Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nana Accepts a Challenge From A to Z

My cyber friend, Jenn, over at Randomness and Lunacy posted that she had signed up to participate in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge which will  run for the entire month of April.  Since I have been a writing slacker lately I thought this might be a good way to hold myself accountable for writing.  So...I signed up to participate too.  Thanks, Jenn.

I am number 1,631 to sign up to participate!  If you want to join in on the challenge you've got less than 24 hours to sign up.  Just click on the link above.

Check back on April 1 for my writing on "A." 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Catfish, It's a Verb

Catfish???   Have you heard the term? According to MTV, the network that produces one of my favorite reality shows, “Catfish: The TV Show”, it is defined as:
catfish [kat-fish] verb
To pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.
The host of the show, Nev Schulman, was himself catfished. He had an online relationship with a beautiful 19 year old, Megan.  Megan turns out to be in her 40's and married.   His experience was documented in "Catfish: The Movie."  In the reality series Nev and a film crew record the experiences of couples who have carried on long-distance relationships, often for many years, but who have never met in person. As a hopeless romantic I am always pulling for true love, but just as often that former Miss USA that a lonely 21 year old wants to marry turns out to be an aging, overweight, transgendered auto mechanic.      

Last October I spend a great weekend on Vashon Island with a group of bloggers who I had met online.  You can read about the experience here.  Prior to that weekend, we knew each other only by what we had shared in our blogs.  What I had learned about each of my fellow bloggers from reading their writing proved to be true; they were intelligent, funny, kind, adventurous…just the kind of friends I hoped they would be.  Over the course of the weekend we frequently referenced how well we knew each other.  We felt like old friends, even though prior to that weekend, we’d only had online relationships. 

I read articles all the time about retired people who are taken in by online scammers.  I'm sure that some of my peers are leery of this medium.  Retired people who don’t make use of this technology are missing out on a powerful tool that has the power to change their lives.  But, just like in an old comic book, sometimes that power can be used for evil.  The MTV show documents how easy it is to create an online identity and how some people online are deceitful, untrustworthy or cruel. My experience, however, was very positive.  We were fortunate that none of our blogging friends turned out to be catfish.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

WTF: Priority Boarding???

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

This is not the dog from the airport, but a random picture from the Internet.
Some time last year I wrote a post about people who insist on dragging their dogs with them to crowded shopping malls.  Read the original post here.  I was, of course, in California where there are ample opportunities to see out of the ordinary sights.  I was in California again last month and once again I spied one of those little dogs encased in a doggy stroller.  This time I was at the airport waiting for my flight home.  The gate agent announced "Pre-boarding  for families with small children who need a little extra time to get down the ramp."   The woman with the doggy stroller was first in line...WTF???? 

Now if I drag my smelly, snippy little dog with me to the airport I can be seated before everyone else?

I'm writing this from the discomfort of the Salt Lake City Airport where my flight to Austin, Texas is delayed.  Originally I was to arrive in Austin around 9:00 in the evening.  Now, if the plane ever gets here, we are  looking at arriving around 2:30 am.  Yeah, I'm not real pleased with airlines and airports.  At least they have free wifi here!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Remembering Uncle Colin

The immigrants on the beach in California.  My brother Leigh and I, my mother, Auntie Pam and Uncle Colin in 1955.

My father came from a large family; both his mother and his father came from families with ten children.  My father had one sibling, my Uncle Colin.  At Uncle Colin's memorial service last month my father reminisced about his childhood.  He talked about growing up knowing with a certainty that he was loved.  With so many aunts and uncles, "there was always someone to pick you up when you fell down."  Now my father is having a difficult time coming to grips with the reality that there isn't anyone left who shares those childhood memories.

At the memorial service my brother, Leigh, introduced himself as "Uncle Colin's favorite nephew." Until our brother, Ross, was born Leigh was the only nephew.   Ross now disputes Leigh's claim to being the favorite.   I, however, have no challengers for the favorite niece title.

I grew up with a very small family.  In 1955 my family immigrated to America from England.   I could count my family in America on one hand:  my mom and dad, my brother Leigh, and my Auntie Pam and Uncle Colin.  I had extended family in England, but I grew up not really knowing them.    My cousin Martin and my younger brother were born years after we arrived in America. 
On the ship coming to America, my brother Leigh, my mother and me.

At Uncle Colin's memorial service I thought about the courage it took to give up family and all that is familiar to take a chance on a better life in a new country.  Leigh talked about the last time he and my dad visited Uncle Colin and shared some of the stories that they remembered.  My father and Uncle Colin left England ahead of my mother, brother, Auntie Pam and I.  They stayed at the Hollywood YMCA when they arrived in California.  Their first task was to find jobs.  They took opposite sides of the street and walked up one block after another checking each business looking for work.  Two months later we arrived and our family started our life in our new home.

It was a nice memorial service.  Family and friends told funny stories, the slide show illustrated a life of passion for exotic cars and building a good life in southern California.  There is no question that my family is an immigrant success story.  The family has grown and flourished, but the loss of one member reminds us of our own mortality.

My father lives in California and I live in Oregon.  I don't see him very often.  He will be 86 in May.  He is my link to my family history and the family in England.  I realized during this last trip to California that I needed to make sure that we captured some of that history.  My father has an excellent memory and a gift for story telling.  Unfortunately, he doesn't write a blog.  (He does, however, read mine and will email me corrections for any story I tell that isn't factual!)

So, on the Wednesday following Uncle Colin's service on Tuesday, my brother Leigh and I scheduled time with our Dad to review family photographs.  Dad's photos were jumbled in a box and none were labeled.  He enjoys going through them and telling us the stories, but doesn't write anything down.  That Wednesday I found pencils for each of us and when he told us the stories, I had him write on the back of each picture.

I learned things about my family that I never knew.  I didn't know that I had attended Uncle Colin and Auntie Pam's wedding, but there I am, a two year old toddler standing in front of the wedding party right next to my grandmother.  I never knew that my paternal grandfather had died the day before my parent's wedding. (Another wedding I also attended, but was not yet visible to the inquisitive crowd. I made my "premature" arrival six months later.)    While going through the picture box my dad recalled that his father had been bedridden.  On the day before his wedding my father had to work.  He talked to his father that morning and left for his job.  An hour later he received a call to come home because his father had passed.  The doctor had been there to see him.  He had been in constant pain.  "I'm sure the doctor put him down," he said "it was the most humane thing." 

The little box of photos was a treasure trove of memories. I'm going back to visit again in May and will bring my own box of photos saved from my mother's estate,  I know Dad will be able to identify many of the people and will have some stories to add to my knowledge of my family.  It's a history that needs to be remembered/

Friday, March 1, 2013

Signs of Spring

Digging potatoes with Grandpa Paul, Summer 2012

There are definitely signs that spring is approaching.  Even before I noticed the daffodils and tulips emerging from the ground there were other indications that spring was coming.  The first sign was the increased body count on the bridge across the Umatilla River.  In just one trip into town I counted two skunks, one porcupine and one opossum pancaked into the tarmac.  If wildlife is on the move, spring must be on its way! 

On Tuesday we had sunshine!  Temperatures were in the 50's, but the sun was shining.  I opened my new gigantic package of Costco gardening gloves.  I cleaned out flowerbeds and planted strawberry starts.  It was good to get my hands back in dirt, even if I did break a nail.  On Wednesday I complained all day about aching bones.  How can so little work create so many aches and pains?

Last year was our first effort in vegetable gardening.  We had a lot of fun gardening with the grandchildren.  We learned quite a bit from our initial experience.  I canned tomatoes for the first time and filled our freezer with anything I could blanch and freeze.  We are still eating last summer's bounty, although we are down to only a few remaining onions and frozen peppers.  As we plan for this year's garden, we are paying attention to varieties that best fit our tastes. 

This summer we will stagger planting of radishes so we have them all summer,and we will harvest them before they grow to the size of baseballs!

Tuesday evening, after my day in the garden, I made soup for dinner.  Every ingredient came from the freezer.  Every vegetable came from our garden.  The beef came from a little farther away...we bought half a beef from our neighbor across the road.  There's something very satisfying about growing our own food.  I'm not going to be milling my own flour any time soon, but we will be eating our own fresh vegetables. 

I am so glad that spring is almost here.  Do you think it's safe to take the snow tires off my car?
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