On The Gifts of Turning 60

178037-850x565-Stars-60th-Birthday-CakeAnd a Modest Request

In February I rounded the corner on another decade, and I’ll be celebrating my birthday with friends and family over the weekend. I welcome your good wishes, but no gifts, please, unless you’d like to donate to a couple of causes close to my heart (see bottom of post). In the meantime, I will be reveling in some of the gifts bestowed on me by the past six decades.

Personalized Sound Effects

That would be the squishy, crunchy noise my knees make when I go downstairs. Not up, just down. If I want sound effects going upstairs, I have to wear squeaky shoes.

A Suit of Armor

Well, actually it’s more of an impenetrable slab of human brisket that stretches from my ribs to my hips. Hit me with your best shot! I’m well padded.

Non-Stop Video Games

Some of the foggy-floaty things obstructing my vision can be surgically removed from the outside. Those inside my eyes hone my reflexes as I blink and shake my head in pursuit of a clearer view. I’m up to skill level 60 in this game.

A Hirsute Scavenger Hunt

Every month my tweezers and I go searching for the hair that has been sneaking away from my eyebrows to colonize my chin and upper lip.

Free Highlights

Blonde, gray, what’s the diff? They’re both shiny.

A Larger Space to Dwell In

My concept of marriage has expanded and become more flexible, allowing my husband and me to express our identities as individuals and as a couple without the confines of straining to meet unrealistic expectations. Whew! I sure do enjoy the breathing room.

A Ticket to Adventure

Success is no longer doing something well, but trying something new. Failure? Not on the table. If I give my best and learn in the process, I’ve still succeeded.

A New Language

The word “son” entered my vocabulary when my beautiful daughter married the love of her life, and “grandson” was added when they presented us with the miracle of a new life.

Heavenly Music

What stirs the soul more than “Nana!” bellowed in the sweet voice of a little boy?

A Life Preserver

In three letters, G-O-D, who has blessed me, sustained me, and brought me to this happy occasion. As long as the Source of Life gives me life, I plan on celebrating and growing from all it brings. Even in the darkest heartache, I know I am never alone. If I’ve not been abandoned in the last 60 years, why should I fear those that remain?

Cheers to all of us who greet each day, each year with optimism, gratitude, and humility. Frankly, we rock this thing called life. (Still humble, just sayin’.)

And now for the modest request…

These two causes have touched my life, and every penny goes directly to good works. If you feel like giving, please consider…


MJMJ’s Army fights ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The world lost a good man when ALS took my cousin Michael Jaillet, but his memory and courage live on. The fight goes on. Help MJ’s Army find a cure and donate to research that will bring this fatal and heartbreaking disease to an end.


Cats Haven is a no-kill shelter for abandoned or injured felines in the Indianapolis area. They receive love, medical attention, and, if health permits, placement into permanent homes. This handsome one-eyed fellow, my guardian and companion, came our way because omikef their dedication.


Or reach out to any worthy cause that speaks to your soul.

Thank you!


Raising Children for Change

My daughter is not only a wonderful mother, but also an inspired teacher.your world my world

She is personally and professionally dedicated to helping children become their best selves – more courageous, more compassionate, and more engaged in the care of their world.

These three links are from her, and I pass them along to you for your consideration:

We will grow old in the world our children create. Let’s make it a good world for us all.

The Wonders of Looking Low

baby rock Sometimes to fully appreciate God’s creation you have to get down low. Baby low.

As winter loosens its protracted icy grip on the Midwest, the first few days of spring that slip through are precious and long awaited gifts. Today I need a gift or two.

My toddling grandson is teething, clingy, and bored with the toys within his reach. He doesn’t understand that all the fascinating things Nana has placed on higher shelves are there for his own safety. He drops to the floor, wailing in rejection and despair. He scoots along the carpet on his face. Nana is so mean.

Time to go outside.

My husband has put up a tree swing for our little guy, and while he enjoys the movement, there is so much more to see outside that is not accessible from so high up, and his reaching and pointing tells me that he wants to see what’s on the ground.

I do a good job picking up the dog poop, and I use only home-made organic bug killer and fertilizer, but we don’t have a green, well manicured lawn. Part is a paved turn around for the drive, part is planted in flowers and herbs, part is a brick patio, and part is a sculpture garden covered with pea gravel. There is no grass. Where to put a baby?

I let him tell me.

He thinks the pea gravel looks interesting, so I set him down in the middle of a patch, and he runs his hands back and forth, rolling the small stones. I do too. They feels nubby and cool, and the layers get colder as we get closer to the dirt below. Then our little man decides he will toss the little stones onto the brickwork. That’s okay. I can sweep them off later. I throw a few stones, too. Their tiny, round, gray shapes are an interesting contrast against the larger, squared off red brick. I study the pattern this juxtaposition creates within the checkered shadow of the overhanging trellis.

Now we scoot over to a flower bed. In a couple of months it will be resplendent with pink, white, and burgundy hibiscus as tall as sunflowers, swaying above my head. For now we have only the pronged stumps of last year’s plants ringed with the spiky green shoots of this year’s growth. Around them are the twigs and bark dropped by  the nearby elms, and shreds of old mulch. The landscape is predominantly gray.

But he finds it fascinating.

He fingers various chunks and shreds of mulch, feeling the edges (and don’t tell his mother – but, yes, he tastes some). He holds bark in one hand and a stick in the other, comparing their heft. He gives me twig after twig so that I can snap each in half and return two pieces in place of one. And then he gives me something brown, fragile and skeletal, something I don’t recognize immediately. Turning it over in my hand I see that it is a dried and shriveled hibiscus seed pod. I break it open and show him all the tiny seeds that fall out into my palm before I toss them into the breeze to scatter and take root. How can such little seeds produce such majestic plants?

Perhaps in the same way that little children become beautiful and heroic adults.

I see my garden differently today.

Before today I saw the pea gravel was something to shovel, rake, and weed. Today, running my hands through the stones is as tranquilizing as contemplating a zen garden. I am used to looking down on my plants, inspecting them for new growth and insects. Today I see them from the level at which they first emerge into the light. Shadows are art forms. Seed pods are magic.

Today I am able to sit on the ground in my garden without planting, weeding, or watering. I can soak up the sun and notice what I had not noticed before. I am aware of my grandson’s quiet and sustained focus on the objects around him. He doesn’t need flashing lights and electronic music to hold his interest, nor pieces of neon plastic molded in China.

We have been playing in the dirt, and we are dirty.

We have twigs, dried leaves, and mulch clinging to our socks and pants. My grandson’s knees are scraped, his fingers muddy. He is content. I can’t remember the last time I felt so peaceful and happy. Maybe it was when I held his mother in my arms and lifted her up to feel the wind on her face for the first time.

Thank you, little man, for showing me the world at your level.

Let’s do this more often.







Grandchildren Keep Our Brains Healthy!

You’ve heard the saying, “Insanity is hereditary – you get it from your kids!”grandmothers

We’ll debate that point another day. 🙂 For now we’ll focus on the grandkids.

New studies show that taking care of grandchildren can help post-menopausal women decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s.

You’ll find a brief video here.

Thanks to Grandma Diane for this share.

When Oprah Fell Off the Crone Train and Took Gloria Steinem With Her

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A very blurry yearbook picture of Tattooed Nana in 1973 giving it her best Gloria Steinem.

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The real deal – pioneer feminist Gloria Steinem in 1973.

The Twenty-first Century Crone isn’t merely defined by age or reproductive status. She has also achieved, often by battling great odds, her self-awareness and self-liberation.

Oprah, for all her battles and victories is no Crone. 

No haters, please. Let’s get this out of the way: Oprah Winfrey has done much good in the world. Her philanthropic work is legendary, her political activism has shone a light on important issues for women and girls, and she gave away some pretty dandy prizes on her show. She gave us Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. She’s living proof of hope fulfilled for the upward mobility of women of color. Upward to the tune of over $2 billion. With a “b.” Sadly, race and gender still throw up walls in our country, and Oprah has scaled them like a Valkyrie. Like a mogul. Like a boss.

Oprah’s a role model for girls, ambitious young women, and…well, just women, right? Don’t you want to have a  monthly magazine named after you so you can smile on each cover in professionally applied make up and an upbeat seasonal outfit all lit to perfection? Throw in a bunch of daffodils or a pumpkin pie and it’s the ultimate selfie, right? Right. And there’s the break. Crone’s aren’t hung up on selfies.

Always a trendsetter, Oprah became dazzled by the Facebook mentality long before the rest of us were misrepresenting ourselves on Facebook.  That kind of reality break is bound to happen when someone becomes so famous that her last name becomes superfluous. My last name isn’t superfluous, and I bet yours isn’t either. Last names are how we mainstream Americans exist legally, financially, and socially in mainstream America.

Oprah left the mainstream so long ago that she went off the rails, and doggone it, she took my beloved Gloria Steinem with her. 

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The Season of the Crone is Upon Us

We have elm trees in our back yard, and frankly, I was not a fan.

The elm is considered to have mystical properties because its branches grow in Y formations resembling the shape of a chalice.

The elm is considered to have mystical properties because its branches grow in Y formations resembling the shape of a chalice.

There isn’t a season when they aren’t dropping something — flowers, fruits, leaves — making a mess all over the patio. They drop twigs and branches as often as they drop leaves. When it comes to yard work, we’re in a never ending battle to keep ahead of what we’ve come to call the “tree crap.” The trees always win.

Not a fan of elms.

Until I learned that the elm is associated with the Crone.

It makes sense. History and mythology associate the elm with magical practice because the branches grow in configurations resembling Us or Ys, shapes associated with cauldrons and chalices. I’m so glad I came upon this information on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox. How appropriate! A time of turning from summer, to fall, to winter, remembering our summer glories under the waning moon while preparing to draw inside to nurture ourselves with what we have stored up for leaner times.The season of the Crone is upon us, and my elms are calling.

I plan to go outside tonight, stand under my elm trees and look up at the waning moon, celebrating seasons past and the warmth of fires yet to come.

I might let out a good howl or two.

I invite you to join me.


A Nana By Any Other Name…

Strega Nona

Fictional character “Strega Nona” is a “grandmother witch” – but in a good way, if you like lotsa pasta.

People who know me well know that I frequently begin a sentence with, “I have a cousin who…”

I have a cousin for every occasion because I have a lot of cousins. Thirty-one on the Irish Catholic side, and that’s just in my generation. Now they have children and grandchildren, and no one knows for sure how many of us there are or what kind of algorithm could produce a sum total. You can imagine what the family reunions are like. Or maybe you can’t. Imagine a convention where everyone is singing and hugging.

This means my grandmother had 32 grandchildren.

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Celtic Bagel

Rae’s Celtic Bagel 

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The Celtic Bagel

Rae’s multitalented, and a good gal to have in your corner. Like me, she has Irish roots, but married a Jewish man. What better way to celebrate both cultures than with a Celtic Bagel?


It’s Good To Be the Crone!



The image of the Maiden/Mother/Crone is ancient,

and its origins are unclear. Egyptian? Celtic? A reflection of the phases of the moon and the female cycle? Reportedly, the Celtic triskele was a pagan symbol representing the three-faced goddess: the young virgin, the fruitful mother, and the wise grandmother. Until Christian missionaries appropriated the symbol to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Ah, well.

Wicca, Neo-Paganism, and New Age practices still recognize the three-faced goddess in the triskele. I am of Celtic descent and a practicing Catholic, so I’m good with either story. Please enjoy the elegant triskele at upper left and celebrate it as you will, if for no other reason than its lovely geometry. My intention is neither to justify nor debate religious symbols, but rather to apply the symbolic phases of a woman’s life to…well, real life.

In other words, what does it mean to be an old lady in America?

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