Kudzu I Am Just Not That Into You

 
This morning I put on my African safari anti-bug clothing and went out the back door to our hillside that has grown into a waist-high thick green mess. 
Weedwhacker in hand I started getting my aerobic exercise by chopping through the brush along the ocean. The pesky Japanese Kudzu vine is choking my dogwoods and native mountain laurel on that side of the property. The last two seasons I have had to tear it away and sever the stems only to come home in the spring and see it thriving again. Hello Kudzu. It just won’t die.  
So my day started first with carving a path at the back of the acreage that our rainy summer has turned into a Japanese jungle, then returning to the house and next getting on a step stool to kneel on the top of our washing machine. While practically standing on my head with a wrench on one hand I fixed a leaky cold water hose with the other without flooding the kitchen, so that I can do the mountain of towels and sheets my family left me with this week. I wonder. How on earth did my life end up like this?
I remarried a man more than 30 years ago who should have taken over these masculine chores, but who could have guessed that there are men who can’t fix things. How did I know at the time although he was good at making money and controlling the TV remote, that’s just about it. That’s as far as his helpful expertise goes.  
Now you say that’s not really a bad thing, financial responsibity is positive, that’s a good thing. Okay. I agree. I am grateful for that. But he’s also very good at not wanting to spend it when his talented wife can do it for free. And for me that has not been such a great thing because I must be just like him. My labor via my children flew the coop years ago, I don’t subscribe to Angie’s List, so if I can do it, why hire someone? 
When I am here at the shore with all of these equations in place, unless I am at my computer writing, that’s how you will usually find me – with a hammer, paint brush, vacuum, rake, or on my knees upside down trying to fix the washing machine.   

Maybe not too many of my younger readers are familiar with Ralph Edwards and his early 40’s radio, then his television reality program from the ’50’s “This Is Your Life”?  
For better or worse, this is mine:

HUSBAND: HI, Honey. How was your day? The beach was beautiful. You should have come. Here are my towels.
WIFE: Oy vey!  
Copyright Sandra Hart©. All rights Reserved.
  

Whooped By A Whoopie Pie

  

My daughter and grandson flew back to Chicago this morning after a very quick visit. Although it has only been a few hours, I miss them already. Brett and Marshell have left me with lots of memories and longing to have them back here in New Jersey again. Marshell also left me with something else – a whoopie pie. Knowing him, I think that rascal did it on purpose just to taunt me. 
Believe it or not, even though I’ve heard of them, I had never had a whoopie pie in my entire life, so when he walked in yesterday evening with two of them in his hands, I was curious. They looked like chocolate frisbees. Undeniably certain death by calories and cholesterol for anyone my age.
The whoopie pie (alternatively called a black moon, gob (term indigenous to the Pittsburgh region), black-and-white, bob, or “BFO” for Big Fat Oreo, (Also recorded as “Devil Dogs,” and “Twins” in 1835 is a US baked good that may be considered either a cookie, pie, or cake. It is made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake , with a sweet, creamy filling sandwiched between.  
While considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition, they are increasingly sold throughout the United States. According to food historians, Amish women would bake these desserts (known as hucklebucks, or creamy turtles at the time) and put them in farmers’ lunch pails. When farmers would find the treats in their lunch, they would shout “Whoopie!” It is thought that the original Whoopie pies may have been made from cake batter leftovers.
Now these critters, forbidden for anyone over fifty, have 65 mg cholesterol. 630 calories from which 220 are Fat calories, so what does that tell you! 
When I went to make my first ‘wake-me-up’ cup of coffee this morning there it was in the middle of the counter staring me in the face. I tried to ignore its presence, but how could I refuse a gift from my grandson. What kind of heartless grandmother would I be?
So, you guessed it, I have been there and done that. I finally have had a whoopie pie. Oh my!
How many miles do you think I’ll have to do on the treadmill as penance for my sins? I also am feeling a wee bit ‘over sugared’ and have checked ✅ whoopie pie off of my bucket list for sure! But right now, I think I’ll go for a nap!
Copyright Sandra Hart©. All rights reserved.
  

Not Yet

I wrapped my sweater more closely around my body as I stood and looked out at the familiar horizon before me. I thought how strange it is that the familiar can change day by day, but yet somehow those familiar changes do give a comfortable feeling of knowing. Of consistency. I really love that.

Summer. How quickly it has passed, I thought. My husband and I have been loyal to this annual ritual of saying goodbye to one familiar and journeying south to another warmer familiar. Moving from one nest to another never gets easier. At least for me. It seems that just as quickly as we get into a comfortable routine at one place, we have to shut the door and start again somewhere else. But this year, I’m not ready. It has happened too quickly.

“Oh look the leaves are beginning to curl and turn,” I said to my husband this morning, “September just arrived …. it shouldn’t be this cold yet.” The loud cicadas have been signaling the beginning of the end and now the leaves turning. Too soon. So not ready, I said to myself looking out over the ocean.

Not just yet. No hurry here. I’m not ready for summer’s last breath to blow in the winds that chill me to the core. I’m not ready to close the door on warm ocean breezes.

I hesitated. What am thinking? To be honest with myself, the truth is, it’s not this place, this nest, it’s that Life is going by too, too quickly for me. I am not ready for much more than just changing my seasonal nest. That’s just a small part of it.

I’m not ready to grow old. Period. I’m not ready for my seasons to change. I’m not ready for my white hair to give me an identity crisis. I’m not ready to have to stand on my tiptoes to kiss my grandson on the cheek. I’m not ready to have people help me with my groceries. I’m not ready to have the young ‘texters’ give up their seats for me.

I am…..just…..not……ready for that yet….but…….

I am so ready to keep dancing in front of the mirror. I am so ready to splash in the waves along the beach. I am so ready for gelled nails. I am so ready to daydream to love songs. I am so ready to eat a whole cheesecake and not feel guilty about it. I am so ready for the young girl inside of me to stay around for a long time.

Let’s face it. I am just…..well…..so not…..ready to act my age!

My Bag Of Marbles

  

(My grandson lost his paternal grandfather yesterday and has flown here with my daughter today to say his farewells.  My heart grieves, too, for those he has left behind. All fathers, grandfathers, though not our own, leave an empty place in the sky when they fall.)
The longer I am on this earth the more convinced I am it is no secret that my life, your life, our lives are full of ups and downs, hills and valleys, joys and sorrows. Each of these elements, or ingredients, are what makes up existence for all of us. 
 Every day is a new challenge, a new joy, a new sorrow and a new surprise. Our lives are just big bags of marbles with everything rolling around inside our bag. And whatever is in there, whatever is noxious or sweet, whatever falls in our laps, we either learn to deal with it, take away something positive from it, have fun with it, appreciate it, or have a miserable existence. 
I know those for whom Life moves on day by day, passing them – not feeling or seeing. The good. The bad. They see and feel nothing. They are just walking through.  
Please, don’t ever let me be one of those. Let me roll around in my bag bumping into happiness and joy and find all the good marbles in my bag that are positive and uplifting. But if perchance I bump into sorrow and heartbreak when my bag is shaken up a bit let me know that there will be other marbles of good cheer and happier days ahead.  
And Dear Creator, please let me be able to recognize the difference in loving and understanding every marble that comes my way. I don’t want to just roll through.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All Rights Reserved
  

 DANCING AT THE LOTUS

  

She heard the sounds of the piano stridently rising above the restaurant chatter and began to squirm in her seat. Whenever the music started it was hard to sit still. She looked at her parents busy with their menus, then over to her brother who was attempting to make a paper airplane from a cocktail napkin and slowly slid off her seat and ran toward the dance floor. 

 She loved music and the sound always made her want to move and swirl and swing around the floor with her arms open wide. She couldn’t help it. Something inside of her four-year old self just made her do it because it was fun and made her happier than hugging the cat or eating ice cream. Swinging and dancing and moving to the music until she was dizzy was out of her control. It was just what she loved to do on Sunday afternoons at The Lotus.

It was 1943 in Washington, D.C.. The Lotus restaurant was popular among military and government personnel during the war years. The Washington Daily News called it “a sort of a poor man’s Stork Club where the average Joe can put on a dog without pulling more than a five spot out of his billfold.” 

The restaurant occupied the top level of a two-story 1926 building and her little dancing legs looked forward to those stairs each week when her family lunched at The Lotus. It was not the food for which she had visions in her head, it was the music. Most of all it was the music that made her love those stairs.

In movies of the 1930s and 1940s, supper clubs were portrayed as places where big stars and popular bands such as Glenn Miller’s played, but far more common were the sort that hosted local musicians. Still, patrons dressed up and enjoyed a time out, dining and dancing, and maybe a floor show, without spending a fortune.

 Located in the capital, The Lotus got the best bands of the era and she got to dance out on that shiny floor with them all. Twirling in and out between the soldiers and their girls taking that last dance of leave, or when she was held in her daddy’s arms, the thrill was always there. Music was in her heart and she just had to move and be a part of the magic she felt.

This particular Sunday she had the dance floor for a few minutes all by herself and she swirled and dipped to the live music with her curls flying in the air and was just having the best of time before her father interrupted her short solo by leading her back to the table. It was also on this particular Sunday that her life could’ve gone in another direction. A talent scout from Hollywood just happened to be lunching at the Lotus that afternoon and thought that this little dancing girl should go to Hollywood for a screen test. After all Shirley Temple was a big star and he thought he saw something with the same star quality in this little curly haired girl who loved to dance. 

Her parents said politely to the Hollywood gentleman, “Thank you very much, but no.” They didn’t want their daughter to be in the movies. That was the end of that, as far as her parents were concerned, but certainly not the end of her love for music, or dancing, or just being herself. 

The author Virginia Woolf once said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” 

 And so, my friends, that was my life during the war when I was four. And in the end, it turned out, I did it anyway. All by myself. My way. Written large.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved. 

  

It’s an inspiring hang with Sandra Hart, former Romper Room teacher, touching on a number of subjects. Heart-felt and funny and often whimsical Sandra shares her personal, profound thoughts that will make you chuckle or give you thought about your own life. A thoughtful collection of essays that is a perfect read by your bedside or in daily doses. Available in Kindle or printed copy at amazon.com
http://tinyurl.com/n9u7mw
It’s an inspiring hang with Sandra Hart, former Romper Room teacher, touching on a number of subjects. Heart-felt and funny and often whimsical Sandra shares her personal, profound thoughts that will make you chuckle or give you thought about your own life. A thoughtful collection of essays that is a perfect read by your bedside or in daily doses. Available in Kindle or printed copy at amazon.com
http://tinyurl.com/n9u7mw
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Twitter 🚫

“You’re a mean man, Mr. Grinch!” said Dr. Seuss. I believe if Twitter had been around in the days of Mr. Grinch he would’ve been brought to his knees by Twitter feed. 
Full disclosure. I have a Twitter account. I basically just post my blog there and I don’t interact very often by tweeting with people that I’m supposed to be following. But the other day I became more aware of Twitter after Bobby Jendel the governor of Louisiana put his hat in the ring for the Republican primary candidacy. All of the sudden the Twitter feed blue up with #bobbyjindalissowhite tweets that showed up on my Facebook page because a successful Indian actor friend of mine was more or less keeping the mean spirited tweet thread alive. Really mean tweets. It seemed that each tweet was trying to top the other one with ridiculous hate and bullying. It really took my breath away. Wow! 
Where was all of this expressed hate coming from, I wondered? Have I been hiding under a rock all this time missing the spew that is flowing through tweets? Tweeting has become mother bird sticking her bill down our throats and regurgitating everything. 
 I’m Internet savvy but I wasn’t prepared for this. What has happened to us a supposed civilized society. Where is all of this hate coming from on Twitter. 
It was not only the tweets about Bobby Jendal not being Indian enough, that was just the beginning…..as my Twitter investigation ‘tweaked’ I moved on to other threads of tweets. So many tweet threads were caustic and mean spirited. Politicians, celebrities, news organizations, no one one was immune.  
Growing up I remember my father constantly telling my brother and I that if we couldn’t say something nice about someone, or to someone, don’t say anything. Once the words are out there, they never can be taken back. You can say you are sorry a million times and have regrets about things said in haste, but the reality of the life of hateful words never dies once they leave you. 
The worst reality of the hateful tweets is that our thoughts are now not just one-on-one, they are thrown into the Twitter universe forever and take on a life of their own. It is also a sad reality that my grandchildren are growing up with the rest of us adults that are in danger of being desensitized to this hate atmosphere that is quickly becoming the new normal. Whatever users are thinking is twittered without filters or sensitivity to the receiver’s feelings. 
So many things in the world seem to be going askew today, away from the cultural mores of the past and I can’t say I see any of these trends being positive. True I am an advocate for social networking, surely I use several platforms a lot. But I think we should all swallow our tweets if we have nothing positive to say when adding to the Twitter feed. As I see it, Twitter is in danger of becoming a comfortable bully pulpit for some who enjoy spewing hate speech. We just might be tweeting down a very slippery slope.
Copyright Sandra Hart. All rights reserved.