Monday, April 17, 2017

Rotten Eggs

I meant to post a little something for Easter Sunday, and I jarred my back while riding my motorcycle over the weekend, so I was mostly resting with heat and meds.

My childhood years were spent being spoiled to so many family traditions that I guess I thought would never end, and as we grow up, we are forced to realize that "Nothing Gold Can Stay" (just as the Robert Frost poem tried to tell us).

In those early years though, dying Easter eggs with my father on Saturday night (ahh the newspaper, the smell of vinegar, using Mom's cups, those little wire thingys, and mainly just Dad showing me how to do all this), helping with the cooking, and waking up to those baskets full of pretty eggs, candy and goodies was magic. We were always so distraught when we were dragged away from our Easter morning fun to attend the church service (which to us as kids seemed to drag on for hours). Once back home, it was time for the family to all meet there at my childhood home (Mom and Dad's), and eat dinner together, and inevitably do the Easter Egg hunt in the front yard (mostly).

The "Adults" would make everyone stay in the house while they went outside to hide the eggs in easy as well as crazy-tough spots to make the game challenging at least. Once they came back in, the kids (including me until I was probably about 14) would descend upon the yard in a frenzy, searching high and low, trying to 'one up' each other, and gather the most eggs. Don't really recall having any huge prize, we just enjoyed the process as it was. The funniest thing would be, occasionally the next year one might find an egg from the last year's hunt, which would at this point become a grave stink bomb, if stepped on. That could become quite a nightmare, but something we laugh about even now.

Those growing up years had a magic, so inexplicable and strong, the residue of which I still smell from time-to-time (when I close my eyes and think hard enough). Some days it's stronger... or is that the smell of those Rotten eggs? Maybe one of em' is still out there in the yard, undiscovered and protected by the elders of time.

There was a mix up on dinner, as I was intent on eating with one of my sisters and her family, whom I don't get to see often enough. The mix-up was just one of those things, when something comes up and their plan switched, so I wasn't aware. I could have gone anywhere to share dinner with any of my family, but with my back pain, I just elected to rest up and go ahead and allow my back to recover.

Things happen, as adults we know this, and we know it can't be the same as when we were all fairy dust flinging, magic wand waving little believers. We come to realize that sometimes we may step on a rotten egg, one that may have once been freshly colored, covered in glitter and that sparkled with hope at the time, but that we overlooked, so we just clean up the mess and move on.

Besides, things are not always as they seem, and occasionally you find a prize inside an egg that was decorated in a way that only appeared to be rotten.

I Miss My Childhood,

Aunt Jackie

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Crystal Gayle

Crystal Gayle's "We Must Believe in Magic" was part of our eclectic 70s record collection. I recall sitting by our stereo/8-track/record player, listening along with our big ass headphones (the kind with the long curly cord). It was a great way to occupy my time when I was lonely for Mum during her long shifts at the nursing home in the early 80s. I took a fancy to Crystal's lovely voice and especially her hair when I was a kid. I was both in awe of and perplexed by her hair (and also the fact that she was Loretta Lynn's little sister). Even though, my hair reached just below the gluteal region, I still couldn't conceive of someone having floor length hair. As much as I adore long hair, managing it is a nightmare. Ms. Gayle seemed to have it down all the time (I think she still does). I remember her saying it would get caught on door knobs or drag on the floor. I always had my hair in pony tails, braids, french braids or tied up in ribbons—very rarely was it ever down.

Hair aside, I loved her music and revered her stint on The Muppet Show.

Artist: Crystal Gayle
Album: We Must Believe in Magic
Released: 1977
Genre: Country
Label: United Artists
Producer: Allen Reynolds
1. "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" (Richard Leigh) – 2:37
2. "I Wanna Come Back to You" (Johnny Christopher/Samuel Hogin) – 2:54
3. "River Road" (Sylvia Fricker Tyson) – 3:08
4. "It's All Right with Me" (Cole Porter) – 2:32
5. "Going Down Slow" (B. Bond) – 3:41
6. "All I Wanna Do in Life" (Allen Reynolds/Sandy Mason Theoret) – 2:26
7. "Make a Dream Come True" (Larry Kingston) – 3:06
8. "Green Door" (Bobby David/Marvin Moore) – 3:11
9. "Funny" (L. Anderson) – 2:05
10. "We Must Believe in Magic" (Bob McDill/Allen Reynolds) – 4:09

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Feeling Like an Outsider

Throughout all of my school years, I was a bit of a loner, felt like an outsider. I occasionally tried to fit in, I would try to do or say something funny, but it came out awkward since I was so painfully shy. My shyness improved a little as I went along, but never really that much, even by high school. I guess I attribute it to the fact that I was always on the 'chunky' side, you know, a little overweight, and felt like everyone was always hyper-aware of it and made fun of  me. In reality, every child in school is struggling to fit in, feel normal and learn to love themselves. Some of them put on such a great act, however, that we are always convinced we are the only one, singled out who doesn't fit in.

Now, thanks to social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and the like, we have all gotten in touch with all of those people from the "A Group" or "B Group" who we didn't think accepted us, and for the most part are good acquaintances and sometimes have even formed what we deem as unlikely friendships with those people who never gave us a second glance back in our school days (or so we thought). It's funny how we waste time feeling that way, when we could have been friends all of that time, and could have made one another feel good about ourselves, and made those teen years magical instead of so painful as they were at times.

Rewind for a moment, back to elementary school. When I began first grade one of my clearest memories was walking around all alone on the playground at recess collecting beautiful fall leaves. I would save these in a safe place, and take them home to my Mother. Do you know that she still had these in her cedar chest until the day she died? 

Oh and the rain, I remember being excited to be in school on rainy days. The classrooms had a comfortable, soothing darkness to them, and the sounds of the rain made it feel all cozy, at least to me. That same feeling stayed with me throughout my school career. Then if I got lucky enough for a rainy day to be combined with the unexpected surprise of "Movie Day" in English class it was such an awesome bonus! 

Oh I have always loved books, reading (even if I haven't always read as much as I should, I still love books). Hanging out in the library was such therapy at times, the quiet, the ability to isolate yourself and dive into a story and meet all of your 'real friends'. Is this something that is common among those like myself, who find more comfort in hiding from the world than being trapped in crowds? Maybe. 

Nowadays, my laziness has led me to the beloved "Audiobook", which take you to another world if the narrator does the story justice. On the flip side, if the narrator is terrible, it can drag you down into the worst nightmare. Audiobooks are risky. Either way, my preferred order is (if a movie has been turned into a book) to see the movie, and then read or listen to the book, as it fills in all of the details, thus enriching my mind and experience. If done the other way, the movie never fails to disappoint, since it's always going to pale in comparison to a book... Take my advice. Watch the movie, then go read the book, and enjoy discovering the vast secrets and hidden treasures that no Hollywood movie could ever hold.

Let us walk now, into my High School English class. Mrs. Jubb had recently introduced us to the heartbreaking page-turner, "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton. Within the pages of this book, we were transported into a time where things were simpler, more cut and dry. Friendship was true, your "squad" really did ride or die, had your back and would take a bullet for you (figuratively and literally). Goodreads states, "According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser." 

So in essence, this story was already trying to illustrate to us these "differences" we chose to have with one another made no difference at all; that every one of us bleeds the same red, grieves a loss and feels the same crushing devastation through life's pain. Yet most of us choose to treat one another as "Outsiders", not even giving ourselves a chance to get to know each another before making such judgments, and missing out on knowing some amazing fellow travelers of this harsh world.

One magical rainy Monday morning, we walk into class, and lo and behold Mrs. Jubb has the VCR set-up which immediately gave you that little thrill in the pit of your stomach, knowing that at least the next couple of days would be spent with the lights out, watching the teacher's selected movie. We had read the book, now she was bringing us the film version of "The Outsiders". Though this wasn't my preferred, order, in those days we offered no complaints. I mean, class movie day was movie day, right? We were all just relieved for the treat of not really having to think for a period. 

Oh the movie brought the characters to life, and of course we all picked out our favorites, formed our "crushes" on some of the characters, and it gave us faces to put with those immortalized in the drama on screen there, in our cozy little classroom. All of us there, from different walks of life but at the time worried about the same issues, deadlines and commitments since we were young, and tests, reports and who didn't like us were our biggest worries. Funny how that can still seem true, even now, but we think that the issues are REAL since we are adults... so we let the pressures of "reality", and "time" (both of which are illusions) cause us to go out into the big bad world, and through our actions, leave someone else Feeling Like an Outsider.

I think we should go back and catch up on our reading and try to remember the feeling.

"Life Turns On a Dime." (S.K.)
"Tempus Fugit." (S.K.)
"Stay Gold" (S.E.H.)

Besides, Nothing Gold Can Stay... right? Life is a temporary condition. ;-)

Nothing Gold Can Stay (Robert Frost)

I Miss My Childhood, Aunt Jackie (Jax)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Crayola Daze

Life is uncertain, so let's continue finding something to celebrate every day. Now, I am not the most consistent person when it comes to my trends, or my writing. I am trying hard to make the effort. You can keep encouraging me. I have included today's list below, and out of these, I chose "National Crayola Crayon Day" as it peaks my inner child's artistic enthusiasm, as well as reminds me of a funny story about myself and my heart-thumping 5th/6th grade crush, Ken.

Oh lord, Ken... He and his family were from deep in the heart of Texas. Ken was the middle son of three boys, and six years my senior. With that rich, Texan drawl, and his sky blue eyes and sandy hair, he was the wild child star of my middle school dreams (insert hilarious giggle there). His parents and my parents were best friends, they hung out and visited one another, had dinners, coffee, played dominoes, all that.  Funny how you think at that age, but I was convinced that if I could just have one good opportunity to sit down and talk to him, that I could surely win his heart!

I was just a young girl, Crayola Dazed and Confused.

Christmas was upon us, with its frosty air and magical miracles, making just about anything possible. Just as luck would have it, Christmas Day, Mom and Dad's friends (his Mom and Dad) had invited us to come by a little later for snacks, or dinner, or something I don't quite remember exactly. You see, my family always had our big dinner and gift exchange on Christmas Eve, so Christmas morning was spent, each of my sisters individual families, home with the children opening up their own "Santy-clause gifts". Therefore, we were free for visiting.

In a mad panic, I flew to my room, and began to "gussy up", as the old folks might say. I dug into my collection of play make-up, and began to paint myself up to the height of glamour with my sexy "Crayola brand Eyeshadow" in Birds Egg Blue, nonetheless. Rarely had I gotten my makeup so perfect, I thought in my childish little brain. I was set. This was it, the night that I would bend my destiny to be the next Mrs. Ken ___man. He would surely fall prey to my Crayola magic spell.

Not sure if anybody remembers this stuff, but funny.

We jump in Dad's car, and descend down the driveway, my mind racing, my heart pounding. 'I'm going to see him, this is it. Oh to be near him, breathing the same oxygen.' I thought, frantically in my heaving panic. As we rolled up their driveway, my knees grew weaker... praying I would know what to say, what to do, and even to get the proper moment alone with Ken to weave him into my web of love. What could possibly go wrong? The timing was so right, there wasn't a thing to worry about.

The ___mans greeted us with smiles, inviting us in. Of course the parents were all in their usual, nonsensical, adult holiday banter, I nervously stood in the living room (the t.v. buzzing in the background, some now-ancient football game). Looking around, I see his younger brother Craig, sitting on the couch. Feeling so nervous and shaky that I could tip over at the slightest breeze, turn my head just as Ken comes out of the Kitchen. He meets my gaze.

"Yew wanna siddown, Jaacckie??" he bellows, in his thick as Texas oil accent.

After all that smooth-talk planning, I could not find a human English word in my body, my throat was dry and I couldn't seem to muster a sound from anywhere. 'What is wrong with you, Idiot? This is your destiny, your chance. You're screwing up, SAYYY SOMETHINGGG!!!' I simply stood there breathing, as I looked around at the chair he was gesturing to... teetered backwards, and sat as I nodded, retardedly, staring up into the overcast sky that was his eyes.

Mesmerized, I attempted a sexy smile (as if, with my awkward 5th grade goober self).  The room suddenly felt ice cold as my heart thumped heavily in my chest. Ken stepped into the kitchen for a moment, and I tried to gather my senses, and straighten up and act like the grown-up I so wanted to be in that moment. Suddenly, he emerges back in the living room with his glass of sweet tea in his hand. With a lovely southern smile, he looked at me and velvetly beckoned  "Jaaacckkieeee? Yew wawnnt som' Chicken an' Dressin??" His voice... his words swept over me like some delicious tropical breeze. At that very moment, the gods shined upon me and there was nobody else in the room except Him... and Me. 'Oh this is just like I planned it. I am going to talk to him now, and tell him exactly how I feel. Once he understands how much I love him, he will realize he feels the same way and he will be mine!! This is it, okay... Ken, get ready to fall in love. This is so meant to be...' I thought, madly, as I moistened my throat and finally found words.

I looked him square in his baby blues, opened my mouth, and in a shy, high-pitched mouse's voice, squeaked out raggedly...

"Nooo thank yeww!!"

The moment was gone, lost in a glimmer of 'just my luck', my timidness and ultimate stupidity, never to be found again, I was sure.

Just as full, warm and larger than life as he had been standing before me, in a fast ghost breeze he was gone, muttering something to his parents about leaving for his girlfriend's house and that he would see them later. I sat there, heart sinking into my stomach, wondering why I was such a scared little loser and why I couldn't have just done everything right like I had rehearsed in my head. 'Maybe next time, I'll have more time, I can win his heart... I'll get it right... next time.' If there is a next time... I don't think there really was.

Numbly, I sat, waiting for my parents' visit with the ___man's to be over, and we rode home, my visions of how I could have done better skipping through my head. We walk into our still Christmas glitter laden house, and I mope back to the bathroom, look in the mirror and to my horror, I see that my trusty and glamorous "Crayola Eyeshadow" has half melted off, sometime in the evening, and that I had bared my soul with shadow only on one eye, and smeared lipstick. Looking like a greasy little baby who'd been playing with Mom's make-up.

So much for mesmerizing him with my womanly wiles. Childhood, isn't it just funny looking back?

Happy Crayola Crayon Day, Other favorite holiday, or whatever you choose to remember and celebrate today. Hey, it's YOU, it's LIFE. That's all the reason we need to clink glasses and cheer. Enjoy, and read about the rest of them below.

Just me,

Some of these little 'obscure' or little-known holiday observations are pretty self-explanatory and some of them may boggle the brain, and leave you unsure of their origin. There's always but I will try to cue you in if I can (in parenthesis).

Today's Oddball Holidays (3/31):
  • César Chávez Day
  • Dance Marathon Day
  • Eiffel Tower Day
  • National "She's Funny That Way" Day (female comediennes and other ladies who make your day just more comical and easy to smile thorugh, like me)
  • National Bunsen Burner Day
  • National Clams on the Half Shell Day
  • National Crayola Crayon Day
  • National Farm Workers Day
  • National Tater Day
  • No Homework Day (Observed the last Friday of March and annually on May 6th)
  • Terri's Day
  • World Backup Day (back up all your data, well do this regularly anyway)
Actually, from another source, this Facebook page dedicated to "Holidays that Might Get Overlooked" I cite the following, "Today, Friday, March 31st, 2017, is National Clams on a Half Shell DayWorld Backup Day, National "She's Funny That Way" Day, International Hug a Medievalist Day, International Transgender Day of VisibilityTater DayNational Prom DayThe Eiffel Tower Day, Oranges And Lemons Day, Terri's Day, Caesar Chavez Day (California), Thomas Mundy Peterson Day (NJ), Feast Day of Saint Balbina (patron against diseases of the lymph glands, scrofula), Lunaria (ancient Rome), and Sacred Drama Day (ancient Babylon)."  Might provide a little more info if you're interested.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

On The Heels of Winter

Memphis weather is fickle if not bitchy at times. One day, spring has sprung with all of its warmth, color and glory, and the next day Mother Nature is on her period and brings us a cold snap complete with ice and snow. Everyone rushes out to the stores to pick up their emergency stock of bread and milk in case they die in the tragic freeze (which lasts until about 6 p.m.), then it's back to business as usual. Spring comes in on the heels of winter, rarely a smooth transition but once it begins to even out, the short magical spell lasts maybe a week or two before rushing head first into the melt of summer, which is hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell...
  *(with a side of mud and bugs).

Through this sweet handful of days where we get to feel that hope, perfect temperatures and spirit of renewal, I am usually reminded of a few delightful childhood memories.

This morning I was reflecting on just one particular such memory, which I am pretty certain was about 6th grade (I wanted to say fifth but I am embarrassed to say I can't say for sure).

When you're 10 or 11, and your Mom takes you for that first pair of official "heels", the excitement is just immeasurable. In fact, everything you get to do as a kid seems magical that way. They were little, tan leather "slip on" heels (my first "Candie's"). I couldn't wait to wear them, learn to walk in these heels. I felt like such a grown up. Though they were slip-ons, I remember trying them out with hosiery. Back then, I always thought my legs looked so great with the stockings on since I've always been pale, the stockings made me feel tan. Not so much now, I hate tangling with them, profusely! You might catch me giving in to the need for hosiery on special occasions, if you're lucky. So anyways, little me... I clomped around in my amazing grown-up little high heeled shoes, really thinking I was 'somethin else' as we say in the south. I practiced as much as possible, and tried feverishly to get as good as my mother at walking in these big girl heels. 

When I say my mother amazed me, seriously, she had a closet full of so many types of heels (all classy, my mother was indeed no slouch). Some had the tiniest little 'nail-like' quality to them, some were normal, and some of course were thicker. I wonder if she had ever thrown away a pair of shoes. It looked to me like she kept every pair from all eras, and I was just hypnotized.

I think her favorite shoes to wear were these cute little black boots, not but just over the ankle, guess you could call them "granny boots". She settled on a pair and wore them, thus actually rocking them with almost any outfit. She wore them during her time working as one of the "demo ladies" at Walmart, she wore them with jeans, pant suits, skirts. You name it.
She wore them so much the heels wore down to a frazzle. It was at this point that I, being the admirable doting daughter I was, took them to a local cobbler near where I worked, and had the heels redone so she could wear them even longer.

As much as I admired my mother's ability to completely win at the heel game, and even though she taught us to always dress as classy as possible, I still never really got the hang of heels, nor did I develop a very big passion for shoes, or shopping. To this day, the thought of having to go pick out new outfits and shoes leaves me in dread, my attitude quite lackluster. It's really sad because I would give anything to carry it all off the way she did.

So here I am at work on a pretty warm day, still early in this season just thinking of all of these delightful things that such a hopeful time of year can bring to mind. Missing my Mom and Dad, because they're the two biggest reasons I had such an amazing childhood. Yes, here I sit in my not-truly-appropriate for office flat tennis shoes, reminiscing on a time (some lovely time somewhere in the south in spring) that a hopeful "young lady", still unscathed by the harsh realities of life was there, trying to find a little glamour and grace, trying to learn to walk or rather, 'spring in' to young adulthood on the cool heels of winter.

I Miss My Childhood,

Aunt Jackie (Jax)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

RIP Mary Tyler Moore

December 29, 1936 - January 25, 2017

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Retro Episodes of Tiny Talent Time, Anyone?

Bill Lawrence with performer, 1974.
Photo: B. King (Toronto Star)

Received a lovely comment from a sibling of a former Tiny Talent Time performer asking if anyone had recorded old episodes of the show from 1982, with the hopes of finding footage of her sister tap dancing on the show.

"My sister Jennifer Aucoin was on Tiny Talent Time in/around 1982... anyone out there have a home copy of any of that years shows? Our family didn't have a video recording device yet but I know they were starting to become popular around that time... I'm hoping that maybe someone else out there may have a tape of it... not sure what the air date was.. she was wearing a white fluffy dress with red polka dots and I believe her routine was a tap dance to the song 'chirpy chirpy cheep cheep'? Would love to get a copy for our family. I think it would be cool if everyone who had any recordings from the original runs would share them, we could probably make our own archive of the show... even if CHCH didn't save them... I know it would bring great joy to a lot of people to be able to share their moments of fame."—Amanda Aucoin

Love the idea of fans creating an archive of old footage. Can anyone help out Amanda? Fingers crossed.

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