Archives for the month of: May, 2014

Tattoos were a topic of discussion with my son from his teen years.  He had the tenacity to end every conversation (well, not EVERY, but it seemed like it) with “Mom, can I get a tattoo?”  The answer was always “No.”  Just a firm “No.”  When his father was in the Navy, he used to amuse me with stories of the strange and stupid tattoos his fellow sailors got while on leave.  I asked him if he was tempted, and he said he thought about it, but thought again.

When I was growing up, tattoos were seen on burly guys who had been in the service or strange people you didn’t want to associate with.  They were not common in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s.  When they started coming into vogue, my husband and I were on an island resort beach and saw an older couple, maybe 70s, probably from Europe, with tattoos.  It made us laugh because the tattoos were sagging and not so attractive.

At one point in the tattoo discussion years, I gave my son a wonderful tie with tattoos designs, telling him this was the tattoo he had been asking for.  Stupid me.  He loved the tie, but he didn’t give up the idea.

IMG_5049Needless to say, he started getting tattoos as soon as he went to college, starting with his fraternity letters on his ankle.  I excused that as something that at least would last forever.  The next ones were the family crests of my family and his father’s on his shoulders and the celtic design on his lower back, telling me they were to honor his grandfathers.  Really.  There was the penguin he got on his leg when we went to Seattle for his cancer treatment.  I have to say it was at least a work of art.  There was the mad kitten attacking the ball of yarn on his upper arm when he licked cancer the first time, a symbol of his triumph.  And there was some weird wolverine or something on his forearm.  God knows why.163996_1576103763497_1262679120_31377092_8035279_n

He’s gone now and we never finished our conversation on the tattoos because he was going to do what he was going to do.  I never got to tell him how carefully I protected his skin with lotions when he was a baby, how I worried over every blemish, bruise and scar that marred his perfect skin.  He was a work of art from the day he was born.  I didn’t understand why he needed to cover anything, but I did appreciate his love for life and his attempt to experience every bit of it he could.  I loved him for that and tried not to grimace at the tattoos.

I’m trying to understand the body art I see everywhere and not relating to the addiction that people have to it.  I’m not criticizing, just trying to understand.  I’m getting older by the moment and I can only visualize what a tattoo would look like on the parts of my body that change (I won’t mention droop) from year to year.  On the other hand, I have seen photos of gorgeous tattoos covering women who have had double mastectomies and understand the beauty of that.

It’s also amusing to know that this too shall pass and the next generation or the next one will look at their parents and grandparents and see the tattoos and do something different, whatever that may be.  Maybe they’ll just choose to go with what they have.  I watch my grandkids and wonder if they’ll leave home and head for the tattoo parlor because it’s legal and everywhere.  Their mothers must be cringing as much as I was.

In my wisdom of the ages, I know that the only thing I could have done to stop my son was to sacrifice and get tattooed myself so it wouldn’t be so cool.  But he would have thought of something else, so I’m glad I saved my own skin to let it age naturally, age spots and all.   I tend to look beyond the skin these days anyway.

“I used to be fun.”  There’s probably not a soul who hasn’t thought this for at least a moment in his or her life.  We all experience moments when we feel like the dullest of souls in a duller than dull life.  Hopefully, that’s a temporary feeling, easily replaced by the urge to do something that makes you smile.

I can’t define “fun” because it’s different for every one of us.  Some like thrill seeking adventures, some like quiet moments with friends.  There are activities like sports, board games, movies, books, nature walks, travel, gardening, playing cards, visiting museums, attending plays and concerts, having coffee with friends, dining out, crafts, riding bikes and motorcycles, and more things than I can imagine.  Even our work can be fun.

The idea that “I” am fun is a little different when you think about it.  I think a fun person is someone who is open to life, open to the new experiences we find every day in the people and ideas and places we encounter.  A fun person makes everything fun for others by making them feel loved, liked, appreciated, a part of the activities.  We can certainly not be fun.  We can choose to be Debby Downer.  We can make everyone around us miserable by our sour mood.  This isn’t to say we don’t have our dark days when we face the life events that break our hearts or change our lives, but we don’t have to let those define us.

My theory is that the first thing you can do to be fun or have fun is smile.  Once you’re smiling, you’re on your way to having something fun happen to you and around you.

Have a fun day!


In my lifetime, I’ve been short of cash, in debt, but never poor.  My mother told me stories of the Great Depression and her mother, a young widow with three children, who faced rough times with a sense of humor and no looking back.  My grandmother taught me a lot as I watched her helping other people even when she had little herself.  She introduced me to people I never met in the comfortable life I led as a child, people who had a different scale of living.  She didn’t comment, she didn’t try to teach me, but I watched and listened.

When I lost both my husband and son to cancer, I could only think of all I still had even with such life-changing, soul-crushing losses.  On the news once, there was a woman in Turkey who had lost everything in an earthquake.  She lost her family, about 18 members, their home, their business.  She was just sitting there, frozen in the enormity of it all.  I wonder about her often.  There’s always someone worse off than we are, but I wonder who was worse off than that woman, at least on that day.

Life happens.  People are born into unfortunate circumstances, illnesses happen, accidents occur.  You can plan all you want and life happens anyway.

I’m in a good place in my life and I find myself sharing whenever I can.  I find myself doing things in my everyday life that are easy to do.  I tip bigger to make up for those who can and are cheap about it.  My kids have been waiters and pizza delivery and I know how little they are paid.  I tip bigger to maid in hotels and bigger at restaurants.  It’s just a couple of dollars here and there that I won’t miss but that might make a huge difference to someone else.

It isn’t always a big gift that means a lot.  People have pride and you can’t hurt that.  You have to be respectful.  But you can make life easier for those who struggle with a phone call, an offer of a ride, an errand run.  My time may mean more than my money.

It’s so easy to peel off a sliver of money or time when the opportunity is right there in front of you.  Last Christmas Eve, a friend of mine and I took 10 $10 bills and drove around town, handing them to people we saw on the street. There was a family waiting for a bus, a homeless man living in a tent, a homeless man who was standing outside a grocery store, a homeless man outside a thrift shop and others we found.  Sure, we felt good, but it was mainly the right thing to do. We gave those people a surprise, a glimmer of hope and love.  We learned a lot that afternoon.  And, I’ll do it again.  And again.  Because them that’s got are them that gets and they also need to be them that gives.  Simple.IMG_4380


Loyal and True…to our Alma Mater…O…S…U.  Those are lyrics from the alma mater at Oklahoma State University, where I spent six years, excepting some summer vacations, as an undergraduate and in graduate school.  Fifty-one years after I enrolled there, I have accepted a job working with students on a special project and will be returning weekly for at least the next year.  This is a school attended by two of my daughters, two of my sons-in-law and my daughter-in-law.  We have ties.

Yesterday, I attended the eighth grade assembly at my junior high and high school alma mater, sitting in the same auditorium where I spent another 6 years of my life, from 7th through 12th grades.  The same school I have shared with my children and now seven of my grandchildren.  Two of my sons-in-law and my daughter-in-law also graduated from this school.  We have more ties.

At my age, you can’t walk around these places without images from the past swirling through your memory.  You watch a high school assembly and your own assemblies flash before you.  Teachers and classmates, friends from then, some gone, some still in your life, perform, speak and walk from the 1950s and 6os.  When I walk into the halls of the school alone, I see my friends in groups, hanging out before school, giggling and gossiping, too loud or too quiet.  Making our way through the halls and through life as a teenager.  It’s not even conscious sometimes, but I remember when I get home.  And shake my head at how young we were, how sponge-like in our learning, how desperate to be grown up, to be cool, to know what to do in new situations.

At Oklahoma State, my images are even more varied.  I spent my college years there, my first two years of marriage, and became a mother in that college town.  I did a lot of growing up in that place and had a lot of fun.  It was a big school in a small town and I came from a city.  The students had different backgrounds and I learned from them.  I can’t walk across that campus without being struck by how familiar it is and how much it’s grown, like everything in the last 50 years that’s managed to stay around.

There’s comfort in the familiar…like the first building on campus, Old Central.DSC_0001

…and seeing the steps to Morrill Hall where I had many of my English classes and taught Freshman Composition for two years.  My office was up those steps, I slipped on those steps in the ice when I first got married.  Oh, those steps.DSC_0002Every corner has a memory in that town.  We stood on Main Street to watch Hubert Humphrey drive by or to watch the Homecoming Parade, a tradition that lives on with Pistol Pete still walking strong.IMG_3059The memories are stronger than ever.  Walking from the Student Union, voted #1 in the United States this year, past the library where I spent so many hours going through the card catalogues, researching ever so many papers…IMG_3052I expect to see familiar faces, but I see younger ones, much younger ones.  The dorms where I lived are still there, I can see the window of the room where I first saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.  I drive by the dorm where I spent two years as a student counselor and can count the floors to my room.  The duplex where we lived when we married and where we brought our first baby home is still standing, still looking like a cheap college rental place after all these years.  The movie theaters we frequented in town are long gone, replaced by a megaplex theatre, The Hideaway, where my husband worked as manager, is still there on campus corner, although it’s moved to a much larger location.  Our friend, the owner, who wasn’t much older than we were recently passed away, a pillar of the community.  At least the Fire Station still owns that corner, a reminder of the old days.DSC_0003It’s a wonderful thing to be invited to return to a place where there are so many memories to warm your heart.  My students will keep me sharp and I can hopefully help them with my experience.  They will teach me a lot, I know.  How fitting that my last job brings me back to my first jobs on this campus.  The old and the new merge into a blur of my life.  I’ve got my new school ID, plastic with my picture instead of the paper one I used to carry.  There’s a comparison of then and now in everything I do.  Then and now.  My past and my present merged into another life experience, into new adventures.  I’m as excited as a freshman…just old enough not to be as nervous.

An Oklahoma orange sunset was in my rearview mirror as I drove home this week.  Lovely.DSC_0004

May is the traditional graduation month for everyone from preschoolers to graduate school.  This month, my daughter-in-law has finished nursing school and is now a licensed LPN and two of my grandsons are moving on to high school.  Everyone else is moving up a grade, just not such a milestone.  It’s the season of recitals and commencements, a time to celebrate what has been accomplished in the school year.

I’m a sucker for these things, smiling through welling eyes, as proud as anyone can be.  I wish I had the guts to jump up like the lady behind me today and shout, “That’s my grandson,” when her smiling boy received a special award. I’m a little more restrained by upbringing and by nature.  But I appreciate the emotion and smile with her and understand completely.

As a grandmother, I’m feeling the same and different emotions than I did at my own children’s achievements. I’m proud for the grandchildren and mostly glad that I can be here to share their achievements.  I’m proud of and for my children, too.  It’s a richness of emotions.

Then there’s that feeling of time flying by, that gratefulness for what you’ve been given and the nagging question of how many more of these you will get to see.  I’ve got a four year old granddaughter and I keep in my heart all the time that I’d like to be here when she gets out of college.  I’ll be about 82.  Not out of the realm of possibility with my genetics, but never a sure thing.  I’m bound and determined to keep up with the grandkids and be as healthy as I can to enjoy everything to the fullest.  That needs to be my mission in life – watching my health.  Not always my priority, but should be.  Reminding myself again now.

Anyway, here’s to May when we share tears and cheers with those we celebrate and make all their achievements our own, when we even celebrate those we don’t know because we’re proud for them and for their families.  We come together to celebrate some of the best emotions that life gives us.  What a joyous season!



California – I keep going back there.  Not that it’s the most beautiful state or has the greatest history or the greatest people or the greatest anything other than maybe the greatest diversity of everything.  I’ve traveled all over it in winter, summer and spring, seen it in its many colors, met the people along the way.  It’s a place where everything changes as you go down the road.  You leave a city and are in a desert or on a mountain or on the shore. It’s got it all in one big melting pot of people who vary from region to region. California could be three or four states, each individual. It’s bounded by the Sierras on the east and the Pacific on the west with bountiful valleys and mountain ranges in between.

After driving over 1,800 miles around the state in the last few weeks, here are some of my favorite spring images that speak better than I can write.

In the Spring, the hills that are golden in the summer have a fresh green…

IMG_4746El Mirage still holds that never catchable lake in the distance…

DSC_0264Death Valley is still desolate…

DSC_0324 DSC_0306DSC_0330…but there are flowers where only baked rocks exist in the heat of summer.


DSC_0394The Sierras suddenly come into view, rising out of the ground in a never ending ridge north.

DSC_0437And skiers rush to mountains that received 22 inches of snow the night before – in April and May…DSC_0483 DSC_0493 - Version 2There’s the perfection of Lake Tahoe…

DSC_0579the beauty of the Sierras with the spring thaw filling the creeks and rivers…DSC_0599 DSC_0617DSC_0619…and flowers that bring color to the hills.DSC_0652The buildings of the little mining towns give a sense of the excitement of the history of the area from San Francisco to Sacramento to Nevada.  You can visualize the wagon trains, the Pony Express riders, the stagecoaches, and the first railroads that brought people from the east.  You can see the places Mark Twain made famous and picture the characters who lived this life.

DSC_0685 DSC_0700And then you reach the coast and its giant Coastal Redwoods.  My visit to Muir Woods was a complement to my visits to Yosemite and the Sequoias in past visits.DSC_0790And then it’s the California coast, from the bay area…DSC_0903 DSC_0959…to the beaches…from Pacifica to kite surfing and sailboarding meccas…DSC_0981 DSC_0996to sunsets…DSC_1012to Big Sur in all its beauty…

DSC_1023 DSC_0007The wildlife is abundant, seals, otters, whales, and the ever delightful elephant seals…DSC_0091_2DSC_0065…and animals we were promised but never saw…
DSC_1021Southern California beaches had birds and dunes to climb…DSC_0111_2 DSC_0131_2Here’s to the best restaurant name ever – in Lompoc.  Too bad it closed.IMG_4742And back to Los Angeles, city of dreams, freeways, and endless fascination.DSC_0104Cheers to California with all its natural wonders, it bounty of natural resources, and the people who make it even more interesting.  Spring with the California poppies blooming everywhere is truly a delight.DSC_0028_2


Being in Los Angeles is a trip to many worlds within the city, illustrated by signs of today and yesterday.  Some pictures were taken from a moving car – not as good, but they capture the images of Los Angeles, palm trees and all.

DSC_0209This one intrigues me for whatever reasons.  I passed it several times a day.

DSC_0006Saturday morning with the Jewish men walking to worship.


DSC_0028Historic Broadway Theatre Tour given by the L.A. Conservancy on Saturday mornings.  Walked by and in some of the theaters where vaudeville played and audiences first saw silent movies.

DSC_0071My favorite of the old theaters.

DSC_0104These were movie palaces…

DSC_0181Now a richly Hispanic area, there were flags everywhere…

DSC_0106And festive dresses for Quinceañeras and weddings, buzzing on a busy shopping day.

DSC_0107DSC_0046Beautiful Art Deco buildings.  Johnny Depp owns two penthouses in this one, according to our guide.

DSC_0161And there are random things that make you smile…

DSC_0184And reflect…

DSC_0169Los Angeles is a diversity of cultures…

DSC_0205This one makes me laugh since it was deep in a Hispanic neighborhood.  Jim is trying to offer it all.

DSC_0210The drives around town take you to places both exotic…

DSC_0231and scenic…

DSC_0219with signs that make you ask where do they come up with that?

DSC_0225There are entertaining signs that have been there for decades

DSC_0151_2and there are signs of the entertainment business that we all associate with La La Land…

IMG_4763and love…

DSC_0149My favorite was driving down the street and seeing Kermit…

DSC_0021He rose above the studio where Charlie Chaplin once roamed.

DSC_0017There are tributes to stars of the past…

DSC_0041And beautiful theaters still entice in neighborhoods…

DSC_0234You can always find a good meal in Los Angeles…  Lacy’s has a great breakfast…

DSC_0003Porto’s in Burbank, or other locations, is a wonderful American success story.  The Cuban family that owns it inspires with their history, their delicious salads, sandwiches and soups and their famous cakes, breads and pastries that make me drool to even think about…I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a busy place with such happy employees, every one of them.



IMG_4727This is a wonderful Greek restaurant on Ventura Blvd.

IMG_5022Such was my most recent trip to Los Angeles, capped off by lovely visits with friends, including Scott Wilson, who let me hold his head, a souvenir from “The Walking Dead.”  What would the trip be without a brush with celebrity?

IMG_3864Los Angeles is always entertaining.



imageI’ve been on a long trip, filled with adventures, photo ops everywhere.  In this new era of instant communications, I was often in areas of No Service, which can be frustrating, frightening, and peaceful, depending on whether you’re in need of help or wanting to get away from it all, meaning the constantly being in reach of everyone you know.

The newest road dilemma is finding power for all the gadgets we love so much.  I travel with my iPhone, my iPad and my camera and I use them all the time.  I look up places I’m going or have been, map the trip, look for directions, take a lot of pictures, and sometimes call ahead for reservations or to let people know I’m almost there.  Long gone are the days of looking for pay phones or wrestling with paper maps, although I have those too.  No more carrying rolls of film and flashbulbs for the camera.

But, every night, no matter where I stop, I need power, meaning lots of power sources.  On a car trip, I now take a power strip with me.  I have to recharge everything, including two batteries for my camera.  That’s just me and I’m always traveling with at least one other person who also has stuff to charge.  Once I stayed in a house with my daughters and their families, 14 of us.  Every single one of us had a minimum of one thing to charge every day, even the youngest.  We had cords everywhere.

That’s it.  Just reflecting on taking a trip that enriched my life, my brain, my soul.  And the gadgets I take with me.  We all need to recharge.  I’ so lucky to live the life I have!