Monday, November 24, 2008

Yes, we have no bananas....

I read in the news that a school in New York was setting time aside for the children to "play". Physically and creatively. The old fashioned way, before computers, video games, and unlimited television. It seems that it has finally been noticed that the combination of these things plus shortened recesses and no mandatory gym class is having a bad effect on our kids. Ya think? Let's only hope it didn't take a gajillion dollar grant to research and discover the obvious. I have expressed a fear that upcoming generations would have very little physical prowess or creativity in say, 10 years. Seems all of our advancements and technological growth can be blamed for creating a generation of introverted, chubby, and socially retarded kids. Growing up, (I know--here we go again) in Ossineke, we had one t.v. and two channels. My dad would say, "Jodi, jump up and see whats on 4." Ten minutes later it would be, "Steve, run over and check whats on 7." And so the night would begin. The limited programming (and constantly changin' em) plus Dad's crummy t.v. taste would drive us on to a (gasp!) board game. That happened after we were all sweating from the effort of jumping and running to turn the dial. In addition to board games and cards, we would actually get paper and crayons and draw. I always had a book cookin' to turn to for escape and diversion. We had a small, neighborhood posse--all in similar situations with the telly, and we could count on 'em for bike riding, kick the can, red rover and all those hokey games that left you sweaty and physically challenged. We played outside constantly. This also fostered social skills involving sharing, respect and competitive spirit. We were lean and mean. My mom's monitoring of junk and fast food, soda and portions helped that cause. We had a log cabin playhouse (Dad built it) in our backyard that we played cowboys and Indians and Laura Ingalls Wilder scenarios, taking turns as to what the game would be. In school, recesses involved tether ball and jump rope. Gulping in the fresh air and stretching our legs running to our chosen event was as highly anticipated as lunch hour. And we actually went to the local library and the one at school. You got a library card--and explored books. I still adore the smell of books--both new and old and musty ones, too. It's no secret to anybody what a good book does for your imagination. That's why the books make into movies usually disappoint. But do kids even read anymore? Some do, I guess. When Dane got his first computer/and or video game, I insisted that he read a real book one hour for every two he held a mouse or joystick. He never minded and still is an avid reader today. We exchange books constantly and try to turn each other on to each others taste. It makes for some pretty interesting discourse. As kids, we were further abused by riding in the car WITHOUT WATCHING A MOVIE!! Again, I will trot out those old chestnuts like I Spy, The Licence Plate Game, and good old Slug Bug. Mom and Dad did not get any quiet time or breaks by letting us escape social interaction--not a headphone in sight. On those long drives to Detroit, they were forced to run crowd control and referee said games. Also remind my brother not to even THINK of touching me. Now this was "family time." We lived near a large gravel pit and spent hours excavating precious treasures. Like little Indians we scoured the Devils River banks for wildflowers and mushrooms. We snagged suckers. So are we better for it in our adult lives? I think so. At least our memories tell us so. Today, my sister owns and runs a fabulous restaurant, and is very involved in all it's creative processes as well as managing a large staff. My brother sells Fords and I don't think anyone would ever call him a sleazy used car salesman. He communicates very well and is able to speak to anyone. His interest in people is genuine and he works ethically. As for me, well, I muddle along trying to express myself in small ways. My blog, occasionally painting, interior design, and yoga. I've recently starting boxing and am the proud owner of 12 ounce, hot pink, boxing gloves. Old habits die hard. So, if nothing else, I hope our kids can find a way to create and stay healthy, or at least remember it that way. xo P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom xxoo

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's your name?......

What's in a name? As kids we liked to annoy my parents by singing that song where you add a name and do the banana, fanna, fo fanna thing. Usually sung at the top of our lungs from the backseat of the car. It was particularly fun to use the Chuck name with the great resulting rhyme. Woo Hoo! We got to swear! I've always wondered about the inspiration for names, and put a lot of thought into naming my son, Dane. I tried not to fall into the most popular name trendy name, but not be too "out there" either. Needless to say, he was the only Dane that year and probably most years at Alpena General Hospital. Still unique, but totally suiting him. Recently, there was a local bust involving a house of "ill play-zhure." The named pimp of the place was a man with the telling moniker of Donjuando. For real. What did that mom expect her son to grow up to be with that type of handle? Laydees beware! And I don't even need to address the celebs with their off-the-chart originality. Their reality is kind of skewed, but at least they have the dough to pay for the hours of therapy that the poor tot will probably be needing somewhere down the line. Better them than me, is all I can say. In my life I have found it curious that I am friends with a Patrick Fitzpatrick, Paul Paulsen, and a Thomas Thompson. I can only guess that their moms didn't want to use an excess of letters, making life just a little easier for them. So, this brings me to Halloween night, where I made the acquaintance of a real life "Jack Dick." There he stood dressed as the bloated, fat, white-jump suited Elvis. The hot bar provided the necessary sweat to make him glisten very realistically, and I couldn't resist telling him that maybe he should lay off the fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. He in good nature told me that would be no problem as long as the pills and booze kept comin'. He then introduced himself with his given name. My response was, "Trick or treat? Ha ha, that's funny." No dude, it's my real name. Seems "Dick" is a common name up north and unfortunately, Jack, is too. He shrugged it off and said it only holds shock value the first time. Hmmm.mmm. Isn't that true of most everything? I like names and their implications and have always attached a name to my cars and houses. I like the whimsy and personal identity and familiarity a name provides. The blog names we have chosen intrigue me and gives me a clue as to who we think we are. And the vanity plates around here are just crazy. When I visited Costa Rica, the ticos told me there was no such name as Jodi. They opted for "Julia", pronounced Whoo lee ah. Pretty exotic, huh. I saw on the Travel Channel, a south pacific island, (which one escapes me) that uses 7 core names, and they are based on your marital as well as social status. Yuck. Interesting, but not much room for creativity--which I hope never escapes me. I guess the moral of the story is you can say I can't sing the "banana fana" but you CAN'T say I don't know jack dick. xoxo P.S. Please let me know some of your more interesting name experiences! P.P.S.S One more day till the Madonna concert!!! xoxo

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's time for a love revolution.....

I have never missed voting in an election since my first one in 1976. That said, now let me say this--I ABHOR politics. It all began innocently enough. Politics were a given in our home. My Dad was involved locally and spent years as township clerk, and at the post of trustee. People would actually come to our house to register to vote. It was a family requirement for us to be aware and thoughtful voters. As a under informed, young, crazy, liberal to the max, bleeding heart teenager, Dad and I had many heated debates. And it wasn't always pretty. But I learned the lesson of listening and respecting others opinions--tolerating usually. We most often had to agree to disagree. Quite nice of him, considering that I didn't know the first thing about the first thing. Too impatient to really study the details or watch debates, my opinions were on quite the surfacey level. Without the concerns of social security, job security, taxes and such--(yawn) my views were probably idealist and immature. Fast forward to now. I still could be called under informed. And naive. Difference being that now I KNOW I am guilty. But these things I do know for sure. If things could only go MY way, politics would play out something like this. 1) We would all play nice. I can't abide with the mean spirit of it all. No sticks and no stones. No divas or terrorist name calling. And easy on the dirt digging. I don't care much about candidates personal lives as long as there is nothing too untoward in their past. A little pot? Sheesh--who cares. An avowed wino like me would never be one to judge. 2) I think the electoral college is outdated and I would revise it--still workin' on that one. 3) Instead of speeches and promises that hold no accountability, I would simply like a spread sheet of all candidates past voting and their current plans. You say it, okay, now bring it. 4) following #3, every 6 months the prez would be up for review and a grade would be issued, kind of a check up on said promises. 5) Absentee ballots would be encouraged, and be the primary way to cast. Think of the savings if we all voted and delivered completed ballots ourselves. I don't think we could trust the U.S.P.S. to be 100% reliable, so again--I'm still working on this one. 6) There would be a gag order forced on all celebrities. Shut your effin' pie hole. I know, I know, freedom of speech and all that But, most of us are not smart enough to do anything but follow the stars. These celebs are probably no more informed than me, however, they can surely swing a big one . Hell, once you get the nod from Oprah, like, a bajillion women will blindly trust her judgement--right or wrong. So if you like Bruce Springsteen's music, you must want to take his advice. You just pick your celeb and let them decide for you. So much easier that actually thinking for yourself. 7) There would be initiated a "Love" party. Soley my idea. I hate the fact that you have to be pigeon holed into a "party". Not my idea of a good time. I happen to be socially liberal but financially conservative. Both sexes need to be represented equally. Seems that the testosterone level in the presidency can somehow justify a war and I think that if there were a woman and a man together making decisions, that the soft, compromising side of us girlies could temper the "WAR!!" whoop. We all would just sit down for a cocktail or four and work things out. Sounds silly, but as human beings, bet we could figure it out. 8) R-E-S-P-E-C-T please. For me, political choices are extremely personal. Maybe that's why we vote in private. You won't find me wavin' any freak flag, or spouting my "views", no zealot me,--lucky for you. I venture to say, that we are all different in our pasts, religious beliefs, and financial status and are inclined to vote in a way that reflect this. So, please honor me, and I will honor you. 9) Once a president is elected, try to be positive and support the vote that our country has deemed valid. We need to work together to make good things happen. 10) Be happy that a known political pea brain like me has had her say, and probably will never again. Flawed as it is, it's still the best country in the world. Oh, and about that "white" house. I'm thinking how about at least some pink shutters.. Or a giant leopard rug. Let's have a cocktail and look at paint samples. Now that's something I can get behind. xoxo P.S. only 7 more days till MADONNA!!! Don't just stand there, let's get to it, voguevoguevoguevogue....... xo

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Little Buckaroo..

My Gramma Eve was quite the lady--to know her was to love her. She was of the always perfect hair and pink cheeks kinda gal. Short in statue with a big chest. (hmmm,wonder where I got it from?) She wouldn't be caught dead without her lipstick. When I was about 6, she and Gramps moved to Detroit so Grampa could work with the Millworkers. Thier downstairs flat was somewhere in the area of Schaeffer and Greenfield, if my memory serves me. Gramma found a job at a corner diner and quickly made friends with those who frequented said place, cheerfully serving up greasy breakfasts. I would leave my compadres to enjoy the beach, while I made my way down to vacation with them each summer. But Detroit is so exotic and mysterious I would argue when inevitably someone would dare question my vacation locale. As soon as we hit Bay City, I would find CKLW on the radio and sing loudly, celebrating my 2 weeks of freedom. Swee eee eeee ee eet, sweet city woman!! I also had plenty of cousins to show me around. No one here or up North could understand why I would ever make such a move during the beautiful beachy summer, but, I explained to them that I was lonesome and Gramma and I would take the bus down to Hudsons, and go to Saunders for hot fudge sundaes. I went to the Detroit Zoo, took the boat to Boblo Island and saw Greenfield Village. Bring on the bright, city lights to this small gypsy. More glamour, more glamour!! There were sidewalks and you could roller skate around the block. I made friends with the little black children on the street, and was fascinated by them. (Remember, it's pretty much plain, white bread up north). Gramma used to say that you never knew I was around. Always a plus, I'm sure. As a bookish child, I used to sit in the little courtyard out back and read for hours, only getting up to run thru the sprinkler to cool off, and Gramma would serve me up a popsickle. After she had her afternoon "lay down" and watched her "stories", we would walk up to the corner to Hall's Bar. A dark, smokey hall of a bar that was an unlikely spot for a little girl from Ossineke. But I loved bellying up and ordering my usual. Red pop and plain chips for the little lady. Someone always gave me a quarter for the jukebox and I supplied the tunes for happy hour. Gramma would have two or three cold "shells" and amuse all with her stories and cute jokes --as she was an excellent joke teller, knowing just when to pause and get the laughs. I was so proud of her. "Comical" was a favorite word of hers and we still joke about it, today. Later we would walk back home and get dinner for Grampa. My Gramma was famous for her preference for a Snickers bar for dinner--but Gramps required something more hearty. To this day, I always pass out Snickers bars at Halloween in her honor. Maybe we would all play cards. When Grampa retired, and moved back to Ossineke, we became neighbors again. Ever the party girl, Gramma found a new spot for happy hour. She even dragged Grampa along. After the first frosty mug, she would proclaim, "a bird can't fly on one wing", cueing the bartender to serve 'em up again. And did she love babies. When I had my colicky son, she would rock him for hours and sing the old tunes that she sang to me as a baby. "You are my Sunshine" and "Little Buckaroo" being the favorites. I remember her clutching her rosary and reverently reciting it every Sunday at Mass. The rosary is mine now--being to only thing I ever wanted of hers. Her house was a happy meeting place for getting together and everyone was welcome anytime. I usually stopped by 4 out of 5 mornings for coffee on my way to work, and she could be found up and at 'em making toast and worrying about what to cook for lunch, probably givin' Grampa hell for something or another. And she made the BEST pineapple upside down cake. But old age is not alway kind. Even after developing diabetes (HELLO -OO Snicker bar diet), she remained cheerful and optimistic. It wasn't long after Grampa passed, that she joined him. After 60 years of marriage, how could she be here without him? It was a sad day, but time for her to join in the big card game with Gramps. Years later I miss her and remember her often. I like to think of her as a little angel on my shoulder. One with a smile, frosty mug of beer and a Snickers bar. Love always. xoxoxo