Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let's Pretend

When Robert was little we played a lot of make believe. As an only child he came up with all kinds of scenarios, that I, the only nanny, was insructed to act out. I don't know where his interests lie today or what he'll want to be in the future, but back when he was only 3, I was sure he would be the next Stephen Speilberg.

He owned a Fisher Price castle which was the backdrop for most of our imaginary jousting matches. He'd line the white knights up along the ramparts of the castle, then explain to me, in three-year-old-detail, exactly how the black knights were to storm the walls, swim the moat, or turn the dragon loose to burn down the drawbridge, then sneak inside and wreak havoc on the gentry. We played this game over and over again, and I don't think we ever did it the same way twice...except of course the good guys always won.

Another activity center/movie set was Robert's Fisher Price pirate ship. It came with one-eyed, peg-legged pirates, cannons, and even a crow's nest where the pirate look out could survey the make believe ocean. Playing "pirate" was not a lot different from playing "castle". There were good guys and bad guys and someone usually got blown up or made to walk the plank. As I recall, it was usually the Nanny!

But one of games I remember most fondly was one called "Let's pretend I'm a ...." It usually involved Robert coming up with an idea then instructing me how to play my part. At Halloween one year, we went to our favorite Pumpkin Patch and he choreographed "I'll be a pumpkin." Then, with the finesse of John Barrymore, my dear little actor, entered the sea of orange pumpkins, got down on his hands and knees, curled himself into a pumpkin-shaped ball and waited for me to stroll by.

From his perch he was able to perfect the art of improvisation and direct the scene at the same time. He insisted that I not just walk by and say, "hmmm, this looks like the one I want." I needed to put some drama into it. Cecil B. DeBelcher suggested I walk from pallet to pallet, saying "la la la, until I detected the pumpkin with the exact characteristics I was looking for - large, small, round, oval, with a stem or without, etc. (As I recall, the "la,la" was a very important part of the dialogue.)The next scene would be the one where I choose the rather boy-ish looking pumpkin, try to pick it up without stepping on and squishing the real pumpkins or dropping the one I'd picked. Of course, I needed to ooh and ahh in a very dramatic way about finding just the one I was looking for. I have to admit, even though strolling through the pumpkin patch singing la la la was a little weird at first, I finally got into it and I think my acting style was every bit as good as his. Well, maybe not that good, but close!

I chuckle now when I think about it, but this was real to Robert. Just as real as the time he was a rock, a medieval knight, construction worker, cowboy, policeman, or whatever it was he chose to be on any given day. It was always my great delight to join in the adventure and I have pictures of almost every persona, rock or pumpkin.

Much to my dismay, however, life moves on and children grow up. Robert is now on the verge of puberty and his days of pretending are probably long gone. But I was reminded of these games recently when I looked out my kitchen window and saw a squirrel tip toeing his way towards the birdfeeder. The window almost butts up to the tree so if I stand at the sink and the squirrels or birds can see me, they usually run away.

But this particular squirrel was more nervy than most. He seemed to believe if he just took his time and crept stealthily (is that a word) along the branch I might never see him.. As I watched, he would put one foot in front of the other and then freeze for awhile; obviously waiting for enough time to pass that I would be able to rub my eyes and clear the vision of a moving squirrel/branch. Step, freeze, repeat. Step, freeze, repeat, this crafty, yet patient, rodent moved closer to his prize.

I'm no Dr. Doolittle but I'm am pretty darn sure I heard that squirrel was say, "La, La .... I'm part of the tree," and he about had me convinced until he got a little cocky. Since he had worked so hard getting there I couldn't really begrudge him a seed or two. I'm no squirrel hater but I'm no dummy either. I realize if you a give squirrel a seed today, he'll be back for a peanut tomorrow.

I believe there are enough sunflower seeds and peanuts in the world to share. I think, however, it's wrong, just plain wrong, for a squirrel to jump off the birdfeeder right in front of me, then proceed to turn his bushy tail at me and give it a good shake as if to say, "nanny nanny boo boo," or something worse.
There is a saying that goes something like, "you're nobody til you've been ignored by a cat." Well, I think it's very possible "you're nobody til you've been mooned by a squirrel."

Hey you, Mr. Squirrel, the one who treats your benefactor with such disdain, you say, "la, la, la" and I'll be a BB gun.
P.S. For all you animal lovers out there, don't get upset ... it's just pretend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I read with interest the article in today's newspaper about a new product invented by a hometown girl who is a mere ten years old. Unless it has to do with some new Barbie accessory, ten year olds are not your normal, run-of-of-the-mill idea makers. But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and clearly today's budding females have a problem - something the newpaper calls "headlights". This young lady, Carlie Christenson, has developed a product she calls, "boob-eez" which stick on your chest, covering what the blossoming entrepeneur calls "headlights." The newspaper calls the product a "prequel to the training bra." And every one knows the training bra is the prequel to today's, anything but modest, stretched, up-lifted, lace-trimmed Victoria Secret Miracle Bra.

It's been a long time since I was ten years old, but I grew up in a house of girls. Breasts outnumbered testicles 12 to 2. Before birth control pills were readily available, estrogen flowed on very regular schedules guided by the phases of the moon. Seriously, one of us was either experiencing PMS, having a period, or living in the bliss of that short, but relished, post-period/pre-pms time frame when our hormones did not rule the roost.

I can remember that starting through puberty was more than a physical right of passage. Beginning with my oldest sister, each of us was subjected to discussion about our developing bodies that, today, might be considered child abuse. In the days of white cotton, sleeveless, buttoned up the front, Peter Pan collared shirts, there was no denying the day we first proudly donned a new "pimple pouch." I often have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, but I can easily recall the real dilemma I felt walking to the dinner table. Should I straighten up my back and throw out my chest making my nearly invisible "mosquito bites" (or headlights as they are called today) poke out enough to show the outline of my training bra? Or should I slump my shoulders, and pray for a miracle, that my sister didn't call attention to the straps showing?

Let's face it, even though I was raised in a house full of women, understanding and compassion were not always our strong suits. As we all vied for my father's sparingly doled out attention, we often degenerated to a kind of one-upmanship that only sisters can perfect. The fact that I was taller than my sisters and thin enough to be nicknamed "toothpick," led me to believe I'd never even have headlights or boobs that needed training. I worried about my breasts, I prayed for breasts, and eventually God answered my prayers which leads me to the where I am today.

Be careful what you ask for, people warn; and I've been told "God has a sense of humor." Well He(She?) was probably guffawing his (her?) head off the day I walked into JC penney and had my "girls" measured and stuffed into what was for me, the biggest breast hammock I may have ever seen. I know breasts come in all sizes and to some, my 42EE's might seem like molehills rather than the mountains I see them as, but that day in the dressing room I sat right down and cried. There was no feeling of elation and no desire to run home and show the mammoth sling to anyone but my lignerie drawer.

So, having said and expereinced the extremes of boob pressure on both ends, imagine my surprise when I flipped through one of my favorite catalogs and saw the headline "Love Your Breasts!" I was in the car with my sweetie and my Dad (of "pimple pouch fame") but I got so excited about Blossoming Rose Breast Balm and all it could do for me, I felt the need to share the information. Truly, I think they were impressed and wished they'd thought about inventing boob balm.

Here's what the ad said: "... breast balm was created to encourage women simply to massage their breasts, to love them, and to build a life-sustaining relationship with them through loving touch. Breast massage helps us not only to get to know our breasts, thereby enabling us to detect any abnormalities, but it also helps to support breast health by stimulating circulation and eliminating toxins through the lymph tissues."

Well let me tell you, I'd never before considered my breasts much of anything other than sagging nuisances, so I found this new "have a relationship with your breasts" theory a bit intriguing. I rarely do self breast exams because all the lumps and bumps feel alike to me. I'm not sure I could pick out a hard pea-like lump from a roly poly cyst. I wonder, however, if I begin to have a relationship with my breasts, if we get ourselves on a first name basis and I master the art of breast love will my new found friends tell me if some little tiny carcinogin appears within their domain?

I know a couple cancer survivors. I'd never make fun of their challenging ordeal. I don't know that I'd ever have their kind of strength and courage. I think I'd buy a year's supply of Blossoming Rose Breast Balm if I really thought it would help detect a suspicious mass in my breast. But I just have a hard time believing that "a mixture of sweet almond oil, wildcrafted Lady's Mantle, beeswax, vitamin E, and pure essential oils of rose geranium, labdanum and rose otto" is going to help "tone and rejuvenate" my gravity-augmented breasts.

But back to Carlie. You go girl! Keep those headlights covered up! Don't give into fashion and Victoria Secret advertising. There is a time and place for bosoms, and your day will come. When it does, perhaps you'll be interested in Blossoming Rose Breast Balm from the Isabella Catalog. They "offer it in hopes that it will help empower you to connect with your breasts and to celebrate them for the nurturing and pleasure-giving miracles they are."

P.S. You can order Breast Balm by calling Isabella at 800.777.5205 or check out the website. It has all kinds of great things. Also "Isabella would like to provide you with an excellent resource that is committed to ending the breast cancer epidemic. Click the following link for more information:

Brief Encounters

Most days I go about my business and don't pay much attention to the sights and sounds around me. Every once in awhile I'll remember to stop and smell the roses or take notice of a cloud formation or slow down for a yellow light, but mostly I seem to run on the fast track just trying to get things done.

Unless I'm in Reddi Arts - time tends to stand still when I walk in that store. The funny thing about it is that basically Reddi Arts is an art supply store, and I am anything but an artist. At least not the kind of artist that uses fancy brushes and canvas or handmade paper or collage supplies, or clay by the block, etc. But don't let the name fool you. Reddi Arts is way more than just another craft store. Reddi Arts is my own little sanctuary, an oasis of beauty and fun and friendly people on a busy street in a busy world.

All you have to do is walk into Reddi Arts and you will be met by a brightly colored display of plates and vases, or stuffed animals or decorated cows which will bring a smile to your face. Then there's the card department where you can very easily forget that the rest of the world even exists. Without wandering too far you'll find the framing department that is surrounded by the gift department and the art gallery. Any of these spots could be could be considered a shopaholic's dream come true. If you turn right you'll find yourself in a world of invitations so fun that you'll want to have a party just to use the card stock du jour. If you turn in the other direction you'll enter the Reddi Arts pen/pencil/marker room. It's just about impossible for me to walk into this section without, at the very least, trying out a pen or two. There are little pads of paper strategically placed amidst the pens. So I never hesitate to write "Mary" in different colored ink, or with different chiseled tipped markers, or whatever strikes my fancy. Let's face it, pens are on my list of things that you don't really need to live, but how can you live without them?

Reddi Arts also has a very fine copy/print department. If you want something duplicated, the people in that department can not only make you any sized copy you want, they can usually read your mind and know what you want even when you can't quite describe it. I know this because, it actually happened to me not long ago. I went in with a crude drawing on a small piece of paper, and after a lot of questions on "Joe's" part and a lot of dumb sounding "huh's?" on my part, what I had envisioned was magically produced not only on time but with perfection - even though Joe left and Caitlin took over the job mid-project.

And then there's Michael. Michael was the copy machine angel put in my path when I was still trying to come to grips with the facts that not only had my daughter gotten married 3000 miles away from home and I wasn't there to watch, but the man that she married had undergone brain surgery and was left paralyzed. None of us knew at the time if he would live; we were counting hours not day or years. Michael was on duty, the day I went in with a picture of two beautiful kids and asked if he could turn it into a wedding announcement. Indeed, he did that and more. He listened to a mother's fears, wiped a mother's tears and added to a mother's belief that love conquers all, even paralysis. In the ten years since that day, if i ran into Michael, he never failed to ask about my daughter. In my book, that's more than just good customer service. That's about compassion.

But my really favorite thing about Reddi Arts is the framing department. I love going in with a photograph, drawing or other art project, and after all is said and done, coming home with a beautifully matted and framed something that I can hang on my wall, or give away as a gift. I have to admit that I am a tad bit measuring-challenged. I know how to use a ruler, but I'm not very good at measuring things to the nth degree. This is one of the reasons my quilts always turn out just a little bit askew. I like to think this is my Amish nature coming out - that a quarter of an inch here or 3/8 of an inch there are really just my way of proving that only God is perfect.

When framing, however, exact measuring does make a difference. Fortunately for me there isn't a person at Reddi Arts that doesn't know how to be exact. And they know not only color but variations of color - like white that has a tint of red, or blue in it; or green that is not just emerald but kelly; or that there are different shades of black... who knew? It doesn't make a difference what you take in there, Patty or Eric or Amy will always help you pick out the best frame for your picture. It's like magic. When I need a frame I am at their mercy and good judgement. Luckily, I've never been disappointed.

Another fascinating aspect of this particular framing department is that there are no strangers there. Or should I say, I am not a stranger to anyone. I've met artists, button collectors and photographers. I've lost my Visa card and had it returned by people who are honest enough to care. Today I nosed myself right into a converston of a framing magician and a man who had some of the most magnificent photos of Arizona rock formations I've ever seen.

I know it's impolite to just add my 2 cents worth without invitation, but these photos were too awesome to ignore. And the fact that they were of my favorite place in all the land, the Grand Canyon, was just more than I could keep silent about. So one thing led to another and I found out the artist (photographer) is embarking on a career change and is about to have his first photographic show. As one thing led to another in the conversation, I had a very real sense that this was a spiritual encounter.

I'm not sure how or why these things happen, but sometimes I'm real clear that there is a purpose deeper than what's happening on the surface. Sometimes I need the benefit of hindsight, but sometimes, like today, I felt the connection at the time. It was like God, or one of His messengers, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "pay attention, this is important."

This may sound corny but I had tears in my eyes as I drove away. I cried because of the beauty of God's majestic artwork and how I miss seeing it; I cried for photography so well-done that it looked like you could reach out touch the real thing; and I cried because a man I didn't even know was buoyed by a simple comment I made. At first I thought God had put this stranger in my path for my benefit, but I think, maybe it was the other way around. It's possible, that my words of encouragement and praise were just what he needed to hear at that moment in time.

I realize that brief encounters of a spiritual kind can happen wherever you are. I'm guessing, however, that Reddi Arts, like Sedona, Arizona, could very well be a vortex of light and love where everything comes together for the common good.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Someday, I'll .........

"Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the "someday I'll" philosophy." --Denis Waitley

Wow, that's deep! But right on the mark. I do have a "someday" philosophy ... especially when it comes to this blog. I only managed to make three posts in the month of March. Is that about laziness, being too busy doing other things that seem more important, writer's block or am I just not a blogger at heart?

I feel a little guilty like I'm letting someone down, when really I have no idea who, if anyone, reads or cared what I post. So here it is, Sunday, the 1st of April - the beginning of a new week at the beginning of a new month. Will I post on a more regular basis, I can't make any promises, but I have a willingness to do better. That's a start.

I have a few jubjects in mind - Breast Cream, the John Denver Sanctuary and my new kitties. They have nothing at all in common, except maybe each of them in one way made me smile.

But right now I have to make dinner. I'd like to think I'll be back later, but who knows when the muse will strike. Till then, if you're out there, I ask you to be patient with me. And if you're not there, well then, I'm just writing to myself and I'll get back to me when I can.