Well, it is with a fair amount of fear and trepidation that I’d like to make an announcement.
Before your mind starts to wander too far, I am not pregnant. That would cause mind-boggling fear and trepidation, and would, in fact, be a miracle.
This is “Not That Big a Deal” which is also the name of my new blog. Yes, friends I have “bitten the bullet, jumped in with both feet, leaped into the breach” and it scares the crumbs out of me. But, I enjoy making people smile and laugh and forget, even if just for a little while, their troubles. I think it’s something we all need now and then. I really do believe that “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” So, here I go…
My blog link will be posted on facebook and twitter tomorrow and, hopefully, every Friday after that. I hope it does its job. I hope it makes you smile.
Throughout the course of my life, I have been blessed with not having to face many challenges. At least none that I paid much attention to.
I was born in 1959. My generation all played outside pretty much everyday. We drank out of the hose and swam in pools and lakes. We played in the woods and played on swings and ran through the poisonous fog of the mosquito sprayers. There were days that we slept with our front door open and only our screen door closed to let in any breezes at night. Our windows were always open. We walked to school and to the candy store. We rode bikes and played Little Kiddles. We were kids.
We were in the midst of the Cold War and later Vietnam, but most of us were really too young to understand and didn’t face those challenges directly. We faced the normal challenges of childhood, making new friends, attending a new school, learning math concepts that we didn’t want to learn from teachers that we didn’t really like. These were our challenges.
Recently, life has been challenging. Pandemics will do that. But, we can see an end and through it all, life has not been that bad. Though the pandemic has touched us all and caused some of us tremendous loss, it will be over some day. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
We are currently in the midst of Black History Month. Every year at school, my history classes participate in a Tournament to see who is The Most Fascinating Person in American History. Students choose a name out of a hat, give a presentation to the class, and they vote. The winner moves on on a Tournament Board, similar to College Basketball’s March Madness. The kids love it and they’re learning about people in history that they might otherwise have never known. We have winners for the First and Second Semester and then students vote between the two. There have been various winners over the years, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, FDR, to name a few. This year was different though. This year the winner of our First Semester board was Jackie Robinson. When his name was chosen, they didn’t really know who he was or what he’d done. They do now. They know the challenges that this man fought for himself, for his race, for a sport, and really for us all. It’s good to read about people that have faced challenges. It gives us perspective.
The following is an article posted by Guideposts. If we allow ourselves to really think about all this man went through, I think we will all understand what being challenged really means. I hope you enjoy this…
Guideposts Classics: Jackie Robinson on Facing Challenges
In this story from August 1948, Hall of Famer and American hero Jackie Robinson recalls the challenges he faced in breaking baseball’s color barrier.
by Jackie Robinson
I’ll never forget the day Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, asked me to join his baseball organization, I would be the first Negro to play in organized baseball—that is, if I were good enough to make the grade.
Mr. Rickey’s office was large and simply furnished. There were four framed pictures on the wall. One was a kodachrome snapshot of Leo Durocher, the field manager of the Dodgers. Another was a portrait of the late Charlie Barrett, one of the greatest scouts in the game. A third was of General Chennault. And the fourth and largest smiled down one me with calm reassurance, the portrait of the sad, trusting Abraham Lincoln who had pleaded for malice toward none…
This was the never-to-be-forgotten day when our Marines landed on the soil of Japan, August 29, 1945. It was a hot day with venetian blinds shutting out the sun, and the Brooklyn clamor of Montague Street mingled with the noisy traffic around Borough Hall.
From behind his desk the big, powerful, bushy-browed Branch Rickey, who seemed a combination of father and boss, mapped out to me his daring strategy to break the color line in Major League Baseball.
I was excited at the opportunity. It was a tremendous challenge. But was I good enough?
“Mr. Rickey,” I said, “it sounds like a dream come true—not only for me but for my race. For 70 years there has been racial exclusion in Big League Baseball. There will be trouble ahead—for you, for me, for my people and for baseball.”
“Trouble ahead,” Rickey rolled the phrase over his lips as though he liked the sound. “You know, Jackie, I was a small boy when I took my first train ride. On the same train was an old couple, also riding for the first time. We were going through the Rocky Mountains. The old man sitting by the window looked forward and said to his wife, ‘Trouble ahead, Ma! We’re high up over a precipice and we’re gonna run right off.’
“To my boyish ears the noise of the wheels repeated ‘Trouble-a-head-trouble-ahead…’ I never hear train wheels to this day but what I think of this. But our train course bent into a tunnel right after the old man spoke, and we came out on the other side of the mountain. That’s the way it is with most trouble ahead in this world, Jackie—if we use the common sense and courage God gave us. But you’ve got to study the hazards and build wisely.”
I’ve never forgotten that little story. It helped me through many of the rough moments I was to face in the future. I signed my contract that day with a humble feeling of great responsibility. I prayed that I would be equal to the test.
“God is with us in this, Jackie,” Mr. Rickey said quietly. “You know your Bible. It’s good, simple Christianity for us to face realities and to recognize what we’re up against. We can’t go out and preach and crusade and bust our heads against a wall. We’ve got to fight out our problems together with tact and common sense.”
To give me experience and seasoning, Mr. Rickey sent me the first year to play with the Montreal Royals, a farm club for the Brooklyn organization. I was the cause of trouble from the start—but we expected it. Pre-season exhibition games were cancelled because of “mixed athletes”, although the official reason was always different.
Some of my teammates may have resented me. If so, I didn’t blame them. They had problems enough playing ball without being a part of a racial issue. I tried hard not to develop “rabbit ears”, a malady picked up by all athletes who are sensitive to abuse and criticism shouted from the fans.
One of my top thrills was my opening game for Montreal at Jersey City. The pressure was on and I was very nervous. But during that contest I slapped out four hits, including a home run. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better start.
But as the season began to unroll game after game, my play grew erratic. I was trying too hard. I knew I had to keep my temper bridled at every turn. Guarding so carefully against outbursts can put a damper on one’s competitive spirit.
Every athlete at some time or other likes “to blow his top.” It seldom does any harm and acts like a safety valve. A hitter in a slump may drive the ball deep to the infield, then leg it to first sure that he has beaten the throw. The umpire calls him out. With this the frustrated athlete jerks off his cap, slams it on the ground and thunders all his pent-up irritations at the umpire. The crowd roars its approval or dislike depending on whether the player is on the home or visiting team. The umpire merely turns his back, and the ball player after giving vent to his unhappiness, trots back to the bench feeling much better. It’s all a part of the game.
But I didn’t dare let loose this way. Many would have dubbed me a “hothead” and point to my outburst as a reason why Negroes should not play in organized baseball. This was one of the hardest problems I had to face.
As the season rolled along, however, the players became accustomed to me. My play improved. When the season ended, Montreal had won the Junior World Series. I admit proudly to winning the batting championship of the league with an average .349.
On April 10, 1947, Branch Rickey made the announcement that gave me my greatest thrill. I was to join the Brooklyn Dodgers and become the first Negro to compete in the Major Leagues.
To add to my regular problems of bucking the expected publicity and criticism from the usual quarters, I was placed at a strange position—first base. At Montreal I had played second base.
It was Montreal all over again, only this time the pressure was much greater, the competition keener, and the stakes tremendous. It wasn’t a question so much of a colored athlete making good as a big leaguer, but whether the whole racial question would be advanced or retarded.
I prayed as I never had before.
As a first baseman I had many fielding shortcomings. I worked hard to iron them out and both fans and players by and large were rooting for me. This encouragement was a big factor in helping me improve my game.
Again I faced the same problems. An opposing player drove a hard grounder to the infield. When he crossed first base his spikes bit painfully into my foot. Accident or deliberate? Who can tell? But the first reaction of a competitive ball player is to double up fists and lash out. I saw a blinding red. It took every bit of my discipline to bridle my temper. But when my teammates rushed to my support in white hot anger, it gave me the warmest feeling I’ve ever felt. At that moment I belonged.
That year the Dodgers won the pennant. I was thrilled to know that my efforts were considered an important factor in winning. But I also cherished another triumph. Baseball as a whole had come to accept the Negro. From now on the colored ball player, to make the grade, will simply have to be a good enough player. As Mr. Rickey says, a champion is a champion in America, black or white.
This story first appeared in the August 1948 issue of Guideposts.
People are different. We come in different shapes and sizes. We come in different colors. We come with different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different ways of doing things. We’re different and that’s what makes life interesting.
When our kids were younger, we used to watch nighttime TV all huddled together in our bed. We did this because my sister-in-law, her husband and their 6 children, lived upstairs and our living room was below the kid’s bedroom. Kids, being kids, are naturally loud and even more so when there are 6 of them sharing one room. So, we migrated to our bedroom and made cozy memories as a family.
One of our favorite shows was “Boy Meets World”. One of my favorite episodes was when they portrayed the four teenage characters as senior citizens. In that episode they were all having lunch in a diner, dressed like they were in their 80’s and talking like they couldn’t hear and had no teeth. Their conversation went something like this… “So. How’s the fish?” “Niiice…” “What?” “Who? “They want you to take the rolls!”
Some of us in my original family, the one minus my husband, kids, and grandkids, have hearing problems, namely, my Dad, and myself; though my sister in NJ said she doesn’t hear well either. Dad’s hearing loss was due to many years of working around very loud, heavy machinery. Dad was a mechanic. So, his is not hereditary. Mine and, most likely my sister’s, was a gift from our Grandma Moon. Nothing to do with the outside world. When I went for my first real hearing test to see if I actually had hearing loss, the doctor assumed that I’d gone to a lot of loud, heavy metal concerts in my teens. I told her I’d only been to two concerts in my life and I was pretty sure that the Osmond Brothers and Johnny Cash didn’t exactly qualify for the “heavy metal” category. She agreed and asked about older close relatives with hearing loss. That’s when I first realized it was my Grandma. Grandma Moon lived with us and our daily afternoon tea times consisted of all of us girls, Mom, my sisters and I, shouting so Gram could hear us even with her hearing aid.
I first realized I was probably losing my hearing when our first grandchild, our only granddaughter, started speaking in her adorable, little, high-pitched voice and I couldn’t hear her. Around that same time, I began teaching middle and high school classes and realized I couldn’t hear most of the boys either. And so, I bought and began wearing hearing aids, every single day. I love them. My Dad, who will be 86 this March, has a pair of hearing aids that he got from the VA. He doesn’t wear them every single day. He doesn’t wear them at all. He hates them.
Erma Bombeck once said, “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it!” A wonderful truth. Case in point…
The other day Mom came up with a brilliant idea to communicate better with Dad.
“What about this, Rox? What if Dad and I learn sign language?” Mom is 80. Dad will be 86 in March. I was going to laugh until I realized Mom was serious. All I could picture is Mom trying to sign to Dad and Dad thinking Mom was having some kind of an arthritic seizure. And so I told Mom I didn’t think it was a good idea. “What if I get a small chalkboard and write things out to him?” “No, Mom, I don’t think that will work either.” We decided she should just move closer to Dad when she talks. Problem solved…at least for now.
One of the perks of hearing loss is that, since I don’t hear very well, I sleep very soundly. Rain, thunderstorms, hurricanes, sonic booms (remember I live in Florida)…no problem. My husband, on the other hand, is a very light sleeper. The hum of a fan can keep him awake. Personally, I consider his excellent hearing to be somewhat of a curse at night. He may not agree, especially when he’s trying to talk to me from across the room and I am already hearing aid free. I always try to guess what he’s saying. I never get it right. Our conversations usually end up sounding something like this.
“Do you find your key?” “Yeah, I have to pee.”
“I’m feeling much better.” “I know, I brought my sweater.”
“Do you think you can cut my hair soon?” “What happened to the chair in the room?”
You get the idea. Further proof that getting old is not for the faint of heart. But it sure can be fun because, depending on how you look at it, it’s really not that big a deal!
First, I’d like to apologize for last week’s post. Though I posted it in full on my blog, it ended abruptly when posted and, as my Fairy Blog Mother said, “so did 2020.”
This week I am copying a post that I received on facebook from the Accidental Talmudist called The Silent Holocaust Hero. Here it is in full, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. A little history, a lot of goodness in humans during difficult times…something we all can use! Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate each and every one of you! Many thanks to accidentaltalmudist.org
I have hair. A LOT of hair. It has been decided, by my mother years ago, and more recently by my husband and I, that I have too much hair for my face.
It was, kind of, always this way. When I was a little girl, I was given a pixie so my mother could continue to care for my siblings and retain her sanity without having to deal with my hair and it’s almost too many to count cowlicks.
Have you ever thought about the origin of the word “cowlick”? I know its definition is “a tuft of hair that grows in the wrong direction,” but where did the word come from? According to Google, “The term ‘cowlick’ originates from the domestic bovine’s habit of licking it’s young, which results in a swirling pattern in the hair.” Hmm…I may need to have a talk with my Mom.
But, I digress…
Since moving to sunny, very humid, Florida, I think it’s safe to say my hair has grown. Now, of course, everybody’s hair grows vertically; but, not unlike my body, my hair has grown horizontally. It has grown horizontally to the point that, when brushed out, I have a good old fashioned, 1970’s “fro”….Remember Rosanna, Rosanna, Danna?
And all through our home…the boys, oh, the boys…how they run, how they roam!
Our family is unique in many ways. One of those ways is that both my husband and our son own UPS Stores. My husband’s is in the town we live in, our son’s is the next town over. Not only that, our oldest daughter, Rachel, is the manager of my husband’s store. Christmas, as you can imagine, is unbelievably busy. Everyone is working everyday. Eric pulls in Kylene, his wife, for a few days; our granddaughter, who blatantly expresses her hatred of work, goes in to earn some extra cash; and I am put on Nana duty.
I don’t mind Nana duty, it’s fun and it’s gotten much easier now that the boys are older. This week I only had Eric and Kylene’s two boys, Colby and Sawyer for two days. Of course, if Colby and Sawyer are here then Rachel and Thomas’ two boys, Caleb and Gavin, have got to be here, too. Four boys, lots of noise, lots of guns, lots of hide and seek, and me. I turn down my hearing aids and let them loose. The only room off limits is my bedrooom. Everything else is fair game. The only catch, they have to clean up after themselves. In years past, Nana duty was much different. In years past Nana duty went like this…
December 16, 2015 ~
~Day Two is now over. ‘Twas as easy as can be. I’m enjoying my days of my four boys and me. This day brought new fun and at least one surprise. A giant, fun fort that lit up all their eyes. But that was not all, no there’s more to be said. Fat Cat found a lizard, it wasn’t quite dead. I squirted the cat, which released the poor guy. I put it outside, but it was missing one eye. “Stella puked in our fort!” was another new phrase. But that wasn’t the worst of Day Two’s fun time ways. “My sock’s on the wrong foot!” “I have to go pee! Quick Nana, come into the bathroom with me!” The pee-pee dance was in full swing as I came to assist. As I helped on my foot I could feel a few ‘drips’. “I got some on my pants and my underpants, too.” I had no heart to tell him it was also on my shoe. And so ends Day Two, it was really a blast. Just a fun, busy day and it won’t be the last!
Five years later, I still enjoy Nana duty because, after all, it’s really not that big a deal!
I’m not gonna lie, there have been times throughout this year when, in my head, I can hear Barbara Walters saying, “This is 2020”. I can’t help but think that she was somehow warning us all those years ago. Every week she said the same thing and did we listen? Nope.
Thanksgiving preparations this year began with a decision to divide and celebrate in smaller groups. We did this for our three elderly family members, who were somewhat uncomfortable with our normal gathering of 24. Being considerate of us, they had said they’d stay home. Being considerate of them, we divided into three, much smaller celebrations. It was still Thanksgiving, just not what we’re used to. But, this was just the beginning…
As a rule, I really enjoy Thursdays. Though our weeks tend to get busy with life, Thursdays are usually our day with my parents. A day when we get them out of the house for a little bit. It is usually a relaxing day because they don’t do anything fast. One of the perks of being with them is moving at their pace. It is a good thing. Sometimes the date is moved, but Thursday is usually their day. However, one Thursday last month we did not get together with my parents. One Thursday last month something else happened that day.
She was old. I did my best to keep her clean, but when things get that old, it’s that much more difficult. There are cracks, breaks, leaks and unidentifiable build-ups. Things that can’t be helped when you’re old, especially when you’re an old refrigerator. (I bet you thought I was talking about my Mom. Just so you know, she may creak a little, but Mom would never have unidentifiable build-ups.)
In her day, she was very pretty. A big, black, side-by-side. I don’t know what it’s called but her exterior was “bumpy.” Her ice machine always gave her trouble and then, finally, just froze up and died. She had survived a family of five, three of them being teens into young adulthood. The constant opening and closing, the opening and staring, the opening and slamming…light on, light off, light on again, while they try to make up their minds if they wanted something or not. After they got married and moved out, she survived the short-term return of the now-marrieds-with-children. After almost 20 years, she had done her time and, I could tell, she was looking forward to retirement. However, I am married to a man who was raised by parents that lived through the Great Depression. He was taught to fix rather than replace. Personally, this has worked in my favor. He’s fixed my feet, my teeth, and my jaw without the slightest hint of looking for a better model and, for that, I am grateful. But, when your refrigerator shelves are held together with wide-band clear tape; well, I think it’s time. Still, I held my tongue. My hope was for one of those shiny, french-door, bottom freezer models. Of course, I made sure Cliff knew that, just in case he found some great sale that he couldn’t pass up.
After 41 years, I know how the man works. I ask for something and then, if he declines, I ask him if I can manipulate him in any way. (I am an honest manipulator.) He tends to say, no, as in this case; but I feel like I at least made the effort. We’ve been doing a lot of house renovations and spending a lot of money and so, I did understand and tried my best not to complain. He, on the other hand, was sneaky. He came across a great deal at Home Depot, realized he had a coupon to add and bought it, all while I was sleeping. The next thing I knew, he was talking about how our Thursday plans would have to change. That happens so I thought nothing of it. A little while later he was on his laptop and showed me a big, beautiful, shiny, french door, bottom freezer, with all the bells and whistles and said with a smile, “It’s coming on Thursday”.
When it came we just stared, not because it was absolutely beautiful, which it was; but because having only owned one side-by-side or another for the past 30 or more years, we had no idea how to put things in it. Cliff had always lived with “condiments on the door”. I had no idea where things went and cared even less, so condiments went on the door. That didn’t look very plausible with this model. The freezer was also a bit of a conundrum. After a few minutes of complete confusion, we started to finally figure it all out, found a place for everything, and put everything in its place…even the old fridge.
Since we don’t just throw things away around here, the old fridge is living a quiet, cozy life of retirement in my parent’s garage. A life where she can rest and her doors are only occasionally opened and nobody really cares that her shelves are taped together. My parents understand all of that and realize that old age is really not that big a deal.
P.S. ~ In case you’re wondering, there are pictures. I can’t figure out how to show them to you because my site is not cooperating. It’s done that a lot lately…
I wish you all a Very Happy, Very Blessed Thanksgiving! In spite of everything that is bombarding us these days, there is always something to be thankful for…
Our family loves Yellowstone National Park and we have visited there more than once. It is breathtaking. All of it.
Amidst the angst currently visiting our world, I came upon this story. It made me cry happy tears. It is a story I recently came across on facebook on their Yellowstone National Park page. It is a story of kindness. It is a story to be remembered. It is a very big deal…
“On July 23rd, 2020, three lives were changed forever. Long-time friends Joe Wheat and Dane Coles took a last minute trip to Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park. Coles, an outdoor photographer, wanted to do the overlook trail to the hot spring.
Erma Bombeck once said, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” In the early 1950s, America was still reeling from the effects of World War II and dealing with the current threat of the Cold War, while sending our men to fight in Korea. In the early 1950s a man named Art Linkletter joined our nation’s radio waves and television screens to remind us of the importance of humor. He hosted shows called, “House Party” and “People are Funny” but, is probably best remembered for his interviews with children on, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” The idea for the show came to him during a conversation with his own son, Jack, after his first day of kindergarten. He told his father he would never go back. When his father asked him why little Jack responded, “Because I can’t read, I can’t write, and they won’t let me talk.”
Personally, with the looming election results, which at the time of this writing are still not in, and the suffocating effects of “you know what,” we could all use a little child-like, unadulterated humor. And so, without further explanation, I give to you our grandchildren, 1 girl and 6 boys, in all of their very little, unfiltered glory…
~ I notice our ever-so-serious 5 year old granddaughter putting her hand on her chest every once in awhile. I, jokingly, asked her if she was checking to see if her heart was still beating. Her serious response, “Yes, I thought it stopped before, but it didn’t.”
~ Our oldest grandson learning to ride a two-wheeler bicycle with training wheels. Me leaning on the bike behind him teaching him how to pedal and steer. I think I’m being helpful until I hear him say, “Nana, you’re just adding more weight to this thing.”
~ One of our favorite worship songs at church…”Glorious and mighty, you’re awesome IN BEAUTY…” Our third grandson’s version, “Glorious and mighty, you’re awesome AND NUDIE.”
~ While watching two of our grandchildren, the younger one has to go potty. I get that fateful call, “Nana, I’n d-o-n-e…(not a typo).” I go in to do the dirty deed of clean up and hear a pathetic little pleading voice ask the following question, “Nana, can you wipe ‘nice’?” This poor child! What did I do before?
~ A grandson falls asleep on the way to the grocery store, a one mile drive. I wake him up and tell him he can’t fall asleep right now because Nana has to shop. His response, “Nana, only one of my eye’s is sleeping.” As I carry him into the store, he has an epiphany, “Nana, look my shadow isn’t smiling.”
~ Our granddaughter at the age of 5 had a physical for kindergarten and had the following interview with the doctor as part of her physical.
“What do you do when you’re hungry?”
“What do you do when you’re tired?”
“Go to sleep.”
“What do you do when it’s cold outside?”
(Our granddaughter hesitates. The answer the doctor was looking for was ‘put on a coat’. The response she got from our ever-so-practical little girl…)
~ A grandson, watching me attempting to do a yoga video, makes an impressive observation. “Nana, you’re not smiling.”
~ A new children’s table and chair set for the four oldest grandkids. A new coloring book and set of scented markers for each. A new look for our grandchildren as each has smelled their markers so much they look like Hitler.
Kids and grandkids truly say and do, “the darndest things!” It really is the little things that bring us so much joy. We can’t do much about the rest of it. But, we can live with the realization that in the light of all eternity, it’s really not that big a deal!