Becoming a Crazy Aunt


by Amy Martin

Hippiedom is superb training for being the crazy aunt. A good hippie embraces each day as a unique gift overflowing with creative potential and opportunities to connect and serve. We are the keepers of the carpe diem. My heart melts each time my grandnieces greet me at family gatherings with the expectation of “What is our adventure today?”

My play with this trio of bright souls aged four to 10 started with make believe, enacting characters and scenes from movies and plays they’d seen. The conflations were great. Minions from Despicable Me invaded Frozen scenes, with random ceramic bulldogs off the bookshelves joining with My Little Ponies to save the day. I am in awe of their creativity.

Our great girl science period began when I showed up with kinetic sand, the new generation of Play-Doh: sand with just enough plastic resin to stick together under pressure. With tools, molds and tints we could build just about anything. And make a glorious mess. Beach scenes and castles with moats quickly ramped up to contests for making the most elaborate cupcake ala The Great British Bakeoff.

But you have to keep up your cool quotient or risk losing the weird aunt title. So I introduced them to the glories of InstaMorph, plastic granules that soften in hot water to create gooey blobs. Through trial and error, we discovered how hot the water had to be to soften the InstaMorph and for how long. Much discussion of boogers arose at this point. We determined how to mix the tint pellets into the soft plastic.

Roles naturally arose among the sisters, each taking the task that best suited them. I found my niche among them and we transformed into an InstaMorphing machine. We stretched, twisted, and shaped the soft plastic into bracelets, bunnies, and magic rings. I stretched the InstaMorph to saran-wrap thinness and made a cast of my nose and a macabre ghost finger that I teased them with, assuring my weird aunt title for quite some time.

For Christmas, we went to Lone Star Circus, a local Cirque du Soliel outfit with clowns, acrobats, and jugglers, even professional hula hoopers and trained cats. Ideas were spinning out of their little blonde heads afterward. The family gathering at Easter this year will be very interesting.

Fortunate me, I am the one they’ll tell stories about to their friends when they’re older, the one who made their life a little more colorful, who showed them they could be forever young. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., “Girls do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”


About Author

Amy Martin, a life-long Texan, has forged a varied career in journalism, laced with activism and leadership, and infused with a deep spirituality and concern for the Earth. Martin is currently senior comedy critic for TheaterJones [] where she also covers intellect and theater. She writes weekly from the Taoist and “spiritual not religious” perspective as a panel member of the Texas Faith blog of The Dallas Morning News. [ /archives/texas-faith/]. Her column, North Texas Wild, which reviews public parks in and around DFW, is carried monthly by GreenSourceDFW, where she also contributes environmental features. Martin was hired in the early ‘80s by the weekly Dallas Observer to originate the newspaper’s music coverage before she’d even completed her bachelor of fine arts in broadcast journalism from Southern Methodist University. She moved on to the Dallas Times Herald daily newspaper in the mid ‘80s where she made her mark as an arts reviewer specializing in the eclectic, becoming the only comedy critic in the Southwest. In the early ‘90s, Martin shifted from arts to environmental journalism when invited by the Dallas Morning News daily newspaper to create the first newspaper recycling coverage in Dallas with her monthly Talking Trash page. Martin was lured to the national environmental magazine Garbage in 1991 where she became contributing editor and staff writer, penning several cover stories, including the noted Petrochemical Primer series. She was an original registrar in Citation’s Who’s Who Environmental Registry and a founding member of Society of Environmental Journalists. A regular commentator in the late ‘80s for the local Morning Edition news segment at KERA 90.1 FM, Martin also served as substitute host for the station’s Karen Denard’s Evening Talk Show. As an event producer, Martin presented a conference on death and several highly regarded reunion concerts of historic Dallas bands. She has lectured nationally, including the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin. As a well-known North Texas leader in Earth-centered and unaffiliated spirituality, Martin served as executive director of the nonprofit group Earth Rhythms []. She created and produced dozens of seasonal and lunar events, including the acclaimed Winter SolstiCelebration, a popular performing arts spiritual event that concluded its 20-year tenure in 2012. Two Summer SolstiCelebrations that attracted over 2500 people to White Rock Lake. Regarded by many by her nickname, the “Moonlady,” from the mid ‘80s through 2013, she operated a successful online news service for North Texas called Moonlady News. The daily news digest covers local activities in consciousness, creative expression, environment, holistic health, intellect, metaphysics, nature, personal growth, progressive causes, spirituality, and yoga, dance and mindful movement. With her husband‚ artist and computer animator Scooter Smith, Martin operates the company Moonlady Media to publish books. Her first book, “Holy Smoke: Loose Herbs & Hot Embers for Intense Group Smudges & Smoke Prayers,” drew upon her ceremonial experience and herbology hobby.