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Terrifying Traumatic Tuesday

5 Feb

Yesterday, I wrote a happy little story about the carefree life of a young girl growing up in Chicago in the 1950’s. My train of thought was inspired by the game “steal the bacon” that we played as kids. I was waxing nostalgic about the simple games that required no batteries, data plans, or wireless remotes. My train must have gotten off the track, because I was later informed that I must have forgotten all the terrifying and traumatic events that took place during those years. Growing up on the southside of Chicago was often a dark and scary place. There were break-ins, muggings, and beatings happening all around us. Yes, I remember every single moment. I didn’t forget.

Unfortunately, I remember every frightening detail. Being an artist and writer, my right brain is very visually oriented and I have the memory of an ancient elephant. I could draw pictures in detail of my childhood home, the interior of each room, and pieces of furniture dating back well over fifty years. I remember old neighbors, and names of kids I went to grammar school with. Lambert Benavidez, if you ever read this, I had such a crush on you in the second grade. And, Bunny Masalski, we were best friends in ’63. What ever happened to you?

My memory isn’t bad, but rather, my choosing to write about the pleasant events and experiences is what brings me joy and comfort. I was just trying to convey that our simple childhood games have been replaced by high-tech mindless handheld brain-drainers. Life has its evils and perils. I just prefer not to write about them or read about them.Tuesday might be terrifying and traumatic for somebody somewhere, but for me, today is terrific. Happy Tuesday!

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Monday Memories: Chicago in the ’50’s

5 Feb

Growing up on the south side of Chicago in the 1950’s was a blast. Well, at least I thought it was.To quote my mother, “We were poor, but everyone else was, too, so we didn’t know we were poor.”

Kids weren’t plugged-in and tuned-out back then. Everyone walked to school without earbuds blasting from an iPod or texting their every thought. After school, we played outside until we dropped from exhaustion or the front porch light flashed on and off, signaling time to come in for dinner and a bath.

Did you ever play steal the bacon? We used an old scrub brush as the bacon. Do you even know what a scrub brush is? Just kidding! We had two teams, each assigned a number. If the number one was called, the two kids who were ones, ran to the middle of the sidewalk, and one kid would try to grab the scrub brush and get back to home-base before getting tagged by the other kid. When we had a large group, we played in the middle of the street. Not much traffic back then. After 6pm, most everyone was home.

If you were a little girl, you played hop scotch and jump rope. Then, there was the complicated art of double dutch. I vaguely remember being able to jump between the two ropes, but I wasn’t that great at it. I spent endless hours playing with my Barbie doll. I made clothes for her with scraps of fabric and yarn. They didn’t have Barbie dream houses or pink convertibles back then. No Ken doll either. I think my Barbie was going to join the convent and become a nun. Can you imagine? Sister Mary Barbie?

Yes, life was simpler back then. I’m not sure if today’s technology and modern conveniences have really changed the world for the better. The jury’s still out on that one. Wish I still had my Barbie!

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Theme Song Thursday

31 Jan

When I look into his guilty face
I’m not sure just what he did
And I hear this theme song in my head
“Here’s looking at you, kid”

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More Monday Manners: What ticks you off?

29 Jan

There are no hard and fast written rules for manners. We learn from our elders, parents, teachers, and friends. But, what about those idiots who wouldn’t know kindness if it came up and smacked them upside the head with a two-by-four? Were they raised on Mars?

Example one: I went to the post office today to mail three big packages. An elderly woman walked in behind me after parking in the handicapped spot. She waddled over to get an envelope from the wall and proceeded to fill it out at the side counter. By the time she finished, there were four people in line, so she waddled to the end of the line. I was next to be waited on, so I looked back and said, “Mam, you go ahead. You only have one item.” Her eyes lit up and she shuffled forward and thanked the others in line. That is just common courtesy and respect for our elders. I’m hoping to teach by example.

Example two: While I was driving home, I was in the right lane. I could have made a right turn on red, but NOOO! The car in the middle lane on my left, had inched up so close to the intersection, that I couldn’t see oncoming traffic. He couldn’t go, but he made it impossible for me to turn. I usually hang back when I’m in that situation.Then, don’t even get me started about those Pac-Man drivers that zig and zag in traffic, with less than a cars length, they cut in front of you and you are forced to slam on the brakes. Then, ten minutes later, they end up right next to you again. Manners dissuade you from displaying a particular digital acknowledgement.

Example three: I have found that most drivers in the state of Texas believe that turn signals, stop signs and red lights are totally optional. I once asked the mechanic at the car dealership if turn signals were removed before shipping new cars to the state of Texas. Then, there’s the four-way stop etiquette. The rule is…stop quickly for a mili-second, then step on the gas. It doesn’t matter that three other drivers were stopped before them. No common courtesy on the road.

Example four: But, on the other hand, when a woman walks toward a door, men will open the door for her, tip their hats, or help her lift a heavy bag when a woman is struggling in the Walmart parking lot with a twenty pound bag of dog food. Here in Texas, they say, “Yes mam and no sir.” The only thing I can’t figure out is why the huge discrepancy. Perhaps, there are different rules for manners on road than there are for kindness to the elderly and women. Oh yes, it seems that the older or the prettier the woman is, the kinder and more helpful the man is. That’s just universal.

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Sunday and Sisters

28 Jan

There are sisters, and then there are SISTERS. There are the girls and women in our lives that we are related to by blood, and then, there are the girls and women who are often closer to us than any DNA molecules could possibly achieve. I’m talking about GIRLFRIENDS. There is no sibling rivalry, resentment, jealousy, or quarreling, only love and sincerity.

Don’t get me wrong. REAL sisters are wonderful, but girlfriend-sisters are REAL. This way we get the best of both worlds. The reason I’m feeling nostalgic is, the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the TOTS. The Table Of Talent Sisters here in McKinney,Texas. We all met by chance at different times, and our numbers have grown over the years. We started out with two friends and now we are about ten or more.

We did not name ourselves. We’re wonderful, but very humble. Not! About four or five years ago, a group of us were sitting at Spoons Cafe in McKinney,Texas. We are all artists, writers, photographers, and creative souls. Whenever we met for lunch, we would bring show-and-tell and share our latest endeavors. Our usual waiter, Collin, would often squat down next to us to take our order and admire the latest masterpieces. One afternoon, he just shook his head and said, “You ladies are just one table of talent.” Lightbulb moment! We decided to call ourselves the Table Of Talent Sisters, TOTS for short. Thanks, Collin! The rest is history.

What’s really wonderful about the TOTS is, we share everything. If we learn a new craft, we share. When a girlfriend has a birthday, oh my goodness, it’s like part and present city. At our last Christmas gathering at Snug on the Square, we took up the whole back room, and a very large U-Haul was needed to cart away all the handmade gifts.(Well, maybe several large shopping bags.) Then, if someone experiences a loss or illness, we’re there. When one girlfriend is hurting, we all cry. “In sickness and in health. Till death do us part”, GIRLFRIENDS RULE!

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Can You Learn From Your Children?

27 Jan

They say the best way to influence your children is to teach them by example. But, what if children are trying to teach their parents by example?

I always tried to be a good example to my two sons. I like to think that both my husband and I are kind, generous, and all around good people. My sons have turned out to be genuinely wonderful men, and yes, I’m prejudiced, but I think everyone would agree.

Here is where the table have been turned. Both my sons are vegans, and have been for quite a while. Where did I go wrong? They eat mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, and very rarely eat junk food. This means no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy. Basically, it must come from the dirt to the table. This from the little boys who begged to have hot dogs or burgers everyday if they couldn’t go to McDonalds.

I have been scolded and schooled on the evils of meat, milk, dairy products, eggs, etc. “Mom, do you know how they treat and butcher those animals?” I’ve been given many Christmas gifts of books and DVDs on the subject. Their well-meaning gestures and pressures have influenced me somewhat, but my bad habits and taste buds are not completely convinced. Sometimes it’s a good thing that they live hundreds of miles away so they can’t check up on me all the time.

All their advice is sound and reasonable, but I can’t do it all cold turkey. I drink almond milk, gave up soda (most of the time), basically no desserts (unless it’s my birthday, or someone else’s birthday, or the girl scouts are selling cookies), I’ve cut back on meat consumption. As my mother-in-law used to say, “Better like nothing.”

Thank you, boys, for trying to lead by example. Maybe if you lived a little closer and visited more often, you could be better role models. Hint..hint!

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

25 Jan

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Why write a long, boring craft tutorial when you can just share a photo that pretty much explains it all. Well, almost all.

Today, I thought I’d change things up and share some of my handy-dandy crafting tips. Being a self-professed frugal Baby-Boomer, I’ll take this opportunity to confess…I save everything. Yes, everything! Just yesterday, my husband was ready to toss out the 2 inch stub of the romaine lettuce, when I rescued it from the trash saying, ” Stop, I’m going to paint roses with that.” He doesn’t even question anymore. He just shakes his head and walks away. (I’ll post the roses another time.)

So, anyway, you know all those paper towel and toilet tissue rolls you have saved after the paper is all used? OK, so you don’t have any now, but you will. Well, take 4 or 5 of those rolls and soak in a bowl of water for a few hours, pour the mixture in a blender with a sheet of torn up newspaper,(I know you have that) and pulse the blender a few times until you have paper mush.(technical term) Then add some crumpled rose petals that you have dried and saved after your last birthday or anniversary.(Yes, I have tons of those too.) Pulse a couple more times. Place a splatter screen over an empty bowl or pitcher and pour some of the mixture inside a cookie cutter of your choice. Press inside shape with a damp sponge until most of the moisture gone. Play and experiment. Remove cookie cutter and flip screen over on a paper towel. You can put another paper towel over it and roll with a rolling pin, or just air dry. ( But, the more paper towels you use, the quicker you’ll have some of those empty rolls saved up…ha, ha.)

You can use these handmade paper shapes to embellish cards, make jewelry, or larger shapes can be made into books. So many options, so little time. If you need anything, let me know. I’ve got it saved somewhere.

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