In my continuing quest to branch out, I took a class yesterday about how to knit in cable. It was a three hour class, and there were five of us; I was clearly the dunce. I do know the basics, but I guess I was a bit unrealistic when I signed up for this particular class.
Red in the face and sweating profusely from the effort, I did complete the grueling session and succeed in learning how to do a basic cable. Yayz! Of course, everyone else cleverly learned several. Fine. It was progress for me in the knitting department.
My goal is to eventually make a scarf. So far my piece is about one inch long; I should be finished by 2012. Nevermind. The point of this adventure is to attempt activities that are new to me and teach my brain to take new paths. It's never too late; it just takes longer to reach the summit.
One of my favorite theatre moments is the Bottle Dance from Fiddler on the Roof. Needless to say, this is a very tricky dance number and oh-so-fun to watch. Having performed in this show a number of times, I can vouch for the fact that said bottles do not always cooperate, sometimes rolling around the stage after taking leave of the dancers' hats. When done perfectly, however, this dance - some of it taking place on the knees - is a joy to behold and brings down the house.
Over the years, I have witnessed many awesome stage moments. Some of my favorites:
when Lili, Rooster, and Miss Hannigan bump and grind their way down Easy Street
when Maria spots Tony across a crowded dance floor and they become the only two people in the room
when Eliza yells, "Move yer bloomin' arse!" while hobnobbing it at Ascot
when Peter Pan flies
when 3 over-the-hill strippers instruct an innocent Gypsy to get a gimmick
when Curly conjures up a surrey with the fringe on top for Aunt Eller
I could go on and on. Theatre has been a huge part of my life beginning when my mom took me (age 10) to see Carousel at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. That one outing changed my life. Thanks, Mom.
I recently blogged about the gold band I had made (a super idea from Nancy) to honor my wonderful mother.
The ring was uniquely created in that I dug through my jewelry box and fished out my monogrammed, badly mangled baby ring. After picking out a plain gold 2mm wedding band, I had a local jeweler solder the baby ring to the band. The final step was to have Mom's name engraved on the inside of the band. Beautiful! I am so pleased.
Being a teacher, a bell ran my life, beginning with the sound of the alarm clock first thing in the morning. The 8:20 school bell would signal line-up time for my students, and I would open the classroom door to greet each pupil and begin our day. Recess, lunch, afternoon recess, and departure time were all announced by the same piercing ring. Then, ahhhh, quiet... and time for me to get the classroom back in order, turn on some music, prep for the next day, and begin to correct papers. This was a big part of my life five days a week for twenty-five years. That's a lot of damn bells. But no more. I'm outta there! Retirement is what rings my chimes these days.
Another Valentines's Day, and - no - I really am not bitter that I am single, though I admit that sometimes I think it would be nice to have a partner. I usually just ignore this day because that suits me, but this year I did something special...just for me. I thank Nancy (here) at f8hasit for this stunning idea. I bought a plain gold band to honor my mother who died years ago. I have never stopped missing her, and now I have a physical reminder of her love on my finger. I head to the engraver next week to have her name imprinted on the outside of the band. I have always felt her presence, but now I have something that I can actually touch and feel. Very comforting. I wish I had done it along ago. So Happy Valentine's Day to me!
As I was pondering what to write for this week's Theme Thursday, I came across this Norman Rockwell painting which has always been one of my favorites because it so well represents the fragility of those pre-teen years when many of us struggled mightily with our self-image. I well remember pouring over movie magazines feeling like an ugly duckling and wondering if I would ever be swan material. With mousey brown hair, huge feet, and a face full of freckles, I was the tallest girl in my 6th grade class and all through junior high school. In fact, I was taller than most of the boys! Let's just say that the reflection in the mirror was not encouraging.
It was hard then, so many years ago; but I can only imagine what it is like for girls in today's culture where physiscal appearance is such a huge issue that the plastic surgery business is entertaining teen clients desperate for physical perfection. Young women are bombarded left and right by media telling them how they should look. Take a peek at the fold-out cover of the March issue of Vanity Fair. Talk about pressure! All the up and coming young actresses are gorgeous, thin, and - as if the first two aren't bad enough - white...a triple threat for many.
Where is America Ferrera, a beauty who -thank goodness - isn't a size 0. Size 0! When did that happen anyhow? If it was present when I was a girl, I never knew about it.
And where is Mamie Gummer, who has done some very fine work? O yeah...she's got THAT nose, like her mother's. Meryl Streep. Pul-eeeeease.
Where is Gabourney Sidibe? Wait...she doesn't fit the size 0 requirement. Nevermind that she's up for an Oscar for her first film. Huh?
This kind of message is all over the media, not just Vanity Fair. Our girls are questioning their worth because the mirror's relection doesn't fit the media mold of perfection. I want it to go away; growing up is hard enough!
Looking into my life mirror, the reflection that presents itself is positive. My main regret is that I did not spend more time with my mother during the last days of her life. That one can still bring me to tears. I would do it over, if I only could.
A second regret is that I didn't have more children. Oh, the one child I have is near perfection, in my not so humble opinion, but one more would have been so wonderful. Easy enough to do, one might think. However, the complication was that I needed a newhusband to father baby #2. Unfortunately, I had become a young widow shortly after my daughter was born so the hoped for second child would require a new daddy; and, in my mind, that would mean a wedding. It wasn't easy to just have a baby in the 60s since giving birth out of wedlock was a scandalous super no-no and always considered a mistake, never a deliberate act, as is often the case today. So, a wedding was required; and I now knew that being madly in love, hormones flowing, was not enough. I needed to find a man who had his feet on the ground and substance in his soul.
My very wise mother taught me that lesson. I vividly recall sitting in her kitchen as a young bride expounding on how I loved being married to a man who really rode the roller coaster of life. As she calmly flipped the pancakes with her spatula, she looked at me and said with a wry smile, "Talk to me in ten years." I, of course, knew it all and wondered how she could be so negative. The ten years never came for Mom and me or for my marriage. Death interfered in both cases.
It didn't take long for me to grasp the meaning of Mom's statement. I got it immediately when my husband, driving recklessly, missed a sharp curve and died alone riding that cerebral roller coaster that he so worshipped. Lesson learned. Don't marry the man with the lampshade on his head!
After taking a few years off to grieve and get my mental act together, I entered the dating circus. I had a grand time, but I was unable to find THE new and improved husband #2. I fell in love... more than once; but I was resolved to not walk down that aisle again unless I felt sure it was right for me and for my daughter. Well, long story short, it never was. Close, yes; but there was always some missing major element. If the marvelous sense of humor was there, so was the erratic behavior. If the good job was there, so were the psychotic undertones. If the love of life was there, the work ethic was missing. I just sucked at finding a husband. So I changed my course and decided to go it alone, a huge step for me. Eureka! I could make it without a man. Who knew?
The single life was so right for me, and I flourished. The only little cloud was to be...no baby #2, my second regret; but, here's the thing, I would not change the choices I made or the way I behaved. I guess that makes for a very half-hearted regret, doesn't it? I chose my path. So...it appears that I really have only one regret afterall: not being with my mother as she was dying. OK...back to that.
When I reflect, I would love a do-over; but that's a fantasy so, instead, I have to bite the reality bullet and just live with it. The only thing that makes it a tiny bit easier is that, thanks to the joys of morphine, Mom believed I actually was at her bedside. She called my sister-in-law, who was present with my brother, by my name. I like thinking that she thought I was there when, in fact, I was clear across the country changing diapers and trying to be the good wife. Talk about being torn, ripped in half. Hindsight: I wish I had packed up my new babe and let my immature husband fend for himself. I made the wrong decision.
My life mirror continues to expand, and I am liking the new
relections that I see. When my mirror gets fogged up from time to time as I make mistakes, I try to learn from them. I just keep plugging away, trying to do my best. Life is such a grand adventure.
I have just returned from a wonderful overnight at Dillon Beach, a place I love to visit. Since the weather was rainy and windy, we stayed inside and looked longingly at the sand and surf, knowing that a beach walk was not on the agenda this time. No matter. There were books and magazines to read, music to listen to, yummy food to eat, and plenty of good conversation. Actually, this was one of the best times I have had at the beach house as the discussions remained calm and rational, not always the case with this group of very good friends, strong-opinioned experts on just about everything.
As the daylight commenced the next morning, I was ready to hit the road to return to the quiet of my little inland homestead. After dealing with a dead battery, since I - duh! - left my headlights on, I packed up the lady pugs and hit the beautifully picturesque road, admiring the green pastures and all the baby lambs sleeping softly as their mothers grazed.
Laundry, the Super Bowl, an early bed time bed to make up for beach's midnight chatter, and all returned to normal in my corner of the world. Ahhhh. Life is good.
What beautiful ruby red slippers, and magical to boot! I think it would be so wonderful to have a pair of shoes that could, at once, bring me back to my home base because once I am "out there" and tired of travel, I am locked in, due to a variety of reasons -reservations, tours, travel companions etc. Ruby red slippers are not on the itinerary.
My last major trip was a jaunt to Hawaii with six good friends. After 2 days in close quarters, I was craving my home and my own bed, sick of the constant chatter. Where, oh, where were those ruby red slippers? If they actually had existed, I could have zapped myself home in a flash. Moreover, I would be able to travel anywhere in the world and, when those get-me-out-of-here feelings began to erupt, I could send myself back to my living room with a click of my heels. Alas...reality check: no ruby slippers.
So, I have learned over the years to no longer plan excursions to far away places for extended periods of time. Day trips and overnighters are my current cup of tea. However, when I was in my 20s, this was not the case. The wish to return home was not present, and the travel adventure was just what the doctor ordered. Was it youth? I suspect.
Now I am a contented homebody. I have pictures galore of my travel days: riding a camel in Egypt, climbing inside a pyramid, slipping on the ice in Anchorage outside the Captain Cook Hotel, viewing the beautiful Sydney harbor, hearing Big Ben, seeing The Mona Lisa, shopping in Paris, dining at The Four Seasons, having a massage and green tea in Tokyo, enjoying a Singapore Sling in -where else? - Singapore, checking out the Smithsonian, landing in wartime Saigon, listening to speeches in Hyde Park, and on and on. So many great memories.
I am lucky I to have gotten the travel bug out of my system when I was younger and had no need of rubyred slippers to bring me back to my center. Now, after just one night away from home base, the slippers seem to slam onto my feet the morning of Day 2. I may as well be clicking my heels together and chanting, "There's no place like home," in order to magically fly through the air and bounce back to my comfy nest, my family, my pets, my plants, and my tranquility.
There really is, for me, no place like home. The world is an adventure just waiting to be explored; but home is where I want to be. Unless someone can find me some ruby red slippers...
So I made it to the gym today and worked out with the instrument of torture shown at the left, the Pilates ring. All I can say is ouch. I have been away from the class for a few weeks, and it is amazing and discouraging how quickly muscles can go to pot, literally.
Feeling like the class dunce, I struggled through the exercises while at the same time vowing to practice at home and not let my attendance slip again. Really, I felt like I was starting from scratch today, like I'd never taken a Pilates class before in my life. Oh, well. One day at a time. But sometimes I wonder if it's worth it.