Monday, January 30, 2012

Living in a Punkin Bread World II

Wonderful Daughter and her children will accompany Eric the Tall as he goes on a business trip to Chicago next month.

Punkin Bread, apparently thinking ahead, asked Mommy, "Does Chicago have ice cream?"
The answer was yes, to which she asked, "Even white ice cream?"

Her Mommy told me, "We're going to Chicago, not Mars!"

Is there no ice cream on Mars?

Me, myself and us

If you had a choice to spend an hour, a day or a week with someone, who would it be? Would you spend it with yourself? Now, I'm sure you're thinking that's an odd question. It is, if you are not a twin. Most of us can be alone with our thoughts, seclude ourselves away for a short time but we are never really with 'ourselves'.

Could you spend a day with yourself, talking side by side like you would anyone else? I had this thought not long ago as I watched Sergetov and Ivan playing with each other. They are my twin great nephews. As they get older they will likely be side by side in all they do. That seems to be the nature of twins. For one thing, they would be used to the fact that they are generally the same individual, although they have slight differing traits even though they are identical twins. North of 50 can usually tell them apart if they are together, as his post a few days ago will attest.

But, how would the rest of us do? You might think you would love to talk to yourself, laugh at the same jokes, but would that get old? Would I get on my own nerves after a time? I tend to be a bit snide and sarcastic at times likely causing me to want to punch myself. I will never have a sibling as close as a twin although North is as close as I'll get. We grew up only three years apart, but that three years makes a world of difference as life experiences move on. His experiences were always before mine, never experiencing the same things in the moment at the same time. My Beloved and I have been together now for twenty years of wedded bliss. She is a strong person in her own right and we have similarities but we also have enough differences that make life interesting.

I don't know if I would want to spend a long time with myself. Likely, I would be a really good friend that could enjoy some very special times but I don't think I could put up with myself all the time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Living in a Punkin Bread World

Almost accidentally, I have nicknamed Wonderful Daughter's children, in order, Punkin, Punkin Bread, and Punkin Butter. That certainly flows much better than WGGS#1, WGGD#1, and WGGD#2.

I am still working on what to call Handsome Son's three lads. Thing 1 and Thing 2 come to mind for the twins, as they have clothing with that imprint. The feisty new youngster, recovering nicely from a serious illness, doesn't have a nickname from me yet. These things cannot be forced.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Punkin Bread is three years old, and is a mile-a-minute talker much of the time. She has learned on her own to raise both eyebrows simultaneously and rapidly, and using puppy dog eyes while doing so, and is pleased that older brother cannot make this happen. She also has, as many little ones do, a vocabulary that does not always correspond to ours.

When her mother gives her a choice of drink, it is usually milk, which she calls "yegular milk". That is, until Mommy thought it so cute that she kept asking her what kind of milk she wants, whereupon she says, "White milk", thus spoiling Mommy's fun.

She has trouble with the concept of "me too", for which she believes she must say "me three", because of her age.

Last week, Wonderful Daughter was trying to teach her the various shapes, but every time she pointed to an oval, Punkin Bread would point to her elbow, as apparently in her world "oval" and "elbow" not only sound the same, but mean the same.

As they say, "out of the mouth of babes..."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Transition of life

As you have recently read, North has unfortunately laid to rest his mother-in-law of many years. It is one of many, many funerals I have attended over the years. And, unfortunately as well, as I grow older there are likely to be many more. We come from a large family where our Beloved Parents had nine other siblings each (or thereabouts). Once they all marry and have children, that's a lot of hearse rides.

As we attended our latest affair, it dawned on me that this particular event, though unexpected, did not have the gloom and doom of others that I have attended. One particular reason I believe is the nature of the adult children who as a group are upbeat and happy by nature with a genuine smile always at the ready. But my revelation came as I watched the action in the funeral home. The rooms were alive with children of all ages but predominately younger than seven.

Children bring a life and vitality to nearly any gathering. They don't really know what's going on and generally just go about their business which is finding someone or something to play with. Then, it is up to their parents and us grandparents to run after them, find them and restore order. But it does another thing; it helps us take our minds off the situation at hand. I think the most somber funerals I have attended are those that have a severe lack of children in attendance. Children are the bridge from one generation to the next and represent the hopes and dreams of the adults reincarnated. They show us the way to enjoy life no matter what the circumstances, because that's all they know. A death to them is an abstract notion. They are the ferry by which we enter the post-stage world of another's death.

I think I shall continue to follow this idea as other unfortunate events take place. Perhaps I may add an oar to their ferry service along the way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life imitates art

You like I likely have certain movies that cause you to stop flipping about the channels if nothing else seems to grab your attention, and watch. We all have them and I stumbled back across one the other night before I went to sleep that I haven't seen in a long time.

Set in 1968 and starring Anthony Quinn, 'The Shoes of the Fisherman' is an excellent story set against the backdrop of the cold war. It is unique in that it weaves a tale of both religious and world politics. Having grown up during this time, stories of this type both intrigue me and bring back memories. Perhaps that is one reason the first few books by Tom Clancy; 'Hunt for Red October', 'Red Storm Rising' and 'Cardinal of the Kremlin' are some of my favorites. His later works changed as world politics changed and those as well forced readers to look at other parts of the world. And along those lines the world followed with stories of Middle-eastern bombings and terrorist images.

'The Shoes of the Fisherman' tells the tale of a Catholic priest released from a Soviet gulag, and to make a long story short, elected pope. It was the first time in over four hundred years a non-Italian pope was to be elected. The story was based on the life of a priest held in prison by the Soviets and suddenly released in 1963. It was then ten years later from the date of the movie that Karol Wojtyla, a Polish cardinal who had served in communist Poland was elected pope (John Paul II) and became the first non-Italian pope in over four hundred years.

About the only time I remember this film routinely popping up is when the current pope passes away and networks show this in an attempt to give a glimpse to others about the inner workings of the Catholic church. It doesn't do that very well but I understand their thinking; hook an audience with something that is timely. I think 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown gives a better look into that than does this movie.

If you like religious and political intrigue it's a good watch.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Together again

After 60 years of marriage, and just over 20 months apart, my in-laws are now together again, this time for ever.

My mother-in-law, age 81, in less than the best of health but as feisty and determined as ever to live as independently as possible, passed away this afternoon, rather unexpectedly.

She had been getting around for several years using a walker, but was still able to drive most of the time, and had her schedule filled each week, seeing friends, running errands, going to the doctor, and getting her hair done.

We had the good fortune to have her live with us for the past four months, although both sides knocked heads from time to time. Her eldest son today said she was "very comfortable" living with us, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing many of her grand- and great-grandchildren regularly.

The past two years she had been busy compiling information for the five books she planned to write, and she had started three of those books, one on her life, one on her travels, and one on our favorite vacation spot, Indian Lake. I am not certain what the other two were to be about, but she did have many interests which could have filled many more books.

For many years she juggled a job, raising a family, and volunteering for many committees and activities at her church, the one she spent most of her life attending, and was planning to go there today. Alas, her next trip to her church will be her last, this Friday, as we say farewell to her then.

She was a generous and loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and was always pleased to have family and friends around.

Our family gatherings will not be the same from now on; she will be sorely missed.

Sleep in peace, Mom, you have earned a well-deserved rest.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Video on demand, or not

One of the hazards of reading the news, others stories and such on the web is a propensity of many sites to put their stories in video form. Yahoo is a prime example of those sites. I would rather read a newspaper however that isn't in the equation on a daily basis. As my schedule never seems to be the same, we have unfortunately dropped the daily rag. It just doesn't fit in the budget any longer. Years ago you paid weekly and it was a few bucks. I remember having a paper route and going out every week to collect. Unfortunately those times are long gone and by the time you receive a bill it's nearly (or over) one hundred dollars.

I have tried to use the web as a newspaper substitute but it doesn't work well for me. I do have a home page and most of it is littered with news feeds from various sources. Another frustrating trait of these sites is the constant change and update to the 'look and feel'. Guess what, I originally chose your site because I liked it that way. (Wow does that make me sound old and cranky.) Then you go and change it once or twice a year. The feeds I was able to get last year I can't get this year. Not a good way to keep me 'subscribed'.

I feel sorry for this and other generations going forward if this will become the primary way they get their information. I for one don't need everything read to me to understand it. I believe for most reading increases your understanding of facts as opposed to video. Video should be left to entertainment sites or some important news clips but to have even simple stories or a narrative put into video form smacks of treating me like a 'first grader' or a simpleton.

I hope I've grown beyond that level of drivel. Of course that does sound a lot like TV news, doesn't it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oh, the places you'll go!

Random thoughts and observations from a quick jaunt to and from Jacksonville, Florida:

We flew from Columbus to Charlotte, a first for us. And the first for us to experience the "benefits" of a restroom attendant all spiffied up who spends his/her (depending on your choice of restroom) day cheerfully greeting you and cleaning up after you, the poor slob of a traveler, for tips. To my mind there is something slightly creepy about a restroom attendant. For good measure, the attendant's name is shown in a placard as you enter, so you can better get to know him or her. Perhaps that will make him or her seem less creepy.

The Jacksonville airport offered another restroom "first" for us as well. This airport features no sinks in the restrooms, rather a counter top upon which all excess water and soap falls, and then rolls into a trough to be carried away. Almost takes me back to grade school, except that we had a circular fountain that sprayed water toward your hands, which fell into the large basin to be drained away. Ahh... good old SJS.

From what I have observed over the years at college football games, when one band starts to play their songs during a time out, the other band waits their turn. I had never seen this unwritten rule violated until yesterday at the Gator Bowl, wherein the Florida marching band repeatedly stepped on the music being played by TBDBITL. Very inconsiderate, Gators. Our distinguished marching band was very polite when the reverse situation occurred.

Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman trophy winner, is an effective and dynamic speaker. Dr. E. Gordon Gee, the only two-time president of The Ohio State University, tends to wander away from his speaking notes (at least in informal settings), and rambles about in a peripatetic manner, verbally, until apparently returning to his point or his notes. He is entertaining, but it seems as if ADHD is calling him.

No matter what the result is on the football field, the OSU fans are great supporters of the marching band. They clap and sing along enthusiastically when their favorite Buckeye songs are played.

OSU football fans are very, very, very happy to have seen the last of J.B. "False Start" Shugarts, (very) offensive lineman, who was usually good for at least two penalties of that ilk each game for four years, normally at critical points in the game. He obligingly rewarded his supporters (cough) by committing another two false start penalties in his final game, one in each half. I believe OSU should retire, then burn, the #76 jersey so that no other Buckeye player will ever commit said penalty again.

And what does it say about his coaches that in four years they were not able to either correct the problem or find someone who could manage, say, only ONE false start penalty per game?

While Gator and Buckeye fans commingled for hours before, during, and after the game, I only witnessed a very few drunken fans who were abusive of the other team's fans. Everyone else was on good behavior, from what I could tell. Perhaps a matchup between two 6-6 teams will do that to people.

Many OSU fans have bought into the "Urban Meyer is our (football) savior" mentality, whilst his former fans in the Sunshine State were generally full of dire warnings about him to us. They are not happy with his leaving them abruptly, despite the two national championships he brought them. They feel no compunction, however, to hand over the crystal trophy they won against Ohio State a few years back, though. I simply cannot understand this dichotomy in their behavior.

Despite the poor record this season, most OSU fans are supportive of local lad Luke Fickell, who coached the Buckeyes in adverse circumstances this season, his first as a head coach at any level. A learning experience, indeed.

We did have our first rickshaw ride while there; the return trip from the stadium, through heavy traffic while seated in a cart being pulled by a bicycle, was a delight, especially as we made it safely back to the hotel. No harm was done to anyone on the sidewalks, either.

We had (minor) celebrity sightings while there, a local sports reporter for a Columbus tv station, and the easily-recognized Buck I Guy, whom you may have seen at any OSU football game, especially if you are watching on the tube. Dressed all in white with some scarlet trim, a flowing cape, "Buck I Guy" on his chest (and stomach), this very friendly fellow is always found by the cameras, usually in the front row seats. We also saw the "other" frequently-camera'd favorite, Buckeye Man, but he is less interesting.

A quick trip, a good time, a not-unexpected loss, but it was worth doing, especially with my honey.

Too much stuff

This past year National Geographic has been running a series of articles related to population around the world. It has been interesting to follow as the different scenarios from different countries are evaluated and how those countries adapt. The latest issue deals with how the city of Seoul, Korea has been growing up instead of out.

In this article they showed photos of families sitting in their family rooms in identical high-rise buildings. As I studied the pictures what caught my eye was how empty many of those rooms were. Then it struck me, those rooms were only empty when you compare them to typical photos you see of others here in the U. S. Gone were the variety of nick-knacks and chotchkies littering the homes in our world.

As I looked about my own home and think about the rooms of those I regularly see, I am reminded of just how much unneeded extra stuff we have that simply litter our lives. Perhaps these items give us peace and comfort to the rigors of everyday life or perhaps they are just taking up space. Would you remove stress from your life by getting rid of some of this stuff that has to be dusted and cleaned periodically? You do dust and clean it, don't you?

It doesn't seem to matter anymore what level of income you reside at. We are saturated with too much stuff littering our lives. How many more shelves of photo frames or shiny boxes do we need? And this is not limited to one income class as this phenomenon seems to stretch across all income groups.

How much more do we need? I don't think I need any more. (Although you all could buy a copy of White Staff and I'd be happy. Hey, what's one more thing?)