Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dancing into Neverland

Okay, I have not carried out my pledge to dance every day in 2014, but I did make it safely through two recitals last weekend, and I smile whenever I think about it.

It's not that everything went smoothly. Backstage, young children went stir-crazy, show-runners were frustrated by the recital's complicated format, and many dancers (including me) panicked their way through ultra-quick costume changes. I won't know how our dances looked to the audience until I see the video, but it was fun and it we seemed to do a good job.

Our adult tap class--three enthusiastic women with mixed skill levels and two high-school students who are avid dancers--never made it through an entire practice without mistakes. But in performance our rule was "Keep smiling and keep your feet moving." In our pirate routine, "keep smiling" was replaced by "stay in character."

We were cast as pirates because the whole recital was a dance version of the Peter Pan story. In a typical recital, you just bring each class onstage, start the music, and let them dance. This year, the show was a continuous production number. Each piece of music flowed right into the next, and getting onstage exactly on cue was often tricky. Tuesday's dress rehearsal was a nightmare, with the director and teachers struggling to have the right people in the right places (and in the right costumes) at the right times. But at Friday and Saturday's performances, there were only a few minor bumpy transitions.

While I care a lot about hitting my cue and doing things well, it surprises me that I experience no stage fright (unlike when I do public speaking). In fact I had great fun adding little flourishes to my pirate character--a snarl here, a menacing gesture there.

As I left Saturday's show, a woman approached me to say she was inspired by my dancing and was considering joining our class. She said she last took lessons when she was about 5 years old. I told her that was my story, too, and I'd started back last year at age 70. It turns out she is 73. I should have gotten her name so that in case she doesn't register I could call to encourage her.

Just after that, a young man about 30 years old approached. "I just have to tell you that I think you are inspirational," he said. His wife seemed almost apologetic. After all, what he was saying was, "You dance pretty well for an old person." But I was happy for the positive reinforcement.

Here's the secret: I dance like nobody's watching, even when I know that they are. And I love it.

Sometimes I wish I'd rediscovered dancing many years ago, but then I remember. I love it now. This is the only moment I have. I need to get up and dance now.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Best Mom Ever Day

While everyone else in the USA was preparing for Mother's Day, our family was busy with Augie's latest invention: Best Mom Ever Day.

He hatched his plan several weeks ago and carefully explained it to the rest of us when Abby wasn't around. We would surprise Mom with a dinner party at her own house on Saturday evening, May 10. Each of us had a part to play.

* Vi and I were assigned to get Abby out of the house Saturday afternoon.

* Augie and his dad would make a fancy cake and set the table.

* Peter would stop at Keys' restaurant and bring food for dinner.

Plans became more detailed as time went by. We were to take Abby shopping for "queen stuff" that she could wear at the party. (Vi quickly added her own "princess stuff" to the plan.) A week later he was rethinking our task. The best place to get queen stuff, he said, was the Dollar Tree. But that was close to Keys and he didn't want to risk Abby seeing her dad there. I told him we'd go to the party store instead.

Oct. 2012
Meanwhile Augie wrote up his own recipe for a cake, to be made in Mom's castle cake pan. It included cut-up bananas as well as chocolate chips and marshmallows. He called for baking powder and 1/4 cup of cake flour. Peter found a recipe of the right size for the pan and added Augie's "must-have" ingredients, but it took about two weeks to persuade Augie that if we used his original measures, we'd have a moat instead of a castle. Peter also researched how to make stable whipped cream icing and how to color it gray, the proper color of a medieval castle.

Augie kept busy; he had a secret stash of papers in his room that he used as inspiration to create a banner for the occasion.

At 2 p.m. we girls went to the party story where we bought mom a lovely royal blue hooded robe that was properly queenly for the event (and can be worn later to the Renaissance Festival). We went to the mall for some other fun shopping. By about 4:30 Mom got permission to return  home, if she'd agree to observe Augie's rules: she had to stay in the living room for a while and not peek through a curtain shielding the dining room from view.

Soon Peter came with dinner, and Mom was allowed to see the table, adorned with flowers, as well as the fabulous castle cake, flying cutout flags and well guarded by medieval warrior toys. She put on her royal robe, and we all had a wonderful dinner she didn't have to cook. 

Augie had organized everything. He was so proud he was just bursting. The rest of us had played our parts well. Mom was appropriately surprised, even though bits of the event had seeped out over time. And who wouldn't be thrilled, having your seven-year-old son organize the whole family for such a wonderful occasion.

The cake, by the way, came out of the mold perfectly, and it was delicious. As Augie pointed out, you never knew exactly what you were going to get in the next bite--some banana, some chocolate, and/or some marshmallow.

I was planning to document "Best Mom Ever Day" using my iPhone, but I discovered it had no charge. Not even a little. So you'll have to imagine it. Start with six big smiles.

--Nancy, aka BLissed-Out Grandma

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Catching up

I'm working lots of hours on the book, and I can't bring myself to write a real blog post. But once a week or so, I have posted on Facebook, and it occurs to me that you might enjoy one or more of these short items. I have used both photos as my profile picture lately. 

March 19:
Somebody stole my shoes last night. Actually, we saw the guy; he came off the street into the dance studio and pretended to be interested in something. Then he dropped a piece of paper on the floor, and while down there (on the other side of a half-wall) he stuck my athletic shoes in his jacket before leaving.

We tap-dancing ladies were so busy being polite! Sheesh. I had to walk to my car in tap shoes; it was both snowy and slippery but two classmates in real shoes offered a helping hand. I hope somebody out there is making good use of their sturdy new brown suede New Balance athletic shoes. 

March 27:
The kids and grandkids do lots of reading together, recently including Lord of the Rings. Augie applied the story to what he was learning in science class. "The red blood cells are like the Gondorians, defending their home. The bacteria are like the orcs attacking Gondor. The medicine is like the Riders of Rohan coming to the rescue."

A drawing by ViMae
March 11:
At Christmastime, Peter Boehm ("Pa") wears a Santa hat, grows out his white hair and beard, and wears red sweaters. Schoolmates often ask our grandkids whether their grandfather is Santa. Today he handed Vi his iPhone so she could see a photo he'd just taken. Ever curious, she wheeled back through old photos. Suddenly she saw a shot of me holding a pink princess dress...just like the one she got from Santa. She studied it, checking every detail, and then said, "Hmm, I guess Pa really is Santa." Oops. Our explanation: We sent the photo to Santa so he'd know what to bring.

April 7:
Grandkids came back Friday from their spring break trip, and they are still bouncing with joy! They visited a great-grandma and other relatives, climbed to the top of a lighthouse, collected shells on an ocean beach, and discovered that New York has great pizza, bagels, and Chinese food! As they tell us these things, they are jumping up and down and interrupting one another to list more good stuff. And they ran smiling into school this morning. Such fun to be part of their lives.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Better than the alternative...

Last year on this date, I turned 70. That number sounded old to me, but I didn't feel especially old--a good thing, of course.

You've probably figured out that today is my birthday again, 71 this time. This time I do feel older. It's partly because of those two or three falls I took in November, and the two cataract surgeries I had in February. And also this: Now that I can see better, I am much more aware of all my tiny wrinkles. I was thinking that my skin had aged a lot in the last month or so, and I was blaming it on our everlasting winter weather. Then I also noticed more "salt" in my salt-and-pepper hair. I like the effect, but that's beside the point. It isn't the's the fact that now I can see what's been there for a while.

To avoid falling when walking outside in winter weather, I plant my feet and walk slowly, watching the ground. I think, "Geez, I'm walking like an old lady." Then I remember that I am one. This is real.

In fact, growing old is a gift. My mother would have been a delightful old lady, but she died just before her 64th birthday. It doesn't take much for me to remember that as bad as it may be to grow old, it's better than the alternative.

This morning after breakfast I was sitting on the window seat in the kitchen and two lovely children crawled into my arms. We've been talking about my age. Vi has her eye on a few things she wants to inherit when I die. In the next moment she hastens to say she hopes I live to be 200. I tell her my goal is 90, or maybe 95.

I know, of course, that we don't control these things. Instead, I remind myself to enjoy the moments, the delights, the gifts each day brings. I make a birthday resolution to remain open to the lovely moments of life. Then I go back to writing the book, facing an unrelenting deadline. And then I take another few moments to write a blog post to remind myself, and to share with others, what a lucky woman I am.


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