Gratitude Sunday: Baby Rattlers

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.


Sunday Haiku
Tall yellow heads up
above mine, fat with seeds, treats
for little brown birds.

Sunday Musings
Do you remember when you were growing up how special it was to be the oldest child in your sibling group? The oldest got to do everything first. Well, that’s not exactly true if you go by exact age. The oldest may have done it first before anybody else, but the other got to do it at a younger age. You had more privileges, like staying up later at night when the others went to bed. Well, that’s not exactly true either when the littles knew how to whine their way out of bed, but you have to stay because you are older and know better by now. You had more responsibilities, like taking care of the dog, the one that didn’t belong to you, and didn’t like you much.

The one thing you had was your own name. Single children know about this. There is no competition; no other name might pop up in most circumstances. As the first child you are always your first name. The second child has two names. Yours and his. The third child has three names: yours, the second child’s, and his. You see the pattern here? You get to own your first singular name, but you are always in trouble for anything any of the siblings do as your name comes first.

And do not let the mama pull out both your own names. When you become Sally Jane instead of just Sally, look out. You’re in deep yogurt now.

As the oldest you might get to be the director or the leader. You might get to boss the littles a bit or at least until you get caught. You might get them to cooperate in making a play, but you never know what they are going to actually do on stage. Or not do. You might teach them a song, but they change the words into something embarrassing because the words sound funny, yet they are too little to have any idea what the funny bad words mean. And you don’t want to be the one to explain the bad words. You never truly win. And you have to be alert and keep learning and make sure the littles learn too so you are not at the beginning of every name.

In the 1960s, before seat belts, iPhones, iPads, DVDs in your car, and np3s, I remember a family road trip on our way to go camping. The family station wagon was loaded down, all four kids stowed in the back. I don’t remember who started it but we were bored, goofing off, making faces to other cars, acting like our bodies were spastic, laughing, and generally having a silly time entertaining ourselves while being cooped up in the car.

This was way before the idea of politically correct behavior. We were little kids, we were bored being trapped in the car for too many hours, we didn’t know any different, and I don’t think the parents gave it one bit of thought. Well. Maybe. We didn’t know imitating the behavior of handicapped people was not kind. We weren’t being mean to anyone. We were goofing off between ourselves.

In the middle of the desert we stopped to fill the gas tank. As Dad checked the boat trailer, we trooped through the office to get the rest room key. On the floor sat a box labeled “baby rattlers”, immediately distracting to 4 wiggly energetic kids. Keeping our distance from the box we asked if they were real. The office clerk said of course they were real. We had to look. REAL SNAKES. SCARY. SHIVERS. Hopefully they were real small, being babies. Oh, the fear. Can you look? No, you look first!

One of us was finally brave and looked. All of us looked. We felt both cheated and hilariously happy that it was all a joke and the box was full of toy rattles one would give to a baby. We told Dad as Mom herded us into the car.

Dad took a few minutes looking at the box of baby rattlers and fussed a bit with the back of the boat trailer before getting back into the car. We continued our journey to the campsite, acting goofy, with other cars whizzing by us, the passengers pointing, waving, and laughing at us. All the attention spurred us on to greater antics until Dad yelled at us to settle down.

At campsite it was a race as usual to see who could get out of the car first. We piled out and ran around to the back of the boat because it would have to be unloaded. We discovered a sign attached to the back of the boat. Dad must have put it on when we were at the gas station and suddenly it was very clear why we’d gotten so much attention from other carloads of people on the last leg of our trip. The sign said OREGON STATE HOSPITAL ANNUAL PICNIC. We knew the State Hospital was for handicapped people.

It was Dad’s handwriting, distinctively his, no mistaking, in large block letters, obviously not an “official” sign. He must have asked the gas station clerk for the paper and marker and tape to attach the sign to the back of the boat. But we had no clue he had any sense of humor. We thought he worked, and fished, and gardened, and took care of the cars, and took us camping, and could lecture you until your ears bled; that was Dad. Humor? No. But here, here was solid evidence he had a sense of humor.

He’d taught us a lesson in his own way. Like I’m saying we didn’t know politically correct behavior back then. We knew from the sign if you make fun of others, expect the same done to you. The golden rule. It dawned on us the people in the other cars were laughing at us not with us, as if we truly were handicapped people with maybe little or no control over our physical movements. And you never know who is going to see you. All those cars full of people we passed? Some of them could be in this same campground. Dad didn’t have so many words to tell us we shouldn’t behave like that, but a small sign attached to the back of a boat changed our behavior. We didn’t act so goofy in the car after the sign. Being goofy wasn’t as much fun and didn’t feel right when we realized we were imitating people who couldn’t help the way they moved. And the people weren’t really laughing at us as if we were handicapped, they were laughing with a family whose parent would take the time to create something funny to share with the world out of a pile of silly kids.

Sure, we were young, but it was the perfect time to learn. Like the baby rattlers, things aren’t always what they seem. Dad didn’t shame us, or spank us, or lecture us (the worst because of the duration); he taught us with humor, revealing one of his better moments to us. He showed us correct behavior in a gentle humorous manner and for once I wasn’t the first name of the four who were trouble.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Buddleia, how I love those purple spears covered with tiny clusters of miniature blossoms and so sweet to breathe. DSCN5817 The neighbor who plants gladiolas in a wide variety of colors every year. Gladiolus-pastel-mix[1] Purple mallow hosting a fat bumbleybee. DSCN5409 Red and gold invitation of the trumpet flower. DSCN0630 - Copy

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ. Viva la différence!} The Intern (2016, rated PG-13) with Robert De Niro, Renee Russo, and Anne Hathaway. An interesting twist on the newbie-in-the-office story, funny yet poignant as the current office staff learns elders often have much to add to the workplace. * Spotlight (2016, rated R) with Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton, the true story of the Catholic church covering up child sexual abuse in Boston over many decades, and the process of journalistic investigation by The Boston Globe. As much as I’d heard about this movie I thought it would be a little more powerful, but perhaps it was just my mood the night I watched it or maybe it reflects how jaded (desensitized?) we’ve become about abuse. The movie was well done: the story had good flow and cohesiveness, the actors were well cast and acted just fine, the settings seemed accurate, and the story as presented was believable. Sometimes expectations get in the way of appreciating a good thing for what it is. Good movie but somehow lacked a small parcel of passion (for me). * The complete series of The Ellen Show (2006, not rated), Ellen Degeneres’s first TV sitcom with Martin Mull and Cloris Leachman. Ellen tickles my funny bone. She has this way of saying things with a straight face and a twinkle in her eye that cracks me up. * Bertie and Elizabeth: The Story of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (2002, not rated) originally produced for TV for Masterpiece Theater, this re-creation documentary was a little bland. Now that I am more familiar with the history, I was fascinated to see Wallis Simpson portrayed in a darker light in this version, almost to the point of calling her a gold-digger. It was a pleasant change to have the Simpson debacle and the abdication not be the focus of the entire movie. * The Danish Girl (2015, rated R) with Eddie Redmayne, who played Steven Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and Alicia Vikander, is the fictionalized biography of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to experience sexual reassignment surgery. Beautifully filmed and sensitively presented, Redmayne has mastered the batting of eyelashes and the coy submissive smile.


Currently Reading – The Turner House (2015, fiction) by Angela Flournoy, the story of a family and their house in Detroit where the couple raised 13 children and now the house is worth less than its second mortgage. The family must decide what to do with the house. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (2013, self-actualization) by Jen Sincero. Nothing new in the self-help news, but the author is funny and easy to read. Never hurts to refresh.


This week I have been grateful for:

  • Summer evening’s breeze smelling freshly coastal though the beach is more than 50 miles away.
  • The off button on the TV. And a speedy scroller skipping past unwanted info on my FB feed.
  • Giving myself permission to avoid political negativity. I don’t need that in my neural net. I know in my heart it’s bad out there.
  • Trying to maintain my small island of mostly peace and some sanity.
  • Comfortable summer days.
  • Cleaning another corner.
  • How fresh the whole house feels after I mop the kitchen floor.
  • The way the angled sun lit a kitchen table as the mid-evening light came in the open French door. It lasted only a few minutes but gave such a beautiful golden color to the kitsch on the table.
  • Feeling a small win when the son requested I buy broccoli and cauliflower on the next grocery run, and some way to make a cheese sauce. YAY. Because vegetables.
  • The smell of blooming jasmine and buddleias in so many of the neighborhoods near me.
  • Living in a community where neighbors plant fragrant flowers and the air is fresh enough I can smell them.
  • Enjoying the variety of entertainment we pay our local lending libraries to provide for anyone/everyone to use. I get books, both kinds: fiction and non-fiction; first run DVDs including popular TV series such as Downton Abbey; vintage TV series and classic movies; music CDs; cookbooks.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.


Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch
Floral paragraph dividers by Susan Branch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Play Nice and Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.