Old Lady Stuff

imageI was listening to a podcast in the car this afternoon when the host was joking about the items in her purse and how they reflected her (ahem!) aging process.  I laughed along for a minute, then grimaced as she listed her purse’s contents…

A bag of Hall’s cough drops

Reading glasses

A coin purse stuffed with pennies and nickels

Massive quantities (or multiple packages) of tissues

That was all I heard before I switched the podcast over to some really youthful loud radio music.  That was hitting home a little too closely!

I’m going home to try to restore my purse to a previous version of itself…but I might hide the reading glasses somewhere at the bottom!




Spring Shenanigans

imageToday is the birthday of one of my closest college friends. I texted with her a bit, and then thought back to the spring of our senior year. Our group of friends decided to end our college experience with a bang, and we pulled pranks on each other mercilessly.

Dresser drawers were turned upside down so all the clothes would drop out when pulled open. We carried a bed out on the front lawn and made it up neatly. Stuffed animals were taken hostage and dangled outside in front of windows. But my favorite was the one we pulled on this friend after things had escalated to fever pitch.

As she was talking in the lounge, she absently laid her room key on the table. I grabbed it, ran into her room, and locked myself inside.

That was it. I didn’t really need to do anything else! Just the thought of what I MIGHT be doing was enough to drive her over the edge. I remember hearing her screaming and hollering outside, jumping and trying to see inside the second floor window so she could tell what I was up to.

Easiest prank ever…

A Wrinkle in Family Time

imageShe gave me books.  Many books.  Birthdays, Christmas, sometimes just because.  Usually they were books I hadn’t heard of, and at first I thought they weren’t books I would have chosen on my own.  But they almost always turned out to be favorites that I read and reread.  One of those books was “A Wrinkle in Time” (along with its sequels).  I remember the delicious feeling of falling into the story, immersed in the wonder of it all.  The joy of discovering the story of Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace was all because my aunt shared it with me.

Last night I took my nephew and niece to see the new Wrinkle in Time movie and watched firsthand as they became immersed in the story of the Murrays.  My nephew whispered question after question as the movie progressed, trying to figure out all the wonders that he saw.  It didn’t take long before he asked if I still had my book, and it didn’t take long for me to hand it to him.  Several times today I found him flipping through the pages, reading chapter headings and skimming the text.  He can’t wait to dive in and read it cover to cover.

Aunt to aunt…passing stories on and on.  It’s the greatest feeling to share something I loved so much myself.


Stepping Up

imageWe celebrated my niece’s 7th birthday today.  She was so excited to open her presents, and her face lit up when she opened a long box that contained a pair of shiny blue stilts.

One of my family’s favorite memories is all about stilts.  My grandpa built stilts for each of us…tall rails of wood with a little wooden platform nailed a third of the way up.  They were painted black below the platform, white most of the way up, and then green tips on mine and blue on my brother’s.  My little sister had a short pair with yellow tips so she could walk with us as well.

They were so tall!  We had a hard time learning to walk on them at first.  We leaned them against the garage wall and climbed up.  We leaned and leaned, and then dared to push forward and just try to balance.  We wobbled and fell, over and over.  But persistence paid off, and before long we were able to take a step or two.  We would topple over, then pick it all up and lean against the wall again.  Our neighborhood friends were just as fascinated as we were, so they would take turns leaning and stepping as well.  It seemed like it took forever to get good enough to string together some steps successfully, but once we did we were walking all over the lawn, tall and triumphant on our stilts.

We wore our stilts out.  The platforms eventually loosened and the paint even wore away.  We loved them and loved walking on them.  Thanks to Grandpa, we had a treasured plaything for years.

My niece’s stilts were ordered online.  They are made of metal and fit to her size.  She has handles to hold onto instead of rails behind her shoulders.  But she leaned against the garage wall and took her first wobbly steps today just like we did so many years ago.  It’s wonderful to see the tradition continue, and it would certainly have made my Grandpa chuckle to see her wobbling along with a big smile on her face.


No Cutting!

imageI knew I didn’t have time to check, but I did it anyway.  I peeked down Aisle 6 in the hopes that my mom was lingering in the baking section just in time to see her cart disappear around the corner.

Rats!  She was headed with determination straight for the checkout, and she had my items in her cart as well as hers.  I had told her I only needed to pick up a loaf of bread before meeting her at the front of the store, but then I remembered one more thing I wanted.  In the dairy aisle.  On the other side of the store.

I weighed my options for a second…and made a run for it!  I dashed across the back of the store, grabbed the milk I wanted, and scooted towards the checkout lanes in the front.  I scanned all the aisles…where was she?

In the EXPRESS!  She was looking around wildly for me as the cashier rang her up and then sighed in relief when I ran up.  She motioned for me to join her at the register to check out my things, but there were two ladies in line between us.

I hopped forward, grabbed my items, and stood behind the ladies.  Seeing the look on my face (and noticing I was still panting from my sprint to the dairy aisle), they both told me I could go ahead of them and join my mother, who was just getting her receipt.

Well, that felt rude so I told them with a smile that I was fine with waiting.  They motioned me forward again.  They assured me it was all right.

Finally, I told them I was a teacher and it was physically impossible for me to cut in line after twenty years of dealing with “HE CUT!” And “SHE CUT!” every time we lined up to go anywhere.  My “no cutting in line” speeches are legendary after all these years.   I just couldn’t do it, even with permission!  I couldn’t go back to school and face my students knowing I, myself, had turned into A CUTTER!

As soon as I said I was a teacher and couldn’t cut in line, the ladies chuckled and put their groceries on the counter.  The more they thought about it, the more they laughed.  So I may have made my mother wait for me a few extra minutes, but at least my “No Cutting” integrity is intact.




Out of Sync

imageDo you know the feeling when something in your surroundings is a little bit odd, but you can’t put your finger on it?  It’s a strange feeling.  You are just going about your business, but in the back of your mind  you have a nagging question mark of confusion floating around.

I had that feeling today while using the restroom in a little Thai restaurant.  I was washing my hands and had the feeling that something was a little off kilter.  I thought about my belongings–everything was there.  I thought about my plans–no, I hadn’t forgotten anything.  I thought about my car–yes, I had locked it.  Then I realized that I was humming along with the music piped in through the restaurant speakers and grinned.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was the song choice…for March 12th.  It may have been a little offbeat for this beautiful almost-spring day, but it did make me smile!




A Tall Tail

imageWe followed the zoo path for awhile, but then took a sharp left turn down a sidewalk marked “Tram Route” and walked through a gate marked “Employees Only”.  Along the back of the building ahead there were several doors.  As we approached one, a young man stepped out and shook our hands.  He was Jordan, zookeeper in the giraffe building.

I was visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, with friends.  One of them was a former student of Central College who now works at the zoo.  She had arranged for us to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the giraffe building AND feed the giraffes.  As we walked through, Jordan gave us background information and talked about the care and feeding of giraffes.  It was all interesting information, but when we went through the final door I stopped listening.

The room was FULL of giraffes.  They were in every corner, reaching for bundles of prairie reeds tied to poles.  They lumbered past each other in search of attention or a fence to rub against.  Some  even stepped delicately backwards without a misstep..  We were dwarfed as we stood looking up at them.  There were mama giraffes and even a baby giraffe looking curiously back at us.

We followed Jordan up a flight of steps and then the fun began.  He handed us each a head of Romaine lettuce, which made the giraffes take notice.  He introduced us to Sam, the bull giraffe of the herd and the father of Penelope, the baby giraffe.  We were eye to eye with the largest giraffe in the room.

As Sam eyed our lettuce, several other  giraffes eagerly approached the walkway.  We tore off leaves of lettuce and held them out.  The giraffes used their long tongues to pull the lettuce into their mouths, munch quickly, and swallow it down.  One leaf had hardly disappeared before they were looking for the next.  They followed us as we walked back and forth, offering lettuce to each one.

Even after the lettuce was gone, Sam continued to interact with us.  The other giraffes lost interest and walked into different pen areas, but Sam curiously watched as we talked on the walkway.  It was the most interesting thing to be so close to Sam’s wrinkled face and imagine the life of a giraffe.  He stood next to us, easily within reach, and listened as we visited.  Once in awhile he would walk away and meet Layla for a little giraffe nuzzle or take a nibble of reeds, but then he would return in case another head of lettuce had materialized.

Giraffes are fascinating animals!  Today I met them up close and looked right into their eyes.  I learned how they move giraffes at the zoo and how they take care of them inside and out in their habitat.  Today I held out lettuce and shared it as a big giraffe treat.  I think the lettuce made their day, but meeting them up close and personal certainly made mine!