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Christmas and such

The stress, the stress everyone running around, spending too much money on things that will be forgotten. This afternoon we are joining 15 4th graders to make gingerbread houses. Our super creative daughter-in-law, Annie, does this every year. No gifts given, just fun for her daughter and friends.

Annie doesn’t mind the mess the kids make even though the couch is new and the tables are set to work in the living room. Perhaps time spent with those we love and those we want to make smile, is the best gift. Give the gift of your time, it is the most precious.

Big D and I decided early on to limit the gifts and try to give memories to our “grandies.” Their first Christmas they received an ornament box with a poem I wrote and an ornament. Every year thereafter, they each get an ornament for the box. When the eldest got her own apartment, she had 25 ornaments for her own tree. I hope each one contains a memory which includes lots of love from her grandparents, Big D and Bubbles.

Blessings, Bubbles

Editing Opinions

I thought I was almost finished. It’s a bit short but I said what I had to say. I called it “Virgin-Martyr.” It’s my memoir. An editor said the title was too collegiate. OK, I got it, so I changed the name to “Woman-Be Quiet.” This is what I was told from the moment of birth. No, I don’t remember it, but my mother told me that the nurse handled me roughly and said, “Be quiet, be quiet, right now.” I wasn’t and haven’t been since.

There seems to be a pattern of people telling me to be quiet. So many women of my age and after learned to stifle their voices (Archie Bunker) and after awhile closed their minds. As I grew older men would take offence if I spoke up, oddly, so would women. When I had a 10:00 appointment to buy our children’s uniforms and was still waiting at 11:30, I would complain about the lack of respect for a woman’s time. I was sure if Dad was there to purchase something that was mandatory and couldn’t be purchased anywhere else, things would move along. The other women would gaze at me with no comprehension, the “why don’t you be quiet” look. I always have trouble with injustice and let’s pretend. I have trouble with uninformed opinions. Tell me what your belief is based on and we can talk. Tell me how you formed this opinion and I will respect it and perhaps agree. Just don’t tell me to be quiet.

Blessings, Bubbles

Churchill and us

I wrote about Churchill and his use of language before. I think his wisdom and stability came from getting away, giving him time to regroup and ponder.

Winston Churchill contributed his success in life to conservation of energy.

“Never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.”

Old Winnie must have been very good at conservation. He lived long, was an accomplished painter and great statesman. He had a good marriage, which they worked at, with his “darling” Clementine and was an astute judge of character.

His ups and downs in public life went from the depths to near canonization. During the “Battle of Britain,” he was able to move himself to a quiet place, conserve his energy, and come back refreshed.

The most endearing trait or talent that he exhibited, to me, was his marvelous and unique command of the English language. I was too young to hear him first hand, but when I watch old films and hear him say, “We will fight on the streets…we will never surrender.” I know one of the main reasons the English people found such resolve. Where did he find this strength?

I see so many friends caught up in the battle of daily life. The frenetic pace of what could be a peaceful life, ramped up by their own addiction to adrenalin, every minute scheduled, rushing from place to place, unable to say no, unable to schedule their own time. They are can’t to spend time alone, to reflect, to access just where it is they are rushing to, or is it running from.

Churchill’s conservation of energy gave him time to reflect, to ponder, to consider his own weaknesses and strengths and take that conserved energy and lead his people through war to peace.

We need to conserve our own energy and lead ourselves to peace.

Blessings, Bubbles

I miss Winston Churchill

We watched “The Darkest Hour,” the other evening. What a breath of fresh air compared to all the f word movies.  In England the Germans were threatening invasion. Most of the parliament was against another war, many wanted peace talks. Churchill was nearly alone in wanting to stand and fight. The last line in the film is wonderful. Lord Halifax, after listening to Churchill”s speech says. “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”  It was so moving to hear the speeches Churchill gave. Even his daily speech was eloquent.

Churchill was intelligent and well educated. He could quote Homer, Augustine and the newer poets. He didn’t need to repeat the same words over and over.He knew the power of words, their beauty and meaning.  He had his faults, drank too much, was difficult. He suffered from depression, which he called the “black dog” when it hit him.  He also knew the power of good example and led the British with optimism  and class. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill said and he was an optimist. Even in the darkest hours and days, he knew the wisdom of keeping the nation united. He was humble, often doubting himself. He died in 1965 before the present leaders could watch and listen to a person who knew what words to use. Would that we had someone like him now.

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/winston_churchill

Blessings, Bubbles

 

Why Is the Child Crying?

Years ago I read a book that asked this question. The character in the book said that if you ask this question, you will find out what is wrong with the village, the State, The Country. Our children are crying because they are afraid and lonely.

They do not feel safe at school, or walking on the streets. Too many are not safe in their own homes. Parents are too busy to listen, our President shows how to bully, curse, and name call.  Kindness is seen as weak and differences are settled on TV and in the movies and too often in life by violence.

When I was in 8th grade we had a teacher who mobilized the so called “leaders” of the class. She had us read portions of the Bible, (this was a Catholic School) we were to read, observe how Christ acted, and discuss how we could put this into action in our small lives. One action was to sit and eat with a child that seemed alone. The result was magic. The quiet, sometimes bullied child turned out to be fun and interesting. The class became close and those of us “doing a good thing” received much more in return. We came to understand that it rewarded us ten fold to get to know someone we would have ignored.

Twenty years ago, a group in this area began “Project Self-Esteem.” I was one of the teachers. Self-Esteem class didn’t teach the kids that they were better than others and could do no wrong. The idea is that every one is different and that’s O.K.  It taught the kids to respect each other and talk about differences, to actually enjoy those differences. The teachers could see the effect on the kids behavior. They were kinder to each other and there wasn’t so much dissension on the playground.

Some parents thought we were brain washing the kids. Some complained that we took time from academics. The program was scuttled. Now people see what happens when differences isolate children, when they don’t learn that we are all different in some way and that may be a good thing.

The young people who kill may be academically genius’, they are different and isolated, and often bullied. They are crying. We do not ask why. Perhaps it’s time.

Blessings, Bubbles

On Language and Society

When we write, or paint we need to think sometimes of all creative people; young people, people of color, people of different gender preferences, even pale older women like me. We need to come to the point where there is no “other,” no “them” or “they.” For you know we are all really the same soul. The creative soul.

We bequeath our culture to the world, handing down family traditions, or creating our own celebrations and rituals. In TS Eliot’s “Notes Towards the Definition of Culture,” he saw the prospect of “centuries of barbarism,” related to the coming dominance of technology. A degraded society.

Eliot sees the core of the problem in the corruption of language, the basis of thought, which is in turn the basis of integrity. His target was those who use words for base purposes, for their emotional effect upon themselves, or on an audience which suffers passions, but does not think. Therefore, our own ability, not merely to express, but even to feel any but the crudest emotions will soon degenerate.

Eliot said that the poet and writer is the bastion against this abuse. Without the preservation and renovation of the language, civilization will decline. I believe this is true and that it is happening.

I am not asking for censorship, or to limit us in how to tell our story. AN EXAMPLE: I was told by a publisher not to use the word malevolent in a poem because it is too hard to pronounce. Well, I like to roll that one around, Mal ev o lent. If you read Virginia Woolf, it pays to keep a dictionary close by. Isn’t it great to find a new word tha will express exactly the thing you want to say?

As I view film and read novels, poems, etc., it seems language is being reduced to the level of recess in the 3rd grade. One syllable, four letters. Who are these writers? Where is the creativity? So when we are tempted to speak or write like they do in prisons, films, politics, or 150 Shades of Puce, I challenge all of us to remember that when language in schools, business and the home degrades, so do we all.

But, I’m told, that is real life. MAYBE. As film critic, Rex Reed said, So is diarrhea, but who wants to watch it for 3 hours?

Now we hear language from the President and other presidential candidates used to crowds of people. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are speaking to children, mothers or convicts. What is wrong with these men? Why do they think this is okay? Is this the extent of their vocabulary? The extent of their brain power? A well placed curse word is sometimes needed, but the lack of creativity shown is appalling.

Be careful with your words, they are powerful. Keep in mind the vision of an embracing, creative world, step up, reach out you hand to me and invite me in. I will do the same for another person, and she for another.

Together we can use language to be a truly, creative force.

By the way speaking of language and creativity, if you are looking for a really creative Christmas gift check out

http://one-per-week.com    

You will find creative yet practical things for young and old.

Blessings, Bubbles

I Am Living

At the Amherst Writers Retreat on a Greek Island, the prompt was: I am living…this is what I continued..

I am living the dream. The dream answers Freud’s question-“What do women want?” Hey Siggy, simple, a woman wants sovereignty over her own life-you dummkoph- I know that’s not a polite Germanic term, but it’s a lot better than some English descriptions I can think of.

When a woman has control over her own life, she gives her best. In a marriage, partnership is the operative word. I have been married 58 years to a gentle man. Never the less, I have had to train him as I matured. As in, “Yes, I know you wouldn’t do that, but big news, I am not you.” It’s a terrible shock. By now he’s getting used to it. Still a bit confused at times, but not totally bewildered.

I missed my oldest grandson’s college graduation to go to Greece and the Amherst Writing Retreat. His mother wasn’t happy with me. I understand. He, the wiser, said, “Ah Bubbles, go to Greece. I would.” I’m sorry I missed his graduation, but choices are sometimes not easy. The problem is I have more past than future. I have pretty much given that past to my family and what they needed, but the future is before me as they say. Little by little I am making decisions for me. If not now, when?

I think pursuing my dreams will reverberate through my family. My grand children will see that I continue to grow and I am the sovereign of my life. I am taking the scepter a bit late, but then, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

I did make Ryan’s graduation from Cornell Medical School this past May. It was a fabulous five days in New York City. The graduation was held in Carnegie Hall. As you might imagine it was the best.I told him he can say he has appeared on the stage in Carnegie Hall.

He also received an award for the best grades for all four years. After the ceremony, he put his arms around “Big D,” his grand father, and I, and whispered, “Thanks for the brains.” He did all the work, but what a wonderful loving tribute, even if it’s a stretch of the truth.

Blessings, Bubbles

The Short and the Long View

When our children were teens, I was on the front line of discipline. Their father was busy trying to support us and make enough money for the looming college days.

I was immediate, wild eyed, vocal and alert to problems. They called me “the Detective.” From his business office, he was looking at the long run. The strategy of the war is easier when you are not in the trenches.

When I was tired and short tempered, which was too much of the time, he would ask, “He’s sixteen. What do you want him to be at thirty?” “Out of my house.” Was usually my answer. Actually at thirty, it would have been fine to have any of them here. Someone had civilized them in the meantime.

The long run is the best view. I am happy and grateful that he had it. Isn’t that what we are to do as parents? We need to look forward to the responsible, loving adults that evolve from responsible, loving, occasionally wild-eyed parents.  I dealt with what I call “Heading Them Off at the Pass.” Gary dealt with where they would be when they got to the other side. They made it, perhaps in spite of us.

Blessings, Bubbles

Sitting in the Bleachers

Here we are on our 50th anniversary, Gary and Patricia. aka “Big D” and Bubbles.” We’ve added 8 more years since then. Each year we are together is sweeter and feels precious.

Yes, the first 50 years are definitely the hardest. They told us as part of the ceremony on our wedding day that “the future will all of its’ joys and its’ sorrows is hidden before your eyes.” Good thing because no way could we have handled what was to come. At weddings we hear the young bride and groom saying for BETTER and for worse, sickness and in HEALTH, RICHER and poorer…well you get the idea. Do we ever think those negatives will happen? If so, we’d all be single and still not avoid them.

Now that Gary and I are grand parents eleven times over, we have experienced sorrows, and hard times but so many joys. Each new life is an affirmation of love and joy. Each sorrow is something we can endure with the help of each other, family and friends. So we sit in the Grandstand and view the new generation, acknowledging the trials and the love and the joy. We pray that they will find the smoothest path that leads each of them to contentment and peace.

Blessings, Bubbles

Maintenance

A fine woman is like a fine car, she requires maintenance. The more classic she becomes, the more attention she needs. I get some help from the basic fixers, My internist, my dentist, Dr. Swancutt, Kathy for my hair and Roberta, my yogi, who keeps me moving. I need some polishing from outside attendants. I am finding the basic people are becoming the most important. It won’t help if my skin in unlined and my hair is still blond, if my teeth are falling out, my knees ache and I need help chewing my food and getting down the stairs.

Right now, I don’t want to look like my daughter, I just want to get out of the car like she does. Actually, I want to do both, but I’ll settle for getting out of the car.

It is difficult to age. I think that’s why our eyes dim. I look pretty good until I put on my glasses. My hearing is dimming too. I think about my Mom who refused to get hearing aids because, “I don’t care what most people say.” I am trying to care and I am tired of saying, “What? Excuse me? Pardon?” I think I’ll learn to read lips.

Blessings, Bubbles

Watching the Game

Let me tell you, there isn’t enough time in any mother’s life to loose the extra eyes that develop when your first child is born. As a child grows, all of a mothers’ senses multiply, turn on red alert. You not only watch, you can physically feel the pain when the kid at school teases, repeating the clever put downs seen on “comedy” shows on TV. Those “funny” things really meant to hurt, that turns a bubbling child mute, sucking the enthusiasm from her soul.

A child will cry out in the First Grade, “I can sing. I can dance. Yes, I can do that.” The same child becomes one who is afraid to even try for fear of peer ridicule. Ask, “Who can sing? Who can dance?” again in the fifth grade and instead of many hands waving , there may be one or two brave ones who face the disdain of their classmates.

A mothers’ hearing becomes highly acute with the first teeth click you hear from your child’s precious rosebud  lips. This, accompanied with rolling of the eyes, will begin to burn your soul. As they grow in wisdom and age, if not in grace, the look directed at you like a cold laser when you try to protect them from unchaperoned parties, hotels with drugs and alcohol on prom night and feckless friends with no curfew, shrinks your heart a little smaller.

When they lie about where they are going and tell their friends what a witch, no make that bitch, their mother is, an angina pain constricting your chest and choking your breath off nearly floors you. The Bible story of Mary’s reaction when her twelve year old son was lost for three days resonates through time. Christ was found preaching in the temple, apparently with not a thought to his parents anguish. This God-child figuratively tells His parents to mind their own business. The next line is, “…and Mary kept these things in her heart.” I will attest to you that there is very little room left for storage in a mother’s heart by the time a child reaches eighteen.

But still we watch. We watch as they are hurt, knowing that we cannot protect them from the world and its’ influences. This is the part that sears your heart. To be a good parent you must let them hurt and suffer and take the consequences of their own actions, and you experience every hurt and every suffering.

In their  twenties, your children, they are still your children, begin to catalog all the grievous wrongs of their upbringing.  They begin to treat you as if you are already a bit senile. They laugh over your head at inside jokes, thinking you don’t notice. You sit and listen, knowing that their lessons will be learned, some the hard way, but you still want to protect them.

You wish you could do it all again, make the corrections they would like. But mostly, you long for one more clamoring dinner with the faces of your vanished children around the table.

Then, like a miracle, they begin to bring home your grandchildren, and hope is carried in the door wrapped in a flannel blanket. Delight toddles around the living room. Your heart swells, restored. You see your children become loving parents and you remember joy and why you had children in the first place.

Blessings, Bubbles

 

Who and Why

“We must be concerned about not merely who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”  If Martin Luther King, Jr. was  alive today, he could say this every other week. Guns, mental illness, bad parenting, one or all of these things surely contribute to the violence in our country.  Each of us must look in mirror. We are the producers.

Divisive language, mean put downs, an inability for rational discussions, name calling, lying, blaming others, violence in the films and on television are contributors. The attitude of “it’s my right, to hell with you.” is killing our children. There is a lack of understanding of the common good. We are all part of it.

Where is respect for the other persons view point? We each must be right, totally right with no attempt to understand another side. Why are we so afraid? Why is it that everything seems to be at the extremes with no room for compromise in the middle.

Congress votes totally on party lines. My sister says before anyone goes to Washington they should be made to watch the old Jimmy Stewart movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Perhaps they would begin to get an inkling of the principles and ethics of our Constitution. Perhaps they would remember for whom they are working.

I would like to send the lot of them a back brace, since they are for the most part spineless. They need to stop with the thoughts and prayers and pass some laws that protect our children and our country.  We need to demand it.

How many children need to be murdered? Australia had one mass shooting and changed their gun laws. They have not had any since. They still have people who are mentally ill, but they do not have access to guns. The trope that the shootings are caused by mentally ill people not guns may have a tiny validity, but what if, like in Australia guns were not available to them?

One man said to me, the government is not taking my guns. Really? Is the government coming after you? What kind of paranoia is that? I think that the only time anyone in “government” knows you exist is when you pay your taxes. The “government” could send one or two Navy Seals and Buddy, you’d better not think you’d be the winner.

I believe what our “government” must do is stop taking money from the NRA and get real.  My Dad had a hunting rifle. He lived in North Dakota and hunted for food. He didn’t need an AK47 or a handgun. He was a man who knew a gun didn’t make him a man. He also thought he was part of the government.

We have weapons of mass destruction in every state. They are in homes of people who shouldn’t have them. We need to get stricter gun laws.

Until then, we are the murderers.

Blessings, Bubbles