Help put the brakes on the climate change train

Oh, shit.jpg

Don’t know what happened to my “Bridge Out” poster from the ’70s.

A couple of times lately, Mother has brought up a poster I had in my room as an older teen. Though she was slightly mortified when guests in our home saw it, she didn’t make me take it down – and now she wishes we still had it.

Just last Sunday she said it seemed to perfectly sum up the state of the world. She’s getting pretty hip at 80.

I’ve actually been trying to find a copy of that poster to buy for years now. My Beatles 10th anniversary poster turned up in the attic about 25 years ago, but my understated “Oh, shit” and my “Overpopulation” poster by surrealist artist John Pitre have vanished.

I did re-buy an old copy of “Overpopulation” on eBay, at 10 times what I paid at Peaches Records for my original – it and “Bridge Out” each cost $3.50, back then, if I remember correctly. “Overpopulation” is a scary, dystopian image, as you can see below, but you can also see where my mind was at 18 or so. I’ve been concerned about the state of the world for a long time.

We’re past the tipping point with climate change – and getting there with population, the great elephant in the room no one wants to address anymore. (Remember zero population growth, baby boomers? We used to talk openly about such things.)

We still need to reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, etc., etc., but the problem is so much bigger than we regular folks can solve.

The guys standing around the train are the ones who have to get with the program. We can do our part by voting climate change deniers out of office. We can put pressure on governments via marches and protests. We can educate ourselves, support and demand clean energy, write letters to the editor, boycott Koch Brothers products. But our leaders are going to have to get us on the right track.Letter to Ed 1

If you don’t know who the Koch Brothers are or why you should care, please read this article.

It tells you much more, but in a nutshell, the Koch Brothers fund bogus climate “science,” corrupt politicians with money, and work to change the face of American politics – and America – in a  most horrific way.

I can tell you, also in a nutshell, to vote against them with your shopping habits – avoiding any Georgia-Pacific products, Chevron, Union and Conoco gasoline is a start, but a comprehensive list of their holdings is mind-boggling.

Let me refer you to this well-written post from “The Fifth Column” blog – you’ll find more info on the Kochs and a long list of their products.

Climate reality is grim, but I choose to remain optimistic. We can and must still do our part with our daily habits and actions, the topic for next time.

6thBut in the meantime, you might want to start reading The Sixth Extinction, if you haven’t. I highly recommend it, whether you’re just jumping on the climate-reality train or you’ve been blowing its whistle for years




Can I hang this without scaring the grandkids?

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da

The other night, shortly before my mother-in-law, Doris, fell and broke her hip, I was singing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” to Annabelle, who turned 4 today. She turned to me with her enormous eyes widened and said excitedly, “You used to sing that to me when I was very little.”

Yes, I did, when she was months old and I had the pleasure of keeping her when her mom first went back to work. We listened to music every day. (I’m constantly singing to the grandkids – one of those grandmothers. I was as impressed as she was excited that she remembered.

And since it’s such a cycle-of-life-affirming song for this spell we’re going through (albeit an alternative lifestyle), it seems the perfect backdrop for this dual purpose post.

In case you missed it before, not only did our darling Doris break her hip two days before Christmas, she died in the early  morning two days after Christmas. John and I made a hasty trip to the Yakima Valley (in Washington) and it’s been a confusing and blurry time.

She was 93 and had been lost in confusion for years, but what a great little lady she was.

I’d like to share a few sweet photos from her lifetime.

Baby Doris Haworth, with her paternal grandparents, shortly after her birth in October 1921.

Baby Doris Haworth, with her paternal grandparents, shortly after her birth in October 1921.

Little Doris Hardy, sometime in the early 1940s, I'd say, with her beloved mother and darling baby sister, Irene (who towered over her

Doris (the little one), sometime in the early 1940s, I’d say, with her beloved mother and darling baby sister, Irene (who towered over her “big” sister and is still a ball of fire).

Doris in her prime – definitely around her birthday, and I'm guessing in the vicinity of 40. Kitty, can you correct or confirm?

Doris in her glorious prime – at her 40th birthday party.

We saw her for a moment before she was cremated, and as her beloved Walt (Allan, her second husband, to whom she was married for 38 years) chose to be scattered in the mountains he loved to hike, her ashes now rest in her mother’s grave. She adored her mother, so it’s a perfect resting place.

But Doris resides in the hearts of all who knew her.

We came back flight-delayed in the middle of the night – and well into January – with our bedraggled Christmas tree still standing – I undecorated it yesterday, just before Annabelle’s party, and John carried the sad little thing to the curb today.

Life goes on.

In three months, Mother and I go to Italy. I’ve got to get my head back into that trip, book our train tickets, learn Italian (OK, refresh myself enough to get by), etc. etc. The good new is that Mother’s health is on a definite upswing at the moment.

John is hanging in there. He and Mother have a  mutual admiration society and deep love for each other, so that helps. But losing your mommy when she’s been a good one, no matter your age  …

Mother, looking fabulous, and John share some thoughts at Annabelle's party, the first chance we had to see her since we got back two days before.

Mother, looking fabulous, and John share some thoughts at Annabelle’s party, the first chance we had to see her since we got back two days before.

Life goes on, happy ever after – despite the all-too-frequent bumps these days – especially when you get to be Lolly and Pop to five precious grandkids.


Until next time – ob-la-di.

Love her madly

Here's Barbie

After much searching, I finally found “Here’s Barbie” in a misplaced box of books this morning.

From the first time I saw her, which was probably on a commercial during The Mickey Mouse Club, which I watched every day when I was 3, (followed by American Bandstand, which I never missed), I knew I’d love her madly. Had to have her. I was an immediate convert.

Barbie, the teenage model, was my ideal – a sultry (but sweet) beauty who had it all: glamour, limitless possibilities and fabulous clothes. I begged, insisted, had to have her. Mother, who says she thought at the time that a baby doll would have been more appropriate, told me I could have her if I bought her with my own money.

Since Christmas of 1958 was my last as an only grandchild on Mother’s side, I just happened to have the $3 a Barbie cost, and buy her I did. Mother says considering Cathy was born January 27, 1959, and I got my Barbie within weeks of her birth, she’s sure I had my blonde beauty before April.

She’s also almost positive I had a No. 1 Barbie, the Holy Grail of collectors, the Barbie with the holes in her feet that held her up on a tiny stand – the only model made that way before the switch to the wire under-the-armpits stands.

The reason we have to speculate is that my first Barbie was wantonly, deliberately beheaded by a girl who was visiting across the street in late summer of 1961, just before I started first grade. For the early Barbies, heads weren’t readily removable. I don’t know what possessed that girl – or who she was; Mother and I tried and tried to figure that out today, but we can’t remember.

Good thing, or I’d name her here. I think she might have been visiting her grandmother, but whoever she was, she asked to hold my buxom beloved,  then – crack – snapped her head off. I could hear the sound and my heart broke with Barbie’s neck.

I burst into tears and ran crying across the street, my own blonde ponytail flying behind me. “Mooommmmyyyyy!!” We don’t remember if she took any other action, but Mother did take me to the store to buy me a replacement Barbie. Maybe it was too traumatic to go for another blonde, or maybe at almost 6 my preference had just changed, but I got the silky-haired brunette.

Betty Page-raven her hair is. And, though it had gone dull with age, today it’s shiny and sleek again – that’s because last night about 11:30, I shampooed and conditioned her hair.

Let me explain.

We’re launching a super-fab vintage Barbie exhibit at Esse Purse Museum the end of September, so I’ve had Barbie on the brain, between research, talking to Mattel, and sorting through my friend Marsha’s glorious collection of Barbie and friends. That made me decide to face the attic to dig out my Barbie, Midge, Ken, Skipper and my perky mod friend, Francie, Barbie’s younger cousin.

All my dolls had been passed on to Liz, who loved them as much as I did and played with them as much as with her own more modern (but less cool) Barbies.

Excuse Midge's immodesty, but this is their "before" picture. Barbie was actually naked in the box, but her bathing suit was there too.

Excuse Midge’s immodesty, but this is their “before” picture. Barbie was actually naked in the box, but her bathing suit was there too.

I immediately found Barbie, Ken, Midge and – surprise! – Tutti, whom I’d forgotten might still be around. She was an afterthought at the end of my Barbie years, but she was so stinking cute that I got one anyway, even though at about 11 I considered myself much too old for dolls. Lots of Liz’s dolls were there and the fabulous clothes my grandmother made for the girl dolls (and quite a few of Ken’s clothes, which were store-bought and dapper) but no Francie. No vintage Skipper (Liz’s later model is there).

One or more boxes of Barbie paraphernalia is missing. I have torn this house apart – all we can figure out is that years ago, when we had a storage unit broken into, the thief who took Ben’s most valuable baseball cards must have made off with Francie and all her Carnaby Street clothes. Along with Skipper and some of Liz’s Barbie clothes and accessories.

I did find Ken’s case standing alone in the back of the attic. All the others are missing, but at least his survived.

Anyway, back to the late-night shampoo: Years in a dusty attic are not kind to toys in cardboard boxes. A red rubber band had melted into Barbie’s ponytail, and they all were musty and dusty. So what do you do?

You bathe, shampoo and condition. Or, in Midge’s case, bathe, Febreeze and brush like mad. Her curls make washing prohibitive. Barbie lost quite a bit of hair to the red goo, but some menopausal hair loss is normal, and she is 53.

Tutti's little dress had a definite beige tinge before a hand washing. Midge's purple velvet dress, which is lined and in perfect shape, was made by my grandmother over 50 years ago.

Tutti’s little dress had a definite beige tinge before a hand washing. Midge’s purple velvet dress, which is lined and in perfect shape, was made by my grandmother over 50 years ago.

Ken's lost some felt hair over the years, but Ben gave him a head start by adding a racing stripe to Ken's head via my treadmill wheel.

Ken’s lost some felt hair over the years, but Ben gave him a head start by adding a racing stripe via my treadmill wheel.

I had plenty of things I needed to do this weekend, but after spending hours grooming dolls and searching through the house – which was fruitless for missing dolls or accessories but turned up other surprising things – instead I hand washed Barbie clothes (and some Ken shirts), repaired a few things and Febreezed Ken’s suit and tuxedo jacket and vest. (His tuxedo pants, sadly, are missing.)

My hands are dry and pruny, but it was worth it. John was supportive (the shampoo and conditioner was his idea, in fact) and seemed to think seeing his 59-in-one-week-year-old wife playing with dolls was cute.

And I realize once again how masterful Mama, my super young grandmother was. Her sewing puts me – and most others – to shame. We couldn’t afford many store-bought Barbie clothes, but my Barbie and Midge were some of the best dressed in town.

The pink skirt, black skirt, yellow pajama top (missing pants, sigh) and white pants were made by Mattel. The rest were made by Mama, Verna Tackett.

The pink skirt, black skirt, yellow pajama top (missing pants, sigh) and white pants were made by Mattel. The rest were made by Mama, Verna Tackett. The white satin dress is a replica of Mother’s wedding dress, made with scraps from her dress (which my grandmother made, of course). The lace overcoat is with the other missing things, sadly.


The pink frayed-collar dress is all that remains of Francie and the little pink dress was the original Skipper's, when she was a little girl. The rest were made by my grandmother. They're way beyond fabulous.

The pink frayed-collar dress is all that remains of Francie and the little pink dress was the original Skipper’s, when she was a little girl. The rest, except the blue-and-white stripe, were made by my grandmother. They’re way beyond fabulous. Now I’m making some clothes for my 3-year-old granddaughters’ Barbies, but they are definitely bush-league in comparison.

One unexpected thing I found today in the mad hunt was this sweet picture of my grandmother and me, taken in 1998 when she came for Liz’s high school graduation. She was 82 and died three years later, perky and living at home until the end.

At one time, my grandmother and I were just about the same height – at 5'4", I was a smidgen taller. We shared green eyes and mutual admiration. She was a doll herself.

At one time, my grandmother and I were just about the same height – at 5’4″ I was a smidgen taller. We shared green eyes and mutual admiration. She was 39 years old when I was born and a doll herself.


Sister Suffragette

"So cast off the shackles of yesterday ..."

“So cast off the shackles of yesterday …”

Disney’s Mary Poppins had a lot to do with it, I suppose, but I don’t remember ever not knowing that women had to fight for the right to vote. I was 8 or 9 when our entire family went to see the movie at one of the glorious downtown theaters and 9 or 10 when I was playing “Sister Suffragette” (in my Mary Poppins‘ songbook for piano) and singing along. It really struck a chord with me.

I can still burst into SS and march/dance around the room for my grandkids (OK, just because I feel like it):

“… Political equality and equal rights with men,

take heart for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!

No more the meek and mild subservients we –

We’re fighting for our rights militantly – never you fear! …

So, cast off the shackles of yesterday,

Shoulder to shoulder into the fray,

Our daughters’ daughters will adore us

and they’ll sing in grateful chorus,

‘Well done, Sister Suffragette!!'”


Only they don’t and they’re not, sadly. At least some of them. I’ve noticed over the past few years how young women blithely take women’s rights for granted. I was dismayed by some of my female students’ lack of knowledge or caring about women’s rights/women’s issues when I taught high school journalism at Central High from 2005-2010.

Just the other day a sweet young woman told me she had no idea women had to fight for the right to vote until she saw something about it on Facebook.

Don't take it for granted, girls. Women are still alive today who were born before we could vote.

Don’t take it for granted, girls. Women are still alive today who were born before we could vote.

All very disconcerting. But you girls/young women who’ve started the “anti-feminism/I’m not a feminist because …” movement need to wake up. Let me tell you a few things. Bear with an old lady of almost 59.

Though the assumption from my family and my guidance counselors was always that I’d go to college, I had perfectly bright girlfriends who were told – in 1972/73 – that their best bet was to find a good secretarial school. Or a good husband.

A slightly older friend, whose brothers were all assumed to go pre-med, was told by her father that she could go to college if she majored in teaching or nursing. That was actually quite common.

We couldn’t wear pants to school until I was in the ninth grade.

Girls who got pregnant in high school had to slip off out of state for an illegal abortion or drop out of school because pregnant girls weren’t allowed to attend. Their boyfriends could still play varsity football but the girls were denied an education.

Speaking of sports, if you were a girl at my school, other than cheerleading or drill team, we had volleyball and gymnastics. You can thank Title IX (and some feminists) for all the sports available to girls today.

stepfordI remember reading Ira Levin’s Stepford Wives and finding it chilling (read it in one sitting, which I repeated in my 30s – and it was still scary). After my boyfriend and I saw The Stepford Wives when I was 19, the good one with Katherine Ross and Paula Prentiss, he, whom I loved dearly, scoffed at me for calling it the scariest movie I’d ever seen. He said I was being silly. I said the movie was every man’s fantasy and that’s what made it so scary.

Then in 1986, when I was 30 and married with two kids, Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale. I still  have my first-edition copy. During the Reagan years and with the climate change really entering my radar, that was the scariest book I’d ever read – still seems almost prophetic at times. I’ve loaned it/foisted it on several women over the years.

Maybe it’s too hot a subject, but at least for college lit students, THT should be required reading.

My battered 1986 copy of Margaret Atwood's masterpiece. Read it if you haven't.

My battered 1986 copy of Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece. Read this book if you haven’t.

What brought this up now is that one day last week as I was working out to The Today Show, a segment came on about the “I’m not a feminist because …” girls – with photos of young women holding signs telling why they’re against feminism (from their social media platforms, which I refuse to look up).

“I’m not a feminist because I like men”? Seriously? Most of us do. Most of us are married and many of us have sons. Most of our gay sisters like men, too. This is not the point.

“I’m not a feminist because I love my boyfriend.” What? Whatever.

“I’m not a feminist because I like it when a man holds a door open for me.” I like that, too. Unless his hands are full, in which case I’m more than happy to open the door for a man. Manners are nice.

“… I like for a man to open the car door for me.” Yes, that’s sweet. I feel very special and loved when my husband carefully tucks me into the car. But I do the same thing for my mother now that she’s old. Irrelevant, girls.

“I’m not a feminist because I want to stay home with my children.” Um, I did that for a while then went to work. And naively expected to be paid the same as men for the same jobs.

Today in Arkansas women doctors with more seniority than their male counterparts, at least at one hospital, make $14,000 per year less for having ovaries. How is that fair?

I’m old enough to remember the “women don’t need to make as much as men because they have husbands drawing a salary” argument. That never held water – in addition to being ridiculous, some women aren’t married. Some are widows. Some have unemployed husbands.


Anyway, “I’m not a feminist because I like to look pretty/wear makeup/shave my legs.”

Silent scream. Silent scream. Silent scream.

NONE OF THOSE THINGS have anything to do with being a feminist. You can be feminine and a feminist. Feminine feminists are all around.

Look up what it means, anti-feminist young ladies. Read a little women’s history. Read current events about the atrocities still happening to people all over the world because their genetic roll of the dice made them female.

Then decide if you’re still an anti-feminist. At least be informed.

Feminists come in all types. We’re everywhere. We’re not out to destroy all things girly.

You can even be a feminist and love Barbies. I got my first Barbie at 3 in 1959, the year she was born. I’ve loved her – and Midge and Francie – ever since. I’ve been making matching dresses for my two 3-year-old granddaughters’ Barbies from vintage fabric using my grandmother’s pattern from 1964 that she used to make clothes for her granddaughters’ Barbies.

That’s pretty traditional female behavior. But I’m doing it by choice, not because someone expects me to fill a certain role.

Feminists can love Barbies – and love to sew. We can be girly-girls or tomboys.

Feminists can love Barbies and love to sew. We can be girly-girls or tomboys. We come in all shapes and sizes and demeanors.

But I bought my granddaughters a copy of I Want to Be President before I bought them Barbies.


P.S. Just wanted to let you know I waited for days to see if I really had to write this post – I try to keep it life, lifestyle and light in The Lolly Diaries. But an old girl’s gotta do what an old girl’s gotta do.

All things must pass

John, Sweetie and Doris on a very good day during our visit.

John, Sweetie and Doris on a very good day during our visit.

Life can be so sweet and so bittersweet; all things must pass, which is hard to abide when those things are a parent – or a parent’s memory.

We baby boomers are all in it together; we’ve lost a parent, are losing a parent or know it’s coming. That’s the cycle of life.

Some situations are harder than others, and watching dementia or Alzheimer’s take a loved one someplace else is high on the list of horrible.

But you make the best of it and love the moments you get.

John and I just made a trip to his home town in Washington for what may be our last visit with his mother, sweet little Doris, who has a nonspecific dementia and failure to thrive syndrome. At this point, she’s just fading, no matter how much she eats. She can remember a few things from the 1940s, but you have to go way back to her childhood for her to really remember anything of substance.

Little Doris and her daddy await the boat to Catalina in the late 1920s. Those are the years Doris remembers these days.

Little Doris and her daddy await the boat to Catalina in the late 1920s. Those are the years Doris remembers these days.

Otherwise, she’s on a loop about the weather, the wind, her beloved cat, Sweetie, and the time. But occasionally she’ll throw something in that gets your attention, makes you laugh.

The long-suffering good girl, Sweetie, who was the chosen cat of three who moved from the orchard to the tiny apartment.

The long-suffering good girl, Sweetie, who was the chosen cat of three who moved from the orchard to the tiny apartment.

Doris now. You can still see a bruise from a fall a few weeks ago – but you can also see the woman behind the curtain of confusion.

Doris now. You can still see a bruise from a fall a few weeks ago – but you can also see the woman behind the curtain of confusion.

My first day back in Little Rock, I saw a friend I haven’t seen in years – she popped into Esse Purse Museum & Store, where I hang out – and told me her mother-in-law died last year from nonspecific dementia and failure to thrive syndrome. She just faded away physically and mentally over about two years.

Doris has been fading longer than that – looking back, it’s hard to say when the confusion really set in, but it’s been a good long while.

As of a few weeks ago, she’s in hospice care at home, which is an assisted living facility now. Many days she thinks she’s traveling and is ready to come home; the really bad spells are when she’s frightened, doesn’t know where she is and is frantic to get home.

John’s sister, Kitty, deals with the bad spells on a sometimes several-times-a-day basis. For our trip, though, Doris rallied. She dressed most days – something she rarely does now – and even went to the dining room for a few meals, with or without John, much to everyone’s surprise.

John texted a mother and son selfie to Kitty and me, much to our delight.

John texted a mother and son selfie to Kitty and me, much to our delight.

Kitty and I slipped away to give Kitty some respite time and fun, while John soaked up every moment he could with his mother. We did get to visit with our niece and nephew – which is always a treat – but this was a Mom-centered visit. She doesn’t leave the facility now and most conversations are on an Abbott and Costello-style loop, but we still loved basking in her gentle and sweet presence.

The Yakima Valley is wine country, and we made the most of it this night – in the Inaba's kitchen. That's me, Kitty (in her Eiffel Tower apron that commemorates our trip to Paris together) and Norm.

The Yakima Valley is wine country, and we made the most of it this night – in the Inaba’s kitchen. That’s me, Kitty (in her Eiffel Tower apron that commemorates our trip to Paris together) and Norm.

In some ways Alzheimer’s is easier to deal with – at least that horrid disease has an anticipated trajectory. With garden-variety dementia, anything goes; somedays are horrible with short-term memory that holds for 10 seconds or so, but occasionally you get the person you miss back for a bit. Then she’s gone again. All you can do is cherish those moments.

And remember that everyone, no matter how lost, has something to say. You just have to listen for the message in the mania, the explanation in the inertia. Or meet them where they are, even if that’s in 1928.

John spent hours showing Doris photos on our phones – the same ones entertain her over and over. But here she's explaining to us every detail of photos from her childhood. The mind is a peculiarly fascinating organ.

John spent hours showing Doris photos on our phones – the same ones entertain her over and over. But here she’s explaining to us every detail of photos from her childhood. The mind is a peculiarly fascinating organ.

When it came time to say goodbye, Doris was back with the wisdom of her almost 93 years. She told us what a long and wonderful life she’s had – yet how time flies. She talked about how lucky she’s been to have such wonderful children and how pleased she is to have me as a member of the family – that John found me, as she puts it. I thanked her again for raising such a wonderful man for me to marry.

“Take care of each other,” she told us. She was 100-percent lucid in those moments.

We assured her we would. And we didn’t cry. The goodbyes were sweet and tender and strong.

All things must pass. Acceptance is hard but resistance is harder. If The Beatles are right, and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make, Doris will be a wealthy woman when she gets home from her travels.

And we’ll be poorer for her absence, even though in many ways she’s already gone.


The beat goes on

Dressed to Kill openingt

Dressed to Kill opening

This could be called “My Life in Cher Years,” but we’ll stick with the format and go with “The Beat Goes On.” I highly encourage you to click on the link and skip through the advertisement to the vintage Sonny and Cher performance. Cher’s youthful, earnest voice of the early  years is naively charming, as opposed to the belting diva style that came just a few years later.

But no matter the voice she’s been an influence from the beginning. As little Laura Cartwright, I pored over her photos and beauty tips in 16 magazine (she was the brunette counter-balance to Pattie Boyd’s blonde beauty). I loved Sonny and Cher’s hippie look, as well as their music.

16 magazine

Sonny and Cher in the early days, perusing a “16” that they’re bound to have been in. They were everywhere.

The only way to escape Mother’s chopping off of my bangs, which I hated and which destroyed any possibility of a mod look, was to grow them out, which I did in the fifth grade. But that was just the first step of my youthful fashion rebellion. Sometime after school photos in the sixth grade, I got my hair cut into a swing cut (shorter in the back, longer in the front) with very long “bridge” bangs.

(I always thought that term referred to the shape, curving down around the face like a bridge arch, but today I read that it referred to bangs that come to the bridge of the nose. Hmmm ….)

Mother gave up the battle, though she often mentioned that she didn’t see how I could see through those bangs and that I looked just like Cher. Cher

Bingo – that’s what I was going for, though for an 11-year-old it was quite a stretch.

Mother liked Sonny and Cher, too, though, enough to make wigs from dyed mop heads for her and Daddy as part of their Sonny and Cher costumes for a party they held. Photos are somewhere; if I find them, I’ll share. I know Daddy wore wild pants or a wild shirt (or both), which was not him at all. (Wild pants were very Mother, who was always a fashion plate.)

We all loved their TV show, and when Sonny and Cher came to Little Rock to do R-rated standup comedy, as well as songs (which were secondary by then), my boyfriend Jimmy and I were there on the third or fourth row of the right wing. His dad got VIP tickets to major shows, and at Barton Coliseum in those days, some shows had three-sided surround stage. We were super close.

I’m reasonably sure it was the summer of 1972, though it could have been early 1973.

The look in 1972, the first time I saw her live.

The look in 1972, the first time I saw her live.

David Brenner, who recently died way too young, opened for them. They were all hysterically funny and naughty – and Cher was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. TV and photos had not done her justice. She wore fabulous wigs and Bob Mackie dresses, but for the final costume change, she let her real hair down. Shimmering and divine it was, even with the fold line from being ponytailed to fit under the wigs – her hair deserved its own award, in my book.

Fast-forward 20 years. Cher’s an Academy Award-winning actress, for Moonstruck, a diva and an all-around hot commodity. I had used the Lori Davis TV-mail-order hair products Cher hawked for a while. lorid(I’d seen her hair live, remember?) That’s rather a faded memory that just this sec came back to me. Crazy. The hairspray, which I never used anyway, was always defective (the pump clogged), and you had to get the whole set. I gave up after a maybe a year??

Can’t believe I’d forgotten about that.

In 1992, Cher released CherFitness: A New Attitude. Cher was not the instructor, she was a wise-cracking student (and hostess) in a step aerobics class taught by Australian fitness guru Kelli Roberts. CherFitness Long a home workout maven (I had the original Jane Fonda workout on LP), I bought it immediately.

And fell in love with Cher all over again. She was so funny and humble and gorgeous and inspiring. I’d give anything to have that workout on DVD (not available) for the 10-minute ab/core portion alone. I was still doing it regularly in 2002 when John, and I met and it was my go-to ab workout as long as I had a VCR.

But I hadn’t gone to see Cher live again until now – I’ve always been a fan of Cher, not her singing, and concerts have always been about the music for me. This time, though, Julia and I decided to go. How could we not? This could be Cher’s last concert. And Cher, the wise-cracker, the gifted actress, the chameleon, the comeback kid, the activist – one of my childhood idols – Cher was someone I wanted to see again.

So how could we forget to buy tickets? Suddenly it was March and we were slapping our foreheads. I told Julia I’d start watching for some good deals, but they just weren’t coming.

I logged into Ticketmaster and looked at seats a few days out. The best available were almost the same seats we had for the Avett Brothers, which were pretty damn good, on the side, not too high – but something told me to wait.

A couple of days later, a week out, I logged in again, looked at “Best Available,” and fourth row, seats 20 and 21, popped up – dead center. As in X marks the spot on the stage in front of seat 20.



“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”

Oh, my gosh, did forgetfulness pay off. You can read the reviews – I’ll just say it was a cross between Broadway, Vegas and Cirque du Soleil. Mind-boggling.  And Cher was just a few feet away. Julia and I were blown away by the audaciousness.

And graciousness. Cher has a kind spirit. You can feel it radiating from the stage.


Blonde or brunette, old face or new, Cher is Cher is Cher.


Words fail me – you had to be there.





Abbey Road 45 years later

Abbey Road 45 years later

Something about seeing that Pattie Boyd turned 70 yesterday made me feel – not old, not nostalgic, not sad – grateful? Happy to have lived when I have?

Pattie Boyd, my childhood idol and living Francie doll.

Pattie Boyd, my childhood idol and living Francie doll.

Can’t quite put my finger on what that something is, so I’ll blog it out. She’s the girl about whom George Harrison wrote, “Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover …,” from Abbey Road (across which we walked on our recent trip to London). She’s the same girl about whom Eric Clapton wrote the tortured “Layla” and the adoring “Wonderful Tonight.”

She’s the girl on whose every (ghost)written word I hung as a 9-11 year old when she had a beauty and advice column in 16 magazine. Her hair and makeup tips were memorized by yours truly, amusing considering I couldn’t touch cosmetics until I turned 13.

She married a Beatle, for heaven’s sake.

Jean Shrimpton was my favorite model in those days, for sheer beauty, glamour and – just look at her.

Her highness of beauty, Jean Shrimpton

Her highness of beauty, Jean Shrimpton

But Pattie was a regular girl, accessible, with an attainable look and darling clothes. (Or so she seemed, despite marrying George, then marrying Eric and having those songs written about her.) She transcended glamour.

As frivolous as it might seem, I’m glad I was affected by her.


A few people have asked me to write about our trip, but that’s not something I really feel like doing at the moment, other than to mention the books I read on our trip – and one inspired by our trip that I ordered the last night we were in Paris.

I told myself I could not take Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay with me – it weighs too much and I’d waited all these years to read it and another week wouldn’t hurt me. Kav&Clay

I was about halfway through and could finish it when I got back, I told myself repeatedly – and I already had a beat-up used copy of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl packed – I’d been saving it for the trip since Julia told me I must read it immediately.

But the day came to leave and I couldn’t leave my comic-book-creating boys behind. I stayed up late nights on our trip to finish the tale Chabon wove so well. I won’t give anything away, but if you like World War II history, comic books or just excellent writing in any form, read it.

CalamityPhysicsBookCoverBut I didn’t let myself start Calamity Physics until our very long return-travel day – made do with magazines after the heartbreak of finishing K&C. I almost finished CP in that one day – what a great, weird book it is. After we got home and real-life ensued, it took me a few days to finish the little bit I had left.

Can’t tell you anything, really, except you’ll never read anything else quite like it. Pessl blew me away with her first novel. The first-person narration, by a college-age girl, is accompanied by self-annotation, a fascinating device and not distracting at all from the top-notch mystery that the book really is.

Just as I finished it, the book I ordered from our hotel room in Montmartre arrived. (Stayed up late the last night of our trip to find a good used copy of a 2013 book, which took some digging. I feed my addiction with used books when possible; my iPad is loaded with classics, travel books and books for work, but turning pages is part of the experience for me.)

thepaintedgirlsI’d read about The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan, a while back and thought I’d probably read it when it came out in paperback. But after seeing Little Dancer, Aged 14 at the Musée D’Orsay, then talking to a very nice lady from Port Arthur, Texas, at lunch at the D’Orsay (she and her husband, a retired firefighter, were at the table next to us and accents required chatting), I revised that to “I’ll read it now.”

She brought it up and said she was back at the D’Orsay to visit the statuette after reading the historical novel, based on ballet dancers near Montmartre, including Marie van Goethem, who modeled regularly for Edgar Degas and was captured in Little Dancer and many paintings.


Degas’ “Little Dancer, Aged 14”

The book is good, not life-changingly great, but solidly good and very interesting historically. Buchanan craftily weaves two true stories into one –and it was cool reading about events on the streets we’d walked and hills we’d climbed. I’m very glad I read it.

Montmartre and Sacré Coeur from one of the clock windows at the Museé D-Orsay – the setting for much of

Montmartre and Sacré Coeur from one of the clock windows at the Musée D-Orsay – the setting for much of “The Painted Girls” and where we stayed our three nights in Paris. (Taken with an iPhone, I might add, which did better than our Canon aim-and-shoot.)

their_eyes_frontBut now I’m reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. Once I got used to the dialect, I find it hard to put down. I started it to fill a gap in my English-degree reading. Thank heavens I did!


One last something to write about, in the photo department – and some things I noticed: My passport is expiring, so I had to go get a new picture made. Things I noticed: I often have the non-drunk drunk eyes Daddy had in many photos, and they show up well here. Ten years age you a lot. Passport photos have gone up quite a bit – 10 years ago, I think it was about $10. Yesterday it was $16+ with tax.

And check out the hair – mainly the bangs. Sixties’ influence much? Some things never change.

Pattie Boyd, Jean Shrimpton, I feel your bangs.

Pattie Boyd, Jean Shrimpton, I feel your bangs.

When the levee breaks

This was the other holiday – Thanksgiving. Life can come at you hard. Now if we can just make it through Christmas. (That's Pop, Lolly, Mother and Lisa laughing at something on Mother's camera.)

This was the other holiday – Thanksgiving.  Now if we can just make it through Christmas. (That’s Pop, Lolly, Mother and Lisa laughing at something on Mother’s camera.)

Every family goes through spells when the levee breaks and life – or death – comes rushing in way too fast. About a year ago, our levee was leaking hard. We couldn’t plug up the holes, our no-rain dances weren’t working, and sickness, disaster and death came crashing into our lives.

Today, fortunately, the levee held. Mother crashed hard against it, but so far, no serious leaks. But it’s scary how quickly things can happen.

She was double booked for parties today – a luncheon with her girlfriends (at a home she’d recently mentioned as having a dangerous staircase) and a small party for her church choir tonight at her house.

You never want to get a phone call that starts, “Laura, your mother’s fallen down these stairs and we’ve called an ambulance but she doesn’t want to go to the hospital.” But that’s what happened at 1:16 this afternoon. I talked to Mother briefly on the phone and we agreed that, yes, she did need to go get x-rayed.

I beat her there and was waiting when her friend of 55 years, Bettye Carithers, who’d called me with the news, came in to wait with me. What happened was this: Everyone was leaving the party, and Mother had her hands full of “the prettiest plate of leftover goodies,” as Mother described it, so another friend said she’d get the door for her.

Mother stepped backward to let the door open and disappeared. Her friend who opened the door began screaming. All the ladies were in a panic.

She’d stepped into thin air – into the aforementioned staircase to the basement – and tumbled to the first landing, where she crashed into the wall and hit her ribs on a large planter. She knocked the wind out of herself, as people used to say when kids fell hard and couldn’t breathe, and Bettye said Mother turned white as a sheet.

Bettye was still pretty shaken and white when she arrived at the hospital.

Miraculously, nothing is broken, but my poor mommy’s badly hurt – last Christmas it was her back, which had her bed- or wheelchair-ridden pre-surgery. She had a perfect recuperation, against all odds, and the rods in her back held today, despite her osteoporosis. She’s one tough old bird.

But she’s in so much pain and it’s just not fair. I’m grateful but worried. Her spirits have been so good but her health is always fragile – Betttye mentioned today how deceptive Mother’s appearance is. You can look like a million bucks and be almost overdrawn healthwise.

Mother walks a fine line.

Today, though, was a freak accident that had nothing to do with age or fragility. Could’ve happened to a sturdy 20-year-old who was visiting with friends.

Mother actually had us in stitches in the ER as she described the mess she made and how when the EMS guy mentioned her pants were dirty, she told him that was because she was sitting in a plate of pineapple and cream-cheese goodies. We were crying from laughing so hard, though her laughs were interspersed with “ows!”

OK, I was crying from laughing and being scared, um, witless. This is not acceptable.

Tonight’s party was canceled.

I’m worried as hell about her being alone with her little pup, but she sent me home.  She’s stubborn (I’ve been told I inherited that trait), and if she can beat the blues, she should be able to beat this bang-up, too. But we just talked on the phone; she’s in serious pain (and 78) and it’s hard not to go back over there.

The lesson of today is that all we can do is be ready for anything and reinforce our levees, because you never know when the tides will turn or the rains will come.

But I’m ready for a dry spell.


Mr. Moonlight

Mr. Moonlight

The Beatles’ “Mr. Moonlight” has been stuck in my head for days, so it wasn’t surprising to see the full moon Saturday evening as I drove east, and the clouds parted briefly to reveal it. The song fits with the melancholy I’ve felt lately – induced, in part, by the continuing deaths of people from my youth.

We’ve reached that time of life, the baby boomers.

But today, when I opened the front door to grab the newspaper, I was caught off-guard by Mr. Moonlight staring me in the face above pink clouds in the early morning light.

That gave things a little perspective. The moon sets on some, the sun rises on others, and life goes on.

Yes, another of Mother’s old friends was in the obituaries again this morning, but yesterday we celebrated little Luke’s first birthday.

We also celebrated my friend Caran’s mother’s life, instead of mourning her passing from it. Alzheimer’s had really already taken her a while back, so the family focused on the Carolyn Curry who was a force to be reckoned with in her day, and people came in droves to celebrate her.

Which helped remind me to celebrate each day, even if I’m tired or crabby or overwrought with to-dos.

Mother’s doing well, the grandkids are divine, my kids are healthy and Marie-Noelle arrives Friday night for a visit! Thursday night, Cathy, Mother and I get to see Willie Nelson at Robinson Auditorium. Life is good, if hectic and crazy.

I want to tell you

Just have a sec to do a short post, but I want to tell you about some things you might want to check out.

The first is a super-fab, yet somewhat sad, documentary called Good Ol’ Freda. Maybe bittersweet is a better word for it, but it’s a Fredadon’t- miss for anyone who grew up with or has a love for The Beatles.

It’s the story of Freda Kelly, who was just a teenage secretary in Liverpool, when she got called out of a regimented secretarial pool to work for Brian Epstein – and became the secretary for the Fab Four and The Beatles Fan Club, a job she held for 10 years.

372615bShe also singlehandedly wrote The Beatles Fan Club newsletter and made sure all fans were treated with honesty and respect.

And kept close counsel all these years of the private details of the boys’ lives to which she was privvy. She still doesn’t divulge any. She’s a good ol’ girl.

Fortunately for us, my sister, Cathy, our friend Susan Conde, and I went the Monday of the first and only week it played at Market Street Cinema. You’ll have to wait and rent it if you’re in Little Rock, but do see it if you can.

Made me realize again how lucky I was to grow up in the time I did. Just 7 when the boys hit the U.S. airwaves, I was much younger than the screaming Beatles fans who literally chased them around or got to see them live, but my love for them helped shape my life.

I just wish I’d saved all my Beatles bubble gum trading cards and 16 magazines. Sigh.

Muscle ShoalsYou do have time to catch another great music documentary at Market Street – Muscle Shoals, about the recording studios, the people behind them and all the great music that flowed out of them in little ol’ Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Susan and I went back to see it Tuesday night – it opened last Friday and, sadly, starting tomorrow it’s only on in the afternoon, according to Market Street’s website, but if you can get there, get there.

It’s the best music movie I’ve seen in a long, long time. The sheer talent is beyond the pale. Wilson Pickett. Duane Allman. Aretha Franklin. Etta James. And on and on and on.

The music is centered around the story of how Fame Studio was started and how Muscle Shoals Sound Studio grew out of that – well, I don’t want to give too much away, just drive you to the theater. Or to DVD rental.

Wherever you are, if either movie is playing, run to the theater, if you love music and history. You won’t be sorry.

In between the documentaries, John, Cathy, Paul and I saw Gravity. In 3D. It was good. Stunning in many ways – and I love space movies. But it couldn’t compare for me to these two little documentaries.

(Although it made me realize that if I knew I were terminally ill, I’d love to be shot solo into space to see what’s out there. What a way to go, if you’re already going.)

The last thing I want to tell you is that if you have children in your lives, read NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. NurtureShock It will shake up or reinforce your thinking, depending on whether you’re an everybody gets a trophy type or an old-school parent.

Based on study after study after study, it’s anything but dry. Fascinating reading. Entertainingly written doses of useful information.  You’ll be a better parent or grandparent if you absorb even part of it.

And you’ll understand this modern life better whether you have kids or not.

Just had to put that info out there.