Fun

Friday Letter: The Traffic and Song that Never Ends

Dear J, J, L and L,

Finger puppets might save your sanity.

It all started with Lambchop, although I don’t remember when he began riding along with us in the car. I just know that one day we found ourselves sitting in traffic amongst a zillion other cars going nowhere and getting there at five miles per hour. More than likely, two of you, (guess which two) were arguing or whining in the back seat. No doubt the radio played nothing but the Macarena or advertisements. And most likely the AC failed in its efforts to cool our car just as summer arrived.

Whatever the circumstances, I remember putting Lambchop the finger puppet on my left hand, and letting him wildly sing his signature song whilst dancing out the window.

“This is the song that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started singing it not knowing what it was… and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…”

Here’s a reminder if you’ve forgotten that ditty:

The Song That Never Ends

One of you in the back half of the car probably slunk lower in your seat or said something profound like, “Mooooooooom!!! Stoooooooop!” or may be not. Maybe you laughed. Maybe someone in a car behind or beside us laughed.

Then Lambchop changed the words. “This is the traffic that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started driving once not knowing where they were…and they’ll continue driving now forever just because this is the traffic that never ends…

Lambchop was a hit. I laughed. Ya’ll laughed. Tension dispelled, at least momentarily.

From then on I was on a quest for other finger puppets, which it turned out, were rare and hard to find. (Pre-Amazon and Google, y’know.)

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Moose, the finger puppet. Who could resist this smile?

This guy, Moose, joined our car late in the game. He liked to sing “We wish you a merry Christmoose,” if memory serves me correctly.

There may have been others, but some of our more traumatic years seem to reside in a foggy region of my brain that I’m unable, or unwilling, to access. But Lambchop, for sure, spent a ton of time on the dashboard, reminding us of the threat or the possibility of performances while stuck in traffic.

Now the most traffic I encounter happens while trying to cross Greenfield road on my bike. And of course, your father doesn’t appreciate the finely honed skills of finger puppet singing. So Lambchop now lives in the closet with all the other stuffed animals. I found Moose covered in dust next to a certain restaurant gift card on my dresser.

If you remember the names or songs of any of our other sweet car companions, remind me. Good times ought not be forgotten. In fact, perhaps they ought to experience a comeback.

Hey, whatever it takes to maintain your sanity in traffic seems like a great idea.

May all your roads lack multiple four-way stops and frequent construction zones. And may you laugh daily and often.

Happy driving!

Love ya tons,

Mom

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Fun, Traffic | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Always Ready to Party

I pass this house on my bike rides either coming or going. I slow down as I pedal past. I try not to stare but it’s difficult not to. You see, it’s still a bit dark when I’m going past and strands of white twinkle lights light up the yard. That’s not something you normally see on an October morning.

I should mention it’s the back yard, not the front. I have no idea what the front of this house looks like. I should ride over that way and see sometime, I suppose. Many of these homes were modestly built out of cinderblock during the fifties, nearly identical inside and out.  Quarter or half-acre lots back up to this part of the trail which serves as a power line easement and passes backyards filled with dozens of stories and even more questions.

This particular back yard captures my imagination and holds it hostage.

Photo by Codo (The passion of the mariachi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) ], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Codo (The passion of the mariachi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In the slowly brightening sky the outline of a mariachi band plays against the twinkle lights. More specifically, life-sized, rusty looking metal statues of a mariachi band face the back of the house. There’s no actual music. But the feeling of a song just ended hangs in the yard like a fine morning mist.

Several matching rust colored umbrellas stand at ease amid various patio tables. A small swimming pool reflects light on to heavy tied-back patio curtains.

In contrast to the perfectly manicured yard and setting, two vintage cars and a small lawn tractor sit nearby. A row of desert trees skirt along a white fence.

I imagine that on closer inspection I’d find a more than adequate barbecue set up, a fire pit and a mini bar.

The interior of the house usually stands dark and silent. Oh, how I’ve wanted to stop and take a photo. But that seems intrusive and paparazzi-ish. So I haven’t any images to share. I hold only a mental photograph I snap every single time I ride past. Somehow, I’m sure, a photograph wouldn’t capture the vision I see and feel.

While walking in the ordinary light of day past this home the magic pull of this back yard holds far less sway on me. It’s just another backyard in the sunshine. I’m not sure what it is but there’s something about the pre-dawn light that makes it all feel as if someone just sprinkled pixie dust over the entire site.

Photo by MzScarlett / A.K.A. Michelle from Missouri (Ice Tea) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by MzScarlett / A.K.A. Michelle from Missouri (Ice Tea) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In that early morning hour I sense I’ve always just missed the last snippets of a long night of whispered conversations, laughter, ice clinking in glasses and wet footprints leading away from the pool. I suspect I’ve missed out on serpentine stories and long jokes with intelligent punchlines. The only taste I get of the party just finished hovers lightly as the scent of creosote in the chill early air.

Do I think this household throws a party every night that last long into the wee hours? No, not at all.

What I do think is they have managed to capture the essence of a nightly party and hold it there in a quarter-acre space. It must conjure wonderful memories to look out from the kitchen window of that home and see ghosts of guests long since departed. What joy it must bring to remember, amid the twinkle lights, friendships and family, chatter and music, stars and breezes.

Clearly I’ve romanticized and idealized what happens at this home. Whatever really goes on, whoever really lives there, I don’t want to know. I’d rather keep what I’ve imagined and call it truth.

I wonder if I could create something similar. Surely I don’t need a metal mariachi band to capture that sense of excitement and wonder at daily life. Maybe something as simple as candlelight and music softly playing at dinner, even if it’s meatloaf on the menu. Perhaps a strand of twinkle lights draped along the patio and plugged in every night, party or not, just for the sake of celebrating life.

I’ll have to give this more thought. Is this just a Better Homes and Gardens or House Beautiful photo shoot I’ve stumbled on and can’t possibly recreate? Or is there something real there, something in the idea of celebration that I could blend into my daily walk and talk? It’s an intriguing idea.

Party on, my friends, party on.

~~~

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” 

– John Lubbock

Categories: Celebration, Family, Fun, good ideas, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

It’s All In How You Look at It

Earlier today I found myself once again deleting photos off my phone to make room for a boatload more photos I plan to take soon. Yes, I backed them all up to a different spot and ought to be able to just delete them all at once, (if I could only figure out how.) But I like having a “few” snaps available to look through and share without  diving into my storage facility and hunting for what I want. So I’m selectively deleting.

Santa left his hat on the couch and the world is slipping.

Santa left his hat on the couch and the world is slipping.

I’ve gone through the “stack” of photographs at least four times in the past month or two. A few more achieve nirvana and move on to their next incarnation as electrical impulses and ones and zeros. But more stay on the phone, taking up valuable memory.

Bonus!

I ran across this series of photos I’d forgotten about.

photo 2-6 copy 11

An open Sandra Boyton board book in the foreground.

Yup, they’re from Christmas 2014 or thereabouts. I figured since today’s a national holiday (Independence Day in the US) I can post a holiday themed set of photos if I want to.

I didn’t take these particular photos. My favorite then-three-year-old took the shots.

Wire  bead maze: a child's up close point of view.

Wire bead maze: a child’s up close point of view.

You kind of get the drift that she’s short. For her age she’s in the 95th percentlie for height. But compared to adults, her view on the world sits a couple of feet lower.

Huggy Bear, Tissues, Flat Screen. What is she saying here?

Huggy Bear, Tissues, Flat Screen. What is she saying here?

I like her perspective, don’t you?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s a photography genius waiting to blossom here, at least not that I know of. She does, like most kids born in the past ten years, seem to have an innate sense of how to run electronic gadgets and make use of them faster, better and more creatively than big people do.

There’s something in her viewpoint I can’t quite put words to. I just know I like it.

“If I push this button like this…”

I especially like her non-posing selfie. Usually she puts on her photo face if she knows her picture’s being taken. You can almost see her thinking here. I like that.

Book closeup. Very introspective, or something.

Book closeup. Very introspective, or something.

Plenty of blurred photos got the garbage can button. And fifteen or more shots of the carpet likewise bit the dust. And eight of just her forehead had to be obliviated. (Yes, I just made up that word: oblivious got verbed.)

I figure you have to crack a lot of eggs to get a few good photos, or push a lot of buttons to make cake, or something like that. Right?

Looking at life from a kid’s point of view isn’t easy. Our adult eyes and our size get in the way. In fact, looking at things through the lens of other people’s eyes proves difficult in the best of circumstances.

What a great reminder from a child.

I think I’ll try looking up, or sideways, more often. You never know what you might see.

~~*~~*~~~*~~~*~~*~~

Here’s my photographic contribution to today’s holiday:

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy American Independence Day everyone!

Let Freedom Ring!

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Unbelievable and Shocking Realizations Unfold Worldwide

photo 4-4 copy 11

“Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the future…” Bad lyrics from a dumb song.

Recent events coupled with historical data have revealed the following true facts that are unquestionably the most unnerving thing you’ll read all week:

  1. Children born in the last twenty to twenty-five years are now in their twenties!
  2. In a related, but so far unexplained phenomenon, adults who once looked twenty are now approaching the age of fifty and beginning to look older.
  3. Sadly, fifty years-olds from twenty years ago, have progressed to the age of seventy and just don’t feel as young as they once did. Congress has dispatched a committee with a massive budget to look into this.
  4. Apparently this oddity extends beyond the human population as well. Cats and dogs, although showing little signs of aging by way of wrinkles and graying hair, nonetheless develop lung, heart and arthritic conditions as they move into the first decade of life.
  5. But wait! Even plant life is affected. Acorns become trees in some miraculous and heretofore unfathomable process. How such a tiny thing can transform into a tall and expansive growth has many average people baffled. “I just don’t know how it happened. My dad and I planted a little nut like seed a few decades ago and now this huge tree stands here in the backyard,” said one unbelieving and mystified eyewitness.
  6. Things that people found appealing and interesting, in fact, even innovative, over thirty years ago, have become mere artifacts of curiosity and sometimes ridicule. For example eight-track tapes, aerobic dance videos, pagers and MC Hammer pants. Somehow, these things and many others find themselves relegated to the same area as golden oldies, fifties memorabilia and blue eye shadow.
  7. Unsure of the relationship, but seeing a correlation nonetheless, not doing regular chores leads to a messy house.
  8. Likewise, the phenomenon of groceries needing to be purchased more than once seems to be part of the, dare we say it, conspiracy!
  9. And sadly, scientists have finally concluded after years of extensive research that toilet paper cannot be successfully recycled for multiple uses. Some think this, too, somehow relates to the above mentioned realizations.
  10. This last curiosity no one can explain, but, brace yourself: clothing wears out eventually.
  11. In a completely unrelated, but still shocking development, being nice feels better than being mean and, surprisingly, sharing makes other people feel good.
  12. Most baffling of all, these things remain consistent across the globe. From Japan to Iceland, from South America to Russia, from Antarctica to Alaska, the phenomenon holds true. The only exception was found in the person of George Hamilton and a few former Disney starlets refusing to act their age. The president deployed the Secret Service several years ago to investigate. Results were still pending.
photo 2-6 copy 8

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx

Can anything be done? Many have been searching for answers for years and years. Sadly, scientists reveal they have no clue as to how to repair, prevent or treat this slowly developing and ongoing process. They fear that side-effects of a cure would lead to malaise, boredom and stagnation. They have considered that some of Einstein’s theories might be related somehow, but they don’t have time or space to figure it out.

~~*~*~~

“They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” ~ Dr. Seuss

Categories: Fun, Humor | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Will Your Mom Let You Come Outside and Play?

Do you want to build a snowman?

photo 1.PNG-2 copy 2My youngest shared this photo of a snowman she and her husband built on Christmas day. Looks picture perfect doesn’t it? Looks like he could come alive. He brings a smile to my face in a big way.

photo 2-4 copy 6Then my favorite three-year old created this work of art and her Mom sent me the picture. A different flavor than the real snowman, wouldn’t you say? I think the furthest one on the right finds its roots in the movie Frozen, where the snowman dude, whatizname, gets repeatedly discombobulated.

That’s the closest I’ll get to a snowman this winter, unless I take a trip north, which I haven’t any plans to do so far.

Sandcastles seem more likely. I see sliding and swinging in today’s forecast as well.

We’re flirting with record high temperatures this January, which I don’t mind after a week of babysitting my frost sensitive plants earlier in the month. I always feel a little silly tucking sheets around my tomatoes, peppers, flowers, herbs and a couple of shrubs. About thirty tomatoes survived, so I figure the work paid off.

I’ve got important company coming to visit for a couple of days. My agenda’s pretty full.

I plan on working on some epic sidewalk chalk drawings in the backyard with two of my favorite tiny people. Maybe we’ll try hopscotch, too. And cookies. We have to bake up something scrumptious together. I’m sure we’ll take time for a walk around the ‘hood, maybe say hello to a few dogs while we’re at it.

For sure we’ll pop in our favorite DVD, “Animusic” and dance around some to that. And we’ll try to follow along to Dance Party 2. We might look up Dance Party 1 and really go crazy. And playing the piano needs to happen for sure.

And maybe we’ll get out the glue and glitter, construction paper and random bits and pieces and see what we can create. The one year old will probably just eat the cereal, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

If it rains some while they’re here, even better.

I’ve stocked up on Sruit Snacks and chocolate milk and Goldfish crackers. And there’s always some banana bread handy. And we’re having spaghetti for dinner, with some braided garlic bread. Don’t you wish you could come over to play with us?

Do you want to build a snowman?

I sure do.

I can hardly wait!

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Black Inner Tubes and Snowy Hills: Or How I Survived Childhood Winters and Lived then to Learn to Ski

“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.”  ~Dave Barry

Photo by MHBowden

Photo by MHBowden

I grew up practically on a mountain, with snow five feet deep in our front yard every winter. (Except for that one inversion year when nothing but fog accumulated.) On the other side of the mountain lived a ski resort. A tiny one, but a place to ski nonetheless. The closest I ever came to skiing as a child or a teen involved black rubber inner tubes, defective ones apparently, because they always inflated lopsided.

Have you ever ridden an inner tube down the side of a mountain on the snow? If not, I have just given you a perfect bucket list item. You might want to save it as the very last item on your bucket list, though, as possibility of severe injury seems rather high.

On an inner tube you have absolutely no control over where you go, how fast you go or if/when you stop. (Why does it feel like I just described life? Hmmm.) The most likely outcome involves bodies splayed across the snow or wedged against objects or perched atop bushes and rocks with the inner tube still rocketing off into the distance another half mile or so. (Life metaphor again? Weird.)

Death Spiral

Photo by Iain Laurence

Photo by Iain Laurence

The advantage of having to hike so far to retrieve the inner tube comes in the contemplative time one has to reconsider the wisdom of perching atop the tube once more for another possibly life threatening ride to infinity and beyond. Unfortunately, screams of joy and terror, (which sound eerily alike to a youngster) push all logic and sanity out of ones frozen head and you find yourself yelling “COWABUNGA” as you leap on  the tube and launch yourself once more into a death spiral of epic proportions.

For that extra measure of danger we often careened in the dark, which added a sense of insanity to an already thrilling adventure. Surprisingly I and my siblings survived many winters participating in this sport.  Oddly, tubing hasn’t risen to the stature of an Olympic event yet. I suppose scoring could present a problem. Highest points for furthest launch from a tube? Extra points for landing in a tree? Bonus points for spinning more than ten times on the way down? It ought to rank in the X-games at least.

Back on Topic Now

But I meant to speak of skiing. My first time. Oddly enough riding an inner tube and using a set of skis and poles have frighteningly similar outcomes, especially those first few times down the hill.

Having slippery sticks attached to cement encased feet does not provide one with a sense of security or control. Neither, surprisingly, does having sharp pointy objects in either hand lend a sense of comfort or assurance. In fact, I wondered at first if MSH had grown tired of marriage after only four months of “bliss” and had found an easy way to dispose of me, à la Robert Redford in a mafia. Whoops, there she goes off a cliff. “I told her not to go down that black diamond run, but she insisted.”

Nah. MSH just wanted to share something he loved with the love of his life. Little did he know what an adventure he’d signed up for. (Life metaphor again?)

Evil Trees

Much like tubing down a snow-covered hill, my most vivid memory of my first day skiing involved a people-eating tree and my limbs hopelessly entangled in the branches of said tree. One leg pointed north while the other leg seemed wedged more south-southeast. Meanwhile one ski pointed down. The other ski had somehow become one with the snow. The poles, miraculously, didn’t shishkabob me, for which I was ever so thankful.

I tried my best to untangle and disengage to no avail. MSH “helped” by explaining which leg to move where, which didn’t help at all since I’d lost most feeling in my legs and couldn’t identify left from right. If I recall correctly I threw my poles his general direction along with a few select words, which I won’t share here. He finally helped by physically moving one of the skis. Once both legs aimed approximately in the same direction, after five minutes of struggle I managed to reach an upright position.

I think I threw a tantrum after that. Or maybe during that. In no uncertain terms, I let MSH know how unimpressed I felt with this sport of skiing. I also may have mentioned that I’d never, ever participate in such nonsense again.

Chocolate Saves the Day

Photo by By Baileypalblue

Photo by By Baileypalblue

Of course, after some hot chocolate in the lodge, and watching people shoosh and swoosh effortlessly for an hour, and getting bored beyond reason I found myself attempting to hitch a ride on a lift, all skiwampus, with my pride firmly buried in a snowdrift.

I eventually, somewhat mastered the art of something beyond the pie wedge style of beginners. I’m happy to report that as a family we enjoyed some great times on the mountains in the snow over the years.

To this day my son (who learned to ski with no effort whatsoever at age three) still puts himself to sleep at night by imagining snowboarding down his favorite ski run at his favorite resort. He says it’s the most relaxing thing he can think of, as natural as walking but way more fun.

It’s been a few years (a decade?) since I last threatened my poor knees with such reckless behavior as skiing. All for the best I’m sure. I’m satisfied to have the occasional falling dream and waking to memories of my youth careening down the side of a mountain on a black inner tube.

Ah. Those were the days.

Photo by Dbenbenn

Photo by Dbenbenn

~~~

There are really only three things to learn in skiing:  how to put on your skis, how to slide downhill, and how to walk along the hospital corridor.  ~Lord Mancroft

Categories: Fun, Humor, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Entertaining Loyalty

I always wanted to be Snoopy. I envied his doghouse rooftop adventures. His mastery of any and every skill ever needed by man or dog boggled my mind. Snoopy embodied football captain, homecoming king, movie star, spy, master chef and beach bum all in one neat package of smooth and debonair. He acquired the nickname Joe Cool for good reason.

Snoopy

But Joe Cool eluded my abilities and station in life. I identified best, unfortunately, with Charlie Brown. I still do.  – Sigh – But, I still dream of one day morphing into Snoopy. Suave, sophisticated, and multi-talented with a great laugh.

Something about animated dogs defines the words Loyal, Optimistic and Resourceful. The cartoon world occasionally personifies some of the most admirable qualities anyone could hope to attain. When that happens, it’s usually a canine that takes on those traits.

Max

Look at Max from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Such a happy dog in spite of spending his life with someone whose heart ran “three sizes too small.” His tail wags throughout most of the story even while suffering abuse and meanness. And when he gets worried or scared, he bounces back with excitement for each new adventure. What a good doggie!

If you really think about it, many cartoon dogs play the same role as joker or jester in kingly tales. While appearing silly and nonsensical, and providing comic relief, a fool often plays the most honest and insightful character. And a fool’s common sense out runs nearly all others around him.

Grommit

In the claymation style of animation, Grommit plays this role particularly well. As his witless owner Wallace carries out a bizarre series of plans, Grommit provides the brains as well as the braun in this duo. If not for Grommit, Wallace would hardly survive a typical day without serious injury.

Wishbone

While admittedly not animated, I count Wishbone among cartoon dogs because he “talked” and “acted.”  He usually played a key character in each tale he told and made otherwise out-of-reach stories and classic novels come alive for my kids (and for me, as well.) Don’t take my word for it. You can watch watch Wishbone in action in this video I’ve uploaded for you. (It’s only fourteen minutes, you know you want to.) 

Odie

Cartoon Dogs also play the fool in the everyday sense of the word. Witness Odie of “Garfield” fame. Apparently as airheaded as they come, Odie endures the onslaught of Garfield’s teasing and harassment with never a complaint. Oh sure, there’s the occasional mischievous twinkle in his eye when Garfield catches karma, but otherwise, Odie simply accepts his fate as the fall guy. You can’t help but take his side and hope he gets a jab in occasionally.

Scooby

I never cared much for Scooby Doo. His brainless bumbling irritated me for some reason.I’ve never been of fan of airheaded anything. I’ve wondered lately if Scooby’s and Shaggy’s constant munchies meant more than your average innocent school age kid knew. His weird “ruh roh” language also drove me nuts. Give me a witty Velma any day over “blonde” big dogs.

Dug

Dug, from the movie “UP!” wins the most loyal award. His line, “I hid under the porch because I love you!” gets me every time. I suppose he reminds me of family, where we all mess up, allow ourselves be at our worst and still find that we’re loved and accepted regardless. Dug does what comes naturally to a dog, obedience, excitement, wonder and a protective nature. That he gets so easily sidetracked by [Squirrel!] little things only endears him more in my mind. I’m an easily sidetracked person but my heart’s ready to love and give whatever’s asked. At least, I try to do that.

Underdog

How could I talk of cartoon dogs without mentioning “Underdog”? Watch the opening credits and tell me that doesn’t prompt some superhero envy. (Probably only works if you watched it as a kid.)

What a mild-mannered, kind creature with super powers beyond compare. I would have given almost anything as a kid to wisk on a cape and fly through the air righting wrongs and giving crooks and bullies what they deserved. I had my private list of bad guys in elementary school I’d have swooped up and dropped into a prison yard given the chance.

Dogs.

Man’s best friend. Or so they say.

Maybe, in a few cases, cartoon dogs serve as man’s best example of what a good person can aspire to.

Did I miss any of your favorites?

 ~~~

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” ~ Johnny Depp

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hot Pink on a Harley

Friday Letter to my Kids-

Dear J, J, L and L,

This weekend marks year four of Big J’s big Harley ride with his hot woman for the annual “Bikers for Boobies” event.

Makes me laugh every time to say that out loud.

Makes me proud that you’re doing something to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Makes me terrified that your charitable inclination involves a Harley.

I have nothing personally against Harley’s, or Honda’s or any other brand of motorcycle. I just get a little woozy when I think of people I love out on the road with other maniacal drivers who might not pay much attention to the loud roar and flash of chrome.

To quote your Grandma M from my teenage years:

“It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s everybody else.”

I’ve had a little experience with motorcycles in my past life, believe it or not. My first ever chance driving one on my own happened in our back yard. At eleven years old I may or may not have been a little too young for the attempt. The tiny Honda 50 was so cute and fun looking. “Nothing to it,” my Dad said.

honda 50

Vrooooom!

I threw my leg over the seat, sat down and grasped the handlebars. My dad explained the gears, first, second, third. He talked about the clutch. He reminded me I had to pull in the clutch when I braked. I said, “Okay, I got it,” when I really didn’t understand about ninety percent of what he’d told me. Mostly what I heard was, “pull in the clutch when you want to brake.”

So I let out the clutch in first gear and the thing almost left me behind. I remember hearing yelling, with grass and dirt flying. I was so busy trying to figure out why pulling  in the clutch wouldn’t stop the bike that I failed to turn. Next thing I know the bike and my flailing body launched off a foot high drop off into the garden and then across the garden down another small drop off. Luckily a chain link fence finally stopped the bike and what was left of my quivering body.

Dad ran over and caught the bike before it fell over on me and said, “Why didn’t you push on the brake?”

And that’s when I realized that braking involved more than simply pulling in the clutch. Ding, ding, ding!!! Light bulb!!! I needed to push the brake with my foot at the same time as pulling in the clutch.

My ego took a far bigger hit than my jostled and bounced around butt ever did.

You can bet that the next time Dad let me ride I paid attention to every single detail he told me. Luckily, I had other chances a year later and soon became a fairly brave rider when we’d take the bikes up to the mountains and ride around the dirt roads and wide trails. Those were some fun years buzzing around free and fast.

Can you picture G and G M on one of these? Cool!

Can you picture G and G M on one of these?

My dad went on several weekend long trail rides on various motorcycles. The trails he rode scared me even back then before I developed my fear of all things high and dangerous. (He also did a multi-day cattle drive on horseback once, but that’s a different story you’ll have to ask him to tell you about.)

Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about your Grandpa M. He had said back then that when he retired he wanted to buy a Honda Goldwing and tour the country with Grandma. Sadly, that never happened. I think all us kids took the oomph out of his get-up-and-go. Not to mention, priorities change as life morphs and lengthens.

The Happy Harley couple last year…or the year before.

The happy Harley couple last year…

That crotch rocket you drove for a while, Big J, just about wore holes in my knees for how hard and often I prayed that you’d be safe out there.

When you and your newly christened Mrs. left the reception for your wedding night roaring away on that Harley, I thought my heart would bust wide open for joy and fear at the same time. I know you couldn’t hear me but I yelled, “where’s your helmets?” That would have spoiled the effect, I know.

I’m glad you’re living your life and taking measured chances and enjoying your youth. Don’t let my worries hold you back.

You other three, don’t be thinking I’m giving you permission to take up motorcycles. Not that it would matter what I thought at this point, right?

Have a fun ride this weekend, my sweet son, with your blonde bombshell wife on the back holding on tight. You’ll always be my little guy no matter how old you get, so I’ll always worry. I’ll also always be happy knowing you’re happy.

All my love,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

p.s. Just wondering if you’ll wear sunscreen this year… 😉

 

~~~~~

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ~ Edward Abbey ~~

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A Few Fab Finds and Some Fun

Found myself in serious need of ramping up my energy levels and changing the mood this past week. So I’ve tried a few different things to shake up the routine and shake off the blues.

DANCE

First, I mixed in more music with my days. The best way I know to ramp up the tunes involves that lovely free app called Pandora. I tapped on something new called Bossa Nova. Much more than the simple label Brazilian Jazz, it’s music that makes you want to dance but leaves you feeling mellow and laid back. Perfect while prepping or eating dinner. I think MSH and I need to learn some new dance steps.

ROAD TRIP

Turns out Pandora also has this thing called “Browse All Genre Stations.” It lists thirty-six genres, or types, of music you can explore. So I tapped on Road Trips. That gave me some options like Country Road TripFamily Road Trip, Road Trippin’ and Classic Commute.

So far I’ve only tried out Family Road Trip. Instantly addicted! I didn’t want to try any of the other stations because this had EVERYTHING!  Fifties to this year, Elvis to One Republic, Billy Joel to Rascal Flatt.

Can’t wait to explore the rest of the Road Trip stations. Then I plan on making my way through the other thirty-six genres and all those possibilities.

TAYLOR

Taylor Swift doesn’t fill everyone’s teacup, but I stumbled on her latest music video. What a bunch of fun! She dances and sings her way through all sorts of trends in “Shake It Off.” Mostly she’s laughing at herself, not taking things too seriously. But there are some seriously good dancers highlighted in the video. Made me want to dance, and  I laughed out loud. My favorite thirteen-year old laughed, too. That’s a good sign. Best of all it kind of makes me feel younger, which I consider a major plus!

DOG POETRY

Have you heard of Billy Collins? If you’re the kind of person who says they don’t like poetry, then you just need to spend four minutes with this video of Billy Collins in a TED talk sharing two poems (the second one is my favorite) about dogs. Yes. Dogs. Hearing his dry wit makes all the difference if you’re iffy about poetry at all.  Turns out I checked out one of his collections last week at the library without realizing who I’d stumbled on. What a great find!

TWITTERPATED

I think I might have gotten hooked. For those of you still fresh from the womb, i.e. forty years or younger, you might not recognize the term twitterpated. It’s a word that debuted in the Disney movie “Bambi.” It means infatuated or obsessed or smitten. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Twitter, the social media app.

Although, oddly, it’s how I’ve found myself feeling about Twitter recently. There’s something about “tweeting” that feels different from posting status updates. Maybe it’s the challenge of a limited number of characters. There’s a sense of immediacy on Twitter that I find fascinating as well. Whatever it is, I’m tweeting, like a newborn baby bird, uncertain of my wings and voice, but willing to learn to fly.

NOT INTERNET ADDICTED, HONEST

Lest you think all I do involves the internet, here’s evidence to the contrary.

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  • Thursday I danced with my favorite three-year old and favorite one-year old while MSH played the piano. We’ve all got some sweet moves. Really!
  • The desert sage burst into bloom overnight! Check out those purples in my slideshow above. And while you’re at it, take in the yellow blossoms, too. And don’t forget the neon orange Bird of Paradise that brightens the view outside one of my windows.
  • The sunrises this past week left me breathless and glad I got out of bed more than a few times.
  • Enjoyed a candlelight dinner in the cool (yes, cool) evening air outdoors with MSH, music wafting out to the patio from the stereo inside. Tasted better than any five-star restaurant. Nothing tops the view of the night sky either.
  • Did I mention the mile and a half walk home last week in a rare morning rainstorm? I’d recommend it the next time you have a chance. Ditch the umbrella, point your face towards the clouds and let the sky wash life’s dust from your shoulders.
The view just before the downpour.

The view just before the downpour.

Hoping for more rain later today and tomorrow. Either way, dancing’s gonna happen because I’ve got my new tunes on.

~~~~~

Have you found anything new and fun that adds energy to your day?

Categories: Fun, Music, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Let the Doggie Out?

Last week I dog sat. Yes. Me.

MSH even agreed to it, which in itself constitutes an incredible miracle of stellar proportions.

Look at this face. Who could say no to this face?

Sweet lil Blondie.

Sweet lil Blondie.

A fluffy curling tail that wags faster than a hummingbirds wing, this sweet little doggie grabs your heart and won’t let go. Kind of how she grabs her squeaker toy for a game of throw, fetch and keep away.

She’s new to the extended family, but not a puppy. She’s about eight years old and obviously not used to children. Her disposition lies somewhere along the realm of a pampered princess with little use for sticky little grabbing hands and unpredictability and loudness that comes with the territory of small children.

She’s playful, just not in a kid-friendly or other dog friendly way. She’s been the center of attention, the ruler of all things household.

She sports a blingy collar to match her bleach blond fur and mincing little steps. I took her along on my walk at the Rip one morning and had a tough time keeping up with those short legs. She’s fast and curious and doesn’t waste any time doddling, except over certain bushes and taller grasses. She loved the rabbits and if not on a leash would certainly have managed to catch one or at least give it a good run.

Y’know that ankle-biter dog bark? Yeah, that one. She’s got it down. Thing is, she’s got the razor-sharp chops and the chutzpah to back it up. I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. No way.

We had a great time. Except for the fact that I worried about her when away from the house. I didn’t want to stay away too long. I felt bad leaving her at all, especially when she’d get so excited when I prepped to go.

Honestly, I felt like a brand new mom all over again. Completely clueless about what I should do with this little bundle. How much attention to give? How much to let her just do her own thing? Is she eating enough? Drinking enough? What about potty issues? How much is enough, too much? All those looks, barks, growls, yips, non-verbal communication that I can’t interpret no matter how much I want to.

Smiling lovingly at her "mommy."

Smiling lovingly at her “mommy.”

And there’s surely some doggie etiquette I didn’t get while out in public. Is there a book about that? And I didn’t remember what mix of breeds she is, (akin to cluelessness about your own child’s age.)

All that worry melted away when she sat on my lap or lay at my feet.

See? Just like a kid! They look so sweet and adorable and problem-free when they sleep.

When her mommy/owner picked her up I felt both relief and sadness. Relief because someone who knew what to do and understood her language could meet her needs better than I. And sadness because she brought an energy and joy into our home I hadn’t expected. Hopefully she’ll come visit soon.

Don’t get too excited. No potential doggie adoption here. Nope. MSH’s heart wasn’t captured, snuggled or charmed. Not a chance.

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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