Ben may be 35 today, but I can still see him at 6 month in my mind.

Ben may be 35 today, but I can still see him at 6 months in my mind.

On Nov. 10, 1978, I understood my purpose in life. It feels wrong to say I gave birth to my son, since he was taken by scheduled C-section, but I gave life to him – and he gave it to me.

Until I held my large, sturdy first-born, life had been a drifty, “whatever” proposition. But once we met, everything became clear. My purpose was in my arms. Motherhood suited me – it doesn’t define me, but it has made me who I am while fulfilling what I was meant to be.

Ben was the golden child – first Cartwright grandson, the boy my father (whom Ben dubbed “Grandbob”) never had, a smart and gorgeous infant. His time in the solo spotlight was short, though; by his first birthday I was heavily pregnant with his baby, as he called his sister.

Ben was just a couple of months away from being a doting big brother in this picture. Olan Miills, of course.

Ben was just a couple of months away from being a doting big brother in this picture. Olan Miills, of course.

By his second birthday, Grandbob was newly diagnosed with terminal cancer, which rocked our world. At Ben’s birthday party, Liz decided to steal the spotlight by standing for the first time – cameras quickly moved from the birthday boy and his cake to the teetery little girl in the petticoat-splayed dress and black-patent shoes.

Ben didn’t mind – he was a lesson in love and he adored his sister.

Liz is a hefty 4 months and Ben 19 months in this, their first "official" portrait together.

Liz is a hefty 4 months and Ben 19 months in this, their first “official” portrait together.

By his third birthday, Grandbob was dying and Mama was distracted and often at the hospital. After the party, Ben loaded his backpack with presents and took them to the cancer ward at Baptist Hospital, where he proudly spread them all over Daddy’s bed, and they discussed and played with each one.

Seems like yesterday in many ways.

Now my baby is a 35-year-old father of two, and his baby, precious Luke, will be 1 on Tuesday.

My purpose has expanded from two gorgeous children to five gorgeous grandkids. Lucky, lucky me.


I chose an Avett Brothers’ song to title this piece for two reasons: They sing about life, love, death and family and are one of my favorite bands. That’s reason 1. Reason 2 is that my kids, my friend Julia and I saw them at Verizon Friday night.

These boys have and are something special. If you don’t know them, look them up. I dare you not to be touched by them.

Once upon a time I had a drawerful of ticket stubs from concerts. I ditched or lost them all at some point, which I often regret. This is one I’m keeping.


My carnival

At first this post was going to be titled “another day,” because when you turn 58, it is just another birthday of many and not that big a deal.

But for my family and friends, that’s just not true. It turned instead into an extended celebration, as usual – my carnival started Friday and lasted through Sunday evening. Actually, it started a few days earlier when the dogs called me to the front door to catch John dragging a large smart TV for the bedroom into the foyer.

“Uh, happy birthday, ” he said. Oops. Great gift, even if Tess, Zuz and I spoiled the surprise.

Friday morning, Mother and I lit out for Springdale to pick up her darling little dog, called “Lollipop” by the rescue folks, but transitioned to “Polly” by Mother to spare confusion, since John and I are Lolly and Pop. Seeing her joy over the little white ball of love was the best gift I could have gotten.

John puts together little Lollipop/Polly's crate while she looks on approvingly. She loves it.

John puts together little Lollipop/Polly’s crate while she looks on approvingly. She loves it.

That evening our friends Julia and Rich came over with gifts and we had an old-fashioned cocktail in Waterford hi-ball glasses (Julia and me) and one beer each for the guys, while we watched the 2-hour Dateline episode featuring the freaky FDLS compound and Warren Jeffs’ arrest. Julia and I are somewhat obsessed with those folks. (So is my daughter-in-law, whom I got addicted with John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven.) The guys made fun of us for our exciting evening, but they ended up watching it too.

Like a train wreck they are. I dare you to look away.

Saturday Jude decreed that Lolly must have cupcakes on her birthday, so Liz got up early and made six heavenly vegan cupcakes, which she and the kids brought over before the Razorback game started. Liz and I also shopped at the South Main Vintage Market, scoring big on two chairs for $10 each and a set of 1950’s painted aluminum small tumblers and a pitcher.

Could’ve been from the year I was born. Close, anyway. And we got a vintage wooden Playskool school bus puzzle thrown in to boot. Sylvia’s obsessed with school busses. (I guess obsessiveness is a family trait.)

Bill Maher ever so kindly came to Arkansas on my birthday (Sept. 14, a day I share with my friends Allison Langston, Ron Wolfe and Paula Putt – and Joey Heatherton, one of John’s and my dad’s dream girls in the ’60’s), so my sister, Cathy, way-back-from-high-school friend, Anita, and I got tickets as soon as they went on sale.

After dinner at Vino’s with John and Paul, we went to Robinson Auditorium, where we were seated in front of my friends Dauphne and Cassandra, so the five of us enjoyed the show together. (Dauphne and I have been bemoaning our busy schedules keeping us from getting together. Coolness.)

Then today was the big family hoorah at Mother’s. Six children (my five grands and Cathy’s one), a new doggie, Rhonda and Mike, and all the family adults made for a big noisy bunch. Mother had a heavenly carrot cake and a whiskey bundt cake with whipped cream. I had too much of each and thought I’d never eat again, but oddly, I find myself getting almost hungry at almost 8 p.m.

So now it’s winding down. I have fabulous and funny cards, nice gifts, fantastic and loving family and friends and good health. Growing old is a breeze, sort of. It’s definitely worth doing, even if in my mind I still look like this:


My “official” 18th birthday portrait.

Instead of this:

I guess this is my official 58th birthday portrait. John took it.

I guess this is my official 58th birthday portrait. John took it.

Whatever. I just hope the birthdays keep coming.

I’m now 10 years older than Daddy was when he died of cancer. He’d be so proud of us all.

Typical situation

Even though this is a typical situation, it doesn’t mean I like it – or that I keep doing the same things and – hah, you thought I’d say expecting them to turn out differently. No, that would be insanity, according to Albert Einstein.

I’m old enough to know what I do to myself and to recognize when it’s happening – sometimes I’m just powerless to stop it. Things pile up (mostly books, magazines and dirt on my floors/dust on the blinds/things on my mind that I can’t do anything about). Just when I feel I might blow a fuse, I remember to breathe.

OK, that’s only partially true. Usually I do my whirling dervish act for a bit, as my husband calls it, then pile on a few more things to do, then realize I can’t possibly do it all and decide I’ll think about that tomorrow.

So, tonight, though I have TONS to do work- and otherwise, I decided I’d just blow everything off and do a short blog about coincidences (synchronicities??) and other things.

For one, I want to say “Happy birthday” to my dear friend Rhonda – our birthdays are two days apart and we normally go to lunch on the day between our birthdays, which is tomorrow.

But tomorrow I have to drive Mother to Springdale – I’m dropping everything to drive her up to adopt a little Bichon Frisé, the dog of her dreams, who is named Lollipop, of all things. We figure it was meant to be.

This is Lollipop, who'll be joining our family tomorrow.

This is Lollipop, the little Bichon Frisé mix who’ll be joining our family tomorrow.

Our grandkids’ heads may explode when they meet her Sunday at Grammy’s for my birthday get-together – Lolly and Pop and Lollipop? What?? But Mother’s thrilled and everyone’s thrilled for her.

Cathy and Paul have new adopted babies, too, Oscar and Felix, miniature poodle brothers. Hooray for puppies!

BernadetteMy other burning news is about books. On our recent trip to the Northwest, I tore through Where’d You Go, Bernadette – read it in one day on the way up. It’s set in Seattle and very funny – and dead-on in descriptions of Seattle-ites and places. I’d wanted it last year but made myself wait – I have a ridiculous number of not-read-yet books – then broke down and got it specifically for the trip.

So, of course I went ahead and got Beautiful Ruins, which I also wanted last year. BeautifulRuins It’s also lovely – and, unbeknownst to me beforehand, set partially in Seattle. Meant to be, right?

I finished it on the trip and on the way home started Orange Is the New Black, which I’d wanted to read for quite a while before running into my friend Cary who had just finished it and told me I had to read it.

OrangeI took that as a sign and added it to my trip books. I’m almost through, but life (and Arrested Development) is getting in the way of my reading since we got home. I can’t begin to explain how that book resonates for me – too complicated on too many levels – but if you like to read, read it.

The last book coincidence/whatever has to do with one I had in my youth WatershipDown but let get away and have wanted to reread for quite a while. And since I learned John hasn’t read it, getting him to do so  has been a bit of a mild obsession. (He doesn’t like reading assignments from his former teacher wife, but he usually likes the books I push – I’m a pusher, not a dealer – if he gives in. He’ll love this one.)

Um, John, I ordered a used paperback copy of Watership Down, by the way. Had to. Randomly came up in conversation twice in three days, which, of course, was a sign – AND the first used copy I looked at was sold as a charitable donation for Books for America. A double sign.

You’ll love it. Trust me. And I’ll add it to my to-do stack.

Pictures of Lollipop to come.

What’s going on?

This year started out crazy in January with Mother’s surgery and my step-father’s horrific death. Many days I find myself wondering if this craziness is the new permanent state of affairs and asking “what’s going on?”

At the macro level, sometimes I feel like I’ve landed in Bizarro World.

Remember Bizarro World Superman comics from a simpler time?

Remember Bizarro World Superman comics from a simpler time?

This isn’t even a major election year, but the political climate in our state and in the country just keeps getting worse, something that didn’t seem possible.

Unrest in the world keeps mounting. Rivers and oceans are rising and wildfires are raging. And what’s up with that storm last night? Arkansas is starting to feel like beachfront property weather-wise.

What’s going on? Have we passed the tipping point for things to be righted? Did we learn nothing from Marvin Gaye? The Vietnam War? The non-weapons of mass destruction and the melting polar ice cap?

Sigh. We do what we can in our daily lives and carry on as best we can. But we need to do better. Our grandchildren deserve it.

OK, I just put my soapbox away – I try to keep it out of this blog. But some days it’s tough.

What’s not tough is finding reasons to keep trying to make things better and to focus on the here and now. We have five of them 7 and younger.

Now, on to what’s going on at the micro level.

• John and I have finally become Bluth-heads. For years Ben and Liz told me how good it was, but we just recently started watching the old Arrested Development on Netflix. Yeah, kids, you were right.

Not only that, but we binge watch.

• And I’ve been staying up too late reading, still. We did stop watching The Daily Show and Colbert Report in bed, especially since our first-generation HD television has turned into black-and-white with a shrinking picture. I won’t tell you what I’m reading yet, though I will say after finishing Bruce, I binge-read a bunch of magazines that had stacked up. We’ll talk more books later. And we’ll save movies for another time soon, too.

• The grandkids keep us hopping and happy.

• And we’ve had more major changes in the house of late. Our upstairs floors are in the process of being sanded – we contracted Zaio’s Hardwood Floor Specialties to do the work – and will soon be polyurethaned. Hallelujah! Right now it’s sawdust central, but you can see how it will look from John’s prior handywork in my office.

Still needs baseboards and more coats of paint, but you can tell how it will look.

Still needs baseboards and more coats of paint, but you can tell how it will look.

After the walls were finished (sheetrock and paint) a while back, John's dream of a large mirror to reflect the double-helix stairs became reality.

After the walls were finished (sheetrock and paint) a while back, John’s dream of a large mirror to reflect the double-helix stairs became reality.

A glimpse of what's to come very soon!

A glimpse of what’s to come very soon!

Zuzu models the new floors. You can tell by the ears she's not so sure about her Vanna White skills. (I think she did just fine.)

Zuzu models the new floors. You can tell by the ears she’s not so sure about her Vanna White skills. (I think she did just fine.)

• Once again I’ve gone much longer between posts than intended. Part of that is because I work from home (I blog over at, too, a real pleasure), in addition to having a busy life. But part of it is that I seem to be losing some steam. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the crazy year.

Maybe it’s the 58th birthday approaching in September.

Pooh. Anyway, I’ve got lots of things on my Lolly Diaries agenda.

• One last thing that’s going on: My nephew is in jail once again. He’s been a Crisco-coated eel for 16 years, slipping out of tights spots and sliding through cracks in the system. This time no one’s bailed him out and, though no one expects miracles, hope does spring eternal.

We know he belongs there, but it hurts. My heart aches for my sister and the fact that Mother has cried her eyes out makes me want to punch said nephew real hard. He was a loved child. Sometimes things just turn out crazy.

You’d never guess it to look at any of us, which is a good reminder not to judge people or make assumptions. Life is hard for everyone, and you never really know what’s going on.

Candles on the cake

When it comes to birthdays, my family has always loved to put the candles on the cake, especially when kids are involved. (And if you dig soulful jazz – jazzy soul? – you’ll want to click on that link to hear Quincy Jones.)

People still talk about some of my children’s birthday parties, and at the time of those parties, some parents suggested I go into the kids’ birthday party business.

Now Liz is throwing birthday parties for her kids and proving herself to be a real momster – Jude’s Harry Potter party this year really took the cake.

My children, who are in their early 30s, were in the first wave of “event” birthday parties, parties held at fast-food restaurants with playgrounds, Chuck E. Cheese, skating parties – you know what I mean. Each of them dabbled with an event party; Ben had one at a newly opened Burger King with a playground and Liz had a skating party, but those were aberrations and both kids chose mom-created parties after that.

We really couldn’t afford event parties anyway, but I’m not sure the kids knew that. They just knew we had fun.

People used to laugh at me for mopping before kids came to eat cake. My daughter does the same thing. It’s genetic and something you have to outgrow. I’ve gotten over it to a degree, but it took two defective rotator cuffs to get me there.

I spent some time this morning scanning old photos, so they’ll tell most of the story, but here’s the scoop:

Ben’s 10th birthday party was a nighttime weenie roast, actually the second attempt. The year before, rain forced us under the carport and we had to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on the grill. The kids were in heaven.

Who's afraid to let kids play with fire? No one even got singed at Ben's bonfire birthday.

Who’s afraid to let kids play with fire? No one even got singed at Ben’s bonfire birthday.

Presents are fun indoors or out, day or night.

Presents are fun indoors or out, day or night.

Liz’s 9th birthday party was at our neighborhood park, Idlewild Park in Park Hill. We played old-fashioned games, like drop the clothespins in the bottle and “who can pop her balloon by sitting on it the fastest” – the kids really loved that one and we played many rounds. Some of the pics are hysterical. We did have a Community Bakery cake for that party, but everything else was totally old-school.

Little Cara Colclasure, our youngest guest, is a dead-eye aim in drop the clothespin in the bottle.

Little Cara Colclasure, our youngest guest, is a dead-eye aim in drop the clothespin in the bottle.

On your mark, get set, SIT!! More than a few kids missed their balloons, but no one complained.

On your mark, get set, SIT!! More than a few kids missed their balloons, but no one complained.

“Where’s Waldo” was a big hit that year.

Ben’s 11th was climbing Pinnacle Mountain and a picnic in the park below. Looking back, that seems kind of daring, taking rowdy, crazy 9-12-year-old boys (and Liz) on such a mission. A couple of parents climbed along and my friend Rhonda manned the picnic site and helped with that part.

Kings of the mountain!

Kings of the mountain!

Liz and I take in the scenery (and steal a moment away from the rowdies).

Liz and I take in the scenery (and steal a moment away from the rowdies).

Birthday boy with his homemade Mississippi mud cake.

Birthday boy with his homemade Mississippi mud cake.

Liz’s 10th was the “You Can Be a Star” party – every guest had to have an act to perform on the front-porch “stage” that Rhonda and I decorated with cardboard and aluminum-foil stars. Kids brought their own music or we furnished it for them.

DJ Murphy, whose performance picture is suspiciously missing from my photo album, was the only non-related boy in attendance. He sang an NKOTB song and the girls screamed. He grew up to be my student in high school, and now he lives in Nashville and has a band. You could see it coming.

Ben and cousin Robert (behind him) either did early rap or Bon Jovi. You can see D.J. waiting in the wings.

Ben and cousin Robert (behind him) perform either early rap or Bon Jovi. You can see DJ waiting in the wings.

Liz and her friend Kaylin Redmond perform a duet. I can't remember what it was – Liz, do you?

Liz and her friend Kaylin Redmond perform a duet. I can’t remember what it was – Liz, do you?

Mom-made cupcakes on the carport – convenient and (ssshh) cheap.

Mom-made cupcakes on the carport – convenient and (ssshh) cheap. Liz is digging her Magic 8ball.

Little child (times 5)

Life has been crazy busy lately – in good ways, finally – and I’ve had one or more little child around many of these past few days.

But how fast things change; you take a few days away from WordPress, for example, which I didn’t intend to do, and come back to find everything looking different.

Same thing with the grandkids. Look away for a moment, and when you look back, they’re bigger, smarter, funnier and cuter.

Jude is a tall lanky boy as he approaches 7 next week. Suddenly he’s, well, big. He can hold a mature conversation one minute, then act like a goob the next. We adore him.

Jude poses with a D for "Dad" – Lolly shot photos for Brent's Father's Day fram.

Jude poses with a D for “Dad” – Lolly shot photos for Brent’s Father’s Day frame.

Look at how long those legs are! Where did our little boy go?

Look at how long those legs are! Where did our little boy go?

Sylvia turned 2 on the 14th and the family had a big rowdy party on the 15th. You can see how much better Mother is looking in this party picture with Baby Silas. And maybe you can’t tell, but we can all see that Silas favors our side of the family. Jude and Syl are Brent made over, but smiley Siley looks like his mom. He also talks and belly laughs – and refuses to stop growing in fast-motion, even though we tell him to stop that!

Great-grammy and Baby Silas

Great-grammy and Baby Silas

Sylvia’s party theme was Abby Cadabby, so she, Annabelle and their friend Samantha wore fairy wings, just like Abby.

Towering Sylvia is 5 months younger. Annabelle was 2 in January. They have so much fun together.

Towering Sylvia is 5 months younger. Annabelle was 2 in January. They have so much fun together.

Annabelle was perfect at Sylvia’s party – she didn’t try to grab one present and was still singing “Happy birthday to Sivvie” yesterday. (She calls Sylvia “Sivvie” and Sivvie calls her “Bear” for Belle. They both call Luke “Yukey” and Baby Silas “Baby SI-as.” But they can both say “Jude” quite plainly. And they talk nonstop.)

Sylvia tries to blow out her candles. Jude had to secretly help.

Sylvia tries to blow out her candles. Jude had to secretly help.

As Liz and I shot the other Father’s Day photos, I got some cute ones of Syl holding Si, which I have to share – just one, but indulge me.

Study in cute. And blue.

A study in cute. And blue.

John and I kept Annabelle and master Luke Monday and Tuesday (and half a day Friday). Annabelle reminds me so of her daddy at that age – and she cracks me up constantly. Her vocabulary is at the exponential growth stage, and I adore hearing her use adverbs correctly. She’s also very, very dramatic and uses stage-worthy gestures.

Look! It's Jude's train!

Look! It’s Jude’s train!

Luke is a sweet potato – happy and easy and funny, too.

Luke tells me about life.

Luke tells me about life.

But he’s started fighting sleep like a heavy-weight contender. Yesterday afternoon his eyes would roll shut at the first few bars of a Beatles’ song (“I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Eight Days a Week” were the songs du jour), but let me try to move to off “Lolly’s bouncy ball,” as Jude used to call it, and he wasn’t having it.

You can't make me sleep, Luke says, as Annabelle calmly ignores him.

You can’t make me sleep, Luke says, as Annabelle calmly ignores him.

Oh, well, you can’t win them all. But we did hit the cute grandkid jackpot.

You are the sunshine of my life

Today is Pam’s birthday, and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” is her ring-song on my phone. That’s because from the time we met, just over 47 years ago when she moved in across the street on Blackhawk Road, we sang duets with or to each other. Not well, but heartfelt.

Stevie’s soothing tune was the last one we crooned to each other, taking alternating lines, during our senior year of high school, so in Laura logic, of course it announces her phone calls today.

Once we were little girls, giggling and silly. In junior high we worked up a killer (and we thought hysterically disrespectful) version of Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” which we performed in the street for the other kids. Pam and I hated country music then and really, really twanged it up, but when some neighbor kids, whose family was seriously into country told us quite earnestly that we should audition for a spot on Tommy Trent’s Fun Barn, we didn’t have the heart to tell them our performance was satire.

Today Pam’s a successful nurse practitioner with her own practice and a great yoga instructor, teaching at the lovely Just Breathe Yoga  in Heber Springs. I’m so proud of her. She knows that, but I want to say it again.

We still turn into giggling girls when we get together, and John tries to be quick with the camera to catch us in the act – but we’re quicker at dodging. We actually let him take this one last fall, but for some reason, it’s super-soft focus (otherwise known as blurry), and I swear we didn’t have him use cheesecloth on the lens.

Old girls

Old girls

We promised we’d live in the same neighborhood as adults and that our kids would play together, which we did and they did. We made a promise when we were kids that we’d remain friends, which we’ve done. We’re family by choice.

Happy birthday, Pam! Love you.


Speaking of old girls, but on a workout note, I did a new one today,  Zayna Gold’s Boston Body Barre Sculpt Express. Really, really good and tough but gentle enough for girls in our age bracket. It’s a keeper, and I may have to get her other DVD. It’s like the Lotte Berke Method workouts, but with an age-appropriate friend taking you through the routines, instead of a perky young thing bouncing along or a drill-instructor young thing telling you to do things that will cause you injury.


Two thumbs up – or, considering the nature of the workout, two butt cheeks up.


And on one last note, my old man (that would be handsome Pop, my husband, John) will have two pieces of furniture in a StudioMain exhibit for a month, starting Friday at 5 p.m. If you’re local, come see us at the reception from 5 until 8 p.m.; it’s part of Second Friday Art Night, a lovely part of life in Little Rock. (That’s our friend Morgan’s chair, if you click on the StudioMain link.)

Last year his glass-topped coffee table was a big hit. This year it’s his beautiful liquor cabinet and super-fab chair. I’m very pleased for him. He’s a real artist.

I just wish the cabinet weren’t so well-stocked – it’s going to be a long month with all the bottles and glasses sitting on the dining table.

John's handiwork deserves to be exhibited. You can't by this one, but he'll be taking orders soon.

John’s handiwork deserves to be exhibited. You can’t buy this one, but he’ll be taking orders soon.

Blue suede shoes

For his birthday today, my baby got some blue suede shoes – saddle oxfords – along with a more standard pair (he picked them out when I took him shopping) and a woodworking tool-thing he wanted.

I really like the whimsy of the blue suede shoes, and the fact that they’re very much ones that Daddy would have worn and of which dearly departed Bill would have said, “Boy, aren’t those snazzy?!”

That’s my guy. Hip, but retro and snazzy. Love him madly. He’s the cutest, spryest 62-year-old you’d ever meet and people never believe his age.

Being from Washington state, John still turns into a little boy when it snows.

Being from Washington state, John still turns into a little boy when it snows.

Wonderful grandfather, understanding dad (no need to add step – they’re all our kids), loving son, son-in-law, brother and brother-in-law. That’s John.

Pop admires his early birthday present, little Silas, born April 8.

Pop admires his early birthday present, little Silas, born April 8.

He was also his big sister’s 3rd birthday present – he was born on her birthday, by induction, as the best present or the biggest trick a little girl could get. You’ll have to ask Kitty which version is correct, but she’s pretty crazy about John and he her, so I’m guessing the former.

So this is Kitty’s happy birthday, too. And their younger cousin JoAnne. And John’s lifelong friend from back home, Paul Busoli. And our Little Rock friends Mike and Mike.

Plus Loretta Lynn (whom, oddly, one of Willie Nelson’s roadies told me I look like when I was about 20 – it was the ’70s).

Tonight we’re going to Curry in a Hurry with Cathy and Paul to celebrate. Rhonda and Mike came over with Italian Cream Cake she’d made in Mike’s honor but wanted to share.

And it’s a beautiful day for my guy. All this inspires me to write him a birthday poem.

The man I wed still makes me laugh most every single day,

and when he’s dressed in suit and tie, he takes my breath away.

But even when he’s slouchy, he’s still so very cute

the annoying little things he does are really rather moot.


The way he loves our offspring is unconditionally, the way

a dad and granddad should – and the way that he loves me.

So John, dear, happy birthday, though this poem is rather lame.

I’ll love you for forever and “Lucky” is my name.

Grandkids make my guy happy. Look at that Luke-smile.

Grandkids make my guy happy. Look at that smile.

So does napping with them, as he is here with tiny Annabelle. Old guys need their rest.

So does napping with them. Old guys need their rest.

What the world needs now

Oh, lordy. Anyone who knows me well knows how hard it’s been for me to stay away from politics in The Lolly Diaries. This has been a hard, infernal and eternal election cycle, and, dammit, it needs to be over. What the world needs now is love and healing – and lots of it.

If I could transport us back to Shindig, or at least to the good old days before Citizens United turned our country inside out and upside down, believe me, I would. The adults who are driven to distraction by the constant negativity (and constant poll checking and TV news watching) need a do-over, but I’d mainly do it for the grandchildren, whose futures are still in our hands.

Monday our fourth grandchild will arrive (assuming he doesn’t decide to pop in early), little Luke, baby brother to Annabelle. In April, grandchild 5 will make his debut, baby brother to Jude and Sylvia. We need to grow up as a nation so they can grow up with futures worth living.

(I could so get on my global-warming, no-nuking soapbox here, but I won’t. I’m clenching my teeth with effort, but I won’t. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.)

My recent trip to Washington was in part to free my sister-in-law, Kitty, to run off to the Tri-Cities for the birth of her precious newby, little Regan. Regan is Kitty’s baby Brett’s firstborn – an easy-dispositioned honey who deserves to grow up in a country run by rational adults.

Baby Regan gets acquainted with her Nana.

Brett, Kitty and Regan – three generations.

I also got to be part of the October birthday celebration at an assisted-living facility, in which my mother-in-law, Doris, was one of the honorees. At 91, she comes from a much more genteel time.

The 91-year-old birthday girl and her beautiful daughter guarantee little Regan has good genes.

One can only hope we can regain some gentility in the country.

Tomorrow I’ll be baking a victory cake – it’ll be a round reprise of the one I baked in 2008. We’ll have Blue Champagne Cocktails at hand. I hope to heck (and expect) that we’ll be celebrating. But either way, can we please, please grow up?


John and I both hit the mother-in-law jackpot, so we’d have to change the lyrics to this old song from the first album I ever owned. (Yes, it’s Herman’s Hermits. I was 9 – I’m not ashamed.) We both agree ours rank more like “the best person I know, mother-in-law, mother-in-law.”

“She wor-ur-uries me so, mother-in-law, M-I-L” would have to be “she lo-ov-oves me so, M-I-L, M-I-L ….”

So I was especially pleased to get to spend the afternoon alone with my 91-year-old (as of Sunday) M-I-L today at her new home in Yakima. She recently made the move from her long-time home in the orchards of Naches to assisted living in town, something that could have been terribly traumatic but to which she’s adjusting rather well, over all.

She has good days and bad. Today was an excellent day.

Kitty and Norm woke this morning to a phone call that daughter-in-law Nicole (Kitty’s also a great M-I-L) was in labor – still no baby at 6 p.m., but she’s getting there – so my main purpose for this trip to the great Northwest kicked in a bit sooner than we expected.

Kitty and Norm hit the road for the Tri-Cities area and I’m holding down the fort, taking care of kitties and buddy-dog Milo, looking in on John’s tiny mother and being here in case she needs something. It’s an easy and pleasant job.

Doris and I talked about all kinds of things and I showed her pictures of Jude, Annabelle and Sylvia on my iPhone. She’s having a good day and was spot on most of the time. The afternoon felt like a gift to me.

The baby boomer shuffle kicks in for anyone lucky enough to have elderly parents and new babies popping out all over. Yes, it keeps you hopping, but some parents die young and some of us don’t get grandchildren, so consider yourselves lucky if it happens.

Our elderly loved ones get more childlike and need our help. That’s just how it goes. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for boomers with teenagers at home and elderly parents who need assistance. That would be crazy-making. Taking care of folks in their declining years can be hard as hell and less than pleasant more often than not. That’s also how it goes for many of us.

But today was a delight. As I was leaving and said “I’ll see  you tomorrow,” Doris reminded me not to come in the afternoon because she wouldn’t be there – some of her high school friends are picking her up for a birthday lunch.

A lovely plan for a lovely lady. Let’s hope it’s another good day.

My little mother-in-law, Doris, was a bit apprehensive the day she moved into her new digs (which is when this photo was taken), but now she thinks they’re pretty swell. Her baby boy, John, and beautiful daughter, Kitty, are happy she’s safe and well looked after.