Never Again!

When you are young, there are so many things ahead of you, which includes all the purchases you will make during your lifetime: cars, home(s), clothes, food, vacations, furniture, entertainment, etc. As you age, the purchases decrease. I have purchased four homes, and now, I think any other home I may buy will be when Dad and I decide to downsize. Certain items I have vowed I will never spend a dollar on again. Let me give you a few examples.

Cars. As you all know, we recently had to replace my Volkswagen with another automobile after the company lied, and was subsequently caught, regarding the emissions on the cars. I told the salesman that I would rather have a colonoscopy than face the pain and the games involved in purchasing a car. Can you imagine if you shopped for food the way you shop for a car: fill up your shopping cart (or buggy as it is called in the South), and then proceed to an office to negotiate a price?

Winter Coat. We went to a wedding in New Jersey this past November. I realized I did not own a nice warm coat, so I scoured the area prior to our trip in search of a cozy coat that was suitable to wear to a wedding as well as with my jeans. I found a nice, above-the-knee coat which I wore to the wedding and then hung it in my closet when we returned. It is now the end of January, and I have not worn it again. Thus, I will probably never purchase another winter coat during my lifetime.

Soap. Dad and I went shopping at Sam’s Club yesterday, where among the items on our list, was a bottle of liquid soap from which to fill all the soap dispensers throughout the house. We all know Sam’s is about BIG, so the smallest bottle of liquid soap I could find was actually two 80-ounce bottles tethered together. One was quite large enough, but we had to buy both. So I said to Dad, “That’s it. Now we will never buy liquid soap ever again.”

There will be more “final purchases,” which is not necessarily bad. Don’t cry girls. I have no immediate plans on going anywhere. All my health issues have been addressed and I have passed with flying colors. But I hate shopping, so knowing I have three items I will never have to shop for again makes me smile!


How Our Names Define Us

Dad has started referring to Lily  as Lily-kins  and Bryce is  Meister  or Mr. Bryce. That got me thinking about other family nicknames.

When Kelly was 2½, she loved watching Cinderella (bibbidi bobbidi boo ♫), so for about 3 weeks, she insisted on being called Cinderella, Dad was Prince, I was known as Tooth Fairy,  and Jamie toggled between the names Esmerelda and Prunella.

When she began watching The Sound of Music, suddenly, we had to call her Maria or face her three-year-old wrath. She even had a “Maria hat” which she insisted on wearing. Sometime later, Dad began calling her Kellbert. The two of us still refer to her by that name on occasion.


Jamie loved watching Peter Pan, so when she was three, she dressed as the character, Tiger Lily, which was what she said she wanted to be when she grew up. So Tiger Lily she was for quite some time. Another memorable nickname was Jamiac, which came with its own theme song, “She’s a Jamiac,” sung to the tune of  “She’s a Maniac,”  from the movie Flashdance.


Through the years, she was also known as J-J, Spike, Jaymeister, and Jamus-do-do. (I have no idea where those names, particularly the last one, originated!)

While Casey has always been the biggest movie fan, I can’t associate any television or movie with her. I remember calling her Dawn, Cupsom (again, the latter particularly mysterious), Casum, Buttercup, Quesadilla, and Scootch. Scootch was such a catchy name that she even had a custom-made game made for her known as Scootch-opoly.

Instead of landing on Park Place, Boardwalk, and Jail, Scootch-opoly had spaces such as Jamie’s Bingo Board for $3600, Dad’s Pro Shop for $2900, Kelly’s Dorm Room for $1400, Mom’s Office for $3100, Grandma’s Irish Imports for a purchase price of  $2700, and Casey’s Oscar for $4000 (the most expensive, of course.) Dad still calls her Scootch!


Did you all know that I had two nicknames as a kid—the first was  Daddy Long Legs,  which was kind of obvious if you saw me as a young teen, and the second was  Watermelon,  based on my last name?

Dad was the first of his crowd of buddies to land a job after college, so he was called Mr. Eugene. I know his friends Jerry and Dave still call him that. Perhaps more do.

So you see, some things from our past stick. Just a reminder.

Why Mommy Joined the Movement

Saturday was the second time in my life I attended a rally, and this one was so much bigger than the one I went to nearly six years ago at the State House, which was to protest a local issue at the university. Saturday’s rally in my small southern city was a sister march to the far bigger march—The Women’s March in Washington, DC. After seeing a post on the Facebook wall of a very distant cousin—were all the marches all over the country anti-Trump marches or women’s rights marches—I decided to write why I chose to participate.

For me, it was because of the fear and uncertainty I feel with the new administration. I have watched our new president change his mind so many times that I truly do not know what he believes. Since many of his cabinet nominees do not share his current views, President Trump tried to explain this by stating, “I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!” So will they follow his view or theirs in making decisions? How do we know?

I worry about our planet, so when I see images of Chinese citizens walking their streets wearing masks to protect themselves from breathing their polluted air, I fear that this could happen here. I remember seeing Grandma carefully saving her newspapers in the kitchen and then tying them in bundles for recycling day, so I purchased a wheeled-garbage can so she could move the heavy load to the street. Someone told me that while in the hospital, Grandpa asked if someone had taken care of the recycling. He used to call the local chemical company to complain about their noxious odors because he knew they were dangerous, so you see, environmental issues are in my DNA.

Does President Trump dismiss the idea of climate change, because on March 21, 2016 he said, “I’m not a great believer in man-made climate change,” or has he changed his mind, since he stated on November 22, 2016 that “I have an open mind to it,” which is a reference to the Paris climate accord? I rallied for our planet, because we no longer have the time to get it wrong.

I worry about our health care, because I don’t believe he can repeal and replace it as quickly as he claimed on January 11, 2017: “We’re going to be submitting—as soon as our secretary’s approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan. It’ll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously.”

I doubt the speediness of the repeal and replace when no one before him could come up with a plan. I fear that all the good things will not remain and people will die if done wrong and in haste, so I rallied for our health.

I know that one of you went to Planned Parenthood for your annual exam, because your job as a teacher at the charter school did not permit you to leave early enough to make an appointment with a “regular ob/gyn.” It was not for an abortion, but for simple women’s health care. So I rallied for the continuance of Planned Parenthood funding and also for the right of women to choose.

Seeing the involvement of Russia in our electoral process and the bromance between our president and the Russian president makes me particularly uneasy. Knowing about Grandpa’s life in the Soviet Union, I am sure you can understand my discomfort regarding a cozy relationship with the country where he lived under a regime of censorship and fear, and where several members of his family died under questionable circumstances. So I rallied for the investigations regarding communications between Russia and anyone in the Trump circle to be completed, regardless of the outcome.

I rallied for good education for your children, which I fear under a Secretary of Education with no experience in public schools; for civil rights to continue to move forward, not backward; for equal pay for women; for women to always be treated with respect; for common sense gun laws so we do not see another Sandy Hook; for nuclear weapons to be off the table. Those are just a few of the reasons I attended the rally this past weekend.

I want to give our new president a chance, but he needs to convince every citizen that he is committed to all of us, not just try to persuade himself that he can draw more people to his own gathering, as erroneously stated by his press secretary: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” (Incidentally, we learned this is called “alternative facts” by the president’s senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway.)

But he has not begun to convince me of his sincerity and honesty or erase many of his campaign’s despicable actions from my memory, so he has an enormous amount of work to do in that respect. I wonder if he even cares, and feeling that way is sad. I have never had such doubts about a new president.

I need him to get to work for you and for me, and until then, I will continue to watch him very carefully and call my representatives to voice my opinion—positive and negative—as I should as an American. I will watch my representatives and remember who listened to “we the people” when I go to the polls next time. I will not just sit back and complain.

Grandpa never could have been involved in a march or rally like this when he was living in the USSR, so I cherish the freedom that we can do so here.

I am proud of my friend Mary and cousin Susan, who attended the D.C. Women’s March. If not for my darn old hip, I would have been there walking beside them and a few of their closest friends, and I could have witnessed this view firsthand.


Embrace the Extra Time

This week, when Dad and I were standing in line at Publix, we commented that it was unusually slow (not that it mattered much since we had no big plans). When it was finally our turn, we learned that the source of the delay was the credit card chip.

As each store gets in on the chip bandwagon, we have seen how the chip, which is supposed to improve credit card fraud, takes us a bit longer to exit the store. The question is, how do we react? Dad and I decided that we should embrace the increased waits rather than complain.

Here’s what happened to us:

It was Wednesday evening, which at Publix is senior-discount day. After Dad inserted the card, he looked at the register read-out and commented to the cashier that she forgot to acknowledge that he was a walking coupon. In fact, Dad then nicely added that I also was a “walking coupon” and therefore entitled to the senior discount as well. She responded by saying that neither of us looked old enough, and then looked at me and said, “Especially you.” I smirked to myself.

She went on to ask if I had ever smoked, to which I responded by telling her that I had never smoked even a single cigarette. I then pointed out that this month it will be twenty years since Dad quit smoking. The chatty cashier congratulated him and asked how he did it, so he explained about his thyroid surgery. He pointed to the scar and gold chain on his neck and told her that he had gotten the necklace after the operation at the suggestion of the doctor and had only removed it a few times in all those years.

She smiled, and then Dad got the “remove card message” from the credit card reader. So rather than standing there fuming and complaining about the long wait, we embraced our southern “what’s-the-rush attitude” and walked out in a happy mood. I told Daddy that my approach to the chipped card will be to make a friend and leave in a good mood rather than with my blood pressure elevated. Try it, girls, even you, Jamie, up there in New Jersey.


That’s My Girl!

Now that we have children in the family again, I am back in the cake-making saddle again. I was reminded with the first birthday of my first grandchild that a one-year old has little interest in the cake, whereas by two, there is a lot of opinions involved. (It had to be a Thomas the Train cake the second time around.)

My first cake for a little boy was quite amusing as you all recall. We ever so carefully placed it on his high chair tray, and then waited for the reaction. He took one look at it, burst into tears, and pushed it away. You would have thought I baked him a brussel sprout-infested cake.

“Hey,” I thought, “I worked hard on your personalized blue cake with the green number one in the center!” (Coincidentally, green is now his favorite color.) I don’t recall any of you reacting like that. I think you all rather enjoyed your first cake.

With another one-year old in the family, I was prepared this time. I wondered if my little granddaughter would react in horror just like her big brother.

This time, her personalized cake was all girl—with pink frosting with gold dots. The cake was placed on her tray, and I waited for the reaction. I saw a smile, and I immediately thought “Girls really are different than boys! She knows how to butter me up already.”

She had a grand old time poking her fingers in the icing, stabbing it with a fork, shoving some of the sweetness in her mouth, and throwing much of it to the floor. The point is, she truly enjoyed my cake. That’s my girl!

img_2090          img_2101

I look forward to taking her out for a tea party as soon as possible.

You Never Know When That Moment May Be

Every once in a while, the phone rings, bringing unexpected news that draws a dark curtain across a happy day and pierces our hearts with the somber announcement. We have all experienced the death of a special person in our lives—a special aunt or uncle, a friend, or an elderly parent. These all hurt, but when the death is sudden, there had been no indication of any health issues, and we have had no time to prepare, then that death is even harder to accept than one after a long, serious illness.

This has happened with our family’s favorite cousin, our friend’s young son, and now most recently, to a very special father, who was connected to our family through Casey. When I heard the news, the shock sucked all the life from me. I was speechless, and later I cried. This time, like always, I thought about my last moment with him.

My moment with my cousin always makes me smile, because as I have told you many times, it was a smile followed by the exchange of the peace sign while we were at church. My friend’s son I had only met once, so my moment with him was a casual “nice to meet you.” For that special father, it was a warm hug after a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend.

I have thought a lot about my last moments with each of you, and while we usually say goodbye with a hug, I rarely say, “I love you.”

Why is that? I remember sitting with all of you in my rocking chair and feeling that overwhelming love that you all may think you understand, but I contend that you really don’t until you become a mother. When you were babies, I used sing to you my own version of Brahms Lullaby:

I love you, yes I do

Don’t you know I love (fill in the name)

Honey cutie sweetie pie

How I am in love with you….


Sometime—I don’t know exactly when—I stopped saying it often enough. Maybe it’s because Grandma and Grandpa didn’t say it much either, although I never felt unloved. I’m not a fan of the casual “luv ya,” which I have observed people saying to people they clearly don’t know enough to love. But I need to start vocalizing it with you.

I listened to Bryce tell me that he loved his family, and later thought about it much more after the most recent death of that special father this past weekend. I surely don’t want my last words to you to be “Go Cocks” or “Got to Go.” If my last words to you were “I am proud of you,” then I think that would be a nice farewell memory.

So for me, I think what you may hear coming from my mouth as an alternative may be an expression of pride, or summary of our day together, like when Bryce said, “I am having a lot of fun.”

What happened this weekend made me think about the fact that you don’t always know when that last moment will be, so I want it to be good. I love each of you and am proud of you too!



Pronunciation Wars

I think Bryce is getting caught between his two sets of grandparents when it comes to learning how to pronounce some words. This became very apparent when we recently sat down to play a game he got from his Southern grandma and grandpa—aka “Gigi” and “Pops.”

We all love the Thomas the Train board game, particularly Daddy, who loves to arrange items in the most efficient manner—as you all know! We all are familiar with his analysis on how best to load a car or the dishwasher. I even attended his dishwasher seminar but still cannot do it correctly.

To play the game, each player picks a card during their turn. Every card contains a picture of a particular item, which you must then place ever so carefully on the train. Do it wrong, and they all come tumbling down. Among the items are a few crates, milk containers, boulders, and a barrel.

When we played the game this week, one of us picked the card with the barrel and immediately said, “I got the ‘ba-rel,’ pronouncing the ‘a’ like in the word ‘bat.’ I was immediately corrected. “It’s called a ‘beer-el,’ Grandma. I looked at Dad, and he agreed with me, but Bryce was firm with his pronunciation.

Finally, I looked at him and asked, “Where did you learn to say ‘beer-el?”

“From Gigi and Pops,” he casually answered. Apparently, our Northern way of saying that word was incorrect as far as Bryce was concerned.

I will have to check this out during my book club this week, since we have one woman from South Carolina, another from Texas, a third from Minnesota, and someone from somewhere in the middle like Wisconsin or Iowa. It will be very interesting to compare the various pronunciations based upon the area where each woman was raised.

For now, I think this is not the last time Daddy and I will be have disagreements with Bryce caused by how Grandma and Grandpa’s accents differ from Gigi and Pop’s. It should be very interesting!

How We Did It–Those Loop Holes

I am reposting part of my 2015 New Year’s Eve story about how we celebrated New Year’s Eve in Times Square in 2006 without wearing Adult Depends or freezing outside for many hours in those human cages. It was one of my best “getting-around-the-loophole moments.”

The year before, we celebrated Kelly’s 21st birthday in New York City, and we had so much fun being tourists in the Big Apple around Christmas that we decided to return. You all asked if we could celebrate in Times Square, and I said absolutely not. I had read about the need to arrive VERY early, and all my research said there were no bathrooms available. That was the deal breaker for me.

I compromised by agreeing to dinner in the vicinity of Times Square. I found a nice Italian restaurant but then discovered it was on the other side of Broadway from our hotel. “How will we ever work our way through all the crowds,” I wondered out loud.

My panic was calmed when I learned that  a written confirmation from the restaurant would help. So early in the day, we walked there to scope out the route and secure our written reservation—the golden ticket it turned out.

That evening, we set out on our journey, and as we headed toward Broadway, I recall thinking we were in big trouble when I noticed the barricaded streets manned by the NYPD. When we explained where we were going and presented our reservation, we were magically permitted to continue on our trip. We were ushered past all the revelers penned in like animals at the zoo and were able to literally run past everyone.  I felt as if we had arrived at the gates of Emerald City, and we were permitted inside once we showed the guard our ruby slippers.

We had a wonderful dinner followed by dancing in the bar, and then around 11:30, we noticed a steady line of people heading toward the door. We followed and  were shocked to see that we were just a short walk away from the famous New Year’s Eve Ball. The countdown began followed by the tons of confetti. What a wonderful surprise! It was the best party of my life.

Sometimes, the best moments are the unexpected!

Happy 2017!

Times Square 2006

Toasting in the New Year Before the Big Surprise


P.S. Dad reminded me to mention that the building in Times Square where the ball drops each year–the building with the electronic billboards and news ticker–was once owned by Allied Chemical, which was Grandpa’s employer for thirty-five years and where we met each other. This is just a piece of family trivia.