Golden Lucy's Spiral Journal

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lucy in Recovery

I just got back from the North Country. Carole's family had a reunion at her brother's lake home on Lake Macdonald outside of Dent, (Yes, you got it right) Minnesota. It was great fun except for the ride home! I've decided I'm no longer up to 16 hour auto trips with these demented road warriors that claim to be related me.

I won't be regaling you with amusing anecdotes about our trip as you all know men refuse to ask for directions and women always have to pee. That sort of sums things up. In any case, our first stop was a visit with Carole's mother in FAARRgo. That would be North Dakota. It was fun. We ate out. The food was good---but very white. And though I love Clarice, my fellow in-law, 2 days in FAARRgo was exactly enough for me.

On Sunday we went to the lake for the annual family get-together. Brother John and his family just completed a beautiful new home on spring-fed, crystal-clear Lake MacDonald and they graciously shared it for the grand event. I didn't swim, waterski or ski-doo but I went on the pontoon and enviously watched the kids land some outrageous wall-eyed pike. The lake is teeming with big ones. My shoulder incapacitated me that day but vicarious fishing is better than nothing!

I had a lovely time but I'm announcing my formal retirement from auto trips over 2 hours. Never again, no way, no how. Although I realize I'll be kicking the bucket one day soon, I'd rather not do it in a moving car. I also refuse to sit in a confined space and listen to Dubya say anything at all---let alone repeatedly insist we'll stay in Iraq for the remainder of his term. The ghastly thought we have 2 years more of hearing this drivel is more than I can bear. But that's the subject for another blog.

I look forward to visiting all of you manana. It's good to be home.

PS: This is cousin Nate's website. If you miss this link you'll be sorry. Nate is a professional diver and photographer. He divides his time between the Caribbean, New Guinea and Minnesota. His art is truly exceptional.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Millie!

Before I begin my post I need to wish my inspiration, the Divine Diva of Elderblogdom, Millie Garfield, a very happy 81st birthday! You're the best, Millie and I think of you with love whenever I post.

It's ironic. I'd just finished writing a reaction to Millie's last post about social life without a car. The kids and I had taken a short trip to visit family in KS and I'd been off-line for 3 days and I'd been composing a piece expanding on Millie's post. So now, in addition to wishing Millie a very happy BDay, I want to share my recollections.

60 years ago having a drivers' license---never mind a car, was not a matter of fact. If you lived in the city the public transportation system could take you where you needed to go. If you lived in ND or KS you started driving whatever you could get you hands on when you were 8 years old and you never worried about whether it was legal or not.

I grew up in Cincinnati. The only people I knew who had a car were rich relations, like my Uncle Will the psychiatrist---or folks who lived on the "other side of the tracks." In my circle, people took the streetcar or walked to wherever they needed to go. This included dating, which believe me, I knew little about.

I'm not exaggerating. I was shy, overweight kid from a poor family. As a teenager I worked at at Zellman's Fish and Poultry store gutting fish and chickens. (I'll never forget how mortified I was when Irene Kaufmann, a friend from my class, came into the store and saw me up to my elbows in entrails. "Oh, Lou!" she exclaimed, "I didn't know you worked here!") Oh, the shame.

But Thursday was the good day. I sat on a stool (I can see it even today) by the telephone and called people to confirm their orders for the Sabbath. One Thursday, Rose, the wife of the store owner, approached me with the offer of a date. (A date? Who would want to go out with me?) Rose said she had arranged a date for her sister Marion (an equally overweight, gawky and unconfident girl in my class.) Harry, Marion's intended arranged date had a brother who wanted to go along. Would I be his date? Marion and I conferred and decided to give it a go.

Harry and his brother Barry, (I kid you not) showed up for our "date." They were 18 and 20. Newly arrived from Israel (now very fascinating to me) with accents a mile thick--and most certainly "greenhorns" to my way of thinking. But I didn't think it was odd they didn't drive and we went to the ice cream store by streetcar without a thought.

It was a disaster. We didn't talk. I mean the boys and girls didn't talk. Barry and Harry were obviously less than thrilled with us and Marion and I decided that fellows who repeatedly sang "Itty Bitty Fishes in an Itty Bitty Pool" instead of attempting what might pass for polite conversation, didn't deserve even our modest attention.

We rode and walked to and from the streetcar in silence except for the repeated "IttyBitty..." refrain by Barry. Marion and I huddled together until the boys walked us to our doors. Needless to say we never saw them again.

I don't know what happened to any of these people but my disappointment and embarrassment have never been truly forgotten. It certainly didn't have anything to do with not driving and taking the streetcar but it's a perfect example of how something even peripherally related can bring back the most exquisitely intense memories.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Locks of Love

Except for me, our family is pretty unmaterialistic. (I'm still working on it.) When it comes to giving gifts most of them will opt for something meaningful and sentimental rather than expensive and impressive. Ben's new bride Teresa is certainly following in that tradition.

Recently she appeared at family brunch with a startling haircut. Teresa hasn't cut her hair more than an inch or two for many years. Despite pleas from friends and family she chose to keep it long and wear it simply for her wedding. But she had a plan.

After the wedding she donated over a foot of her luxurious mop to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides wigs for low-income children who have lost their own hair due to disease---such as cancer or alopecia areaca. It was, Teresa said, a way to share her good fortune and happiness.

At that moment we couldn't have been prouder of her...and she couldn't have looked more beautiful.

More information about Locks of Love can be found at:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Every Picture Tells a Story...Bottle Dance et al

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Every Picture tells a Story...Under the Canopy of Heaven

Early on I resolved never to blog about any specific religion. I think that was a wise decision. Unimaginable havoc continues to be wreaked on the world in the name of parochial religion. But this kind of conflict doesn't have to be inevitable just because faiths diverge. Our latest family wedding is proof of this and I'm delighted to be able to blog about it.

My grandson Ben is part of a devoted Jewish family. His new wife Teresa is from a devout Catholic family with deep roots in church and community. I've come to the conclusion the faiths of the two families are much more alike than different. This played out in a wedding that included two ceremonies celebrating two traditions.

First a beautiful Catholic ceremony full of pageantry in Teresa's home parish. Then a Jewish ceremony full of singing and dancing outside, under the chuppa or marriage canopy. Each was so wonderful in its on way---and so respectful of the other.

Teresa's family pulled out all the stops--and their checkbooks to give the kids a never-to-be-forgotten (or repeated) wedding. For their part, Jack and Carole tried to stay out of the way. They gave Ben an exquisite handloomed tallit (prayer shawl) for a wedding present. Stretched between four wooden poles held by brothers and sisters, it formed the marriage canopy. Later, (much later, we pray), Ben will be wrapped in the tallit for burial. Sorry if anybody finds this a macabre detail but I like the idea.

The other photos I'm posting this afternoon are pretty self-explanatory. If you can't figure them out, make something up. Or I will.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Every Picture Tells a Story...The Groom's Dinner II

It would be grand if I could improve the looks of things here but I'm not going to fool around with it. Blogger's gonna do what it's gonna do and I'm gonna close my eyes and type. Just try to follow along.

These photos remind me of how lucky we are. Carole and Jack's extended family came from the four corners of the country to celebrate. Their easy-going intimacy amazes me, coming as I do from just about the opposite background.

The groom's dinner was held an Irish pub---a perfect venue for the schmoozing and music the family loves. As usual I pooped out early and missed the after-9 festivities. No problem though as I'm a rotten Riverdancer. (Doesn't the very idea crack you up? I'm giggling.)

Tomorrow I'll share pictures of the ceremonies. Yes, there were two. But that's another story!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Every Picture Tells a Story...The Groom's Dinner

I've been trying to put together a picture story of Ben and Teresa's wedding celebrations. It's been very frustrating. First, I'm totally overwhelmed by the number of photos I have to work with---and these are not the professional proofs. It boggles my mind. I remember when finding a few good shots on a roll of 12-36 was a happy surprise---and that only after waiting days for the prints to come back from processing. Now I feel like I'm trying to claw my way out of a silo inexorably filling up with grain. (I saw that once in a movie---scary!)

Then, there's the story concept problem. I have this thing about not wanting to trot out the family photos and expect folks to find them--and my literal, blow-by-blow narration fascinating or entertaining. You know: "And here's Shlomie's Uncle Irving with Irene Plotnik. They sat next to us at the table." (Although I've personally begun to find this kind of thing strangely interesting, I fear it's a sign of my decline.)

Thus, I've decided to choose photos that instead of telling the literal story of the wedding, reflect thoughts and reactions. Perhaps random, perhaps frivolous but more interesting---at least to me. I think I'll start with the hat.

Carole wore a vintage pillbox hat to the groom's dinner last Friday. I can't imagine why. Just cussedness I think, as she knew nobody else would. In any case, by the end of the evening nearly everybody had worn the hat for at least a minute or two..
It seemed everyone wanted a turn and used it as an excuse to act sillier than they already were----which increased my enjoyment of the evening as I love having fun at the expense of others.

Yup. The hat was fun but Teresa's grandpa, Tata Jesse wins the prize for most impressive "headgear." Just look at that hair! Que Hombre! There's no doubt where the Avila women get those impressive tresses. However, hats and hair notwithstanding, I thought everyone looked wonderful---as long as they were laughing. More grinners to follow on separate post.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Always a Party

On the 3rd day Lucy rested. On the 5th day Lucy created a blog. These things take time, you know. Hello my friends, and forgive me for my absence.

Ben and Teresa's wedding celebration ran joyously and frenetically from last Thursday's Girls' Night Out to Monday's Wet and Wild White Water Wedding Rafting on the Arkansas River. I'll let you guess which I attended.) In any case, I've done enough hootin' and hollering in the past week to last me until the next family wedding---I should only live that long.

The wedding itself was held Saturday---all day and all night. What do I remember? Not much. My first Bloody Mary at the reception was huuge and deelicious! But after the two flutes of champane things got fuzzy. I remember some good-looking guy asked me to dance. I replied, "Of course, Sir!" but I'm not sure what happened after that. I think somebody took me home before I got ahold of the lamp shade. Lucy is such a party animal. However I have to admit it. I was the party-pooper Granny. Teresa's grandmothers both partied on until the end.

I'll be sharing some observations and anecdotes during the next few days. But more interestingly, I'll post lots of fun photos---naturally none of me that aren't flagrantly flattering.

PS: I hope everyone enjoyed Blogher '06!