Posts Tagged ‘morals’

Remembering Mickey, a true free spirit.

Remembering Mickey, a true free spirit.

My grandma said Mickey Gulla was mouthy. Mickey said my grandma should lighten up. My grandpa didn’t say anything because he was married to one and liked the other.

Mildred “Mickey” Gulla died last week at the age of 94. She was a fiery Scandinavian sprite who was married to my grandpa’s friend, Joe, a big strapping Italian cop. They all met in the late 1970’s when my grandparents sold their farm and moved to town. I met Mickey not long after that during a visit to my grandparents’ house and saw her frequently when I was in the neighborhood.

Small in stature, big in voice, Mickey was the first adult that I called by name instead of “Mrs. Someone”. That was unheard of for us kids but she told us to and it was easy to comply because she was such a kid herself.

When I left for college, my parents moved and Mickey went from being my grandparents’ friend to my parents’ neighbor. Often when I came home to visit, she’d be puttering around the yard of her big brick house and we’d share a wave and a called greeting. The last time I really talked to her was Christmas of 2010. On a whim, I bought her flowers and my dad and I tramped across the street in the snow for a holiday visit. She was the perfect hostess, serving refreshments, sharing stories and pictures. At the end of the evening, she walked us to the door, squeezed my arm and said, “You’re full of piss and vinegar, just like your grandpa was.”

The following February she sent me a Christmas letter, unapologetically late with a good excuse: she’d tripped and fractured a hip, putting her in the hospital for nearly three weeks. The letter raised a good question (“When you were putting away your Christmas decorations, did you notice when you strip away all the tinsel and glitter, God’s real truth shows through?”), shared her favorite Charles Dickens quote (“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”) and revealed the secret to her long and happy life (“I’m having the best days of my life and I appreciate having everything I need. They are: my faith, family, friends, fun and food – lots of comfort food on cold days! That’s food for thought and thankfulness.”)

The letter ended in much the same way a conversation with Mickey always did, with her hope that I would explore the year ahead with good health and gusto. Like she did, right up until the end. We should all be so mouthy.

Never trust a clown. Always be nice to nerds. Because at your 30-year reunion, the nerds will be saving the world…from a clown.

Loose Morals is an ongoing feature on “Hot off the Wire” that shares the lessons learned from favorite books and stories in 30 seconds or less. Got a Loose Moral – funny, serious, insightful – that you’d like to share from one of your favorites? Post it here as a comment, or message it to me on Twitter (!/Kellyth2011) or Facebook (!/profile.php?id=1397365611&sk=info) and I’ll be happy to post it for all to read. “Hot off the Wire”: where having loose morals won’t get you arrested, put in therapy or sent to the principal’s office…

I first read Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” when I was in 6th grade. I confess I didn’t totally understand everything in it at the time, much to the relief of my parents and the nuns at St. John Vianney who caught me reading it. But I understood enough of what was going on to know it was a really good story.

They call it reading comprehension. We’re tested on it in school from the time we learn to read. How well do you understand what you’re reading? What do you take away from the story when you’re done? If you were asked to relate the whole story to someone who’s never read it so they understand it as if they had, could you do it? Two new features coming soon to Hot off the Wire explore the possibilities.

Dice and Dash: Quick Classics for Readers on the Go

We’re a society on the move and readers have to grab their literary fixes when they can. In Dice and Dash, favorite stories will be streamlined into quick reads with the whole tale told in 50 words or less. A great exercise for writers, a quick fix for readers, and a unique way to see how well the story can be told when every word literally counts. While I’ll be sharpening up my pencil to do most of the dicing, if you have a Dice and Dash entry you’d like to share, please do!

Loose Morals: Literary Lessons in Less than 30 Seconds

Every story has a moral, whether it’s evident or not. Loose Morals asks “what did I really get from this story”? The answer is pared down to a quick quip that can be shared in less than half a minute. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always enlightening. And, if you don’t mind others knowing about your Loose Morals, feel free to post a comment!

Be watching for these new writing experiences coming in the weeks ahead.