Golden Lucy's Spiral Journal

Going on 87...Savoring and Surviving the Senior Years

Monday, May 22, 2006

We're So Blessed


I woke up with a smile on my face this morning. Really. That's not usual. I'm not known for being "Little Miss Mary Sunshine" in the AM. However it seems that as each day goes by I'm more aware of how truly blessed I am. And once in awhile something special occurs that makes me give extra thanks to the Almighty. So this morning I woke up smiling.

I'd spent the evening before with my grandson Ben and his fiance Teresa. They're getting married in July but won't have time for a honeymoon because of work and school. I still have a timeshare on Treasure Island in Florida so I gave it to the kids for a much-needed getaway before summer school starts. They came back yesterday with pictures and videos to share.

They were so bubbly and happy that it was just impossible not to share their joy. Even though Lord knows I didn't feel like it. My shoulder hurt. My knees hurt. Dust on the table and smudges on the window were bugging me. I didn't feel appreciated or appreciative. However, true joy is contagious and I couldn't help myself. Soon I was grinning like an idiot right along with the rest of the family.

So here's Lucy's message for the week: Don't fight it. If there's any reason to smile or laugh, don't miss it. If there isn't a reason, make one up. Pretend. I'll bet you can find one little thing worth a grin. I wish I'd done that a long time ago. I think I would have been much more fun to be around---and probably would have had more friends. Mike, a truly excepional fellow who blogs at http://exscientia.wordpress.com/ has captured our choices so well. Don't miss his latest blogs.

And oh, by the way, the photo at the top isn't Ben and Teresa. It's his older brother Aaron and his fiancee with a glamorous mystery woman. I don't have the FL pix yet and besides, who cares? It's all good.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lucy Remembers Baseball


An aside to those of you who thought you'd get rid of me for two weeks. Hey! At my age, I can't afford to lose even a minute. Plans changed. The fam is no longer taking a trip off the grid. And Thank GD I'm still in good health. So of course I must post...post...must...blog....must...blog...

Last night I caught a televised US baseball game. I was surprised. Baseball season? Already?
A digression: Back "in the day" I'd be surprised that it was 5 o'clock----Already? A bit later I'd marvel that it was , "Thursday? Already?" Then, "It's April? Already?" Now it's gotten to the point I'm grateful I remember what year/century it is. So naturally I'm surprised when "It's baseball season---Already?" Time for a stroll down Memory Lane.

A preface: 2006---Jack and Carole would rather be in Hell or K-Mart than attend an athletic event. I haven't been to a live baseball game for 15 years. However, catching the end of the televised game last night brought the memories flooding back.

40 years ago...I'm a single, fairly successful businesswoman with at serious "significant other," Ted, who adores baseball---and particularly the Cinci Reds. As any truth-telling woman of my era will now admit, it was important to apparently share the interests of your significant other. I wasn't a fool. I knew I'd have to learn something about baseball. I had to start from the bottom. To me, a bat was a nasty critter who lurked in belfries. A homerun was something you did when you had loose bowels. I didn't have the vaguest notion about the game. But I learned.


I became an avid, even rabid fan of the Cincinnati Reds. Though I was known at work as "the first to come and last to leave" kind of employee, even my regional manager noted my "terrible headaches" seemed to coincide with the Red's afternoon games. What fun those afternoon games were! Ted and I screamed, yelled, drank beer, ate hot dogs and loved being together. And we enjoyed watching Marge Schott.

Marge Schott was controversial owner of the Reds---the first woman ever to own a major league baseball team. I frequently saw her at the ball park but will never forget the game she came storming up our aisle cussing at her team like a drunken sailor. It scared me. Her epithets weren't signs of frustration, they were a revelation of character traits that were to be her downfall. But that's another story altogether. Like Pete Rose. All part of the rich and wonderful baseball story.

All the characters and color of my baseball-addicted years are very much part of me...no matter how they got there. And I've never lost my love of baseball---especially the Reds. I still love my hometown and follow the Reds faithfully. But now that the afternoon Red's games are over for me I'm not sorry my world is larger and more liberating. Or that the Reds are still a great team.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Proud to be You and Me

Over the past few months I've been impressed by the wisdom, humor and sensitivity of the over-70 blogging community. I'm very proud to be part of it. Last night I discovered an elderblogger who makes me prouder still. Thanks to the delightful Lorraine at http://www.meandthecat.com/ for a Time excerpt that introduced me to:

Betty Reid Soskin
(b. 1921)
Cultural Anthropologist and Writer 2006 Women's History Month Honoree

http://cbreaux.blogspot.com/ The following bio was provided by the National Womens' History Project:

"Betty Reid Soskin’s deep, ingrained sense of culture, place, and purpose are obvious in the way she lives her life. Raised in a Creole-African American family, her life changed dramatically when in 1927 at the age of six, a horrendous hurricane in New Orleans destroyed her family’s home and business.

With her mother, two sisters, and one shared suitcase, the family took refuge in California. Her dad was not able to join them until several months later. Facing adversity from childhood, Betty Reid Soskin’s life experiences encouraged her to develop a vision of community in many diverse forms.

The rich diversity of her ancestry encouraged her to become a bridge between cultures and races. Yet, she was unprepared for the hostility and danger she and her family faced when in the early 1950’s they moved to a northern California suburb. Against this milieu of brutal racism, she found support from people who were part of the Unitarian-Universalism community. Over the next 20 years, this community, beginning with 25 families meeting in living rooms and then growing to a congregation of over 300, encouraged, sustained and supported her values and beliefs.

The recognition of the extraordinary poverty and ever-growing sense of hopelessness in a neighboring community caused her to decide to leave the safety of her world to work in another. She embraced the role of black social activist and became a small merchant in the poverty community of South Berkeley, California. Using the skills she learned in one economic and social class, she was able to amplify her voice toward constructive change in another.

With her strong commitment to community she helped create a housing development corporation with an all community board, which helped bring change to a high crime, drug infested welfare community. The result was the razing of a two-block, crime infested, slum area and in its place the construction of 41 units of market rate and subsidized housing. In recognition of this amazing accomplishment, Betty Reid Soskin was named a 1995 “Woman of the Year” by the California State Legislature.

Today, she has chosen to face the hopelessness and fear that surrounds her in the Richmond community in which she now lives. She is unafraid to say that one of the major influences in her life came with a mental breakdown in midlife. She describes this experience as opening up avenues into herself that she had never known. It was at this time in her life that she started to write and to sing and to create music and paint and to recognize the universality shared with everyone else on the planet.

Helping to make our history authentic, she persuaded the Rosie the Riveter/ World War II Home Front National Historical Park to acknowledge the role of Black neighborhoods surrounding the Richmond, California site, which had been bulldozed after the war.

Her diverse talents as a mother, researcher, academic, merchant, writer, dancer, artist, and activist testify to her ability to find and follow her own dreams as well as to respect and nurture the dreams of others. "

Do not miss this blog. The vibrant picture above is from Soskin's latest post. It was a Mothers' Day present from her adult daughter. Start reading at the very beginning of the site archives to learn the incredible story. Again, http://cbreaux.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 15, 2006

An Arbroath Animal

I nicked this critter from Nothing To Do With Arbroath at http://arbroath.blogspot.com/.
Miss Cellania from
http://misscellania.com/
commented that the little fella looked "like something from Dr. Seuss." The Divine Miss C is right on as far as I'm concerned. You'll have to go to Arbroath and see if anybody has come up with an exact identification but for now I'm going with Dr. Seuss.

The lil'guy looks positively penitential---or at least relatively reverent doesn't he?
Thanks Arbroath!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Appealing Subject

Somebody's Best Banana Bread

Ingredients:
6 large, over ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs, well beaten
1 stick butter
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2-3 Tbsp grated lemon or lime peel
Instructions:
Beat bananas, add eggs and set aside. Cream margarine and oil with sugar until fluffy. Add banana mixture and juice; blend well. Add flour, soda and salt; stir until smooth. Fold in nuts and peel. Pour into 2 well greased and floured 9x5 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
*This recipe turns out best if you take bread out of the oven slightly under-baked.



Last night I started a blog about how much I appreciate my family's ability to laugh no matter how bad things seem. I'd never had that outlook on life before. I usually expected the worst and was not surprised if and more probably, when it happened. Then I could think about it---a lot. Why? How? If only!!

This family always expects the best. Some folks would certainly say they often don't get it but around here the thinking is "you're pretty much where you're supposed to be---now what are you going to make of it?"

As an example: I simply can't turn down a bargain. It's almost pathological and I'm sure could be explained psychologically by stuff in my past. However, once in awhile I'll do something that makes the kids throw up their hands. The pile of rotting bananas in the previous post was pretty reprsentative.

I had purchased the whole bag for a dollar. They looked great at the time and I went home pleased-as-punch with my bargain. Never mind we already had several other bananas in the fruit bowl at home. A horrified Carole found the new bag the next day and dumped the contents on the counter. I simply couldn't believe my eyes! What had happened to all that ripe and lovely fruit?

Carole grabbed the camera. (This was not the first time this kind of thing had happened.)

"Ma. This is going into the mug-shot file of 'Mom's Greatest Bargains.' Otherwise you won't believe it the next time." Then we started to laugh. We both knew it will happen again so we made the best of it. We baked banana bread.

Like my life, something lovely and delicious out of something long past its prime.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Big Mystery!

Hello Friends and Neighbors.

I was working on a post for tomorrow when I came across the photo you see here. Carole took it not long ago to document what she calls one of my little obsessions. She says the picture speaks for itself. What do you think?

Later today I'll post something that will make her soooo wrong!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From Minsk to Manhattan

My mother-in-law's name was Sarah. I loved her very much. This is the first time I've set down my thoughts about her and it's a tribute that's way overdue.

Sarah grew up poor, like almost everbody else, in the Jewish ghettos of Eastern Europe. I'm not entirely sure what country she was actually born in as the borders moved constantly. I believe she met (quite possibly on her wedding day) her husband Morris in what is now Poland. Shortly after they married my father-in-law had the opportunity to come to America---alone.

He left his wife not realizing she was pregnant. Jack's father Ben was born in 1913--seven months after his father's departure. The plan had been to bring Sarah to the US as soon as possible. However, WWI and the Russian Revolution intervened. Sarah and her young son were forced to flee into the Jewish Pale in Russia where they lived with her blind grandparents.

Because the revolution heightened the almost ominpresent danger of pogroms for the Jews, Sarah's family kept a Gypsy lodger in the tiny house. He didn't pay rent but he would answer the door and insist "No Jews live here."

It was not always an effective ploy. Sarah and Ben spent over 13 years escaping into the woods, hiding in the cellars and of course, starving. Sarah would jump aboard a moving train to forage for garbage in the city. Ben said he recalls as a young boy hearing his aunt being raped in the same room as he was hiding. He only spoke of his years in Russia once that I recall---and no wonder.

Finally, in 1926 my father-in-law was able to bring Sarah and their son to Cincinnati where like his fathers before him, he was a shoemaker. It was not a happy reunion and it proved to become an toxic and twisted relationship between father and son. In all probability Morris questioned Ben's paternity and in any case literally refused to speak a word to his embarassing "greenhorn" son. Ben never recovered from his devastating reception.

Being a dutiful immigrant wife Sarah cared for her husband until he died. Ben and I lived with them after he was discharged from the army after WWII. To this day I don't know how it was she never became twisted by the abuse. Despite the hideous twisting of arthritis she was unfailingly gentle, good-humored and full of simple faith. Sarah was the light in my life---a loving mother to me in a way my own mother had never been.

The early years of my marriage were happy only because of her---and then Jack. Sarah and I shared a love for Jack that bound us even closer. When she died, the light went out for me in that house. I think it did for Jack too.

I still think of and talk about Sarah almost daily. So many things remind me of how much I loved and learned from her. And that brings me to my nurturing relationship with my own precious daughter-in-law Carole and my granddaughter, the young NYC Sarah whose picture is at the top of this post. Like her namesake, young Sarah meets challenges unflinchingly and with great resolve.

What greater legacy could there be for this new Sarah---or for me?

Monday, May 08, 2006

An Attitude of Gratitude from Auntie Tobi


THANK YOU ALL...from the very bottom of my mending heart. I never dreamed such an outpouring of love could reach someone from so many people and places. Lucy is my "other mother" and I'm deeply thankful for her being in my life. I hope to read all your blogs so I can get to know you better. Lulu and I truly are on the mend---and all the faster with your loving wishes.
auntietob

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tragedy and Reality

I usually enjoy making people laugh but there wasn't much to laugh about today. I'm not talking about world affairs or politics, though Lord knows there's nothing funny about any of that either. Today was a serious, life-and-death day right here at home. Murphy was killed.

True, Murph was "only " a dog but since moving to live with my family I realize something I never understood before. Animals can be just as much part of the family fabric as the human members. Since I never had a pet I didn't grasp that reality. But now I do.

Murph was Auntie Tobi's little white dog. Tobi already owned Lulu, a small white Eskie. When Tobi saw Murphy at the pound she knew she just had to make it a matched pair. Soon everybody at the dog park recognized Tobi and "the girls." But his afternoon Murph lunged into the street and was hit by a motorcycle. She died instantly.

Tobi took it terribly hard. She was adopted herself and both those parents are gone. She is childess and unmarried as well. None of these circumstances are inherently sad or bad and Tobi is a happy, grateful person. However, her pets are truly family to her in every way. And, because she is truly family to us, I share her loss very personally.

This morning Tobi forwarded an email she received from a coworker. I think the message is profound and worth repeating because it's not just about pets. It's about life---all the loving and losing and learning.

"...I am so, so, so sorry that your poor baby died today. But you are not alone. I do understand. I had one beloved dog put down at the end of her life and it still breaks my heart years later. But you know,sometimes I "see" her in the car with me. She rides inthe front seat beside me. She comes when I call her, always. She knows when I need a sympathetic ear and loving eyes gazing at me.

It's never happened to me with any other of my dogs. But that's Greta. Always loving and giving. If you sit quietly in your car after you have settled down a bit, call Murphy to sit beside you. Maybe you will "see"her there as I see my sweet Greta..."

I hope that my loved ones can same the same of me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

George W, Why Shouldn't I Drive?

This morning, as I was readying myself for a trip to the market, I studied my face in the bathroom mirror for a moment. Normally I rather like the familiar old roadmap. But this morning I saw a storm a'brewing. I looked mad. Mad---and really frustrated. But why not? I'd been listening to the morning news and discovered the price of gas had risen yet again!

Even at my tender age I'm still a pretty good driver. I enjoy the rather longish drive to Walmart to save a bit of money on my purchases---and up to now it's been worth it to make the trip. However, with gas topping three bucks a gallon the economics have become problematic.

For example, I love sweet potatoes and Walmart sells them for $.71 a pound. Should I go instead to the nearby King Soopers and pay $1.49 a pound? Hummmm...the cost of driving through traffic against saving $.78 cents a pound. By the time I figure it all out gas will probably have gone up again.

I realize there are many reasons that the rising price of gas may wash out to be a good thing for our society. However, I deeply resent the fact I'm trying to be a more mindful consumer at a time when gas company corporate profits and compensations are going through the roof. I resent it even more when our Kissy-Face Decider-in-Chief stands chanting his mantra, "We're doing everything we possibly can to remedy the situation." Yeah, right. Just like with everything else.

Well, I'm off to fill my tank. When I fork over the money at the station I won't be simply stewing about the price of gas. I'll be lamenting what I see as just another imposition on me and the freedom of the ever-shrinking middle class. I hope something good comes out of the sky-rocketing cost of gas but you'll pardon me if I slam the door on my way out!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Uff Da! More Norwegians!

I hope none of you object to one more "fun" picture. This one turned up today when Carole and I were trying to organize things in our office. When I heard Carole squeal I held my breath for a moment. One can never be sure what that kind thing means here in the Donn Dimension.

Carole turned to me holding a dusty frame with am ancient-looking sepia print.

"Look Ma!," she exclaimed. "This is one of Carol's pictures." I nodded, "That's nice dear," I said, trying to be agreeable--though I certainly couldn't see what all the commotion was about.

To make a long story short my Carole had found a long-lost glass-plate negative print made for her by one of her oldest and dearest friends. The other Carol is also a MN Norske and an artist/photographer. Many years ago artist Carol found a crate of glass negatives in the haymow of an old barn in Black Duck, MN. She printed several of the most interesting pictures as a gift for my Carole. The shot above is my Carole's particular favorite.

Both Carol(e)s believe the photos were taken around the turn of the last century. The little pioneer girl, dressed in her Sunday best is holding a tiny apple-head kitten. MamaCat is nearby. Can you see her? (Enlarging the print will help.)

Note the log cabin and gigantic cabbage plants---without Miracle Gro, yet! The other glass plate prints are fascinating as well---especially a wonderful shot of two Scandinavian immigrant hunters striding through the North Woods shouldering a big black bear slung between them on a tree branch. What wonderful pieces of Americana.

PS: The photo of the two Carol(e)s caused so many problems with the template for me that I removed it---for the moment. Jack just likes to "fix" things for me---not tell me sloooowly how to do it myself. It's a coding problem I know and I'll be danged if I'm not going to fix it myself. I'm also going to try to see if Carole can find the hunters and bear print. I'll post both one way or another. (I was going to add "if it kills me," but decided that might not be such a great idea.)