Tutu’s Toys

Whenever our granddaughter comes to the house for a visit, there is a very specific sequence of events. Kulani will say hi to Glitch and then push past him as he tries to herd her to wherever he wants to herd her in that moment. She’s not playin’, she’s got toys to get to.

Her favorite is Mrs. Potato head.

Yes, she’s missing an ear. Don’t worry, it’s stored safely in her butt. Kulani could play with Mrs. Potato head for hours but we let it occupy her while unloading and chilling out after her car ride. From there she checks out her room to play with everything fun she hasn’t seen in however long (hopefully not too long or Tutu gets sad) and away we go!

Her last visit a couple of weekends ago made me think of the times I’d go to my grandparents and what I looked forward to playing with there. Remember, I’m a 70’s childhood girl so tv was out. Eventually we got the Muppets on Saturday and I’d put with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom but reading and play time was it at Grandma’s.

There were some things that were special about being at Grandma’s. When I was very little, they lived in a house with pillars out front. I thought this was very glamorous. It was also near the train tracks so at night when a train went by and it’s shrill whistle was blown incessantly, I would wake up screaming and running into my parents room. That was less glamorous. They also had their garage in an ally which was super boujee. I’d wanted one ever since until I moved to Tosa and people who’s cars were in the ally’s kept getting broken into. Hard pass.

One of the coolest things at Grandma’s was their tandem bicycle. Grandpa would be in the front, Grandma behind him and us kids would take turns sitting in the basket in the back meant for groceries and shit. We would fly through the streets and I’m sure were quite a sight. One time we fell, I don’t remember why. I just remember that Grandpa was annoyed with me because I was crying but Grandma was actually the one bleeding, sitting along the curb. I have no idea how we got home but obviously we figured it out or else I’d still be living on that street corner in Windom, Minnesota.

Grandma had a washing machine with a hand crank and she talked me into the idea that this was a toy. I give her all the credit for obtaining child labor under the guise of play time. Well done Grandma, well done. There was a park along the river that remains one of the most fun parks of my life’s entirety. Sometimes we even got to go swimming at the pool. Years later, after Grandma had died and Grandpa moved into an assisted living complex, we went to a different park and Zac got stung by a bumblebee. My Grandpa was super pissed because he told Zac to stay still so it wouldn’t sting him but then it did anyway. Gramp’s felt betrayed and as if he advised little Zac incorrectly. That was too much for me to unpack in one park trip and I just said, “shit happens, Grandpa. Let’s go get ice cream.”

But when I was the little one, the gold mine at the Grandparents was in the basement. Grandpa had a train set; an old western toy town, and a playhouse. Like, a real one. Wooden with real wooden furniture and doors that worked and I most likely spent hours and hours in that basement. The train set was off limits unless Grandpa was with me but I think of the fun I’d had with that western town every time I watch Blazing Saddles and they set up a fake town near the end to be destroyed.

I think back to the statement that it takes 3 generations to lose oral family history, if you’re lucky. Matt’s family is luckier than mine. His Grandma is still going strong at 95 and her great-grandchildren will take memories of her into adulthood. They’ll have stories of their Busia, aren’t they the lucky ones? My cousin’s Paul & Denise & I have Grandpa stories. If you get us together, bring wine cuz we can tell these stories all night long. Maybe our kids would be lucky enough to hear them, I’d like that. Because when we go, so goes the stories.

Maybe that’s the treasure of being a grandparent. We’re impressing on a generation we likely will not see grow to old age all of our memories and what the world was like, “back in the day.” The toys give them visual jolts of memory.

Another favorite of Kulani’s are these Care Bears that I got out of a vending machine in New Jersey on a barbell weekend with the Texas crew. Last time she was here she put them all, along with the gnome, into my boot which was a nice surprise as I shoved my foot into it. She’s kind of a stinker.

But her favorite toy at Tutu’s?

JaJa. She still likes to be flipped upside down, she’s lucky he’s strong. My grandpa never flipped me around but he wasn’t the strongest JaJa like Ku get’s. Lucky girl.

Each visit with Kulani is a treasure for us. We try to make it a treasure for her even though there are still rules at Tutu’s. Not many, but a few. Each memory made is almost like a sigh of relief that if something happened to us today, she may have a memory jolt each time she saw a Mrs. Potato head or a Care Bear and think of Tutu’s toys.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents can do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

Alex Haley

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Friday Jams: My Bell Bottoms are not Your Vintage!

A few weeks ago a REEL crossed my path where a seemingly nice young lady was super exited because a realtor friend called her up and said that an apartment he will show needs to be cleaned out and the woman who lived there had an entire wardrobe of VINTAGE clothes from the, wait for it…1970’s. Yes, I typed 1970’s because if someone references the ’70s as vintage, I assume they mean clothes from the 1870’s.

1970’s. Vintage? I don’t think so.

If you think for one hot minute that I’ll post about the 70’s and not include a gratuitous picture of Randy White, you’ve never net me.

Anyways. This young lady’s excitement of finding an entire closet full of bell bottoms and knitted vests was eventful enough that I did a little math. It seems the 70’s were 50 years ago. When I was growing up in the 70’s, fifty years prior to that were the roaring ’20s and dressing up as a flapper for Halloween was so common to me I didn’t even consider it Vintage.

50 years. When the actual fuck did that happen? I mean, I understand that I’ll be 56 this year and when I was 40 I looked at people who were 56 and thought, ‘geez, I hope I’ll still be able to lift when I’m 56.’ Joke’s on me because right now my lifting is spotty but I’m doing what I can and it turns out that I think I’m fabulous at almost 56 and I STILL get mistaken for being younger than my 48 year old hot hunky hubs.

But today isn’t how hot 70’s linebackers were or how fabulous I am, it’s about the Jams. Look, I understand how each generation believes their music was “the greatest” but when it comes to the 70’s, well, it was truly the greatest. Sorry not sorry. You had the folk music coming out of the 60’s; new rock; funk; smooth rock; disco; some of the greatest country music in the history of country; and towards the end of the decade punk was becoming more mainstream and us suburban kids thought we were pretty badass because we could identify music from The Clash or Siouxsie and the Banshees.

When trying to come up with one Friday Jam to represent the 70’s, it’s impossible. I loved Donna Fargo; Johnny Denver; Queen; Blondie; Tanya Tucker; The Jackson’s; Cher; Deep Purple; Led Zeppelin; Olivia Newton John; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Pointer Sisters. I haven’t even gotten into the Blues or Soul! Point is, 70’s music is unbeatable for a generation of musical growth (and death. RIP Disco.)

So I’ll go with the queen, Donna Summer. When looking for a musician to identify with in the 70’s, my go to was Donna Summer. Sure, Blondie was sassy and hot and the whole Playboy bunny thing was an added layer of mystique. But I wasn’t built like Blondie and honestly, being introduced to sex so young and in such an abusive mode, I didn’t want to identify with a rock star who was also so overtly sexual. I guess some parts of me still clung to being a kid. Same reason I couldn’t identify with Olivia Newton-John, she was too pure. I was too dirty.

But Donna Summer was gritty. She didn’t ask for special favors, just a chance to be heard. She was curvy and imperfect but still sexy and soft spoken. I’ve never been soft spoken, it’s a quality I admire. She walked out on a stage and commanded, purely through her talents, that she be recognized and respected. Also, she was a little on the bad side. She made it okay to have a bad side, I needed that. She was one of the most beautiful women who has walked the planet in my lifetime and I hope sincerely that she had a good life. The joy and escape her music provided me was invaluable at times. Even trying to decide which of her songs to play was tought but ultimately, I went with the song that I listened to no less than 58,000 times. Donna Summer isn’t vintage, she’s immortal.

God had to create Disco music so I could be born and be successful.

Donna Summer

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Some Days the Weight Wins

It occurred to me the other day that I hadn’t written my story of World Masters Weightlifting Championships (otherwise known as, Worlds;) back in December. What now seems like a lifetime ago. I hadn’t even thought about it and my reaction to what transpired until the other night as a bunch from the WanAt crew were out for Pizza after celebrating our Buscia’s 95th birthday when my well intentioned brother-in-law asked how that “one meet in Florida” went. Whoops, too soon Steven, too soon.

I’m going to back up a bit first. 2022 had specific goals in specific timing. Get as strong and proficient at the lifts as humanly possible at 55. I was in a new age group and I had the ability to do some damage to standing records, both National and World. Yeehaw, let’s go! Nationals at the end of April found me without my coaches due to a family wedding and Michael connected me with the most excellent stand in, Debbie Millet in Salt Lake City. She was amazing. We did good. It wasn’t everything I wanted to do but it was a good start for the year. I had another National Championship under my belt and set a couple of National records. Goal one checked off for 2022.

I passed on the opportunity to go to Puerto Rico for Pan Ams. Truth be told, I just don’t wanna be that hot when I lift. I don’t throw in the snow or rain either so I’m an equal opportunistic snowflake.

Because of the late timing of Worlds as the international weightlifting world recovers completely from lockdowns (a disgusting word in a free world), the Howard Cohen American Championships were held in August (usually November.) Now I DID have my coaches and even received my medal from the legend himself:) I increased my National records and was especially pleased that my Snatch numbers were 2 kilos shy of the world record and the weight literally FLEW into position in Baton Rouge. Goal 2 achieved.

After recovering from the meet, it was time to really face that my post menopausal weight was not going anywhere and I had to really take inventory of how I wanted to go into the last half of my 50s. Not supersized as I’ve been, was the answer but 3 months before worlds when I have my last set of goals to achieve isn’t the time to address it. Be as strong as possible. Be bold in my attempts in the gym. Gain confidence and go forth to kick ass. I had until December 3rd to prepare but afterwards, I had decided to take the bulk of 2023 off to address the body weight.

Nope, I can’t do both. If I’m competing, I want to be strongest as I can be. Not just strong, strongest. That means that my training has to push me hard and I need food to recover from that hard training. It also means I need to handle the constant inflammation that comes and ensure that it isn’t taking over my recovery. Ya know, kinda important shit old people need to keep an eye out for. So Worlds 2022 was it for the upcoming year and I needed to go out with a bang. Showcase my hard work. Plan A.

If you know me, you already know how that went. A head on car wreck that I’m still paying for physically, 3 days prior to lifting and my world completely fell apart. What my mind could do, my body couldn’t. That I even made a total is something of a miracle. The other day while visiting Savannah, the PollyPocket and I were tooling around talking about Worlds and she said something along the lines of me stating in Orlando that I wasn’t going to be able to lift. To be clear, not competing wasn’t on the table. Didn’t occur to me. But yes, I DID tell her that I wasn’t able to lift. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to deadlift 35kilos 2 days out and I failed due to kneck and knee pain. I had two crying bouts in the training hall each time I tried to lift with little success. I was fucked.

Matt’s pregame hype, normally the talk that gets my grrr face on, led to more tears. Not because I wasn’t going to try, but because some days your body just can’t hold up to the stress you’re about to inflict on it and I knew this was going to be one of those days. Every lift on the platform was like a skyscraper driving me into the ground as I tried to hold the weight up. I had a potential gold medal jerk in my hands and though my mind said “yes”, my spine said, “nope” and I failed to achieve that 3rd and most important goal. I was emotionally destroyed. I was completely unprepared for failure and that it came out of someone else’s inability to, oh I dunno, NOT FUCKING PLOW INTO ANOTHER CAR with me in it hasn’t helped at all. That I was, still am, physically damaged didn’t help. I’m a horrible patient when I’m not 100% and the effort it’s taken not to be a bitter whiny hag about it all has been a lot.

As disappointing as that whole thing was, it has not been my only challenge this last year. In fact, I have had possibly the worst year of my life when adding up personal challenges. I have hits coming from all sides and I’m so very proud that I wake up each day with gratefulness for this amazing life I live with an amazing husband and amazing friends and amazing security that I’ll get to eat today without much effort and most likely vacuum up dog hair from our fuzzball, Glitch.

But I have sadness and in some moments, just like the pang to the heart when faced with a quick reminder that my weightlifting meet didn’t go as planned, the weight of that sadness hits hard enough that I need to stop and acknowledge it. I don’t dwell, but I feel until the feelings are done. Maybe it takes a quick cry, dunno, I don’t rush it. Some moments or even days, the weights of the world win.

Just like physical inabilities in the moment (I have officially joined the ranks of doctors appointments, and even today am in considerable pain and inflamed from a snatch session yesterday that built to a measly 45kilos) there are times I have emotional/mental inabilities to handle a session of difficulties spiraling around me. The ability to compartmentalize and focus on moving forward is a beautiful thing, highly recommended.

In many ways, the last 3 years has not been easy for so many. The weights of the world are crushing more and more and the inability to deal with these struggles is apparent every day. Yours may be also, just don’t throw your shit onto someone else thinking it’s going to help you feel better. It won’t. You’re going to have to buck up and feel your feelings while being grateful that you live in the most amazing Country on the planet (except for those few readers on here who plug in from China, sorry guys, you’re fucked.) Keep fighting for yourself and remember when the weights get too heavy, you’re going to be okay. When that jerk wouldn’t stay overhead for a gold medal, I put the weights down instead of trying to keep it overhead for a couple of months. Do that. Even when the weights win, acknowledge it and then get back in the fight.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Ann Racmacher

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February 2nd is Fake News

I recall the years I spent as a young girl (all great novels OR blog posts start out this way) that I held my breath on February 2nd to hear if a groundhog saw his shadow and whether or not this Hawaiian growing up in frigid Minnesota would have to deal with another 6 weeks of winter.

If memory serves correctly, Minnesota winters were brutal. I actually KNOW that memory serves correctly because the coldest I’ve been each and every winter since I’ve moved away is when I come back for a visit. Windchill’s that register in the negative 30s or 40s? Pshhhh, you’re still walking to school kid, bundle up. Layers of ice that have shut down Texas? Better leave more time to get to where you’re going. Walk to work in 18 inches of new snow because the busses can’t run? Yup. A Minnesota winter is not for the weak.

Any chance I had to cut this torture short by 6 weeks was welcomed and all I had to do was watch tv in the morning with Pastor John and wait for Puxawhatever Phil to see his shadow (or don’t. I still have no idea how this bullshit is measured.) I vividly remember the conversation in my late elementary years with my mom during a March boy’s hockey tournament snowstorm (if it doesn’t snowstorm during the boy’s hockey tournament in Minnesota, look out. It means it’s coming later and it’ll be a doosie) that we weren’t supposed to have any more winter cuz, ya know, groundhog day and all. Well, Lynda looked at me like I was either stupid or crazy and laid the truth bomb on me that Groundhog’s day didn’t REALLY mean anything other than February 2nd was probably pretty miserable in the northern regions of the country and needed a distraction.

What!The!Actual!Fuck! There ya go, as if 11 didn’t suck enough for me. Now I knew that no matter what, February 2nd was the day that GUARANTEED at least 6 weeks more of winter and became one of the more hated of dates on the calendar. What a rip.

And so began my distrust of anything and everything that appeared differently than what I was told. The fancy term for it now is ‘gaslighting’ but it all rolls back to the February 2nd’s of my childhood.

In later years, as a mother myself, I used the pomp and circumstance of Feb 2 to show my children that the TV will lie to you. There is no “maybe” in another 6 weeks of a Minnesota winter, only an absolute “yasure deal with it, get your snow pants on for the drive to school.” (One year the school district recommended that those children who are being driven to school NOT wear their snow pants to streamline the process of getting everything off and hung up in the hallways when school started which meant that the children who’s parents were dumb enough to follow this rule stood outside in below zero temps while waiting for the school doors to open without snow pants and oops, maybe this wasn’t smart.) By the way, I never got a “thanks mom for your honesty” for that one. Ingrates.

Enjoy your Feb 2nd. The good news is that Austin, TX will be back up in the 70’s in a few days. Texas has a sort of reverse Groundhog day where they get around 6 days of winter in February. Cool. Another reason to love Texas. But if you’re up north, suck it up folks, winter is here to stay for at least another 6 weeks. The rodent lies. Truth.

Ok, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there. It’s cold out there every day.

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