My Inner Grandma

Yesterday Kish and I were talking about health, and before I knew it I used the phrase “fit as a fiddle.”  As soon as I said it, I realized that it’s a phrase that no American has probably used for the last 20 years,

That’s what happens when my Inner Grandma surges to the fore.

grandma-21“Inner Grandma” refers to the vast repository of sayings that immediately come to mind about the small realities of everyday life, like weather, and eating, and getting up in the morning, and how you’re feeling today.  All of the sayings were chiseled deeply into the synapses of my cerebral cortex as a result of spending huge chunks of my formative years with my mother and my two grandmothers, all of whom used some of the same core sayings.  I probably heard them hundreds of times as a callow youth, and was proud of myself the first time I used them correctly and participated in a conversation with Mom or Grandma Webner or Grandma Neal.  Now those sayings bubble up, involuntarily, whenever those everyday moments arise, even though the sayings themselves have long since lost their currency — and don’t even particularly make sense, come to think of it.

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

“It’s raining cats and dogs.”

“I’m in the pink.”

“You’ve got an appetite like a truck driver.”

“Good morning, Merry Sunshine!”

“He’s happy as a clam.”

And that’s just scratching the surface.  I guess it shows how much of our thinking is shaped by our childhoods, and how we remain the product of our upbringing long decades after our childhoods have ended.  Mom and my grandmothers will always be with me.

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Old Year Out, New Year In

Well, 2017 is gone, and 2018 is here. It’s the time of year when you’re supposed to reflect on the year gone by and look ahead to the new year aborning.

As for 2017 — well, it was good and bad. We had a wonderful wedding that added a new Webner to the fold, and the year saw some successes and significant developments for the Webner clan. At the same time, 2017 was a year where we lost some close friends. And, if you broaden your horizon to include national and international developments, the story of 2017 becomes even more muddled. Years can be like that.

As for 2018, my hopes are simple — I just want our little circle to enjoy robust good health, know true happiness from time to time, feel a sense of significant personal accomplishment every once in a while, and revel in hearty laughter as much as possible. I’m personally going to try to maintain more of a sense of wonder about the world, and keep in mind the question I’d be asking if someone had transported me from 1969 to 2018:

Hey, where are the flying cars?

My Aunt, The Author

Yesterday’s mail brought a welcome holiday gift: a book. Entitled Murder in the Village Library, the novel was co-authored by “Collett, Fogarty, and Webner.”

That’s Webner, as in my Aunt Corinne.

The back cover describes the plot as follows: “Vivid characters living in an idyllic gated community are confronted with greed, loss, and treachery in this action packed international thriller.” The book is focused on the library in the community where Aunt Corinne and Uncle Mack live, which admittedly is pretty darned idyllic. And the fact that the cover lists only the last names of the co-authors gives the book a hard-edged, two-fisted feel, like you might get in a Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer mystery.

I know from prior conversations with Uncle Mack that Aunt Corinne and her co-authors have worked hard on the book, and because Aunt Corinne is involved, you can bet your bottom dollar that the book is thoughtful, the plot is logical — and the prose is grammatically correct, carefully proofread, and properly punctuated down to the last semicolon.

Congratulations, Aunt Corinne! And if you’re interested in reading the book, I’d guess that copies are available from the Village Library itself.

Mascara Mutt

Russell’s in town for Christmas. He’s brought along his dog Betty, who has three essential traits: (1) an irresistible impulse to pester Kasey until Kasey bares her teeth and growls; (2) a permanently quizzical expression; and (3) facial markings that look like someone going for a cosmetology degree has encircled her eyes with mascara.

Given the facial markings, “Betty” is a pretty apt name. Give her a beehive, pedal-pushers, and some gum to snap, and she’d fit right into the off-Broadway cast of Grease.

Happy Beard Birthday!

Twenty years ago, I last got a good look at my chin.

We were on a family vacation in Florida, with all of the slow pace and lassitude and relaxed approach to life that you associate with a welcome, sandy beach vacation during the cold weather months.  I got totally into the kick back spirit of things and just didn’t feel like shaving — so I didn’t.  And after letting the whiskers sprouting from the lower half of my face run riot for a few days, and surviving the initial itchiness that inevitably comes with any growing beard, I decided I might just keep the beard for a while to see how rejoining the hirsute set worked out.

I’d had a beard in college and when I worked as a reporter for the Toledo Blade, then shaved it off when I took a job on Capitol Hill.  There weren’t many beards on the Hill in those days.  I grew the beard again when I went to law school, then shaved it off again when I started to work at the firm because having a beard didn’t seem like a good idea for a new associate in a law firm in Columbus, Ohio.  But by 1997 I’d been at the firm for 11 years, and I figured by then my colleagues would be willing to put up with a little beardedness.  And the great thing about a beard is, you can always shave it off.

Twenty years later, I’ve still got that beard hiding my chin(s).  The color of the hairs has changed from solid brown to a mixture of brown, gray and white, and I’ve gone through three beard trimmers trying to keep the bristles in moderately presentable form.  I’d like to say the beard makes me look distinguished, but that remains an aspirational goal that is yet to be achieved.

Happy beard birthday to my whiskers!