Saturday, July 31, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

As you read this, I'm driving to NC. The trip takes eight-and-a-half hours there. I'm meeting my sister-in-law there, and we're setting in to sort and cull in preparation for Mother's move, on Friday, to an Assisted Living Facility.

My biggest chore will be to set up my sewing machine and remake Mother's draperies to fit the windows in her new one-bedroom apartment. When that's done, I'll be helping in the sort/cull process.

Molly's task is to determine what articles Mother will take to her new much-smaller place. My task will be to go through whatever is left, and decide what goes to the church "clothes closet", what goes in the trash, and what comes home with me. I'm taking Jaci's van and will bring as much home with me on this trip as I can. Then in a couple of weeks, I'll go again and direct a packing and moving crew to bring the bigger pieces back here.

I'm not looking forward to this trip. When you're sorting through your own possessions, you can just toss without hurting your own feelings. But when it's someone else's possessions from which you're culling, you have to be much more subtle and gentle. I can say, "Why on earth did I keep this thing all these years." I cannot say, "Mother, what were you thinking when you bought this?"

At least some of the things are already gone. I heard from Molly this week that the dolls are all gone. I would have a terrible time figuring out what to do with a $125 doll.

Okay, so what will I enjoy about this trip? Well, we might be able to sneak in a quick trip up to the mountain cottage. I'll try to arrange a couple of hours to hit Waechter's Silk Shop and Yarn Paradise. Maybe I'll even get out to the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway or to the Grovewood Gallery.

But the part that I enjoy the most is when my sweet brother, Jim, wanders down from the Fletcher Park Inn's guest room early in the morning. He saunters in, wearing his pajamas, smiles, and all is right with the world.

P.S. I must publicly state how indebted I am to Molly. When she was downsized out of her job as general manager of a software house over two years ago, she had no idea that the future would turn her into a caregiver for her mother-in-law of 40 years. She has exhibited incredible patience and caring to our mother, and Mother's quality of life is much higher because of Molly's caring.

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's a Tough Job . . .

… but somebody's gotta do it.

When I picked up the babes for a sleepover last night, I noticed Ridley was wearing the soft, pretty tiered patchwork pink-and-white skirt that I bought for her birthday. With it she was wearing a very busy soft gathered printed tunic in pink, blue, lavender, aqua, … on white. I looked at it and asked her where the pink t-shirt was that went with the skirt. She looked at her skirt and top and said, "They both have pink in them." Well, I gotta salute her for that. But this child needs some training in what goes together.

She goes for themes. Yesterday was a "pink" theme. When I took her to dinner on Tuesday, she had a "bow" theme going. She had a turquoise and black bow in her hair, the hot pink t-shirt (that goes with yesterday's skirt) with a bow at the neck, black and white soccer shorts ("They were the only shorts that were clean."), and brown and cream shoes. With a bow on the toe. Honestly, this girl dresses like she's a color test at the optometrist's office.

While we were walking around Lowe's and Jo-Ann's last night, we talked about how to put outfits together. It's okay to have a busy print (last night's tunic) so long as you don't pair it with another busy print (last night's skirt). People's eyes don't know where to go. It's overwhelming. That's why you wouldn't wear stripes and plaids together—it's just too much in one place. She protested a couple of times and then finally said, "Ok, I get it."

This morning she opened her suitcase to get dressed for the day. On top was a black hoodie with cream stripes. Then she pulled out her shorts—pink and brown plaid madras patchwork shorts. She said, "I'm going to change my shirt when I get home."

Whew—she's open to guidance!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old and New, But Neither Borrowed Nor Blue

I recently had my front steps rebricked and my front columns replaced. When the workman was finishing up, I went outside to inspect the work and discovered I could no longer fully open my mailbox!

The mailbox was beside the front door, which I only ever use to bring in the mail. This misalignment was the perfect excuse to get a new mailbox!

I played Hannah Homeowner for an hour, trekking to Lowe's and perusing all the mailboxes. I finally found one I thought would be big enough to handle my mail volume and easy enough for me to install. I checked with my mail carrier, and she loved the idea of placing packages out of sight on the back porch.

Voila! A month later, the mailbox is finally installed and functioning (thanks to lots of hammering on my part and some expert guidance from the Jazzman). Witness yesterday's first delivery of mail in the new box.

I am no longer blue about having to deal with the sticky front door just to see if I received any junk mail. Now I'm Hannah Happy Homeowner!

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Inspiring Young Man

You probably won't be surprised if I confess to you that I don't follow sports. Except, that is, for the Florida State University Seminoles. I love my 'Noles. I may have attended seven (count 'em, seven) institutions of higher learning, and I may have only spent three quarters at FSU, but I love FSU.

Saturday morning, after listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," I left the radio on while cutting up berries for the afternoon's picnic with friends. I was fascinated to hear the story on "It's Only a Game" of Myron Rolle, FSU graduate, new draft choice by the Tennessee Titan, and Rhodes scholar!

It seems that every football player I hear being interviewed, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, regardless of whether he grew up in the Deep South, the midwest, or the northeast—each with its own distinctive speech patterns—cannot speak well. Some can't seem to put sentences together. Some can't elucidate a thought clearly. Some can't tell the difference between "I" and "me".

Any person who is a role model to young people should strive to live a good life. I'll admit that's far more important than knowing the difference between "lie" and "lay". However, I also wish more emphasis was put on grammar and speech. Myron Rolle has it in spades!

This young man already has a foundation set up to help needy children and families. His goal, after playing in the NFL, is to become a neurosurgeon. He speaks beautiful, is brilliantly intelligent, and seems to have his head on straight and his life together.

May the fame that's coming his way slide smoothly over his head and not affect his resolve. And may that beautiful brain not get pounded into smithereens on the football field!

Keep up the good work, Mr. Rolle!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Month and Counting

I just realized today is the 22nd. I've been 60 for a month now. And it's going pretty damned well.

I went on a week-long vacation with the boyfriend-of-six-months and we didn't have one fight. (Well, to be fair, neither of us is a fighter. We're both non-confrontational peaceniks.) I am a month further into the new job and a month less ignorant. I learned that I have a torn left medial meniscus and am facing something like lots of physical therapy to my knee or knee surgery. I've survived a month of worrying about my mother as she trods along slides down what appears to be the road to her death. I received and accepted a job offer to serve as the accompanist for the Stambaugh Chorus.

Ups. Downs. Life.

I'm settling into being 60, and life is good.

If you're worried that you're not hearing from me, it's just that I'm too busy. And isn't that a good state in which to be?

Music on West Federal

Tuesday night I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing "Pearl and the Beard" at the Lemon Grove in downtown Youngstown. I had been given a heads-up from my dear friend Mary in Tucson, whose daughter, Molly, shares an apartment in NYC with one of the band members.

I didn't do research. I didn't determine what genre of music the band plays or how loud the evening was going to be. I just said, "I'm going", and kept pasting the band's info on my Facebook page to try to get more people to attend.

I was not pleased with the attendance. But once the band started playing, the crowd few locals seated at tables, observing the band, were all wearing face-wide smiles. The music presented by this band was a treat!

The band consists of Jeremy Styles on guitar, Emily Hope Price on cello, and Jocelyn Mackenzie on all other instruments. And they all sing. These kids rock! The music was: a) musical; b) humorous; c) clever; d) extremely enjoyable. These musicians are very talented and totally into what they're doing.

As I hugged Jocelyn goodbye after the show, I told her I would look forward to watching their future success.

These are kids who can make it!

And I'll also admit here that I'm ashamed I assumed all music at Lemon Grove was loud and unenjoyable to Old People. I'll be keeping my eye on Jacob's schedule of performers to find more mid-week treats like Pearl and the Beard!

(Mary, thanks so much for the heads-up.)

P.S. As I proofread this post and look at the pictures again, I have to tell you what a visual treat it was to see the flashing "Open" sign in the front door over their head. I love that sign. It just felt so urban and heart-warming. Trust me!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Prize-winning [Bogus] Status Updates

When I need a good laugh, I know where to turn: The Washington Post Style Invitational. When I lived in D.C., I word turn to the Style Invitational first when the Sunday Post arrived. I don't read it as regularly nowadays, but I still end up laughing out loud each time I do read it.

Yesterday's edition had me emitting guffaws, yet again. Here's the link, then scroll down to "Report from Week 874."

My fave? Probably the one about strewing BP executives heads along the shore.


(Photo credit: Bob Staake for The Washington Post)

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Brilliant Solution

You might remember several months ago when I posted about "The Gift of Giving." Some of you probably thought I was waaaay too into myself.

The other day I saw a quote somewhere about putting thought into a gift, and started ruminating (i.e. obsessing) again about this issue.

Then, today, an epiphany entered my inbox. The daily e-mail from Real Simple magazine, which I love, listed "6 Problem-Solvers." The first of their problem solvers is perfect for last minute gifts or gifts given by procrastinators. Texting with Benefits! Really!

Look at the Giiv site. Ingenious!! Movie tickets. Spa treatments. Wine. Barnes & Noble books. Krispy Kreme donuts! Toms Shoes (and an extra pair of shoes for a needy child!)! You walk into the store or restaurant or logon to the provider's Web site and provide the code in the text on your phone and—Voila! You've received your gift.

I wish I had thought of this. I think it is an absolutely brilliant solution to an age-old problem. (The problem? Forgetfulness!) Listen, y'all, I'm not proud. You want to give me a gift for my next birthday (when I'll be 61 and needing cheer)? Think Giiv.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Really Good Guy

Who knew, at our age, that such a good guy existed?

My Jazzman—marking a new year in his life today—is a remarkable man. He's hard working, diligent, thoughtful. He's a supportive and loyal friend. He's a loving son, brother, and cousin. He's gentle and caring to my grandchildren.

He's a man of integrity, a man of passion, a man of laughter. And he's cute. He's so cute I want to pinch his cheeks and pat his bum.

He has brought great joy into my life since the day I met him, just over six months ago.

I wish him love and happiness in the year ahead.

Happy 60th Birthday, Jazzman.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Best of Summer

I am not possessed of a green thumb. As much as I love having flora around, I'm unskilled at keeping it alive and growing. But the former owner of my house created much beauty around her during her tenure here, as earlier noted.

Every day this week, I've gone out to pick a bowlful of blackberries to mix with my morning banana. They fall off the bush into my bowl! And the day lilies. Oh My Gosh. Look at those lilies! They appear to be triples and are layer upon layer of gorgeous!

What a privilege to live in this elegant old house, surrounded by so much beauty. Again—Thank you, Miss Villani.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Vacation Report

The Jazzman and I were honored that Esteemed Parents of Beautiful Grandchildren allowed us to host the Babes at the vacation cottage on Lake Erie for the first part of the week. Tyler drove up last night and took them home early this morning.

We've had a ball, swimming, playing, making new friends, and—best of all for Ridley—making faces at the camera with Grandma.

A big salute of appreciation to Tyler and Jaci for trusting us with their precious offspring.

More later. I'm at the Madison Public Library (Quick - Name that musical!) in the air conditioning working this afternoon. It's too damned hot outside to do anything but swim!

Friday, July 02, 2010

What a Difference One Percent Makes!

We're going on vacation tomorrow—a week at the lake. The Jazzman tells me it's a very casual environment, where the women's wardrobes consist of shorts and capris and T-shirts. I'm sad to report that I've put on weight since last summer. Significant weight. My doctor prescribed beta blockers to curb my headaches and decrease heart palpitations. But the side effect, for me at least, is weight gain. Therefore, only the clothes that were [very] loose (i.e. baggy) last summer still fit me this summer.

I have several pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans® (NYDJ), which I wear almost daily. All are size 12 and fit me fine. My favorite pair of jeans were purchased in the Costa Mesa Nordstrom during the summer of 2007, and are a dream to wear. They're 12s and still fit me, so I should be able to slip on another pair of size 12 NYDJs with no problem, right?

I ran to the Beachwood Nordstrom after rehearsal on Wednesday evening and picked a couple pair of NYDJ cropped pants off the rack. To make sure they would fit, and not exhibiting any pride at all, I grabbed a 14 along with the 12. I looked at the labels first to make sure the denim was a stretch fabric with Lycra woven in. I was wearing my favorite NYDJ jeans at the time. I slipped them off and slipped on the 12s. Nope. Not even close to buttoning. So dropped them back on the chair and slipped on the 14s. What? Buttoning but not zipping? Size 14? If this is supposed to be funny, I'm not laughing.

The sales associate and I discussed the problem and starting looking more closely at the labels on several pair of NYDJ jeans. The labels we pulled said 99% denim, 1% Lycra, and 98/2, and 97/3. The pair I was wearing, and that I love*love*love, say 96% denim, 4% Lycra.

Would you ever have guessed that one percent of Lycra in a fabric weave could make that much difference?

I finally found a little pair of soft green crops that will go with a beige Chico's T that I love. They're not the most comfortable pants I've ever bought, but with my Nordstrom Rewards certificate, they were less than $20 and will be cool in the 85-90 degree temps under blazing sun that we're supposed to get on the lake next week.

While we're discussing clothes, I'll confess that I bought a new pair of white slides. I have a pair of Ecco white slides that I've had since around 1990. They're the most comfortable casual shoes I own, but a dog EEFFH and I brought home from the pound to please his kids in about 2002 chewed into them, and they look incredibly ratty. When Jazz suggested I wear them to a party last Sunday and I cringed, I realized they needed to go in the trash.

I received a catalog from FootSmart earlier this week. When flipping through it, I noticed that the Walking Cradles' Alva slide was almost identical to the Ecco slide. And, of course, the white was on sale. There's a new Top Shoe on my most comfortable casual shoes list now. The sole is cushioned, and the shoe is just a dream to wear. I think they will be on my feet for rehearsal at Blossom this afternoon!

My final shoe note is to show you this incredible shoe, which I found while looking for a picture for today's post. What a kick! Have you ever seen anything so wild?! That's the sort of outrageous shoe that my daughter-in-law loves to wear, and looks fabulous in.

And my final note on the weight problems is that I was ready to sign the gym membership papers yesterday when my doctor called and told me my left medial meniscus is torn and will require surgery. I see the ortho on July 29th. I am not happy.

I've been chiding Jazz for not shoving me onto the grass when he saw me start to fall on the pavement. What a perfect opportunity he had to release his aggression on me. Now he has to put up with my limping and complaining for another four weeks, then wait on me hand and foot while I recuperate from surgery.

Sounds like a plan, huh?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Aren't We All in This Together?

Or: Why I Love Facebook

I occasionally field questions from real-world friends who wonder why I have a profile on Facebook, what I get from it. I have to admit that on the mornings when I wake up with only a cat in my bed, the first thing I do is reach for my iPhone.

First I flick through my e-mail, quickly deleting notes I have no interest in, sending spam to the appropriate folder. I glance at the remaining notes, mentally noting the ones I want to read later on a big screen, and scanning the ones I deem important enough for immediate attention.

Then I turn to Facebook. I flick down through screen after screen of status updates from friends, neighbors, and companies I like. I marvel that so many people have so much to say. I read the comments people have written to my posts of the night before, and note who has "liked" something I've said. I post "likes" where a friend has accomplished something difficult. I write an encouraging comment where someone has faced a difficult challenge. I laugh and I sigh and I shake my head. I make a mental note to find more good information to post to several business sites for which I am responsible.

And I feel connected.

Yesterday I posted that I was thinking of John on the anniversary of his death. I don't say much about him any more, out of consideration for my new beau's feelings and the fact that my life is moving on from "me" to "us". But the anniversary of John's birth and our marriage and his death are big days to me. He was huge in my life, and I will forever be grateful for how my life changed as a result of knowing him.

And then several old friends who knew him posted comments to my post. That meant the world to me.

We all plod along in our lives, one foot in front of the other, absorbed in our activities and our thoughts. We think about our friends and the people we come into daily contact with, but we don't think quite so much about whether anyone else is thinking of us. For me, Facebook helps me see that many kind and gentle people are plodding along a similar road to mine.

In the old days, years one through—oh—six of my post-John life, I would think of him. But no one else ever noted the date. None of his family members ever called or wrote me to share a memory or say they missed his smiling face and active sense of humor. I felt totally and completely alone. I felt I was the only one who remembered this bon vivant with whom I shared ten years on this earth.

Nowadays, I might post a memory of him on Facebook, and without fail someone will comment. His pre-me wife and I are friends and she is quick to share a thought or feeling; his sisters-in-law tell me when they remember something funny or meaningful that he did. Our friends with whom we sang in The Washington Chorus are extremely generous in sharing their memories with me.

Yes, life goes on, but our memories keep us grounded in the lives that brought us to where we are today.

People say, "I'm not going on Facebook. I don't want anyone knowing my business." For me, having people who know my "business" gives me the courage and strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

To quote the "Golden Girls" theme song, "Thank you for being a friend."