Category Archives: Love

Loving ’em while they are still here

I know a parent who often told her adult children, in reference to the parental relationship, to “Love us while we are still here”. Now, this may be a phrase that this particular parent uses to elicit feelings of guilt in her children, but no matter.

After the untimely death of Tom Petty not to mention Prince, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey,  I see that this phrase has an alternate meaning for me. As in, I want to enjoy the great musical artists that are still among the living. As in, let’s hear it for those senior citizens who are still rocking.

To celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary next month, Hubs and I will be attending a James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt concert at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. I’ve created a playlist of my favorite tunes from both of these artists to enjoy in the meantime.

Funny thing about James Taylor, for me, is that while I was certainly familiar with tunes such as “Fire and Rain” and “You’ve Got a Friend”, from my growing up years, I didn’t fully appreciate his music until I dated the biggest jerk in the world (for clarification, this is not Hubs) back when I was in college. In spite of his squirrely demeanor, unreliability, and general lack of couth, this dude had great taste in music. He introduced me to JT’s songs “Mexico”, “Sweet Baby James”, and “Walking Man”. Fortunately, I no longer picture his stupid face when I listen to the music of James Taylor, as these songs have been featured on my playlists for so many years now. Time is indeed a wonderful thing.

I endeavored to switch off between these two artists with my playlist, though towards the end it ended up leaning more heavily in JT’s favor. While there are a total of 21 songs on this playlist, I won’t bore you with anecdotes about each and every one of them. Just the ones that I am most looking forward to hearing them perform live.

  • James’ “Your Smiling Face”. This is one of those songs that has an opening that you remember. It’s an upbeat and endearing tune. I always like how the first line gets right to the point of the song, don’t you?
  • Bonnie’s “Something to Talk About”. Such a fun, flirty ditty. Love the story and the bluesiness of this tune. This woman is in a league of her own when it comes to quality blues music.
  • James’ “Fire and Rain”. Great metaphor for life. Bittersweet in that he “always thought I’d see you again”.
  • Bonnie’s “Thing Called Love”. She ain’t no queen of Sheba. And we ain’t no amoebas.
  • James’ “You’ve Got a Friend”. Originally written by the one and only Carole King, another one of my favorites. A special, sweet, simple song that everyone knows. Hard to beat that.
  • Bonnie’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. Heart-wrenching, raw, tender, personal. I seem to recall a time or two back before I met Hubs of course when circumstances existed to make this song very relatable to me.
  • James’ “Up on the Roof”. Beautiful lyrics and piano music. It evokes that feeling one has upon arriving home after a long, hectic day at work where you just emit an “Ahhh”, take your bra off, and sit down with your favorite adult beverage. Except I’m too scared of heights to actually go up on the roof for real. Unless Hubs was up there with his ukulele. I’d have to make an exception for that.
  • Bonnie’s “Love Sneaking Up on You”. Such a fun, sexy song. One of the best lines: “Do you light up at the mention of my name?”
  • James’ “Something in the Way She Moves”. Wowser, what a love song! It’s on par with Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman to Me”. Soooo romantic.
  • Bonnie’s “Right Down the Line”. Gerry Rafferty wrote and originally performed this song. I love how Bonnie put her own, slightly reggae twist on this version. It’s a slinky, sultry, cool ass song. Like so many of her songs.
  • James’ “Mexico”. I love the tropical, laid back feel of this song and the pretty guitar opening.  I hope some day Hubs will say “Oh, Mexico, sounds so simple I’ve just got to go” with passion. Because he’s never been. I have, but likely would enjoy it much more as a grown adult woman with my Hubs than I did as a 7 year old searching for a pinatas and ponchos with my family.
  • James’ “How Sweet it is (to be loved by you)”. What a positively positive song, right? I just want to stop and thank you, sweet baby James, for this special song.
  • Bonnie’s “I Will Not Be Broken”. This song really speaks to me. I mentioned in a recent post that I had discovered a new self help book, “Soul Song Playlist”. Let’s just say this song is at the top of my soul song playlist.
  • James’ “Shower the People”. I ADORE this song. It should be everyone’s mantra because it would make the world a much happier place: “Shower the People you love with love, show them the way that you feel, things are going to be much better if you only will”. Truer words may never have been written in a song.
  • James’ “Steamroller”: This is the song that made me realize how much I love the blues. And to see it performed live would be simply amazing.

Hindsight: Memories from a Grateful Daughter

I’m struggling here. If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed that since the beginning of this year, the frequency of my posts has decreased. There’s valid reasons for that. Life. And death.

You see, my Dad passed away on 2/18/18. It actually happened. There’s no ‘how to’ book on how to prepare for this inevitability-that your parents will one day die. But there’s also no way around it. As “they” say, no one gets out of here alive.

My Dad was the best. I paid tribute to him on my my Father’s Day post last year, knowing that it very well may be his last Father’s Day here on this earth. Now that it’s been a few days since the funeral, and Hubs and I are safe and sound back home in Colorado, I see that there are things that went unsaid, on my part, during the chaos that was this past week and a couple of days. Chaos including traveling by car for several days in inclement winter weather to reach my hometown. Chaos including making travel arrangements for our youngest spawn to be there. Chaos including helping our oldest spawn keep her 4 year old entertained. Chaos including helping my sister with picking the “right” pictures to display on the boards she bought at the hardware store.

But we got through it. As my sister whispered in my Dad’s ear during his final hours and I tearfully conveyed to him on the phone the day before he passed, “We will all be okay. Mom will be okay too”. I hope that he took that in, internalized it. I hope it gave him the piece of mind he needed to allow himself to peacefully surrender to the next dimension.

The beautiful thing is that the memories of my Dad will remain. And there are so many precious ones. We will hang on to those memories for the rest of our lifetimes. These memories are blessings.

So while driving through boring old Nebraska, on our way home this weekend, I gave some thought to the things that, to me, made my Dad the special man and father he was. The things that went unsaid, by me, while among my family during this sad and chaotic time.

Let me share just a few….

Dad loved to “bullshit”. As in, telling jokes and stories in his booming voice to elicit wonder and laughter to those fortunate enough to be there. Anyone who ever knew him would certainly agree he was an excellent person to “shoot the shit” with.

Dad had a great talent for sleeping. I am grateful that I inherited this trait. He could literally fall asleep anywhere. No matter how much noise was going on around him. And he was such a deep sleeper that it would take at least 6 separate tries for me to wake him up in the afternoons to go to work (his second full time job).

Dad was a great American citizen. He served proudly in the Korean war. When I was a kid, my teacher gave us a lesson on nationalities. I went home and asked Dad what my nationality and and his reply was “You’re 100% American, Rhoda Joda”. Of course, Mom gave me the real answer, which was French/German. It was just that important to my Dad that I took pride in and appreciated being an American.

Dad had great affection for small creatures. He routinely referred to our Lhasa Apso, Max, as “your brother”. After Max become older and his health failed, Dad had him put down. It broke his heart in a million pieces. He kept a framed photo of Max on his bedside table from that point on.

Dad was the best dining partner. He appreciated his food. Except when he didn’t. Then he would remark that it was “horseshit”, and we would all snicker.  He wasn’t a man to mince words, that’s for sure. He certainly was not a cook; but sometimes in the evenings, I would find him in our little kitchen, mixing a package of dried onion soup mix in with a carton of sour cream, which we would dip our “Old Dutch” potato chips in while watching t.v. He would be the keeper of the chip dip, and sometimes when I’d reach over for more, he’d tease me by covering it over with his hands and giving me this look, conveying “It’s all mine!”

Dad had great posture. He wasn’t a big guy by any means; he was more in the category of “stout”. But he had broad, strong shoulders. And he always had a confident stride, with his shoulders up and back, looking straight ahead. He often reminded me to “stand up straight”.

At my elementary school, which was almost literally a hop, skip, and jump from our house, every spring, dandelions would dot the lawn outside. Most people consider these weeds (which I realize they technically are) and would mow them down. Dad would always comment how pretty they were, and how he didn’t understand why anyone would want to get rid of them (of course he mowed them down when they appeared in our yard as I recall, to appease my mother).

I am looking forward to visiting my family in Minnesota with Hubs this summer, when I can go through his belongings and reminisce. When we can gather with extended family and share our stories about my very special Dad and truly celebrate his great life and the positive impact he left on ours.

 

For the love of couple friendships

Image result for memes for I Love Lucy

Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethel. These two couples were the best of friends. Growing up in northern Minnesota, my parents had their own Fred and Ethel. This couple featured heavily in my childhood. In fact, they were my godparents. They were as close to blood relation to us as they could be. We frequently shared meals, many of them impromptu, together. They and my parents had such a closeness, that it was not unusual for them (or my parents) to “pop in” for visits w/no prior notification. And no matter what was going on they always welcomed each other.

I think as we go through life as couples, the friendships we develop with other couples can be priceless. These friendships can help us to avoid getting stuck in a boring rut of relying on only each other for entertainment and friendship. They can help us to appreciate each other more, as one half of the other couple may have an annoying habit or two.  Like “She” is a loud chewer. Or “He” always shares obscure jokes that always go over my head. In my experience, these special friendships can provide hilarious memories to recall together as the years pass.

Hubs and I had a good thing going on back in Wisconsin. We enjoyed an active social life and had numerous memorable times with our couple friends. Gratefully, we are just now beginning to develop some new couple friendships here in Colorado.

Because I miss them all so much and want to pay homage to them, and because it’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t want to do the normal thing and gush on about romantic love on my blog, I’m going to tell you all a little bit about some of our beloved couple friends from back home in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Couple #1: They are younger than us by about 10 years, and share our interests in cooking good food and drinking craft beer and good quality wine. One time, we invited them along with their two youngins over for supper. While I was busy in the kitchen chopping up onions for the salad and they were hanging in the three season porch with Hubs, I accidentally sliced the tip of my finger about halfway off. Of course, blood was gushing everywhere and I freaked out. Hubs drove me to the ER, while our friends stayed behind. We anticipated that they would end up going home, heck we even gave them permission, but they surprised us and were still at our house almost 2 hours later, after having finished making the entire meal.

Couple #2: They are a childless couple who are around 10 years older than us. They are faithful Christians and are the only people we always pray with before eating whatever gourmet food she has cooked for us. He makes his own never-fails-to-be-delicious wine and craft beer, which he shares generously. He is also a master gardener who once shared magnolia shoots with us, which later grew to be a beautiful tree in the front yard of the first home we lived in in Wisconsin.

Couple #3: This couple is the closest we have to our own Fred and Ethel. Trouble is, throughout the years we have rarely lived less than an hour from each other. Of course, that means the time we spend together, while infrequent, is especially precious. The night I first met Hubs I was with her. The night she met her husband I was with her as well. We were in each other’s weddings. We have gone on camping adventures together, back when we were all still young and newly married. We also, years later, enjoyed a camping weekend with all of our kiddos (we both had two, just many years apart). They are the friends we include in biological family gatherings. Their daughters were in our oldest daughter’s wedding. They came and helped us clean out our apartment when we had toddlers and were moving several hours away. These two are the friends of a lifetime.

Couple #4: He was Hubs first roommate in college. She was a “townie” in the college town we lived and studied in for 4 + years. We have had shenanigans galore with these two. Like the two New Year’s Eve’s in a row when the four of us were out celebrating and won big on pull tabs.  “She” almost knocked Hubs over, jumping into his arms with glee after the first win.

Fortunately for Hubs and I, we have even more of these couple friendships in our lives. And we treasure each and every one of them.

Do you and your spouse/significant other have your own Fred and Ethel? I would so love to hear about them!

On Tattoos

Last November, while visiting Spawn #1 in Wisconsin, she said something to me that I will never forget. It went something like this:

Spawn #1: Hey, mom…I was thinking that maybe we should get tattoos together.

Me (mouth agape): Really? You’d want to do that with me?

It was as if she had bequeathed me with a crown and a sash emblazoned with “Coolest Mom Ever”. I was gobsmacked. Honored. Dumbfounded. All at once. 

The child who gave me grief from approximately 2005 through 2012, and after whom several of my gray hairs are named, actually likes me. You’ve no idea the confidence boost this gave me.

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I have no tattoos. At least not yet. 

It’s not like I have anything against tattoos. Especially on other people. Except I think it’s a little weird to see a large tattoo on someone’s body depicting a picture of their children as babies, complete with their names and dates of birth. Or when people have tattoos on their faces. I think those are especially spooky. But that’s just my personal opinion.

Discussing the possibility of me getting matching tattoos with Spawn #1 with Hubs has been interesting. He jokingly made a comment about anti-tattoo sentiments found in the Bible. Something about “graven images”. He also stated that he’d prefer not to see the mother-daughter tattoo on me when he takes me to “Funkytown” (wink wink). I really can’t blame him for that. It could be a buzzkill. 

So that just means if we are to get matching mother-daughter tattoos, at least for me, placement is going to be key. Perhaps on my ankle. Or on the inside of my wrist. Either way, I don’t know that I can resist the honor my daughter has given me by coming up with this sweet notion.

In fact, Spawn #2 may want to join in. That would make it all the more special, right? They almost got a tattoo a few years ago, upon their 18th birthday. My in-laws were visiting from out of state. My mother in law, being the progressive, open-minded jewel of a woman she is, wanted to join us in our first foray into a tattoo shop. The “waiting room” consisted of a black leather couch and a couple of chairs with a coffee table centered in between. Their was a plethora of nudie and tattoo fetish type publications which MIL, to our amusement, peered through.

Spawn #2 was extraordinarily nervous, but determined. Part of their reasoning for getting ink that day was to prove to themselves that they had overcome their fear of needles, which had plagued them since elementary school. I was proud of them for doing this.

In the end, however, Spawn #2 chickened out. They came out of the backroom, weeping and tattoo-less. Nonetheless, I was a proud mom. I told them that it was okay, they have all the time in the world to get a tattoo. They showed bravery and determination by getting as far as they did that day. And after all, it was just a tattoo. It wasn’t like it was a shot of an antidote that was going to save their lives, for Pete’s Sake. 

So maybe 2017 is going to be the year that the women of our little family get some ink. Both Spawn #1 and #2, along with the cutest and smartest and bestest 3 year old on the planet will be coming to visit us in Colorado next month after all.

This could be perfect timing.

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Perhaps this one?

Me & my Songbrain

I have what can only be described as a “songbrain”. How it works:  a certain word or phrase will be used in my presence, or a mood will strike me and a song starts up between my ears. It’s like a have some kind of jukebox that clicks on just the right song to match what’s going on with me emotionally in the moment. I don’t have to will the song to play, it just does. 

Now, readers who are familiar with my blog surely understand my deep and abiding love for music. I have been known to wax nostalgic about music from my growing up years  like I did here: Song Stories

I’ve also shared my love of making Google playlists for myself, like I did here: Music Therapy

Suffice it to say:

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Bottom line

 

This is the song that runs through my head on days when my 50 year old body is crack ‘a lacking and I forget what I came down to the kitchen pantry to get. Today, truth be told, is kinda one of those days. Thank the good lord I have a massage scheduled later.

 

This is the song in my head when I’m feeling sassy, playful, and I’m having a particularly good hair day.

This is the song Hubs and I could very much relate to when our spawn were, at 14 months apart, in the throes of those oh so fun teenage years. It allowed us to daydream for a bit. Thanks, Fastball.

This is a song I recently discovered while listening to The Current, a MPR station out of the twin cities, which has a show on Sunday mornings entitled “United States of Americana”. This is a song that really makes me think and feel. Now when I am reading or watching news reports about young black youth being harassed, beaten, or killed (as in the case of Trayvon Martin in Florida), I hear this song in my head. “With a pocketful of Skittles”. That line, to me, is the essence of the entire song. He was just a kid.

“My Sweet Lord” by the late, great George Harrison is so beautiful to me. It comes to mind for me when I’m feeling present, aware, and grateful for all of the blessings I have in this life of mine. It’s both comforting and worshipful to me.

1 Mantra, 7 ways

Call me crazy, but I believe in the power of a good mantra. When you have one (or two or 16) that you connect with, not just in your mind, but in your heart and soul, you have an ability to focus on what’s most important to you.

KISS.

This is my most used and helpful mantra. What I think is especially fabulous about it is just how ridiculously adaptable it is.

Many of you already are aware of the  translation of this acronym as “Keep It Simple Stupid”. That was how I glommed onto it initially. You see,  I have a fantastic ability to overthink everything in my life-from what I should have said to so and so, to what I should wear to church on Sunday, to what kind of part time job I should seek. Geez, if only overthinking was a skill I could get paid for. I wonder how much I could get an hour for that? Perhaps it’d be a salaried position? Maybe I could get paid extra for not taking health insurance as I can stay on Hubs plan? Okay, there I go again. That was not useful. Deep breath….ahhhh…KISS…..

Okay, I’m good.

Other ways I use the mantra KISS:

Note: I have determined that I will refer to the last “S” in KISS as “stupid” very sparingly. Because I think it’s important to be kind to oneself.

Keep it silly, sister. Because I firmly adhere to the notion that in order to have a successful, meaningful, and happy life, one should not take anything too seriously. Or anyone, for that matter.

Keep it specific, sister. This one came to me while I was using my wicked crafting skills  creative energy to put together my very first vision board. I firmly believe that having a physical picture of what you want in your life increases the chances of it becoming reality. For instance, instead of affixing a picture of, say, a wine bottle or grapes to my vision board,  I affixed a picture of Napa Valley because that is a place I very much wish to visit with Hubs, asap. Seeing it every day will keep it fresh in my mind, which is good because, I am 50.

Keep it sincere, sister. Bottom line-I’m just going to be me. I will continue to write (and live) with my heart in the right place. Which happens to be on my sleeve.

Keep it succinct, stupid. Yes, I know this sounds super boring. But not nearly as boring as it would be for you, dear patient readers (or anyone I am conversing with in real life),for me to ramble on, stream-of-consciousness style, taking my sweet, pokey time in getting to the damn point. It’s the opposite of verbose. An adjective that has been used to describe me (and sometimes, unfortunately, my writing) which I truly abhore.

Keep it smart, sister. This is possibly the most challenging use of this acronym for me. Because all my life I’ve struggled with feeling that I’m just not that smart. Thankfully, the successes I’ve had in this life along with the people I love who love me back, have helped me to no longer be hyper-focused on it. Keeping it smart, sister, is important to my writing.  I believe that if I’m going to put my opinion out there for the world to see, especially if it’s about current events, I need to know what I’m talking about. That’s why I spend time doing some research if I’m not fully confident that the opinion I’m preparing to put out there is based on facts.

Keep it sassy, sister. Because. THIS.

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So, fellow mantra users, which ones work for you?

National Sister Day

Did you know there happens to be a very big Holiday happening today? It’s National Sister Day! And a perfect excuse for this blogger to express her love and appreciation for her sister and her “sisters”.

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So, I only have one biological sister. Her name is Kelly and she’s 8 years older than me. She is also a very humble and fairly private person. In many circumstances, I would say she is easily embarrassed. So instead of calling her saintly, my protector, or my biggest life role model because I totally could, I’ll keep it simple.

Kelly is generous. She is a fabulous shopper, and shops year round for items to present as gifts to everyone she loves. And she has great taste in clothes and jewelry, which I like to think I got from her. Kelly is kind. She wears her heart on her sleeve and empathizes with people when they’re in pain. She possesses a great sense of fun and is always open to trying new things. She is strong. She pushes through life with a sense of purpose and goodwill, no matter the obstacle. I love her with all my heart.

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Me and Kel-Kel Poo Poo, 2010. Isn’t she lovely?

I am also abundantly blessed with other, non-biological sisters. They all hold a special place in my heart.

I hit the in law “jackpot” when I married Hubs. Not only because my MIL and FIL are the most kind, generous, thoughtful people in the world, but because of Mary Alice. Mary Alice, Hub’s younger sister, is a sweet, beautiful, smart, fun loving spirit who I adore. She and I enjoy doing lots of “girly” things together, like shopping, eating out, drinking good quality red wine, and talking about boys together.

When I was 17, my folks thought it would be a grand idea to take in an AFS (American Field Service) student for a year.  I was beyond excited to play at being a big sister for a year. Her name was/is Lisa and she’s from England. When she came off the plane in the summer of 1983 with her cool British accent, super stylish short blond hair, and tight cropped jeans, I knew she was going to be super cool. And she was. And still is. She brought a sense of fun and adventure to every day of my junior year in high school. She cracked us up with her imitations of how we Minnesotans spoke. She was the instigator of such shenanigans as conning me into drinking booze from my parents liquor cabinet (aka the space under the kitchen sink-man these people were trusting!) whilst they enjoyed their vacation. Good times. Good times indeed!

Gail was my “big sister” in our sorority during our college years. She had this superpower of always having my back, like when she would drag my drunk ass out of the bar after “Thirsty Thursday” so I could avoid getting lost on my way back to the sorority house or heaven forbid kidnapped and thrown into the Mississippi River. Or when she got into verbal fisticuffs with Hubs to ensure his intentions with me were pure. They ended up being great pals. As I mentioned in a recent post, Gail passed away from cancer 5 years ago, at the age of 48. God, I miss that woman so much. And cancer seriously bites the big one.

Sara is the “sister” that I’ve known the longest (besides Kel Kel PP) and she is my dearest friend. She was also in my sorority and one of my many roommates over the span of 3 years in the sorority house. She was the one who officially introduced me to Hubs (whilst the three of us were donning sheets togas after one of those crazy frat parties.) She and I were together, partying with a group of our friends at her family’s cabin when she met her now husband.  She and her husband are our closest and oldest couple friends. We treasure them (and their spawn) like family. Sara and I have shared so much together. The trials and tribulations of jobs/careers, the stress of relationships with crappy co-workers, the angst of mothering daughters (we both have two, but they are very far apart in age), and so much more. We were in each other’s weddings. She is simply the best.

So, to all you blogging sisters and bloggers with sisters and plain old sisters with sisters, I  wish to you the best National Sister Day ever!