Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

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Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

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When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I missed Autumn in New England when I was away.

Leaf peepers visit from all over the country and the world to experience the changing foliage. It’s so beautiful.

And who doesn’t love bright orange pumpkins?

I remember, when we lived in Kuala Lumpur, my neighbor Jean’s husband got very creative one Halloween night. There weren’t any orange pumpkins available in our tropical environs so he got his hands on a watermelon and carved it accordingly. Made me chuckle but also realize how humans acclimate.

When our children were young it was always fun to visit the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect pumpkin. We’d bring it home to decorate and/or carve it. Scooped out the innards, rinsed the stringy seeds, dried them and later roasted them in the oven.

Here is an old photo of Hannie and her carved pumpkin when we lived in California. 25 was our house number at the time. Placed by the front door to greet trick or treaters. Snagged the idea from my old friend, Betsy. Visit her site Farmhouse Wares for cool home and garden items.

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Hannie is a bit older now and in her second year of university. She came home for a weekend in October to celebrate my birthday. So appreciated! Of course, we went to find the perfect pumpkins.

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Some things have changed since then. Like the number of our house. But some things remain the same. Like our happiness while decorating pumpkins.

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Consider this as #2 on my previously mentioned “cheerful list.” The things that add a bit of brightness to my day once the days of summer have passed. Even though it really is more than just pumpkins. It is time spent outdoors. Togetherness. Creativity. And yes, eating pumpkin seeds.

 

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I have said it more than once.

Autumn came so quickly.

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Seemed like I was just sitting on the shore, drink in hand and watching the evening sunset.

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Then this. Wham! My youngest was heading back to university.

Once the kid left it seemed there were changes every place I looked. Of course, I found some sadness in this. It was like a scorecard I was keeping. Yup, check off one more not-so-happy thing.

Keep in mind, I was also experiencing a New England autumn after being away twenty-four years during this very season. Lot of transitioning. On many different levels.

Leaves on the trees turned glorious, riotous shades and then fluttered to the ground. Skeletons in their wake.

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The ice cream shops were now sporting signs like “Closed For The Season” and “See You In The Spring!”

Del’s, an extremely popular Rhode Island frozen lemonade business, shuttered their stands and trucks instantly went into hibernation.

The birds, who were annoyingly loud outside our bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning, silenced overnight.

All of the neat little nests dotting our yard and stuffed under the eaves had “vacancy” signs on them.

No more pleasure boats zipping down the bay. Now they are white, shrink wrapped objects perched on steel stands and peppering boatyards all over the state.

The sun setting just minutes after my afternoon tea. Okay, I don’t have an afternoon tea but it sounded so good. My point is the sunset was no longer an evening thing.

Even our compost bin eventually went quiet. Crickets. Anyone who composts food and plant scraps knows you practically need a pair of goggles or a gas mask when you open the lid in the summer. Especially if it wasn’t recently turned. Smells and a million, billion fruit flies make a fruit-line to your face. No activity, at all, once temperatures drop.

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But there was one thing that really made me realize the wonderful summer season came to an end and it sort of made me sad. Not as sad as the youngest leaving or as sad as losing and missing our loved ones. But still. Like it was the last and final straw of summer.

The osprey left.

Ospreys are magnificent birds of prey. Huge raptors. Looks like a big hawk or eagle. Moonlight as fishermen. Has a few young ones in the Spring. And then once autumn arrives it quickly flies off in the direction of South America. The ginormous nests, a convenient five minute walk from our house, are in the marshland and built on tall wooden roosts. Now totally empty.

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When I saw the empty nest my eyes filled up. Silly really. Because I know they are coming back in the Spring. I also realize it was some type of temporary Mommy transference phenomenon.

Summer was truly gone.

So, what to do?

The only thing is to shake if off and approach autumn with gusto. Enjoy every minute. Be glad of the different seasons because it is a continual promise. When one ends another beautiful season begins.

Sometimes that is easier said than done. Especially when the afternoon sky is dark and it gets cold. Autumn quickly becomes winter.

In the coming days I will share things that have enhanced and cheered my autumn and winter. I’m normally a happy sort and have been enjoying it. It does not have to be gloomy. It’s all up to me. It’s all up to you.

While we sit and wait for the osprey’s return.

 

 

 

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I was recently talking to one of my daughters who is away at university. She mentioned an upcoming party.

So, of course, I don’t stop being a Mom just because she’s away. Feeling like I have to get all of my last minute warnings in- just in case I should expire in the next few hours and the opportunity is lost.

I say, “I know you don’t party but if you did… you remember the rule, right?”

The guessing game begins. Because there are about a million rules we teach our girls. I’ve been doing it for years. Hammering these points home. Over and over again. We do it because we want to protect them. We want them to protect themselves.

She says, “Stay in a group?”

“No, not that one. But yes, please, stay in a group.”

“Watch my drink? Always keep it with me?”, she asks.

I respond, “No, that’s not it. Yes, yes, of course! Watch your drink and keep it with you always!”

It’s not just me. Parents are giving these same warnings to their daughters all over the U.S. I remember reading an article years ago about Christie Brinkley (former wife of Billy Joel) telling her daughter Alexa Ray (who was at or beginning university) to watch her drink so no one puts anything in it. 

My daughter questions, “Don’t walk home at night by myself?”

“Not that! But yes, please do not walk home at night by yourself!”

I just can’t help myself. 

Finally, we “I” get to the point.

“If you drink do not get behind the wheel. Call an Uber.”

She’s like, “Of course, Mom.”

Those are just a few examples of what I have actually shared with my daughters. Over and over again. There are a ton more. As we are all well aware.

The interesting thing is that we only share these warnings with our girls. There is no need to tell these things to our boys.

Why is that?

Okay, maybe just the one, “If you drink do not get behind the wheel. Call an Uber.”

So sad.

I am hoping for change.

 

 

 

 

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I was a young girl. Not a toddler and not yet a teen. Maybe nine or ten years old. Old enough to be out and about with friends. We were always playing outside. No one wanted to be in the house.

On this particular day, I was with a pal named Paula and her sister Kerri. Hanging on the swings at the local park. I suppose it was where everyone in our neighborhood eventually spent some time. There was also a football stadium, tennis courts and basketball court. So in good weather there was always activity. The wind was always blowing around the distant voices of kids you knew.  It was a middle class neighborhood. Usually not a lot of extra coin but not poor. Everyone pretty much felt safe. We all knew each other.

It eventually became time to leave the park. The girls and I were about to cross the parking lot to head home. A car slowly rolls up in the corner of the big parking lot. One male occupant in a Dodge Dart. Don’t ask me the color. It was probably forty-four years ago.

I do, however, remember what color he was. He was white and looked like the mustached and afroed Gabe Kaplan, who starred as Mr. Kotter on “Welcome back, Kotter.” A U.S. television program from the 1970s.

This man starts talking to us and asking us questions. Then the guy pulls out this thing. No, not that thing!

It was a hand grip strengthener. Back then I wouldn’t have known what to call it. This is an exercise tool that one uses to strengthen their grip. You can search google images to see what it looks like.

Continued to ask us questions -like an important survey. I do not remember any of that long ago conversation but the one thing I can still recall is he wanted each of us girls to try the hand gripper. And we did. No harm in that, right? We weren’t afraid. Just a trio of friendly and super helpful kids.

Anyhow, we continue on our way back home. I say goodbye to the girls and then I head toward my house one block away from theirs. Never thinking about anything except it was a very nice time at the park with my friends.

Well, one of the girls mentioned the guy in the car to their mom. Warning signals must have gone off in her head (as they should have in any adult’s head) so she called my mom and the police. We soon got a visit from the police asking me numerous questions about this guy. A description of him and his vehicle.

That was that.

Looking back, I don’t know what this man’s intentions were and one could almost shudder with the thought. After the police interviewed us we came to realize that it was wrong in some way. But we didn’t even know how or why.

We knew he was a stranger. He wasn’t from our neighborhood and yet we still talked to this nice adult. As innocent children might. Even with all the warnings we received about bad guys and strangers.

I guess that was the introduction to our vulnerability. We didn’t even know it.

“You need to be careful.”

 

 

 

 

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Well, hello there! I hope you are all well.

My apologies for being a slug and not writing sooner. Had a very busy summer. Not a moment to think! Don’t get me wrong. It was lovely and fun. Filled with family and friends. As well as new experiences. Just super busy.

I thought when I arrived here (in the U.S.) during the Spring that I would have all the time in the world.

Then I blinked and summer was gone. Just like that. Snap.

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The original plan was to head back to Delhi, India at the end of September, hang out with my husband and begin exploring the country again with my newfound friends.

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But we all know about plans. I suppose we need a constant reminder to always view them as fluid. And go with the flow.

We are happily repatriating after seven years of overseas living.

Do I wish I had more time in India? Yes, I do. I swear a person could spend a lifetime in India and not fully see or appreciate that amazing country. So diverse. Language, terrain, people, food, climate and especially the colors!

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Some folks complain about moving. I get it. Each person and circumstance is different.

Fortunately, I am not one of them. I view our past moves as experiences that continually added depth and a ton of beautiful people to our lives.

I counted thirteen moves in our nearly thirty-two years of marriage. No, of course it’s not always Skittles and beer. Each and every move created indelible memories. Some happy and some sad. Leaving beloved family and friends. The excitement of exploring new places. A clean slate. Missing important family occasions. Adding new friends to the list. Losing people along the way.

Knowing that each move means you’re a little bit older and so is the generation before you. Everything changes and time does not stand still. At all.

I still do not have any regrets or complaints. Not even sure if this is our last move!

Below was the view from our balcony. Enjoying the calm before the packers got busy.

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This last move was going according to plan. The fellas are punctual and ready to get cracking. I oversee the operation. Like they needed my assistance. 🙂

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At the end of this first day we are at the hotel. My husband is visiting with a friend by the pool and telephones me. He is cheerful and says, “Come join us.”

I replied, “Be down in a jiff.”

Two minutes later, I am heading down the stairs and my mobile rings again. I was thinking, “Why on earth is he calling me again? I’m on my way already.”

I could tell something was wrong by the way he said my name. It was. He just got word that his mother had died in Syria. 😦 I think losing your mom has got to be one of the saddest things. Like it’s your mom. The only one you ever get.

That was a Tuesday and we were leaving India on Saturday in the wee hours. Honestly? This move, in a weird way, provided a huge distraction during a very sad time. Because we were in the midst of decisions and a constant state of busyness we were able to get through each day of this week without despair.

So this particular move will always be associated with the death of my mother-in-law. His mom, a beloved grandmother, mother-in-law and someone who has been a part of my own life history for more than thirty years. Still seems a bit surreal. I thought she was going to live forever.

But like all of our moves it is never about just one thing or feeling. There is now also some excitement. Starting a new chapter in my home state. We haven’t lived here since we left in 1994! So while it’s still familiar it has been awhile since we permanently hung our hats here. A lot has changed but it feels like we have sort of come full circle.

We are enjoying this transition back to the U.S. and enjoying the great (and clean) outdoors. Our air shipment (14 moving boxes-clothes, linens and personal items) arrived last Monday. The sea shipment (furniture and rest of it) will follow in the middle of November. I don’t care too much about “things” but I will be glad to have our photo albums, framed pics, art, personal papers and family history back with us.

I feel so very fortunate. It’s like my being has absorbed all of the people and experiences on this twenty-four year journey through Texas, California, Malaysia and India. So that I can always carry these people and places with me. Ensuring that I will never forget any of them.

So that’s my news. This is where I am. You are officially updated.

I look forward to working on this blog with more frequency. Lots of writing to be done.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

 

 

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There are a few issues in the U.S. that need addressing.

We need to start respectful, serious discussions.

Mass shootings in America has totally gotten out of control. I think we can all agree on that. What we cannot agree on is how to fix it. Or prevent it.

There is always someone who will say loads of people die from drugs, alchohol or car accidents. Should we ban driving? Again with the Prohibition?

Someone actually did say this.

No. But as a nation if we can keep improving why wouldn’t we try?  In many ways we have shown so much progress.

Our children are strapped in secure car seats. Probably saved a few lives. While biking we have our kids wear helmets. I am sure that prevented a head injury or two. We still have cars but almost every American buckles up once they are behind the wheel. Think that kept a body or three protected. Cars are now outfitted with air bags. I can tell you that helped me when I was in a head on collision many years ago.

The age to use/buy alcohol was changed and while young folks can/will still find a way to drink it might just have decreased the rates of alcohol related accidents/deaths and early addiction for some.

So why, when it comes to our children being safe while learning their ABCs or attending a concert, would we not want to look at any/every possible way to keep them secure? Have safety measures in place?

I feel like it’s closing in on us.

Long time followers of this blog will remember that my niece and nephew lived in the next town over from Newtown when that horror took place. Neighboring schools went into lockdown mode. My nephew was under the desk and couldn’t understand why his teacher was yelling. My niece was sent into the cubbie with the teacher pretending it was a game.

That was right before Christmas. Next town over but it effected everyone in the area. My brother and his wife were sick about it. Could hardly talk about it. Who wouldn’t be sick about it? I just can’t imagine the pain of a parent losing their baby like that. The fear those children must have experienced.

Not too long ago there was a terrible shooting in Las Vegas. Wasn’t in a school but during an outdoor concert. A young girl, whose mother worked in the office at my daughter’s California school, was shot in the head that day. A guy who attended high school with my friend Karla was killed.

Something has to be done. A lot has to be done. And maybe both sides of this debate can make the decision to move a bit closer to ensuring the safety of our children.

They can be the future.

If they’re safe.

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