iCloud. Obvisously they liked it there, because I couldn’t convince them to leave and take up residence in my new phone.  So three days later, not caring if I appeared stupid, I went back to the store and...success! I have no clue what they did and don’t want to find out. All I know is I have my pics on my new phone, and I’m satisfied.
             But if you yourself don’t want to be shocked, don’t mention the iC-word in my presence.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Don't Just Listen to Your Mother--Watch Her

            When the producers of the show Listen to Your Mother called for auditions in Oklahoma, the word listen threw me for a loop. I couldn’t think of anything to write. I mean, yeah, when I was growing up, there were plenty of time-honored, universal “mommy-isms”: Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident and must go to the hospital; if you keep making that face, it will freeze like that; and in my particular situation, nice Baptist girls don’t dance. (They did. They just didn’t admit it to their parents or their pastor.) But I couldn’t think of anything my mother had told me that was particularly unusual, funny, or riveting and certainly not enough to be the focus of an essay.   
            But at last week’s Oklahoma City performance of Listen to Your Mother, I realized that most of the stories weren’t so much about what mothers said. They were about what mothers did. And with that epiphany, I had lots to tell.
            As with most mothers, there’s not enough time or space to list every loving, selfless action I saw my mother perform. But here are a few that stand out in my memory:

Sewing. In a home where there was plenty of money for needs but little for luxuries, my sister and I were very well dressed. Easter, Christmas, even an end-of-school picnic—any occasion that called for something special to wear sent Mama to her sewing machine, making sure her girls were fashionistas before fashionistas was even a word.  

Traveling. Mama inherited her own mother’s love of travel and insisted our family do a lot of it. Money might have been tight, but I don’t recall a single summer without a vacation. I’m not talking about fancy cruises or airline flights to exotic places. I’m talking about treks across the country, sometimes in a car with no air conditioning and sometimes towing a camping trailer. But these were trips to places that were exotic to us: Washington, D.C., Yellowstone Park, New York City, Canada, Mexico...the list goes on and on. Compared to some of our friends whose total traveling experience consisted of a three-day trip to Six Flags, my sister, brother, and I received a quality, fun (most of the time), and first-hand education as a result of our journeys. And on that topic...  
Mama still models a love of
reading and learning.
Teaching by example. Neither Mama nor Daddy went to college, but both valued and modeled reading and learning. I cannot remember anyone ever overtly stating that I would go to college, but I always knew it was expected of me. And to ensure it happened, my mother took on an extra job of driving a kindergarten van to help pay for it.  

Worshiping. As in many homes, Mama was the spiritual leader in our family. She was the one who insisted we go to church and the one who made the effort to get a family of five ready every Sunday. I didn’t always appreciate this, and there was a time in my life when I stopped going to church altogether. When my mother told me I needed to take my daughter to church, I responded that as a teacher I’d seen a lot of students who were “church-goers” and I hadn’t noticed it helping them all that much. “That’s probably true,” she said. “Taking children to church doesn’t guarantee they’ll turn out well. But it does guarantee parents did everything they could to help them turn out well.” She offered wise advice, and in this instance, I listened  

            There isn’t enough space or time to mention all my mother’s caring actions over the years. And I’m sure many of you have your own endless list. You might not be able to write them all down, but why not share one or two of them with me and other readers? And, if possible, you just might share them with your mother.

Happy Mothers’ Day to Mama and to all mothers everywhere!