Posted tagged ‘family’

Playing Favorites 5/27/2022

May 27, 2022

greyghostIt has been a long week, a descent from a very happy birthday through the news that my daughter’s family will be moving away to my own futile attempt to avoid the sadness through denial, anger and bargaining (see Navigating Grief).  Last night I sent my son-in-law and daughter a note, telling them I was trying to accept their decision.   The very act of doing so stoked my anger again but this morning, I feel different.   I think am ready for the Grey Ghost of depression to wring the tears out of me and guide me to acceptance.

If you knew me personally, it wouldn’t surprise that I carry on my music devices a Heartbreakers playlist of sad songs to help this reluctant crier bring the tears.  All beautiful sad songs.   But which one gets to be the Favorite played today.  Easy.  Shattered  Beautiful melody written by Jimmy Webb.   It is remarkable how many songs by Webb grace my music files.  The most perfect pop female voice in my generation (perhaps any), Linda Ronstadt.   And the lyrics …

Shattered
Like a windowpane
Broken by a stone
Each tiny piece of me lies alone

They would rip the heart out of the Gray Ghost himself, if he had one.

Enjoy … or have a good cry … whichever suits your day.

Going to the Dogs

January 14, 2022

Ten years or so ago, when I was a regular blogger, one of my readers told me that she liked the way I started out as if I were going to write about one thing, then pivoted to my real subject in the second paragraph.  As this post will show, I still do it, not because it is my signature style but because I am easily distracted by shiny words, interesting figures of speech and sidelights.   For example, this post set out to talk about how my wife Muri and I (who are cat people) ended up dog-sitting three dogs.  But when Going to the Dogs came up as a possible title, I was distracted by the origin of the saying, which according to theidiom.com originated as follows: As far back as the 1500s, bad or stale food that was not thought to be suitable for human consumption was thrown to the dogs. The expression caught on and expanded to include any person or thing that came to a bad end, was ruined, or looked terrible.   On the other hand, according to phrases.org.uk , if you speak of ‘the dogs’ in the UK you be assumed to be talking about greyhound racing, a popular pastime since the early 20th century.  For the roughly 4 million people/year who go to the track, ‘Going to the Dogs’ suggests a good adventure.  Hmm.  Not for the dogs.  Mistreatment of dogs in greyhound racing has led to the closing of many dog tracks in the US and we’ve all seen dog lovers walking their rescued greyhounds in the park. (more…)

Christmas 2021

December 25, 2021

maui ornamentWe are just home from our daughter’s house where we got to open gifts with our grandkids.  They are all teenagers now but on Christmas mornings they are like little kids.  I love that … and a million other things … about them.   Since I was a child (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), it has been a tradition in our family that Santa brings a few new ornaments every Christmas Eve.   Once I reached 20 and no longer believed in Santa Clause, we continued the tradition, adding a few ornaments to the tree each year.  By now we have more ornaments that we could possibly put on one tree, so mostly we use what we call Santa’s ornaments, although we still use some of the dime store ornaments from our first few trees.  There is a box of glass bells we bought when we were first married that I use every year.  This year, my daughter’s family surprised us with an ornament from Maui that they bought went we all went there this summer.  Thus, another memory is added to the tree.

A few years ago, I made this video of some of our ornaments set to the tune of the Beach Boy’s Little Saint Nick.  It fits the bill as the more upbeat Christmas song I promised in yesterday’s post, Christmas Eve Again.

Merry Christmas, everyone !

Christmas Eve Again

December 24, 2021

wreathLast weekend, we had dinner at our neighbor’s house.    They had Sirius XM on playing traditional Christmas music and it was just what I needed to get me in the mood for Christmas.   Oh, yes, I had put up our tree and the lighted wreath on the front door,  And ordered (on Amazon) gifts for the grandkids.  In my family we all buy stocking stuffers for each other now that we know Santa doesn’t do it and I’m done with that (almost).  But until I start playing my Christmas soundtrack in the car as I’m driving or or on earbuds as I’m working out, I can’t really find the Christmas spirit. (more…)

Hannukah in Utah

December 5, 2021

menorah1According to chabad.org, more than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully convert the people of Israel to Greek customs and religion.   Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the holy temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to God.   When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.   Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates this miracle.   Although Hanukkah is probably the best known Jewish holiday because of its proximity to Christmas, it is actually a lesser holiday on the Jewish religious calendar.   Still, many non-Jews (and retailers hoping to harvest some profits from Jews during the season) think of it as the Jewish Christmas.  This article from Yahoo! Lifestyle explains why it’s not.

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Water Polo?

June 3, 2021

swim startI made the East Haven High School swimming team in my junior year.  I was on the short side, a little scrawny and my coach said I had a Red Cross freestyle (NOT a compliment).  Our school didn’t have a pool so we bused to the local YMCA for practices.  I worked hard and swam in a variety of events, including the 100 fly, the 200 individual medley and the relays.   I wasn’t the fastest guy in any event but I was versatile and worked hard to improve.  The summer after my junior year I worked as a lifeguard at a local lake, swimming laps during all my time off duty.  I also hit a growth spurt and returned 6 inches taller with … hello … muscles.   When my coach saw me, he said, What happened to you?  He was even more pleased when he saw my times. (more…)

Soccer and Me

June 1, 2021

aaronamyHere they call it Soccer.   In most of the world it is Football or Futbal.  Here it is a relatively minor sport.  In most of the world it is THE sport.  At 36 years old, I knew nothing of the sport except that the athletic fields around our home in Yorba Linda, CA, were filled every Saturday with boys and girls chasing a ball around and parents cheering like it was the Oympics.  Soccer was THE sport for kids and my son wanted to play.   He joined a team coached by the Mom of one of his friends (who played the game) and I agreed to be the assistant coach.  Thus began my my roughly 15 years association with youth soccer.   I would coach my son, Aaron’s team, up until high school and my daughter, Amy’s team until she retired from the game in 6th grade.   I served on the league board and as the President of the high school booster club.  As a coach, I was known to stress sportsmanship over winning, but my teams won a lot, too.  I think I probably took it too seriously and I know I stayed at the fair too long with my son, coaching after he was ready for me to step aside.  That didn’t end well and left me with a bad taste for the game.  A few years later, I took on a girls team without a child of mine on it for two years which rehabilitated my love of Futbol. (more…)

Dance Dads

May 28, 2021

paradeIf you’ve ever raised a girl, particularly one interested in dance, you’ve probably know about Dance Moms.  Even if your daughter didn’t dance, you probably knew a few because they have a certain reputation … among other things, for living vicariously through their daughters.    There is even a reality show (to the degree that any of those are reality … I think they are all staged) called Dance Moms.   But unless your daughter was involved in dance, you probably don’t know much about Dance DadsDance Dads are more behind the scenes, building props and sets as needed, putting them up as needed at field shows and competitions where if we took too long the girls lost points.    And, just like the Dance Moms, sitting through hours of loud music and good-to-awful dance routines to see our daughters dance for 5 or 10 minutes.  And while we may never be able to tell pique turn from a plie, we gradually learn what they look like done right … and cheer right along with the Dance Moms when our daughters do them right. (more…)

On Sadness

May 8, 2021

poemsI try to read one poem from Garrison Keillor’s poetry collection, Good Poems, every morning.  I open at random to a page and start reading.  I admit, at least half, I don’t get, nor do I know why they are good poems.    But this morning I opened to John Updike’s poem, Dogs Death and found myself crying.  It is an incredibly sad piece about a rescued dog that has an undetected illness.  Beyond the sadness of the poem, it reminded me of losing my beloved Tuxedo cat, Claude, to cancer 2 years ago.  But when I was still crying 5 minutes later, I knew I was about to relearn a lesson that I’ve relearned many times before:  If I continually stuff feelings of sadness, they will come out as anger or disinterest in life or in isolation.  And eventually find their way out as sorrow, triggered by some totally unrelated (and probably minor) sad something.  An old friend and psychologist once told me that the reason we like sad songs is that they allow us to indirectly process sadness we can’t (or won’t) deal with directly.  Obviously, sad poems work, too. (more…)

Old

March 25, 2021

curmudgeonThis has been a difficult year: my wife’s breast cancer, COVID and the isolation that it brought, adapting to life in new place away from old friends in our 70s.   Both my wife Muri and I agree that this year has aged us more than a year.  I won’t make a guess about how many years it has aged us but I do know I entered the year a fairly content seventy-five year old and find myself, at the year’s end much more of a curmudgeon than I care to be.   One of the things that has made the year livable was living near my daughter, Amy, her husband, Lars and our grandchildren, Reed, Maddux and Savy.  We have not lived near family in many, many years and beyond the comfort of knowing they are nearby, we had the joy of seeing them, albeit less than we’d have liked because of COVID.   Of course attending the grandkids activities is wonderful (Reed swimming and water polo, Maddux soccer and Savy dance) but just hanging out together, talking or playing games is special, too.  And we are lucky that we are not only relatives to our daughter and her husband, we are friends.  One of the things we have missed due to COVID is going out to dinner with just the adults, where we could talk (and laugh about) adult things. (more…)