Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


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Meet The Lalas

Geigy, Denise, Robyn, Jennifer, Sally, Andrena, Colleen

June is full of wondrous celebrations…weddings, graduations, Father’s Day and birthdays – specifically the birthday of my sister-in-law Susan (June 12) , my brother, Stuart (June 20) and me! Hooray! Today is my birthday! But that’s not what this post is about. I just thought I’d mention it…

Amid all of the hoopla of June, there’s a very special, and little known celebration – the anniversary of the charter meeting of The Ladies Literary League.

It all began one fine June evening 16 years ago. We assumed our pretentious name with our tongues firmly in cheek, but it was not long before Zach, the son of Literary Lady Robyn, put us firmly in our place. “Are you going to you LALA meeting tonight?” he asked his mom, rolling his eyes.

We laughed our heads off when Robyn told us about it, but the nickname stuck! We are The Lalas. We love books but I guess we’re really not very literary.

Book groups are popular today, but I don’t really know how many were around 16 years ago. We all thought we were onto something fresh, exciting and revolutionary. A group of girlfriends who loved to read. How fun it would be, we thought, for all of us to read the same book and then get together once a month a talk about it.

And so it began. We set the group up to have a rotating role as hostess. The hostess chooses the book and we have that month’s meeting at her house.

Sometimes we dress up for the occasion. Vivacious Robyn met us at the door drearily costumed as Mrs. Danvers when we read Rebecca.

Sometimes the hostess decorates a little bit to go along with the theme of the book. I remember being startled as I came up to Jennifer’s porch on the evening we would talk about Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None. She had hidden a tape recorder in the bushes to set the stage with scary noises as we approached the door.

The hostess usually gives each Lala a little gift that represents the book. For example, on that Agatha Christie night, Jennifer gave us a jar of blood orange marmalade. Colleen gave everyone a little bag of chocolate coins when we read Silas Marner; Sally presented us with a bottle of lemon water and a sponge when we read Circle of Friends; Denise gave each of us a small piece of clan tartan when we read The Baronet’s Song; and Geigy gave us Shasta Daisy seeds when we read The Great Gatsby.

Sometimes we adopt food from the book. I served blanc mange the month we read Little Women. Rather gross, but fitting for the occasion.

Every September we have a couples’ meeting and include our husbands. Whoever is hosting that month chooses a “manly book” like John Grisham or one of the Sackett cowboy adventure stories.

In December we have a Christmas party with an ornament-exchange-and-steal game. We try to find ornaments that represent the books we’ve read, or books in general. As an aside, I just want to say that’s a lot harder than you might think! I’m always on the lookout for book-themed ornaments.

With a few exceptions, the number in the group has stayed pretty consistent over the years. From time to time some new ladies have joined, and some have left. Some, heartbreakingly have moved away. Jennifer now lives across the United States and Geigy lives in Japan, but they stay involved with what we’re reading. Sometimes we talk to them on Skype during the meeting…and whenever either of them is back in California we try to arrange for her to host a gathering.

We are all so thankful for the wonder of books and the wonder of enduring friendship.

Over the years we have watched each other’s children grow up, and it’s been fun to share a love of books with them. The children have watched their mommies having fun with books. So imagine our delight, a couple of months ago, when we welcomed some new Literary Ladies into the League – three of our very own daughters – a new generation of Lalas!

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Losing My Glasses and Losing My Mind

I just got an e-mail notice that my library book is due. “Losing My Mind” by Thomas DeBaggio. Hmmm…do I see some foreshadowing here? I went to the library website to renew it – something I’ve done roughly a zillion times with no problem…

I’ve had this same library card for more than 30 years, and when I check out a book the librarians look at my taped and battered blue card with disdain. Sometimes they offer to issue me a new one. I say, no thank you, since this one nearly qualifies as an antique. The real reason I refuse is because I’ve had this card number memorized for more than 25 years and I don’t want to learn another new number.

But this morning, on the library web site, I looked at the number I had just typed and I panicked. I stared at the screen. The number didn’t seem right. I tried to think rationally about it, but suddenly no number combination seemed familiar. I went to find my purse…but first I needed to find my glasses!…and dug out my library card.

And, wonder of wonders, quite apart from my brain, my fingers had typed the correct number!

A similar thing happened recently with my driver’s license number – which I’ve had memorized for way more than 25 years – and which I usually rattle off at an instant’s notice when someone asks for it.

Passwords…pin numbers…user names…everything needs one! And of course, they tell you – and common sense tells you – not to use the same number or word.

No wonder my brain is full! Need more RAM!

I do what I can do to get that RAM. I work crossword puzzles. I memorize entire passages of scripture. I make an effort to learn new things. (Like blogging.) I make a hard copy of all the important passwords and numbers I need to remember. I try to avoid foods that are bad brain foods and eat those that are supposed to be good. (Although they keep changing opinions on that!)

When my kids were very young I taught them “The phone number song” to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
The last numeral of our phone number was 1, so it was an easy little song: The first line went, “hmm, hmm, hmm – hmm, hmm, hmm, one. And the second line was “Phone numbers are so much fun!”

Same with our address. The first line ended with the word, “street” and the second line rhymed, “Our address is really neat!”

But now every person in the family has a cell phone or two and we all have different addresses. Too many song to remember!

In the light of all this, I guess the main song that helps me these days, and gives me hope, is one that was written many years ago by my talented songwriter friend, Kit Lloyd.

(And I bet when he wrote this little song, Kit had no idea how much truer his words would be in years to come.)

“Gonna get a new body, body.
The old one’s falling apart.
Gotta get a new body, body,
I’ve already got a new heart.”

So, I press on, trusting the Lord to bring to mind what I need when I need it, and trusting that a new brain will come with that new body!