Monday, October 24, 2011

Lesson 97: Footloose

You were not awake in the 80's if the movie Footloose does not conjure up some memories for you.  The above clip is from the ORIGINAL movie, not the recent remake out in theaters right now.  Eloise is a traditional girl.  I always love originals.  Any "first" is hard to top in my book.  Seconds are always compared to the firsts no matter how good they are.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but I can almost bet The Lamp Post that I'll enjoy the new version, but it will pale in comparison to the original.

I never quite understood the fascination with Kevin Bacon.  He is an OK actor and all, but he didn't do a thing for me then, nor does he now.  I really enjoyed the character Ariel, the preacher's daughter, played by actress Lori Singer in the 1984 version.  I remember she loved to dance, and high school dances were banned from her small, mid-western town.  But what I remember most are her red boots.  Remember these, Girls?  Did you want a pair for yourself?  I sure did.  The crappy part now is that the producers incorporated them into the new movie, too.  Unfortunately Ladies, beauty Julianne Hugh wears them in the 2011 version.  If you go on a date night to this flick and afterwards decide to splurge on a pair for yourself, your man won't be thinking of YOU in the red boots.  He'll be thinking of HER.  Look.  Can you see why?  Life just doesn't seem fair sometimes, does it?

Eloise is a boot girl herself.  I've always wanted to throw all caution to the wind and invest in a pair of red ones for myself.  If I never had the guts to wear them out, I'd just do so around the house or hold them to my nostrils and smell the leather. But now I have to rethink all that because of that darn old Julianne (Public Enemy #2---Faith Hill is #1, remember).  I prefer to wear boots because they keep my feet snug and dry as I travel about my day, sloshing through the Erie wetness a good half the year.  My job deems me a "traveling teacher", meaning I move from school to school, dragging my bags through snow and puddles like an encyclopedia salesman in the 1970's.  If there is one thing in the world I cannot stand is a wet sock.  My boots keep my feet nice and dry.

Reminiscent of my friend Angie, who often posts a picture of her feet to show her location in the world, I too will post a photo of my tootsies. Usually Angie's feet are floating in some turquoise bottomed pool.  Angie loves to posts those pics when Erie is in the middle of a raging blizzard.   My boots are not as cool as Ariel's, but they get the job done.  They are propped on the window seat of the Lamp Post.  You can see my daisy curtains and if you look very closely, you can even see out the window.  Yes, the Lamp Post is way high up, just like you imagined it would be.

My girls are boot lovers too.  Here are some of our other stylish numbers.  Some will say "how hip" and others will say, "holy cow are those ugly."  We don't care.  They suit us just fine and are perfect for fall football games in the mud and rain.  Mine are the rose ones.

I don't splurge on many things.  My sister calls me the Clearance Rack Queen.  "Where did you get that cool shirt?" she'll inquire.  I look at her, tilt my head and half smile, before we say together in unison, "clearance rack."  But I do not cheap out on footwear.  You have to take care of your feet.  Eloise gives this advice:  bag the Starbucks coffee and save your money for the three most important, spare-no-expense-body parts---eyes, teeth, and feet.  Without those, you're pretty much screwed.  If you're hurting in all three areas, you'd be crippled, blind, and toothless.  Heed my warning, Readers.

I treat myself to good running shoes twice a year--on my birthday, March 3rd, and again on Labor Day weekend, which is about six months from then.  My sneakers have a life cycle almost like the butterfly--egg, larva, pupa, adult.  Mine goes:  treadmill, trail, yard, creek.  They usually meet their deaths by drowning---I use them to walk in creeks with.  I eventually have to throw them out because they start to smell.  Take a look below at the evolution of my sneakers.  The first photo is my newest pair--my Mizunos which I think should be called Footwear of the Gods.  I've never had such a well fitting shoe.  I'd wear them all the time if I could.

 Finding a new love for running has taken a toll on my poor feet.  My second toes have grown wayward, literally, and are starting to overlap my big toe.  It's hard enough turning 40, let alone coming to the realization that you inherited your grandmother's knobby, gnarled feet.  I'm going to fight my genetics every step of the way and added another very expensive    foot covering to my shoe rack---the running toe-shoe.  They are not cheap, but Eloise highly recommends them for anyone having toe problems.  I don't run in them like Prince Harry does (for real--go check it out Slovenians--you're closer to England than me).  I just wear mine around my house after work.  They took a little getting used to.  At first it kind of feels like cardboard is wedged between all of your toes, but after awhile it feels good.  It's like a mini foot massage every time you have them on.  Scroll down past the rotten creek shoes to see them.  Mine are the bluish ones and Ellen duped me into buying her the pink and black ones.  I did make the offer to Natalie, too, although she didn't formally request a pair. We tried to cram one onto her foot and a mere ten seconds into the process Driselda loudly protested, "No thank you yuck!"  In the world of autism that means a flat out NO.

So Readers, you've seen Eloise's hands playing the piano and now you've seen my crooked toe and some of my footwear.  You are getting to know me a little better each day, aren't you?  A reader wrote to me once saying that I am like the next door neighbor to Tim Allen on Tool Time--the one where you only saw the top of his hat over the fence.  I thought that was funny, but now you can all think of me like Norm's wife on cheers.  All we ever saw of Vera was her shoes coming down the steps on that last episode.  Wasn't that cool?  If you didn't get what I just made reference too, you probably didn't think the original version was better than the new version of Footloose, so that means you were in your playpen when Footloose and Cheers were popular.  I guess this wasn't the blog post for you then, but keep reading because good old Eloise is full of stories.

Enjoy your video.  You'll be humming that tune for the next three days.  It's on iTunes for a buck twenty nine. Treat yourself to some Kenny Loggins.  You are worth it.  

Always, Eloise

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lesson 96: #1 Amazing Grace

Time for a blog post, I guess.  I got a few emails asking where I've been.  It's always nice to know you're loved.  Eloise has had an emotional couple of weeks, hitting a few bumps on the roadway of my life.  Sometimes my path is a superhighway and things just seem to clip along at top speed, and other times my road is like an Erie side street at the end of March---full of potholes.

The past week has left me examining the age old question raised by Job--why do bad things happen to good people?  Many in my community are suffering over the accidental death of a toddler leaving us wondering aloud this very question.  I also happen to be reading a novel titled Sarah's Key.  The story is about the holocaust.  With those things coinciding in my life, Eloise's heart has been heavy.

We turn to God at times like this looking for some peace and He always delivers.  If you don't believe me, give prayer a try and also a chance.  We live in a fast paced society and sometimes you have to give it a minute to work.

We've grown impatient as a people, embarrassingly so.  I know I have, as many a time I have sighed and rolled my eyes at the ten second delay in turning on my flat screen TV.  Oh, the suffering I make standing in my warm living room waiting for The X Factor to come on.  Or how about being five cars back in a drive through line?  I hesitate speaking for us collectively, yet I can sense that many of you, like me, have grown anxious and edgy at the slightest delay.  What always makes me feel better is remembering God's grace.  Grace is that eternal pardon freely available to all of us who are truly undeserving of the good that comes to us.  It's simply amazing.

That is why I posted the above video.  Yes, those are my hands.  My Mother's Day ring, my ichthys bracelet, my HUSKIES sweatshirt, and the pile of toys in the corner of my living room are dead give aways that you are seeing the real Eloise in the flesh---even if it is just my hands.  Amazing Grace is and always will be my favorite song.

In fact, this post can round out the list for Top 5 Favorite Songs of Eloise that I started for you this summer.  Here is the complete list in reverse order, in case you've forgotten them:

  • #5--Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
  • #4--Time of Your Life, Green Day
  • #3--The River, Garth Brooks
  • #2--Beer Barrel Polka, Andrews Sisters----OK, OK, just kidding, the post was getting a bit too serious for Eloise, although I do like that catchy tune--"roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun..."
  • #2--Broken Road, Rascal Flatts
  • #1--Amazing Grace, any version but among my favorites are by Chris Tomlin & Leann Rhymes
The words are in my heart, and I sing them when I am happy or sad.  I sang this song to my babies, hours after their births while I held them in my hospital bed.  I sang this song standing next to the caskets of both of my grandmothers at their funerals.  It is a timeless song with meaning that lasts for all time.  Knowing me as those of you do, full well know that I can't carry a note in bucket (or even a bathtub).  I always had the yearning to learn to play that song on a piano, as if playing the song would make it better than singing it.

The thought of playing the piano crossed my mind many a time in my life.  It was one of those things that was in my heart and never left it, but the timing was never right.  When I was younger there was school and activities and friends that used up all of my time.  As I got older there was family and work to fill in for the need to learn something new.  But in time, a piano found its way into my house, because God knew I was finally ready.  It came in His time as all things that are meant to be do.  The deal on the piano was too good  to refuse, plus I always wanted one to display my framed photos on, so we handed out some Ben Franklins over to a family friend and made a space for it on the living room wall.  

Over time, Ellen, my middle child, took an interest in it and has been taking lessons for five years.  She is quite good.  For me, the piano has intrigued me and I began picking at it myself.  "Heck, Eloise.  You can do this, too!  You're never to old to learn!" I told myself, and I began to figure out the instrument on my own.

It was no surprise that Amazing Grace was the first song I wanted to learn and it took me a long, long time.  For you musical-eared blog readers, you'll certainly hear the mistakes, but I am not embarrassed in the least.  For a 40 year old who taught herself, I don't think it's bad at all.

I found that singing the song and learning to play it on the piano wasn't enough.  I'm a working mom and encounter my share of hectic mornings, which in turn leave me crabby throughout the day.  One particular morning last fall, which I blogged about in October of 2010 if this sounds familiar, was the morning I left my house in a grouchy rush and realized that I had forgotten to apply my deodorant!  I had no time to drive home to remedy my mistake.  Given that I work in a high school, I was certain the nurse had some of those sample sized sticks they hand out to the kids when they need them.  Well, my Huskies must have been a-smellin' like wet dog last fall, because there was not a stick to be found.  Instead the school nurse gave me a couple of squirts of her perfume.  One breath in of the heavenly scent and I fell instantly in love.  I asked Nursie what the scent was.  "Amazing Grace," she replied.  It is a scent I've worn every day since.  It's what I smell like--the sweet smell of Amazing Grace.

About a year ago I bought the 8 ounce body spray.  I apply a few squirts a day and the bottle is just about finished.  I won't go without it though.  The new one is already on it's way (Eloise is an on-line shopper).  It truly is the best $25 bucks I ever spent because it reminds me of God's grace every day of my life, simply by breathing in and out.

But it isn't just the scent that gets to me---it is the packaging of the Philosophy Bath Products that really reaches me.  The bottles and tubes are simple in style, and have cool names for their scents like:  Amazing Grace, Pure Grace, Inner Grace, Falling in Love, and Unconditional Love.  Each scent is defined, and the outside of the bottle reads like a dictionary definition.  Eloise is a lover of words, so they had me at hello on this one.  Take a look at what the outside of the Amazing Grace bottle reads:  

Amazing grace:  how you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain. and so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one big gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson. in the end, it all comes down to one word. grace. it's how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light.


forget the no capital letters here, and reread the words in blue again.  In the end it does all come down to grace.  Grace does not get us a pothole free path, but it certainly helps us right our carts again when a wheel comes off.  we have to accept that there will be darkness with the light.  sometimes god's teaching comes in reverse of how we traditionally think to teach (lesson, then test).  Often we receive the test, and only after it is over with, do we begin to see the lesson.  So readers, here endeth mine for tonight.

with grace,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lesson 95: It's Harvest Time

Harvest time in my hometown brings some predictably unpredictable weather.  I spent most of my weekend frolicking in it, mostly because I was owning up to my word, not because I really wanted to.  I registered my girls and I a month ago for the Her Times 5K on the Peninsula.  When the perky blond who reports the local weather cheerily informed us Saturday would have a "nip in the air" at 48 degrees, I felt like nipping at her.  I also knew I wanted to give some props to my farmer friends on this blog and asked a couple of them if I could snag a ride on their grape pickers as they were snagging fruit from the vines this weekend.  I was too proud to cop out on either engagement fearing Eloise would look, well, ahem, wimpy.

For those of you unfamiliar with Erie weather, as the season changes from summer to fall the weather sputters and snorts into autumn like the engine of my first car, The Pickle.  One day is a picture perfect fall day when you feel the need to locate a pumpkin farm and load up the family and go for a long ride to admire the foliage.  The next can be damp and colorless, with the changing leaves turning from vibrant oranges and yellows to a drippy brown against a colorless sky.  When you watch the movie posted above, you will see just how dreary the Great Lakes Region can be, with my home town living up to its name, Dreary Erie.

However, flipping the calendar page to October first every year brings forth a long exhale from Eloise.  Any mom, particularly a working one, knows how tough the September adjustment can be.  In our house, that adds cheerleading and dance lessons and football games and birthday parties and school Open Houses and Book Fairs.  Sometimes it seems all I can do in the evening is clean up one day's mess and get set up for it all over again for the next day.  As I travel down my country road headed off to school in the morning, sometimes I catch the farmers out on their grape pickers.  As the sun is rising and the smell of the fragrant grapes are in the air, I often wish I was a farmer.  Hey, I love to get up with the sun, always take a Memorial Day stab at trying to cultivate my own produce, and enjoy the outdoors.  What a great way to earn a living.  That's what I USED TO think.  I rode the grape pickers this weekend in the wind and rain.  Eloise did whatcha call a 180 on that one.  I think I'll stick with teaching.

A big thanks to Billy and Chris for allowing Eloise ride along for a whopping one row of pickin'.  In both cases it was a bumpy fifteen minute ride.  I hollered question after question over the roar of the contraption while I snapped away with my camera.  The view of the vineyards from that high vantage point is way cool though.  I bet it is breathtaking on a nice day.

Today, was not so nice, but I kind of wanted it that way.  I wanted to know what it felt like on a cold, wet day.  Billy's machine is minus a windshield so the full brunt of the wind hits you smack in the face when you're coming at it.  Chris's contraption had an enclosed cab, but it was a bit tight and Eloise does not like small spaces.  They always leave me feeling like I have to flee them.   He left the door open so we both could fit inside and I was quite relieved.  I did not want tomorrow's newspaper headline to read, "Woman Survives Jump From Moving Grape Picker".  I now know why farmers wear those not so pretty one piece Carhartt jumpsuits.  I thought I was dressed appropriately, but within minutes I was soaked through three layers and shivering.  And that was after one row.  I asked the men how long they typically pick.  Both responded "ten to twelve hours" during the peak times.  I think I teared up just thinking about it.

Finish this analogy, Readers.  Eloise Hawking : proud Pennsylvanian :: Luke Bryan :  proud _______.  Did you guess Georgian?  If you did, you are correct!  Don't get the willies, Slovenians--that is Georgia, USA, not Soviet Georgia. You know it when Luke sings about the harvest in his home town.  'There's peanut dust and corn husks driftin' through the air tonight."  For me, it's grape skins and the scent of the fall--grape juice.  No matter what part of the world you come from, there is always some hard working farmer working the harvest, so this song is more universal than it first seems.  Enjoy the picture movie.  And in case you are wondering, yes, those are MY rose boots, not my guy friends.  I am sure that would raise a few eyebrows in their farming circles if they were wearing rose patterned rain boots with their jumpsuits.  Hey, maybe they'll try a pattern every now and again to liven things up.  Tan is boring (and I hate to break it to you, but it shows the dirt).  Eloise could be a trendsetter.  My sister has always grabbed that title away from my clutches, so maybe it's my turn.  Come on boys.  Throw on a pattern.  It will combat the boredom of going up and down and up and down and up and down those long grape rows.

 Speaking of patterns, check out the polka dots on my daughters' legs.  This is a picture of my girls and Tracy Northern the morning of the Her Times 5K.  These pictures should further illustrate the deary colorlessness we Erieites experience for many months of the year.  Surely, the sun comes up here every day, but you don't always get to see it's glow against a bright blue sky.  That's because there is always this low lying cloud cover full of droplets of dampness that soak into your bones and make your feet cold.  Tracy Southern, my other Tracy-friend who settled south of the Mason-Dixon line, just looked at these pictures and thought Ahhhhh, I don't miss that one bit!  Can't say that I blame her.

Yes, Eloise ran this race, too, but under another name, of course.  If you are checking the race listings, look for Thomas Jefferson, 40 year old female (scroll to bottom picture for proof that I actually do such a thing).  I run under the names of Presidents to mark the races my girls and I have done together.  If you are a history buff, you will know that this one is our third.  Can't wait to get the next one out of the way.  I have to run under James Madison, and he was a twerp--our shortest President at only 5' 4".  I prefer my guys tall and I certainly don't like to outweigh them.

Enjoy the scenes from Erie during our Harvest Time.  Living where I do is not for the weak of spirit.  Weathering the storms makes you all the tougher though.  That's why I took my girls out and made them run in the cold, sideways rain.  What doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger.  That rule holds true for everyone, even 40 year old female Presidents named Thomas Jefferson.

Good night and God Bless America,
Eloise Jefferson