Friday, September 5, 2014

In Praise of Old Broads

Thought for the day: If you want a thing done well, get a couple old broads to do it.  [Bette Davis]

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia]
Some people might think it's an insult to call a woman a broad. Not me. Once upon a time, it was a derogatory term, but not any more. In fact, quite a few years ago, Ol' Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra insisted it was a term of affection. (But then again, he called most women broads, didn't he?)

Know when I accepted it as a term of affection? When I watched the 1984 movie Tank, in which James Garner tells his wife Shirley Jones, "You're a tough old broad." And believe you me, his words were dripping with love and admiration. (Terrific movie!)

In A Dictionary of Words About Women, written by Jane Mills, broad is defined as a woman who is liberal, tolerant, unconfined, and not limited or narrow in scope. Sounds good to me... and I should know. Because I am an old broad... and proud of it.

And I'm not alone. I've been working in cahoots with a group of really terrific old broads for quite a while now, and today, we are all happy to announce (ta-DA!) the publication of our book:



To celebrate its release, each old broad featured in this book is blogging about her favorite old broad today, and we invite each of you to tell us a little something about your favorite old broad in the comments. Oh, and if you're still offended by the term broad, I apologize. If you'd prefer, you can tell us about your favorite older lady... how's that? Oh yeah, and one of you who comments about your fave broad will be winning a free copy of our book. Cool, huh? (It really IS a cool book... not only is it filled with some fun poetry, but all proceeds from its sale are going to CARE International.)

Now then, let me introduce you to the other broads, so you can visit their blogs, too. (Like I said, they're ALL terrific.)

NOTE: Technically, Michael isn't a broad. He's a guy. A very nice guy who used that lovely image from Francesco Romoli to create our cover for us, so you could say, as an important member of our team, he's an honorary broad. With hairy legs.

Now then. My favorite old broad. Without a doubt, that would have to be my maternal grandmother.

Her given name was Catherine, but her kids all called her Mommy, and all of us grandchildren called her Nana. What can I say? She was an amazing woman. I'm not sure anyone would have had the chutzpah to call her a broad back then, but undoubtedly, she was tough. Had to be. She married young... reeeeeally young... had a passel of kids, and then her husband died, leaving the red-headed spitfire to raise all those kids by herself.

Ever know anyone who made you feel unconditionally loved? That's the way she was. She was no warm and fuzzy kind of grandmother or mother, though. Quite the contrary. She drank incredible quantities of coffee... with chicory... prepared in a nasty top-of-the-stove aluminum pot that no one had better ever wash... and chain-smoked Raleigh cigarettes. Because she was deaf, she spoke in a loud voice... a loud gravelly voice. (Courtesy of the cigarettes.) She had strong opinions and a quick temper, but even when she was yelling, we always knew... she loved us.



She hated to have her picture taken, which means I have very few. The one to the right is the only one I have in which she's laughing, which makes it even more precious.

Remember that cousins' reunion I went to in Baltimore a few weeks ago? One of our conversations there does a pretty terrific job of nailing my hard-as-nails grandmother. (I'm telling you, when she played Pinochle, woe to anyone who made a play she didn't like...) Anyhow, at the reunion, my older cousin Patty said she was the only grandchild who ever got to spend the night at Nana's. I said I'd spent the night with her... my cousins Diane and Phyllis said THEY'D spent the night with her... and I suspect if more cousins had been there, even more would have said the same. Know why? Even though she had a bazillion grandchildren, that tough old broad knew how to make each of us feel special. From the big mugs of sweetened milk-laden tea and rye bread slathered with grape jelly she fixed for us, to the neat things she let us make from her big ol' can of clothespins, she somehow managed to show each of us that she loved us unconditionally. She was our biggest advocate, and like I said, a truly amazing woman. It's almost inconceivable that she's been gone for more than fifty years, but trust me, that special lady will live on forever in our hearts.

~~~~~~~~~~

Now, your turn. Tell me about your favorite old broad or older lady, if you prefer... could be a relative, friend, celebrity, whatever. Doesn't have to be long, but it can be if you wanta. Heck, you can even write a poem about that special lady if you'd like. This isn't exactly a blogfest, because we're busy technically deficient lazy keeping things low-key, but we can call it a broadfest. Let's have some fun with it, shall we? Don't forget... one of you who tells us about your favorite broad on any of our blogs is gonna win a free book. The rest of you can buy it... after all, it IS for a very good cause. Besides, you might actually LIKE our poems! (Link to Amazon in the image in the sidebar. Easy-peasy...) And if ya would? Please help us spread the word about our spiffy book.

                                                 Now, in praise of older ladies...


                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


76 comments:

  1. Haha. Now I see where you got your...disliking of being photographed. I love learning about your hard-as-nails grandma.

    Susan, you rocked this all. Thank you. Thank you. I'm working on my post now.

    Broad hugs!

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    1. Thanks. I like to think I'm like my grandmother in a lot of ways. Except I refuse to wear those frumpy housedresses, bib aprons, and black orthopedic shoes with the rolled down hose...

      Thank you, too. Your poems help make our book shine. Broad hugs back atcha.

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  2. PS Argh, I think I'm adding a second comment everywhere to correct myself on the first...an old broad thing? Nah, just me. I meant "dislike of ? - I think - being photographed." =)

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  3. Your Nana sounds like one terrific Old Broad, and she definitely passed on her gift of making everyone feel special to you! Now I also know where you got your incredible strength and determination. Thank you for going above and beyond from beginning to end. You've taught me more than you'll ever realize, and kept me laughing along the way.

    Julie

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    1. She really was. She's been gone for an unbelievable 55 years, and it still makes my heart ache to think about her.

      Thank you. It's been a blast. (Even without beans...)

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  4. Your Nana sounds like the queen of Old Broads and I love that you learned from her.

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    1. She was certainly the undisputed queen of our family, and she taught me lots of things that couldn't be found in a book.

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  5. What's better than one old broad?
    It's a bunch of old broads who wax poetic. The book sounds sensational and I know it will be a success. By the way, I absolutely LOVE the cover - - it's perfect (kudos to Michael).

    It's obvious that your Nana was a wonderfully unique and loveable old broad. By the way, my grandmother always gave me sweetened, milk-ladened tea, too. Must be a universal granny thing.......

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    1. Yes, I'm really smitten with that cover, too. I'm still quite stunned that Francesco, the Italian photographer who took the pictures to create the image, was so gracious about sending the original high-resolution image to me when I contacted him. And for FREE, too. I'm kinda thinking when I explained the "old broad" project to him, he mighta had an image of me as being like Sophia Loren, when in reality, I'm closer to Sophie Tucker. HA!

      Neat! I don't know if it was a universal granny thing or not... maybe just for grandkids who were born on December 13. Oh, and my cup of tea always came with a bowl underneath instead of a saucer... so I could pour the tea into the bowl and drink it out of there. A little weird, maybe, but it felt... just right.

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  6. Hi Susan - totally agree with Jon above .. wonderful to have those memories of your grandmother ... and brilliant post.

    My grandmother had a helper and Mary certainly cherished us .. as we spent holidays with her, and then she cared for my grandparents ... she was full of life - having had a difficult time ..

    Michael has really created an amazing cover ...

    Love the thought of old broads waxing lyrical ... cheers to all the old broads and Michael - Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary. Yes, there are a lot of wonderful memories of my grandmother, struggling to stay alive after all these years, but holding their own.

      I'm glad you like our cover. We're pretty much in love with it ourselves.

      Thanks, and cheers back atcha.

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  7. I love the way you remember your Grandma and I love the cover on the book.

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    1. Thanks. The memories are getting a little fuzzy with the years, but I hope they never disappear. I'm glad you like the cover, too. Every time I look at it, I fall in love with it all over again.

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  8. Susan, I love the cover... very sentimental and sweet :)

    My favorite 'old broad' would be my grandmother, she came from a small town to the city on her own with my father (my grandparents were divorced when my dad was very young). She raised my dad on her own pretty well and when she became a nanny, she was always there for us when things were rough at home. She was our sanctuary, we were blessed to have her.

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    1. Thanks, Launna. I'm glad you like our cover.

      Your grandmother sounds a lot like mine. May we be as much of a blessing to our grandchildren as our grandmothers were to us.

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  9. Oh, Susan. Your grandmother sounds like a doll! I love that you all thought you were the only ones who got a sleepover. Thank you so much for all your hard work on Old Broads, and including me. BTW, my father used to use the term "Broad" and it was always attached to compliment.

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    1. Well, I don't know if I'd call her a doll, because she was a very real and genuine cantankerous old gal with strong opinions, which she expressed loudly, whether you wanted to hear them or not.

      Yeah, I love the thing with the sleepovers, too. Patty sounded so smug when she said she was "the only one"... HA

      Cool. Now I'm picturing your dad as Frank Sinatra.

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  10. Congratulations! Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful person. And I do remember the movie Tank.

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    1. Thanks! She truly was.

      Wasn't that movie super???

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  11. I remember my grandmother, who I called Mimi, used to have me over and let me eat dog biscuits along with her dog, put rag curls in my hair, and had the most amazing dollhouse ever. She was the best.

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    1. I'm glad you have such good memories of your grandmother, too. Grandparents can play such a vital part in our lives... if we're very very lucky.

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  12. Broads never get old, their fighting spirit keeps them young at heart forever.

    We just lost the Queen of broads yesterday, Joan Rivers.

    I loved your story of your Grandma. Nothing against men, but it is the strength of women that keeps the world going. We have never been the weaker sex.

    Going to get me a book now written by a great group of broads.

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    1. Absolutely! On the inside, I am forever young. On the outside? Not so much.

      Yes, Joan Rivers was the queen, wasn't she? She showed the world women didn't have to be shy and retiring, and her humor was like no other woman's before her. A tough old broad. May she rest in peace.

      Yes! You're right... I wonder how we got to be called the weaker sex in the first place. (Musta been an insecure man who came up with that one.)

      Great! I hope you love it.

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  13. your grandmother is the epitome of old broads. Very nice tribute, and she must have been in the back of your mind as you conceived this idea. Great working with you and a fun Friday.

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    1. Yeah, she was something else. Actually, Julie is the one who came up with the concept... I just came along for the ride. I'm sooooo glad you joined us.

      Happy weekend!

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  14. lmao first time I heard that song

    Wonderful memories of your grandmother to have indeed.

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    1. HA! Isn't that song a HOOT?

      Yes, they are wonderful memories. Fading, but still going strong. (Kinda like me...)

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  15. I like your definition of "broad." I just looked it up in the giant slang dictionary I have and found a much less flattering definition.

    But I never liked that dictionary anyway. It's rarely helpful.

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    1. Yeah, I've got a giant dictionary of phrase and fable that turned out to be a lot less helpful than I'd hoped it would be when I bought it. Ms. Mills' definition fits the bill juuuuust right.

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  16. My grandmother used to refer to a few women she knew as "tough old broads" and she could have included herself in that category. For her, that meant someone who hung in there, did what needed to be done, never gave up, and never complained. She passed three years ago, and I miss her so, so much. She was my inspiration.

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    1. Yes, yes, YES! That's my definition of tough old broad, too. I'm sorry your grandmother is gone, but I have a feeling she'll continue to inspire you for many more years to come.

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  17. Well, my favorite old broad was definitely my Ma (who also happened to be a big Frank Sinatra fan). Talk about TOUGH! Her photo should always be included with the expression "tough old broad". She did not put up with ANY crap, and God help the person who messed with a member of her family!

    She was a baseball fanatic and knew more about the sport than most guys do. She even worked professionally for the MLB teams the California Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    I remember one time she and I went to a Dodgers Vs. Angels pre-season exhibition game. Pitching for the Angels was Jim Abbott, a man who had been born without a right hand (and who years later, as a Yankee, pitched a 'No-Hitter' against the Cleveland Indians).

    There were two twenty-something-year-old guys in the seats next to ours. At one point in the game, Abbott pitched his way out of a jam and one of the two guys said, "Give that pitcher a hand."

    Ooooohhh! My Ma verbally lit into that guy like you wouldn't believe, right in front of all the other fans. That guy started stammering, and backpedaling like crazy, insisting he didn't mean it "that way" (which of course was a bunch of B.S.) When my Ma got done with that guy, he was embarrassed to hell and you could tell he would have crawled into any convenient hole he could find.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Abbott

    Another time, my Brother was mouthing off to her, and he pushed one of her buttons (which he did CONSTANTLY) and she took off after him. Now, what makes this particular episode so memorable is that my Brother had a broken leg at the time and one leg was in a full cast. He saw that look in her eyes, and then she started coming toward him, and my Brother dropped his crutch and hopped downstairs to his bedroom. But...

    ...it wasn't over yet. She picked up his crutch and went after him with it. He managed to get to his bed, and she raised that crutch, ready to bring it down on him when... God intervened. The crutch broke through one of the ceiling tiles and got hung up in it. She tried to swing it down but it wouldn't come loose from the ceiling tile. So she just turned and stomped off, went back upstairs.

    And there's my Brother lying on his back on his bed looking up at that crutch still lodged above him in the ceiling and just swinging back and forth. (If you wrote that in a screenplay nobody would believe it, but it really did happen just like that!)

    And I know it sounds terrible, my Ma going after my Brother with the crutch, but you didn't know my Brother. He was ALWAYS a pain in the arse and he would have deserved to get hit with his own crutch.

    And that gives you a good idea of how tough an old broad my Ma was.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. What a wonderful comment! From what I've read on your blog in the past, I'm not at all surprised you chose your ma as your favorite old broad. She sounds like she was truly a tough one. (My favorite kind!) I'll bet you and your brother have a million stories to tell about her.

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  18. I love the definition of "broad" that you found, and the video made me smile. Catherine sounds like a treasure. I love the old photos!

    I'm thrilled to be a part of "Old Broads" and am thankful to have been included. :)

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    1. I'm glad you liked that video... now, if we could only get our "crew of broads" together to do our own version of it, eh?

      And we're thrilled you're a part of it, too. Your poetry is a wonderful part of it.

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  19. What an awesome old broad! I can't say I've had the opportunity to meet and get to know any cranky ladies like that.

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    1. Yeah, she sure was. Hey, no problem... you still have plenty of time to turn into a cranky old lady yourself... HA!

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  20. I enjoyed reading about your Nana. My favorite old broad is fishducky.

    Love,
    Janie

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  21. Mills clearly knows what she's talking about, and your Nana sounds like a wonder. I've lived a life sadly bereft of old broads. Probably because I was the baby of the family and the old broads all passed before I came along. That said, I can tell you about a slew of awesome middle-aged broads on their way to old broad status. :)

    Congratulations to the writers and kudos to Michael. Love the cover!

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Yeah, Mills sounds like my kinda broad.

      Sorry you haven't had the benefit of knowing any old broads, but middle-aged ones are good, too. Matter of fact, some of the so-called "old" broads associated with this book aren't very old at all.

      I'm glad you like the cover. We're all pretty smitten with it, too.

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  22. Your Nana sounds like a great old broad :)

    Congrats on your new book!

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    1. She was!

      Thanks. We're pretty excited about it.

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  23. Even after that wonderful post, prior conditioning keeps me from using the term "broad". Will try to reprogram myself but may not succeed. I hope I still get to be dude though --ok?

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    1. But, of course. You'll always be a dude, dude.

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  24. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother---and the pics are great!

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  25. Awww, sweet tribute. Yes, even though it was used by men back in the day, it often is connected with a compliment. "Tough broad" is definitely a compliment! Sounds like your grandmother was an amazing woman.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, my grandmother was amazing, and definitely a tough old broad.

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  26. Those are fantastic pics to treasure forever. I like the term "broad". Reminds of old movies. Congrats on the new book.

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    1. Yes, I do treasure all of our old photographs, and some of them are reeeeeally old.

      Thanks!

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  27. Oh, I loved this post! It made me think of my grandmothers, all of them; even those that came over on the covered wagons and set up farms ... they must have been tough.

    Congratulations on your new book! I don't take offense to the word broad. I used to work with two older ladies in housekeeping, and they kept promising to go out on their own and name their company, "Old Broads with Brooms", lol.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and you're right. Most of the pioneer women were made of a lot tougher stuff than we are today. Not that they had much choice.

      Thanks! "Old Broads with Brooms," huh? I love it! They must have been a couple of fun women.

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  28. Congrats on the book! As I've said on the other blogs, I'm looking forward to checking it out. I hope I haven't worn that comment out yet.

    Your grandma sounds like she was pretty amazing. My hard-as-nails grandma is still kicking, as is her older sister (who just turned 100). Since I want to be original, though, I'd have to say my favorite old broad is Gloria Swanson, particularly circa Sunset Boulevard. She was quirky and funny (did an awesome Charlie Chaplin impersonation), and deliciously crazy, and even for being in her 50s she looked stunning.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Studio_publicity_Gloria_Swanson.jpg

    If there's anything more iconic than that crazed look on her face as she says, "Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up," and then starts prancing toward the camera, I haven't seen it.

    And yes, that's right, I like my old broads with a few screws loose.

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    1. Thanks! First time I've heard the comment from you, so you haven't worn it out here.

      Wow, impressive about the longevity of the gals in your family, and also impressive about your favorite old broad choice. Gloria Swanson, huh? You must be a big fan of old movies; that's a surprising choice for someone as young as you are. But a good one! "Deliciously crazy" and feisty is a fun way to be, and she portrayed both traits very well.

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  29. You're getting a hearty feast of comments, Susan. How will you and Julie choose? Will Stephen Mc get extra points for quantity plus quality? And Gloria Swanson, as BnB pointed out, was stunning! Broads with a few screws loose - that's this ole group. Fun times. Fun times. Plus I made Michael blush. He visited today. Woohoo.

    Keep dancin'! xo More broad hugs!

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    1. How will we choose? Hmmm, I reckon we'll use our need to deliberate as an excuse to yak on the phone some more for starters... then we'll end up pulling the secret name out of an old lady's hat.

      Cool! I'm sure he was thrilled with your post.

      (groan) Too tired to dance, but never too tired for a hug.

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  30. Count me among those who love the book cover!

    Those pictures of your grandmother are fantastic. Looking at old photographs like these and hearing the life stories from old broads makes me realize that oftentimes we are just wimps. We complain about stress on the job or a tough commute to work or some other nitpicky thing...and forget what other women went through. My life is a piece of cake when you compare it to your grandmother's!

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you like the cover. As someone who's into photography, I think you'll appreciate how Francesco created that terrific image. He actually combined two of his photos, and with a little photoshopping, he was able to express his "forever young" theme beautifully. I think he did an amazing job, and I'm still a little stunned he was so gracious about letting it.

      Yeah, we have gotten a little "soft" overall, but there are still plenty of tough old broads around.

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  31. I like old broads! Is susan sarandon considered a broad yet? I know she's a bad ass bitch, which I like.

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    1. On behalf of all old broads... thank you! Yeah, I'd say Susan Sarandon qualifies... bad-ass bitch, or tough old broad...I'd say that's six of one, half a dozen of the other...

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  32. HI, Susan,

    FANTASTIC To your grandmother! She would've loved it! CONGRATS on such a successful production.... insert applause here....

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    1. HI, Michael.

      Don't forget to take your bows, too. That is one fantabulous cover.

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  33. Congrats on the book! Great about your Grandma!

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    1. Thanks. I have a feeling a lot of us were blessed with grandmothers a lot like my Nana.

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  34. Loved reading about your Nana and the pictures are wonderful. Congratulations and I can't wait to read your poems. Love Michael's cover too. Yay!

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think EVERYONE loves that cover... I know I do!

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  35. 'It's almost inconceivable that she's been gone for more than fifty years,'

    After your praise of your grandmother, that line had a huge impact on me. Kind of quieted me down to give honor where honor is (still) due.

    What a great idea for a compilation. And, hey, to have an honorary, hairy-legged broad, how very progressive! ;)

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    1. I can hardly believe it, but it's actually been closer to fifty-five years since she and my other grandmother died. (A week apart.) It's incredible how well some memories can withstand the passage of time, especially when they're infused with love. I'd like to think that fifty-some years from now, someone will still have warm memories of us, too.

      We're pretty excited about the compilation, and it's been an honor to work with so many talented women. (Including our honorary one.) Yep, we're progressive out the wazoo...

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  36. Congrats on the book.

    I guess the Oz equivalent to "broad" is "sheila" (like the woman's name). But it is almost extinct in Oz lingo.

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    1. Thanks! We're pretty excited about it.

      Gee, you mean all Australians don't talk like Crocodile Dundee? HA!

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  37. Loved, loved, loved the story about your grandmother. Very close to what my paternal grandmother was like, minus the cigarettes. LOL. But she did like strong boiled coffee from an aluminum pot, and heaven help anyone who dared to wash her coffee cup. Drink coffee, rinse cup, put it on the sideboard until the next meal. That was her routine and it never varied. She was also a tremendous positive influence in my life.

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    1. Today's version of "strong coffee" has NOTHING on the brew made in those old aluminum pots. I swear, it could've jump-started a dead man. But those tough old gals had an even stronger influence on those of us who were fortunate enough to know them.

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  38. Susan
    Congratulations on another book and a truly magnificient idea. That book cover blew me away. We can never really see ourselves as old.... well, until we look in the mirror, I guess.

    I always thought the term "broad" was flattering in a loving and fun way. When my friend, Marilyn and I make videos, we always call them "2 old broads" and when I do one alone, It's "2 old broads minus one."

    A friend of mine aways used to give me reports on her grandmother who lived to a fiesty 105. When people asked her what her secret was to such a long life, she told them, "aways drink coffee, never water." My friend said it was true, she never would drink a glass of water.
    Something to think about, huh?

    You captured the spirit of a woman in the tribute to your grandmother. Great wording.

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    1. Thanks, Manzie. I'm glad you like it. I think that cover image of Francesco's photo "Forever Young" captures the spirit of all us old broads really well. And he was sooooo kind to let us use it.

      Hmmm, maybe I'd better start drinking coffee again...

      I LOVE that you and Marilyn call yourselves old broads, too. Great minds think alike.

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