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Channeling Halle Berry

1 Mar

We just returned from attending my niece’s wedding in Florida.

It was an incredible trip and a welcome warm humid weekend. We were there just long enough for the wrinkles to plump out in the humidity. I love that part of humidity – it works better than botox. But my hair? In Colorado my hair is fairly straight. In humidity, my hair takes on a life of its own and begins to resemble Mufasa in The Lion King.

It isn’t about using product. I use lots of product. Within minutes of walking outside my hair begins to curl and frizz and I no longer need volumizing shampoo or product.

Still I had really shopped and considered exactly what to wear.For once, I didn’t have 3 kids to shop and pack for! Another upside to the empty nest!

At the rehearsal dinner I had this beautiful Sue Wong dress. It was a fitted black lace and beaded dress over a shimmering gold inner dress. It had a plunging neckline – and took me out of my comfort zone. I normally wouldn’t have even tried it on – but my neighbor who was shopping with me convinced me to try it on and then said – “You should buy it and wear it now – in a few years the girls will be too saggy to wear something like that” Seriously……she said it and I took it to heart. I had spent a lot of time trying to help my mother find something to wear to the wedding. At 87 she refuses to wear clothes she calls “old lady clothes” and I love that about her – still I thought my neighbor had a point.

I wore the dress and had a rare – “I look pretty dang good” moments. But as the dinner began to wind down, my mother leaned into me and asked “Are you wearing anything under that dress?” I said – “What do you mean? You do realize there is a gold dress lining the dress……right?” She said “I thought maybe you were channeling Halle Berry and that was you I was seeing through the dress.”

One the one hand I was speechless. On the other, I was kinda impressed that at 87 she knew who Halle Berry was.



31 Jan

I have been scanning old photos of my mother’s. I am scanning them to preserve them and to share them with siblings, cousins, aunts and all. It is a process that takes time. But the time it takes to examine a photo forces me to pause and identify the moment and faces.

I have a batch of photos from when my mother was in college. I love seeing her in her youth, before she was a wife and a mother. Now she is 87 and still doing well but I really love trying to imagine her as a young woman. I love the group of photos from when she was in California in 1946. She would have been 22 years old. She remembers the trip well. She went with her Aunt and felt like country bumpkins dropped into that world. That isn’t what I see.

I see a beautiful woman crossing a street in downtown Los Angeles wearing a smart suit and pumps. I see the adventure of boarding a steam ship to Catalina Island. I see a woman visiting the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I think how daring they were.

I was scanning a photo of my mom standing on the steps of her family’s home and noticed she had written a note to my father. It was dated 1950, when they were dating.

The photos lend a different perspective to my parents. With my own children out of the nest, and I try to find my own identity again, it is great fun to ponder my own parents lives before marriage and children.

My mother in LA 1946

My mom, Donna, in the late 40's

Grading Mom

9 Dec

How do you measure if you were a good parent?

I figure if my kids are all productive happy people – I will have done ok.
I was listening to my own mother talk about stories when we ( my brothers and I ) were younger. Perhaps it is just a difference in perspective or a bit of revisionist memory – but she wasn’t the mom she remembers!
But she has mellowed and well….I am a relatively happy productive person and all my brothers are successful happy guys…so by my test she was a good mom. And 30 years later – it is kinda funny to think about her turning to my about to be mother-in-law and saying “you know she is a real bitch!” Yes – referring to myself! It is still what my cousins and I all remember best about my rehearsal dinner.

So interestingly enough….this fall in a conversation with one of my sons, he pointed out how I had failed to recognize when he had suffered bouts of depression. I listened to him then noted to him – it is difficult to tell the difference from a surly teenager who may have played video games all night and then finally crashed from someone who is depressed. I apologized for not being aware – but the conversation just cannot leave me.

So interestingly enough……my daughter recently was invited to take an acting workshop. The woman who taught the class is very well known in the film and theatre industry. She was trying to get the participants to learn to go deep inside to access feelings to use in acting. She told the students to think about their relationship with their mother – recent interactions, conversations. My daughter looked around the room and everyone was sobbing. She called to say thanks mom ” I had nothing. I couldn’t recall one time that was painful or difficult”

I’ve always told my kids “I am trying to give you plenty of material for therapy”. Could be a self fulfilling prophecy!

To have a friend, be a friend.

10 Aug

I’m still stuck thinking about the friendship issue. What makes someone a good friend ?  What makes us gravitate to certain people .

The phenomena of Facebook has really changed what we consider friendship.  Occasionally people “friend” me whom I have no idea who they are. We are connected by others we are friends with, but I don’t know who they are – which makes me wonder ….do they know who I am? And, why do they want “friend” me?

I have one neighbor who always has my back.  I have another neighbor who has for reasons unknown to me, doesn’t care for me – or at least takes opportunities to say less than flattering statements about me. And, she has made the repeated mistake of repeating her opinions to my other neighbor. She holds no punches as she corrects the other neighbor.  That is a loyal friend indeed – she confronts what she perceives as an injustice to someone she cares about.

As we age, friends are harder to find.  When our kids are young, there are the immediate relationships formed by playdates, school, dance classes and sports.  As the kids age, we find the opportunities to make friends lessens. I moved to a new state at age 40. My kids were just old enough that I wasn’t able to recreate the wide net of friendships I had in Texas.  But, while I have fewer friends, my friendships are incredibly strong.

My 86 year old mother is losing friendships. Some have died, some are in nursing homes and it makes it difficult at times.  She has rekindled a childhood friendship and speaks regularly with her friend.  She still talks to her closest friend from college.  Those are bonds that make us who we are.

Today my daughter’s closest friend is flying out to visit her. They have just graduated High School. My daughter spent a good part of her high school pursuing her dream of working as an actor in Hollywood.  The two haven’t gone to school together since 5thgrade, yet there is something about both girls that has allowed them to stay close.  They are amazing girls – both have determination to succeed, both have strong values.  They are lucky to have each other and they definitely have each other’s back.  I envy their weekend and the laughter and joy that always accompanies their time together.


Ashleigh & Sarah

“Mr. Watson-Come here-I want to see you”

3 May

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge delivered the first radio address by a President from the White House. IBM was founded in 1924.  Technology has leaped in ways that could not be imagined in 1924.  Coincidentally my mother was born in 1924.  While technology has raced to develop; apparently my brother has decided it should not bypass her home.

His intentions would be admired if he lived close enough to tutor her in the effort to download or read an electronic book.  She is in Texas and he is in Florida.  For her birthday this year he sent her a Kindle. Fortunately for him, I was visiting her upon its arrival.  It went something like this……. “Wow. A kindle. Hmmmm how do I read on it?”  I charged its battery. I created her Amazon account, I registered her Kindle. All the while explaining what I was doing. What her user name is, what her password was, how she didn’t need to log into Amazon, just browse the vast books available on her Kindle, and use the arrows to highlight “Buy this book”.

“I need to call Amazon, my Kindle is broken”  Really? Why do you think its broken. “Well it lost my book, I don’t want to buy it twice.”  Over the phone from my home in Colorado, I ask her to hit a series of buttons. “Oh…. there it is. Ok thanks”

“I want to buy a book, how do I do that?” I guide her with the same patience I extended to my kids when they were little.

“I don’t see it.”

“Did you press the center square button when the ‘buy’ was highlighted?” “Well, I thought I did.”

I log on to her Amazon account – thankfully I remembered her user name and password.  I look through the purchases.  It isn’t there.  I quickly find the book and send it to her Kindle in Texas from my computer in Colorado.  I love technology.

“It should be there now”

“I don’t see it. How did you send it? Do I need to hook it up to my computer?”

“No mom, lets check and see if your wifi is turned on the Kindle.”

After a few tries, she finds it. “Ok, thanks”

I realized today I forgot to have her turn off the wifi and her battery will drain faster. I will have to walk her through that one too.

Mother’s Day is this weekend. My brother sent her a laptop.  I think moving files from her dinosaur desk top and installing a wireless router are beyond the phone. I believe I will be traveling to Texas.

Wonder what he is sending her for Christmas?