IN THE STATE OF “POMA”

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

The Poma remnants

The Poma remnants

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Which means that I’m spending today cleaning out the refrigerator and wondering why I bought so much food.  There is something about Thanksgiving that must make my “starvation gene” kick in.  I buy groceries like we have had nothing to eat for months and end up with enough food to feed an army.  Unfortunately, with only six of us in the house, we end up being a very well-fed army.  Or, as our daughter said this weekend, we are in a “poma”.  That is a hybrid word she coined on Thanksgiving night as we sat watching football in a  stupor – a combination of pie and coma.  It aptly described our mental and physical states.  And that was before the 49ers played so badly that the owner apologized to the fans. Maybe the players were in a poma too.  But no matter how bad we felt, we were still better off than the people who ventured out to shop in the newly formed “Thanksgiving Day Sales”.  I want to go on record that I am totally against the stores opening on Thanksgiving Day.  Can’t we still have a holiday that celebrates food, family and football without Target and Walmart getting involved?  The stores all claimed that the early opening times would avoid some of the mayhem from past Black Friday sales when so much pushing and shoving took place.   Hmmmmm…let’s just re-cap how that little experiment worked.  For your reading pleasure, here are some of the highlights from the “new” Black Thursday:

 

  • In Romeoville, Illinois a policeman was dragged from his car in the parking lot at Kohl’s by a shoplifter he was trying to apprehend,

    At least there are no knives in sight

    At least there are no knives in sight

  • In Las Vegas, a man was shot in a Target parking lot when two men accosted him and tried to steal the HDTV he had just purchased,
  • In Virginia a man was stabbed in the knee with a knife after two men got into an altercation over a parking spot,
  • In Carlsbad, California a man was stabbed in the stomach at the entrance to a mall, ostensibly jockeying for position to be the first to get his hands on a brand new TV.
  • At a Houston Walmart people were trampled and fights broke out when shoppers laid down on Samsung TV boxes to “reserve” them.  (I actually had to laugh thinking about the genesis of that shopping strategy:  “Okay, I’ll go get the Game Boy and Barbie Doll, you go heave your body over the Samsung box until I come around to pick you up.”)

The most telling of the “Black Friday” incidents occurred in Nanuet, New York, where two Costco employees began fighting in the men’s room before the store opened and one of them stabbed the other with a box cutter.  You can only imagine the conversation that preceded their tiff.  They were most likely fighting over which one of them had to go out and face all of the fruitcakes that were lined up at the store entrance, waiting to get their hands on a bargain-priced electric potato peeler or a jumbo container of gouda cheese.

Clearly, the goal of the new opening hours on Thursday did nothing to stem the violence – or stupidity – of the shopping public.   But I suspect that the big stores will open again on Thanksgiving next year because I just read that the extra hours translated to record profits for them.  It seems hard to believe that we might become nostalgic for the “good old days” when people were just pushing and shoving.

As for me, I’ll stick with Cyber Monday, where traditionally people shop from their employer’s computers so they can take advantage of the fast T-1 lines.  Not to mention the added benefit of looking like they’re working furiously on their computer when in reality they’re perusing the latest Best Buy ad.  Even though I am now retired, I still like looking at the deals available today.  And I have the extra added benefit of safety – I am fairly confident that neither my husband or Dash the Wonder Dog will stab me while I’m shopping.

Turkeys, Indians and the ‘4 Fs’

by Bob Sparrow

2 turkeys

Tom & Giblets

As followers of the blog know, Suzanne and I alternate writing each week, and for the previous two years, Thanksgiving has fallen on her week, which is a good thing, because she’s so good at writing appropriate holiday blogs.  I, on the other hand, tend to see things through lenses that are just a little warped. So rather than focusing on the ‘Three Fs’ – Family, Food and Football, like I should be, I’m wondering about things like if the turkeys really know how much their lives are in jeopardy this time of year.  I know turkeys aren’t real deep thinkers, after all they’re the birds that go outside during a rainstorm, look up, open their mouths and drown, and though they won’t be invited to a Mensa meetings anytime soon, even they must wonder why they’re being fattened up this time of year and why their friends keep disappearing. “Say, whatever happened to that nice couple, Tom & Giblets?”

I’ve also been thinking about the first Thanksgiving. It was in 1621 (No, I wasn’t in attendance). Due to a record harvest, the pilgrims invited the local Indians for a feast. The pilgrims were waiting for a reciprocal invitation the following year, but none was forthcoming. Why? We’re not exactly sure, but if we examine the recorded description of that first repast we can find some clues as to why the Indians were not that excited about inviting the pilgrims back to their place for dinner.

1st T

“No, you can’t sit at the table, but you can have seconds on the pie.”

First, the Pilgrims and the Indians didn’t speak the same language, so there wasn’t much ‘small talk’ going on between them at the dinner table, like, “Don’t you think the goat tastes a little gamey?” or “Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?” Secondly, the Indians were in the habit of bathing regularly; conversely the English pilgrims took a bath once a month whether they needed one or not. So no matter how good the roasted wart hog might have smelled, the odor from the pilgrims hung over the festivities.  A third factor may have been that the first invitation probably didn’t indicate a dress code; the English pilgrims, who were accustomed to dressing formally for dinner,most likely wore hats, waist coats, ruffle ties and buckle shoes and were probably aghast when their native American guests arrived barefoot and in loin cloths.

$24

“I think I’m getting screwed here, but we’ll give you all these beads for Manhattan.”

Whatever the reason for the hiatus between feasts, it is assumed that during that first dinner there was some conversation amongst each group separately regarding the disposition of Manhattan, as the famous sale of that island took place just five years after that first Thanksgiving. I can see the pilgrims huddling together over by the pie tray, trying to see if they could gather enough beads and trinkets to equal $24, which is what they wanted to offer to purchase Manhattan. On the other side of the table, the Indians were having a very different conversation that may have ended with something like, “White man is trying to ply us with ‘fire water’ so they can take advantage of us, but I don’t think we even own Manhattan, so if they’re willing to give us $24 for it, I say we take it and run.”

I have some other random Thanksgiving thoughts, but with six in-law houseguests coming in this week, perhaps I better focus on the ‘Three Fs’, make that the ‘Four Fs’, I’m adding Firewater.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with all the ‘Fs’ you can stand.

 

GRATITUDE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

GratitudeIt’s getting to be that time of year … when we blow right past Thanksgiving and start hanging the Christmas or Hanukkah lights. Traditionally, of course, before Target and Walmart took over the holidays, Fall was a time for people to take stock of their lives and give thanks for their blessings.  A friend recently told me about a holiday tradition that I thought it was quite ingenious:  at every holiday dinner each person must say what they are grateful for, using the first letter to spell out the holiday.  So in other words, their dinner gets a lot colder at Thanksgiving than Easter.  I never was a faithful viewer of the “Oprah” show but watched it enough to know that she encourages people to keep a daily journal listing everything that they are grateful for that day. Heck, I can’t do anything every day except brush my teeth and eat, so keeping a Grateful Diary is out of the question.  The concept, however, is intriguing. So this week I decided to combine the two ideas and in that spirit create a GRATITUDE list for the season.

 

G – Girlfriends.  Where would I be without them?  Together we laugh, we cry, we hack our way around a golf course, and we create.  They are, in short, my sanity.

R – Relatives.  I have a wonderful family and I know I’m very lucky that we like and love each other.  NOT ONCE  have  we had to have police intervention at a family gathering.

One of my more subdued friends

One of my more subdued girlfriends

A – Alan, my husband.  He gets me through good times and bad … and loves me even when I don’t have any make-up on.

T – Tea.  Sometimes there is just nothing like a good “cuppa” to get me through the day.  And since I discovered FOAM at Whole Foods, it’s even better with that piled on top.

I – Inspiration.  I am surrounded by very imaginative women who are artistic and talented in ways I never will be.  But they inspire me to improve whatever I am doing.

T – Time.  Somehow it seems I never have enough of it.  How did I ever work? Now I love it when an appointment gets cancelled.  There is nothing like the gift of TIME !

U – Unburdened.  As I’ve gotten older I no longer feel like I “have” to do stuff.  I now say “no” when I feel like it.  This is probably why older people are deemed “cranky”.

D – Dash the Wonder Dog.  Duh.

Dash, The Wonder Dog

Dash, The Wonder Dog

E – Elusiveness.  I am a literal thinker (I’ve taken the test on Facebook to confirm this) but I love that big parts of my life are elusive.  When you think you no longer need to try new things – and fail – life becomes too predictable.  It’s always good to have something beyond your grasp – like losing 10 pounds.

That’s my list for this year.  Next year it could be something entirely different although I suspect that, with good behavior,  Alan and Dash will be on it. Although Dash really is the only “shoe-in”.    As word games go, I thought this was a good exercise to go through.  I may even try the holiday version for Thanksgiving (family members, be warned!).  I still don’t think I’ll ever be disciplined enough to do a daily Gratitude Diary, but it sure feels good to stop once in a while to take stock in all of the things, and especially the friends, that make life good.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.  As for me?  I’m off to think of a word that starts with “T”.

When Did ‘Independence Day’ Become the ‘4th of July’?

by Bob Sparrow

Founding

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin

Ahhh, the 4th of July – warm weather, baseball games, parades, old glory flying, fireworks, barbecues and beer. Who doesn’t love that? The neighborhood I live in has made this day a very special one from the time our kids were very small. We’ve had parades where the kids decorated their bikes in red, white and blue streamers. We’d go to the local school grounds and taught the kids to play softball until the year that they taught us. We’d play horseshoes and go swimming. We’d barbecue burgers and hot dogs, have a few cold beers (not the kids!) and when it got dark we launched some fireworks.

We thought it was the perfect 4th of July, and it probably was, but it wasn’t the perfect ‘Independence Day’. Nary a word was spoken about the courage of George Washington, the eloquent writing of Thomas Jefferson, the legal leadership of John Adams, or the many talents of Benjamin Franklin. And with all the media we’re surrounded with today, I’m betting that you don’t hear much about these heroes this week as we prepare for what is suppose to be a celebration of what these, and many other courageous men and women, did to create this incredible country.

It’s curious how we’ve personified virtually every other holiday we celebrate with characters, from Father Time to Santa Claus, but we’ve actually taken the Independence‘characters’, our Founding Fathers, out of our Independence Day celebration and relegated it to just a date.  It would be like instead of calling it Christmas, we’d just call it ’25th of December’, or instead of Easter we’d call it the ‘first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox’; OK, maybe we’d keep that one as Easter.  Independence Day is many American’s favorite holiday, but it’s because of the aforementioned activities not because we spend much time recalling and recognizing the deeds of the truly amazing people who founded this nation.

I suspect part of the reason for our lack enthusiasm over celebrating as the victors of the Revolutionary War, is that we don’t see England as our enemy anymore. In fact, they are, arguably, our strongest ally, but back in the day, they were not so very nice to us and they were particularly pissed when we told them to take their taxes and tea bags and put them where the sun don’t shine.

GeorgeIII

King George III

King George III, king of England at the time of our revolution, was a particularly annoying bastard – you can read some of our grievances with him in the actual Declaration of Independence, which, by the way can be printed on two typewritten pages – sans signatures. Maybe this year, you could print it out and read it during the barbecue, preferably before ‘beer thirty’. You might also mention that our Founding Father’s were not only courageous, but were very intelligent and interesting people. To wit:

–       George Washington, who is the only US president never to run for president, was elected twice by a unanimous decision of the Electoral College (He got every vote!) – popular vote was not used in those days. As president, he refused to be paid. But, he was also the richest president in history, with total assets in excess of $500 million in today’s dollars.

–       Thomas Jefferson publicly opposed slavery, even though he owned slaves his entire adult life and had 5 children with his slave, Sally Hemings.

–       John Adams died on the same day as his rival Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1826, the 50thanniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

–       The multi-talented Benjamin Franklin could speak 6 languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin . . . and English

–       Our first secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton was shot and mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr in one of the most famous duels in American history.

–       Patrick Henry, an attorney, had many people who had nothing to do with a case visit his court hearings just to hear him speak; he was that good of a public speaker.

–       Benedict Arnold, the famous traitor, was a General in both the American and British armies – some say at the same time.

I hope you all have a great 4th of July, but I also hope that you also make it a great ‘Independence Day’ and remember those who, nearly 240 years ago, gave us the freedoms that we so enjoy to this day.

 

WHAT I WON’T DO IN 2014

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

New yearsI operate under the illusion that I am a fully functioning, rational adult.  That could be the root of my problem.  Here I sit, two days before the new year, convinced that 2014 is going to be a GREAT year.  I’ve polled a few of my friends and their sentiment is exactly the same – they all are looking forward to 2014 with great optimism and hope.  We will NOT have any of the problems we experienced in that nasty old 2013, no sir.  2014 will be perfect.

What is it about human nature that we completely suspend reality at the beginning of each year?  We forget that life’s road is bumpy and that each year brings with it some amount of problems and worries.  Heck, at our age, every doctor’s appointment holds the possibility of being a life-altering event.  And we forget that the world around us (especially in a year with mid-term elections) can be a very hard place to find comfort and joy.  So this year, in an effort to be more grounded, I am not making any resolutions that are high-minded or completely unrealistic. I’ve decided to make some resolutions of what I won’t do in the new year.  Here’s a sampling:

 

1.  I will NOT exercise every day.  Every year I say I will and every year I fail.  One year I made it all the way through April.  That year was 1966.  Ever since then I can’t even get through the month of January without sitting on my butt for hours eating Doritos and watching TV.   So this year I am setting myself up for success – I vow to exercise when I feel like it.  Hopefully that will be something more than once a week but I’m not making any rash promises.

2.  I will NOT eat healthy every day.  Although I do consume more than my fair share of kale salad and green smoothies, I hate that I feel guilty when I eat something resolutionswonderfully sugary or packed with carbs.  So…in 2014 I pledge to do my best, keeping in mind that there were probably several women on the Titanic who in their last moments thought, “Damn!  I should have had that chocolate cake!”

3.  I will NOT get organized.  This year I bought one of those P-Touch label makers.  I set up a color-coded filing system and labeled every folder.  Then I made labels for a bank of  switches so I finally could distinguish between mood lighting, overhead beams and the window shades.  Perfect.  But then I took it too far – I labeled the hair dryer, the spice rack and the toaster.  My husband never stayed around me long for fear he would end up with a label.  So in 2014 I will not attempt to organize.  Instead, I will seek professional counseling for what is obviously my OCD problem.

4.  I will NOT watch Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo-Boo or Miley Cyrus.  This one is pretty easy because I don’t follow those people now but since they are constantly on the news I shall vow to avert my eyes when they appear.  Also, in 2014 I will not be Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  Except the whole “Bruce Jenner wants to be a woman” thing.  I met him once in 1977 at a cocktail party and he was the very essence of manhood and virility.  So watching him get his Adam’s Apple shaved and wear women’s undergarments could hold a certain fascination that will prove irresistible.

I think these resolutions are sufficiently low.  In fact, I’m feeling confident that this year I will accomplish all of my goals. Optimism runs rampant today because, like many of you, I look at January 1st as a fresh beginning. My slate wiped clean of any problems, with only great possibilities spread out before me in the coming 12 months.  Today I believe that all things are possible.  Today I believe that the new year will bring contentment, good times and I will finally be able to discard my “fat clothes”.

Here’s to a wonderful 2014 to us all.  May your year be filled with good health, good friends and good times. And may all of your resolutions be fulfilled – no matter how low you set the bar!   Happy New Year!!!!

2014 Jahreswechsel, Neujahr

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Pop, near 80 years old, still making magic

Pop, near 80 years old, still making magic

There are many annoying things about Facebook but every once in a while it has a redeeming feature:  reconnecting with old friends and long-lost family members.  Such was the case with us this year.   We were fortunate enough to find three cousins with whom we’d lost touch.  Or maybe they’ve been avoiding us.  In any event, we’ve had fun exchanging old family photos and sharing stories.  Our cousin, Tracy Nutting Sanborn, reminded me that one of her favorite holiday traditions was our dad’s Christmas morning ice cream fizzes.  Or as he called them, “The Good Fairy Fizzes”.  In any event, in the spirit of the season, I am sharing a bit about the fizz and Pop’s famous recipe.

First, it’s important to understand that Christmas Eve at our parent’s house was always a rollicking affair.  Mom put out a buffet spread mid-afternoon and people began to arrive in droves.  Tons of their friends plus dad’s cousin and his family were there every year.  As we kids got older our friends would escape their sedate family gatherings to party at the Sparrow house.  There was always lots of laughter, joking, singing, and a virtual river of alcohol.  Somewhere in there we always opened our gifts.  Because we needed to get to some religious service at midnight, you ask?  Au contraire.  It was because the next morning our paternal grandmother, along with Tracy, her parents and her siblings would arrive for Christmas breakfast.

Now that I am older I look back on that tradition and think our parents were out of their minds.  The last of the Christmas Eve guests generally didn’t leave until the wee hours of the morning.  And then promptly at 10 o’clock, our relatives would arrive for breakfast.  And this was no Chinet paper plate or Red Solo Cup affair.  For some reason our mother was a bit intimidated by our grandmother.  Even after 30 years of marriage and, I might add, producing three spectacular grandchildren.  So we had to haul out the Wedgwood china and the good silver every Christmas morning.

Your authors, Christmas Eve 1971

Your authors, Christmas Eve 1971

Just imagine for a moment our mom, probably with a bit of a headache and definitely with too little sleep, up at the crack of dawn to make a three course breakfast.  Our dad, always the peacemaker in the family, tried his best to help but honestly, anything even remotely near the kitchen was not his strong suit.  So one year, after tasting an ice cream fizz at a friend’s house, he decided the drink was just the ticket to liven things up on Christmas morning.  He said he put his own “spin” on the recipe, which I think means that he added just a pinch more gin.  Whatever he did to it, the result was magic!  Suddenly, after just one glass of Pop’s Ice Cream Fizz, the world (and in particular, our mother) was in a happier place.  So as a public service, just in case you find yourself in need of some Christmas cheer, here is Pop’s recipe:

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a rosy hue on everyone and every thing!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for  a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

We hope you and yours have a very happy holiday season and if you find yourself getting just a bit Scroogy, try Pop’s Ice Cream Fizz.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

 

 

A THANKSGIVING MASH-UP

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson mashed potatoesLast summer, in the bright sunlight of August, our 10-year-old grandson looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Mimi, at Thanksgiving don’t forget the cranberry sauce and the mashed potatoes.  Especially the mashed potatoes.”  I have no idea why he thought I might forget these staples of our Thanksgiving feast, but for him to mention it months ahead of time means it’s pretty important to him  So that makes it pretty important to me.  The thing is, I think mashed potatoes are the hardest part of preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m usually in the throes of making the gravy and getting all the side dishes in the oven and then in the middle of this frenzy I have to mash the darn potatoes.  I’ve been stressing about this over the past few weeks and combing the internet for mashed potato recipes that I can make ahead of time.  But I worried that the potatoes would get mealy or dried out if not prepared at the last minute. It finally dawned on me that I was giving this far more thought than it deserves –  if mashed potatoes are my biggest worry, I’m a pretty lucky person.  So I turned my attention to my Thanksgiving “grateful statement”.  Like a lot of other families, before we dive into the bottomless pit of calories that is Thanksgiving dinner, we each have to say what we are grateful for during the past year.  I have one rule:  you can’t say you’re grateful for your family, your friends or your health.  Those are things that should be appreciated every day.  So I began to think about what I might cite as being grateful for this year. Of course, Dash the Wonder Dog is the best thing that happened to us, but since I think of him as family that eliminated him from contention.

As if on cue, the next week two of my former teammates at Bank of America posted pictures and stories on Facebook of their latest volunteer trips and I knew I’d found my “grateful statement”.  While the rest of us loll on sandy beaches or go skiing at beautiful resorts, Evan Boido and Mike Clement spend their “vacation” time in parts of the world that are most in need of their kindness and expertise.  I don’t know about you, but I’m very grateful that there are such people in the world, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to tell you a bit about them.

Evan Boido was accepted as a member of Global Volunteers (http://www.globalvolunteers.org/organization/default.asp) several years ago.  Their mission is to engage short-term volunteers on long-term projects to create, nurture1385378_3565115021953_107721808_n(1)  and sustain the wellbeing of the world’s children so they can realize the full promise of their human potential. They send volunteers to the poorest areas of the U.S. and around the world.  Evan accepted an assignment in Romania, caring mostly for orphaned infants and toddlers with physical or mental disabilities at the Barlad Children’s Hospital.  As you can imagine, this could be heart-rending work but Evan dives into each mission with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose.  Over the past few years she has made a huge difference in the lives of countless children.  The staff of the hospital try their hardest to care for the children but they are over-whelmed.  Without the efforts of Global Volunteers such as Evan, many of these children would languish in their cribs with little individual attention.  This past trip Evan brought along her niece, Shannon (pictured right with one of the children) to make it truly a family affair.  Evan has gotten to know and love many of the children over the years – she is overjoyed when one is adopted and crestfallen when one succumbs to their medical problems.  As much as the hospital gains from the Global Volunteers, I know that Evan gains even more from the time spent with “her babies”.

MikeMike Clement just returned from the Congo, where he serves on the board of  the Christian Medical Institute of the Kasai  ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Medical-Institute-of-the-Kasai-IMCK).  Their mission is to provide quality health care and health care education in that part of the Congo, the most impoverished nation on earth.  The most frequent health issues include kettle burns, oil burns, accidents requiring amputations, child malnutrition,  and fistula care. The hospital is proud of the fact that they have made strides in health for newborn children and their mothers through education and access.  But the hospital is consistently short of medicine and is in arrears with its finances since most of the indigent poor cannot pay for their medical services.  Mike, who is a communications consultant, goes once a year to the hospital to help develop strategies for fund-raising and to advise on how to keep their staffing levels within their budget.  As you can see from the picture (left), he also spends lots of time with the children.  This photo of a little boy, with his hand holding on to Mike’s shirt, says it all.  Despite their differences in culture and living circumstances, a unique bond is created when a good-hearted person reaches out to help a small child .  I have looked at countless pictures of Mike’s trips to the Congo and they all depict the locals with joyful and grateful faces, but also an unimaginable level of poverty and squalid living conditions.  And yet Mike describes these trips as “soul healing”.

So this Thanksgiving I will worry less about my lumpy mashed potatoes and spend more time being grateful that the world has people in it like Evan and Mike and the organizations for which they volunteer.  I hope that you have such people in your life as well and I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Ooops, Forgot Someone

by Bob Sparrow

I mentally went through every neighbor that lived in the ‘hood or ever lived in the ‘hood when putting the last post together, but apparently the ‘mentally’ isn’t working so well.  I was reminded that I change Steve Seeley’s name to Richard Seeley, but other than that I thought I did a pretty good job of being all-inclusive.

Not so fast, sparkler breath, there was a family that I forgot, but I think when I make my case for why I forgot them you’ll understand.

First, here’s a picture of the family I forgot.

DSC00595    DSC00616

Mark & Kathy Johnson, Kristin & baby Brielle                      Kenny, Brielle and Kristin Overby

Yes, I missed the Johnson family, but we barely knew them; case in point

  • We’ve lived in the same neighborhood for over 28 years
  • We’ve been best friends for about 27 years
  • Our son, Jeff and their son Garrett have been best friends since they were about 6 months old – they’re 28 now.
  • Our daughter Dana and their daughter Kristin are the best of friends
  • We’ve only been on 20 – 30 vacations together with them
  • We attended Kenny & Kristin’s wedding in Mexico a couple of years ago

So I think it’s fairly obvious how easy it was for me to forget about them completely.

SORRY JOHNSONS!!!!

 

Norman Rockwell Attends ‘Hood’s 4th of July Celebration

by Bob Sparrow

Rockwell  Norman Rockwell attended our annual 4th of July gathering.  Yes, I know he’s been dead since 1978, but I’m sure he’s there in spirit every year.  Let me explain.  First, I’m fortunate enough to be part of an incredible neighborhood – hereafter referred to as ‘the ‘hood’ (pictured below), that knows how to celebrate this great occasion.  Second, thankfully Independence Day has, for the most part, escaped the crass commercialism that tarnishes most of our other national holiday celebrations.  Perhaps it’s because we still think it incredible what a cadre of very courageous young men did to create this amazing country.

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Sharon Hendrix as Uncle Sam

For the 25th year in a row the ‘hood has started the 4th of July with a softball game on the local high school field.  This year, like all the rest, the festivities officially opened with Sharon Hendrix, dress as Uncle Sam, playing a recording of our National Anthem, with each of the teams lined up on the first and third base lines, singing along.  At the end, a chorus of “Play ball” rang out.  In the late 80s and through the 90s it was fathers and mothers against son and daughters, where the parents made sure the kids won.  The next few years we didn’t have to make sure they won, it was pretty even, and then . . . I’d like to say the ‘kids’, now in their teens and 20s, made sure the parents won, but they pretty much kicked our butts.  This year we finally mixed the teams and the kids basically played against each other while the parents tried to get out of the way of those screaming line drives.

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Doug & Julie Bynon

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Bob & Jeanne Pacelli

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Vicki, Danielle & Lorenzo Reyes

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Pam & Patrick Michael

Those in the Hood who chose not to play would find a seat on the grass under an elm tree and cheer on the participants and catch up on the latest gossip in the ‘hood.  After the game we’d usually adjourn to the Sullivan house for a spirited game of horseshoes, however this year Rick said his pits were in bad shape (I sat next to him at the BBQ and I can vouch for that!).

pam

Britney & a better picture of Pam Michael

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Larry & Robin Affentranger

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A.J. & Althea Smith (Terry MIA)

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Scott & Dexter Lanois (Diane cooking)

By late afternoon we’d make our way to the ‘host house’ in the ‘hood, this year the Michael’s, for a barbeque of brats and brisket, with everyone (ok, the women) bringing a side dish.  The Michael’s had decorated the back yard in red, white and blue and had patriotic music playing over their outdoor speaker system as we watch the Angel, on the TV at their outside bar, pull out a dramatic 9th inning victory over the Cardinals.

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Sharon, Caroline & Cap Hendrix

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Heather, Sandi & Bob Baldwin

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Marge Dunn (Bob MIA)

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Bob, Jeff & Linda Sparrow

A day of baseball, barbecue, beer and brotherhood -it doesn’t get any better than that!  Toward the end of the evening, I read the Declaration of Independence aloud.  I was told by many afterward that they were expecting me to create my own, less-than-serious version of this document, and although I did interject, after the list of heinous things King George III did to provoke this declaration, that he seemed like a real bastard, I was not going to lampoon this sacred document. At the conclusion of the reading, the Bauaschis, our only British-born American citizen, were offered equal time, but respectfully declined.

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Beth, Matt, Kara & Rick Sullivan

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Dianne & Dennis in their mini roadster

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Lisa & Marc Webb

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A better picture of Lisa & Marc Webb

As the day came to a close, we heard the bombs bursting in air around the ‘hood and hoped that 4th of July revelers everywhere truly understood the importance of this day.  I think Norman Rockwell and our founding fathers would be proud of the ‘hood’s annual celebration. I know I was.  I think we all felt very proud and very lucky to be part of such a great neighborhood and such a great country.

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Richard & Kere Bauarschi

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Fern & son

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Mascot ‘Bacon’ stealing second base

A tip of our Uncle Sam hat to those “Hood-lums” that couldn’t join us this year: Richard & Reta Wade, Mike & Tanis Nelson,Don & Gale Avril, Randy Davis, Shelly Davis and Danna Campbell.

And we lite a sparkler to the “Hood-alums”, those who have moved away: Steve & Carolyn Seeley, Jim and Pat Crandall, Helmet & Sheila Nittmann, Tim & Carol Scovel and Dave & Sharon McKinley.

 

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THROUGH MY MOTHER’S EYES

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

2013-05-05 07.34.18Sunday is Mother’s Day and as you loyal readers know, our mother passed away earlier this year.  So this is the first Mother’s Day that we will not have a mother to send flowers, cards and well-wishes to.   Last year my brother Bob and his wife Linda sent mom such a beautiful arrangement of flowers that mom commented to me that it was the best gift she had ever received.   Which only cemented my hunch that she always liked him best.

As anyone who knew her could attest, she was a driven and opinionated woman.  No misplaced hair or wrinkled shirt went unnoticed – or commented upon.  She was the first to point out that we had gained a few pounds.   Mom took great pride in her appearance, always wearing a perfectly coordinated outfit, matching shoes and oftentimes donning a rather large hat.  Her children, by contrast, are big fans of what I like to refer to as “soft clothes”.  Anything that has an elastic waistband or has been washed to within an inch of its life is just great with us.   In other words, we sometimes look like we were raised by wolves – a trait that bothered her no end.

My differences with her were many; we just seemed to view the world from opposite perspectives.  This was never more apparent than when she bought a new pair of reading glasses several years ago.  By this time I was watching her finances and reviewing her cash flow every three months.  So when she told me she had spent $500 on a pair of Versace glasses (see picture above) I just about keeled over.  I knew that she was already running low on money and couldn’t believe her extravagance.  “Why in the heck would you spend that kind of money?” I shouted into the phone.  She explained that they had little diamonds in them and that she just wanted something from a top designer.  I was furious.  But not as furious as I was six months later when she lost them.

And just to demonstrate how seriously she took my financial advice, she promptly spent another $500 to buy the very same pair again.  I was flabbergasted.  Here was a woman who saved aluminum foil remnants and took home doggie bags that went stale in her refrigerator just because she couldn’t “waste good money” by leaving food at a restaurant.  I thought she had lost her mind.

Turns out, she had only lost her memory.  A few weeks after she bought the second pair of glasses she discovered the first pair in the lost and found drawer at her church.

After she died we were cleaning out her apartment and I noticed that her reading glasses were on the nightstand.  I tucked them into my purse for safekeeping – I’d be darned if I was going to throw away a $500 pair of glasses!  I thought they would be a good reminder of her foolish spending.  When I got home I put them on top of my closet dresser, where I see them every day.

A few weeks ago I looked at them (with my $18 Costco reading glasses) and noticed that quite a few of the diamonds are missing.  Her vision was so poor that I’m sure she was blissfully unaware of their current shabby condition.  I began to see the glasses in a different light.  Maybe they aren’t  a reminder of her foolish spending but rather that when I am old,  I might also make some choices that others think inappropriate.    Maybe when I’m old, I too will want just one extravagant thing that makes me feel good, even when I can’t afford it.  Maybe when I get older I will begin to see things through my mother’s eyes.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even buy very expensive reading glasses – twice.