Monday, August 29, 2016

Mom Goes to Target: What She Does is Unbelievable!





Today I went to Target and bought only one item.  

The odds of doing this, calculated by my rough estimation, are about 1 in 3,000.

I am more likely to be hit by a meteorite.

NASA data aside, it’s worth putting my point in context: I had both kids with me.

The ace in my pocket was the note from the choir director with a photo of the shoes we needed for my eight-year-old.

Apparently, my eight-year-old can now be called a chorister.  As a chorister, my child needed “unembellished black ballet flats”. 

The shoes pictured in the director’s note were made by Cherokee and cost $14.99 at
Target.  This seemed like a good deal, considering my daughter would wear them a few times this year while standing behind other people wearing the exact same shoes.

My daughter’s pervious pair of ballet flats had been a bit of a bust and there was nothing unembellished about them. To be fair, the gold glitter didn’t fall off all the time, just when my daughter walked or actually had her feet in the shoes.  That pair of troublesome flats was not made by Cherokee but by another brand I’d never heard of at the time, something called Ivanka Trump kids.

Back to Target.

We arrived at 10am sharp and headed directly to the shoe section.

No cart. 

No basket.

Nothing but the description of the shoes in my hand and the foot, attached to the chorister, at my side.

We found the shoes. We found the size. They fit.

At that point, I was near the socks. I felt the pull of shopping trips past. We did need some crackers. Maybe more Windex? Where else could I find the 5-calorie doggie treats in such a variety of flavors? Did we really have enough glue sticks to get through October? 

But I had declared a “one item” trip and we were dedicated to our mission. We headed to the checkout with the same unflappable focus with which we’d entered just minutes before.

“Self check-out,” my eleven-year-old barked.

We couldn’t risk the temptations we’d find while waiting in line for a cashier. The packs of gum would do us in. 

One item.

One bag.

A quick moment with the credit card chip facing the correct way for once in my life and we were out of there.

Outside, I felt the sun on my face. I didn’t have a large grocery cart to haul to the car. I had my little chorister and the unembellished shoes she’d need to blend into the choir.

It was one for the record books.



This post is part of my: Tips the Parenting Magazines Won’t Tell You, an occasional satirical series. Click here for past posts.  As always, thanks for reading and drop me a line. I'm posting more on my new blog and website:  www.writeonsarah.com  and sometimes on Twitter. @writeonsarah

Join me! 












Mom Goes to Target: What She Does is Unbelievable!





Today I went to Target and bought only one item.  

The odds of doing this, calculated by my rough estimation, are about 1 in 3,000.

I am more likely to be hit by a meteorite.

NASA data aside, it’s worth putting my point in context: I had both kids with me.

The ace in my pocket was the note from the choir director with a photo of the shoes we needed for my eight-year-old.

Apparently, my eight-year-old can now be called a chorister.  As a chorister, my child needed “unembellished black ballet flats”. 

The shoes pictured in the director’s note were made by Cherokee and cost $14.99 at Target.  This seemed like a good deal, considering my daughter would wear them a few times this year while standing behind other people wearing the exact same shoes.

My daughter’s pervious pair of ballet flats had been a bit of a bust and there was nothing unembellished about them. To be fair, the gold glitter didn’t fall off all the time, just when my daughter walked or actually had her feet in the shoes.  This pair of troublesome flats were not made by Cherokee but by another brand I’d never heard of at the time, something called Ivanka Trump kids.

Back to Target.

We arrived at 10am sharp and headed directly to the shoe section.

No cart. 

No basket.

Nothing but the description of the shoes in my hand and the foot, attached to the chorister, at my side.

We found the shoes. We found the size. They fit.

At that point, I was near the socks. I felt the pull of shopping trips past. We did need some crackers. Maybe more Windex? Where else could I find the 5-calorie doggie treats in such a variety of flavors? Did we really have enough glue sticks to get through October? 

But I had declared a “one item” trip and we were dedicated to our mission. We headed to the checkout with the same unflappable focus with which we’d entered just minutes before.

“Self check-out,” my eleven-year-old barked.

We couldn’t risk the temptations we’d find while waiting in line for a cashier. The packs of gum would do us in. 

One item.

One bag.

A quick moment with the credit card chip facing the correct way for once in my life and we were out of there.

Outside, I felt the sun on my face. I didn’t have a large grocery cart to haul to the car. I had my little chorister and the unembellished shoes she’d need to blend into the choir.

It was one for the record books.



This post is part of my: Tips the Parenting Magazines Won’t Tell You, an occasional satirical series. Click here for past posts.  As always, thanks for reading and drop me a line. I'm posting more on my new blog and website:  www.writeonsarah.com  and sometimes on Twitter. @writeonsarah

Join me! 











Monday, November 2, 2015

The Flapper in the Family Tree


2015: the flapper.

My ten-year-old struck a pose with a black feather headband and sleeveless dress lined with fringe. I was exactly her age when I wore a shinny blue version of the same iconic shift, performing as a chorus member in Thoroughly Modern Millie for the school variety show. My own mother had a black version of the outfit, a standby for costume parties in the 80’s. But let’s go back, way back, to my maternal great-grandmother, Ceil McCoy, née Miller, in this photo.



An original flapper.

She hung out with guys like this:

And in modest “cabins” like this:


What I know about Ceil is limited to my mother’s stories, a few old photo albums, and the collection of postcards passed down to me after my grandmother died. I have two memories of visiting Ceil. Once, when I must have been in third or fourth grade, my mother and I took the train to see her in Ohio. It was a long, slow ride and the woman in the seat ahead snored and belched all the way. But my great-grandmother had a pantry full of Campbell’s Sirloin and Country Vegetable soup, a gastronomic revelation as far as I was concerned, which made the journey well worth it.

Another visit involved my entire family stopping by her mobile home. I remember my father somehow locked us all out using the sliding door. And I remember pickles.

But now, here we are, nearly 100 years after some of these candid photos of my great-grandmother were taken in Cincinnati Ohio.
Ceil married Bob McCoy, a musician, shown above with members of Gregory’s band: Jack King, Bob Luig, Buss Shriver and Bill and Red Ruck, according to the green script on the back. Later, Bob would sell Electrolux vacuums to make ends meet. It was while doing this that he died in an accident. For Ceil, with three young boys and my sixteen-year-old grandmother, the music ended.

Ceil never remarried. From what my mother tells me, she’d take a yearly trip to New York City to attend a function held for the wives of salesman. And she’d visit my mom in Madison each summer, wearing long braids pinned to her head, perhaps a tribute not to the bobbed hairstyle of her flapper days, but to her mother, Emma Miller, née Gueth, whose photos are also in the album I’ve been sifting through and whose obituary, yellowed from age and the size of a stamp, I found loose. The flapper’s mother was born in 1877 and died on December 5th, 1959.

A 1940 census record shows a snapshot of the flapper’s life. Born about 1902. Married to Bob. Four children ages 15, 11, 9 and 1.

That fifteen-year-old is the one I hitch my story to. Patricia Jean, who met an officer in training, Ritchey T. Porter, during the war. His family album I also have, and it shows a photographic history of a slightly more privileged upbringing, although a Victorian stoicism dampens any sense that they were enjoying themselves all the more for it.

College was in Ritchey T.'s future, and a good job at Oscar Mayer, where he wisely saved and bought stock options and did what a company man was expected to do.

The lives of the women, Ceil, Pat, Linda, Sarah and now Heidi are somehow connected in this family tree that has endured harder times. I thought a lot about that as I ordered my daughter's flapper dress from a website. Surely Ceil would have shook her head and told me I could have sewn the thing myself. That's what she would have done, and skillfully, too. 

My daughter pulled the dress out of the box and held it up to let the fringe shake free. The earrings dangled like sparkling globes—so fancy compared with her usual tiny studs. We added black satin gloves. A feather band around her hair.

Two histories merged, through wars, jobs, marriages, deaths and births. And all in the blink of a century.


Thanks, as always, for reading. 
Follow on Twitter @writeonsarah, FB or add to your inbox.

Check out my new webpage: www.writeonsarah.com








Friday, October 16, 2015

Is the Universe Trying to Tell You Something?

I owe my yoga teacher, Romy Toussaint, special gratitude for introducing me to Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart.

Beattie’s entry for July 7th describes her drive on a highway in New Mexico. The car ahead stopped suddenly and although Beattie avoided a collision, the car behind her had been too close and hit the rear of her Jeep. No real damage was done, but Beattie says that afterwards, “the incident still nagged at me.”

Weeks later, on a two-lane highway, with a school bus ahead and a truck loaded with cars behind, traffic once again came to a sudden stop, this time when the bus stopped to drop off a child.

“I looked out my rearview mirror,” Beattie writes, “the truck loaded with cars was frantically trying to stop. I pulled my car off the road onto the shoulder, giving him an extra car length…..Had I not noticed, not pulled out, we’d all have been piled up.”

Her final message includes this thought: sometimes the universe gives us a little nudge, a little sign.

Today, after going to a mid-day yoga class in a busy shopping center, I stepped off into the pedestrian crosswalk. A car had just passed by on the right and my path was clear. Or so I thought.

I heard the revving of a large engine and within seconds a huge SUV, the size of a Suburban, sped into the crossway from the left. I jumped back. It was a near miss. My yoga mat and I would have been like flies on a tank if I'd not been alert. 

Ten minutes later, while on the highway, my car shook from the vibration of a police car as it speed past me on the left. No siren, before or after, just the reverberation inside me as I thought about how quickly this car, too, had appeared out of nowhere.

Ten minutes after that, as I drove along a beautiful section of Route 206, the fall foliage shining red and brown in the sun, I heard a loud bang. Had it been a rock the size of a lemon? It had the thud of something heavy and slow moving, but I knew that even in spirit, no ghostly Redcoats were hurling 2-pound cannons at my minivan on this historic trail. 

Still, I was shaken now and eager to meet my friend for lunch. 

Had the universe given me a nudge and closed out its trifecta of uncomfortable events or was the big one still ahead?

I tend to believe it is the former. But, as Beattie says, "Sometimes the universe gives us warnings."


Thanks for reading. Follow me on my new Twitter handle @writeonsarah and check out my growing webpage, www.writeonsarah.com