G’MA is Back

It’s been a very long time, WonderWorld, since I have spoken to you all. I have been computer less for awhile, and also have moved from one place to another. When you have 50 years worth of stuff and only three rooms to put it all in, you feel the need to downsize, big time. And that’s what I did. Big time.

In the span of three months we made the decision to sell our family home, take a mother/daughter with our son and his family, and re-do the “mother” portion of the new place from the bottom up. I was packing on one end of the state and caring for my little granddaughter at the other end.. I was with her for 5 days, drove to the other end on weekends to continue packing and sorting and then back for five more days, all during the summer when Friday nights are the worse possible time to travel (with the possible exception of Sunday in the opposite direction). It was fun being with the baby. It was exciting to be moving with her and her brother and the rest of the family to a nice, new place. But this old G’ma was really getting tired. I was tired of sorting, tired of packing, tired of traveling. I was tired. But I endured.

To say that it was all worth it would be an understatement. I love our new place. I am getting to know people in the new community while trying hard not to lose touch with the old. I am joining and finding and all that good stuff. But most of all I am grateful to be close to family and to be able to spend time with them and help when I can.

Life is good. Family is good. I’m still sorting, however. Anyone have need of a Farberware coffee maker from 1983?

Thanks for reading.

Coffee, How I’ve Loved You

So about 2 months ago I had my flu shot. Get one every year. Should prevent flu or make it more mild. OK. I’ll bite. I got the shot. A month ago I got the flu. Yes friends, a MONTH ago. I am still blowing my nose as I post this. I was miserable for four weeks. Just about getting back now. But the flu was not the worst part. Since I got sick, I can’t drink coffee.

You might say, well, that’s a small price to pay, but people of my WonderWorld, it’s EPIC. My grandkids do not recognize me without a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee in my hands. My kids don’t even know me without coffee. My husband is concerned. I drink at least 5 cups a day and never pass a WaWa or a Dunkin without stopping. The folks there know me and they know my car. They see me pull up to the drive-thru and they have it ready for me. I had a four- dollar- a- day habit when I was working. I go on vacation and the first thing I check out is the local coffee “scene”.

Now when I make a cup at home I can’t swallow it. It leaves a nasty taste behind. I decided to try Dunkin. Usually I swoon at the first sip. I just love that coffee. Folks, I couldn’t swallow it. What the hell! Who can’t drink coffee? I know some folks don’t like it so they don’t drink it. I like it. I drink it. Wait…no can do. I’m scared.

Tea. I drink tea in the morning. I drink tea at night. Sometimes I drink iced tea. I love tea. But in my previous life it was my Plan B. Now it’s Plan A and I’m scared.

Will I ever be able to drink coffee again? Anybody have any insight? My life is upside down. I do not drink coffee. I cannot drink coffee. I want to drink coffee. Will I ever be able to enjoy a cup of Joe ever again? What do you think? I need a light at the end of this tunnel.

Thanks for letting me whine. I’m adjusting but not well. Venting helps.

Christmas Magic

I worked in retail for 25 years. That pretty much took the thrill out of the Christmas Season for me. But it never took the MAGIC. I love Santa and the flying reindeer and the star and the manger and the hymns at midnight mass. I love the tree and the cookies and the Christmas Pageants. The funny thing is I remember when I became aware of the MAGIC. It happened one winter night when I was 7. A little background might prove helpful here.

Father Paul was our parish pastor. He was old and always looked angry. He could be harsh and intimidating. Adults often found him to be unbending and old fashioned. I loved Father Paul. All the kids did. Somehow we saw the sweet, humble, holy man he was under all the bluster. Don’t get me wrong, we were scared of him, but in a good way. We did what he said to please him, not for fear of punishment. (Well, there was the fact that if you misbehaved he would tell your parents and there would be hell to pay, but I digress.)

One cold winter evening Father Paul came to our house. He had coffee and blessed the house and after awhile he asked my Dad if he would take a ride with him. He needed some help, he said, and why not bring Linda along for the ride? She would enjoy it. Confused, but unwilling to say no to a priest, Dad got me ready, even though it was a school night. We got into Father’s car (a big, old green Ford; it was 1955, so the car must have been a 1945). And from that moment on, there was MAGIC around every corner.

We rode across the George Washington Bridge. WOW! It was huge and all the lights and the river made it sparkle to my 7 year old eyes. Then we rode through the most magnificent city in the world. The lights for Christmas were up everywhere and the tall buildings with a million windows made my neck ache from looking up. I had been to ball games in Brooklyn, but never before to Manhattan. I didn’t really know where I was then, but I figured it out years later and confirmed it with my Dad.

Eventually we came to a neighborhood with stores and warehouses. We got out of the car and went into a store. The clerk there had several boxes for Father Paul. Dad took them to the car and put them in the trunk while Father attempted to pay the man. I stayed with him because it was warmer in there. The man said to Father, “They are the latest thing for Christmas. I won’t take your money. Put it in the collection. You have done so much for my family, and we want to thank you.” I still don’t know what that was about, but I know he did alot for many families, including my own.

On the way back we went through town. He showed me Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My jaw dropped and stayed there until we went through the Lincoln Tunnel and home. The tunnel proved to be an issue. That’s the night I found out I was sort of claustrophobic, but no matter. The MAGIC was about to unfold.

We pulled into the church parking lot and Dad unloaded the boxes. We went into the cool, dark church and Father Paul put on the lights. He had my Dad fetch the ladder and a hammer and nails from the Rectory next door. Out of the boxes came strings and strings of teeny, tiny lights. We had lights on our tree, but they were big colored bulbs and were hot to the touch. These were as yet unlit, but they were really small and seemed to be all clear with no color at all. I was confused and not a little disappointed. But Dad and Father worked their way through the church hanging the lights evenly all the way around. I said my Rosary, as I was told to do by Father Paul, like a good, quiet Catholic girl should. I prayed for my family and world peace, and that they would be finished soon, and that Father would invite us to the Rectory for hot chocolate and cookies after.

When they were done hanging the lights, Father went and doused the church lights. My Dad plugged the strings of tiny lights in and for the first time EVER, I saw the MAGIC. These little white lights were like stars in the sky, and by God, they actually twinkled. They blinked merrily in the dark church, delighting the seven year old girl, her Dad and an elderly priest like nothing else that Christmas. We were amazed and speechless. Father Paul commented,”I think the Baby Jesus will be very happy with our little church. These beautiful lights honor his birth and remind us of his heavenly home.” (From what I gathered later, we were the very first church in our area to boast twikle lights. Folks came from all around to see them. MAGIC has a way with people!)

We did have hot chocolate and cookies at the Rectory that night. It was so past my bedtime that I fell asleep in the car on the short ride home. I will never forget that night or those lights or the two wonderful men who brought me with them to witness all the happy Christmas MAGIC. It abides in my memory and is remembered often, but never quite the same as it is remembered at this time of year. I try to bring a little MAGIC to my grandchildren with Elfs and stories, but kids are well traveled and well connected nowadays, so MAGIC is a little different. I still try, because I love them and want them to have MAGIC every day.

Happy Christmas everyone. I wish you MAGIC and good cheer. Thanks for reading.

Musings of a Trying-To-Be-Techno G’ma

I try very hard to keep up with things in this crazy world.  It is not easy.  As I age things come a little more slowly.  It takes more time to absorb new technology and new ideas.  This is not specific to me.  Many folks my age say the same thing.  Compared to some I think I’m not so bad.  I have friends who refuse to have email accounts and refuse to give up their flip phones.  I have 3 email accounts, an Iphone 5 and two Ipads.  I may not know how to do all the fancy stuff but I can text and make a call and Google with no problem!  What the heck…I have a BLOG for heavens sake!  But I can’t say it all doesn’t scare me.

A little background information about the last 60 years might shed some light on what I’m getting at here.  When I went to school, I learned to write with a quill pen and an inkwell and a blotter.  No kidding!  When I mastered that, they gave me a fountain pen (still my writing implement of choice).  I never saw a ball point pen until 5th grade.  They had indelible ink and leaked like a faucet.  Nasty business!!!

I learned to sew on a machine with a treadle (a peddle on the bottom that you had to work just right or the sewing would start to go backwards).  There was no electric connection to the machine.  It was all man-powered. 

The typewriter I learned on (yes kids, the typewriter) was not electric either.  Try depressing the letter keys on a manual and see how you fare.  It’s no wonder I am such a terrible typist. 

There were no calculators. Just adding machines that were gargantuan and had hundreds of keys.  Pencil sharpeners were hand operated.  Don ‘t get me wrong, we had electricity, but it was not considered a necessity to operate everyday things, just lights and maybe a radio. 

We got our first TV set when I was 9.  We had three channels, a 19″ screen and the worst reception ever.  It was free. It was black and white and you had to get up to change the channel. You could watch (sort of) a Yankee game and not pay anyone for the privilege.

When I left for college I flew on a plane with propellers.  Those are round things that spin and carry you up into the sky. I cannot imagine how that gigantic metal thing can be held up and propelled by four little round things spinning real fast.

Really, sometimes even the simple stuff escapes me.  How does a FAX machine know what to do?  Where is cyberspace?  Who figured it all out? How did anyone ever just happen upon the automatic transmission or the internet, or the smart phone?  Whos idea was the “cloud”?  Can I kiss him/her?  I love the cloud.  I don’t exactly get it, but I love it.  And who was the genius (or perhaps the madman) who figured out how to make knitting yarn that makes stripes all by itself?  My mind is boggled! 

So many things have changed in just the past 60 years that I just can’t wrap my head around all of it.  Maybe my hard drive is full.  I hope not!  But when you encounter a senior citizen looking puzzled over some newly invented contraption, be kind.  We’ve had alot to absorb in the course of our lives, so maybe it will take a little longer for us to learn to “cut and paste”.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

Meatballs for Christmas

My friend D. makes meatballs every year as part of her Christmas extravaganza.  She has hosted Christmas Day for decades, welcoming anyone who drops by with a smile.  She prepares for weeks before.  On Black Friday she makes the  meatballs.

Now we have been friends for nearly 50 years.  We met in high school.  We were and are total opposites, proving the old adage that opposites do, indeed, attract.  She is meticulous in her appearance, her house is a showplace, she has great taste and she labors over things like what to serve a guest for dinner or what color to paint a room.  She is a “fretter”.  I am not.  I have often said that somewhere between her and me is the perfect person.

Honestly, though,  to me she is a perfect person.  All her fretting and stress is for love of friends and family.  She is never really about D.  She’s all about the rest of us.  She takes time to consider our lives and our feelings.  She is always there with a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.  She is always welcoming.  A cup of tea and some great conversation are things she and I share often.  I call her house the INN and her husband is the INN keeper.  As far as husbands go, he’s a winner.  He sits and listens to us cackle for hours and never makes me feel that I am infringing on his privacy. (By the way, my husband enjoys her company as well.  Just wanted to mention that).

My family lives close to her… I am 100 miles away.  When I visit, I stay with her.  My son and his family often visit me there and my grandson thinks that I live with Aunt D.  She knitted what turned out to be his favorite blanket.  He carries it everywhere.  She is part of the fabric of my family.

My point is, D. has been there through wedding night jitters, pre-baby jitters, personal crisis after personal crisis, illness, loss, happiness and joy.  She knows more about me than anyone else ever will.  She does not judge or criticize.  She is the definition of a friend and a perfect person.

So, when I shake my head at her stressing over the Christmas meatballs, it’s out of love and appreciation for having someone in my life who cares so much and so selflessly for others. I’m happy to be considered her friend.  I hope I am providing what she needs like she provides for me. I wish you all a friend like D.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great holiday and a great weekend.

Pickles, Pretzels and Piffle

I had the distinct pleasure of spending the night with my 3 year old grandson this week.  I have not done this before and did not know what to expect.  We decided to “camp out”.  That’s where you pull out the sofa bed in the living room and sleep there instead of in your bed in your room.  It seems he and Daddy do this on occassion and it’s fun.

E. loves to play Cut the Rope on my ipad, so that’s what we decided we would do.  He is amazingly good at this game for a kid his age and is very excited when the frog finally gets the candy.  If he has trouble with a particular level he hands it to me and says,”Here Grandma.  Tell me when you get it” and he goes off to do something else while I struggle with the game.  When I failed at one attempt, I used me safe word instead of a cuss word.  I said, “Oh piffle!”.  The kid went nuts laughing.  He laughed so hard I started laughing, and he kept saying ,”piffle, piffle, piffle.”

Time goes by and he’s on level 21 and he misses.  “Pretzel”, he says!  He starts laughing again and there I am laughing and crying and we are both hysterical and he says,”Piffle, Pretzel!” and continues to crack up.  This three year old is playing me!  He knows he’s funny and he’s stretching the bit!  So I start saying “Piffle, Pretzel” and he says, “Pickle”.  We are out of control now.  Every possible combination of  pickle, pretzel, piffle is flying around and we are in tears laughing and his Mom is upstairs with his baby sister wondering what the heck is going on with E. and G’ma.

When we calmed down, he said to me,”Will you stay until yesterday Grandma?”  He sometimes mixes up yesterday and tomorrow.  I said I would and we turned off the TV and went to sleep.

When he woke the next morning he said,”Grandma!  You stayed all night! PICKLE!”

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.

Community

You hear a lot about community nowadays. Community has many faces in an average life. Family, clubs, church, neighborhood,etc. There are many definitions and many manifestations of community.
I have a great family. A husband, two great kids and four beautiful grandkids, some very lovely in-laws, and a wonderful sister make up the community that is my family. Within it we interact as people do. We help eachother, agree and disagree, love and nurture and sometimes annoy the crap out of eachother. My point is, interactions vary like snowflakes within a community. But what about the communities in your life which are not made up of folks you actually know? I have been thinking about this lately, and have realized that you don’t have to know somebody to be in community with them.
Take ,for instance, where I live. A huge development with over 300 units is not exactly the ideal setting for making friends. You live on top of or below someone for years and the only interaction is a nod in passing. Yet, you know your community. There’s the “thumper” who lives upstairs who clomps around over your head so hard that the pictures on your wall go all kittywumpus. There’s the pilot guy who lives across the street and helps you shovel out from winter snow storms. And there’s the lady with the little dog who clomp, clomp, clomps down the stairs at 6:30AM in her big shoes to walk him before she leaves for work. I don’t know them, but I know them. They probably know me as the old gal from downstairs who food shops more than anyone else they know.
What really prompted me to post this today was my experience this morning at the local WaWa. There is a flow to things and a rhythm to this place that really struck me today. First, the parking parade. Everyone wants to get a pull-through spot so they don’t have to back out later. If you can’t find one, you have to calculate which car is most likely to vacate a pull-through spot first and park behind him. Next comes the door dance. I don’t know if other convenience stores have this action, but WaWa has two sets of doors to negotiate to get in or out. You always check to be sure nobody is behind you before letting go of the door. It is like a ballet and an opera, where everyone is stepping aside and saying ,”excuse me”, “thank you”, and “no problem”. The get your coffee routine is crazy. Don’t block the pots, don’t hog space at the condiment bar, get your cream and sugar and vamoos, all the time being very careful not to bump anyone or spill hot liquid on them. You see the same faces. The lady with the crazy hair who is at least 50 but is trying really hard not to be. There’s the great looking guy who looks exactly like a guy in your favorite TV show that gets hot chocolate every morning and nods a hello. How about the jolly fellow who flirts with all the ladies every day from his perch near the register? Is this the only interaction he will have today? It’s a community.
Anyplace that you frequent and are familiar and comfortable is a community that you are a part of. Take part. Contribute according to it’s specific requirements, and celebrate its people and its customs with joy. It’s part of your life and part of your day and part of who you are. Celebrate the communities in your life.