Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This sign was displayed in my favorite coffee shop recently:
Kate was pretty excited when she saw it: "We really get a free puppy?" Joseph was more concerned: "What does it mean we'll get shot?" I was just amused by the whole thing. And hats off to the coffee shop for having the audacity to display the sign. It's not a trendy, snarky, cold place run by indifferent coffee snobs. It's a comfortable place with big armchairs and BOOKS and board games, and the staff is always friendly.

I love my kids. They are smart and witty and wonderful and genuinely two of my favorite people in the world. But if I were in a coffee store sans my own children, it would be a rare day indeed; I certainly wouldn't want my one hour of precious peace and quiet mucked up by other people's unruly children running around and screaming, parents sitting idly by, while I was reading. Or sipping coffee. Or staring into space doing nothing.

So...parents, take responsibility for your kids.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Summertime, and the Livin' is Easy

It is June 27, and I have the entire summer out in front of me. Were I someone else, I would be jealous of me. I return to school on August 17th, and students arrive on August 25th. I have not one single obligation in front of me, not even any plans (with the exception of our trip up north in a couple of weeks; since this is a Happy Blog Entry, that topic is neither here nor there). If I did not have kids, I could literally do nothing - NOTHING - for the next several weeks, and no one would know. I could sleep or leave the county or crawl into a hole, and I would miss nothing. However, being that I am not the governor of South Carolina, I won't be doing that. Still, my plans are light. For example, this afternoon, my plans consist of:

1. buying my GPS, which I have researched

2. getting some Italian ice at Rita's

3. if I am motivated, sewing Kate another sundress with the fabric that just arrived in the mail today

Yes, my life is good today. All that I have is all that I need.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I was in my 20s before I understood who Billie Jean was and what her song meant


One of my best friends is a Michael Jackson fan. Has been forever. I remember vegging on his couch in December of 1993, watching Michael Jackson's press conference addressing the then-current charges pending against him. D.J. never wavered in his support of Michael Jackson, never took the easy road and went along with all of the jokes that were flying at the time, never stopped liking his music and doing one of the best moonwalk impersonations I've ever seen. When news started coming out yesterday afternoon regarding Michael Jackson' emergency/coma/death (depending on your news source of choice, and exactly when you were being updated), the very first person I thought of was D.J. It takes guts to stand your ground when everyone around you is making jokes and derogatory comments. I admire that.

I am not a non-fan of Michael Jackson, nor would I call myself a fan. I don't know what to make of the charges against him before - I know he was cleared, but that doesn't make things clear, really. Perhaps he was just a lonely man who really never did grow up and was genuinely just happy to be around kids. Perhaps there was more to it. I don't know. But I, like everyone else in my generation, can mark specific milestones in my life by remembering what Michael Jackson songs were popular at the time:

1. 1983 - my best friend, Lori, was the only person I knew who had MTV (she was also the only person I knew at the time who had a VCR and/or a microwave oven, thus lending credence to my belief that her family was rich. They were not). We watched the video for Beat It repeatedly. It was magical.

2. 1991 - I lived in an apartment by myself during part of college. I loved it. Black and White was popular at the time, and MTV played it all the time. Yes, I had MTV myself by that point. I was definitely movin' on up in the world. I remember being in my living room, reading by the light of the little white lights I had strung around the walls, being very content with the little life I had built for myself.

3. April, 2004 - Thriller was featured in the movie 13 Going on 30, when everyone at the stuffy party knows all of the line-dancing moves to the song and they stage an impromptu dance along. Jennifer Garner is an under-rated actress, and the movie also featured Mark Ruffalo, who is many things, all of them good. More importantly, it was one of the first times after the birth of my daughter, almost six months before this, that I went out without my kids and husband. Brenda and I went to see it while Kevin stayed home with Joseph and Kate. I was nervous and, of course, I had an amazing time.

It's hard not to be affected at all by the death of someone who has provided some of the soundtrack for your life.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's My Perogative (Gonna Do What I Wanna Do)

I cannot get my blog to look exactly the way I want it. I keep fiddling with it. Are the colors right? Are the fonts the way I want them? Too big? Too small? I think right now, for today, it's the way I want it. I look out the flowers on the background - too cutesy, the more I looked at them - and am not using my signature. I still like the header a lot: no-nonsense, kind of rough around the edges. Like my gramma.

I feel shallow, worrying to much about the look of my blog, but really, if the look of it is keeping me from wanting to visit it and therefore write - which is exactly what was happening - then I need to change it. I imagine I'll keep changing it as the mood strikes me. But today, it's fine. Which is what I need to remember in regard to many things. Not just my blog. Everything is fine, today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A bird horror of a different sort, and some nice bird stuff, too

Jackson, Kate's first bird, died over Spring Break this year. I remember the day vividly: it was a Thursday, around 4:30, and I was in the kitchen cutting vegetables. Kate came downstairs, all excited, and said, "Mom! Jackson is taking a nap on the floor of his cage, and he's reading the papers you put in the bottom of it!"

I knew right away, obviously, what was going on. I sighed, put down the knife, and walked upstairs. There was no getting around it. He was dead, clearly. I looked at Kate, who was jumping on her bed, oblivious to the death in the cage only a few feet from her, and I said, quietly, "Jackson died, Kate. I'm so sorry. He's dead."

She looked shocked for a minute, then her face cracked and then, without any hint of melodrama, she started sobbing, "BUT I GAVE MY WHOLE HEART TO THAT BIRD!" Which she did. I really liked Jackson, too. He was one of the friendliest birds I'd ever seen. He was not people-shy at all. He sat on people's heads, perched on their hands, and walked around the floor when we let him. His favorite thing to do was perch on Kevin's foot and nibble on his sock. It was easy to grow attached to him, since he was so cuddly (for a bird, I mean). I was definitely a little sad myself.

Kevin came home from work, we spent several hours consoling Kate, and the very next day she and I went out to PetSmart and purchased Rose, the only parakeet left in the whole store. Rose is a dud of a bird who hates people and flies frantically to the other side of the cage if a human finger even comes near him - yes, Rose is a guy - so he's no Jackson, for sure. He will probably live for the next 25 years, just because I don't give a hoot about him and he will stay alive just out of spite so we have to clean out his cage once a week. But Kate loves him. And this? Kate loves to make her dad and brother happy).

So you can imagine my glee when I discovered I was recently featured in an Etsy treasury regarding bird-themed items:

That is my little bird pillow there in the lower left-hand corner. I made it because I liked the little bird I drew, and I saw a cardinal that morning with Joseph, and we do seem to be connected to birds here. I am honored to be in that Treasury. Etsy could not have known that Jackson died. And I do love that pillow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Case of the Disappearing Gramma

So I thought it would be neat to put a picture of my actual gramma on my blog, given that it's named after her. I thought it would be great to have her up there in my header, sort of looking down on my writing sternly, like a guide from well beyond the grave (she's been dead for 25 years...the word "blog" would have sounded ridiculous to her, and she would have had no patience for it, since it would have sounded vulgar, like "fart"). Anyhoo, I even knew how I was going to do it and change the header up a little and everything. I figured out how to work the scanner, and I, in all of my technical widardry, was going to scan her right into the banner. I eagerly went to my closet, got out my old photo albums, and even remembered one specific picture of her that I thought would look absolutely fabulous in my blog. So I opened up the albums, and...

Nothing.

By that, I mean there was not a single picture of my gramma anywhere in any of my photo albums. I looked fantically through all of them, wondering for a minute or two if she had even existed or if I had imagined her Winston-smoking self and made up an entire person that lived only in my own head, like Russell Crowe's character in A Beautiful Mind. Then I remembered...

Many years ago - I can't even recall exactly when - my mother requested (no, demanded, at the time) that I let her "borrow" my photo albums so that she could make copies of pictures in there, since they were technically her pictures and she had a right to them (and if that sounds like something a 7-year-old would say, then I wrote it so that it sounds exactly like I meant it to). So she took my albums for a while, and I remember being upset when she returned them to me that she kept all of the originals and instead gave me the blurry, low-quality copies she had made. It never occured to me to take an inventory of the pictures in there or to make sure that they were returned. But now that I finally (years later - forgive me, Gramma) realized that every picture of my Gramma has been removed from my albums, and remembering that at the time she borrowed them my mom was going through one of her (many) "your father can do no wrong and I will absolutely follow through with every ridiculous thing he tells me to do" phases, it becomes increasingly clear that my mother took every picture of my gramma. Every. Single. One.

I have already arranged for my sister to scan her pictures of Gramma and e-mail them to me, so I can use them. In the meantime, I have that piece of clip art up there. That woman looks nothing like my gramma, who did not have a bun or even white hair. In fact, she looks a little more cheerful than I remember my gramma looking. But she looks like she means business, so she'll do, for now. And she will be a reminder, for now, of my gramma.

That's all I got.