Tag Archives: grandparents

Nothing and Everything – Repost

Our internet service has been uncooperative, (go figure, I’d recently commented that it’s improved).  Today I’m resigned to sharing an early post from Blogging U and The Next Best Thing.


nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by generations of family. We’d drive station wagons and family sedans along paved roads through gentle slopes lined with lilac blossoms in spring, and various maples, oaks and elms year-round. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all moved to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled a half-day’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I into a square pink house. Brother and I started school in a dry, hotter climate walking by ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Our playgrounds gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, citrus groves and our favorite toys were ropes tied to enormous, friendly trees which we climbed to swing across the canals.  Later we practiced lying about swimming in the precarious waters.

Late in the summer before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school,  we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings, our German Shepherd a box full of her 12 suckling pups and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became a three-bedroom apartment where there were more trees, but no yard. Dad and Mother both went to jobs immediately.

Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I faced the new climate, society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools. Brother and I entered junior high.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; either you were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and gym shoes, my main concern was hand washing laundry and having dinner ready before bedtime. Brother became cool. He stopped being my pal and was mean sometimes. I was not cool. To him I became nothing. Still, we had four other siblings  and the dog that didn’t care about cool. We somehow got through our new life together, day by day, some days worse than others.

After an eternity of a few months we moved into a house in a much nicer suburb. Eventually Brother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and he went there often. Though I missed him, I appreciated his absences.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach. The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring, changing everything.

Through the following years I didn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. Whenever I could, I dug my feet deep into the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary and the God I knew as a kid in the dessert met me there.

Often enough I came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)




Filed under Writing and Blogging

My Strongest Conjuration Part 2

Foundation Issues*


“You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.” Maya Angelou

For what now seems too long, I want more than ever before to go home. My greatest challenge, as always is that my entire concept of home is tricky.

367px-A_Christmas_Carol_-_Mr._Fezziwig's_BallTypically, like Ebeneezer Scrooge’s happier visitations with the Ghost of Christmas Past, when I ponder home, warm feelings of Family Past flow into my fore thoughts. For me, however, debris and sometimes rusted car doors also flow in those treacherous waters. While I mastered those waters long ago, after years of “dealing with it,” it’s now a stale, old happenstance. I typically choose to move forward.


But I’m writing about my concept of home, so I’m going to remain in this stream for a moment.

Truth: My early life actually began in Pleasantville, U.S.A. The middle child of my parents’s first three offspring, we were blessed with three generations of a closely connected, devoted, loving and attentive family. After we all migrated to Arizona, we remained close. And then Quinn, my fourth sibling perished from a cold. Though my parents had three more children over the next five years, they never really recovered from the loss or the remorse and guilt that lurk silently in the shadows of such tragedies.

broken houseBy the time I realized something about anything, my parents were no longer like the Cleavers or even the Conners. We slept, kept breathing, ate regularly, people came and went, so nothing was different. And yet nothing was the same. Gradually boarders and nannies replaced grandparents and aunts. Our new, extended family branched out in so many directions, my brother and I were prematurely independent – far too unsupervised for children our ages. In our family unit’s complexity we became more like a grove than a tree.



Truth: my siblings and I, naturally all true survivalists, have maneuvered around the globe longer than we’ve lived in the same states. For me, the concept of home has often been incorporeal, not too unlike those who endured migrations during the Great Depression. For the brief time I was an average schoolgirl, home was where I went after classes – when I didn’t play hooky. Home was dry, nobody was hungry, we knew where to find what we needed – and where to hide when we should.


“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”
Mother Teresa

“*Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24 (NLT)


art: “A Christmas Carol – Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball” by John Leech – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Christmas_Carol_-_Mr._Fezziwig%27s_Ball.jpg#



Filed under The World According to Roo

Life On A Need To See Basis: I’m Emily Litella’s Kid Sister!

I enjoyed exceptionally good vision most of my life. I could clearly see things both up close and at great distances that most people only imagined. Those that spent any time with me quickly understood I had Superman vision – without that x-ray thing.

Perhaps that’s yet another aspect of how I find the aging process so entertaining. Honestly, while failing vision disturbs some, and others have lavish budgets (or excellent private insurance) that pay for corrective surgery, this humble starving artist gets through the present with humor.

Today for example was my one and only foray outside the walls of our home for the week. To most readers that sounds a little sad and unimaginable to some, but this is me today. I was so happy about getting out and about I somehow forgot to take eyeglasses with me. Granted, I have backup readers tucked away in my purse – too much to dig out when I can get some kind stranger nearby to read small print for me – yeah, I go there.

So, driving northbound on 380 I noticed the electronic marquee over the HOV lane, advising drivers that use of the HOV lane will cost $8.25. My first thought was “That seems exorbitant,” followed by, “Mercy, are tolls in Texas that expensive?” And finally, “I wonder if there’s a ceiling on tolls.”

Before I could bring the subject up with Roan, who was driving (in her usual, get-outta-my-way-so-I-get-there-without-bloodshed style), we were close enough for me to see the sign correctly, and discover it actually read HOV Lane $3.25. I laughed out loud. Roan asked, “What?” My response, in true Emily Litella fashion, “Never Mind.”

Roan didn’t get it.

A little further on as traffic slowed, my heart rate quickened as I watched a hawk approaching above us. The amazing bird seemed to be holding in its talons what I imagined was prey… Then it appeared to be leather straps – hmmm… maybe it’s a domesticated hawk. Oh. It’s actually a heron. How lovely.

Classic SNL clip of Gilda Radner as Emily Litella and Chevy Chase

But I came upon my favorite illustration of this subject on the return drive home. Back on the highway, barely moving along, I noticed nice, enormous blue letters across the face of a large building proudly advertising Physicians Open Stand-Up MRI. At that point we were stuck in traffic with that particular scenery. That’s when I noticed what looked like a drive-through alongside the building. I’ll admit it, one of my many next thoughts was how technology has advanced! Imagine taking an MRI in a drive through!

Of course I took a photo.

MRI Drivethru

Only now that I see it was actually private, covered employee parking, I confess that I couldn’t get my head around the idea of a drive thru MRI. Not really!

So now I’m home, the groceries put away, I’m considering what to post about today. But instead I can’t help but wonder if my grandparents appreciated Gilda Radner’s Emily as much as I continue to do, or if they took more of a Jane Curtin response to her. I think I’m in good shape since I still clearly envision them all today!

I love you forever, Gilda!

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Filed under Notes from the Apex