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I’m not really a hoarder.

23 Aug Free to a good home. No, wait. Someone might need these.

I am a proud member of a village that has successfully raised two village people.  Somehow they managed to survive  bandaged knees and chicken pox,  lost lunch money and forgotten field trip permission slips, losing seasons, winning seasons, stage fright, mean girls, puppy love, and broken hearts.

By now we’ve been through the stages of separation necessary for them to go off on their own to do the things that young villagers do. Still, one part of the child-rearing process lingers:

The village is starting to pile up with shoeboxes.

Every time I buy new shoes, I put them neatly on the shoe rack in the closet, and start to break down the box for recycling.

Free to a good home. No, wait. Someone might need these.

Free to a good home. No, wait. Someone might need these.

Then I freeze. And a slight panic sets in.

Someone might need this box. . .

You know how that always goes. . .

 As soon as you get rid of it, someone will need a shoebox.

After a lifetime — two lifetimes, actually — of looking at shoeboxes as vessels to hold sidewalk chalk, finger paints, scissors, glue, Barbie clothes, baseball cards, rocks (not the pretty ones — the dirtiest, grungiest ones he could find), Happy Meal toys, squirreled away allowance money (we’re certain my son is already well on his way to a secure retirement) and things I’m probably better off not knowing, I can’t look at a shoebox as just a shoebox.

Nor can I reason with my more altruistic self that cutting it down and putting it in the recycling will help the box find its way into serving some other village in some other helpful way.

No, not me.

I look at a shoe box and imagine that at just about 10:30 pm, someone’s going to call to tell me they just remembered that their Social Studies diorama project is due tomorrow morning. You never know.

Maybe they’ll want to paint them and turn them into colorful “bricks” to build a living room fort. You never know.

Or maybe this year they’ll start waxing nostalgic and will want to make a gingerbread village for Christmas. You never know.

And so the boxes pile up, because once you’ve been a responsible member of a village, you understand that it takes a lot of shoeboxes to raise a child.

The Salt and Pepper Talks

11 Aug salt and pepper 02

I’ve been working on this while watching a friend making some choices that put his reputation at risk. Normally, I’m a live and let live kind of person. It bothers me that I care.  It’s his life, his reputation.  I’ve said my piece and now it’s time for me to step back and gather the strength to be the friend he might need if and when it comes to picking up the pieces.

At some point during the writing, it seemed maybe the process of writing was enough to get my thoughts together. Maybe I was being judgmental and definitely I was being selfish. My interest in this is that I want to believe in someone and this is someone I have come to believe in.  He didn’t ask to be my paragon of virtue. I’m the one with the problem because I don’t want to have to do the work to adjust to his being human. I decided to leave the piece in the unpublished pile, with a lot of other things that aren’t so skippity-doo-dah.

They are his choices and the consequences are his consequences and beyond expressing concern, it’s not my business.

Then today I was on the treadmill at the gym when the CNN news feed announced that the reptilian mayor of San Diego has left his self-imposed two week rehabilitation for sex therapy (or whatever it is that causes him to grab women and stick his tongue down their throats) after only five days.  His lawyer says the mayor will continue  therapy as an outpatient. 

Whatever. I’m not a citizen of San Diego, so technically he’s not my problem. But I am a woman who has endured as many inappropriate advances as any other woman and the thought of Son of Godzilla facing no consequences, sending the message to others of his ilk (that’s right, I said ilk) that five days in therapy is the equivalent to a get out of jail for free card, got me riled up.

I’m choosing to publish and to accept the consequences.


I imagine that one of the ways that a childhood with a visually impaired parent differs from “normal” is an expectation that there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place.

We rarely rearranged the furniture in our home or brought in anything new.  We didn’t leave our things lying around for fear that Dad might step on them or trip over them, the consequences of which were less reminiscent of Rob Petrie and his ottoman than of The Old Man’s battle with the furnace in “A Christmas Story.”

I made the choice to use this picture without permission.

It’s not a Rob & Laura Petrie world. I should probably just get over that.

It was easier, not to mention common decency,  to put things where he expected them to be and not to leave things where they didn’t belong.The towels on the middle shelf, the  jar of instant coffee next to the toaster, and on the kitchen table, the salt shaker always on the right and the pepper always on the left.

The latter arrangement figured prominently not only in the proper seasoning of Dad’s food, but also as visual aids for a series of lectures dubbed “The Salt and Pepper Talks,” in the eulogy one of my cousins delivered at Dad’s funeral. As my cousin, who credited the lecture series in part for his own path to becoming an  ordained minister, explained, there wasn’t a single one of us in our age group denied the experience of a Salt and Pepper Talk. We all laughed in agreement.

It may be a rose-colored memory, but I don’t recall being the direct audience of a Salt and Pepper Talk. I sure sat in on my share. It was unavoidable, especially if you weren’t up to speed on who was involved with what misdeeds and what their particular whereabouts were at any given time.

If you knew so-and-so was hanging around someone who would meet with Dad’s disapproval, or they’d missed curfew or sassed a teacher, you did your best to know where they were before you entered our front door. This was much harder in the years of our Lord B.C. (before cell phones).

Dad’s place at the head of the kitchen table was visible from the front doorway of our old Sears home.  If you came through that door at some time other than meal time and he was sitting at the table without his guitar, odds were someone was at the other end of that table listening to a Salt and Pepper Talk and the sound of the front door alerted Dad to the fact that you were there.

“Come sit down. You might as well hear this, too,” he would say in a tone that made clear you weren’t so much being  invited as  you were being summoned.

I never knew who I might find sitting in the lecturee seat. It could be — and often was — one of my siblings, but it might also be a cousin, a neighborhood kid, the paper boy (true), the paper boy’s brother (also true). Sometimes I knew or could make an educated guess as to what had landed them there, sometimes not.

I could always assume, though, that Dad had somehow learned — through methods that to this day elude me — that the lecturee had shown signs of veering off the Salt path. They appeared to be headed down the Pepper path and, by golly, they needed to learn what lay in store for them down the Pepper path. Almost always a Salt and Pepper Talk included the admonition to “straighten up and fly right.” I doubt anyone on the Pepper path was ever peppery enough to note the mixed metaphor.

Anatomy of a Salt and Pepper Talk.

All Salt and Pepper talks started the same way.  He would invite you to have a seat at the end of the table, at which point unless you were a total fool, you knew what was about to follow, and you started reviewing your transgressions.Then he would sit

We weren't Catholic, but these would have been perfect for our kitchen table.

We weren’t Catholic, but these would have been perfect for our kitchen table.

in his own chair and calmly state the issue at hand.

You know, I heard that you might have . . .,” or “Seems to me that you’ve been . . ..”

With the issue out in the open, he would relate at least one but usually several  stories from his own life or the life of someone he knew, where actions similar to whatever you were up to had turned out badly. Dad was a marvelous storyteller and though I believe his stories were true, I sometimes wondered if there weren’t a bit of embellishment to drive home a point.

This was usually when  I’d wander in, unsuspecting that a Salt and Pepper talk was underway.  If I didn’t already know what the lecturee was in for, I could usually figure it out based on the parables employed.

You knew the talk was coming to a close when he reached for the salt and pepper shakers, salt in the right hand, pepper in the left, and explained that there were two ways you could go just now, two paths to follow. One was the Salt path, doing what you were supposed to be doing, getting yourself back  in line, straightening up and flying right,  mixed metaphor be damned.

He released the salt shaker from  his right hand and it glided smoothly to your end of the table, usually landing just in front of you. . . .

Or, you could continue on the path you seemed to be on  (offenses — or suspicion of offenses —  restated, as well as the potentially devastating consequences) ; you could follow the Pepper path.

At this point he’d fling the pepper shaker with his left hand with a force and velocity proportionate to your crime or his mood or both, and with the  amazing accuracy of the baseball player he’d been before the accident that took his sight, the shaker whizzed right past you, off the edge of the table and onto the floor. The cap, which he’d loosened prior to the talk, would fly off and pepper would spill all over the place.

Then with a “Hmm. That’s probably a mess. Why don’t you clean that up,” he’d rise from his seat, leave the room, and that was that, unless you were fool enough to land your keister  in the lecturee seat again.


Choices and consequences.

I don’t think Dad believed in the strict duality of good and evil, right and wrong, salt and pepper.  He was too wise for that and he knew that life’s choices aren’t always clear. I think what he intended to demonstrate for us was that we always have choices and those choices have consequences.

I’ve carried that with me throughout my life. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my choices haven’t always been the best, but the consequences have always been mine to endure. To me, it’s that simple.

That, in fact, was the sum of my own lectures on the first day of class every year.

In my opening day speech, I would say that I knew that after so many years in school, and so many classes that day where they’d established classroom rules, that my students knew what kind of behavior was appropriate and what was not. There was always an individual choice to make and in most cases you were aware of the consequences.  The rules in my classroom were thus:

Choices. Consequences.

Certain choices led to pleasant consequences; certain other choices led to less-than-pleasant consequences.  Not so much  good and bad, right and wrong, salt and pepper as “if this / then that.”

The agreement was that each day I would post our objectives, those things we were there to accomplish. We could accomplish them by having fun. I could sing to them or have them sing to me. I could tell them funny stories or have them share theirs with me. We could march around the room stomping and tapping a beat to understand the difference between pentameter and tetrameter.

Or we could work silently from textbooks, reading pages 10 -50 and answering the questions on pages 50 to 53.

The choice to play by the unspoken rules was theirs to make, individually and as a group, and there was an unspoken peer pressure to keep each other in line so we could have fun.

I’ve been particularly annoyed lately watching news stories about people making astonishingly offensive choices that are disrespectful of themselves and those around them and, even more offensively, expecting that there will be little or no consequence for these behaviors.

I wish that Dad were here to gather them all at our kitchen table and show them what happens when the pepper flies so we could all watch the lesson and make our choices accordingly.

Real warrior princesses don’t cry.

1 Jul espn

Dear ESPN,

How about giving a girl a heads up when you’re going to be showing videos that interfere with the morning training regimen of former warrior princesses?

Yeah, ESPN, I’m talkin’ to you.

You see, ESPN, a few months back, it occurred to me that what had once been described as my resemblance to Xena, Warrior Princess had somehow transformed into more of a resemblance of the secret love

You and me, babe. How 'bout it?

You and me, babe. How ’bout it?

child of Xena and the Michelin Man.

Not good.

Not from any angle.

So, ESPN, I’ve been trying to change  that sad reality. As fate and the Universe would have it, I was recently and unexpectedly on the receiving end of some free and extremely helpful advice from a fitness expert, which I was following this morning, leading me to a different area of the gym, where the three major televisions were showing various morning programs, one of which was your morning show, ESPN.

Perhaps I should explain, ESPN, that it isn’t all that easy to transform Michelin Man back to Warrior Princess.

It’s a matter of mind over matter. Lots of unwanted, unsightly matter, depressing Michelin Man-matter,  ESPN.  Each morning for the past month and a half, my inner warrior princess has put on her game face, or her game loin-cloth, or whatever, and kicked some proverbial matter.

Gone from the playlist are the happy showtunes from Smash, replaced by  some serious, fast-paced grunge-rock. Yes, I can count Maroon 5 and Matchbox Twenty as grunge-rock if I wanna.  Because I am Xena, Warrior Princess.

See?  That’s what happens when I get all psyched for my morning sessions, ESPN.  And then you go and do this.

You show that video montage of American troops coming home and surprising their families.

You know what, ESPN?  It isn’t easy being a tough girl when you’re a blubbering pile of . . .well,  blubber and that’s exactly what I turned into while I watched the video. My inner warrior princess fought the good fight. She kept trying to tell me to look away, but I couldn’t. It reminded me of how much I miss my own Maverick, who is in a relatively safe place but way too far away to hug.

So you know what I’m going to do, ESPN?

I’m going to re-post that video right here, as a reminder that this week, as we celebrate American freedom and independence, we should keep in our hearts those who work to preserve and protect that freedom and their families who support them in that valiant effort.

Thank you, ESPN, for the touching reminder.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

5585 miles from home

18 Feb What would Tom Cruise's mother do?
(photo from the movie Top Gun, Paramount Pictures, 1986.)

In addition to starting a new blog, completing a couple of triathlons, touring with a Foreigner tribute band, and re-grouting my bathtub, I’ve joined Facebook.

Yes, yes, I know.  After waxing philosophically about  privacy concerns and other pitfalls, I finally caved.  I’ve changed my status from “Conscientious Objector” to “I’m Here For The Kitten Videos.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still concerned about privacy, but in the end this was the only way I could pry into my children’s lives and know where they are and what they’re up to at any given moment.

So far it’s gone much better than I’d expected.  As some of you suggested might happen, I have reconnected with some old friends and family, in time in fact for the birth of  a baby and the adoption of a puppy.  Facebook envy started just about the third day when a friend posted a description of her morning pain au chocolat at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, but I got over that. Truly. I’m fine with it.

I'm learning to like it.

I’m learning to like it.

One of the things I like and dislike about Facebook is reading my son’s dispatches from what MapQuest tells me is 5585 miles away.  I know that number because I looked it up while I was on the phone with my son, who was calling from the emergency room, some 5585 miles away.

Let’s break that down:

My son was calling me. Not good. He rarely calls me. There’s an inconvenient time zone difference, plus he’s 20-something and living a full and happy life, completely self-sufficient and financially independent. He wasn’t calling for money or for help fixing a flat tire.

He was calling from the emergency room. Not good, but a little good.  I originally thought to write that it’s a mother’s worst nightmare to get a phone call from the emergency room, but that’s not true. My worst nightmare is much worse. Also, it was his voice on the line, so he was in good enough condition to call.

I might not have received this call if not for my new and maternal presence on Facebook. He knew I’d be reading, so he wisely braced me for the impact of the news.

First, he posted an exciting status update about buying a motorcyle. (You see where this is going, don’t you?)

What would Tom Cruise's mother do?(photo from the movie Top Gun, Paramount Pictures, 1986.)

I wonder if Tom’s mother will sign my petition.
(photo from the movie Top Gun, Paramount Pictures, 1986.)

I held my tongue because I’m a firm believer in the Star Trek Prime Directive. I didn’t want to intervene and alter the course of destiny . . . yet.

Also, I remember the way cockroaches would scatter in the kitchen in my first apartment right after we’d flip on the light. To immediately post my disapproval of this horrifying turn of events might send him scattering for cover, thereby defeating the purpose of my new presence on Facebook.

So, I remained in stealth mode. Watching. Waiting. Praying for the best. Hoping the peer pressure from his colleagues would be enough to dissuade him from this new “Maverick” image he seems to be cultivating. (Don’t get me started on the tattoos. Yes. Plural.)

A few days later, after several discussions about Warhammer that left me and several others completely confused, I saw glimpses of the cool kid I shipped off to the far side of the planet.

Instead of saying so out loud, because it is every young man’s worst nightmare to have his mother posting on his Facebook page, I sent him the following private message:

I signed up for Facebook to know how things are going with you. Two weeks later here’s what I’ve learned: you have some sort of Steve McQueen death wish, which I’d have been better off not knowing, and apparently you speak Klingon.  Quite frankly, I’m disappointed in the dearth of kitten videos. I was told there would be kitten videos.

To which, the sweet, funny kid I handed over to the real world replied,

At your request:

Adorable, right?

I can’t believe I fell for it.

While I was distracted by the cuteness of a kitten eating sour cream, Maverick apparently soared off on the highway to the danger zone, crashed his bike, and ended up in the emergency room. Thankfully, his injuries are minor and he will be fine, but he hasn’t yet agreed to give up the death machine.

Here’s where you come in.

I know you’re feeling as helpless as I am and you’re wondering what you can do to help. Or maybe you weren’t feeling that way, but now that you’ve started to read this section, you’re sort of feeling like maybe you should because everyone else is.  I’m grateful for your concern either way.

I’ve started a petition to convince him that 5585 miles is a long way for a mother to be away from the scene of any future, more serious misadventures.  I call it “Maverick’s Mother Against Maverick’s Motorcycle.” My goal is to get 1000 signatures.  I doubt that will convince him to do anything he doesn’t want to do because he has a stubborn streak, which I am not ashamed to say he inherited from his father. But I had to do something and those petition things seem kind of groovy.

If you aren’t interested in signing the petition*, which you can find by clicking here: (link removed because the petition site asked for too much personal information) you can just leave Maverick a note in the comments section below. If you’re any good at mother-guilt, you’re encouraged to lay it on thick. He seems to have developed an immunity to mine. Let’s rally, people!

And if you’re pro-death machine, don’t try to distract me with cute kitten videos.  I’m wise to that now.

The trouble with grandmothers

19 Sep A grandmother to the rescue. ((PHOTO) Twitter: @selirebekka6 via Christian Post)

 The trouble with grandmothers began when I came across a postcard published in 1965 that featured a picture of my grandmother standing in front of her  restaurant.  So much about that postcard intrigued me, even beyond my initial reaction, which was that in 1965 she was about the same age that I was as I stood there holding it. In the photograph she already looks like my grandmother, whereas as recently as just a few days ago, some new acquaintances were surprised to learn that I am older than dirt.

The Postcard

I wondered why the postcard existed in the first place.  Surely she didn’t have an advertising budget and even if she did, she wasn’t the type to pose front and center to advertise anything. One of the few things I did know about my grandmother is that she was even more guarded about her privacy and less inclined to want to be at the center of anything than I am. In fact, even as I type this sentence, I imagine some lightning-fast cosmic slap on the wrist coming across the dinner table for a breach of etiquette and discretion. My grandmother did not suffer fools.

So many ideas came to mind about the way the building has changed and yet remained the same in an area that has changed but also has remained the same and the parallels to the ways my grandmother’s life and mine are different and yet are the same.

Sportsman’s Restaurant with Mom’s Home Cooking. My grandmother was Mom.

Ledo’s Pizza. My grandmother was not Ledo. Whoa-oh-oh-whoa-ohhhh.

 That post never came about.

Because of you.

Well, not so much you as . . .you.

Yes, you.

Those of you who, if you’ve even read this far at all, might be wondering, “When’s she going to get to the punch line?”

The fact is there was one, in the caption of that second photograph. I removed it out of respect for my grandmother.   I’m leaving the caption  because it was just as I tried to remove it that my keyboard stopped working and I had to replace the batteries for the first time in however many years I’ve owned it. I choose to take that as her nod to Boz Scaggs rather than as a cosmic slap on the wrist. She did have a whimsical side. 

Back to you.

The timing wasn’t right for a serious, reflective post at the time that the postcard came to me. Either I’d just written something silly and had picked up a number of new followers who might be thinking they’d found another humor blog and would be disappointed . . . or I’d just written something serious and reflective and I thought it best not to ask you to endure too much of that.

I spend a good deal of time thinking about how the audience I’m building shapes the topics I choose, the form that it takes, and the purpose of writing it at all. In fact, it tends to shape the purpose of the blog itself. When I set out to write a blog, I didn’t anticipate any of these things.  I just intended to have a place to say things.

So I filed away the postcard and the related musings because it seemed time for something light and funny.


Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and Abuelita

That seedling draft about my grandmother was still sitting on my desktop when the Washington Post  published an article about Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, an article I might have read with a general passing interest had it not been for a beautiful, if heartbreaking, Richard Shindell song called Abuelita, which means ‘little grandmother’.

Abuelita tells the story of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo through the voice of a grandmother talking to the grandchild she has never known.

(photo credit: Silvina Frydlewsky/For The Washington Post)

Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit’s picture puts a face to the story in the song.  She is now 92 years old and every day she goes to work, continuing the search for her own daughter, Patricia Julia Roisinblit, and the grandchild she has never known, as well as about 400 still-missing children and  grandchildren kidnapped by a military junta supporting a dictatorship in Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

Rosa is Vice President of  Abuelas de (Grandmothers of the)  Plaza de Mayo, an organization dedicated to searching for those kidnapped sons and daughters and grandchildren.

There was so much in this experience of reading this article about these grandmothers, putting a face to the story that has touched me in song for such a long time,  that I wanted to write about.  But again, I decided to wait for another day.

Once again the timing wasn’t right for something so deep.  You, whoever you are — either for real or in my mind, expect different writing from “the Hipster” .

I Need Younger Friends

Earlier this summer I came closer to finally having an audience-worthy post about grandmothers.  First a friend of mine who is younger than I am became a grandmother.  I found this somewhat difficult to comprehend.  I still find this difficult to comprehend.

Then a few weeks later I was in a car with several other friends, all hip, cool, totally righteous babes, who were trading updates on . . . their grandchildren.  One turned to me, flashed her gorgeous Faith Hill-lookalike smile and said, “Sorry, you’re with the old folks tonight. You’ll have to put up with this grandmother stuff,” to which I replied, “Yeah, I was just thinking I’m going to have to start looking for younger friends” and then we giggled and went about laughing in the face of osteoporosis.

You might have liked that story. It’s more what I imagine you expect from me. Still, it was lacking something.

And then it happened. . .

Deus ex Range Rover: The Queen in the Machine

A grandmother to the rescue. ((PHOTO) Twitter: @selirebekka6 via Christian Post)

You may remember this story from a few weeks ago.  Queen Elizabeth II made the headlines when she was spotted driving her Range Rover wearing a hoodie.

What to the world was Her Royal Thugness was to me a grandmother doing what grandmothers do: taking care of her own.

Before there was Topless Kate, there was Bottomless Harry, who learned the hard way that what happens in Vegas does not necessarily stay in Vegas when one is extraordinarily famous, wealthy, and unclothed.

All the world was a-Twitter with news of Prince Harry’s naked bachelorette party romp and then, in what seemed to me to be a fabulously well-timed photo op, the Queen was spotted rollin’ in style. 

Suddenly Harry’s youthful indiscretion was old news and the Queen’s fashion statement was the new shiny thing that captivated us.

Maybe it’s because of the women of her generation that I’ve known, most of whom have been dignified and refined ladies, yet tough as nails and full of spunk.

I imagined them in her same position thinking, “Oh dear. How shall we handle THIS mess?” and then taking matters into their own hands.  I couldn’t help thinking that when I saw these pictures. It amused me, and I thought if I wrote about it, I could share that amusement.

But I didn’t.

Because of me.

I was glad to have finally come upon the grandmother post that was appropriate for the blog and I probably would have written it as HoodieGate was unfolding if not for real life issues of time or whatever else was going on.

By the time I did start to write it, I saw these other grandmother ideas that I was discarding in favor of the silliness about the Queen (God save her for saving Harry) and I started to think about how many ideas I would write about that are important or at least interesting to me that I don’t write about because they don’t “fit” with the blog’s “purpose.”

Like many others I see writing on this issue, I don’t know what the blog’s “purpose” is.  I know what I intended it to be:  a place for me to say things.

Somewhere along the line, I wrote  something that resonated with the kindness of strangers as “humorous” and I started to pick up followers (this still amazes me and I very sincerely thank you).  I started to choose topics and then write in a voice and format that I thought would appeal to that audience and more and more began to discard the other ideas that are equally, if not more so, reflective of who I am and what I think about.

When I realized I was discarding ideas that really ‘coulda been contenders,’ I was a little disappointed in myself for not writing true to who I am. When I step back and look at the blog as a whole, I remember the response of the first person I showed my first post to. It was someone whose opinion mattered to me. He laughed as he read it, but then when he finished, he looked at me and said, “Who would read this stuff?”

I’m so thankful to you, yes you. . . and you. . . and even you, for reading my posts, even if from time to time, I post something that doesn’t resonate with your particular kindness.

I still find myself lacking any particular purpose, but maybe the search for purpose is a purpose unto itself. 

I imagine my grandmother reading that line and thinking, “Get yourself out of that chair and get to work.” 

The woman did not suffer lazy, introspective fools.

(This post is a follow-up of sorts to an earlier post on using a pre-writing thought process based on FATP in the process of writing for a blog. You can find that post here. )


My First Marathon (and Hers)

8 Feb Katybee takes a break from Torts to enjoy her new stoven.

My first marathon is coming up in the middle of March.  I’m really looking forward to it. Yesterday I started getting ready by looking around for clever ideas for the sign I’ll be holding as my lovely and talented daughter runs past.

What? Me run a marathon?  That’s crazy talk.  No, I’ll be standing with Team Katy, cheering for my daughter, the one who’s going to law school in the fall.

I would be just as proud of her if she weren’t going to law school in the fall or running a marathon in the spring.  Those are just two examples of the kind of person she is and has always been. She sets goals and makes them happen. When the things she sets out to do don’t go exactly as planned, she figures out a different way.

She works hard and volunteers for worthwhile causes and is a great friend and a fun person and she puts her heart into everything she does and everyone she meets.  She crinkles her nose when she giggles, which is one of the reasons people have said we look exactly alike, despite the fact that she is blonde and twenty-something and I have never been either of those.

She can be playful and silly or hard-nosed and laser-focused, the former is a joy to be around, the latter an awe-inspiring marvel to witness. I am proud to know her, even prouder that I get to say I’m her mom.

Her given name is spelled the way Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Graham spelled it. I’d hoped she become a strong and independent woman, which, I have said on many occasions, especially since her teen years, has come back to kick me, but in the balance, it’s worked out well.

I was in the office  when she called just before Christmas with the news that she’d been accepted to law school and as you might guess, my end of the conversation was effusively peppered with “Yay, you!’ kind of blather.  My colleague in the next office, the mother of a three-year old  who is currently in princess-ballerina stage wanted to know what the fuss was about.

When I went in to share the news, I struggled with the incongruity of what I was saying with  images of a sweet little girl in the pictures on my colleague’s desk. My story ended with, “It’s funny, just last week she was in her princess stage and I was painting her bedroom purple – everything had to be purple –  and there were unicorns everywhere – because everything had to be unicorns.

“It was her ‘stoven’ Christmas.  All she wanted for Christmas was a ‘stoven.’ All I wanted to know was what a ‘stoven’ was. . . .  Isn’t it amazing that a three-year old could get into law school?”

Then we both got all misty at the thought of our little princesses growing up.

A stoven, for the uninitiated, is a combination stove/oven, or more specifically, the Little Tykes kitchen that was popular at that time. It came with a built-in phone.

Taking a break from Torts to enjoy her new stoven.

Yes, Katy, if you dig deep enough into the recesses of your mind, you may recall the concept of a phone with a curly cord attached to the wall.  In fact, you used the real one quite a bit, including that time you called 911 to complain that you were trying to call your grandmother but she wasn’t answering, so could they please call her for you.

See what I mean about figuring out a different way? Fun times.

Somewhere around here there’s a VHS tape of four-year old Katy in pigtails and pink corduroy OshKosh overalls, trying with all her might to push a wheelbarrow up a hill of rocky New England soil at Grandma’s house.  She didn’t know tape was rolling as she huffed and puffed, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. . . . ”  Any time she’s wondered if she could do something, I’ve tried to remind her of that little girl.

When it comes to running a marathon or taking on law school or anything else in this world, not only do I think she can, I know she can.


This is one of those posts that took a direction of its own.  I set out to write about marathon motivational cheer signs. I guess I’ll save that for another day. Today’s the day that I tell you that my princess ballerina is running a marathon in March and going to law school in the fall and that I am a terrible mother who has not converted my children’s VHS tapes to digital format.


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