Day #20: Tubular!

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I had to really dig for a definition that fit my mental image of the word, but finally found Surf Slang on About.com, which explained “Tubular is an adjective used by surfers from the 1980′s to describe something especially great… It was universally recognized as uncool by real surfers but used extensively in movies of the era. The literal definition can be used to describe a wave that is hollow or barreling, but as of the 90′s, calling something “tubular” pretty much fell out of favor altogether.”

My high school memories of the “real” surfers I knew did not include “tubular” in their vocabularies, but it was certainly overplayed as slang by Valley Girls and their ilk. Tubular was nearly always followed by an exclamation point, which is why I played it that way in my word list.

The A-Z Challenge is tubular, man!

Day #19: S is for Sincere

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Dictionary.com defines “sincere” as “1) free of deceit, hypocrisy, or falseness; 2) genuine, real”

My husband-who-lives-across-town used to say that if he could teach his sixth graders how to “fake sincerity” they would be ahead of the game for life. What he meant by that was that if he could teach them to appear interested and focused on the task or person at hand, they would ultimately complete the task and find the intriguing elements in it as part of the process. He was ahead of the “fake it ’til you make it” trend, but equally successful.

Young children are the most sincere humans around. They are straightforward and totally without guile, and you always know where you stand with them. Olivia, the almost four-year-old in our house, has no difficulty communicating her ideas, feelings, and opinions with anyone who will listen. She is sincere in her approach, and can be counted on to “tell it like it is”, whatever “it” is. Rapidly approaching eight, big sister Lily is becoming harder to read as she learns how to dissemble and prevaricate. She has been out in the wide world long enough that sincerity is becoming more and more difficult.

As for me, I’m finding myself at the opposite end of the sincerity curve. With age has come the honest understanding that I can be my own sincere self without being concerned about what others think about me. I have no men, bosses, or co-workers to try to impress, and have the freedom to simply be myself — whatever shape I take at the time. And that in itself is a blessing.

Day #18: R is for Robust

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Dictionary.com defines “robust” as “strong and healthy; hardy; vigorous”.

Looking around the garden this spring the most robust things I see are the weeds! Crabgrass, dandelion, foxglove, chickweed, spurge — you name it, it is thriving! And since our city enacted stringent watering regulations last week, allowing for lawn watering (for even-numbered addresses) only on Sunday for a maximum of thirty minutes, I rather doubt that the freshly seeded grass will be able to compete with the weeds. I stealthily water the flower bed every third day with the hose, jealously guarding the amount of water it uses in exchange for the beauty of pansies, lobelia, iris, and lavender.

Even more robust are the weeds in the front yard of our next door neighbor’s house. A true testament to the hardiness of weeds — especially crabgrass — the house next door has apparently been abandoned, as no one has been there for at least three weeks. So no matter how hard we try to make our yard beautiful, it is overshadowed by weeds three feet tall that are thriving on neglect. And the back yard is worse; fortunately I only see it as I am hanging laundry out to dry next to our shared fence.

Slightly lower on the “robustness” scale is the gardener…no, in truth I am plenty strong and healthy, but mostly lazy! I love the gardening part, and envy legendary master gardener Thalassa Crusoe’s team of laborers who kept her gardens ready to be planted. The weather for the next several days is supposed to drop into the mid-70′s (from the high 80′s we have been experiencing), so I should be able to make some progress digging vegetable garden beds. My veggies will be late this year — no matter how short the growing time needed, they can’t get started until I plant their seeds!

How is your garden? Are your veggies and flowers robust, or just the weeds?

Celebrating Easter

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(Because it is Sunday, we are taking a break from the A-Z Challenge topics.) Easter has always been a delightful celebration day. Of course, as a child I had no concept of the Resurrection — death in any form was pretty nebulous, and the whole idea of someone dying on my behalf would have made no sense at all. But we celebrated Easter and honored God by dressing up in wonderful new clothes and heading to church after our Easter egg hunt.

Mom always made Easter dresses for Melody and me; most years they were alike, but some years we had different ideas of what the ideal dress was, and she accommodated us. There were always new shoes and socks, and some years gloves, purses, and hats. What fun we had getting all dolled up!

Easter of 1959 was very special. I was on the verge of a Very Important Recital and Mom was about three weeks away from having our baby brother. So my Easter dress that year was the one she made for my piano performance at San Bernardino Valley College. It was glorious — this picture definitely does not do it justice!

Melody and Fawn all ready for church, Easter 1959

Melody and Fawn all ready for church, Easter 1959

My dress was sky blue taffeta with pale pink rosebuds tying up every scallop of the overskirt. I was beyond proud, and tried very hard not to lord my beautiful dress over Melody, who looked adorable in a dress also made by Mom. I felt very grown up.

Today was another glorious Easter celebration. This time the girls in question were Lily and Olivia, dressed in compatible but not identical blue dresses with white shrugs. Neither Mom nor Grammy sews these days, so the dresses were store-bought, but still delightful.

Fawn, Lily, and Olivia all ready for church, Easter 2014

Fawn, Lily, and Olivia all ready for church, Easter 2014

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was a busy place, what with a baptism, a visit from their granddad, and an Easter egg hunt following the service. Both girls took part in the processional, and Lily was composed and efficient in her role as junior acolyte. This grammy was properly proud. And when the last hallelujah was shouted and we headed home, there was family time, more Easter candy, and dinner at their great-grandmother’s house eaten at the kids table with their cousins.

All made possible because of the Resurrection.

Day #16: P is for Political

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The Free Online Dictionary defines “political” as “of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government, politics, or the state”. Urbandictionary.com carries it to another level, defining it as “an adjective used to describe actions or statements which are self-serving”. They explain, “Political works typically involve half-truths, hidden motives, deceptiveness, faked integrity or sincerity, or false advertising via exaggeration.”

If that second definition reflects the perception of the general public (especially those under 40 years old), it is no wonder that ordinary citizens who might otherwise want to serve in their communities are allergic to anything smelling of politics.

Daddy always said that citizens should pay close attention to local politics, and national ones would take care of themselves. By this he meant that if we selected intelligent, upstanding, ethical people to serve on our city councils and boards of supervisors, these people would get the grass-roots training that would suit them for state offices, and eventually national service.

Unfortunately, the cart is often before the horse in our modern political scene. Someone who aspires to a state or national office uses the power of his or her political party to get them elected to that local office, not because of a particular desire to serve the community, but purely as a stepping stone. And the financial reality of political advancement is that it costs such an exorbitant amount to run a campaign that only the extremely well-heeled or beholden candidate can take part. Many politicians say and do whatever they think those in a position to help them want to hear, in order to lock up that lucrative endorsement or generous donation. Hence our suspicions about hidden motives and faked integrity.

In order to fix the unholy mess we now call politics, drastic changes must happen. Massive campaign reform that levels the financial playing field by mandating bargain-basement spending allowances for EVERY candidate would be an excellent beginning. Not only limits on the amount a private citizen, advocacy group, or political action committee could donate, but how much a candidate could spend, would mean that an ordinary citizen with a desire to serve would have just as much opportunity to go before the voters as one born into money, or backed by a huge corporation with a political agenda.

I wonder if it could really happen? What do you think?

Day #15: O is for Onerous

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Dictionary.com defines “onerous” as “burdensome, oppressive, or troublesome; causing hardship”.

One of the most onerous burdens for many people today is overwhelming student loan debt. Quite often it seemed very reasonable to borrow the money at the time, and the repayment felt very affordable. But then life intervened, and all of a sudden there was a WHOLE LOT of debt, and not much available money to pay it off.

That’s where I am today. I never anticipated retiring from teaching with student loan debt. When I borrowed the money, I thought I was going to stay married to the bitter end, because I really didn’t see a reasonable or practical way out. So I thought our dual income would be paying off my debt. But someone wiser than I once quipped that “life was what happened while you were busy making plans” or some such thing. And it happened to me. To add insult to injury, my quest for a master’s degree ended after my mother’s death, as I simply didn’t have the heart to finish without her.

The moral of this story is: Don’t borrow money to go to school, especially when you are old enough that your career will probably be a short one. Cash flow your classes, even if it takes longer to finish. Learn from my mistakes, so that “onerous” is only a A-Z Challenge vocabulary word, not a life experience.

Day #14: N is for Numerous

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Dictionary.com defines “numerous” as “very many; being or existing in great quantity”. Or as my young granddaughter would say, “lots and lots!”

Some fortunate (or possibly boring) people are very focused in their interests and only concentrate on one or two interests or activities. Then there are those of us whose interests are so scattered that “numerous” barely describes the breadth of our activities. I, of course, fall into that latter group.

I am a collector. I happily collect dolls (old, new, expensive, or affordable), and have done so since I was a small girl. My mother, grandmother, aunts, and sister are/were doll collectors, too. I have dolls from my childhood and one very special one that was my mother’s last childhood doll, as well as my daughter’s dolls that haven’t yet been given to her daughters. And I have numerous friends in two doll collecting clubs that add to the joy in my life.

I collect books. Or perhaps they collect me. They surround me with little islands of pleasure and story, carry me away to exotic places, or help me discover hidden treasures. There are books in book cases throughout the house, books stacked under my bed, books on my computer desk, books in my car. And in my rented storage space there are book cases overflowing with books, and boxes and boxes and boxes. I’m working at thinning them out, but it is a slow and torturous process.

I collect frogs…stuffed ones, pewter ones, porcelain ones, magical ones. Also a unicorn or a dragon or two (or perhaps three).

I collect vintage clothing, especially lingerie. Until my last go-round searching for cartons, cases, and hatboxes spread across my storage unit over my past two moves C is for Challenging, I had no idea how many wonderful lacy petticoats, split drawers, and chemises I actually own. The practical voice in my head says I need to cull my collection; the secret hoarder inside says, “No way!”

I collect family stories. They end up in my blog, in my photo albums, told to my children and grandchildren. Family stories connect the generations with each other and with our shared history.

I collect teapots and tea paraphernalia. Once upon a time I dreamed of having a tea room with my mother, and we started gathering teapots, English bone china cups and saucers, and other tea accessories. I’m not sure where that dream is right now.

But most satisfying of all, I collect friends and family. I am so blessed to have dear friends who have become family, and family who are dear friends. I appreciate the bloggers who visit and comment and the friendships we are forming as we share our writing. If what I have heard is true, and friends are the gifts we give ourselves, I have been a very generous giver!

Is there something especially numerous in your life? Comment and share in the fun!

Day #13: M is for Merry

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Dictionary.com defines “merry” as being “full of cheerfulness or gaiety; joyous in disposition or spirit; festively joyous”.

My mother was merry. It was second nature to her, that joyous disposition. And her cheerfulness was contagious. Even as she battled breast cancer — and it truly was a battle — she said on more than one occasion, “I’m not sick…I just have cancer!” And she meant it. It wasn’t bravado to make her family less frightened, it was her own merry spirit shining through adversity.

It was part of what drove her to make the holidays so special for her loved ones. Birthdays, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…she loved preparing for the holidays, loved gathering “just right” presents, having us all together. She was merry, and she made our time together merry, too.

Being merry is contagious…infect someone you love every day!

Day #12: L is for Loquacious

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Google defines “loquacious” as “tending to talk a great deal; expansive; communicative; chatty”. I love that word, and hereby claim it for my own.

I spent the morning doing what I do best — talking. Specifically, talking to a lovely group of women while adopting the persona of my great-aunt many generations removed about a subject near to most of our hearts but not discussed much: lingerie. And more specifically, talking about the correlations between the restrictions placed on us by our underpinnings throughout history and the restrictions put on our freedom of movement, self-determination, etc.

You may have read about my search for my missing corsets and lost script. The corsets were eventually found, the lost script is still lost. So this morning I got up extra-early, sat down and wrote my new script, then reduced the amount of vintage clothing and lingerie I was taking by about two/thirds.

The ladies were very receptive to both my clothing and my story, and I think I did my Great-great Aunt Fanny proud as I told her story of loving and becoming the widow of Major General William Dorsey Pender. Lots of words were exchanged this morning. Good stories, honest sharing, women letting their hair down. Loquacious. It just fits!

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