"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Family Friday ~ It is Christmas .... Let the Games Begin!

My husband and I begin the holiday season each year on Black Friday. We have been doing this since we started dating (again) 6 years ago. It used to be fun. We always started at Target. There was coffee and donuts; a silly security guard; and always one woman trying to be in charge that everyone else laughed at. My husband and I never looked at the circulars before hand or knew what was on sale. We just went and people watched .... if we got a good deal thrown in all the better.

This year was no fun at all! The stores now have corrals and barricades around the stores, keeping people not only in a straight orderly line, but also keeping them from stomping each other when the stores open. Gone are the coffee & donuts, random Christmas carols and comradery. Black Friday has become instead Dante's 5th Circle of Hell! It is sad really. But at least from now on my husband and I can sleep late the day after Thanksgiving because I do not think we will be doing this again. I feel like Christmas has become Whoville at the beginning of the Jim Carey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! And this year I feel like Cindy Lou Who!

We like tradition. Spending time with family. Lots of lights and decorations - some of which my husband and I have had for a long time. Letters from Santa. A Charlie Brown Christmas. I think you get the point. But it does not seem like tradition (or Jesus for that matter) has much to do with Christmas this year. Bigger TVs cheaper TVs .... faster more expensive computers ..... car commercials changing lyrics to Christmas carols ... and the very few people practicing the fine art of Christmas cards .... I could go on and on about what is wrong with this Christmas. But I won't!

Instead I will talk about how fabulous it is to sit here and watch my Christmas tree all aglow - covered in ornaments I have been collecting since I was 16 and worked in a Hallmark store. We needed a new tree this year. My husband searched far and wide for one we loved. We looked at all the new fancy prelit, easy assemble, rotating, outrageously expensive trees. What we found was an old fashioned - no lights - tree for a quarter the price of all the outrageous trees! And we love it! It fits almost all the ornaments, but we have several other small trees in our very small house to take care of that. Our house actually looks like a gingerbread house outside, with a Santa perched on the chimney.

I have found some really great gifts this year that I am proud of. But still have no idea what to get the husband or the teenager! I really should get on that with only 9 days to go!

And in all the bustle I found this article on being destressed during the holidays. Usually I read articles in women's magazines for a good giggle this time of year. They talk about handmade gifts and decor and fabulous extravagant dinners with plates on chargers with handmade name cards. That is just not my world and I can never figure out where people who do this find the time. Usually this time of year I think paper plates and napkins with gaudy poinsettia prints are just fine for me! As long as there are lots of people to share it with.

So I shall end with one of the best holiday traditions .... I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

As I was about to post this blog about the lack of Christmas spirit in the world I heard music .... Christmas music. I put down my laptop and went to the front door and outside was a band. Decked out in full holiday gear .... playing Christmas music for the man next door who has had a really rough year, both economically and medically. For a moment rekindeling my faith in the holiday season.

Where Have I been?

It has been a really long time since I wrote a post. I got really side-tracked with the Occupy Movement. And then I got really disappointed in the movement and felt guilty about it so I stopped writing. But the other day as I was driving to work I realized how much I missed the blog and decided to get back to my roots (my very young blog roots).

I still belive in the fundamental spirit of the Occupy Movement. And I really think now that the majority of the "occupations" are over it really can begin to sprout roots of a movement. As I listen to polititians gearing up for the 2012 elections they too have begun to create sound bites supporting the movement. But really it is just that, sound bites and face time. Until the movement has some leadership and a clear message they will not be effective. Nor will they be seen as more than a bunch of unemployed people complaining. I believe they are more than that - even if I became cynical of the people who were taking leadership roles. That had all been sorted out at the Boston Occupation - before the courts shut them down. So I do believe there is hope that the movement will grow into something more. And I am proud to say I had a very small part in the beginning - sowing the seeds sort of speak.

The other reality hit me that I am not a good protester. Life got in the way. It is hard to go to a protest when you work 40+ hours a week and have two children depending on you when you get home. I know there are lots of people doing it and I tip my hat to them. That however is just not my world. I became obsessed with following news coverage, commenting on other blogs, updating the list of news articles and trying to get to General Assembly meetings. My work was suffering, my family was being neglected, and lets not even begin to talk about my health. So, I let it go and I felt guilty. So I stopped writing.

And that is where I have been.

But the new year is coming and I am feeling fresh and full of hope again. I am going to go back to my blog plan and make each day interesting again. I will still follow Occupy Boston and be a part of it in my own way - but not at the expense of my health or things I hold dear to my heart.

So back to our regular programing - Observations of a Crazy World!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dear Mr. President ... we are the 99%

While I can't speak for the entire Occupy Movement ..... this is what I see as the movements strengths, and this is why I participate. The letter is addressed to "Mr. President" but only because this is a poem and "Dear broken & ineffective government and corporations that have destroyed our nation" just did not flow the same.

Dear Mr. President,
We are the 99% of America that you have failed.
We are men and women,
Young and old and middle aged.
We are Democrats, Republicans and Independents,
Socialists, Communists. Tea Party members and Anarchists
We are red states and blue states,
Massachusetts to California and every state in between.
We are the upper class, the middle class and the poverty stricken.
Citizens, immigrants and those seeking a home.

We are the 99% Mr. President, do you hear us?
We are Catholics, Protestants, Baptists and Jews,
Muslims and Atheists and Buddhists.
We are straight and gay, lesbian and transgendered,
Soccer moms and stay at home dads.
We live on $7.25 an hour, and 401Ks and spare change and fixed incomes,
Balance our budgets, live week-to-week and drown in debt.
We are carnivores, omnivores, herbivores and vegans,
The well fed and the starving and the farmers.

We are the 99% Mr. President and we have found our voice.
We are the healthy and sick and uninsured,
The mentally ill and differently abled.
We are the strong, and the weak and the bullied,
The outspoken and the ignored.
We are Black, Hispanic, Native, Arab and Asian,
Legal and illegal and white.
We are optimists, pessimists, and disenfranchised,
College educated, undereducated, college drop outs and illiterate.

We are the 99% Mr. President, we love our country and we want it back.
We are veterans and teachers and doctors and lawyers.
The employed, the unemployed, the underemployed,and the self-employed.
We are on social security, medicaid, welfare and unemployment,
Entrepreneurs, small business owners and volunteers in our communities.
We are homeowners and the foreclosed upon
Families living in suburbia and on the streets.
We are creative and artistic, crunch numbers and cure disease,
We are the people.

We are the 99% Mr. President and we are waiting for you.
To acknowledge our voice and send us the support,
You sent Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
To let the Supreme Court know,
Corporations are not people.
To tell the banks that are too big to fail,
That they are on their own.
To let the Congress know their responsibility is their constituents,
Not getting funding for the next election.
To tell the lobbyists they can no longer purchase our government,
Because it is not for sale.

We are the 99% Mr. President and you have failed us.
We love our country and we want it back.
We want a future of hope for our children.
We want the change you promised us.
We want equity and justice.
We want transparency and accountability.
These are not demands,
They are our Constitutional rights,
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!

We are the 99% Mr. President,
And if you can't hear us,
We can turn it up!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Occupy Boston .... I am a Patriot

I would like to start today by noting I have never gone to a protest, I have never been part of a revolution. I do not know the customs, the language or the process of organizing. But this evening I dipped my toe into the pool that is the "Occupy Movement." I was impressed by the number of people that were there. A few hundred I think. I was also very aware that I suddenly felt old. And for a few minutes I thought that I should just go home, hang with the kids and protest from the comfort of my couch. But I decided to stay and I listened.

This lack of knowledge may have led to my feeling of frustration for the first 30 minutes or so .... I didn't understand the language or the gestures. Being who I am I couldn't understand what I saw as a lack of organization. I couldn't understand why people were not listening. Fortunately my impression ended on a better note than it started.

The meeting this evening was to organize and plan what "Occupy Boston" is going to look like .... all details that people do not think about when they watch people chanting and protesting on the news ..... the where & when & how ...... food, shelter, entertainment, etc. But people kept talking about why they were there. Evictions, the execution of Troy Davis, sustainable farming, the evils of the banking system (specifically Bank of America), homelessness, unemployment .... it was like people had been so silent for so long that they wanted to be heard no matter what. It would have gone on for hours I think were it not for the one person who stated simply ..... I think we know why we are all here lets work on how to change it (this is a bad paraphrase but I wasn't taking notes).

And as I sat there watching people struggle to get organized, struggle to be heard, struggle to understand I thought to myself this is what it must have been like to organize the Revolution, this is what it must have been like when the Constitution was written:

I know most of us are aware of these things, but I think sometimes it is good to look back and reflect. The 99% are the new patriots, charting new territory, trying to fix the problems. There will be egos, there will be people who just want to vent, there will be people who are frustrated with the process ... we are going too fast, we are going too slow, we have no message, we have too many messages. But that is ok .... that is how change happens. So while I am sure the founding fathers did not wave their hands in approval of something or use the human microphone to be heard, I am also sure that there were days they thought is this worth it and why am I here. I am grateful that they stuck it out and I am hopeful this movement will as well.

I read a book years ago by Walter Cronkit "A Reporter's Life." He said during the Vietnam protests "How can patriotism be determined anyway? Is patriotism simply agreeing unquestioningly with every action of one's government? Or might we define patriotism as having the courage to speak and act on those principles one thinks are best for the country, whether they are in accordance with the wishes of the government or not? It is everyone's duty to obey the laws of the land, but I think your definition of patriotism, Mr. Secretary, would preclude our listening to and reporting upon the opinions of those who believe your policies are inimical to the best interests of our nation. Perhaps these dissidents are the patriotic ones. At least they have the right to believe that their love of country is as sincere as yours, and that they have the right under our Constitution to speak their beliefs. And it is no breach of patriotism when we report on their half of a historic dialogue."

We broke into groups and that was where the real work started. That was where people really pulled together their expertise and got down to business. I choose to attend the media group (I know you're surprised). It is going to be tough work but it will be worth it. Only history can tell us what this movement will end up as. I am hoping that my children will read in their history books that this movement changed the way we view our fellow Americans, the way our government works and the way our communities thrive. I spoke with a man last night who said he came out because this was something new ..... the idea that the "occupations" are occurring all over the country, the feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. And really that is why I am here ..... because the 99% of the country who does not have a voice should have a chance to be heard and be part of the process.

So, even if you can't come to the protests you can still be a part of the process. Be involved. Silence is the voice of complicity .... don't be silent, be heard!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Occupation Continues .... the media coverage does not

Well I care - but I can see their point. I have been waiting patiently for the United States to follow the lead of the Arab Spring. In a country where we are allowed to voice our opinions we have been decidedly silent as the communities we live in fall apart around our ears.


But even with all this excitement one of the problems for the Occupy Wall Street movement is that there are so many problems to deal with right now: Unemployment, the purchasing of political seats, tax loopholes for the rich, the environment, women's reproductive rights, lack of education funding, disparity of wealth, healthcare, social security, medicare/medicaid, campaign finance, the electoral college. And these are just the complaints I have seen aired on facebook and blogs during lunch. If you jumble all this together into a series of chants and video clips the essential message of something needs to change gets lost. And all the establishment (which includes mainstream media) hears is blah blah blah .... whine whine whine ..... these people are insignificant because they can't organize. It is time to prove then wrong. I read someone's comment on facebook and they said basically worry about getting people there and the message will come. As more and more groups want to be part of "the movement" it will be harder and harder to create the clear message.

The message will get lost in terms like hippies, anarchy and more focus will be put on the NYPD and less on the protesters themselves ..... if it gets covered at all.  

On the otherhand, you have the article from The Indypendent which states
"An on-the-ground view of Liberty Plaza clearly affirms why many more should actively support this project’s growing significance. Soon after thousands peacefully set up camp in Zucotti Square (since re-named Liberty Plaza) at the corner of Broadway and Liberty on Sept 17, the assembly’s various workgroups coordinated food, clean-up, bedding, student/labor networking, media/online and community outreach, legal support, childcare, arts/culture/festivities, and more. The on-site OccupyWallSt.org broadcasts daily statements that address the square’s purpose, goals, and concerns, which much media coverage chooses to ignore. All group decisions are made in the assemblies, with constant attention to historically under-represented voices, ongoing political education, and yes, good vibes."

Or the piece from today's Huffington Post 
" To say that the demonstrators are only hippies and radicals pining for 1968 would be a gross misstatement. Rather, the demonstrators come from diverse backgrounds: environmentalists, feminists, former and current Wall Street bankers, traders and brokers, anarchists, socialists, members of the LGBTQ community, teachers, students, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, people of color, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, retired NYPD police officers, members of the FDNY, journalists, musicians, photographers...the list could go on and on. Yet, the one thing that this varied group of people has in common is that they are tired of government corruption and the privileging of corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans by the American government.

And that is a pretty clear and concise message. One that is being adopted by "Occupy" groups all over the country (there is even an "Occupy Facebook" group on Facebook). But I do understand how the media can get confused when there is a jumble of messages such as these: Signs of Wall Street. It is good, however, that Michael Moore set the record straight!

So remember .... stay peaceful, stay focused, stay strong!

So, when people ask what is the message? And when people ask why should we care about Occupy Wall Street? Show them this video and the message should be loud and clear!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Occupy Wall Street ..... pass it on .... and on ..... and on!

I know I already posted a blog today but I had to write again because I am appalled at the US media coverage of the protests in New York.

What protests you might ask? That was my question when my step-daughter posted this link on her Facebook page this evening: Livestream: Global Revolution. I shook my head and thought what the heck is this. In case people hadn't noticed, current events and politics are kind of my hobby. I subscribe to several newsfeeds on Facebook, listen to NPR daily on the radio, follow CNN and BBC blogs so the fact that I didn't know anything about this made me think it probably was a hoax. So, like most people who have no idea what is happening, I Googled it.

The first thing that popped up was an article from the Wall Street Journal - Social Media March on Wall Street, which was posted about 3 hours ago and in essence calls the protests an epic fail. But then I searched further.

The protests started on September 17th  and according to the Occupy Wall St. webpage consist of the 99% tired of being led by the 1%. I have read that it is being referred to as the nonviolent American Fall. They have protests in New York planned through 2012 everyday from 1-3 and 7-9 at Zuccotti Square (AKA now Liberty Square). It also says they will be planning protests in other places, including the protests planned for October 6, 2011 in Washington D.C.

When I searched news coverage for the events that have taken place I got 4 pages of American mainstream media, with no real coverage until September 23, 2011. I did find this one article from September 6, 2011 at Market Watch. But I really wouldn't call this mainstream. The earliest mainstream American coverage was from September 23rd, 6 days after the protests started.

I have been reading for a couple of hours now and have found some interesting articles that I had missed from the Huffington Post and The Guardian:

Al Jazeera was covering the protests before ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN - US Protesters Rally to Occupy Wall Street.

This is insane to me! Unlike London, these protests are nonviolent. People are not looting stores or roughing people up. I liked the point in the Keith Olbermann piece about the fact that if this were 100 tea party members supporting Wall Street it would be everywhere. It took a week, but now it is everywhere and people are angrier - not only about the mess this country is in, but about the lack of respect people who want to change things get.

Now the videos are everywhere - a search for news about it has gone from 4 pages to 10 in the past hour! Protesters Broadcast Arrests on Social Media. The number of those arrested have been anywhere from 80 on NPR to as many as 200. Reports of tear gas have been retracted, but the video of a woman being sprayed with pepper spray is all over the Internet.

Someone on the group's Facebook page is suggesting a national "don't go to work" day on October 5th. The idea is for noone to  go to work, or purchases anything for one day. I think it is a great idea if they can get organized and get enough people to do it to make a point! The problem is, all the people who work on Wall Street won't participate in a protest like this ..... but maybe, just maybe you could still get enough people to do it to make it work!!!

I guess the point of this blog is to spread the word!! If the media isn't going to get the message out than we need to. If the Teaparty can take control of Washington in less than a year ..... we need to let Washington know that there is another voice! If Facebook can be covered with useless rumors about it starting to charge a fee - this should spread like wildfire!!!

As they said in Tienaman Square in 1989 .... take pictures, take video, let the world know what is happening here!!! The 1st Amendment is our strongest weapon ..... it is time it is used!!!!

Good Luck Wall Street ..... I think you are going to need it!

Ten Day Blog Challenge - In one day!

I found this 10-day blog challenge over at Spilled Milkshake and thought it might be fun. But then I remembered both the 30-day Blog Challenge and my attention span these days so I thought, wouldn't it be just as fun to do the challenge all in 1 day!
So, here I go ..........

Ten Secrets:
This is a tough one .... the reason things are a secret is because you do not want people to know them. On top of that I am not really a secret keeper ..... I am more of a what you see is what you get kind of gal! But here it goes.
  1. I hate to admit it but I love the puppy! I did not want a dog, I always considered myself a cat person. But I love the dog! I love that she follows me around the house and sits at the end of my bed on the floor (she is not allowed on the bed, that is a puppy free zone). My husband on the other hand, who wanted the dog in the first place is no longer so enamored with the dog. Funny how things work out.
  2. I also hate to admit that my parents were right ..... about what is not important because there were so many things I did not agree with as a child (a teenager in particular). But looking back they were right about an awful lot.
  3. Some days I don't want to be a mom! I think we all go through it, where you think to yourself "if I have to go to one more (PTA meeting, soccer game, parent/teacher meeting .... you fill in the blank) I am going to drive off a bridge." We are not really allowed to talk about the fact that although we love our children, there are just days we don't like them and would rather be on the beach by ourselves reading a good book instead of packing lunches and wiping noses.
  4. I can't balance my checkbook. I never have been able to master that art. Online banking is my best friend because I can check it everyday and make sure I haven't screwed it up. I pay a lot fewer overdraft fees now.
  5. I am a hoarder. not like the Hoarders on TV. But I collect things ..... glass, craft supplies, holiday decorations, just stuff. What makes me different from the people on TV is eventually I get sick of looking at the piles in the corners of the house and I clean them out.
  6. I have a really low self-esteem. On the outside I look like I've got it all together, but in reality I am convinced that people are going to find out that I am a fraud.
  7. I am a hopeless romantic. Most people wouldn't think that about me, but I am.
  8. I hate dressing up - especially for work. I am a jeans & tee-shirt kind of gal. I hate matching shoes to an outfit and I can't match a shirt color to a skirt unless I have them next to each other. My husband is convinced I have a touch of the color blindness.
  9. I am exhausted and can't do it all! This is a tough one to put in writing ..... then it becomes real. But I really can't do it all anymore. I think that is the greatest myths that came out of the women's movement, that we can have it all. Something has got to give .... for me it is usually housework!
  10. I like The Fresh Beat Band. Parents of young children will know what I am talking about and probably cringe! But I actually like the show and find myself watching it even in the 5-year-old is not in the room. Scary I know. I am not sure if I will continue to like it because I like the old Marina, we will have to see.
Nine Loves:
I assume this is a combination of people and things I love and not a list of ex-boyfriends. :)
  1. My children
  2. My husband
  3. My parents
  4. Autumn weekends - crunchy leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, apples, all of it!
  5. Coffee in the morning - when everyone else is still asleep
  6. Chocolate fudge
  7. Music - see my previous post
  8. A white Christmas (followed by a really fast thaw ..... which never happens)
  9. The White Mountains

Eight Fears:
I will have to think of this one ..... there are a lot of things that I find disturbing and I would like to avoid, but I am not afraid of much.
  1. I am afraid of dying a painful slow death. I am not afraid of dying - I would just prefer it happen quietly in my sleep.
  2. My children being in pain - especially when I read stories of children who die suddenly playing sports, or when my youngest was born way too early.
  3. I guess in a lot of ways I am afraid of losing my lifestyle. We are not wealthy - by any stretch of the imagination - but we are ok. With the economy I get nervous that we won't make ends meet.
  4. I am not a fan of heights - not in a building, but looking over the edge of a mountain for instance. My husband was a steeplejack and he brought me to a job sight one day. I climbed about a quarter of the way up the staging on the outside of the church steeple and I had enough. If I had no choice but to climb the rest of the way for some reason I could have - I just don't think it is something I would enjoy.
  5. Wow - this is harder than I thought ..... I think I am afraid that I won't be able to finish this one! Ha Ha!
  6. Failure - I am really afraid of that.
  7. I do worry that I am not a good mother and I have not done well by my kids. But I think this is a fear all moms (who care about their children) have.
Seven Wants:
This one is really hard too. Whenever I start making lists of things I want it almost feels like I am being ungrateful for all the things I have (for which I am eternally grateful). But if I could have anything in the world this is what it would be:
  1. A cure for lupus (and every other chronic disease out there).
  2. An end to hunger (this one should be easy if people didn't always look out for themselves).
  3. For my children to find their place in the world and live a happy life.
  4. Financial stability so that I knew when I retire I won't be a burden on either the government or my kids.
  5. The ability to travel where ever I want whenever I want (Greece, England, China, Hawaii, Alaska - just to name a few).
  6. A huge - foodnet work chef like - kitchen
  7. A bathroom with a jacuzzi
Six Places:
This one is easy!!!!!
  1. Greece
  2. England
  3. China
  4. Alaska
  5. Hawaii
  6. Egypt
OK - so maybe this wasn't so easy because I just wanted to keep going .....

Five Foods
Another one that is easy to start .... but difficult to stop, I do love food!
  1. Coffee (does caffeine count as a food group?)
  2. Chocolate fudge (not with walnuts or other stuff .... just chocolate)
  3. Nutella - it is almost like chocolate fudge, but you can convince yourself it is good for you.
  4. Pulled pork sandwiches
  5. Asparagus

Four Books: 
I covered this one in the 30-day blog as well but now I get to add one!
  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. Wild Swans: three daughters of china - Jung Chang
  3. Delores Claiborne/Gerald's Game - Stephen King
  4. The Alienist - Caleb Carr (I have read other things by him that I did not like as much - but this one is kind of like Sherlock Holmes meets CSI)

Three Movies:
  1. Silence of the Lambs
  2. Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth)
  3. Love Actually
Two Songs:
NOT POSSIBLE!!!! I wrote a whole blog about that the other day!
If I have to pick two ........
  1. I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables (the one from the 10th Anniversary Concert with Ruth Henshall as Fantine)
  2. Amazed By You - Lonestar. This was my wedding song. I had no idea what my husband picked for the song until it was time for us to dance ..... it was his one job or the wedding.
One Photo:
This is supposed to be a photo of me. I made a decision when I started this blog that I would still have some anonymity. While I share a lot about myself you will notice I never use my husband's name or my kids and there are no photos of them or me. I am going to stick with that rule! But I have attached a photo of one of my favorite places to be ..... the beach! This is a photo of me .... cool, crazy, complex, hard working, mysterious, complicated, calm, ferocious and with endless depths!



For the love of music ......

I was reading a post from my friend Tony over at Home Thoughts and he was talking about a British radio show called "Desert Island Discs" where celebrities have to choose 8 songs they would bring with them on a desert island. These are not your favorite songs - just ones that are important memories so that the people can use them to discuss their lives. I have tried with all my might to come up with only 8 songs! It is impossible! Music has always been such an important part of my life from the time I can remember. When I could not find the words, music always did, it has always been my best friend and brings back memories in the way that a photo or a particular scent can. How can I narrow my life to eight memories?

I thought that I would just pick the first songs that came into my head .... those obviously are the most important right? I came up with 20 without even thinking. And then once I read that list I came up with 20 more. I obviously would not be a good choice for this radio show, but for a blog on the other hand, a list of songs that made an impact on my life may not be such a bad idea!

"On a warm summer evening
on a train bound for nowhere
I met up with a gambler
we were both too tired to sleep....."

My Yia-Yai was not a great fan of modern music, she liked Big Band and Greek music. She did have her favorites:Elvis, The Beatles, Englebert Humperdinck, The Rat Pack and Kenny Rogers. She had a great old record player that was really a piece of furniture. You could put the albums in it and it had a radio that I don't remember ever working. But I remember as a kid playing Kenny Rogers greatest hits over and over - in particular the Gambler. Not exactly the most appropriate song for a 5-year-old to be running around singing - but I did, over and over again!

Beethovan - Fur Elise
Fur Elise reminds me of my mom in so many ways! She was a music teacher & this was one of her favorite pieces when she was a child. My Yia-Yia had a piano in her livingroom & my mom and I would play this song. I took piano lessons for a few years, but I never got the hang of reading music. I learned this song from watching my mom play!  Yia-Yia's piano is now at my mom's house and while I have not played in many many years, I can still sit down and play the opening bars of this one song!

"When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother what will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?
Here's what she said to me ....."

This is another song that reminds me of my mom. When I got my first record player, I had no records. It was a plastic little thing and after a time it was used so much I would have to tape a quarter on the needle so the records didn't skip. But when I first got it I had no records. So, my mom gave me one of her old 45s, and it was Doris Day. I played it over and over. The record player was great because I could carry it around the house with me, plug it in and listen to Doris all over the house! I am sure my mother was thrilled! But she would never tell me "what will be will be" she told me I would be pretty and I would be rich and I would have rainbows ................. well, she was right about the rainbows!

The next three are important to me because I loved them as a child and I have shared them with my children. I don't think I am tone-deaf, but I will never win American Idol. And yet both of my children loved for me to sing them lullabies. The three that I sing over and over are the ones that bring back happy memories of my childhood, back when watching movies on television was a big deal, involving staying up late and popcorn because they were only on once or twice a year, so if you missed it you had to wait a whole year to see it again.

"Some day I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops.
Oh way above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me."

"Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things."

Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it. I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

The next two just give me warm fuzzy feelings about my childhood. I remember getting dressed up and performing for my mom. She loved Barbara and Olivia and we would play these songs over and over. On the record players you could move the arm to the right and it would play the same album or single over and over (for those of you who have never seen a record player, it would be similar to the repeat mode on your ipod). When we would clean the house or just hang out one of these two women would be singing in the background. So, for this exercise I picked my favorites from these albums, obviously there are many more albums and songs to choose from, but when I thought of them these are the ones whose lyrics I remembered instantly!

"Please Mister Please
Don't play B17
It was our song, it was his song but it's over
Please Mister Please
If you know what I mean
I don't ever want to hear that song again."

"Love, soft as an easy chair;
Love, fresh as the morning air,
One love that is shared by two,
I have found with you."

So, those are the eight songs I came up with that remind me of my early childhood. Songs that bring happy memories - though sometime melancholy. I will continue this project another time. For I still have preteen, adolescence, early adulthood and today to go through.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Family Friday ........

I want to share an article I think everyone should read. It is by LZ Granderson who writes an opinion column for CNN. He has the most amazing view on not only society, racism and family, but he tells it like it is - you may not always agree with him or like what he has to say - but you always have to give him credit for putting it out there. He is one of the writers I aspire to.

This particular column touched me - because we are all guilty!

9/6/11 Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) --
Today my heart weeps for Jocelyn and Gary Leonard.

It's the first day of school here in Michigan, and I know the Fennville couple are struggling to make it through.

You see, their son Wes was the young man who died of a heart attack just moments after hitting the game-winning shot for his high school basketball team in March. The manner in which Wes died captured the nation's attention, and I helped cover the story for ESPN.

Six months later, their pain still brings tears to my eyes.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be sitting in the stands, unaware that you are watching your son's last moments on Earth. Or what it would be like to have your son collapse in front of you and slowly slip away.

Wes should be starting his senior year.

Instead his family, his friends, his small town are left to mourn.

I've worked as a journalist for more than 15 years and have covered a fair share of stories involving unexplained, unfair tragedies -- like what happened to the Leonards -- and it never gets easier.

Just last month, I interviewed Charles Williams of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, who dropped his 15-year-old son, Montel, off for football practice and never saw him alive again.

Like Wes, Montel collapsed and died of an undiagnosed heart ailment.

"I didn't tell him I loved him or hugged him or anything," Charles said. "Now I won't ever get that chance again."

Sadly I hear some element of that phrase over and over again from mourners reflecting on words left unsaid, gestures not made. And even though we all understand in our heads that tomorrow is not guaranteed, it is so hard to live a life that illustrates that understanding in our hearts.

Over the next several days, our nation will spend a significant amount of time looking back at the morning of September 11, 2001, and how much that event changed us.
We will analyze the war on terror and relive accounts of that day from first responders.
Celebrities will talk about where they were when the towers were struck, experts will look at what we need to do to shore up our security and pundits will pontificate on whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have really made us safer.

Undoubtedly, there will be moments in which it will feel like overkill, and I'm sure some of it will be. But I believe these are important stories to cover, important questions of morality to ask.
However in the midst of this 9/11 media avalanche, we should be careful not to overlook the most important lesson from the attack, and that is not to take life for granted. You never know which day is your last.

Hug your children.

Hold your spouse's hand.

Call your mother.

Simple gestures really, but I can tell you from experience that no matter how big or small the tragedy is, these simple gestures are what people in mourning want most -- one more phone call, a shared laugh, a kiss on the cheek.

To the cynic, this kind of talk is considered light and fluffy. But as someone who knows what it's like to hear the sobs of a father who had lost his only child the day before, there is nothing light or fluffy about a grieving heart.

As a nation, we can drive ourselves crazy this week obsessing over the events leading up to and immediately following 9/11.

We can take all of the precautions money and our military arsenal can buy in an effort to insulate ourselves from a world that seems to be filled with economic struggle and violent turmoil. But the reality is that death is a part of life no one can control. But we can say "I love you" to someone we care about pretty much whenever we want.

That may not seem like much, until it's the first day of school and you realize parents like the Leonards don't have that chance.

I'm not trying to be judgmental -- I certainly am guilty of taking life for granted as well -- but my hope is that for each moment we are reminded of the lives that were lost 10 years ago at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on United Flight 93, we take a moment to embrace the lives that are still here.

That we embrace the life that each of us are still fortunate enough to have.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.


So that is my blog for today .... I need to go make my husband tea because he is not feeling well, go kiss the little one on the head as he sleeps, and give the teenager a hug whether he wants one or not. While I am at it, I think I will call my mom!