Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Yeah, well, I've got a dream too. But it's about singing and dancing and making people happy. That's the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And well, I've found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And it kind of makes us like a family."
- Kermit
Excerpt from "It's Not Easy Being Green
And Other Things to Consider"
Jim Henson - The Muppets and Friends

Cheerful Giving

The Blind Side was a big hit seven months before I finally rented the movie.
I was sorry I hadn't paid more attention to the TV interviews with the family at the time of its initial release. Well, I needn't have worried, because People Mag did a nice interview with them recently and more interestingly, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy wrote a book with Sally Jenkins, entitled In a Heartbeat, about their family's journey taking Michael Oher into their hearts and home, eventually adopting him.

If you thought you knew enough about them, I'm telling you the book is really inspiring, telling about their individual backgrounds, how their own parents' giving influenced their lives at an early age. I couldn't put the book down, which is rare for one with my short attention span.

Michael must have cringed when he saw the scene where Leigh Ann comes onto the field to tell him how to play and S.J. drills plays with him. According to Leigh Ann, he already knew how to play when he got to their family.

Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw, who portray Leigh Ann and Sean, and all three of the Tuohy children (Collins, Michael and S.J.) get their say in the book as well.

Anytime a book can make me smile, laugh and cry, I say it's worth recommending. Of course, the main purpose in writing the book is to encourage those of us who saw the movie and now have read the book to go out and buy into the Popcorn Theory. You will have to read the book to find out what that means. Actually, it's on the first page of the book.

You don't have to do a lot to make a difference in someone's life; every day there are opportunities if only we pay attention to them. I found this to be an excellent lesson in cheerful giving.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A perfect wedding

We hadn't been to a wedding in a long time and were ready to attend another when we received the invitation to Chris and Nikki's wedding, the daughter of our good friends, Betty & Frank.

If the venue that the bride and groom had initially picked out hadn't cancelled and left them not only disappointed but scrambling to find another one, it would have been a dreary and windy day in May for an outdoor wedding. This day in June, however, was beautiful. A string quartet played as we all entered the courtyard where the white rose-lined trellis and white pathway strewn with rose petals awaited the soon to be newlyweds.

Nikki, who has always been a beautiful blonde, looked gorgeous in her strapless beaded gown. The groom was handsome in his tux. The bridesmaids wore pretty black dresses. The "officiator" of the wedding was a close friend of theirs and did a marvelous job of setting the tone for the wedding vows. The brother and sister of the bride also spoke a lovely tribute to the couple,who had been dating for a few years before taking the plunge into holy matrimony.
Betty looked smashing in a lavender tiered floor-length gown. Frank wore a matching cumberbund, hanky and tie, which were made from the remnants of Betty's dress, which had been altered. Both sets of parents have happy long-term marriages, so Chris and Nikki have good examples for which to follow.

After the wedding, we drove to a nearby venue, which had previously been a dinner theatre. An open bar and many hot hors' doeuvres later, we had a delicious sit-down dinner of beef, potatoes, and veggies. The cake matched their colors of black and white and cranberry. We all danced and carried on and had a great time. Met some new friends whom we plan to see soon.

The truest words we heard that day in addition to the bride and groom vowing to love one another were when the officiator said to Chris, "Every married man in this room will attest to the fact that from this day forward you will now be made aware of faults you never knew you had." We ladies just smiled.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

I spent my 30th birthday in the funeral home, receiving family and friends.
My dad died one day before his 54th birthday. How I miss Eddie Teener as my loving parent. You can tell where I get my curly hair!
On my 25th birthday, I was living in California and he in Ohio. I received a letter from him stating, "Twenty-five years ago today I went to a phone booth and called your grandmother and said, "I got my girl." You see my brother, Charles, had been born 2 1/2 years earlier, and my parents were hoping for a girl.

Now, all was not totally rosy as I was growing up. I always thought my dad was way too strict as a Sicilian father! I had always wished I came from a big family where I was not so much the center of attention. He really did spoil me in a lot of ways, however. If I was ever sick, he would bring me magazines and gifts to cheer me. Is it any wonder I had about six colds a year!
Transition to years later when I didn't understand why my hubby didn't make a big fuss over my ailments. So, it's not always mothers who spoil it for their sons' wives!

I liked having a father who was a musician, although in elementary school I would list my dad's profession as "magician." I got my love of music from him and my mom, who wanted to be a singer but was discouraged by her mom, because "nice girls didn't go into show business." So, my mom did the next best thing and married a guitarist.

They say a father gives his little girl self esteem. My father was constantly teaching me about how to get along in life. He taught me to set my goals high. However, I relied so much on his advice that it took me a while to have confidence in making my own decisions once I finally did leave home after college.
So on Father's Day, even though there's sadness in being without him for so many years, I feel very blessed for having had such a wonderful dad.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nostalgic Radio Show

We first met John and Larry Gassman years ago when they were recommended to us. You see, we had a 15 1/2-inch vinyl disc, which was a studio recording of my dad, whose professional name was Eddie Teener, when he was on the radio, WHKK, from Akron, OH, with his band.

We had never heard it played, because we couldn't find anyone who had the right equipment to do so. Well, these two, John and Larry, who happened to be twins and happened to be blind from birth, had just the right stuff to help us.

I was amazed, walking into their studio, to see the hundreds of vinyl records stacked neatly in cabinets on either side of the room with no visible markings on them. How in the world did they know what was what! Well, they had their own system. I found out later there are actually 20,000 reel tapes of old radio programs as well.

John and Larry host the program, "Same Time Same Station, where nostalgic radio shows are heard on Yesterday USA at The shows are posted at Check out their website to learn more about these interesting men, who are not only passionate about radio drama but also barbershop.

Oh yes, back to our project...Larry and John told us that these studio recordings were played "from the outside in." Who knew? We're so happy we found them. Local announcements of garden shows, announced by townspeople reflect the format of the times. The recording of my dad's band that we now have on cd is a real treasure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Say "Yes" to Life

One of our heart challenges as we go through life is saying goodbye to close friends and relatives. My dear friend, Maria, died last week. One of the things we learn as "motherless daughters" is not to be afraid to use the word die, rather than passed away.

Maria and Peter were so much fun to be around. We would go to ball games together, the Getty Museum, out to dinner; whatever it was, we had a good time. Not to mention how supportive they were to me...attending all of my plays/singing engagements, even if it meant driving 100 miles on a work night. Having them present at a Hollywood premiere of a short film I did meant a lot to me. So many memories.

Maria's memorial service was a wonderful tribute to her life. Maria loved hearts. Anyone who knew her knew that about her. The heart flower wreaths there were some of the most beautiful I've seen. She had so many friends, who got up the courage to share what they loved about Maria: her consistency, her capability in whatever she undertook, her dependability, her promptness, her loyalty. Well, it went on for two hours. When there was a lull, her hubby would get up and share certain aspects of her life, which then would trigger a memory from someone else. When you hear that getting up and speaking is one of our greatest fears, it's really a testimony to how people felt about Maria to not let the moment pass when they could express their feelings for her. Co-workers from a decade ago showed up.
The one thing that I noticed as I reflected on Maria's life and heard what others had to say about her as well is how Maria always said, "Yes, " to whatever opportunity was presented to her. I believe this was the gift she was given having gone through a successful battle with cancer twenty years earlier. She didn't delay for another day or another time, because she knew today was what matters. It's ironic that her oncologist had just told her he didn't need to see her again when shortly thereafter she started having symptoms, which led to the diagnosis of recurring cancer. Maria told her family and close friends that she was at peace as the end drew near.

We are at peace, knowing that Maria will finally get to be with her mommy again who died in a house fire when Maria was three.

A life well-lived and a dear friend who will be missed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Special Valentine's Gift

Our newspaper is soliciting stories of the best Valentine's Day gift ever received. Well, even though my sweetie has remembered me with roses, dinner dates, and other fabulous romantic gestures, he has never painted a heart in the sky with the small plane that he flies. Wouldn't that be great!
However, the story that I am submitting is the Valentine's Day gift I received from my 87-year old father-in-law who at the time was living in AZ in an assisted living facility. He sent me on yellow-lined paper, which is all he had access to at the time, a Valentine message mentioning my Sicilian grandfather, whom I adored, who passed away a few years earlier. I was so touched by the sensitivity shown by that gesture. Poppy died a few years later, but the memory of that special Valentine lives on in my heart.