Saturday, July 26, 2008

My mother, and her hair styles, through the years

I talked with Jerilyn last Tuesday after she visited my mom, and she said she'd spent about 90 minutes with her. They had a good conversation, including my mom asking why she's getting hospice services, and Jerilyn saying that my mom had really been declining earlier in the year, so she had needed the extra care. (I haven't heard anything official yet about ending her hospice services, so I think we're status quo for at least a couple more weeks.) My mom told Jerilyn, it wasn't that she had wanted to die, she just didn't really want to live; she'd felt apathetic about life. Jerilyn told me that, medically, there's not much going on with her, and she was doing all right cognitively as well, asking about a few topics they'd touched on two weeks before, during Jerilyn's last visit (prior to a week's vacation). So, she's still holding steady.

Jerilyn also asked me if I had any pictures of my mom when she was younger, and at various stages through her life. She said she was really curious to see what my mom had looked like when she was younger, but also on a more practical level, some new pictures would give them some new things to talk about, because "we've pretty much talked out" the half dozen or so photos she has displayed now. She and my mom had agreed that "Marie probably has a lot of the old pictures," and I assured her that I did. I told Jerilyn that after my dad died, I'd worked around some of the junk (and the roaches) in the old apartment, specifically looking for things like photo albums and my dad's high school yearbook - the things that could never be replaced if they were lost or ruined - and I'd packed them up and had them shipped to Kansas a while later. (My brother did most of the work in the old apartment, I'll give him that. My time was very limited, so I just focused on finding and getting out what I wanted to keep, while he had to do most of the disposal.) I promised Jerilyn I'd get some photos together and send them to my mom as soon as I could.

As I looked through some of the old photo albums this past Friday (Jeff and I took Friday and today off from work, because Saturday was Ryan's birthday), I marveled at how creative my mom used to be with her hair. I only remember her having long straight hair when I was young, and then late in my elementary school years, or during my time in middle school, she started getting it cut more regularly, and never had it that long again. (I can still hear her saying, "I said I wouldn't cut my hair until the end of the Vietnam War. I didn't know it would last that long.") And, I remember seeing curlers in our apartment at some point, but I don't remember my mom using them, or doing anything to really "style" her hair, as she obviously did in her teen and young adult years.

My mom was born in August 1945, and in the first picture, she's almost three years old. Note the photos with animals - that's actually why I added that first one with the cat. I believe that my mom has always liked animals better than people, but I can't recall if she actually said that, or if it's just a feeling I've long had about her. Most or all of the black and white photos were probably taken at my grandparents' house in Norton, Massachusetts. My grandmother is better at getting dates written on photos than anyone else I've ever known, so most of the dates you see below are thanks to her record keeping.

August 14, 1948

November 4, 1959
(this is one of my favorite pictures of my mom; she was 14 years old)

July 1960

September 25, 1960

October 16, 1962 (with Cindy)

October 20, 1963

February 15, 1964

1964 - actual date (& name of cat) not known

September 11, 1964 (with "Little Kitty" - aka Scuffy)

November 24, 1965

July 4, 1967

My parents' wedding, in Attleboro, Mass., July 11, 1970:
Grandma B. (my dad's stepmother), Ma, Da, Aunt Anne (my dad's youngest sister), and Grandpa B. (my dad's father)

Date uncertain, probably 1972 or 1973: Ma, me, Da, Lee

September 3, 1979: me, Ma, Lee; at Rehoboth Fair, in Mass.

July 14, 1984: Lee, Ma, Da, me

November 17, 1984: Da and Ma (with shorter hair than July photo)

May 1995, my graduation from Smith College: Lee, me, Da, Ma

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When you gonna love you... ?

A couple of co-workers of mine spent all day today at the library annex, instead of coming back to the headquarters building in the afternoon. They were getting a lot accomplished, so figured they'd keep on the rest of the day. I was thinking about this on the way to Wal-Mart this evening, and I was - I guess "envious" is close to what I was feeling, though the thoughts spun into anger - mainly directed at myself, as usual. I was asking myself, "Why the hell can't I get anything done? Why am I never that productive? What the fuck is wrong with me anyway?"

I was able to push the mood aside - must be a good thing that Wal-Mart is less than ten minutes from our house, not much time to get riled up about stuff - and the actual shopping trip was all right, just LONG because I had to return something and stood in line at Customer Service for close to 15 minutes. I thought about getting an iced coffee from the McDonald's inside the store, before the endless wait at Customer Service, but was able to resist the temptation.

On the way home, I was listening to Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes CD, and the next song cued up was "Winter." I turned out of the parking lot onto 37th St., and had tears in my eyes before I got to the 37th and Burlingame intersection. The start of the song is about a little girl outside on a cold winter day with her dad: "I put my hand in my father's glove," she says. And the chorus just moved my heart, and I imagined my dad...not really saying the words, but that the words must certainly express what he felt for me:

When you gonna make up your mind?
When you gonna love you as much as I do?

And then the last verse:

Hair is gray and the fires are burning,
So many dreams on the shelf.
You say, "I wanted you to be proud of me."
I always wanted that myself.

My dad was proud of me, and did love me, as well as he could - and in his way, far better than I've ever loved myself. And heaven help me, I miss him so much tonight, more than in a long time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rainy Friday

Here's the video for the song "Rain" by Patty Griffin. It's the opening track on her album A Thousand Kisses, and it's incredible and simply beautiful.

It was cloudy as we were driving to work this morning, and within ten minutes after Jeff dropped me off, the rain had started. It's not too bad, but might have thunderstorms later today.

I was awake for well over an hour during the night, and started a new book, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods by Umberto Eco. I read the first chapter. Needless to say, I'm tired this morning. But, thank God it's Friday.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Coming up for air - finally - maybe

It's Monday evening. I started reading The glass castle by Jeannette Walls last Thursday evening, and was immediately hooked. I spent as much time reading over the weekend as I could, and finished the book today at the end of my lunch break. For about the last half hour, I've been reading a few websites about the book and author, including a really long interview. (Great interview, but several typos in it!) As I noted in my short post on LibraryThing (in my list of books I'm reading this year - message 36), I hardly know where to begin. I just want to tell everyone, "You've GOT to read this book!"

There's a short video of Jeannette Walls and her mom (and some of her mom's artwork) on the Simon & Schuster website. Yep, some of her mom's artwork - but it really is quite good.

I've spent too much time alone this evening and must check in with Jeff and the kids, but one last book note: my copy of The glass castle still had the receipt in it. I bought it at Hastings on October 21, 2006, along with Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro, and Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg (buy two, get one free). Having now read all three books, I've gotta say, what an excellent book day it turned out to be.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Warm day, cool ice

I used some of my free time today, during this slow and lovely holiday weekend, to search for videos on YouTube. No, those were not very productive parts of the day, but I started a list of favorites, and am now glad to share one here.

I've always enjoyed watching figure skating, but it wasn't until the 1994 Olympics that I began to follow figure skating, to watch as much as I could, and learn lots of skaters' names, histories, and programs - not as in TV programs, but as in short or long, technical or artistic. It was a big Olympics because of the Nancy Kerrigan - Tonya Harding "rivalry," and the incident at the US Championships where Nancy was whacked on the knee (and yes, Tonya was part of the plan). But by the time the competition had ended, it was Oksana Baiul, the 16-year-old orphan from Ukraine, who had won the gold medal. It was Oksana's skating, her incredible grace on the ice, like no one I'd ever seen before, that had won my heart.

This is one of the programs she skated at the Exhibition following the 1994 Olympics, though I don't think this video is of that same performance, but a bit later that year - she was still 16. The music is "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saens, part of his piece called The Carnival of the Animals. I purchased a Saint-Saens CD because I loved the music so much. I could watch Oksana skate this program every day, and never grow tired of it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My LibraryThing anniversary: ah, Book Love!

I created my LibraryThing account one year ago today, and immediately started adding books. There are now 710 books in my catalog, which is still not all the books I own. I have to confess, once I got the bulk of the literature and fiction done (most of which is in "the red room" in the basement), I haven't been as ambitious. Most of what I've added in about the last three months are the new books - I HAVE been pretty good about adding them within a few days of acquiring them.

I've learned two big things about my personal library since joining LibraryThing. First, though I obviously have a LOT of books, I actually thought I had more of them. I don't have a strong positive or negative feeling about that discovery, just that it surprised me. What can I say, I'm not a big numbers person. Second, I own A GREAT AMOUNT of books that I haven't read yet. That finding IS a little embarrassing. I knew I had a lot of unread books, but of the 710 items in there, today, 311 have the tag "tbr," indicating they're still "to be read." I could NOT buy books for five years and still have things to read!

While I spent last year's July 4th holiday between the glow of my computer screen and the hush of my crowded bookshelves, I hope tomorrow to do some cleaning and organizing at home while listening to my audio of The age of innocence - I'm leading the book group discussion this coming Tuesday - and to catch up on some e-mails, primarily responding to those kind friends and family who have actually read some of these blog posts and followed up with a note to me! You know who you are! Thank you SO MUCH, I'll write you back very soon!!!

And now, the end of my lunch break, must get back to work. Oh - the FIRST thing I'll do tomorrow: sleep in, at least until seven. :-)