March 1

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March 1 is a lovely day in our family. Forty years ago today, my cousin Philip Bruce married Janice, thereby giving me my very first “cousin-in-law” who is now simply “my cousin”. (I wrote about our visit on Friday.) The bride was appropriately beautiful, the groom just a bit nervous, and the cake server (me) ended up with cake in her hair!

Fast forward to March 1 a couple of years later, when my sister Melody and her husband made me an aunt for the very first time. Jim was a neat little kid, and has grown up into a handsome and articulate young man who charms the local wildlife and can make all growing things flourish. He is another reason I wish that Ohio was located along the eastern edge of California!

Once again, the bottom line for me is family.

Cousin time

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Cousins are precious creatures, often being our closest playmates after our siblings. And if we are really lucky, our cousins choose their partners wisely and give us even more cousins as we get older. My first cousin to marry will be having his 40th anniversary this weekend, which means that my “cousin-in-law” has been part of our family almost twice as long after her marriage than her husband was before marrying her. (I hope that makes sense when I read it again in the morning!)

Today was Aunt Betty and Uncle Phil’s 66th wedding anniversary — an incredible accomplishment by two of the most special people in my world. Coincidentally, their first daughter-in-law was visiting for a couple of days, so I drove up to Fresno this evening for a visit. I almost didn’t go. It had been a long day, rain was expected, Olivia has basketball at 8:30 in the morning. I rattled off an entire litany of excuses to myself. But Janice had come all the way from Virginia and I hadn’t seen her for more than a year, so I went.

Of course, the look of joy on her face when she opened the door and discovered me was worth the drive both ways. And our instant “cousin connection”, the one that erases the time and space of being apart, was as wonderful as always. We were young adults together. I served the cake at her wedding, she is my daughter’s godmother. We are grandmothers together, we are each grieving the death of a parent (Janice’s dad and my mom), and watching loved ones journey through dementia (Janice’s mom and my Uncle Phil). I have often said that I wished New Hampshire, Virginia, and Ohio were clustered along the eastern border of California north of Arizona, so that all our family could see each other more often.

Tonight I am thankful for the blessings of cousins — by birth and by marriage — and for the aunts and uncles who give them to us. Happy 66th anniversary, Aunt Betty and Uncle Phil. And thank you for being Philip Bruce’s parents, so that I could have Janice.

(This was written on Friday night, but didn’t publish until two minutes into Saturday.)

Off on a tangent

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Well, friends, tonight’s post was supposed to be a review of For She is the Tree of Life, the wonderful book about grandmothers that I read today. However, I got side-tracked by a collection of 44 tiny houses on Face Book (thank you, Suzy Ward) and spent the past half hour meandering through photos and videos. Even though I realize I have too much stuff for a tiny house to make any sense at all, I am still fascinated by them. So that’s the tangent I explored…book review is promised for tomorrow.

Sleep well.

Redneck, literally

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I love a child’s literal understanding of words. Case in point: Today Olivia overheard someone tell me he was going to go home and heat up some spaghetti because “for a little redneck chicky, [name deleted for the sake of propriety] was a damn good cook”.

“She should put some honey on it,” commented Olivia.

“I don’t think that would taste very good,” I told her.

“No, on her red neck. To make it feel better,” she explained.

I didn’t even try to tell her what he meant. Some things are better left unsaid.

Reading Challenge 2015: “HRC”

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When I first started reading HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton back in January, I had no idea it would take me nearly six weeks to finish. Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes did a masterful job of taking the reader inside the Clinton campaign machine, showing the growing respect and friendship between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, and sharing details of her tenure as Secretary of State. It was heavy going at times, simply because there was so much detailed information to digest, but most definitely worth reading.

I have always felt that Hillary was the smarter Clinton, and I still do. But I have a better appreciation of Bill and his political expertise now, and am even more excited about the potential of a Presidential run for Hillary in 2016. Hillary’s humanity showed through here much more than I have seen elsewhere. This is a driven, ambitious woman who truly cares about the future of our country. A good read, for sure.

Reading Goal for 2015: 5/50.

Dinner table conversation

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I do a fair amount of people watching at work, and enjoy it enormously. But I am getting more and more concerned that we might be raising an entire generation of children who will have no idea how to have a dinner table conversation.

I understand how parents might want their children to have something to do while they wait for their food to arrive. That’s the joy of a kid’s menu — as well as the meal choices, there are also games, riddles, stickers, you name it, to keep them entertained. But more and more children are coming in with electronics…at earlier and earlier ages. The young ones with their iPads are thrilled to have games to play; the older ones, constantly texting (or sometimes talking) give out the “I’ll eat with you but I don’t have to interact with you” sulky vibe. Tonight I seated a family whose youngest had an iPad, the teenager had ear buds in his ears so he could listen to music, and both parents were texting on their phones. I really wonder why they bothered to eat dinner at the same table. They certainly weren’t conversing.

Joseph’s dad and I took him to dinner at a nice restaurant when he was three weeks old, and as soon as he could talk he was ordering his own food. Georgia was even faster…her first meal “out” was at a week old (her first antique shop visit was at three days old, but that’s another story). We ate at restaurants on a pretty regular basis, and both children understood the art of visiting about the day, or about the world, during dinner. I don’t know who I feel more sorry for — the children who aren’t being taught how to have a pleasant conversation with adults, or the adults who miss out on the opportunity to find out about their children’s day.

Rant over. Enjoy your dinner!

Rain

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Thanks to Yahoo Weather and my iPhone, the girls and I keep tabs on what’s happening weather-wise in the cities where our loved ones live. Lily checks on our Visalia weather daily as she picks out her school clothes, and Olivia loves to look at the icons to see what to expect next. This morning the charts showed a 40% chance of rain for us at 10:00 a.m. Olivia was really excited, as we have been in a drought since she was born, and rain is still quite a treat for her. We were having a “staying in and snuggling” morning, so watching the weather change was easy.

About 9:30 the sky started darkening, right on schedule. And two minutes early — at 9:58 — the rain started pouring down! Quick as can be Olivia ran to her room and got dressed so that she could go outside and watch the rain. She was back inside shortly to trade her shoes for rain boots. Then Lily jumped up to join her. My idea was that they should stay under the patio cover and watch it rain. But they had other ideas.

The girls all dressed for rain.  And yes, that is a puddle in the yard.

The girls all dressed for rain. And yes, that is a puddle in the yard.

Soon I heard stomping and shrieking as Olivia wielded her rain boots in the puddle. I called them in before they were too thoroughly soaked, but they had a great time.

I hope it rains again tomorrow.

A dark and foggy night

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The Tule fog rolled in early tonight, and right now has that “Jack the Ripper” feel to it — dark, wet, and creepy. I am grateful that the main streets have extensive lane markings, as otherwise I would have been driving home from work by Braille. The most exciting thing about my drive home happened at the last major intersection, where a car coming from the south made a u-turn in the middle of the intersection (against the light), directly into the left-turn lane where I was sitting. I yelled a few profanities at him, but he couldn’t hear them, having zoomed away as soon as he scared the wits out of me!

I hope no matter what the weather is wherever you are tonight you are warm, safe, and cozy.

Hendrix Brysen

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The response to our GoFundMe account for Baby Hendrix has been wonderful. I’m linking to it here to give it an even wider reach. Blessings on all who see it and donate, or who stop for a moment to pray for this grieving family. Hug your loved ones tightly this day…and every day.

Hendrix Brysen...you are so deeply missed

Hendrix Brysen…you are so deeply missed

Contentment

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I spent a couple of hours earlier this evening “messing” at my computer and listening to my son-in-law and his friends gaming in the garage on the other side of my bedroom wall. (Thank you, Nick, for gifting me with your “old” monitor — twice as big as the one I had.) I love hearing them cheer at each other, harass each other, goad each other over bad shots. The only thing that makes it better is when my son is out there in the mix, too. There is such comfort in knowing that all ones chicks are safe and sound.

While the grown-ups were playing in the garage, the little girls were tucked into the couch watching television after chores and baths were finished. The ‘tween sit-coms make me groan, but the girls enjoy them and they aren’t awful, just a bit insipid sometimes.

Tonight this Grammy is content listening to happy voices.

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