Fang Challenged? Don't Let Fang Envy Stop You

Grow Your Own Pair . . . 

 . . . of Fangs, I mean.

It’s come to my attention that the term “Fang up!” is causing consternation.

i'M TOO SHY TO SHOW MY FANGS! And I've never been to a neighborhood library...

i'M TOO SHY TO SHOW MY FANGS! And I've never been to a neighborhood library...

LOTS OF FOLKS, it seems, are all excited about the Vampire Baby Free Books Giveaway. They are thrilled to share it, tweet it, like it on Facebook, but they can’t bring themselves to ENTER IT . . . 

Seems, along with all the other issues plaguing us, we’re having major FANG Trouble.  

The trouble with Fangs is:

Some don’t have fangs, as in there seems to be a flat out fang shortage.

Others have fangs, but . . . not Fangs long or sharp enough to mention.

Others are worried about what folks might say if they do flash their fangs and Vampire Up!   

Phooey I say! There are FREE books waiting to be scooped up! 40 hardback, full-color picture books, retail price about $16.95 + +  including, Dance, Y’all, Dance, One Day I Went Rambling, Your Daddy Was Just Like You!, Your Mommy Was Just Like You!, Dad & Pop. & Not Norman

And, of course, Vampire Baby

illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press)

illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press)

Don’t let Fang issues keep you from playing.

Or, as Will Shakespeare so would have said, had he written 13th Night as planned:

Some are born fanged, some achieve fangs, and some have fangs thrust upon them.
— Will Shakespeare so would have said it—if he’d been writing 13th Night

In the interest of fairness I’d like to level the contest-playing field by offering several solutions to this FANG Trouble. Facts first, Joe Friday:

SOME ARE BORN FANGED:

I have it on GOOD AUTHORITY: Baby teeth appear in any order (so don't be scared . . . ). Most times a baby’s bottom two front teeth appear first. Sometimes, it’s the top two incisors. Rarely, molars break through first. And occasionally, a baby sprouts FANGS!

Tootie used to be a cuddly ga-ga-goo-goo I want my bah-bah baby. Then one night . . . 

Tootie used to be a cuddly ga-ga-goo-goo I want my bah-bah baby. Then one night . . . 

Image borrowed from Internet (click photo for link)

Image borrowed from Internet (click photo for link)

That’s human babies! Other species are a whole different, er . . .  animal. 

Hedgehog Vampires are rare but creapy!

Hedgehog Vampires are rare but creapy!

 

 

 

 

SOME ACHIEVE FANGS:

“If you can find a dentist who'll do it, you can have your front teeth shortened and your canines filed.

"File incisors to a point and file down your other front teeth so the fangs will be more prominent."

Yank Your Incisors: Definitely NOT recommended but…
— http://www.vampires.com/want-real-fangs-ask-your-dentist/
Vampire Bat's native to South American Rainforest

Vampire Bat's native to South American Rainforest

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a less permanent alternative, Buy Fangs: 

You'll find all types and prices of Fangs to buy.

You'll find all types and prices of Fangs to buy.


Vampire Fangs come in many styles and price ranges, from long lasting to edible. And for all things Vampire, click over to WWW.VAMPIRE.COM


Buying Fangs is one thing, Putting them on might be a tad bit harder. Here's a How-to Video

DYI: Make Your Own Fangs: 

and more often than one might suppose . . .  or not . . . 

SOME HAVE FANGS THRUST UPON THEM:

What is it? You too shy, too cool, too whatever to Fang up. I totally get it. That needn't stop you from entering the Vampire Baby Free Books Giveaway.

Laugh now....If you Dare. But just wait until I win all those groovy picture books. We'll see who's laughing then . . . 

Laugh now....If you Dare. But just wait until I win all those groovy picture books. We'll see who's laughing then . . . 

Nobody ever said it had to be you.

Grab all the babies, pets, and the old ladies, and make--let--help them Fang Up!

Tripp Vampire Baby.JPG
What are you waiting for? Click on this picture and use the Vampire Baby DYi Fangs--There are a variety of styles to choose

What are you waiting for? Click on this picture and use the Vampire Baby DYi Fangs--There are a variety of styles to choose

 

 

 

Time's Running Out!

Only 10 more days to enter the Vampire Baby Book Give-Away. Winners will be announced at Midnight November 1st, Just after the last stoke of Halloween. 

Enter Now!

Enter Later!

There's not limit to how many times you can enter. Need not be present to win. 

Don't let Lack-o-Fangs Stop You: Vampire Up! 

Wanna keep in touch? Click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

Back to A Future

I was my mom’s date at the Class of '54 Reunion recently.  Any of you who dip into My Fishbowl regularly know being able to write that is INCREDIBLE! (This time last year, we were ready to call in Hospice—yes, that scary bad.) So of course, when Mom called to tell me she’d received the reunion invitation, I said “Yes!” If she could go, I would take her.

Not only did she/we go, but Mom, who not long ago couldn't walk 3 steps without resting—or falling—walked herself into the luncheon. Her girlhood friends, a table full who’d grown up together—friends from 4 years old—were waiting to greet “Mary Ellen!!!

Truth is, I was looking forward to the weekend—for Mom. It was her 60 years since High School graduation? Six-O??

 The movie Cocoon sprang instantly to mind.  You know, the opening scene? With all the oldsters from the nursing home fading like milky mashed potatoes?

I didn't enjoy Cocoon the first time, I definitely didn’t want to spend a weekend living it.

I didn't enjoy Cocoon the first time, I definitely didn’t want to spend a weekend living it.

I know that sounds unkind, but . . . Truth is, my mom is one of the most vibrant people at her assisted living and she doesn't interact much. I'm sure others living there have fascinating stories to tell—if they could/would tell them.  But many can't hear and beyond "hello," don't seem to have much to say.  This one's for you Mom, I told myself.

As soon as we arrived, my mom’s BFF, June, pulled me over to introduce a “former beau” of my mother's, Tommy. “Your Grandfather scared the hell out of me once,” Tommy blurted out. 

Poppy must not have scared him too badly, Tommy still has his hair . . .

Poppy must not have scared him too badly, Tommy still has his hair . . .

Tommy recalled how he brought mom home a few minutes late from a date one night and my grandfather charged out of the house hollering at the top of his lungs.

I knew—everyone knew—how strict my grandfather had been.

I asked Tommy. "So, what did you do when you saw Poppy charging the car? 

What do you think . . . Put it in reverse and got the hell out of there!

That, and other stories like it, were for me, Class of '54 reunion highlights—who doesn't love imagining their parents as naughty kids? But this wasn't about me.  This was an occasion for Mom and her classmates to play a game of  “Remember when?”  and "What ever happened to?" Great fun for them trying to remember. For me? Come now . . . (Insert huge sigh.)

I tried sneaking out my phone so I could disappear into Facebook, but Mom caught me and gave me “THE LOOK” (How old must we be before we can ignore “THE LOOK”?)

What saved me from diving headfirst was a photo display and Class of ‘54 memorabilia. As luck had it, one of mom’s classmates volunteered at the Pajaro Valley Historical AssociationThe display included the beloved Coach’s bronzed hat, one student’s class notes, sports uniforms, etc. Leather football helmets. Personal aside: while I was reading the notes, one of my mom's classmates came up to me, peered intently at my chest-badge, then said, "You look familiar, who were you?" Just what I needed to hear. (Note: more wrinkle cream...facelift?)

During introductions, someone mentioned how for him watching Happy Days was like reliving high school.

(I wondered which character he fancied himself: the Fonz? Richie Cunningham? (Mom, & her friends: June, Marcia, Betty, Carolyn, Gracie were way too cool to be LaVern or Shirley, weren't they?)

The memorabilia display better than visiting the Happy Days set.

The memorabilia display better than visiting the Happy Days set.

Was I looking forward to Sunday brunch? For Mom, sure. For me, ah . . . yes and No. 

If I ask mom a question. About anything, anytime. She claims not to remember and snaps: "Don't ask me!" I couldn’t see how, after the long Saturday lunch, she, or anyone really,  would find more to talk about.

Then it happened.

Maybe it was the rare Watsonville drizzle, Dana, the brunch hostess's zen backyard, the carrot cake, or some elixir in the mimosas and coffee. . . . 

Before my eyes, in the same way Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and the rest of the oldsters in Cocoon were youth-enized, Mom and her classmates came back to the present and gave me hope for the future in a  League of Their Own way.

Rosie O'Donnell told Alec Baldwin she got the part because she knew how to play baseball. 

Rosie O'Donnell told Alec Baldwin she got the part because she knew how to play baseball. 

Joyce Hill Westerman, one of the real Ballplayers. Read more on her!

Joyce Hill Westerman, one of the real Ballplayers. Read more on her!

You know the part at the end of League of Their Own where the former members of the Woman’s Professional Baseball League gather at the Baseball Hall of Fame to celebrate the opening of their exhibit?

How as the women begin recognizing each other, swapping stories, rediscovering their younger selves, the years seem to roll back until, by the end they’re hollering “Play Ball!”

That same magic happened at the Sunday Class of '54 Reunion brunch as “way back when” morphed into “present day."

Having reminded themselves and each other who they’d been, Mom’s friends began sharing their who we are NOW selves: Vibrant, interested, active in the community, volunteering at food banks and shelters, rabid football fans, jokesters, gardeners, grandmothers, greats. . . 

As much as they were Mom’s friends, they could have been mine. I wanted them to be mine.

While I listened, and laughed, I thought of myself and my friends, my classmates, my writing buds:  Some of them young—young enough to be my daughter, young; Some my age; Others of them old—old enough to have played, smoked straws on the roof, ogled boys, gone to grammar-high school-this reunion with Mom, old. Future me, old.

Rather than making me feel sad, it gave me hope. OLD ISN’T MANDATORY!

I could become like them. This is my time. But, tomorrow can be—will be—my time too, with all the possibilities!

At the end of the weekend, everyone bid farewell, calling “See you next time!” Me as loudly as the rest. 

Back to the Future Playlist :

Thanks for reading! 

Wanna keep in touch? Click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

Ban It. Pan It. But Don’t Ignore It.

As we wave farewell to Banned Book Week 2014,  and move into October--the season of the most widely banned holiday of them all, HALLOWEEN,

 I’d like to share what sounds like the start of a joke: I was sitting in the Candlewick Press booth one day when 2 librarians walked up . . .

Not These Two--Children's Librarians! (Who Knew there was a TV Series?)

Not These Two--Children's Librarians! (Who Knew there was a TV Series?)

I smiled cheerily, and Vanna White-ish-ly motioned toward the picture book on display. 

“This is my newest book,” I gushed, “Isn’t it adorable!”

"Would you like to take a look at it?"

 “Feel free to take a few NO BITE pins,” I offered.

“A bookmark? Maybe a NO BITE sticker?”

 

 

 

 

The two librarians leaned in for a peek at the cover, then jumped back, shaking their heads.
No, no,” They told me.

“I’m sure it’s very nice,” one offered. “But . . . 

We don’t buy that kind of book.

The book was Vampire Baby, a picture book illustrated by Paul Meisel. The event TLA: Texas Library Association 2013 Annual Conference. 

These weren't the only librarians who hurried past and/or tisk-tisked disapprovingly at Vampire Baby. (I think a few may actually have made a special trip past the booth just so they could cast dispersion.) 

What were they afraid of? That adorable Tootie-Wootie was going to jump off the cover and bite them? That Vampirism was contagious? That children exposed to it might suddenly sprout fangs? Or maybe, horror of horrors, they might actually . . . like it???

While it sounds like a joke, it’s not a laughing matter.

Later, at the Texas Blue Bonnet Award Luncheon, after one table-mate actually squealed with delight when she learned Vampire Baby was mine!—my Rock Star Moment—I learned why Vampire Baby was shunned. That same librarian who had squealed, later apologized because while she would happily be buying copies for herself, her children, and her friends, she could not buy it for her school library. Why?

Turns out the word “Vampire” is taboo in many libraries—school and otherwise. And in school book fairs and clubs, such as Scholastic. So, rather than buying Vampire Baby, rather than reading it, rather than even looking inside, librarians at those institutions ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist. Sound familiar?

It took me back to a long ago Fourth of July Weekend when after sharing a jolly holiday with friends at a cabin they had rented on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, we decided to book ourselves a cabin for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. The proprietress happily passed me a registration for to fill out, read as far as my name, then smiled politely as she declined my booking, saying “I’m sure you are very nice people, but you are not our kind of people.”  

Ironic, isn't it, that time of “Inclusivity” and “Celebrating Diversity” Vampire Baby, a teething story, a sibling story, a story of a brother learning to accept his sister’s “differences” and ultimately embrace and defend her, fangs and all, rather than being embraced or challenged,  is ignored.

Frankly, I don’t blame them.  If I were a children’s librarian, I’d probably do the same thing. (Although I’d like to think I wouldn't.) As delightful as Vampire Baby is—and it sooooo is—if  I knew adding it to my library’s picture book collection guaranteed me having to defend it, fill out more paperwork, perhaps pull it from the shelves anyway, I probably wouldn't buy it either. (The tots won’t know the difference. . . ) So much easier to ignore it and hope it goes away…

I wouldn’t be alone in this thinking, it seems. In a Google search of “Banned Picture Books,” the last picture book listed is And Tango Makes Three, published in 2005! 

Does this mean the last offensive to some faction picture book published was 9 years ago????

Of course you can't compare Vampire Baby to And Tango Makes Three . . . 

Of course you can't compare Vampire Baby to And Tango Makes Three . . . 


 . . . Not until you've read IT!

 . . . Not until you've read IT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to Banned Books! And Banning Books!. Being banned is so much better than being ignored.

Do me a favor: Ban it if you must. Pan it if you will. But, first, READ IT! (Or at least listen.)

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the Link to VAMPIRE BABY Author Read-Aloud

If you decide it's offensive, go ahead, BAN IT!  (I double-dog dare you...)

If you decide it’s worthwhile, and you’d like a chance to WIN FREE BOOKS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR LIBRARY, enter the I Vant My Vampire Baby Contest. HERE’S HOW!

The views expressed here are strictly mine. The do not reflect those of Candlewick Press, Paul Meisel, Scholastic Bookfairs or Vampires other than Tootie.

Big Wheel Keeps on Turning

Big wheel keeps on turning, churning up snippets so long forgotten they might not be rightfully considered mine anymore. (Reading over that line, I'm feeling a little too much like Miss Daisy...better get some of that there "blueing shampoo." 

A name, in author and VCFA faculty advisor, Sharon Darrow's Write at Your Own Risk post, "The Imagination Has Its Orders," prompted the stop and pried the cage open this go round. Bonnie Riedinger, not even the correct name--off by one letter--but close enough. Yep, like horseshoes and hand grenades, memory works that way. 

Halloween, Junior Year, my BF Valerie is Alice. Get what that leaves me? We were having too much fun to graduate!

Halloween, Junior Year, my BF Valerie is Alice. Get what that leaves me? We were having too much fun to graduate!

My senior year of high school, I only had to take two required classes, Government and Senior English. I didn't need to take either really, could actually have graduated early, but why? I had a good paying job--school hours only, weekends and holidays off--in the Career Guidance Center, (I would have had to quit if I graduated.) My friends were all still in school. I wasn't ready to be big.

Instead, I padded my schedule with Volleyball P.E. with a plan to slide through my senior year.

A certain Huntington Beach High School English teacher named Mrs. Riedlinger (note the "l") was my is responsible for turning my slider into a home run. 

People ask why I became a writer.  It took reading that one-letter-wrong name all these years later for me to come up with an answer: Mrs. Riedlinger.  I doubt she'd remember me (even a year later.)  I wasn't that kind of student. But Mrs. Riedlinger was that kind of teacher.

Going round and round and round in the circle game. . .
— Joni Mitchell

Here's what I remember from Mrs. Riedlinger's class: We read the Odyssey AND Travels with Charlie. She taught poetry, by way of the classics--AND Dylan AND Elton AND Mick. Unheard of! (This was 1975-76, back before the age of reason.)

She assigned 10 SAT words a week. "Define them and use them each in a sentence."  

That name stopped me. I Googled my teacher and 2 yearbook pages popped up. Judith Riedlinger,  teaching at HBHS in 1971-1985.

That name stopped me. I Googled my teacher and 2 yearbook pages popped up. Judith Riedlinger,  teaching at HBHS in 1971-1985.

I raised my hand. "Do we have to write one sentence each?" I asked. "Or can we use more than one word in a sentence."

(The smart girl in the class, Deirdre, who by the end was my friend and still is, thought up the question. She was a sophomore who'd already skipped a grade or two, and unlike me, had every intention of graduating early.)

"Use as many as you like per sentence. Use them all in one sentence if you can. But," Mrs. Riedlinger challenged. "If you want it to count, it had better be a proper sentence."

Each week of that semester Deirdre and I went for it. Doing so took much more time, no doubt, but we managed to cut our sentence production. And at least once we succeeded in correctly using all 10 of that week's words in one sentence. If memory serves, two of those were sagacious and parsimonious

My story, of a passionate teacher changing a student's life, isn't unique. Still, it's lovely to know it happens--can still happen--especially as this brand new school year begins. Here's hoping our students connect with their Mrs. Riedlinger!

To keep the feel good going, here are my top 5 Favorite Teachers in Movies: 

  1. Danny Divito as Bill Rago in Renaissance Man
  2. Sidney Poitier as Mr. Thackeray in To Sir With Love 
  3. Michael Cane and Julie Waters in Educating Rita (not sure who's the teacher?)
  4. Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society
  5. Peter O’Toole as Mr. Chipping in Goodbye Mr. Chips 

If that's not enough, here's a list of MORE inspiring Teacher/Student Movies.

This blog's playlist: 

--Thanks for reading! 

Click on SUBSCRIBE if you'd like to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

 

 

Why? Why Did You Do This to Me?

To kickstart the I VANT MY VAMPIRE BABY GIVEAWAY I'm posting this unauthorized interview by Vampire Baby's victim/brother:

Here's what I want to know: Of all the baby sisters in the world, why did mine have to be a vampire baby? WHY? Tell the truth, Kelly Bennett aka Ms. Bigshot Author: are you vampire crazy? Or did you turn Tootie into a vampire baby just so you could cash in on the vampire craze?

KB: Of course! I totally wanted to cash in on the vampire craze! (And rake in Armored truck loads of cash)...Who wouldn't? BTW: I'm still waiting....

Who knows: I could go Vampire--I have the fangs for it!

Who knows: I could go Vampire--I have the fangs for it!

As for vampire crazy: Maybe I would be a vampirepheliac. (I do love writing that word), if I could. But, there's one teeny problem with me going vampire: I have fainted at the sight of blood.

To be fair, it was my son Max's blood. He cut himself picking a piece of glass out of the grass. (Caution: don't play with glass.) Hey! At least I waited until the doctor was finished sewing the top of Max's thumb back in place before my eyes rolled. I remember saying, “I'm going….” The next thing I knew I was on the emergency room floor with my feet propped up on a chair and everyone staring down at me. That's not to say I might not turn vampire . . . I do have fangs.

VBB: Now that's SCARY! So, where did you get the idea for Vampire Baby?

KB: The title came first. It sprang from a workshop at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). Cynthia Leitich Smith was one of our workshop leaders. Her Tantalize series was hot, so she was the VCFA resident expert on all things Vampire. Someone in the group suggested that certain topics were off limits in picture books. Cynthia and I jumped on that foolish notion. 

“Such as?” we asked. That wonderfully-misinformed person looked at Cynthia and said, “What about, well . . . vampires.” And just like that (insert finger snap) I blurted out, “Vampire Baby!”

VBB: How long did it take you to write the story?

KB: About two years and 12 revisions.

VBB: Two years! But it doesn't have very many words? You must be a really slow writer. Why so long?

KB: The title, Vampire Baby, floated around in my head like a guilty secret, stirring and swirling, popping up every so often to remind me it was there for quite a while. But that's all it was, a title. I didn't have a story to go with it.

VBB: What were you waiting for?

KB: YOU! I had to figure out who I was writing about, and who I was writing for. The answer to both was you: an eight-year-old boy with sibling trouble.

VBB: So you invented Too-too-Tootie...

KB: Exactly! I was actually gathering material for a non-fiction book about teeth. A friend shared that unlike most babies, whose bottom teeth come in first, her canine teeth had come in first. That's when the story idea hit me.

VBB: Don't you mean “bit” me? Ha-ha! Canine means “dog.” Why couldn't Tootie have been a dog instead of a sister?

KB:You already have a dog. As I was saying... I actually wrote Vampire Baby with three people in mind: my Candlewick editor, Sarah, because she busted out laugh-snorting when she heard the title; my nephew, Devin; and his little sister, Grace, who has the best giggle.

VBB: How did you come up with the silly name, Tootie, anyway?

KB: It's from the movie Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland. The littlest sister, played by Margaret O'Brien, was named Tootie. That name always made me laugh, and so it seemed perfect because you wouldn't expect a dangerous vampire baby to be named Tootie.

VBB: I still don't get it. Having a baby sister is tough enough. Why turn Tootie into a biter?

Ooops! Did I do that????

Ooops! Did I do that????

KB: Confession Time: some babies hit, some kick, some scream, some bite. To hear my family tell it, I did all of them! In my defense, they were all bigger and stronger and knew more words than I did. So I did what I had to do to get my point across. Biters are misunderstood: we're not bad, but we can be dangerous... And that's all the time we have. If I'm going to write more stories, I'd better get busy.

VBB: Wait! Just one more question, please? What's my name?

KB: That's for me to know and for you to find out in what I hope is the next adventure ofVampire Baby!

VBB: Thanks, Kelly... Uh oh! Here she comes...  

Youch Tootie! No Bite!

Riding a Bike? or Yoga Schmoga!

You know that saying about riding a bicycle? How, once you know how to ride a bicycle, you’ll always be able to ride a bicycle. Folks—friends—say it to reassure us that whatever IT is we used to be able to do (FILL IN THE BLANK) we'll still be able to do at some undetermined future date. 

It’s a nice thought. In the same way Harold Hill’s If-you-think-you-can-you-can “Think System,” is an sure-fire way method for learning to play a flooglehorn. 

How to play a flooglehorn: Step 1, Think middle C; Step 2, push down key and blow. It's that easy!

How to play a flooglehorn: Step 1, Think middle C; Step 2, push down key and blow. It's that easy!

Much as I—we?—wish it were, life isn’t a musical. 

Remembering how to do something, even something we used to be able to do well, does not mean we can do it now.

It could, in fact, make it worse:  Having ridden a bicycle before, also means we know how tough it was to learn to ride in the first place.

And what about those falls we took? We fell then, we can fall now, harder.

The knowledge can make:

  • The thought of doing something you haven’t done in a while scary.
  • The thought of doing something you haven’t done badly in a long time, even scarier.
  • The thought of trying to do something you used to be able to do and failing now, scarier still.
Out of fear, we put off, avoid, resist trying to do IT again.

Last week, that rusty bicycle I tried getting back on is called Yoga.

This is YOGA!

This is YOGA!

After more than 2 months absence, I had planned to start back the week before. (Honest!) But, the yoga studio was closed for summer holidays. I feigned disappointment, while muffling relief:

It’s not my fault, I told my aching back.

I was up for it, I told my creaking joints.

Then, last Tuesday morning, the first day the Yoga studio was open, as I was taking Curtis to work so I could have the car and drive to yoga, I told myself, I really should stay home today; it’s not as if I haven’t been exercising; I've been walking and take the stairs; I’ll walk tonight; it’s a short week anyway; I’ll start yoga next week. . .

I had myself nearly convinced, then Curtis asked, “What time is yoga?”

Mistake #1: I told him about my plan.

Mistake #2: I went to Yoga!

This was a mistake! is definitely what I thought when it turned out I was the only student who turned up. It was just me and the instructor.

No one to hide behind. Nothing between me and that huge mirror. No one to follow.

You expect me to be able to do what????

You expect me to be able to do what????

The worst part was waiting for class to begin.

To make it worse, while I waited, my eyes wandered to the Astanga Yoga Chart on the wall.

I might have feigned a tummy attack and left. But I was afraid, with me being the only student there, Katherine might follow just to be sure I was all right. (My yoga instructors, Katherine and Erica, are that nice and caring.)

This is not! Okay, so maybe I forgot a few things . . .   

This is not! Okay, so maybe I forgot a few things . . . 

 

Then it went from bad to better: Going back to Yoga felt like going back to school. New but familiar.

Sure, there was a lot I didn’t know and some stuff I’d forgotten over the holiday.

But that was to be expected, wasn't it?

Then it got bad again.

 

You know that bicycle thing? It’s all about the rider. No one mentions the bike.

When they talk about it being easy as riding a bicyicle, no one ever talks about the bike . . . 

When they talk about it being easy as riding a bicyicle, no one ever talks about the bike . . . 

If the bike is new, jumping on a riding away might be a possibility. But . . . 

 If the bike is old, the chain’s rusted, the tires flat and worse for wear, it’s a whole different story . . .  I’ll leave it at that.

Enough said . . . 

Enough said . . . 

Then it got really bad:

Once I limbered up a little and ground off some of the rust so I didn't have to worry about IF I could move, I began to worry about how I looked doing the moves. When I looked, I judged, then came disgust, then revulsion, then collapse—literally! Concentration lost, focus gone, I wobbled.

Then, I quit.

Not yoga. I quit trying to be MORE and accepted what I was. I let myself be a beginner again.

Following the advice my British choir director gave just after threatening to give me the boot: “Just sing the notes. That’s all I ask, just sing the notes.” Or in this case: Assume the position as best I could. It is called practicing yoga, so I did. I practiced.

And day two, I returned for a second class. And you know what?  

I was the only person in class again. I was still rusty. And it wasn’t easier.

But, I was easier on myself. Instead of worrying about what I couldn’t,  I did what I could. Until, about 1/3 of the way through the class, when Erica told me to move my hand farther around my back into an even tighter pretzel, I tipped my head back and howled:

“Mimi! Julia! Pablo-Paco! Help! Save me!”

And we laughed, which must have dislodged some of the rougher bits of rust because after that class was: not prettier, but better, enjoyable even . . .  in a Mr. Beanish painful to watch way.  And while I didn't relearn all-most-many moves on the Yoga chart. I learned this:

There are tricks to getting back on the bicycle (whatever that bicycle might be). Maybe they’ll work for you, too:

  • Tell someone your plan: It makes it harder to back out
  • Set a timer: Set the time for the minimum allowable time. For example, one 50-minute yoga class; 15 minutes of writing. If you do more, great.
  • Look ahead not back: Don’t think about what used to be or what you used to be. Start from now, ground zero, and go forward.  
  • Fake it till you make it:  My mother always said “Give it three days!” That magic 3. She maintains it takes 3 days/times to break or make a habit. Three may not be enough, but the point’s the same, give it time.
  • Be nice to yourself: Laugh. Holler if you want. You showed up! 

In case you want to sing along, here's The Post Playlist:

I couldn’t resist sharing some bicycle quotes for motivation. (No I didn't google motivational quotes for yoga; yoga is all you need!)

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
— Albert Einstein (It’s said, he thought of the Theory of Relativity while riding a bicycle)
It never gets easier, you just go faster.
— Greg LeMond
What do you call a cyclist who doesn’t wear a helmet? An organ donor.
— David Perry
Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.
— H.G. Wells
In down times I do things like go for a long bike ride or run. The other thing I’m doing in that quiet time is just observing
— Robin Williams

These quotes and more can be found here: 

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Granny's Plea: Help Me Off This Bench!

With Grandparent’s Day this coming Sunday, I’m taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t. So far, there's not much on the credit side. 

Whooooooooa there! Hold your retort! That observation has absolutely not one thing to do with my grandboy, Ben.

Ben peeping out  his birthday teepee from Great Grandmadele

Ben peeping out  his birthday teepee from Great Grandmadele

Why, just thinking of him makes me bust out singing: My boy, Ben, he’ll be tough and as tall as a tree, will he! Ben’s truly . . . well, GRAND!

The deficit is mine. And Grandparent’s Day—curse those Holiday Maker-uppers—has me keenly aware of what’s wrong. 

When it comes to the whole Granny-Mimi-Nanny-Magah-Oma-Nana-Gigi-Grandmother thing, I’m a Rookie, fledging, novice, newbie, minor-leaguer—definitely lacking in credit and credibility. Especially when compared to friends like Marty with 6 grans (two under 6 months) and 13 years practice; Beverly (whose granny name is Grandmother, as in Would you care to dance. . . ) she's clocked about 8 years experience with both kinds of gran; Marcia, with 3 grands she sees all the time even though they live hours away, and Mimi (not her granny name), with 4 grands—2 sets of each same kind, same age. 

Mimi and Brian with their 4 grans sang in Mimi's Milestone Birthday Aug. 11th.

Mimi and Brian with their 4 grans sang in Mimi's Milestone Birthday Aug. 11th.

Numbers-wise (Not that being a grandmother is a competitive sport or that I’m comparing….), my sis-in-law, Liz (aka Oma) with 2 grangirls, isn’t far ahead of me. Soon (come the end of the year), I’ll have 2 granboys of my own.

Liz with her newest gran, Felicity, born July 19th, 2014

Liz with her newest gran, Felicity, born July 19th, 2014

But, in terms of  time on the field, in the trenches--Play Time--Liz, and my other gran-friends are days-years-diapers-hugs-highlights beyond me. Real Pros!  

The other night, coming out of the movie theater, Curtis and I met up with another expat couple we hadn't seen for months, Graham and Kerri. Most every expat in Trinidad vanishes over the summer, so come September, there’s lots of catching up to do. During our catch-up, Kerri, asked, “Have you adjusted to being a grandmother, yet?” then leaned over and whispered, "I know how worried about it you were.”

Worried, me? You bet! 

Now, with another grandboy from different parents in a different state, coming soon, make that Gran worryx2!*

Like a 47th round draft pick, I had been stressing over being a grandmother. Still am. Not because I wasn't ready to be one, but because I know great grandparents. And being a great Gran takes commitment, practice, effort, time

My grandmother, Nanny, at my baby shower for Max, July 81. I'm sorry to day I don't have any pictures of my grandfather

My grandmother, Nanny, at my baby shower for Max, July 81. I'm sorry to day I don't have any pictures of my grandfather

 I only had one set of grandparents, my mother’s parents, Nanny & Poppy, who took the job seriously! The time—play and otherwise—they lavished on me and my brother, is the reason we are the adults & parents we are today. (BTW: Wholly deserving of their own holiday.)  

However, Nanny & Poppy lived close, in the same house, or a few blocks over for our early years, a day away after that. about 2000 miles, oceans, borders, schedules lie between me and my gran. I can't just pop over for a quick visit, recital, ball game, etc. the way my grandparents did. 

Is it any wonder I worry? How are me and my grandbabies supposed to bond with all that's keeping us apart? 

What’s my Grandparent Wish? That one day, after my grandson stops trying to eat the phone, he’ll pick it up and say, ‘I’m telling Grandma on you,’ the way my kids did.
Grandma Lee never lived close by, but that never kept her from being close to Lexi & Max. This is in Phoenix 1985

Grandma Lee never lived close by, but that never kept her from being close to Lexi & Max. This is in Phoenix 1985

When Gran worries hit hardest, as they have with Grandparent's Day--the annual time for Gran self-appraisal--looming, I calm myself by thinking of these Gran-friends, Mom and my 2 mothers-in-law.  They never let distance or technological difficulties come between them and their grans. 

Grandma Lee called herself "The Coat Grandmother" because she always gave coats for Hanukkah. She could write with either hand, backwards, forwards and both at the same time. 

 

Gramadele used to live in Texas. Now she divides her time between there and Montana. She's up for anything!

Gramadele used to live in Texas. Now she divides her time between there and Montana. She's up for anything!

Gramadele is "the Birder Grandmother". Sort of the Auntie Mame of the bunch, always going off on adventures, and laughing about them later. 

Having come into the Max and Lexi Gran game when they were 8 & 10, she's proof that starting late doesn't matter. What really counts with grans is heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Disneyland adventure with Grandma Mary, Max, Lexi and their Wonka pops collapsed in a heap.

Post Disneyland adventure with Grandma Mary, Max, Lexi and their Wonka pops collapsed in a heap.

My mom, Grandma Mary, was "the Toy Grandmother." Infamous among friends, known for huge sunglasses and a passion for chocolate!

When the kids were small, she never failed to send goody boxes of decorations & treats on holidays. And every school holiday and summer break, she'd send herself to visit us. 

She and Nanny invented what our Watsonville neighbor, Donna (now a Gran to 2--both kinds), called the "30 mile vacation." We'd load up the car for a road trip, 1st stop might not get us out of town, drive over the pass, pull in at the first hotel with a pool (often Anderson's Pea Soup), stay a few nights, then return home. Total trip: 30 miles, tops.

 

Grandparent's Day is Sunday.  In honor of the holiday, I'm getting off this bench and into the Grandparent game. I aim to score some big league Granny-to-Gran bonding time. I've started a HOW TO BE A GREAT GRAN list. Suggestions please: 

How can we long-distance Grandparents get in more Gran-to-Grand Play Time?

                                      Let's hear it for Grands!

*How do grans with more than 2 children in different places, do it? (I've asked Marty, just back from the birth of her sixth, but she's too jet lagged to answer.) 

Here’s this blog’s playlist:

 

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One Candle, My Ferris Wheel, a Potato

Marvelous the way memory works. I think of mine like a Ferris Wheel*. When the music starts, the squeaky wheel spins for a while, slows to a stop, the door on the little cage closest to the ground swings open to let someone--or some memory--out, the door closes, the wheel starts spinning, that cage swings up out of reach, another cage swings to a stop.

I know what's in the cages on either side. I can almost reach them . . . almost

As for those cages way up at the top? If I squint hard, I can see them. But danged if I know what's in them . . . 

A book review of Eve Bunting's One Candle, on Lori Norman's writer blog: StoryQuill conjured a cage that must have been so far up on my Ferris Wheel it was lost in the clouds. It's out of season. Random, totally. But, that's how my wheel rolls: 

The door swung open to a long ago Christmas Eve when in a panic, I pulled off the highway to call Ronnie because I'd forgotten the menorah.

I'd called from a gas station pay phone because we didn't' have cell phone back then. Rosie (as we called Lexi back then) and Max (ever Max) were especially excited because that year Hanukkah and Christmas Eve were on the same day, so we NEEDED a menorah!

With the last name of Goldman, everyone but the few acquainted with the prominent "Catholic Goldmans" of Tulsa, assumed we were Jewish, and I, a non-practicing anything, with two half-Jewish as possible--considering the Jewish half was not their mother's half--children was committed to upholding all traditions. Fortunately, my dear friend and writing partner, Ronnie, a full-blood Jewess and, as it happens the first women in Oklahoma to have a Bat Mitzvah.

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

"You can use a potato!" Ronnie told me. She went on to explain how during the Holocaust, because Jews were not allowed to keep traditions, were, in truth, imprisoned or killed if any religious accouterments were discovered in their possession, they improvised: thus the Dreidel game, a secret way to study the Torah; the common potato, a secret menorah.

We stopped at a grocery story before we stopped for the night. And that night and for the following seven nights, light our potato menorah, said prayers, and opened gifts. 

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

In One Candle, Eve Bunting shares another grandmother's potato menorah story. Hers wasn't a Piggly-Wiggly supermarket russet, hers was stolen from a Buchenwald prison kitchen. Here's a snippet of the review:

With a little stolen butter and a thread from Rose’s skirt placed in a hollow she’d carved out of the potato, and with a stolen match, they made a candle in their barracks on the first night of Hanukkah. ‘It lifted us to the stars,’Grandma says.
— http://storyquill.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/one-candle-a-review/

Up up up to the stars . . . And on the way, nudged my Ferris Wheel. The power of words: it takes so few to coax down a distant cage. 

*Wait! Before the music plays and the wheel spins again: Be sure to check out Dani Sneed's book, THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE FERRIS WHEEL. about George Ferris and his World's Fair Wonder! You and every kid you know will be glad you did.

 

 

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