Monday, March 23, 2009

A Friend Called "Chubb-0"

It is amazing that my Michelle doesn't have identity issues. She was named Michelle Andrea after her father, Michael Andrew. We shortened it and called her Chelle for years (pronounced Shell or Shelley). Long ago, Tammy and Dana Papritz's children (now living in Oregon), dubbed her "Chelbo" and it stuck for all of us. But it has got to stop.

Today, the mother of Ella & Brennan's playmate called to see if the kids could come over to play for a while and I couldn't get to the phone, so Ella answered it for me. Recognizing a familiar voice and thinking it was Chelle, I heard her say boldly, "Hi, Chelbo!" When I got to the phone, my friend sounded slightly offended when she told me Ella had called her "Chubb-O". It took some explaining to set things right. Gratefully, she is in great shape, can run circles around me, and has an understanding heart. Why couldn't it have been one of the many sales calls I get during the day???

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Word Up!

It's Saturday. I stayed up too late last night watching a movie on TV, so it was delicious to wake up slowly this morning to the sounds of a train horn in the distance. Especially in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees to muffle the lonesome-sounding trains, it is as if they were very close by and I much prefer it to an alarm clock. My thoughts soon drift to my blog, wondering if anyone of my favorites has written anything, so here I am.

My Mike was always after me to write a book so we would have enough money for him to retire. My standard reply was, "What would I write about? I know nothing!" At least not well enough to write about it. When I was young, I wanted to be an actor. (That might explain why I derive such pleasure from movies still today) Then I looked into becoming a flight attendant (I enjoy learning about other lands and people, but am uneasy about leaving the country) I even fancied myself a writer, but suffered with an intestinal problem ... no guts! With the written word, it is so easy to be misunderstood. Even when writing letters to friends and family, I have unintentionally offended people with my warped sense of humor.

With this blog though, I am not presenting my thoughts to anyone in particular and I have not asked anyone to buy them. Still, I worry about the scrutiny. My two favorite words concerning blogging are "edit post". Even my beloved children circle like vultures, scouring for the least grammatical error ~ a misspelled word, a redundant comma, etc. I subject myself to that peril because living alone, I grow weary of talking to myself and besides, I love words!

Perhaps I inherited that from my mother who was self-educated beyond the eighth grade. Catholic school ended there and only the males in her family were allowed to further their education. The females were required to find work and contribute to the family of twelve children. Resentful but determined, Mother compensated by reading. She had a love affair with books, even the ones she never got around to reading. She also loved crossword puzzles and could not be beaten in a Scrabble game. I played her only once. Too cut-throat for me, but I did learn a lot about the love of vocabulary from her. Three things that come to mind about my mother are 1) Don't wash your hands in the kitchen sink. "We have bathrooms for that", she would say. 2) Men should not wear hats (or baseball caps) in the house and heaven forbid at the dinner table, in a restaurant or even in someone else's home.
3) Should you mispronounce or misuse a word, she would call you on it.

One of the most fun things about hanging out with grandchildren is being there when they are learning to expand their vocabulary. Brennan (4) cuts to the chase when you tell him" thank you", responding with a prompt "y'elcome" (you're welcome). No point is using two or three words when just one of your own will do.  The stuffed animal on his bed is an armadillo, not an "armajello". When he and Ella (5) clink their glasses together for a toast, in unison they quip "cheerleaders" (meaning "cheers"). The other day Ella was talking about hanging her towel up on the towel racket. (rack) Hands down, my favorite is the cross between "under arms" and "arm pits". When I tickle them in their "underpits", while singing to the tune of "Wonder Pets". . . . "underpits, underpits, who save the day" . . . the result is high pitched laughter. Occasionally I forget that underpits is not a real word.

When my children were much younger, Aaron reported (not tattled) by spelling out that Jennifer was saying "C- A -R- P!!" The misspelling of the word resulted in a family tradition. So today, in our family, when we are tempted to say a crude word, we just say carp (like the fish) instead. Aaron reminds me that if we are using a substitute word (like freakin'), that we may as well say the real word. It does sound suspiciously like something I may have told him (a hundred times), but as I mature, I've come to realize not all that I thought was wisdom, was wise. Apparently, I prefer the substitute words. For instance, the quickest way to ruin a movie for me, is to clutter it up with gutter talk. It is never, I repeat, never ever necessary. Even if it's about the gutter. I have an imagination and I'm not afraid to use it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Remember That New Car Smell?

Only once in my life did I have a brand new, drive-off-the- lot, new car, complete with that new car smell. For some time, I took extra precautions to avoid getting little dents in the doors from other car doors and was even tempted to take the middle out of two parking spaces like I had seen some people do, but always managed to restrain myself. There was no eating (and most definitely no smoking) in the car. The first scratch on a new car is a blessing, bringing on the sigh of resignation that it is, after all, just an automobile. A mode of transportation. A machine that's whole purpose in life is to get from point A to point B faster than walking or riding a horse. Suddenly the pressure to treat it like a china doll is gone. Life is so full of much more meaningful issues, don't ya think?

One might feel like the prestige of obtaining one's license to drive is similar, in that you want to keep your driving record meticulously spotless. You subconsciously hold your breath, fearing the first citation to mar your otherwise flawless performance. Then, it happens. After that, you can breathe easier, knowing it has finally happened and you can get on with the business of living.

So this morning, on the way to school, my granddaughter, Cheyenne was involved in an accident with, gratefully, no one being seriously injured (only seriously shaken). I understand both cars will most likely be totaled, but I have learned that it is only about money and inconvenience and we can handle that.

The driver of the other car, who just happened to be a personal friend of ours from church, was extremely complimentary of Cheyenne, saying that Chey immediately got out of the car and went over to see about her. Even in a moment of great stress, Chey had her priorities straight.

Not having had the benefit of a driving school class, I remember being a newly licensed driver when MY first accident occurred. I failed to yield at a yield sign. I was raised in the country and learned to drive on rustic roads. The understanding of a yield sign had not really registered with me so it was clearly my fault. One of the back fenders had a substantial dent in it and I dreaded telling my parents about it. As I had envisioned, my father began raging about how expensive it was going to be to get it repaired and that our insurance would automatically be increased (all true), etc., etc. Then my mother came out to assess the damage, was quiet for a minute and then interrupted my daddy by saying, "Oh Ray, I could've KICKED a dent in it bigger than that!" ... at which time she dramatically kicked the fender! My dad just stopped yelling and walked off. My mom's words and actions put everything back in perspective. No one was hurt. It was only about money and inconvenience. She was my best friend for a time.

Once again, that's why EXPERIENCE is the best teacher ~ it gives you the TEST first and then the LESSON.

Now, Cheyenne can relax, armed with this new experience and focus on the present.

"Forget about the past ~ it's history,
Don't think about the future ~ it's a mystery,
Focus on the present because it is a gift,
That's why it is called 'the present'".