Monday, February 23, 2009

Dreams of My Mother

Yesterday was a good day for reminiscing about my mom. I think about her all the time, but around Academy Award time I remember that it was the ONE night of the year that my mom would go out by herself and stay out lreally ate. She and her girlfriend, Nancy, would dress up and have "Girls Night In" and watch what then was "new-school Hollywood. On Oscar night this year, two of her favorite actors, Van Johnson.and Charlton Heston were profiled In Memoriam. She could not get enough of watching Heston in Ben Hur, as Moses, portraying Andrew Jackson, etc. In the 80s Heston was best known as a strident spokesperson for the NRA lwhile I was in D.C. working gun violence prevention but I tried to bite my tongue. This photo is of my mom in her Annie Get Your Gun outfit in the late 20s. Hey, Mom! Whose side are you on?
Truly though, watching the Oscars reminded me of my mom's other favorite things.

History - her true passion. Thousands of tourists were treated to her trolley-stop tours of our pre-Civil War Greek Revival home, The House of Seven Porches, filled with a combo of thrift store finds, hand-me-downs and real antiques and spooky stories. Using out-of-the way storage nooks, she created The Little House Under the Stairs and The Hideout - imaginative places for kids of all ages to hang out and keep secrets.

Antiques: she didn't get into every antiques store she wanted to because she wanted to go into EVERY antiques store. Now, she can be in any one at anytime and stay as long as she likes.

She lived in the perfect town for a history buff - the First Settlement in the Northwest Territory and a stop for the Sternwheeler, the Delta Queen. Such was her and our love affair with the grande dame of the River that we were even in a movie featuring the old boat, called The Wonderful World of Ohio. Academy award worthy, perhaps..but sadly..overlooked.
Letters. My mom was a big fan of hand writing letters. Nearly a lost art today of course but Canada Poste brought me a letter today - of all days - a letter from one of the last great snail-mail writers, my friend Adele in Mississippi.
who wrote: "Your mom said that you should only have your name in the newspaper twice: at birth and death." Odd, eh? Her rule was broken though as she was often in the paper quite a few times for charitable works: Girl Scouts, Welfare League, teaching Park and Rec tennis lessons, etc. Her meaning though is clear...don't seek the limelight or engage in nefarious activities which bring one negative notoriety (Denise: see my use of my given letter?)

Gifts: She loved saving presents, her motto being, "Why open one when you can save it for later?" Kelsey has NOT inherited this gene and I'm sure she spins a little when he opens his Christmas AND birthday presents on Christmas eve. He was not struck down this past Christmas even though he was opening it under her watchful eye from the portrait of his grandmother behind him. (Sidenote: this portrait was done of my mom when she was about 6 or 7. .. and if you look closely you can see that the artist painted in the fishing pole's pricetags thinking they were part of the pole.) Snow - She proclaimed herself the Snow Witch and probably prayed more ardently for snow days than we did. A giant dumping of fluffy flakes was her preference, but she'd take a "light dusting." Growing up in the mountains of New Mexico and the panhandle of Texas but spending her entire adult life in southeastern Ohio she was usually starved for snow and then there was my dad, who worked 6 days a week at a downtown department store and was known for fervently trying to intercept her prayers with his own fair weather ones because snow meant fewer customers. Now, that the Snow Witch can have all the snow she wants, I'm pretty sure she's taken up permanent residency here with us in the Canadian Rockies. Children's Books. Oooh she loved children's literature. High quality writing and beautiful illustrations were requisite. Even though, we didn't buy very many, we got lots of trips to storytime at the library and plenty of read-to time. One highlight was when she took me to see her friend Lee Walp's impressive collection of what seemed like nearly every children's book ever published. Here's one of her faves. She was so proud to get an autographed copy - maybe I still have it somewhere? That and the first edition GiGi Lou who lived in a pumpkin and had many outstanding adventures. She passed her bibliophile gene onto me, so the poor grandsons are probably always thinking, "A$nother book?" Except for Cody who thankfully loved his Pirate Book. Attaboy, Cody! I could go on... but it's past my bedtime. P.S. In honor of my history buff mother, $20 to the first person who correctly identifies the gentleman in this painting.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Horrid Hair Day

To raise $$ for a Canadian Winter Olympic hopeful, the school where I do Grandparent Reading had Crazy Hair Day. ALL the kids, teachers,and the Grandparent Readers participated and there was some kind of wacky hair! Here's my little kindys, "Please-Don't-Take-My-Picture, P" and
Eager E. Her crazy hair was so cute with ribbons in her stick-out braids.

Isn't Ian Mac so cute with his spiked up? I was thrilled that it was Crazy Hair cause mine was actually just bed head spiked with gobs of gel and a few bug pins stuck in it - NOT pretty...

The 6th graders came around to take my buddy B's photo. He was so hoping to win The Best Crazy Hair contest...
B' loves to ask "Can I tell you something?" and then he'll tell you a whole string of astoundingly accurate facts. So, B, "Can we tell YOU something?" Your creation is fabulous!

Not to be outdone the Grandparent Coordinators got into the act too. That's Alluring Anne, Sassy Senior Sharon, and Maeve's Mom, Marie, (pronounced Marrie.) Marie has an Irish brogue and my favorite thing she says is "I'll just put the kettle on for you, love." Would make anyone want to drink that tea.

This teacher was getting a headache wearing this crazy green... um.. artichoke.. lettuce.. Conehead wig, but she did it for the cause. I wish I'd gotten a pic of the pink plastic pig-tail wearing one who looked like Cindy Lou Who and the red one who was just indescribable.

This is Grandparent Good Sport who let us attach the blue ponytail to his hair... unlike Wimped-out Walter who would not hear of adding anything to his coif. Whutz up with that, Walter?
Not to be outdone, "Just Say the Word Jackolynn got into the spirit too! That's her grandson's keychain in her hair along with her smarty-pants side-tail.
We all had a blast. Make your reservations and get tickets today for the 2010 WINTER Olympics in Vancouver!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dinner for Dozens

Folks had such communing over great food, fellowship, and making new friends at our church's Progressive Dinner last year, that Christine and I couldn't refuse the offer when asked to do the 2nd Annual one. By a stroke of luck combined with a bit of coercion, arm-twisting, and browbeating, we recruited a new compatriot, Molly, and the 3 of us were off and running!
Molly, who has just loads of free time since she has a 15 mo. old and is only 8 1/2 months pregnant, made a professional-grade advertising board for the big event -
and we got over 100 people signed up! Since they live ALL over this sprawling city of 1 million, our work was definitely cut out for us but the rewards are plenty... and of course, the best part at the end... DESSERT!

Here's Christine and Molly planning "Who will go Where." Notice in the bottom right corner, Eddie the Energizer, Molly's built-in distractor.

"Whatcha doing up there, Mom? Can I help?"

Pick me up, Auntie Jane! I know I can help! Dinner? Oh, I can do Dinner! I Got my bib on..just tell me where to be and I'll be there!

So the idea is that you get sent to one house for hors d'oeuvres with one group of people..... (This is Holly and Hillary's Hacienda de Higgins' Fiesta de Mexico. )
Isn't it a little curious how 2 of the 3 organizers ended up at the Happening Hacienda? Could it have been the lure of the salsa and sangria? Si, si!
and then we all split up and go to different houses for dinner. If you were lucky, you might be entertained by Groovin' Gord, on bass. He was with the Moody Blues in the 70s. ... well, he thought he was...

and then back to the church for everything Sugar and Spice.
Here's how to get 100 people to wave..tell them they can dig into the dessert table if they do.

You do see the gajillion desserts people made? My faves: the lemon meringue pie, the rum cake topped with ice cream, the Crave cupcakes, the chocolate roll thingy, the pizzelles, the chocolate mousse thingy, the Nanaimo bars, Marsha's brownies .... what was I saying, now? - my head is a mosh pit of sugary substances. Maybe there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Here's birthday boy, Ian, getting serenaded by 100 of his closest friends. Can't beat that, eh? Ian wants you to know that he helped make his own birthday cupcakes complete with different sprinkles on each one. Ian's also one of my Grandparent Readees (stay tuned for the photos of Crazy Hair Day - another blog) so it was extra fun to see him enjoying the part-ay! (His actual birthday party was the next day and if his head was like mine after all the sugar.. turning 7 is something of a blur...)
All the kids snarfed down their weight in sugar and then ran around seeing if they could wear ruts into the sanctuary floor. Getting them to do this munchkin pyramid was such a grand idea on my part until I noticed the corner ot that sharp-edged communion table. Ooops! Liability waivers anyone? Ir's okay Jordyn..head gashes are trendy.. really!
Well, look who ELSE got in on the action: Hi, Eddie! You worked so hard with all the planning, you deserve some chocolate!

Hey, clean-up crew! Commence, cleaning! (Dale, stop trying to grow hair on Marvin's head.. It's been tried. )
Next time, Eddie will have a new baby sister who might take his role as the Distractor. See you in 2010!