My Green Velvet Life

Where everything sticks.


August 2010

The School of Life: You’ll need glue.

Of this our true individual life, our present life is a glimpse, a fragment, a hint, and in its best moments a visible beginning.  — Josiah Royce (1855-1916), American philosopher

We visited a friend the other day.  She has Alzheimer’s.  I am ashamed that it took me many months to gather the courage to go.  Very lame.  But I finally went.  It certainly helped to go with other family members.  Now I know that it doesn’t matter how scared I am.  It just matters that she feels loved and cared for.

On our way home, we all wondered, does someone with Alzheimer’s really not recognize people?  Do they really not know what they want to say?  Or do they know, deep inside, who you are and what they want to say, but simply cannot express themselves outwardly?  At first, everything she said seemed bizarre.  She stared away and showed no emotion.  But as we sat and listened for a while, some of her still very fragmented statements started sounding familiar.  It seemed like she was trying to tell us certain things but could not organize the words.  It was if she were trapped in her own body, desperately trying to catch and toss to us the pieces flying about inside her heart and mind.  A terrifying thought.  It would be much easier to believe that she’s simply living in a happy fantasy land.

It seems like we are all slightly trapped at times.  We have the input spinning around with our thoughts and emotions but sometimes find it difficult to express ourselves effectively. Or perhaps worse, we believe we are communicating clearly but those around us are wondering . . . Each of us is limited by our language, opinions, emotions and our bodies.  Even with Google, how could any one of us understand everything?  How amazing that we very often actually manage to say or do exactly as we intend.  And when our words fumble or hurt, well, that’s when real friends love us anyway.

After visiting my friend I knew the perfect art project for this post.  I save foil candy wrappers.  Holidays are the best time to get different colors–I keep a special “wrapper basket” next to my candy dish.  These tiny bits of color flying around (at my house they literally fly around), so often discarded, can be made into shiny paper mosaics.  You can make paper ornaments, greeting cards, banners, fridge magnets, etc.

I made a couple of greeting cards.  Please keep in mind I’m not nearly as talented as most kids!

Coat your paper with glue and quickly press torn bits of wrappers onto the paper to make your picture.  Then, if desired–while the glue is still sticky–sprinkle with glitter or sand.  You could also do on cardboard, wood or whatever.
If you’d prefer to go a little slower, you could glue your wrappers on the paper, then coat the glue around the wrappers for the glitter.  I’m lazy so I do it the faster way.
For greeting cards, try using sandwich-size zipper plastic bags for your envelopes.  It’s a little kooky and will be much easier for the receiver to open the card without tearing the paper or causing too much glitter to fall off.
I added stickers, and on the first card below I added a little bit of leftover Christmas garland.


Thank you friend for a perfect lesson in listening, patience and friendship.  I will visit you again soon.

I’ll catch your fragments.
I will paste them into my
own fine mosaic.

         — poetgranny

True Poems & Summer Flee

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee–
                            — Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet

August.  Most of our social demands start winding down.  No more graduation parties, softball games or weddings.  Finally, just maybe, a Sunday to hang out, read a book and let the kids get gloriously dirty playing outside till after dark . . . then . . . wham!  Back to school.  It’s already happened in some parts of the country.

I just want to know: Summer, where are you going?

A Willful Girl
Summer is a dancing flirt.
She throws loud parties and long naps
while crickets and frogs wink from the sill.
Summer got lost yesterday.
She forgot her candle, and left
us so many mosquitoes to kill.
Summer is forgetting us?
She took the wool blanket last night
and left us in snormonious chill.
Summer is moving away.
She took down her lacy curtains
and left the sun to burnish the hill.
Summer is saying good-bye.
But as she walks away, I know
she’ll drop her crumbs like Jack and Jill.
(oops.  like Hansel and Gretel.)


That’s how Boy, my freshly turned twelve-year-old grandson, greeted me the other day.  Or to be more exact, he said “Whadup?” and then smiled a great big little boy grin.  Who could resist?  He still got a sloppy kiss from his granny, although I sternly reminded him I’d rip his hair out if he thinks for one second any kind of gang stuff is cool.  And then I started wondering, just exactly what does “Whadup?” mean?  It seemed obvious, and he’s a wonderful, affectionate kid with lots of equally sweet friends.  Life is good.  But it pains me to know he’s at that age when things could get perilous in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the terrible worries of parents and grandparents, especially with the new school year already underway in many parts of the country.  Violence is too real.  The healing must start.  Now.  Let’s keep hugging and kissing our overgrown adolescents even when they shrug us off due to their coolness, or whatever it is they call it these days.  It’s all about them, for they will be the healers.

So, I’m going to share a link with you and you’ll probably think I’m a massive idiot after my little speech on healing our society.  I thought long and hard about whether or not I should.  It is full of extremely nasty, disgusting and offensive language:

I have several reasons for sharing tonight (but not listing as a regular link):

  • I don’t believe you can be truly educated on anything unless you are brave enough to read everything.
  • I believe in free speech.
  • It’s very hard to relate to the younger generation if we’re clueless about their lingo or humor.  Humor, however twisted, always hints at the real gist of an issue.
  • I am a G-rated person, but I am not perfect.  (I did say in the tagline of my blog title that this is a messy place.)
  • You’ll even find a little G-rated funny.  For instance, I learned that I have been guilty of Muffin Topping.  (Yikes.  I’m telling this to the world?)

And “Whadup?” just means “What’s up?”  Whew Boy.

Make Room for Your Convictions

Words are the voice of the heart.  — Confucius (551-479 BC), Chinese teacher, philosopher & political theorist

Do certain words just rub you the wrong way?  I certainly I have my little list.  I cannot stand to hear one more person on HGTV say  “I just love what you did with this space”.  Since when did a room become a space?  (I suspect since interior decorating shows hit the big time.)  Are we too regal for a few cozy walls?  Is room a bad word?  Too plain?  Too corny?  Hey, I like plain and corny.  It’s solid and vivid. Space is just . . . space.

Here’s another on my list: window treatments.  I’ll try to be clever here with an illustration of my point.  I hope the spirit of Charles Bukowski understands that I’m not mocking him or his poem:

 Curtain Window Treatment
the final curtain window treatment on one of the longest running
musicals ever, some people claim to have
seen it over one hundred times.
I saw it on the tv news, that final curtain window treatment:
flowers, cheers, tears, a thunderous
I have not seen this particular musical
but I know if I had that I wouldn’t have
been able to bear it, it would have
sickened me.
trust me on this, the world and its
peoples and its artful entertainment has
done very little for me, only to me.
still, let them enjoy one another, it will
keep them from my door
and for this, my own thunderous
—Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), American poet, novelist & short story writer


And it’s not just words.  Have you noticed a common, spacey tone of speech in the last few years?  Taylor Mali has:

Speaking with conviction isn’t just about making speeches on important issues.  It’s about being yourself and speaking from your heart.  You can be strong yet respectful.  Colorful yet simple.  Use your own words.  Your own voice.  Your own tones.  The world wants to hear from you, not another space cadet.

They’re Cool Whatever They Are

A child of five would understand this.  Someone go fetch a child of five.  — Groucho Marx, (1890-1977), American comedian & film star

Once again, a child reminds me that creativity is in the eye of the beholder.  And how limitless is a child’s sight.  My grandson, Monkey, found yet another use for the coffee can liners I’ve been saving (thanks to a thoughtful friend at work).  I’m not sure what to call his invention, but I think it has something to do with playing martial arts or Star Wars.  He used cellophane tape which seems like a reasonable way to attach the whatever they are.  (Tomorrow I will ask him.)

You might like to take a peek at my first little project with coffee can liners: What’s in Your Art Gallery?

Warning:  The edges of the liners can be a bit sharp.  Duct tape folded around the edges would probably be an easy way to remedy.

Any other ideas on ways to use coffee can liners?   Feel free to ask a five-year old.  Ask him about other stuff too.

Painful, sweet life.

Every heart has its secret sorrows which the world knows not, and often times we call a person cold when he is only sad.  — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), American poet & educator

There is so much sadness in the world.  Let’s all be gentle with each other.  Let’s not assume others are inconsiderate or selfish or lazy.  Assume they need a little TLC.  I’ve never met anyone at the grocery store with a sign that says I lost my baby son today.  One single act of  kindness could save somebody from going over the edge.

Don’t let people fall within your reach.  Maybe in your patient smile they’ll find a place to grab onto life again.  How many falling stars did you catch today?

What’s in Your Art Gallery?

There is no abstract art.  You must always start with something.  Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.  — Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Spanish artist

All of us have an artist wondering around in our souls.  So many of us just don’t pay attention, whether we’re busy, tired or simply unsure of ourselves.  And so we think we’re not artistic.  I said exactly that about myself a few posts ago.  Hmmm . . . did you notice my first sentence?  Did I really mean wondering not wandering?  Like there’s a little guy hanging out in there, finger painting on your rib cage, wondering why in the heck you don’t let him out to play once in a while?

I like Picasso’s quote because it reminds me that we don’t have to conjure up anything out of thin air to be artistic.  We just need to relax and notice.  Notice the used coffee filter, the dog’s hair flying across the room, the quick kisses before seeing the kids off to school.  It’s all beautiful material meant just for you (just what you’re thinking when you are vacuuming!).  You certainly don’t need to make one single piece of art out of any of it.  Just living is the best art of all.  And thanks to our amazing gift of memory, we each have our very own art gallery full of everything we love.  Does your art gallery have any finger paintings?

If you look closely at my flower fridge magnets, you’ll see some familiar things: orange juice lids, shiny coffee can liners and bits of yarn.  Here are instructions, along with pictures of one I made tonight (the others I made last Christmas).

If you’re not familiar with some of the items you can get them in any craft or scrapbooking store.  You can make as fancy or glittery as you like.  It’s your garden!

You will need:
metal orange juice lids
foil coffee can liners
paper (anything you like–I used an old greeting card for these instructions
glitter (optional)–if using glitter you’ll also need regular white school glue to coat your flower
very large glue dots (much easier and safer than a glue gun)
bits of fuzzy yarn
paper brads (fasteners)
large round and flower paper punches (optional)  You can also simply cut with scissors.  Most craft stores put their punches on sale every so often.  They make great gifts for anyone who likes to be creative with paper, etc.  Warning: They are very dangerous for children and should never be used without adult help.
Punch or cut a circle out of the coffee can liner.  If punching, you’ll notice it is a little tricky getting the liner into position because it is thick and stiff and wrinkly.  I have pretty good luck if I first press out the liner with something heavy.
Using a glue dot, attach the punched circle to OJ lid.
Punch or cut a flower out the paper.
Push a brad through the center of the flower and then push open the tips of the brad so it is fastened.
Attach paper flower and yarn to coffee liner/OJ lid:  Put one large glue dot in middle of liner and take another glue dot and pull apart to make  a few small ones–put them around the circle, then twirl your yarn around and press into glue dots.  Press the paper flower with brad into the large glue dot in the center.
Press a large glue dot onto magnet, then press onto back of lid.
Take a picture of your work!  It will serve as a good reminder for days when you’re not feeling very talented.

Last Christmas, I found an aluminum pan to use for my little photo session.  This would make a very fun arrangement for give-aways at showers, birthday parties, Mother’s Day brunches, visits to elderly care homes, etc.   The little round aluminum pans would be an adorable way to show off individual magnets for a teacher or co-worker gift.  

Get Fried with a Friend

Fried Green Tomatoes.  Either you love them, hate them or really don’t care (and your response probably has a lot do with you being a southerner, at least at heart).  But you absolutely must love the movie!  My daughter Tara and I watched it once again on Sunday.  It’s the perfect movie for a lazy summer afternoon.  It’s about non-perfect people and friendship.  Who can’t relate to that?  Okay, if you think you don’t have one friend in this world, I promise you that is not true.  The world is full of people just waiting to be your friend.  Maybe you’re shy.  Well then take a class or volunteer, or start a blog for shy people.  Maybe you’ve hurt people.  Well then stop hurting people and ask for forgiveness (it’s never too late).  Maybe you’ve been hurt.  Well then cry, let go and move on.

Or.  Maybe you’ve just been cranky and depressed.  Well then remember Tawanda!  (And just maybe you need to get you some hormones?)  You don’t need to smash into any cars or knock down your bedroom walls.  Just smash into life and knock down your I’m-scared walls.

If you’ve never had fried green tomatoes, here is Tara’s yummy recipe.  She is like her mother and often struggles with being specific on quantities and measurements.  Don’t ever be afraid to eye-ball it.  Just be careful not to let it get out of hand like Idgie and Ruth did.  

 Tara’s Fried Green Tomatoes
green tomatoes (unripe red tomatoes)
flour (Tara recommends Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour)
milk (can add egg if you like)
salt & pepper (optional)
vegetable oil (we like canola oil best)
1 to 20 friends, depending on the size of your living room
1 Fried Green Tomatoes movie
a few paper towels (to drain tomatoes after frying)
1 box of Kleenex (to drain tears after crying)
Slice tomatoes to whatever thickness you like.  Dip each slice into a bowl of flour, then milk, then flour again.  Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil in skillet and fry tomatoes, turning once when nice and golden.  Drain on paper towels.
Note:  When frying anything, do not crowd the skillet.  You’ll get much better results by making just a few at a time.


and here’s my recipe:

Recipe for a Lazy Gardner

I went to my garden today, looking for my supper.
It had been a hard season and I have been neglectful
so I didn’t even bring a basket.
Besides, weeds and mosquitoes would be waiting–
stealing the show, my energy and my time.
I found a few surprises, as we often do
in life and in gardens.
My tomatoes, even forgotten, grew.
Beefsteaks–big-shouldered and sweet.
Lovely heirlooms–classy and dependable.
And Roma’s, those saucy little mamas!
I smiled, until I saw the busted ones.
No excuses.  Only regrets.  Move on
to what I was really looking for.
The sassy young ones
without spots or bruises,
still smug with secrets of life.
Long ago, somebody was brave
or hungry or crazy enough
to throw them in a skillet
and call those tarties’ bluffs!
I went back for my basket,
thinking of oozy goodness
all melty under a salty crust
you can only get from frying
after milk and seasoned dust.
I’ll get better at tending my garden.
I’ll consider it a social routine,
because tomatoes grow like friendships,
and some kinds just best fried green.


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