Hot Rollers- A Whole New World

The three of you are so lucky to be women of the hair-tool age. There are a plethora (there’s my word again) of tools and hair products available for you to style your hair: Dry it, straighten it, curl it (curling iron or hot rollers); color it, highlight it, de-frizz it; hydrate it, remove oils, and repair your split ends. Whew! So many decisions to make regarding your hair. I’m glad Dad is retired so I don’t have to plan my meals when it is time to replenish my care-care cabinet.

Once Grandma stopped giving me Toni Home Permanents, I became the commander of my hair care. For me, that meant hair curlers, and until I got married, I went to bed most nights wearing those nasty, uncomfortable rollers in my hair.

On the nights I washed my hair, I would sleep with my wet hair wrapped around a full head of metal curlers with little brushes inside to maintain their shape. Some were held in place with bobby pins, while later versions were soft, pink spongy curlers with a built-in clip that I could snap into place. Before climbing into bed, I would encase my curlers with a net so they would stay in place while I slept. It was quite the glamorous look as you can imagine.

In between washings, I would slather my hair with something called “Dippity-Do,” which claimed to have a “special bodifier to add thickness to your hair.” Impressive, right? As we learned on TV, “nothing holds like Dippity-Do.” You just don’t understand what you missed by never having experienced this wonder product for women.

When I was in college, I discovered a different trick to my evening ritual which made sleeping a bit more comfortable. I would bend over at the waist and brush my hair into a smooth ponytail on the top of my head, sort of in the style of Pebbles Flintstone. Using this method, I could section my hair into a half dozen parts and then add the curlers. That way, most of my head was curler free and I usually had a much better night sleep.

Some girls, who had unusually curly hair (that would be Casey), would often roll their hair around a single orange juice concentrate can. The result would be a smooth, sleek look.

Allegedly, “electric curlers” were invented sometime during the late sixties, but they did not become my best friend for ten more years. I was accustomed to the routine and I probably didn’t want to spend the money.

Once Dad was part of my life, I think he believed they were a necessity rather than a luxury. I realized they were worth the occasional burned scalp or small bald spots caused when they got tangled and I had to yank them out of my head to remove them. Thank goodness for whoever was behind the invention of my Clairol “Kindness 20” hot rollers. They changed my life!

Blast Off!

Are you all aware that our country has another astronaut who recently joined the International Space Station? He left on March 19 on a Russian spacecraft from Kazakhstan. Don’t feel bad if this is news to you. The specifics were unknown to me. I think the event did not garner as much publicity as Mark Kelly being up in space for the past year. Unfortunately for all those brave men and women space travelers today, the launches now are just a small blip on our news reports.  This is so different than when I was a kid.

Back then, each launch was a major event carried by all the news stations and newspapers. I remember watching many of the blasts into space as well as the recoveries of the capsules in the ocean hours or days later.

My first recollection was when Grandpa took me outside to watch a Russian satellite, known as Sputnik, fly overhead. I was not quite 2 ½ when this event occurred, so I don’t actually remember seeing it, but I do remember him taking me outside in the driveway and telling me about it.  Sputnik was the catalyst which began the space race between the rival nations.

It was President Kennedy who in 1961 set the goal to land a man on the moon before the end of the sixties. The Russians were the first to have a man in space, and our country launched an astronaut just twenty-three days later. Although the astronaut, Alan Shepherd, was in space for just fifteen minutes, it was a big deal. Millions of Americans gathered around their tiny televisions to watch the event in all its black and white glory.

Unlike the space shuttles, which returned to earth on a runway like an airplane, the early space capsules had to be plucked from the ocean. You probably remember this from watching Dad’s favorite movie, Apollo 13.

Each time a rocket was launched, we would always watch and pray for the safety of the men, and later women, on board. Then we would view the return to earth, waiting to see the parachute open before the spacecraft landed somewhere in the ocean.

The moon landing happened on July 20, 1969, and we all sat in the living room and watched Neil Armstrong “take one small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” The following month, Grandpa took us to New York City for the tickertape parade honoring the astronauts.

Then in 1981, the space program changed, and the astronauts began the runway landings, which was another very cool thing to see. Again we gathered around our televisions to witness the return of the astronauts, now in a very specific location.

So when did we become so disinterested? Apparently, by the time of the Challenger launch and subsequent explosion minutes later, the major networks had already stopped covering the events live because they had become too routine. The stations were actually getting complaints from people angry that their game shows and soaps were being interrupted. How sad for those astronauts, their families, and for all of us! Dad pointed out that the lack of coverage was already an issue as pointed out in the film Apollo 13.

We all know, according to Grandpa, that we are related to a cosmonaut (Russian astronaut) named Titov. Aunt Ar told me that when she accompanied Grandpa to Russia, his family confirmed this piece of family trivia. It turns out there are two Titov cosmonauts, neither one related to the other, and I have not been able to determine which one is related to Grandpa’s grandmother, Martha Titov.

One more piece of family space trivia involves Geoff and the first astronaut to orbit the earth—John Glenn. When Geoff was a little boy living in Maryland, a friend asked him if he wanted to meet an astronaut. What little boy would say no?

Similarly to how the three of you randomly liked to visit our neighbors (And you used the excuse that it was to deliver the mail, consisting of pictures you had all drawn), little Geoff and his friend knocked on the door of John Glenn’s house and were invited inside to see his astronaut stuff. Now that is very cool. Geoff gets many more points for that meet and greet han some of Jamie’s celebrity encounters!

The question now is: When we go to Mars, will America gather around their televisions to watch, or will watching media dreck be more important? I will be front and center!

Moving to Dublin

I had an eye-opening conversation with a priest recently during which I was lectured about the official policy of the Catholic Church regarding funerals. It appears that any of the funerals since 2000 (I have also seen 1989 thrown about too so I am not certain which is correct), where eulogies given in the church, were allowed because of rogue parish priests. I learned that “at funeral Masses there should usually be a short Homily, but to the exclusion of a funeral eulogy of any kind.” Furthermore, secular songs or readings are also prohibited.  So I don’t know how Queen or Celine Dion music was allowed, but I am in love with the compassionate priests who allowed these songs to be played.

The purpose of the funeral mass, “contrary to common assumption, is not to celebrate the life of the deceased but to offer worship to God for Christ’s victory over death, to comfort the mourners with prayers, and to pray for the soul of the deceased. Relatives or friends who wish to speak of the deceased’s character and accomplishments can do so at a prayer service to be held in a home or funeral home or at the graveside following the rite of committal.” That is what I read and what I was told by the priest.

I truly never knew this, particularly since I have been to numerous Catholic funerals where words of comfort and perhaps a favorite song were part of the service, which helped me get through a loss of a loved one. Having gone to just two where this was not done, I saw a difference. The impersonal nature of what is the official Catholic way did not help relieve my sorrow. I left feeling empty and did not understand why it must be this way. Why did a father have to leave his daughter’s funeral upset rather than comforted because he was told a eulogy would not be permitted? I do not understand.

I was told that no one but a priest can stand at the “ambo” (pulpit), which confused me because I am positive I have witnessed non-priests standing there to give readings or make announcements such as telling me to remember to get my ashes or that the church was collecting for the bishop’s annual appeal next week.  But according to the conversation I had with the priest that is incorrect.

This particular man of God was quite adamant that the homily be only about the reading and how the life of the deceased’s followed the scripture readings, and that is it. I asked if a brief eulogy could be given after “the mass is ended, go in peace,” and I was told in no uncertain terms that it could not. Yet I also read that “the priest may allow a relative or a friend to say a few words about the deceased during the concluding rite.” (He never mentioned this.)

Under no circumstances “can the deceased person be referred to as being in heaven.” (I read this on, and that is what the priest told me because the deceased is “not in heaven but in purgatory.”)

He suggested that the eulogy be done either at the funeral home, at the “meal of mercy” as we call it in our family, or at the gravesite.

I think we should move to the parish of Father Joe Mullan of Dublin, who said, “to forbid someone speaking seems unnecessary to me, harsh even; why not allow one of the community to speak about the deceased and the way in which their life was God’s gift to the world.? We need to move to Ireland then. But I guess if we have a President Trump, then that may be a good idea. Or I can find a rogue priest or a new religion! I have a lot of thinking to do.

Coloring and Hunting and Lots of Goodies

Christmas or Easter? From my point of view as a parent, I liked Easter better. There was little shopping except for the jelly belly beans, chocolate, and egg-coloring kits. As someone who hates to shop, that makes Easter the hands-down winner.

Remember the Jelly Belly Bean combinations? I don’t recall your childhood favorites, but I found a few potential adult recipes. Happy Hour = 1 Pina Colada + 1 Margarita + 1 Strawberry Daiquiri; Hot Wings = 2 Roasted Garlic + 1 Tabasco + 1 Jalapeno; French Vanilla Coffee=1  French Vanilla + 1 Cappuccino.. Try them and let me know.

Yesterday, as I stood outside in my short-sleeved shirt watching the excited little children gathering plastic eggs in the soccer field near the YMCA, I was reminded of the years when I took the three of you to the field on Changebridge Road to meet the bunny and gather eggs. Usually, we were attired in either winter jackets or sweaters.

Easter bunnies

As both a child and parent, I enjoyed coloring the eggs by dipping them in the red, green, blue, and yellow vinegary solutions. When you were very young, the eggs were colored in single colors, and as you got older, you got more creative. You wrote your names or made designs using crayons prior to dying the eggs, and later, you dipped them in multiple colors. There was some kind of kit that enabled you to create eggs with swirly designs on each. And as Bryce reminded us today, if you dip the eggs in every color, the result is a brown egg.

When I was little, the Easter Bunny hid the hard-boiled eggs around our house, and somehow, we never got sick. Then someone in the medical or scientific field announced that eggs left out more than two hours would cause “a serious intestinal infection”—oh my! From then on, we’d color the eggs, refrigerate them, and leave out plastic eggs for the bunny to hide.

As you got more sophisticated, you demanded more of a challenge, requesting that the bunny hide the eggs in “very hard spots” and “the baskets harder.” So your request became our call to become more creative, but still, I enjoyed the fruits of your baskets—the chocolate bunnies, pastel M&M’s, and even some Easter Reece’s Pieces. (Never the Peeps though!)

Easter Letter from Kelly

To the two of you who are not mothers, do you color the eggs or buy the candy? Hope you enjoyed your Easters!

AARP Baby Dilemma

It’s a good thing I didn’t decide to have another baby once I became an empty nester. The technology is there, but I personally think that anyone who routinely gets mail from AARP should not see the inside of the delivery room except as an observer.

There are many problems to becoming a parent again after raising children all born in the mid to late eighties. I am not just talking about the obvious physical problems. As I see it, one of the biggest problems is that of confusion. Parenting methods and medical instructions by pediatricians have changed.

Take feeding. When I was born, my first solid food was barley, which was given to me four days shy of my first month on Planet Earth. I know this for a fact because I have my baby book. When the three of you were born, the age for beginning solid foods was moved back to three months. Now it is somewhere between four and six months. Which is correct?

So many kids are allergic to peanut butter nowadays. Are babies born today somehow different than in my day? I think not. Today, many doctors recommend waiting until at least one year for this delectable treat, but I am confident that Grandma was giving me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before I could walk. Bryce’s doctor in Charleston recommended waiting the full year, but now his Columbia doctor follows the “new” (also known as the vintage belief practiced when I was a baby) to begin allergy-potential foods earlier.

When you were babies, I put you to sleep on your stomach. Now someone decided they must be flipped over, and I even heard there was an interim period when the suggestion was  to position them on their sides. How did you survive to adulthood unharmed? Even more miraculous, how did my five siblings and I not suffocate in our beds or worse yet,  choke to death?

Holy crap! What would I do if I was a new mother in the twenty-first century? I would probably follow what I did for you and now kill my AARP baby. How did I not kill you? That’s it! I have made a decision. I am done having babies! May I suggest that you keep all of this in mind when you ask me for advice on raising children.

Mock Me If You Must

I don’t know when the game playing during road trips began. I am highly doubtful we played any games in the car during my childhood. I can’t see Grandma and Grandpa encouraging this with five children, and I don’t know who would have been interested except me. Aunt El hates games, and I don’t believe this is a new feeling for her. I guess it must have begun with our family during our trips to Kiawah Island or possibly during the Memphis trip.

How many do you all remember? We worked our way through the alphabet trying to spot letters on billboards, license plates, the sides of trucks, and roadside signs. The winner was the one who made it from A-Z first, and no two people could use the same sign in gathering their letters.

Then there was twenty questions. One person was “It,” and the rest of us had to guess who they were by asking them a series of  “yes” or “no” questions. (“Are you real or fictitious,” “dead or alive”, “in television” or “movies”… you get it.)

The “Name Game” was another oldie but goodie. We started with a name, such as Donald Duck. That name ends with a “K”, so the next person would have to come up with a name beginning with that letter, such as Kevin Bacon, which would lead to Nicholas Cage and then to someone like Eddie Munster. That particular game would go on for many miles, unless names ending in “Y” were cleverly chosen. There are just very few first names beginning with “Y” out there, particularly any known to kids. None of you could ever come up with Yvonne DiCarlo or Yves Montand. Dad and I would win if we were the ones presented with the “Y” ending names.

Now, of course, I have saved the best for last—my beloved License Plate Game, which is still going strong with me twenty years later. This game is so great that I have continued to play it with myself 365 days/year. As you know, I play two versions: The Classic LPG (find all 50 states, and the Alphabetical (Find them in order.) The latter is clearly more difficult, and my current all-time record in completing the Alphabetical LPG is twenty-three months.

When we moved to Chapel Hill and I realized I could find all 50 states within the confines of the Research Triangle, I was hooked. For the first few years, I had a notebook to keep track of the plates, but then I joyously discovered two APPS which I loaded on my phone to help me keep track of my two games.

On occasion, I have played the game during our own child-free road trips, and I even asked Dad for a pair of binoculars one birthday to help me with the game. I just want to point out, with great sadness and disappointment, that it is nearly impossible to read the letters on an unfamiliar license plate (of which there are few for me now) when you are rocketing down a highway at seventy plus miles per hour.

So I happily play the game by myself. Columbia, as a university town with an army base nearby, makes it quite easy to do so. Incidentally, my challenges are not Alaska and Hawaii, but instead, Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas. No matter where I live, Wyoming is always the most challenging state. I could not even find it in Arizona.

I am currently stuck on North Dakota in my alphabetical game and Idaho in my fifty state game. (Wendy, your job is to always know!) I think, perhaps, a trip out to the national parks this summer could help end my latest game.

Roll Your Eyes and Snicker

Roll your eyes and snicker if you must. You must know I would write about this someday, and the timing couldn’t be better. Last week I went to a family funeral, and the week before, our country saw the funeral of Nancy Reagan, which was on the anniversary of the outstanding ceremony posthumously honoring my long-deceased relative in London. My hobby is researching the dead, so with all of that, I have amassed a lot of thoughts on my own final service. (Did anyone laugh when they heard that Nancy planned her funeral?)

I have read a lot of disappointing, inaccurate, and incomplete obituaries in my time. It is crucial that it must be correct so that someone researching our tree one hundred years from now knows my maiden name, married name, name of my parents, including Grandma’s maiden name, and the name of all my children and grandchildren. Don’t omit my complete date of birth as well as the fact that I was born in Morristown, New Jersey. And please add a paragraph or two about what a fun and interesting person I was. (I will send you a few sample templates if you wish!)

Pictures in the obit are fine, but don’t use one of twenty-five year old me unless it is adjacent to a photograph of ninety-five year old me. I would be happy if you used the photo on my Library of Congress card. It’s a good alternative to any picture of me taken in the seventies.

As the family photographer, Kelly is responsible for the slide show, so start collecting the pics now. I think that if you go back to some of my earlier blog posts, you can begin to put together a nice folder of “Mommy through the years.”

Remember the music. After the funeral in London, I told Dad I thought a bagpiper adds a nice touch. “Taps “is also nice, but I don’t need both. Since I live in South Carolina, a twenty-one gun salute could easily be arranged by asking all my Second-Amendment-loving friends.

I learned there is a big difference between a professional bagpiper and a third-string bagpiper, but sometimes there is no choice. If one of the grandchildren becomes a trumpet player (we still have Dad’s old trumpet in the attic), then that gets my vote; otherwise, Aunt Ar and Aunt Ellen can hum “Taps.”

During the slide show, I have assembled a list of five songs lasting just about twenty minutes. If you must choose only one song, then it must be the Barry Manilow song, but you could dance and sing along to the rest at what Aunt Ar calls the “meal of mercy” after words. (Sorry to those who dislike Barry. It is my last wish!)

  • Can’t Smile Without You- Barry Manilow
  • We’ll Meet Again- Sinatra
  • 50 Nifty United States (This is in honor of my license plate game. Wendy, you must discuss this at my eulogy.)
  • That’s What Friends Are For- Dionne Warwick
  • God Only Knows- Beach Boys
  • (Sandstorm- Darude. If there is time, in honor of my late-found love of football.)

There must be a eulogy or a roast at the meal of mercy. There is no negotiation on this! My guests do not need to wear black, unless they don’t look good in colors. But pink, blue, green, yellow are fine. No orange. Who really looks good in orange?

I want to be cremated, and no open casket. If some of you need to peek first to ensure you are rid of me, that is okay.

I have given some thought to Aunt El’s idea of turning my remains into jewelry that you can all wear, but that is her thing. I don’t want to take that away from her. I will think about where the ashes should be sprinkled. Dad says on the golf course, but that is for him. I will let you know my preferences.

Oh, yes. The last thing is the flowers. I like lilies and daffodils. Just not roses or dandelions. But don’t spend a lot of money on that. I like basil too, and I have lots of rosemary in my back yard if money is tight the year I die. So there you go. Have I left out anything?

As an alternative to this, you can throw me a big party for my 80th birthday, and follow all the above instructions except for the obit and the cremation. Then I would get to enjoy the party!