Friends, Family, and Rock ‘n Roll

Our good friends A. and B. came to visit from Alabama for a few days last week. They don’t like their info on the internet so I am honoring their wishes by not posting any photos.  I love to document everything so it is hard for me not to do it! LOL But since they were disinterested, I didn’t even take any pix. So there! We had a great time talking, laughing, trying to solve all the world’s problems, and eating a lot of Rich’s good cooking. A. went with me to my volunteer work and was a big help since she is also a former social worker and kinda knew what to do to assist in the process.  She also won over all the “little old ladies” with her sweet southern charm. They were wishing she lived here so she could come back on a regular basis.

We stopped by to see Sarah, Miles and kids since our visitors knew Sarah as a child and wanted to meet the rest of her family.  We went out to eat one night, did a little bit of driving around, and went to the 6th Floor Museum at the Texas Schoolbook Depository to see the JFK exhibit.  Though we have lived in Dallas two years now (as of today, I think!), we had not been to see it yet.  It was very interesting and a lot more detailed than I expected.  Also a bit timely since the remaining records from the assassination will be released soon.  Rich and I are old enough to remember Kennedy being shot so all of the historical info and memorabilia in the museum brought back a lot of memories of that time.  I was attending 4th grade at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Georgia and for some reason I’ve forgotten, we were all in the cafeteria watching the film “The Last of the Mohicans.”  The principal, a nun, came in at the end of the movie and announced to us that the President had been shot dead.  We had to stay late at school, get down on our knees, and pray a full rosary for him.  I don’t know that I understood the impact of the death of a president at that point, but I was not happy about having to say the rosary before being allowed to go home.  That’s the mind of a 10 year old, I suppose.  I do remember watching Kennedy’s funeral on TV and seeing his little son saluting him as the horse-drawn carriage went by.  I think maybe it hit me more then, that someone’s daddy had died, more than the fact that the US had lost a president.

After our friends left, I picked up all the kids from school one day and we stopped to get treats.  Later that evening, we went to the book fair at their school, where they all picked out some books and I bought a few to add to my collection in what is becoming “the kids’ room” at our house.  Saturday we watched Elle’s volleyball match, in which she scored the winning point in the second game.  It’s been fun to watch her team of 9 year olds as they grow and improve in their skills.

Yesterday Rich and I went to see a local production of “Hair.”  It was at a small theater and set up in the round with the band occupying the middle space and the actors spread out around the venue and moving through the audience quite a bit.  It was fun to see it up close and was quite an intimate experience (at the end, one actor sang “Let the Sun Shine In” while staring directly into Rich’s eyes…which Rich found quite uncomfortable!) At certain points, audience members were also brought out to participate in various scenes.  The production was based on the original show so it had quite a few differences from the movie that most people have seen; definitely had a grittier tone about the Vietnam War and the happenings on the street.  Afterwards, there was a short interaction between audience members and the cast–interestingly, the young actors agreed that they could relate to the times in 1968 because the times today seem quite similar.

We could only take photos prior to the show so these were taken as the cast got ready to perform.  There was also lots of cool knitting/crocheting around many of the trees outside on the grounds.

Tonight we have tickets to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the Majestic Theater.  Looking forward to that, too!

 

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Weekend Update

We’ve been having some beautiful fall-ish weather in Dallas.  Of course, who knows if it will last.  It could be 90 again tomorrow (I didn’t bother to check the forecast). Rich has been busy doing lots of yard work and fixing things up outside.  Ajax and I hung out on the front porch “spotting” Rich in case he fell off the ladder with the power trimmer in his hand. Thankfully he did not.  🙂

Grandson Jack came over for an hour yesterday morning while his mom volunteered at the kids’ school and dad went to work.  We had a nice visit and then I took him to his preschool.  Did a little shopping to spruce up our apartment before some friends come to visit from out of state on Monday.  Had a coupon from Nothing Bundt Cakes–buy one bundlet, get another free, so of course I had to stop by and get a red velvet for Rich and a lemon for me. I thought I was getting the mini bundts that are kinda like cupcakes but these were actually small cakes.  Dessert after dinner!

I’m a little obsessed with all of the horrible news lately.  Hurricanes and fires and people suffering in too many places in the world.  Our ridiculous president and his responses to those disasters.  Should I say his disastrous responses to those disasters? Mass killings and yet the NRA and the administration pursue the “more guns, all the better” philosophy.  Dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which Rich and I rely on at the moment.  Doing away with subsidies for health insurance, which we again rely upon.  Thinking about canceling the Iran agreement.  Inept and incapable appointees at every cabinet department. Honestly, how can anyone support these f-ing morons? I wish Tillerson would just admit that’s what he said and be done with it.  Despicable Harvey Weinstein is finally confronted publicly and once again the floodgates open with more and more women telling their stories. I am so sick of (mainly) old white men who think they are entitled to do and say anything they want to women. Every woman I know has encountered these guys throughout our lives.  Isn’t it time for it to end?

With that in mind, read on and try not to be too despondent.  Yes, I am in a mood.  🙂

Higher premiums predicted for people who supported Trump.

This.  I really don’t get it.

Sociopathic baby men. 

It’s The Onion but it rings true.

Okay, a feel good story. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a national treasure.

I’m impressed with these local folks in the American Black Cross. 

Allrighty, have a lovely weekend, all. Get up, stand up, resist.

 

 

Pumpkin Time

We went over to Sarah and Miles’ the other day when the kids were off school for Columbus Day  Indigenous Peoples’ Day and had a big time painting and carving pumpkins for Halloween.  Well, Rich was the only carver and just did one this year, a Lego person’s face for Beck.  It took the whole time that the rest of us were painting so we didn’t make him do another one. 🙂  Sarah had looked up lots of ideas on Pinterest and we went to town trying to duplicate the ones the kids liked best.  Of course, the hands down favorite was Captain Underpants.  🙂

We’re pretty proud of our creations!

 

My New Jersey Home

I am not sure if I can technically claim New Jersey as home.  I have only lived in the state a few times in my life: as a baby, as a high schooler for two years, and as a graduate student for two years. But both of my parents are from NJ and although my dad was in the Air Force, which took us all over the world, this is the place we always returned.  My mom has lived in a little town called Laurel Springs since my dad died in 1973.  This is the same town where she grew up and where my grandparents lived most of their adult lives. I have lots of aunts, uncles and cousins in the area, though the number is dwindling by the day.  I’m at that age, unfortunately, where the “older generation” is quickly aging and I’ve lost some cousins as well, sad to say.  Although I am not sure I could ever live in New Jersey again, there’s something about driving across the Walt Whitman Bridge from Philadelphia to “the Jersey side” that always feels like a homecoming.  Some of my earliest memories are here: sleeping in little cots at my Grandmom and Grandpop’s house, watching my dad drink beer and play shuffleboard at the neighborhood tavern, family reunions, the sea breeze “down the shore,” the smell of a deli as I walk in the door, that distinctive Jersey accent.  My brother and I were recently reading an interview with Bruce Springsteen (yes, of course we are fans!) where he used the word “Grandmom” and it made me really happy.  It’s such a NJ name. Well, maybe East coast in general, I am not sure, but I claim it for NJ.  In fact, maybe I should have taught my grandkids to call me “Grandmom” just to continue the link back to the old home town.

 

Several months ago my sister and I booked a sale flight from Austin to Philly so we could spend a week with our mom.  The sale did not include Dallas, so my sister was nice enough to come to visit us for a couple of days before the trip even though she lives in San Antonio, much closet to Austin.  We had a good visit here, dinner out with Sarah and Miles, an easy drive to Austin, left her car at off-airport parking, and flew on to Philly.  We got in late at night so my cousin Tim picked us up and dropped us at Mom’s.  Coincidentally, my brother Joe and his wife Denise were also coming in a couple of days later and stayed the duration of our visit before leaving for a wedding in SC.  It is unusual for all four of us siblings to be in the same place at the same time (our other brother lives in NJ not far from Mom) so we had a good time hanging out and catching up.

 

The week flew by and we did not see as many people as we usually do but managed to squeeze in quite a few activities including pedicures, massages, enjoyed “Victoria and Abdul” at the movie theater, took a few drives, spit in tubes to send off our DNA to ancestry.com, did some research on our family tree on both sides, went to find our Grandpop Rice’s grave which we’d never seen and found an aunt and uncle at the same spot.  Saw a few cousins and two aunts, went out for a family dinner with all my sibs, niece, nephew, Mom and aunt, had lots of good talks and big laughs, reminisced, brought home some children’s books from my childhood, ate several hoagies, frozen custard, fudge from the shore and local pizza (can’t be beat).  I was happy to have some time with Mom and my sibs and to immerse myself in the Jersey-ness of it all.  In the middle of that, we were shocked by the mass murder in Vegas and the death of Tom Petty–so much sadness in the world and I feel like nothing I say makes a difference these days.

 

Rich drove to Austin and met us, we dropped Kathi at her car and headed back to Dallas. Sarah and Miles are in Charleston for a little anniversary trip, which is coincidentally where Joe, Denise and their girls and hubbies were going to be so they will see each other there.  That will be fun!

 

Brought back some hoagie rolls since we seem to have a hard time finding the right kind in Dallas. Yesterday we went to Jimmy’s Deli to get all the fixings and Rich made us some delicious hoagies for lunch. Tomorrow is our group work day in the community garden so we will be there in the AM.  Back to the routine!

 

 

Queen of the Thrift Store

We didn’t have a thrift store in Unalaska and I don’t really remember shopping in them in my past life in Abilene.  I do recall going to the Army Surplus store as a teenager to look for bell bottoms and army jackets, though. Oh, those low slung jeans with the wide bells were the coolest!

I’ve been to a few thrift stores here in Dallas, just browsing, mostly, and they were a mess.  I really could hardly stand to be there because there was no rhyme or reason to the set up and I basically had to dig through piles of stuff to find anything.  And then didn’t find anything I wanted! So I figured that was it for me: no thanks! However, I drive past a large thrift store every Tuesday on my way home from volunteer work and thought I’d look around one day. Oh, my goodness!  This store is amazing!  It’s organized!  It’s clean!  No digging! Everything’s labeled!  Clothes are hung on racks by size and color! There’s a big section in the back full of toys and games! It looks like a modest department store.

Now I am a regular.  I have a loyalty card.  I know I get a senior discount on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am thrilled when I walk back in and there are new and different items on the shelves.  They are replenished constantly, thanks to the generosity of Dallas neighbors cleaning out their closets.

Although I have bought a few clothing items, notably some brand new capri pants with tags still on for $2, I mostly head for the kids’ section.  I am stocking our second bedroom with toys, games and puzzles for the grandkids when they come to visit since we literally had nothing for them here.

Here’s what I got on my last trip for a total of $11! Yes, $11!  One game was unopened.  The books were 33 cents each!  I’ve bought quite a few toys, picture frames, knick-knacks for our shelves, baby clothes for a teen mom that my daughter is mentoring, baskets and pots for plants, and more. Why would I ever buy this stuff at a regular store again?

Do you shop in thrift stores?  If so, what’s your best find?

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Birthdays

I missed posting our son in law Miles’ birthday while we were on our vacation.  Miles lives here in Dallas so we get to see him pretty often.  He’s such a good guy and we have a lot of great conversations about many issues and current events.  He’s also a fabulous dad to three kids and a fantastic husband to my daughter Sarah. I just can’t say enough good things about him!  He’s a hard worker but also knows how to have fun with the kids and to encourage them in all their activities.  We’re lucky to have him in our family.  Happy belated, Miles!

Youngest grandson Jack turns three in a couple of days.  We’ve been lucky to be around since his earliest days and he’s grown up with Gigi and Grandpa a few minutes away.  He loves Grandpa and wants his attention whenever we are together.  He’s a really sweet kid who does not get upset easily and walks around with a happy attitude.  He loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and playing any kind of sport. Even at this age, he can slam a baseball, kick a soccer ball, and hit a golf ball–just has a lot of natural talent which is pretty amazing and funny.  He likes to come over to our house and hang out, looking for the cats and attempting to hold Ajax.  He’s very loving and a completely easy kid.  Yesterday he had a party for his birthday and had a blast with all of his little friends.  Happy birthday, Jack!  We love you like crazy!

Weekend Update

Back home and back to the routine.  I returned to my volunteer work on Tuesday, we’ve babysat the kids a few times, attended some soccer games, Elle got her ears pierced, I went to lunch with Sarah and a teen mom-to-be she’s mentoring, scored big at the thrift store, went back to the gym, cleared out the garden plot to get ready for fall planting, took some walks around the neighborhood since the weather is cooling off a little in the mornings and evenings, all of the grandkids are now back at school (and preschool for the littlest ones), loving it so far.  We had a quiet Labor Day weekend. Solidarity forever, now more than ever.

Worried about the hurricanes and the devastation they are causing. Thankful that everyone we know has been safe.  Continuing to be appalled by the current administration and the latest action to dismantle DACA. How much more can we take??

I finished a book called Evicted and highly recommend it.  Most of us at my volunteer agency have been reading it as it applies to our clients in many ways.  If you don’t understand the difficulties that people go through when they are living in poverty and can hardly make ends meet, this book will expand your knowledge.

All of the recent hullabaloo about Civil War statues and monuments is playing out in Dallas, too.  Recently a statue of Robert E. Lee was taken down (but not before some group managed to get a court injunction first, which was then thrown out…seriously, why does anyone care that much??).  This is a thoughtful article about the subject.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most brilliant writers today.  His latest piece is a long read,  a devastating one, but very important.

Defending the American Dreamers from the Dream Hoarders. I’ve been reading a lot of John Pavlovitz lately.  I am not very religious,  but if I were I’d want to be in his congregation.

And a lovely tribute to our former home in Unalaska. Oh, and if you want to see pix and watch a fun video of the annual Tundra Golf Classic back in Unalaska, click here.  Made me miss my job and my community there.

Happy weekend, all.