READ THIS BOOK; YOU’LL LOVE IT!

I just got done watching a movie that I really loved.  Actually I just watched it for the second time.  My oldest daughter, having a hunch that I would enjoy it, recorded it for me.  It’s called People Like Us.  I won’t go into a great deal of detail about it, because that might spoil it for someone who intends to see it, but I can reveal that the ending was powerful, and my tears fell like rain.  I didn’t have to strain to feel the emotion, something I might do just because I feel that there’s tears lodged in my soul that need to be released, and I have to give them a little nudge.  I had the same reaction with the movie “I am Sam.”  Interestingly, Michelle Phiefer was in both of these movies, and they both involved deeply emotional scenes of childhood.  I also loved “When Harry met Sally.”

There are also several books that have evoked strong feelings for me.  The titles are Raising Blaze, Augusta Gone, Manchild in the Promised Land and My Father, Jesus and the CIA to name a few.  I wish I could make a mandate that everyone I love, have loved or may love in the future would watch these movies or read these books.  

Every once in awhile I try to beseech my oldest daughter, another lover of books and writer, to read one of the books I love, but she’s a fiction fan and I’m a non-fiction fan, and she claims she wouldn’t like the material I like to read or watch.  I think otherwise, but you can’t force someone to snuggle up with the book or movie of your choice.

However there seems to be a light at the end of the literary tunnel.  I have convinced/coerced my play daughter, Amber, to watch People Like Us.  No pressure, Amber, but you BETTER LOVE THIS MOVIE. 

 

 

THROWDOWN AT THE PRE-SCHOOL GRADUATION

June is the month for graduations, and I have been to three of them in the last couple of weeks.  The first one was for my grandson’s transition from elementary to middle school.  Only a certain amount of tickets were given out for each family, and this was strictly enforced with staff positioned at each entry.  I know some people found this annoying, but at least they had a head count and knew precisely how many people could be seated at the church where the graduation took place.

The second graduation was at UCLA where my son-in-law was receiving his degree.  This celebration was unique and was only the fourth one of its kind.  The children of the graduates, who were decked out in a mini cap and gown, were able to walk across the stage with their parents, which two of my grandchildren were able to do.  It’s a great concept, because it gives the children a foretaste of what they can achieve later in their own lives and helps them feel apart of the victorious moment.  This graduation went off without a hitch, because most of the students are not parents, and the ones that are don’t opt for this option for various reasons.  That means there isn’t the masses you would normally expect at a UCLA graduation.  There wasn’t a limit on the amount of tickets, because it wasn’t necessary.  In fact there were still some seats left in the auditorium where it was held.

The last one was a graduation from the pre-school two of my granddaughters attend.  Rows of seats were set up on the asphalt in back of the school.  This was expected to be a small gathering, because the whole pre-school wasn’t involved, only the kids from the accelerated reading program the school offers.  However, though I consider this a good thing, people tend to invite their extended families  to performances and graduations at this school.  My granddaughters, between the two of them, had 14 family members on hand to cheer them on, which was a little over the top, but that’s how we do it.  Fortunately, we live close by and were there in plenty of time to grab seats even though we couldn’t all sit together and were not all able to partake of the seats covered by a canopy to ward off the heat.

This is where things started to get sticky and not just because it’s June in Southern California.  In the row in front of us was a man and woman saving three seats for relatives who had not yet arrived.  There were still a few scattered seats here and there, but they were quickly being filled.  Two ladies came in together and one of the more assertive ones insisted on taking the seat next to the woman who was saving it.  “Your relatives aren’t here, so these seats are available,” she insisted.  The woman who was saving the seats was obviously not one to back down either and a backwards and forwards monologue ensued with each of them refusing to budge and the assertive woman’s backside encased resolutely in the formerly saved chair.  The lady who was with her obviously wanted to avoid unpleasant confrontation and was content to sit in the vacant seat next to me in the second row.  When the relatives of the woman saving the seats showed up, they found somewhere else to sit, which displeased the woman greatly, but, after a few mumbled complaints, she let the matter drop.

I don’t know how I feel about this seat saving issue, having been on both sides of the fence.  One of my daughters feels that it’s okay to save seats until the event is about to begin, and, in theory, I can see that, but what if the lights go down at that point and you can’t see where you are going, or what if all the seats are taken by then?  Sometimes the guests of the seat savers never even show up.  So for anyone who has an opinion on this matter, what’s your take?  Who should be the one to comply.  People can have really strong feelings about this matter and, instead of road rage, they exhibit seat rage.  What would you have done under these conditons to avoid a throwdown at the pre-school graduation? 

DEALING WITH DOG POOP, AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE A DOG

Dog ownership, like parenting a child, doesn’t necessarily mean you are responsible enough to do an adequate job.  Every living being needs care, especially when they are totally dependent on you to meet their needs.  Dogs require food, water, visits to the vet, when necessary, training, affection and a human being to pick up their poop.  Since I don’t own a dog, that human being on poop patrol should not be me, and I think my gardener feels the same, which brings me to the problem of people who walk their dogs (or allow them to walk themselves) off-leash with no bag in sight.

Their are three dogs on my block who fall into this category. Two of them appear to be litter mates.  They are cute, off white (though I suspect that underneath the grime, they are just white-white) fluffy, ungroomed boundless bundles of frisky fur.  I have seen them with a man, whom I assume to be their owner, a time or two, but generally they just scamper along together as they please, and what they often please is to relieve themselves on my front lawn.  When I sit on my porch and these two attempt to do their thing, I have managed to intercept them by yelling for them to stop.  A couple of times the ringleader of the two has been nervy enough to give a few little barks in response, but the two of them run off, presumably to greener (or at least less populated) pastures.

One day my daughter caught the owner, with nary a bag or leash in sight, allowing the little dogs to romp around in our front yard while he stood on the sidewalk, apparently waiting for them to empty their little bladders and whatever else they felt like emptying.   He did not see my daughter lurking in the doorway, but she stepped out and confronted them.  She can have a bit of an attitude, and I haven’t seen the man walking the dogs since.  It appears that he just sends them out and hides in the house to avoid confrontation from the neighbors.

One day I saw a woman yelling for them to come back as they scampered down the street.  They paid her no mind until they were good and ready to come to her.  As she passed my house, I mentioned the fact that the dogs had pooped on my lawn, and she responded “Oh, those are two dogs that look just like these.”  Uh, yeah, lady…perhaps that’s because they ARE the dogs I’m telling you about!

In any event, it is obviously irresponsible to let your dogs roam around left to their own devices.  For one thing, they could run in the street.  Granted this is a quiet area, but all it takes is one car.  Or they could bite one of the kids riding their bikes and scooters more frequently now that it’s summer vacation.  At the very least, they could be fertilizing my front yard in a way I don’t want, so to all dog owners (especially the ones on my block), I say TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR DOGS.  I will even supply the plastic bags!

 

IS IT TIME FOR BED YET?

Everyone who has spent time with me after the sun goes down knows that I am not a night owl.  Typically I like to be in bed between 9 and 10:p.m. and rise between 5 and 6:a.m.  I wake up bright-eyed and chipper while the night owls in my family are barely tolerable before 10:a.m.  It’s not that I’ve never burned the midnight oil.  In fact, there was a time when I would just be getting started at 10:p.m.  Those were my youthful clubbing years when cute guys and a crazy beat caused my eyes to open wide and my feet to strut their way across a crowded dance floor.  There was the Classic Cat 90’s, The Point After, Mike’s Office and Bahama Mama’s.  These were the clubs to see and be seen, and Southern California was the place to be.  I managed to stay awake and energized (and even lose a pound or two) thanks to all that moving around.  Often my friends and I would be famished after exerting so much energy. On those nights we would make our way to Denny’s or The Copper Penny or IHOP, where I would indulge in my favorite breakfast…a cheese omelet, home fries, buttered toast and a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream, all after 2:a.m. before my metabolism turned on me and made me pay for such an indulgence.  Sometimes all this happened on a Wednesday nights with boring office jobs looming in the morning light.  My work place didn’t hold my interest when I was fully awake with all my neurons firing, so you can imagine how difficult it was to slog through the day when I was barely semi-functional.

Years later as a divorced mother of four, far from the disco sounds that had propelled me, I could barely remain awake as I tried to corral my high-energy kids into bed.  Being a good mommy, I would give the younger ones their baths and read a bed time story when I was longing to get into bed myself.  There was one book called Stone Soup that seemed to go on forever.  It involved a hungry boy who, for reasons unknown, was far from home and sustenance, and had to use his wits to obtain a nourishing broth.  I would often find myself drifting off to sleep while I struggled to finish that wretched tale for my wide-awake children.

These days all four kids are grown, and I’m a grandma.  When the grandkids spend the night, they usually stay up later than me, especially the 11-year-old.  You would think they’d sleep in a bit after being up so late, but that never seems to happen.  As my eye lids flutter open with the first rays of morning, I know I better zoom into the shower before my five-year-old granddaughter utters those inevitiable words to me, as I wrap myself in a towel…”Grandma, I want pancakes.”

The other night I was in the dining area with my lap top, checking something out online, when I decided to listen to a few Youtube hits from back in the day…classic rock, old school R&B, and doo wop.  Before I knew it, it was past my regular bed time.  My yawning had ceased, and I was fully engaged, singing along with the music, and I realized the andedote to my inability to stay awake in the evenings was the music of my youth.  All at once I was transformed from a sleepy dove to a rockin’ robin.

The Classic Cat closed its doors many years ago, but maybe I can  resurrect it in my living room.  May doo wop never cease, and make that omelet extra cheesy, please.

DADDY LOVES YOU

According to my four-year-old granddaughter, Lexie, today is National Picnic Day.  This means that the cook at her pre-school gets to enjoy a mini break, at least for lunch service.  Lexie proudly showed me the brown lunch bag her daddy, an artist, had decorated for her, which included a brightly illustrated kitty, flowers, leaves and balloons, the kind of lunch bag that would delight a little girl, the kind of simple act that causes a little girl to proclaim “You are the best daddy in the world!”

On the other side of the bag, written in bold black lettering, were the words “Daddy loves you!”  It only takes a moment to write a simple sentence, but words are powerful.  They can be used to hurt or heal, and they can last a lifetime.

My son-in-law, Kevin, tells me he is sometimes nervous when he thinks  of raising a female child.  He doesn’t want some shiftless man to come along and hurt her, but as I reflected on the personalized lunch bag, I knew that he doesn’t have to worry about that.  Girls with daddy hunger are usually the ones that fall prey to bad boy charms.  Girls who have not been affirmed by their fathers are often willing to trade their bodies for a compliment, a hug or a loving word, even if it is counterfit and dripping deceit .  Lexie is secure in the love of he daddy every day.  She is an obedient, compliant child, but she’s not afraid to speak her mind or ask questions.  She has a strong sense of who she is, which is, as we all know, “the cat’s pajamas.”

I didn’t get that from my father, and I’m far from alone.  There is a huge difference in those whose daddy’s eyes lit up when they see them and the ones with daddies who turned their gaze away.  I am so grateful for the light in Kevin’s eyes when he looks at his daughter.  I think it will be very hard for a man to come along and convince her that she is anything less than amazing or deserves poor treatment.  Lexie is well aware how fabulous she is, a truth that has been planted, watered and lovingly nurtured on a daily basis.

Every day is an opportunity to withhold or show love. Today a little girl went to school with a lunch bag that proclaimed her father’s love….a humble brown bag that is more valuable than a priceless container full of jewels, a bag that shines like purest gold,  because love transforms everything it touches.

A gift for the choir director?

He has only been in this position for four months, but it’s already evident that George, the newly appointed choir director, is lacking interest in his position.  For one thing, he has not shown up for rehearsal four times, and when he is here, he seems distracted and disinterested.  Granted, this is a volunteer position, and there didn’t seem to be a mob of folks clamoring for the job, so perhaps he should be commended for stepping up to the plate.  Maybe somebody guilted him into accepting this responsibility, but it would have been better for everybody if he hadn’t agreed, since he seems to be totally lacking in leadership abilities, motivation, or musical talent.  In fact, I think the guy is tone deaf, but the worst part is, he obviously does not want to be here.

Last week, when George did grace us with his presence, he let Marisa badger him into giving  her a solo.  She doesn’t have a bad voice, but she has no stage presence at all, and even George can see that.  He did halfheartedly try to reason with her, since even he can see she is simply not suited for this role, which requires an exuberant, larger than life personna.   Marisa stands stiffly in front of the microphone and looks totally out of her element on stage.  She grasps the mike as if she’s afraid it will take off and leave her standing there alone.  This choir has a number of seasoned professionals, and any one of them could have done a far better job than Marisa, but George, passive soul that he is, let her wear him down, apparently too weary to put up a fight.

I could give many other examples of how George is in over his head, causing this choir to go downhill fast.  The one bright spot is that he told us he is leaving after our annual summer performance, and things can only get better from there, regardless of who takes over.  The problem is that Christy Michaels is talking about taking up an offering from all the choir members for a send-off gift, and Christy, being who she is, thinks the present should be extra special.   Extra special usually  translates into extra expensive, and I’m just not feeling it in this case.

George may be a nice enough guy, but he is a terrible choir director.  He couldn’t even handle the children’s program we recently put on, and, Diana, one of the mothers had to step in and guide the kids, which is the only thing that saved the performance.  It’s bad enough to let adults down, but I hate it when you can’t keep your commitments to the kids.  Diana has also been the one to take over for the adult choir during George’s absence.  Why not recognize her instead?  It’s not a financial thing for me.  I would gladly contribute for Diana’s gift, but why should George be rewarded just because he has the title and Diana be overlooked, because she doesn’t?  It seems totally unfair.

I don’t know if anyone else in the choir is having this quandry.  I haven’t asked around.  There’s some people with really big mouths, and I don’t want to stir up a big controversy, since we have to see each other on a regular basis, and I’m sure George would quickly be advised of who the trouble maker is.

Still I can’t deny that this has really been bothering me, and I won’t be able to put off a decision much longer, since Christy intends to approach everyone  next week (When George is out  yet again) to collect and have us convey our sentiments on some ridiculous huge card…I don’t think George will want to see my sentiments.

I’ve been asking some friends what they would do in this situaiton, and the results have been divided with most people saying “Don’t contribute; since he’s doing a lousy job.”  I really hope I don’t get sucked into doing what I don’t want to do.   It doesn’t help that I don’t have a poker face, and my smile would probably be overshadowed by a resentful scowl.  I can see it now.  George is standing  on stage and with a total lack of origninality and requisite humble expression, procalims “You really shouldn’t have.”  I might even have an out of body experience and find myself responding with glee “No, we REALLY shouldn’t have!”

ALL IN THE NAME OF BEAUTY

It seems to be human nature to try to look as good as you can for as long as you can.  The cosmetics and clothing industries would quickly cease to exist if that were not the case.  Looking our best puts a bounce in our step and gives us the confidence that draws others to us, and that’s a good thing, right?  I would say that’s true as long as you don’t take it too far.  It is a fact that the world is more welcoming if you are lovely.  They say even newborns respond more favorably to a pretty face.  Yes, we have been told beauty is only skin deep (whatever that means) and that who we are inside is what really counts.  The problem is we live in a world of Sports Illustrated models and air-brushed actresses whose idea of a hearty meal is 1/3 cup of air-popped popcorn, hold the butter, and I would bet that very few folks are willing to bypass a homely face for the splendid soul that resides within.  We live in a visual world, and it’s no fun to be overlooked, because you just don’t measure up to another human being’s fantasy.  I’m sure men feel some of this pressure as well, but I would venture to say, it is mostly women who will often go to great lengths to be attractive at any cost.

There may be less emphasis on physical perfection if you live in a rural community where people are more down to earth and in closer touch with reality, but for those who live in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and Miami, where those blessed with beauty tend to abound, it’s pretty difficult to escape these notions until you become old and are by default pretty much invisible wherever you go.  That is unless you are a force to be reckoned with, so people are forced to notice you, which I will take over going under the knife any day!

We don’t have to look very far to see many examples of women desperate to enhance their outward exterior whether it involves plastic surgery or starvation diets.  To that end, various procedures abound from lip injections to liposuction…botox to booty enhancement, and speaking of booties, that is what led me to this blog entry.

When I logged onto AOL news this afternoon, there was a picture of a beautiful young woman.  She had long, shiny black hair, big hazel eyes and a dazzling smile, revealing rows of perfect white teeth.  To look at her, you would think this was somebody who would not lack for male attention, someone who must feel very confident based on all outward appearances.  She appeared glowy, youthful and full of life, but that would be far from the truth, because she is dead.

Without going into irrelevant details, this beautiful girl died after receiving injections in her behind, presumably so she could achieve a more bodacious shillouette.  The procedure took place in a strip mall in Miami.  Perhaps she thought that a more curvaceous body would make her more acceptable, more worthy of love.  Instead it ended her life.

For most women, it won’t be that drastic, although struggling with an eating disorder can definitely take you out.  It will just take longer.  The question is how far are you willing to go to fit into an elusive image when you were already created in the image of God?