Category Archives: Family and Friends

Relationships and personal interaction

Flower power

Raise your hand if you don’t reach for your smartphone before you’re completely awake.

We all have that one thing we reach for in the groggy hours, whether it’s a trashy novel, a daily devotional, or Facebook, to help us get back to sleep at three a.m. or to help us wake up at six.

The night before last, I awoke in the wee hours to the then-important thought that I needed to toss some dead flowers before the trash truck arrived. Isn’t it always the small stuff we sweat in the darkness?

When it became clear that slumber wasn’t going to come back to claim me anytime soon, I reached for my trusty iPhone while admonishing myself, “Don’t think about flowers,” much like the exercise that calls us to not picture an elephant. The first thing that appeared on the screen: an email from 1-800-Flowers.

Naturally, I thought about flowers until I finally drifted off, shortly before the alarm rang. When it did, intending to hit the Snooze button, I turned it off altogether, and fell into the deepest sleep of my life.

The dreams were un-freaking-believable, transporting me to a netherworld I’d prefer to not see again, thankyouverymuch. When I awoke an alarming amount of time later, I was trapped in a dense fog, unaware of the day of the week or anything else.

I watched as my hand, over which I seemingly had no control, reached for the phone. I saw a private message from my priest. It read: “Your flower is asphodel.”

Obviously I was still dreaming. Or was I dead? Was my funeral being planned around me? Was I asleep or awake? What the hell is an asphodel?

When I asked the good reverend, I hope in a more reverent manner, she reminded me that I had registered interest in a Facebook meme: “Like this image [of a flower] and I’ll give you a flower to post. It’s part of an effort to beautify the web.” Ah yes, I had liked her flower and her effort to beautify the web.

One can’t argue that the web needs beautifying; I’ll gladly do my part. The problem is, I don’t know from flowers. In case you don’t either, here’s an asphodel: soft and starlike, delicate and beauty-ful, with sparks of bright color. Perhaps even my new favorite flower.

Photo credit: Flickr user Robert Wallace

Photo credit: Flickr user Robert Wallace

Or perhaps, a suitable mantra for my nocturnal meditations.

Asphodel.

Asphodel.

Asphodel.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Technology and Social Media

In these shoes

Just to set the scene: This morning I’m coming to you in pajamas and high heels.

I’m told this is important preparation for one of life’s biggies. Wear the heels around the house so they don’t shred your tootsies when it counts: when you’re Motherofthegroom, standing for hours, with the weight of the world—and your body, your soul, your heavy emotions—held atop scantly more than a match stick, four inches high and an eighth of an inch around.

The Boy is getting married in a week. You remember when he graduated from college four years ago. In addition to getting a degree there, he found a mate for life. Next Saturday, they’re making it official at a small ceremony near their home in North Carolina.

They (whoever they are) say that Motherofthegroom has three jobs: smile, keep her mouth shut and wear beige. The bride and groom, having tended to nearly all preparations themselves, have made my job a piece of cake. Admittedly, Fatherofthegroom and I made a wave or two when we wanted to invite the universe, but the young people were set on keeping it intimate. And so it shall be.

As these stilettos—beige, by the way—endure their breaking in, they spur contemplation.

In these shoes, I’ll stand and watch The Boy take another big step.

In these shoes, I’ll become a mother-in-law, hopefully the best one this dear, beautiful bride deserves.

In these shoes, I’ll vow silently to cut the titanium apron strings and hope for the courage and guidance the severing demands.

In these shoes, I’ll pray silently for grandchildren and for the inspiration to be the best Nanny in generations.

In these shoes, I’ll thank God for my own marriage, for the best son in the world and the choice he made in a wife, for family members overcoming illness and disability to be there and for a whole new family to love, honor and annoy.

In these shoes, I’ll hand Fatherofthegroom Kleenex. Lots of Kleenex.

In these shoes, I’ll think of all those, alive and not, who aren’t there for the occasion but who should know how special they are to us. I’ll take pictures. Lots of pictures.

Okay, shoes. Let’s do this.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends

The Lollipop that got away

Yesterday saw the passing of one of the most pioneering of child performers, Shirley Temple.

As Internet and television news outlets review her more than 80 years of accomplishments in entertainment and political life, everyone is playing and replaying the most famous clip – the cherubic actress belting out “On the Good Ship Lollipop.”

Cripes, another childhood memory:

Saint Dominic’s Catholic School, Shaker Heights, Ohio, 1968. For the school’s annual musical performance, second graders were divided into two groups. One performed “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” made famous by Shirley Temple. The other performed “Dearie.” If you remember it, then you’re much older than I. For the benefit of those who don’t, it was made famous by Ethel Merman.

Can you guess to which group I was assigned? This eight-year-old had to sing a song made famous by Ethel-freakin’-Merman.

Sorry for the outburst. The months I spent at Saint Dominic’s packed a chest of gloomy memories in the old emotional attic; that movie clip cracked the lid for a second.

The kids assigned to the Lollipop group got to wear cute, short sailor dresses and sing about bon-bons while dancing a perky little shuffle. I still remember a few of the steps. I made a point to learn them in the hopes that Sister Somebodyorother might spot my raw perkiness and switch me into the good group.

The other group did their number seated in rocking chairs, donning gray wigs and dressed in ankle-length frocks, because “Dearie” is about getting old. Not to mention the references to things no second grader would relate to. One group, lemonade stands; the other, running boards.

My father still teases me about how grumpy I was when we rehearsed, my lips pursed and eyes rolling. “Do you remember?” Yes, I remember.

On the Good Ship Lollipop

On the good ship lollipop
It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop
Where bon-bons play
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay

Lemonade stands everywhere
Crackerjack bands fill the air
And there you are
Happy landing on a chocolate bar

See the sugar bowl do the tootsie roll
With the big bad devil’s food cake
If you eat too much ooh ooh
You’ll awake with a tummy ache

On the good ship lollipop
It’s a night trip into bed you hop
And dream away
On the good ship lollipop

By Richard A. Whiting and Sidney Clare

Dearie

Dearie, do you remember when we
Waltzed to the Sousa band
My wasn’t the music grand

Chowder parties down by the seashore
Every Fourth of July.

My Dearie, Do you recall
when Henry Ford couldn’t even fix
the running board under a Chandler six

Dearie, life was cheery
In the good old days gone by.

Dearie, do you remember when we
Stayed up all night to get
Pittsburgh on a crystal set

Keystone movies, Coogan and Chaplin
Made you laugh and then cry

My Dearie, do you recall
When Orville Wright flew at Kitty Hawk
Take it from me, I would rather walk

Dearie, life was cheery
In the good old days gone by.

Dearie, do you remember how they
Loved Harry Lauder’s act?
My wasn’t the Palace packed

Jenny Lind presented by Barnum
Sang her sweet lullaby

Test your memory my Dearie,
Chicago all in flames sure caused a terrific row
They blamed it on Mrs. O’Leary’s cow

Dearie, life was cheery
In the good old days gone by.

Do you remember?
Yes, I remember.

Well if you remember, Dearie
You’re much older than I.

By David Mann and Bob Hilliard

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Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, Music

Moreover

When I was young my father used to tell me the story of a professor who, after a lengthy absence—perhaps years—finally returned to the classroom, and began his lecture with “However, . .” You may know the story. I failed to find it on the internets, and my father, now 81, is on the road working, and I hesitate to interrupt him.

Four months since my last blog post, I shall begin this one with “Moreover, . . .”

The Word Nymph last laid on you a tale of woe, of illness and death and, my apologies, it has hung out here like a slab of decaying flesh since Memorial Day. Anyone visiting this place has read of my husband’s and my medical mysteries, our friend in the ICU, the passing of a cousin, and other sharp stones the universe has flung in our path.

Moreover, the friend died after seven months in the ICU, while the cousin’s brother died suddenly four months later, followed by two additional losses in the same family. A friend here and there also left this place and, sadly, there are others in the queue. Moreover, my mother is struggling to recover from a terrible tumble she took in August.

If you’ve become acquainted with the people I spoke of on May 31, you’ll be happy to know that the babies born four months premature are home and healthy as of this past week. I know I am.

As for my husband and me, we’re doing better. My body is functioning at full throttle and my husband’s brain waves, according to that zany take-home EEG, are hunky-dory.

I continue to suffer from a severe case of creative writer’s block, long unsuccessful at keeping the technical and scientific writing I do in my day job from infecting the right chamber, but we’ll get back to it, I promise.

However, I do have a new concern about my husband; perhaps you have some advice.

The last two mornings, I’ve gone downstairs to find him, instead of watching the news as usual, listening to the Carpenters’ greatest hits.

By the way, I know I misused “Moreover.” I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Music

Farewell, best friend

Dear Hasbro, say it isn’t so. As if the discontinuation of my china, bed linens, lipstick, wallet, kitchen whisk and hair clips were not enough, my favorite Monopoly token is being tossed out like yesterday’s crossword.

The company has just announced that, among its long-lived Monopoly board pieces—the race car, the Scottie dog, the top hat, the wheelbarrow, the thimble and others—they must phase out one out to make room for another. Seriously?

Enter the new token, the cat. This crazy cat lady has no complaint against Fluffy, but it’s replacing my all-time favorite token, the iron.

The iron is a symbol of what is right and useful in the world. Perhaps its ability to smooth wrinkles and create a polished and professional look appeals to the editor within me. From our everyday khakis to our finest table linens, it’s the tool that makes it all presentable.

True confession of an ironing geek: When I was in my early 20s, every Thursday night, while my peers were noshing at the local happy hour, I stood at my ironing board in front of the television, and pressing my way through Taxi, Barney Miller and Cheers. And then I was all set for a smooth weekend.

Maybe it runs in the family. Years ago, when my mother was imparting essential life skills to her two adolescent sons, she employed one of her finest Momilies: “The tip of the iron is your best friend.”

Hasbro could have phased out the thimble and no one would have noticed.

At least they had the good sense to save the shoe.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home, Sports and Recreation

Tackier than thou

What’s the tackiest gift you received last year? Or ever?

Over the years, my family members and I have engaged fiercely in Olympic-level competitive gag-gift-giving.

My mother and I send each other kitsch personalized with names—of people we don’t know. She once sent me his and hers coffee mugs meant for “Dwight” and “Daisy.” In return, I bought her a doggie bowl from our church thrift shop, personalized for “Georgina.” Mom doesn’t have a dog.

My father and I have exchanged nativity scenes and other collectibles constructed of everything from neon-painted seashells to rusty beer caps.

My husband and I have passed the same can of Pepperidge Farm Vichyssoise back and forth for more than 25 years. Not exactly a tacky souvenir, but something neither of us wanted to keep. Obviously.

It’s my turn to re-gift a 32-year-old bourbon decanter in the likeness of the head of John Lennon. I’ve been mulling who in my life deserves such a treasure. So far, no one qualifies.

Those worthy relics notwithstanding, I’m here to announce that we might have a gold medal winner in this Kitchlympic event. You be the judges. Better yet – it’s not too late to submit an entry.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home, Holidays

Worst wishes

Words to consider as we face another season of long lists and short tempers:

In the season of good will,
If you find you’re wishing ill
To those who help you to prepare,
It’s time to stop and get some air.

This year I dedicate this ditty with apologies to clerks at CVS and FedEx-Kinko’s.

The design and production of our Christmas greetings hit some snags this year. I might be on the naughty list of a few retailers, though I’ve tried to walk the line between charitable kindness and insistence on reasonable service. It’s taken years of experience to recognize that, when I catch myself about to wish someone harm, I need to take a breath and shut up, let up and, if needed, give up and do the job myself.

My husband and I often enjoy designing our own cards, though our creativity waxes and wanes with the years. One of our best featured a picture of our son in front of Italy’s leaning tower, with a caption reading “Pisa on Earth.” Another good one featured the son, after not having seen a barber in eight months, with the caption, “Hairy Christmas.”

One year, I took my design to Ritz Photo, which lost the order, botched the order, lost it again, and then pretty much banned me from the store. Eventually, I cancelled the order and channeled my anger into a new hand-made card:

‘Twas the month before Christmas
When the Welch family went
To order the greeting cards
They’ve traditionally sent.

They chose a cute photo
Of their 10-year-old son.
From a year’s worth of pictures
They chose the best one.

They went to Ritz Photo,
A reputable shop,
To make a photo greeting
But, oh, what a flop!

Surely Ritz can do photos
(Or so one would think)
Who’d have known that their service
To High Heaven would stink?

The incompetence displayed
By the photo shop staff
Got progressively worse
With each stupid gaffe
(They messed it up so many times, one should laugh!)

But it wasn’t so funny
For the Welches, this time
As they felt their patience vanish
And their anger level climb.

Back and forth to the lab
The Christmas greeting was sent
And back and forth and back and forth
Into oblivion it went.

The Welches gave up,
It just wasn’t worth
The stress in this season
Of the Christ Child’s birth.

So with help from their computer
And the angels above
They send you this hand-made
Christmas greeting with love.

Come to think of it, most of the Ritz Photo stores in our area have since closed.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Holidays, Rants and Raves