Archives for the month of: September, 2014

When I get to the sea, I’m constantly reminded of all the wonderful creatures, beautiful and unique, who glide through these waters. I know whales are out there, have seen a quick sighting in Alaska and a couple of closer encounters two years ago in Oregon. Ve stayed on the coast these past three years, in Depoe Bay, the Whale Watching Capital of the world along with boasting the smallest harbor in the world.

This time the weather was perfect, we are seeing whales spouting from our balcony all day long and we went back out to get up close. I can feebly try to put words with the experience, but my photos tell the story in a much more exciting way. We are all visual people, aren’t we?

We rode on Zodiac boats, like the coast guard uses, with a whale scientist as our leader. Here is her boat with her whale hunting dog on watch.IMG_6067On the way out, we stopped at the bay’s buoy, where sea lions rested in the sun.imageWe spotted our first whales and the sun made rainbows in their spouts.
IMG_6088The day was a delight for children, seasoned whale watchers, our guides, anyone alive! At one point, we had four whales all around us, with three of them playing between the two boats, chasing each other.imageimage
Having two grey whales come up beside you, within twenty-five feet is quite a thrill.
We learned so much, like watching for the Fluke Print, the flat water left when the whale submerges and displaces the water.
image
By the end of our trip, we had seen at least ten whales, most of them regulars to this area, known by name. Only an insensitive soul wouldn’t be touched by the grandeur of these giants, gliding by, leaving us in wonder with a flip of their mighty tails.
imageimage
My Whales’ Tale is a joy to be shared!

As I wait for my newest phone to arrive, the images of all the phones I’ve used over the years came to mind.  It’s hard not to compare the progression of the phone in my own lifetime to the fast changing have-to-have phones of today.

My parents moved us to Tulsa when I was about 2 1/2 years old and the first phone that I can remember was located in a little phone room, no bigger than a closet, and looked like this, I think.  I’m pretty sure we had dials by then. Unknown

There was only one phone in the house, the one in the closet.  One of the wicked things I did when I got old enough was to sneak in there and call the operator to make a call to my grandmother.  My grandmother’s phone was even more interesting.  She lived in Ardmore and was on a party line.  You picked up the receiver to talk to the operator, who knew everyone, and had her call whoever you needed.  My grandmother had a special ring to let her know a call was for her.  The neatest thing was to pick it up very quietly and listen to the other people’s conversations, which wasn’t very nice, but oh so interesting to a curious little girl.

Our phone number at home was 75973 for many years.  When they added prefixes, it became RIverside 75973.  My father’s office number started with the prefix GIbson and I spent a week one summer when I was about 9 or 10 at his office handwriting the GIbson in front of the number on some postcards that had been printed earlier.

Through the years, not much changed with our black dial phones.  Then plastics came into wide use and we suddenly had colors and plastic dials.  When we built our new house when I was in 5th grade, we had beige phones and there were three, count ’em, three in the house.  There was a black wall phone in the kitchen, a beige desk phone in my parents’ bedroom and another beige phone in the hallway in a little cut-out holder in the wall.  That was for my brother, sister, and me to use.

The Princess model was a big hit when I was in junior high school, especially the pink one.  Girls with a pink princess phone were pretty cool.  We didn’t get the pink model, however.  Eventually, we got something just as good – a long cord from the wall so we could carry the phone into a closet or another room to talk privately.  With the hours we spent on the phone as teenagers, talking to friends we had just left about who we’d seen, who was going steady with who, who had looked twice at us, who we had a crush on, what we were going to do the next day or the next weekend, what to wear, how tiring our parents were, and other important topics, you just needed some privacy.  Really.   And the time we spent waiting by the phone for someone to call…sigh.

When I went to college, there was a phone on the wall in each hallway of the dorm, but you couldn’t make long distance calls from it.  For that, we went downstairs to a bank of pay phones with a pile of change.  To make a long distance call, back in 1963, you had to call the operator and have her (always female operators) dial it for you.  I was also able to charge calls to my parents’ phone through the operator.  I spent many an hour in that phone booth with piles of change talking to my boyfriend, later fiancé.  He would call me from phone booths in California after he was in the Navy, adding the quarters as the operator told us our time was up.

Sometime along the way, direct dial was invented, a miraculous thing.  And the prefixes we’d had in Tulsa changed to just the numbers.  Riverside 75973 changed to 747-5973, which was the same thing.  Novelty phones were the rage with Mickey Mouse, hamburger, clear phones and other fun things to brighten our lives.  As a mom, my favorite phone of the day was my red wall phone in my kitchen/breakfast room with an extra long cord that let me talk while I cooked or set the table or cleaned or whatever.  I was the ultimate multi-tasker as I worked on my volunteers committees, planned PTA events, changed carpools, scheduled appointments, all while I was doing my mom thing at home.

Oh yes, I still had a dial tone and used my dial for numbers, right up until I moved into my present home in 2002.  There was touch tone technology, but you had to pay extra and I didn’t think I would ever be so lazy that I couldn’t turn that dial wheel.  Eventually, I had touch tone because you couldn’t make long distance calls without it, but I still used that rotary dial until I moved.

So now I’ve covered over 50 years of my phone life and we haven’t even gotten to cell phones yet.  Technology was a whole lot slower coming and who knew?

The first mobile phone we had was a bag phone, a bag with a battery and a phone inside, that we kept in the car.  This was in the mid 1990s – way back then.  My husband got it because he was visiting customers all over the state and it was great for calling ahead, for emergency calls, and to let me know he was on his way home.  I don’t know how long we had that.  And I can’t even remember much about my first cell phone or mobile phone after that, probably because they’ve changed so quickly.   I had a pager when I worked for the American Red Cross and had to listen for it 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.  That was in 2001, so we hadn’t started using our cell phones so much yet.

The joke with our first cell phones was how small they were.  I remember someone on Johnny Carson trying to punch the tiny little buttons and holding up this little gadget to his ear.  But, they caught on quickly, very quickly.  Why wouldn’t they?

The day I got my first iPhone, I remember staring at it, absolutely mesmerized by all the information in my hand.  Wow!  I hadn’t even had a computer that many years and now all of that information was in my phone, too!  Look at where we are now with changes coming every year.  Amazing and wonderful technology.

So, I’ve got my new phone coming and am wondering if the larger size will fit in my small purse I carry.  The tiny phones that were the rage are now growing larger with expanded capabilities.  I would say that I use it as much for other things as I do for calls.

The irony of all this came back to me the other day when the land line, that I keep for emergencies and because I’ve had that same number for 47 years, quit working.  In order to test it, AT&T advised me to take my corded phone (meaning a phone with a cord other than the cordless ones that are all over the house) outside to the phone box and plug it in to see if it works.  I had to borrow a corded phone when I couldn’t find my emergency one, which is a little old beige princess model.  Makes me smile.

The other change is that I feel at a loss if I forget to take my phone with me.  What will happen if my car breaks down since there are few pay phones around?  What if I’m running late or my grandkids need to be picked up or where will my grocery list be without my phone? How will I find my way there without my maps?  What if I miss a text?  It’s a very vulnerable feeling, a sign of the times.

Oh well, I’ll have my new phone soon and we can test it Old School.  Call me!

 

 

 

 

One of the college seniors I’m working with asked me how I stay so hip.   Flattering?  Well, sure.  At least I hold my own with younger people to some degree, but I’m not trying to be anything but what I am.  I’m not sure I’ve ever considered myself hip, come to think of it.  I may be as hip as I’ll ever get right now and it’s taken me a long time to get here.  Made me think – and I’m grateful that I still can.

Here’s my list of ways to stay kind of “with it” as you get older.  Take it or leave it – just my random thoughts.

1.  Don’t try to act younger than you are.  When people tell you that you look 10 or 20 years younger than you are, just say Thank You.  The truth is that you look good for your age.  That’s all we can hope for.  We are what we are.  Oh yes – dress your age.  You should have found your own style by now.  I always heard that if we’d worn some fad style before, then we shouldn’t try and do it the second time.  Think bubble hairstyles or bell bottom jeans.

2.  Don’t be judgmental.  Younger people, all ages of younger people, do things differently than we did.  That’s ok.  I don’t agree with some of it, but I remember that my parents probably didn’t like some of the things I did either.  Today is different than yesterday in so many ways.  Don’t sit there going Tsk! Tsk!

3.  Don’t be afraid to try new things or to dream of new things.  What have you got lose at this point?  Time’s a flyin’ and it’s now or never.  Make that bucket list!

4.  Keep up with pop culture – to a degree.  You don’t have to know the name of every music group or the latest young star or slang, but you can have a familiarity with some of it.  Listen to some new music.  A lot of it is great.  Remember how shocked our parents were at what we listened to?  It’s the same now.  If you hear something you don’t get, look it up on the internet.  It may shock you, but at least you won’t be clueless.

5.  Keep up with technology.  We’ll never be as fast or as knowledgeable as the generations after us, but there’s a lot that’s wonderful and makes our lives more fun and easier.  If you don’t like it, don’t use it, but don’t act superior about it or turn your nose up.

6.  Enjoy people of all ages.  Don’t complain that children are noisy or teens are disrespectful or your grown children are living the wrong lifestyle.  We used to be them.  Enjoy where you were and where you are now.  We all have to go through it.

7.  Don’t be disappointed in how your life turned out.  Everyone has something happen they didn’t expect, whether it’s about jobs or marriages or children or health or any number of things.  You don’t want to be one of those old people shaking your cane at the universe and how unfair it’s been to you.  Don’t be a curmudgeon!

8.  Smile a lot, laugh a lot, surround yourself with friends and family and people as much as you can.

You can choose to be happy and happiness is probably what makes you hipper than you would ever dream.

IMG_3134

Four is an amazing age, taking a little one from toddler to school kid in way too short a time.  I’m watching yet another one of my offspring finish up the year, turning five in a few weeks.  A wonder to behold.

Four is the champion year for make-believe, dress up, pretend, toys.  A four year old is forever dressing in costume, being a super hero or a princess or whatever strikes his/her fancy at the moment.  They name their toys and surround themselves with stuffed animals or cars or action heroes in a fantasy world of their own.  They project the world they’ve heard about onto their play, creating situations based on their understanding of what they hear and see.  It’s funny to listen to one talk to a stuffed baby unicorn about what they are going to do today.  Or watch them place their dolls or action heroes into lego houses to mimic the adults who talk to them in tones that translate into something different when you hear it through a four year old’s voice.

Four is an age of individuality.  Let a four year old pick out his or her own outfit and you’ll know a lot about what’s to come.  And you’ll definitely smile!

Four is the age when you start to really relate to your friends.  It’s having another four year old come up to you and say, “You can be my friend.”  And thinking that’s great.  Until something happens and you get your feelings hurt and don’t understand.  It’s a time when girls hug when they see each other and boys just talk to other boys like they’ve known them all their lives because they are both standing in front of a display of action heroes in a store.  “I’ve got that one.  Which one do you have?”  I’ve watched big boys, known as adult men, do the same thing.

Four is the age of thinking you can do anything, of thinking you know more than you do.  Your speech is clearer, you know more words, you’re more coordinated than you were at three.  Four year olds think they’re there!  But, of course, they aren’t.  I have the most independent granddaughter of any child I’ve ever met.  She keeps telling me “I can take care of myself.”  She honestly thinks she can, but I have to remind her that she is four and that she needs to listen to what we tell her.  I think of her father…oh my!

Four year olds are learning skills, some in their own mind.  You have to watch them because they think they know how to cook, work the computer, turn on machines, pour milk…the list is endless.  They know a little bit too much, but not enough, sometimes.

Four is the age when the magic of associating letters and numbers with reading and writing and adding is starting to form.  I read a lot about how kids are being forced to read too early and kindergartens are taking away their childhoods.  I can agree with that – a lot.  I also was watching this little one read and spell her first words with that light of understanding in her eyes.  Nobody forced her.  Reading is one of the more unpredictable miracles of all times and we don’t know when a little brain will click with the recognition.  This child is bright, I’ll give her that with a grandmother’s pride, but she isn’t the only bright child out there.  She’s been playing with an iPad since she was a few months old, she’s had interactive television shows, and there is that branding of companies that seems to be our first reading lesson for children.  How old do they have to be before they recognize the sign at McDonalds or the ice cream store?  It would almost be stranger if she wasn’t starting to put it all together.

Mostly, and it does also have its challenges for parents and teachers, four is a precious age.  Four year olds still cuddle, still look adorable when they are frustrated trying to tackle a new task, and still have a joy of childhood in their eyes.  There’s no going back.  Five is coming, still a wonderful age.  Five year olds have more of the world in them, more to taint their innocence and more to take them a step further away from your protection.  I’m going to treasure this last couple of weeks with a four year old, watching this magical transformation that has taken place from four to five.  I can’t wait to see what’s next for this one?DSC_0011

We graduated from high school and started college 51 years ago.  We graduated in the 60s and now we’re in our 60s.  When we get together, we begin finding out what’s going on with our kids, our grandkids, ourselves, passing photos, usually on our phones these days.  That’s the pretty standard ice-breaker, although we really don’t need one.  Yesterday was typical as I went to brunch with five women I knew from high school because one of them was in town for the holiday and this  group showed up when an email was sent to the class.

It’s said that men talk about things or ideas and women talk about people.  Pretty true, really, although I think it’s more about the fact that women get right down to the personal and men may never do that.  At our age, women are nicely outspoken, at least the women I know and want to be with.  By now, we’ve all been through things we never envisioned and our views on what’s right and wrong have been shaped by what we’ve lived as much as by what we were taught.

Our conversation yesterday veered into a story of one of our classmates whose life would make a terrific novel.  Briefly, she was in a major car wreck in high school, suffered brain and other physical injuries, was in love with a boy who stayed by her side even when her parents wanted him gone, secretly married him, was sent to a Catholic school far away when her parents found out and annulled the marriage, he kept visiting her, they both married others but always loved each other.  Cutting through to the end, she still loved him and they were about to get back together just a few years ago and he died.  She made it to the funeral on her walker and was greeted warmly by his second wife.  We don’t know if she’s in assisted living now or not.

That story led us to a discussion of our lives in the early sixties.  Of course, there were some more adventurous than we were, but this was a table of what were then considered “nice” girls.  The girl in the story snuck off to be married because you didn’t have sex before you were married.  We talked of another girl in our class, a close friend of mine, who committed suicide at 15 when she found out she was pregnant.  Besides the sadness of the story, there were those who didn’t know she was pregnant until our brunch.  I didn’t find out until over 45 years later.  We discussed the fact that children, even teenagers, weren’t supposed to hear about “adult” things.  I have a feeling that my parents, and the other parents, knew what happened and didn’t tell us.  Everyone agreed.

The sixties were a time of experimentation later on, but, for those of who who were one of the last graduating classes in an age of somewhat innocence, it was a time when you jumped from the shelter of your home into the reality of the world without much in the way of preparedness.  We had strict curfews in college and had to check out in writing to let the adults know where you would be.  One of my friends even had chaperones at the girls’ college she attended.  When I was in school, boys could live off campus from the moment they arrived, but girls couldn’t live off campus until they were 23, unless they were married.  No wonder people married early!  Between the draft exemption for married men and the restrictions on the girls, many chose to jump into marriage and the “freedom” it offered.  I will note that, while some of those marriages ended in divorce, many are still intact, proving that marriage is a tricky business with no guarantees.  Since most women jumped from being supported by their daddies to marriage, many women, even with college degrees, were thrown into the real world only after divorce or death forced them to cope.  No wonder the Women’s Movement was such a huge part of our lives back in the day.

The women I know, respect and love have mellowed and adapted, not because we don’t believe in the lessons we were taught, but because the realities of life have been laid in our laps.  We don’t give up on our kids and our grandkids when they don’t do things the way we did or the way we wanted them to, we face each new adversity and challenge with strengths we didn’t know we had, and we lean on each other to understand.  No matter how close you are to your children, no matter how many older and younger friends and relatives you have, there is nothing like your peers, those who started with you and have traveled the same decades.  We understand things about each other that others don’t quite get because we’ve been there together, have the same context for facing the world.

The other wonderful thing about friends is that you don’t always have to be together in person because you can pick up right where you left off when the conversation is opened.

The best part is discovering how friends have grown and changed through the years and being able to laugh at it all together.  We’re grateful for every memory, every lesson learned, and every day we have left.  Personally, I love the twinkle in the eyes of my friends as we oh so quickly approach our seventies.  Watch out world – we’re still comin’ at you!photo