“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Truly Amazing, Part 1

We grandparents know that everything our grandchildren do is amazing. We also know how tiresome it can be to listen to other grandparents’ stories of their amazing grandchildren. Forgive me just this once.

Joanna Leigh is 30 months old. I’ve been saying 24 months old so that this Amazing Act of Mental Acumen seems at least somewhat amazing to those listeners who will listen.

I saw her out of the corner of my eye at her play table in our den fiddling around with an old broken hand-held calculator in a leather case. It’s about 4x6 and opens like a notebook. I noticed her folding it shut and putting it in her elastic-waist pajama bottoms.


“What is she doing?” I thought.

She walked over to me and stood. I looked at her as she pulled the notebook calculator from her pajama bottoms and opened it.

“What you want, Mama Jo?” she asked.

I just stared.

“You want pizza?” She paused, since I didn’t respond immediately.

She pulled some paper from the left pocket of the folder. “You want money?”

Suddenly it dawned on me.

Yes, we go to Pizza Hut, Wings, the Olive Garden, and other restaurants. She was taking my order!

I burst out laughing. That was not the right reaction, and she just looked at me not understanding why I’d be laughing. She was serious.

Finally I guided her to my husband so she could take his order. “Papa, what you want?”

It also took him a moment to understand what she was doing. So, for a while we played restaurant orders.

I was amazed that she could mimic the waitresses who have waited on us: that they all seemed to get their notebooks out of their pockets or pants and then ask us what we want. I wonder if she understands that after they put the folder back in their pockets or pants that what we want shows up.

If you are thinking that this incident isn’t all that amazing, that it would be only if she showed up with the order, please don’t let me know.


The Big One

As the big winter storm barrels down on my hometown in Alabama, I am in San Antonio on a cold, rainy, lazy day on the Riverwalk, with an old friend who is celebrating her birthday today, February 11,  the Big One. Problem is, for people of a certain age, “The Big One” is, what, ambiguous maybe? More “big ones” are over my left shoulder -- behind me -- than in front of me. So, I reflect on the Big Ones.

Below right: Riverwalk, from the hotel balconyRiverwalk, San Antonio, February 11, 2010

The big problem with old friends is they just keep getting older. Some you walk in lock step with; others you watch from behind as they try to catch up. Some, likely fewer, you’re trailing and watching closely from behind.

Sixteen: now that was a Big One. We discovered the freedom in being able to get in a car and go. Twenty-one: no more fake IDs. Now what?

Moving into our thirties was big, but the Biggest One in the thirties may be an individual thing. For me it was 33. Why? I don’t know.

I don’t particularly remember turning 40 or feeling old for the rest of that decade. I was concentrating on my kids who were fast approaching their teenage years. Gasp. Dread.

Fifty: now that is a Big One for most people, mainly because 50 plus 50 is 100. This fact hits hard because it means you’ve passed “middle age.” This is about the time many people begin wondering where all the time went and questioning accomplishments or lack thereof. It means that you now have “old friends.” You begin to think in terms of decades rather than “several years ago.” It is often the Great Awakening to where life is heading.

By fifty, life has become very real for many people. Maybe you lose a good friend, a husband, some kinds of “magical thinking,” even a child. Illusions begin falling away at a fast pace. Visits from wrinkles, aches, pains, gray hair, weigh gain turn into a permanent arrangements.

At some point we experience that first encounter with a person in the mirror we don’t recognize.

My husband and I spent our fifties discovering the heartbreak of having a drug addicted child. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how this could happen, how I could pull her back from the edge, what I did to cause this, what drug addiction really is, whether another treatment program would do any good, grieving for a wasted life.

No doubt, 60 is a big one, topped only by 65. Objectivity is a bit hard, as I am still in them. I know this much: Entering your 60s is entering the Age of Enhancement. Spittin’ Grits will be more specific about his topic in future posts.



Meanwhile, here’s to my old friend. It’s her 50th: Happy Birthday and may you have many more Big Ones.

Special Note: Spittin’ Grits will take a short holiday for a week or so in order to get some technical issues solved and straightened out on the computer. Thank you for visiting and please come back.

Tower of the Americas, San Antonio, February 11, 2010

 Above, Tower of the Americas (far left), San Antonio, from the hotel balcony.

Appearance v. Reality

So, how’d you like it -- the first decade of the Y2K Millennium? Here it is at the beginning of February of the second decade, and there is no dearth of written pieces on this past decade. So, why not? I’ll give it a shot.







Above, Y2K Snowglobe

First, decades now mean a lot to me, since, having been born in 1943, I have a bunch of them behind me – some of the ‘40s, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and this last one, whatever you call it -- and not so many in front.

I loved the 50s and 60s, when I was ages 12 to 26, because that’s when you learn all this cool stuff – cheerleading, making out, smoking, drinking, driving. Oh, and Rock ‘n Roll. What’s to hate? (For a short history of Rock ‘n Roll, see the Aug. 11 post classified under “Funny Bones” in the right-hand column.)

Second, when I was about 10, I was lying on the grass at Eglin AFB, Florida, staring at the night skies. Suddenly I wondered, “what would it would be like to be living when the new Millennium begins.”

I added it up. I’d be about 56. “Eeee gads,” I thought. “That’s just too old. I’ll never make it.”

To celebrate having made it to 2000, we went to the beach. We woke up on Jan. 1, 2000, with the world’s technology intact, but the decade didn’t start out great for us. While we were having fun at the beach, our house was being robbed. Not good.’

One For the Books

Let’s take a look back. First, a polling question:

What is your overall impression, positive or negative, of the –

1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s?

In fact, the PEW Research Center has already asked a bunch of Americans this question and got answers.  Assuming every decade has its own character and personality, let’s look back at a few events that shaped this past one.

2000: Y2K didn’t happen. AOL bought Time Warner. And Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open, becoming the youngest golfer to win all four major golf tournaments (yikes, the irony!).

2001: 9/11 happened, which may be the most defining moment in the decade. The U.S. begins a long economic downturn (yikes, more irony!), and Enron files for bankruptcy (even more irony!). Apple rolls out iTunes AND the iPod, probably changing a chunk of American life forever.

2002: Kmart and WorldCom file for bankruptcy. The first Blackberry goes on the market. American Idol airs on TV.

2003: The U.S. invades Iraq, having been convinced that the country held WMDs, a term that becomes a household word – unfortunately. Myspace.com airs on computers!

File:MySpace logo.svg

2004: The world spent a terrifying Dec. 26, watching the effects of an unimaginable Tsunami that hit most coastal regions in the Indian Ocean. Hundreds of millions of people died or disappeared forever. Facebook.com airs on computers.


2005: Hurricane Katrina. Enough said.

2006: The H5N “bird flu” strikes the world. Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion, that’s billion. By now, “billion” becomes a household word.

2007: The U.S. sees a record number of mortgage defaults – an omen of things to come. Apple rolls out the iPhone.

2008: The U.S. sees a record-breaking deficit of $454.8 billion, yes, billion. Oil sells for more than $100 a barrel in January and $140 in July, another omen. Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Beyond omen. Madonna in Blue in 1994Madonna turns 50, speaking of decades. Obama is elected to the Presidency.

2009, finally: We don’t have to rack our brains for this one. Bankruptcies, scams, cons, Ponzies, rouge banks, obscene executive bonuses, philandering leaders, depressing recession, and Tiger Woods. It all makes us look like silly suckers, doesn’t it?

It’s enough to make you meditate on the philosophical “appearance v. reality” theme. After all, there’s not much “real” to “reality shows.”


Pew Research discovered that the most common word the respondents used to describe the “Aughts” or “Oh-Ohs” or “Zeroes” or “2Ks” –whatever you want to call the decade, is “downhill.”

And it also discovered that there is no generational divide in how the decade is described. Everybody hates it. And nearly 60 percent of those polled think the next decade will be better, but 32 percent think it will be worse.

Over half of the respondents name 9/11 as the defining event of the decade; Obama’s election is a distant, distant second. Well over half, 65 percent, see the Internet’s development as a change for the better, with e-mail a close, close second.

Only 29 percent see Blogs as a change for the better, with 21 percent seeing them as a change for the worse.

Come on, guys. This is a BLOG. Gimme a break.

Back to the original question. Looks like a no-brainer.


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