Aging and Friendship

•January 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

A friend/classmate from college just passed away. Preceding that was the good news that the heart surgery had gone well and he was home, resting.

Reflecting on his passing I realized that it had been over 25 years since I had seen the man in person, but that didn’t diminish the sincere sadness and loss that I felt. And I got to thinking about the clearest memories that I had of him from that time. (Most of the memories are more generic ones of warmth and laughter. Nothing wrong with that. I love warmth. I love laughter.)

My favorite memory is from Acting 100 (101?). Everyone with a theatre major had to take it. I was taking it first semester, freshman year. Tommy was taking it later in college career. After all, he wasn’t there for acting. He was a backstage guy. His friend Steve, also a behind the scenes person, was also in the class. They were fantastic. While they weren’t actors and had no interest in changing tracks, they embraced all the exercises we were learning. They didn’t roll their eyes or begrudgingly take part.

Not everything we did in class was acting related. I don’t recall why now, but we were playing dodge ball one day. Tommy and Steve were on the same team that I was on. We were doing great. So great and so enthusiastically that when Steve went to stop a ball, his elbow and my forehead made contact. Did I mention that both Tommy and Steve were not small guys?

The welt was large and immediate. Tommy was the one who went to get the ice.

That’s my memory. And it’s all good. The dodge ball. The welt. The feeling of being taken care of by my new friends in college.

Then all of a sudden it’s 2016 and I’m saying goodbye to someone who hasn’t been present in my life for over half of my life. And yet I’m struck by the loss.

Which got me to thinking, earlier today, that friendships are like that.

Not all relationships are maintained at the same levels across time, but that doesn’t diminish the feelings or the importance of the space and time in which they did exist. And I hope that if I now send out warm feelings, positive vibes, warm fuzzies, or whatever, that they reach the people who have positively shaped me but I’m not currently in contact with.

Rest in peace, Tommy. As so many have said, you were legendary, one of a kind, a man with a great laugh, and someone who will be greatly missed.

Birthdays are Grand

•October 9, 2013 • 1 Comment

I’m at the right age. I have been for a while now. I know this, because birthdays are fun. I don’t make a huge deal out of them, but for a long time I treated my birthday as just another day, and now I feel that it’s not. It’s a great day and it falls in a great month, in a great season. The temperature is changing, the trees are morphing, and the smells around town are earthy and grounded. 

A few years ago we started a tradition of watching a Birthday Eve movie. The one that I usually choose is Life as a House since it affirms for me that life truly is meant to be lived to its fullest. To Its Fullest is obviously going to mean something different to each person who reads it, and that, in itself, is one of the most beautiful things about life. What fulfills me is going to be different from what fulfills you, and I love that we get to do these things apart, then come together and celebrate our achievements. 

Sorry, I kinda got off track there. Back to Birthday Eve movie. This year I went with Defending Your Life, an Albert Brooks movie reflecting on what happens when you die; his theory being that you go to Judgment City where if you prove that you have overcome fear, you can move on to the next stopping point of your existence. The things I love best about the movie are Meryl Streep’s performance and the insane amount of great one liners that have turned into inside jokes for me and my sweetie, but I also think it’s important to realize how tiny moments of fear keep us from achieving more. It’s something that I try to teach my kids: don’t waste time being afraid. I’ve had heart to hearts with my daughter about it, the most recent one coming on the heels of her saying that she didn’t do something because she was worried about embarrassing herself if she did it wrong. 

The moral to this story of how birthdays are grand is that life is good. Life is great. Each day I pause and think that I can’t imagine any other day being as fulfilling as this day, and then I get to wake up again and feel those same feelings all over again. Those moments where I do something wrong or embarrass myself (to be fair, I feel like the word embarrass should be in quotes)? Learning moments. Things to laugh about. A generous reminder from the universe that while I’m on the right track, I need to remember to think and reflect before moving forward.

Snuggle Kitty

•September 16, 2013 • 1 Comment

I love that it’s getting cooler out since that means taking hot baths while reading and relaxing with a glass of wine. I was getting close to the end of a book yesterday when I heard it start raining. I cut the bath short to check on the dryness status of the open windows. (All dry, no worries.) Since I was so close to being done and I was dying to know what would happen, I sequestered myself away from the family, hogging several cushions of the sofa, and dove into the last twenty pages. Meow Meow (a.k.a. Bagheera) joined me, lying against me, paws wrapping around my feet, and emanating so much cute that I kept paying attention to her instead of to the book. The cooler weather also brings out the snuggles in the animals, which is just one more reason to love the weather.

I did finally ignore her peaceful eyes and lazy smile and finish the book. So, all in all, a winner of a weekend, summed up in a few wonderful moments.

Gardening time!

•May 5, 2013 • 1 Comment

It’s great that spring is here (as wacky and wild as it can be in the Midwest). We have time this year to plant new stuff in the food garden, and we’re expanding the flower garden as well.

I added this sign, thinking that the new dog would read it and then know where not to poop. Then it occurred to me that she might not know how to read and would think that it was a sign that she should poop in the hosta garden. Upon further reflection, I realized that would be alright. Old Dog poops only in certain areas of the back yard (the far left or the far right), which is GREAT. New Dog has no respect for that. She thinks that it’s perfectly okay to take two steps off the patio and poop. What kind of madness is that?!ImageAnd while we’re outside doing anything, this asshat stands at the door singing the sounds of his people, who, apparently, are opera singers who have evolved to be heard two counties over with no extra amplification.



And lastly (book challenge)

•October 1, 2012 • 2 Comments

For the 2/3 book challenge (Mark, is there a follow-up round, or are we getting report cards and being sent on our merry way?):

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs: Another Tempe Brennan mystery that doesn’t disappoint, this time bringing controversy surrounding a set of bones that some believe to be those of Christ. The only thing lacking was my knowledge of the Bible so that I could have a deeper understanding of some of the issues that were raised.

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie: A classic that I hadn’t read before. My great love of mysteries was come by naturally, and when my dad gave me ton of paperbacks that had been my grandma’s, there were only a few Christie books in there. Although I still have a lot on the reading list to catch up on, I look forward to working in more of her books. This book introduces Tommy and Tuppence who apparently appear in several other Christie novels and short stories. This is also the first book that I’ve read on the Kindle. I’ve read excerpts and a short story, and I have to say that reading a book on the device was a little disconcerting. A character would appear who hadn’t been there in a while and if I were reading a paperback I would have quickly skimmed back to refresh my memory on how he/she fits in (again, a problem that comes up because I’m usually reading more than one book at a time and sometimes it takes a while before I get back to a book). I don’t yet know if that’s easily possible on an ereader. Anywho, the story was quite enjoyable and I suspect that I’ll enjoy seeing what Tommy and Tuppence get into next.

As for the book challenge, I had 14ish books on my list, and I read 17, only a handful of which were on the original list. I’m in the middle of a couple of more that were on the list, but they’ve been pushed to the side as my interests move to other things. This past year has been kind of crazy, so I’m happy to see that I’ve read more than I would have guessed but I’d like to be reading more. But there’s the rub, the fly in the ointment, the  . . . whatever . . . I do so enjoy watching t.v. at the end of the day and relaxing with my sweetie. I realize that I don’t need to give that up entirely, but I should work in more time for books. I pretty much ignore cleaning, so I can’t create time there. Ah well, I’ll figure something out. Maybe more baths. I always enjoy reading while in the tub.

little princes by Conor Grennan

•September 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I might be trying to write this too soon after finishing the book (five minutes ago), with too much Drambuie in me, but I can’t wait to share how much I enjoyed this book (and this one was even on my list!).

I was attracted to this book for many reasons when I saw it on the shelf and while I’m sorry that Borders went out of business it did give me the opportunity to splurge on books that I might not otherwise have bought at full price. This is one of those of those fortunate-for-me books. 

In little princes, Conor Grennan details his adventures. First, he volunteers at what should be a pit stop of his life at a home in Nepal where he meets adorable kids who have been orphaned. It’s one of those volunteer opportunities that you take advantage of and then return to “normal” life. The Fates had other plans. Along the way, he discovered that the kids weren’t orphans, but instead were caught up in the trade of child traffickers. He couldn’t turn away from that and along the way (long story short) fell in love with the kids, fell in love with an amazing woman, and changed the lives of many people along the way. Instead of heading home with warm memories, he headed back to Nepal to reunite these children with their families. First he had to find seven of the children he had met who had been separated out around Kathmandu. 

The book is adventure, hope, and all things good rolled up into one. I can’t tell you how many times it had me teary eyed or in full blown tears. Happy tears. 

Now to pass this book on to one of my good friends from Nepal to see what he has to say about it. (which reminds me, one of the random thoughts I had while reading this book is that the time period in which it happened is when I was first getting to know Navadeep. Now I want to know more about his family was influenced by the political events happening in the country at the time.)

The work that Conor Grennan’s foundation is doing is amazing. I encourage you to read up on it. If you can’t read up on it but are interested in finding out more, check out his website

(Two books in –more or less– a month! I must be some kind of reading demon. lolz.)

Appetite for Life, The Biography of Julia Child by Noël Riley Fitch

•August 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This book has been a long time in the reading. I started reading it not long after seeing the movie Julie and Julia. (Not a good movie, in case you’re interested, but I was fascinated with the Julia parts of the movie.) Most of what I knew about Julia Child came from some of the many spoofs and I’ll admit that I knew very little about the woman or the cook before reading this book.

For as much time as it took me to read the whole thing I can say that it was completely worth it. The title could not be more appropriate as Julia lived life to the fullest, seemingly every single day for her entire life (well, not her entire life as the book was written 1997 while Julia was still alive, so I’d have to do more research about the last years of her life to substantiate my claim). The details that are including are sometimes cumbersome to wade through, especially for a slow reader such as myself, but the complete picture that emerges could not be more worth it.

The details of learning to cook and then being inspired to write a book with her collaborators, including the incredible amount of work that went into it, was inspiring. Julia carried a strong work ethic through her entire life (I don’t know that I would have ever, at any age, been able to keep up the pace she kept up in her 70s) and it applied itself to every area of her life, including a strong dedication to those she cared about.

I was especially enamored of the love story between Julia and her husband Paul. They had a wonderful romance, with great, selfless dedication to each other. I could have read a whole book just about that part of their lives.

I’m now wishing that my daughter’s name had been inspired by this Julia in the hopes that some of that love for life and insatiable appetite for learning would somehow rub off on her. Maybe it will still.


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