Grandma Olive is the coolest old person that has ever lived… or at least the coolest one I’ve ever known. She’s hilarious, has INSANE stories from the great depression, WWII, every other war, women’s lib, and anything else you can imagine that’s happened in this century, and she sees us visiting as an excuse to pump my children full of sugar. And isn’t that what being a grandma is really about?
She’s not actually our grandma, she’s just awesome and didn’t have any grandchild that lived here which was a fabulous coincidence because I am also awesome and I also didn’t have any grandparents that lived here. So we decided to team up and adopt one another as family.
Verona and Olive even had a joint birthday party one year because their birthday’s are only two days apart. Verona was turning 1 and Olive was turning 92. (Verona’s not as dirty as she looks, her face and hair are just covered with birthday cake.)
Verona and I went to hang out with her every Friday afternoon for a year and a half until her daughter decided to move to out to California to live with her. We were all super sad, but we write to each other and she comes back to visit occasionally so she can see us and have pizza parties with her friends at the retirement home. (I’m not even kidding. She threw a pizza party last night for her friends.)
So today we went with her and her daughter Murial to the park.
Finn got to hitch a ride on her walker.
I’ve come to the conclusion that when people hit a certain age there ceases to be a middle of the road in terms of personality. Old people are either the coolest people you’ve ever met in your life or they’re miserable and you wish they would just hurry up and die already… something about the loss of memory and bone density pulls one to the extremes I guess. Regardless, if you don’t have an awesome old person in your life you should go find one, because they’re the best.
A few of my favorite things… all of which magically collided over the past week.
1. Hula hooping
2. Hoop decorating
5. Bev Fong
Our whole church goes up to the moutains every fall to hangout for a weekend, and this year David and I made a bazillion plain hoops to be decorated by all the hoop virgins we know. I was hoping for at least 10 people to show up… we had about 40. It was super super fun. And of course there was Bev (in that last picture), who is probably the coolest person I know (if I can be half as cool as Bev when I grow up I will be happy) and she became my hoop star, learning new tricks and rocking out.
Since I came home from retreat on crutches (I hurt myself saving a van full of orphans from a run away train.) I’ve had a ton of “couch time”, meaning so much reading and writing. Incidentally, if I wrote a parenting book called “The Zen Art of Chilling The Fuck Out” do you think anyone would read it?
8. Coffee time
10. My baby
My sweet little baby pterodactyl turned one this past Thursday so that morning at coffee time he had a birthday bagel. I’m pretty sure he likes bagels more than cake anyway… actually I’m pretty sure he likes bagels more than anything. There’s a good chance he likes bagels more than he likes me.
13. Fabulous ladies
Hookah and fabulous ladies… do I really need to say more?
Ok, not technically Christmas visitors… more like Christmas eve eve/Christmas eve visitors… but still.
We have the good fortune of winding up with all sorts of random people staying at our house, usually while they’re traveling, on a pretty frequent basis. We meet some of the coolest people that way. Anyway, some friends of ours have friends whose car broke down not far from here while they were driving back to Michigan for Christmas and needed a place to stay… definitely some of the funnest people we’ve had yet.
We stayed up till the wee hours playing games, drinking, and telling stories.
The next morning while I was making homemade cinnamon rolls Kevin, Zack, and myself got into a fantastic conversation about the American education system. These guys are my kindred spirits for sure.
The night before it had come up that Chelsey wants more piercings and David does piercings so while all that was going on they were in the bathroom shoving metal through flesh. Chelsey, after an almost painful deliberation process, settled on a few new things she wanted, picked out her jewelry and got to it.
She approved of the results.
We have a holiday tradition with the rest of our friends of all going to our favorite Irish pub, Tim Finnegan’s, after the Christmas eve service at church every year. I was secretly hoping our Christmas visitors wouldn’t be able to get their car fixed and could come with us but they got the part they needed and were back on the road.
Merry Christmas y’all!
December Photo Project
Want to know one of the main reasons I don’t want to send my kids to school? Coffee time.
Ok, not coffee time specifically, but what coffee time represents. Coffee time, Thursday mornings in the lounge at the church. Everyone takes turns bringing food which sometimes means homemade banana bread from a woman who’s been perfecting the recipe for half a century and sometimes means Einstein Bagels that a college kid picked up on his way here from class. Sometimes there’s 5 people, sometimes 20. Alway’s there is coffee.
Coffee time may be one of my favorite times of the week. I love the fact that the age span is usually 80+ years. I love the conversations which cover everything from the most important of spiritual matters to the most hilarious of Chuck Norris jokes. I love that nobody judges the pastor of 60 years and nobody judges this young tattooed and pierced mom who isn’t comfortable calling herself a Christian. I love that we can all take an hour out of our busy busy lives to sit down together and just be. I love the community.
I love that I have learned some of the most profound things in my life on Thursday mornings in this room and I love when Peter (the older man on the couch in the back of the picture) weaves a story into a lesson on how we are called to be better than we are and I see Verona taking in every word.
If my kids are in school all day they’ll have the chance to gain knowledge, but if they can come here they’ll have the chance to gain wisdom (and probably plenty of knowledge too).
In the end, I think wisdom is pretty damn important.
I want my kids to grow up learning more than just long division. I want my kids to experience LIFE! And the wonder and beauty that is the people around them! I want my kids to experience FULLNESS and RICHNESS and COMMUNITY! Because in the end if all you know is long division you’re going to be missing out on a lot.
I told you all a few weeks ago about my friend being attacked, beaten, and sexually assaulted. I am not going to pretend to know what she’s going through… there’s no way in the world I could. And honestly talking about how this is effecting me sounds like such a self centered bullshit thing to do. It didn’t happen to me… it happened to her. And yes, it’s effecting all of us but something seems so incredibly wrong about going on about how this makes me feel. Forgive me for indulging in such lunacies nonetheless.
We (myself, my friend, and the rest of our small community) belong to a religious tradition that believes not only in pacifism and non violence but also that returning love for hatred is the only way. Those are all wonderful things to talk about abstractly and to believe when you have nothing on the line, it’s something else entirely when you’re face to face with that hatred.
Obviously this tragedy is making everyone re-evaluate those beliefs, it would be dishonest to claim otherwise. We’re being forced to examine why we believe what we believe and whether or not those beliefs are realistic.
But here’s the thing. Love isn’t realistic. And love in the face of violence and hatred is downright insane.
It is ridiculous.
It makes no sense.
And maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s what makes it so beautiful. Maybe the beauty of loving even when it’s so unbelievably hard is that you have no choice but to rely on God. Standing up to pure evil (and what this guy did to her was nothing if not pure evil) and refusing to fall into the trap of returning the hate, returning the violence… refusing to keep that cycle of evil going gives you no choice but to throw up your hands and say “God, you make no sense and I’m following you anyway.”
(Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just a terrible idea. I could always be wrong.)
I won’t stand here and say I know everything (or that I know anything for that matter). I can’t say that I understand what happened or that I know that it’s because of some divine plan, or even that there is some divine plan. I don’t know much of anything to be honest.
(Maybe there’s beauty in that too?)
And I won’t say that I love the guy who did this… because right now I don’t. Right now all I can do is try my hardest not to hate him. But I do hope one day I can come around, I hope we all can. Because if I can’t believe that love wins then I’m not sure if I can believe in anything at all.
Halloween might be my favorite holiday of the year. Actually it’s a three way tie between Halloween (costumes and parties! Yay!), The 4th of July (blowing shit up! Yay!), and New Year Eve (drinking, parties, and mandatory kissing! Yay!). Anyway, I love love love everything involved in Halloween which this year included perpetrating an epic lie… the lie that I wish I could return to Kansas.
Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and one sleepy sleepy Cowardly Lion. Seriously though, aren’t we adorable? And isn’t Kansas not a place I ever want to go back to? Tangents aside, Verona is old enough this year to enjoy trick or treating which I’ve been anxiously awaiting since I first found out I was pregnant with her.
We went trick or treating… (that’s her with her grandma)
…then engaged in the fabulous tradition we have with our friends of going to Olive Garden for a less than authentic Halloween Italian feast.
You know you wish you were as cool as us.
We gorged ourselves on breadsticks and all other manner of carby delight while most likely horrifying the people sitting at the next table with our unabashadly loud laughter and off color humor. The night ended the way all good nights should… at Cold Stone with even more friends.
My friend Marlowe recently had the brilliant idea that we should have a mother-daughter tea with a bunch of our friends and all our little girls at this eclectic little tea room in Old Town Glendale.
Arrian brought some fancy long gloves for us to wear (although it turns out eating with long gloves on is a giant pain) and we spent the morning pouring Earl Grey from fancy pots into dainty cups that we picked up with our pinkies obnoxiously lifted. Add some quiches and fresh fruit and cheese plates and we had ourselves a fabulous time.
Afterwards we let the girls play in the garden outside for a while.
When I was little my parents were in a music group with two of their close friends. They all played guitar, piano, and other assorted instruments and sang together at gigs across the state. Some of my first memories are of getting to sit on the edge of the stage at their concerts and watch the crowd who were as mesmerized by every note they produced as I was by seeing how something as simple as four part harmony could bring so much joy to an entire room full of people.
When Verona was a baby the best way to get her to smile was for me to put her in the swing in the music room and play piano… she would be a ball of sunshine for as long as we stayed there. Recently a bunch of our friends started a blue grass band so she’s getting to grow up around all the constant music making too instead of just seeing me play my solo gigs for her at home.
I couldn’t be happier.
I love this picture. So many marvelous people that we love, chillin out together in Steve and Darla’s backyard to celebrate Darla finishing grad school. Congratulations Darla! And congratulations me for living a life surrounded by such an awesome community.
We ate, drank, celebrated, and listened to the bluegrass stylings of the Ragamuffin Stampede.
Hurray for life.
Thursdays means coffee time. At church on Thursday mornings people get together to drink coffee (tea for me since the discovery of Strawberry, the future member of our family), eat delicious things, and have some time to relax and connect with each other. Anyone is invited but since it’s on a weekday morning it ends up being the people who work at the church, old people, and a few of us unemployed folks like myself.
Those of us who come on a regular basis take turns bringing the snack and yesterday was the day that we all wait for… Emil’s turn. Emil is an angry old man (I say that in the most affectionate way) who happens to be the most amazing cook, known far and wide for his OUT OF THIS WORLD homemade cinnamon rolls which he brings for us when it’s his turn. Verona and I shared three. Yes, I said it… there.
In the winter we have a huge new group of people who join us, our SOOP volunteers. SOOP stands for Service Opportunities for Older People and provides seniors with an excuse to come hang out in our warmer climate during the winter. Verona has made friends with an old man from Calgary who told us yesterday that it was actually warmer back home on Wednesday than it was here. Calgary… seriously… warmer in Calgary than Phoenix… the world is totally ending.