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Golden girl

 

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Tess Among the Flowers

Today our darling Tessie is 12, quite a geriatric for a German Shepherd. She came to live with us in July 2005, when she was 8 weeks old and I was recuperating from a life-changing (and potentially life-threatening) surgery. Her tiny teeth marks are still on the corner of my very expensive nightstand from where she entertained herself while I snoozed.

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Official 12th birthday portrait – she’s always loved to be photographed.

She’s still an elder beauty, a natural blonde, but in her early years, she was dark and her future appearance was a mystery, as is always the case with shepherds.

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That face! That white-tipped tail (which she still has)!

Tess LOVES presents, so we started early this morning (early for her – she sleeps in most mornings and takes her morning pain medicine before she’s very mobile these days).

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In action

Present

Another squeaky toy!

In November, when Tess came screaming to us with bloat, formally called gastric dilatation volvulus – GDV – the emergency vet clinic wasn’t so sure she’d make it. We knew she would, and even though the vet was nervous, we opted for emergency surgery. Not only did she survive, she got to go home in record time. She was an invalid for a while, and she’s still terribly hobbled by neuropathy, her permanent condition.

A heartbreaker for us, but she’s still happy.

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Excuse the blur – they were a little too excited.

We know her days are numbered – I won’t embarrass her by mentioning some of the indignities of doggy old-age – but for now, she still loves her family and the grandkids and still has her glorious smile, so we persevere. Her neuropathy prevents her from taking the long walks she so loved, and her glorious tail hangs down these days, still with its white tip – not from unhappiness, but from numbness.

But in our minds, she’s still the cutest puppy ever and still has so much to say. Happy birthday, Tess!

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Precious in pink

 

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Golden years

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The upstairs kitchen still has a way to go, but you can see progress.We’ve had a flurry of activity again lately – nothing like out-of-town houseguests to get you cooking with gas (though the stove is not hooked up yet).

Wow, long time between posts. We’ve had lots going on, including John’s Medicare birthday last week, and I’ve been doing lots and lots of writing elsewhere. I’ve also been spending lots of time with little Luke. He adores our quartzite kitchen floor and wanted to know, quite seriously, “How did you get these bricks so straight?”

Maybe I’m just a proud Lolly, but that seems a pretty astute question for a 3-year-old.

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This is a long shot of the upstairs living room, looking west from the kitchen. That’s the new couch that’s been sitting under plastic since delivery.

We’re getting close to finishing on this level. Of course we still have the upstairs loft bedroom and bath to go, but we plan to have Thanksgiving here this year. On this floor, that is.

But I’ll have to wrest the holiday from Mother. I may be 60, but I’m a southern girl, and in the south, Mama has holidays until she gives them up. She’ll be so thrilled with the kitchen being done that she’ll happily concede this year, though.

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Here you can see more of John’s handiwork – he’s down to just that last window frame! In 100+ year-0ld houses, nothing is plumb, so framing windows is no easy task. And this is the spot where the oval mid-century Danish dining set will sit.

All the leather furniture required cleaning and conditioning, even the brand new stuff – construction dust is hell.

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And here’s a close up of the new floor-sample couch we scored at Ferguson’s in Benton, along with John’s gorgeous cocktail/coffee table. We hope before long he’s taking orders for fine furniture, but he and Lee are still working on the New Deal Studios and Gallery building, so not quite yet. (Maybe is someone was really desperate for something …)

April is a month full of family birthdays – most still with us and a couple with us in spirit. Silas turned 3, John turned 65 and his sister, Kitty, 68 on the same day. April 15 was my grandmother’s birthday. Yesterday our sweet Marie-Noelle caught up with Liz – six weeks or so separate their 36ness. The 24th was my grandfather’s birthday (and also the day my daddy died 34 years ago).

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John let me take his pic in his Star Wars T-shirt Annabelle and Luke picked out for him. Pretty cute for an old guy, huh? And sweet Tessie loves to have her photo taken. She’ll be 11 in May.

Very soon, if all goes as planned, we’ll have some major news that I’ll share. In other important events, John and Liz leave soon for Nepal to climb to the base camp at Mt. Everest, a hike John made 43 years ago. Brent and I will hold down the fort with the three kiddos – I’m getting shots in both shoulders next week to prepare me for more strenuous activity.

We may be old, but we like it. Life is good. John told me a couple of nights ago that he’s looking forward to our golden years.

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John with his darling niece, Lissette, after he returned from his first trip to Nepal and other parts east. My kind of guy then, my kind of guy now. 

Something to talk about

In April, Mother and I headed off to Italy – Florence and Venice – for her dream 80th birthday trip. What a time we had!

In April, Mother and I headed off to Italy – Florence and Venice – for her dream 80th birthday trip. What a time we had!

The last time I shut The Lolly Diaries, I locked the key, put it under the bed and thought it was time to move on. But since we still have something to talk about, lots of things, I pulled it out, dusted it off, made several changes and decided to carry on.

I’ll address the changes in a sec, but first let me say happy birthday to Bonnie Raitt, who turned 65 today and whose Silver Lining album (from which “Something to Talk About” hails) was playing in the background as John and I grew to love each other.

It’s been a big birthday year and a year of major changes, some good, some awful. Such is life, no?

Anyway, if you’ve followed this blog a while, you might notice the tagline has changed, along with a few other things – of course my five grandchildren are still the lights of my life, but since they’re not old enough to give informed consent to being all over the internet (well, you know what I mean), they won’t be as big a focus in the continuing form of TLD. Some posts are now down and many, many photos have disappeared.

Not every post will have a song link, and I’ve got some other not-ready-for-prime-time writing that’s taking up chunks of my time, so posts might be much shorter and more infrequent. We’ll see how things pan out.

This entry, though, will be a quick catch-up, in photo album form.

Sweet John dropped us off at the airport on his 64th birthday. He was so excited we got to go.

Sweet John dropped us off at the airport on his 64th birthday. He was so excited we got to go.

Mother was such a trouper and good traveler – you'd never know it was her first transcontinental trip or that she was almost 80.

Mother was such a trouper and good traveler – you’d never have known it was her first transcontinental trip or that she was almost 80. This was the day we arrived in Florence. Just a little rest and off we went!

A friendly couple wanted to take our picture at Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

A friendly couple wanted to take our picture at Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

Mother said she drank more wine on our trip than she had in her whole life (a bit of an exaggeration), but when in Italy, right?

Mother said she drank more wine on our trip than she had in her whole life (a bit of an exaggeration), but when in Italy, right?

In May, our Tessie turned 10! She still loves to cool off in the fountain at the Clinton Library on hot days.

In May, our Tessie turned 10! She still loves to cool off in the fountain at the Clinton Library on hot days.

Hard to believe this is the face of 80, but Mother couldn't have been more happy to have her family around for her birthday party.

Hard to believe this is the face of 80, but Mother couldn’t have been happier to have her family around for her birthday party.

See?

See?

And here are the Cartwright girls on our mother's birthday. We are not twins, nor did we plan to dress alike.

And here are the Cartwright girls on our mother’s birthday. We are not twins, nor did we plan to dress alike.

We've had another dash of progress in our big old house ...

We’ve had another dash of progress in our big old house …

... but we're not there yet. We did have our first party upstairs that included actual walls and real furniture.

… but we’re not there yet. We did have our first party upstairs that included actual walls and real furniture.

In September, I turned 60 – Mother made me a spice cake with penuche frosting, always my fave of her cakes. I bought vegan cupcakes for Silas this time, though Liz and I continue to work on recipes the little guy can enjoy.

In September, I turned 60 – Mother made me a spice cake with penuche frosting, always my fave of her cakes. I bought vegan cupcakes for Silas this time, though Liz and I continue to work on recipes the little guy can enjoy.

My darling Pam, who turned 60 in June (John and I went to Heber for hers), joined us at Mother's for my celebration. We're happy as heck about being older gals.

My darling Pam, who turned 60 in June (John and I went to Heber for her birthday), joined us at Mother’s for my celebration. We’re happy as heck about being older gals – and still being joined at the heart.

Later in September was my trip to Miami (my real 60th birthday present, along with this new lightweight MacBook Pro from John) for three days of Climate Reality Leadership training (much more on that to come later). One of the perks was witnessing the lunar eclipse on Miami Bay.

Later in September was my trip to Miami (my real 60th birthday present, along with this new lightweight MacBook Pro from John) for three days of Climate Reality Leadership training (much more on that to come later). One of the perks was witnessing the lunar eclipse on Miami Bay.

We’ll end this photo album catch-up episode with Zuzu’s fifth birthday in October. Both are girls are hale and hearty, which makes us very happy.

Birthday girl Zuzu is quite serious about photos, but Tess can't help but smile if she sees a camera pointed her way.

Birthday girl Zuzu is quite serious about photos, but Tess can’t help but smile if she sees a camera pointed her way.

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.

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Until next time – ob-la-di.

Fly me to the moon

The third supermoon in a row, taken on Monday Sept. 8.

The third supermoon in a row, taken on Monday Sept. 8.

So, just like that, I’m 59, and my family and friends have flown me to the moon with love, attention and gifts. I’ve got so many people who can take me to Jupiter and Mars just by holding my hand that getting older is a treat.

I’ve got a  sweet husband, wonderful children, glorious grandkids and the best friends a semi-old girl could hope for. My mother keeps on ticking and next year, if all goes well, we go to Italy together for decade-changing birthdays.

I just got to see (and document photographically) three supermoons in a row.

The third consecutive supermoon on Sunday, Sept. 7 – the precautionary shot in case it was cloudy the next night.

The third consecutive supermoon on Sunday, Sept. 7 – the precautionary shot in case it was cloudy the next night.

My precious little ones give me a reason to look to the future.

Next weekend my cousin and I get to go to New York for the People’s Climate March, so I can at least tell my five little peppers that I tried, should things not turn around climate-wise.

I may be old, but I feel re-energized. Thank you, my darlings. You all know who you are.

My daughter and my Julia both got me Wonder Woman gifts, which made me feel just wonderful.

My daughter and my Julia both got me Wonder Woman gifts, which made me feel just – wonderful.

And here's more – I'm almost embarrassed by the abundance, and that's not even all. (Excuse John's mess on the table. He prefers it to his desk upstairs.)

And here’s more – I’m almost embarrassed by the abundance, and that’s not even all. (Excuse John’s mess on the table. He prefers it to his desk upstairs.)

Annabelle, like her cousin Jude, has inherited the art gene. That's a darn good flower for a 3-year-old, and the 'L

Annabelle, like her cousin Jude, has inherited the art gene. That’s a darn good flower for a 3-year-old, and the ‘L” is for “Lolly,” of course.

Sitting on the dock of the bay

Mother was having a bit of stressed-out day, so Liz surprised her pre-birthday party by sprucing up her deck table – and, as you can see from the smile, her mood. Ben gave her a certificate to power wash her deck, so it'll soon be even sprucier.

Mother was having a bit of stressed-out day, so Liz surprised her pre-birthday party by sprucing up her deck table – and, as you can see from the smile, her mood. Ben gave her a birthday certificate to power wash her deck, so it’ll soon be even sprucier.

And then there’s my mother, also known as Grandma, Grammy and Willette. She may not quite be sitting on the dock of the bay, but she is spending lots of time on her deck by the lake these days, for which her family is ever so grateful. She turned 79 Monday (we had a party at her house Saturday). We’re grateful for that, too.

The move from the outback to the house on the lake in town (which was all her decision, for the record) was harder on her than we can ever imagine – not only did she downsize and leave the house she built for her and Bill to grow old in, but she did it on her own. Made her own decisions, got utilities in her own name. Of course we helped her a lot, but Mother, who married Daddy at 17 and married Bill 13 months after Daddy died, has been on her own now longer than she ever has.

She looks like a million bucks and a much younger woman, but, truth be told, her health is much less than stellar. She gets flustered and frustrated, but when her blood counts are acceptable, she’s usually pretty chipper. And still very funny.

Resilience is the word that comes to mind. But with age you lose some of your fearlessness and confidence – it’s a pretty natural progression but still hard to watch for the family. Mother has always been a fireball.

Anyway, back to the party.

Annabelle, Sylvia and Grammy, three beautiful girls.

Annabelle, Sylvia and Grammy, three beautiful girls.

Shortly after we got there, Mother called everyone to attention and said she’d made a frozen drink called “Red Rooster” (cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and Tito’s Handmade Vodka – she’d heard the recipe at one of her doctor’s appointments) and commanded all the adults to get a serving because she had something to say.

We happily obliged, and, Mother being Mother, were ready for anything, but I secretly hoped it wasn’t bad health news.

“I made this,” she told us, “because I want to thank you all for all your help during my move – for all you’ve done. And to apologize for the times I’ve been heinous ….”

I said she had never been heinous, but it was hard for all of us not to laugh at her use of the word. Out of the mouths of great-grandmothers!

I did almost choke later that evening, when John, who of course hadn’t been wearing his hearing aid at the party, told me that at first he’d thought Mother was being awfully hard on herself when she apologized for “the times she’d been an anus.”

Pop and Silas – two guys who crack me up.

Pop and Silas – two guys who crack me up.

Mother blows out her candles, with long-distance assistance from Annabelle. Jude saw the cake that said, "Happy birthday, Mother," and asked Cathy, "Who's Mother?" He thought it was Grammy's birthday.

Mother blows out her candles, with long-distance assistance from Annabelle. Jude saw the cake that said, “Happy birthday, Mother,” and asked Aunt Cathy, “Who’s Mother?” He thought it was Grammy’s birthday.

Monday, on her real birthday, July 7, Mother and I went to buy her an iPad. She also got an “iPad for Seniors” book (with slightly larger text and lots of photos) and a turquoise iPad cover.

We’d tossed Bill’s clunky Dell computer, which Mother hated and feared, when we moved her out of the old house. She already had wifi, though, and an email address set up, so in no time her new toy was up and running. She’s been wanting to text for a long time, but with her rheumatoid arthritis, texting on a phone is out of the question, so the iPad is perfect for that. And she can check her email, look at photos of the kids, use her Google app to look things up and play solitaire on the app we downloaded.

Mother learns to text on her 79th birthday.

Mother learns to text on her 79th birthday.

She sent texts to Cathy, John, Liz and Elizabeth, and my stepsister Lisa. I got her fairly comfortable with very basic things before I went home. Or so we thought. From 9:30 until just after 10 that night we had a phone tutorial that reminded me of a cross between an Abbott and Costello routine and one of Bob Newhart’s phone sketches (they used to make Daddy laugh until he cried).

I was determined to get her situated – and keep her from getting scared of her iPad – even if I had to drive across the river, but we finally got things straight on the phone.

Yesterday morning she left me a message that when she got up, all her icons were there and things were under control. But yesterday evening, things had run amok. I finally determined, via phone, that she’d accidentally opened the Game Center trying to get to solitaire – thank heavens she didn’t stumble into online gaming! – and we had another phone tutorial. Haven’t checked yet today – I’m writing this while watching the World Cup semifinal– but I have faith that she’ll catch on.

And the patience to keep at it until she does. Heck, she may be on Facebook before we know it.

Now I’m thinking of next year. For Mother’s 80th, should we be so lucky, we’re going to Italy – we’re thinking Rome, Pompeii and Florence. We’ll consult with her doctors in August on the feasibility, and if they give us the go-ahead, we’ll shoot for April or May.

In the meantime, she can enjoy life with her little dog Polly, her iPad and her deck on the lake.

Talk talk

Eleanor Roosevelt’s wonderful quote about conversations came across my radar again recently, and I’ve been thinking about it since.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people,” the great woman once said (or, as the journalist in me requires, reportedly said).

Now I would never claim to be a great mind, but gossip is something that not only do I try to avoid, but that wears me out. Bores me and makes me sad.

Yet some people do nothing but talk-talk about people they know – or don’t know. Or, worse, claim someone said something she didn’t. Ugh.

As a frequent victim of both types of gossip throughout my life, I’ve been relieved to be an old gal and have it finally begin to die down.

Or so I thought. Lately it’s been cropping up again.

Please, folks, if you didn’t hear someone say it, maybe he didn’t. If you didn’t see her do it, maybe it didn’t happen. Benefit of a doubt, and all that jazz.

I remember a time in high school when I added a benign comment to something the popular “mean girls” were saying about an innocent victim – haunts me to this day because I didn’t stand up for her, even though I knew they were lying.

OK, PSA over. Just think before you speak, please.

••••••••••••••••••

On to an average discussion about events, occasions in the collective life of the inhabitants of Lollypopland. But, wait: First I have to say how thrilled I am that, today, at least, Little Rock is a city of love and equality for all. Hallelujah! Stand up tall. Arkansas is ahead of the curve on marriage equality in the south.

Congratulations to all my LGBT friends! We know the legal wrangling’s not over, but, still, today is a day to celebrate. Chris Piazza, sir, hats off to you.

And also let me mention how concerned I am for my grandchildren – for all of us – that as the Antarctic ice sheets melt and glaciers in Greenland recede much sooner than expected, only 47 percent of Americans believe humans are contributing to climate change, and 23 percent believe it’s not a real phenomena. (That’s according to Mother Jones in January – could be worse by May, but I don’t want to look. File under “things that keep a grandmother awake at night.”)

•••••••••••••••••••

Tess is quite the happy girl on her 9th birthday.

Tess is quite the happy girl on her 9th birthday.  That’s 3-year-old Zuzu, not Tess’ younger self, behind her.

Now, let me say “Happy birthday!” to our beautiful Tessie, who is 9 today. She had chicken jerky and raw and cooked asparagus in lieu of cake. Yes, asparagus – she loves it, which could be one reason she’s so svelte.

Things have changed drastically for the fam. The youngest grandchild’s allergy blood tests came back, and the little guy is allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts. Baby Epi-pen allergic. “Mom, Lolly and Grammy have to relearn how to cook” allergic.

Maybe Liz and I will be sharing some recipes here.

All-in-all, I feel good about it, though. He’s had such serious allergies and trouble gaining weight. His Uncle Ben had to do two years sans eggs and milk (though not as ingredients, as Silas faces, just not on their own), but after that, Ben could add them back into his diet.

We’re thinking positively. As for his other allergy, dogs, well, we all have dogs, so we’ll be careful and he’ll take allergy medicine. Someday he’ll take allergy shots like Lolly. (I also have an Epi-pen for antibiotic reactions and a sulfite allergy.) We’re an allergic bunch, in general, even the in-laws – the rest of the fam is allergic to cats, but not Si. Go figure.

Yesterday, Mother’s Day, Mother, Cathy, Liz and I did the 50th Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Homes together – but neglected to take any photos, sadly. Mother looked beautiful but tiny.

Life in a historic home is often one step forward, two steps back. Zuzu supervises the situation, of course.

Life in a historic home is often one step forward, two steps back. Zuzu supervises the situation, of course.

In addition to volunteering for the tour, John spent part of his day ripping out the outside wall on our historic home to get at the carpenter ant, termite and wood rot damage under my bathtub. That’s also part of living in the Quapaw Quarter – maintenance on old houses is high.

And we’re still not finished renovating. Feels like a circle-back-in-time-warp, in a way.

But that’s an idea for another time.