Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Some people are really good at that “finding the silver lining” thing. Annoyingly good, some of them. As in, you just want to whack them upside the head occasionally to give them something to complain about. But they would probably thwart you in that, too, and just come up with some cheery reason they needed to be whacked and how it gave them great perspective on what it feels like to be whacked or some such drivel that makes you feel guilty and annoyed simultaneously.

Anyway, I want to see how good you all are at it. No, I won't whack anyone. Really, I promise. I want to know what you can come up with as the positive spin to put on things we normally don't give a positive association to.

For instance, getting up early is not a positive thing for me. When I married 25 years ago I gave my husband two rules. No discussing gross anatomy class at the dinner table. And NO talking to me for the first hour after I wake up. This was for his own safety, believe me. So, I'm not a morning person.

Nevertheless, I do get up each day to get child #3 to school by seven. And the fall is when I realize that it has some great perks. Like the photo above. The streetlights are still on for a bit, while the sun begins its pink and yellow ascent over our cobbelstone street through town. It's a sight, every day, that never gets old. Then, if we're lucky, the fog sits over the river or the nearly lake. It looks so soft, like it also knows not to be too harsh on me too early. It's a beautifully gentle way to ease into a day. Plus, I have a thing about driving into fog. I actually love it.

So, I'd like to know what the silver lining would be in this situation for you. What makes getting up early worthwhile?

peacocks we have heard on high . . .

Some of you will hate me for this post. I have an admission to make. I don't mind Christmas decorations in October. I may be only one year shy of getting to join the red hat society, but every year I still love to walk through Christmas displays at the store. Yes, I do. I always will. There is something about twinkling lights that makes me joyful every time.

I do not and will not ever do plastic or blow up lawn decorations. I think my husband might actually consider that fair grounds for separation, so even if I wanted to, I would not do this. But lights? The more the better, as far as I'm concerned. They make me happy.

So this year, I fell in love with the light-up peacock lawn ornament at Menard's. Yes, tis true, as far as I know, peacocks have nothing to do with Christmas. Absolutely nothing. I cannot even think of a remote, random tie in. Even my imagination is coming up blank here. Maybe the Twelve Days of Christmas? Nope, no peacocks there, amidst all those other birds. But still, I love it. I shouldn't. I know this. But I do.

And now that I've admitted this, you must share. What is your guilty holiday pleasure?

showing up

I'm trying to create my website, and I have run into a problem. The experts tell you to make it personal—get people to feel they know you. The best way to do that, oh all-knowing experts, is to use photos. Which is where the problem comes in. I have realized, in looking through old digital files, that there are precious few photos of me.

We have, you understand, innumerable photos. That is not the problem. Our family contains two avid amateur photographers. We have files and files and files of every possible cross-section of the Eiffel tower in all lights. But few of me at said Tower. Because, while my husband takes all the artistic shots, I take all the family shots. And I am not in them. Which makes it a challenge to find fun “personal” photos for a website.

There are a few of me, taken by the kids. But all mothers everywhere instinctively know what those look like, don't you? They are the, “Let's take a picture of mom with her mouth full of something she can't identify,” or “Let's get mom falling asleep on the couch after catching the midnight bus back from the Colosseum” variety. Or worse, “Let's get mom in her bathing suit.” Not going public anytime soon.

After inheriting two bins of photos from my deceased mother and having no idea who anyone in the photos is, I made a promise to myself that I would never leave my kids with that memory vacuum. Thus the twelve or so scrapbooks in my room. My kids will have pictures complete with ID. But, it appears, they won't have any of me. And that defeats the purpose of leaving them with memories, doesn't it?

So today when I took child #3 to the arboretum for what may be the last glorious day of fall, I started. I made sure she took a picture of me with the scarecrows and trees along with all I took of her. Thirty years from now, they'll still know what they look like. But they may need a refresher course on me. I'd better start showing up in the pages.

Has anyone come up with good ideas for getting more of you in family photos?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

apples on the sidewalk

Last week I went to my neighborhood Apple store for my second lesson on “How to teach a woman twice your age how to use her new laptop, and you'd better be respectful about it or I'll tell your mother.” I didn't quite expect the sight at the front door. A shrine. Candles, flowers, and lots of . . . apples. Haven't seen that kind of mash up since the Buddhist shrine at the place I got my nails done that had an Egg McMuffin as its offering.

A shrine to Steve Jobs. Who deserves it, I suppose. But it did make me think how ironic it was. Not at all to downplay his amazing genius or contributions to our current age—I am, after all, typing this on said new Macbook laptop—we have to admit that he's had some role to play in the American lifestyle of disconnectedness. The plug in and drop out phenomena. Not a causal/personally responsible role, but a player in the action. And now, that generation that doesn't talk to people face to face anymore feels so connected to a perfect stranger that they leave him flowers and apples. Just a little . . . odd.

So my question for today is, to whom are we connecting? To our sons, daughters, spouses, neighbors, parents? Or to strangers who entertain us, inform us, or enrich our technological lives? Who receives our devotion and interest? And, to whose lives are we contributing on a personal level so that they feel truly connected to us?

Maybe they won't leave you a shrine. I'm kind of hoping no one ever leaves me one. It's a little creepy. My kids will probably keep my picture on the fridge for a couple weeks, at least, when I'm gone, but I don't think they're the shrine type. Besides, what might they leave??

Where are your connections?