Monday, November 14, 2005

Secane, Pennsylvania

Starting with the first home that I have memories of.... it was a post-WWII cape cod in Upper Darby township. The corner of Providence Road and Prospect Avenue. Just a small neighborhood. Every home the same. I believe conformity was the plan.

The neighborhood was a small one, and most everyone knew everyone else. My mother had a beauty shop in the basement of the house. Most of the women in the neighborhood came to her on a weekly basis. The result of which was that my mom pretty much knew everything that went on in the neighborhood. Forget about getting away with anything!

Across Providence Road, there was a shopping center. A strip mall, as was the norm in the 60s. Anchored by an A&P supermarket, it included a RiteAid drug store, Hoys 5&10, Mattson's Gift Shop, the Post Office (zip code 19018), the J. Lynn Deli and other stores which came and went over the years.

Directly across the street from my house and next to the post office was Secane Pizza. Both of my brothers worked there in their teens. My best memories, though, were the deli. My best friend, Maureen, and I would go there sometimes on a Saturday to have lunch. We felt very grown up. It was a small place, with booths. We would bring some quarters because it had those individual jukeboxes in each booth. We would give our waitress the order. I would always order the cheesburger meal, with french fries and a pickle. And a large coke. It was exactly $1.16. It's really strange how these details never go away..... I can still see the long narrow restaurant part of the deli. Booths on each side. I don't remember though if there were tables too. But I can remember the booths.

Hoys 5&10 was a favorite in the summer because they had a Rosati's water ice cart. For 25 cents you would get a paper cone full of a scoop of water ice. Vanilla and bubble gum were my favorites. That stuff was so good. I miss it. Can't buy it in Texas.

I went to Primos Elementary School and St. Eugene's Catholic School. I went to both at various times. Summers were spent at Primos-Secane Swim Club. Another detail that I never forget was our membership number, 139. We had plastic laminated membership cards and that number was printed on it. You handed it in at the gatehouse and they put it in the coordinating slot. You got to know your friends' numbers too and you could always tell if they were at the pool because their card would be in their slot. The cards were color-coded according to age. You had to be over 12 in order to be there without your parents. It was so great to finally hit that 12 year old mark!

One of the weird things is that I can still remember how the schools smelled. Primos always smelled like cleaning detergents, paint, modelling clay.... St. Eugene's always smelled like the incense burned at church. The church was actually attached to the school, so that made sense.

We lived there from 1964 until 1972. I was almost 13 when we moved. Here is my "where are they now?" list: Maureen Kennelly, Debbie Sweat, Sheila Babcock, Marydenise Collins.... I know Maureen is in Rhode Island. She and Marie Morris were my best friends. We had the best sleepover parties!! Marie and I still keep in touch through email. She is in Florida. I am in Texas. None of us are still in the same state! Weird, huh?

Growing up, we loved the Monkees, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Dark Shadows, HR PufnStuf... Back then, there was a cycle to the television seasons. At the end of summer, we would be looking forward to the new fall shows. Especially the Saturday morning cartoons! There was no 24/7 cartoon channels. Saturday morning belonged to the kids and cartoons. No VCRs, no DVDs.... The Wizard of Oz was on television once a year. And it was always a much anticipated event! There were three channels on tv. ABC, CBS, NBC. Oh and PBS. Nothing on PBS for us. This was before Sesame Street and the idea of educational children's programming. And then there were the UHF channels. It was like AM/FM radio. Different tuner and antenna. They had the old movies and some cartoons. And crazy movie hosts like Dr. Schock. And the corniest commercials! Krass Brothers in Philadelphia comes to mind... And television was not 24 hours a day! If you fell asleep with the tv on, it would wake you up around 4 AM with a waving flag and the Star Spangled Banner being played. Then it would sign off for the night. How quaint is that?

Ah well, more memories later.....

Saturday, September 10, 2005


The past couple of weeks have been really hard. I really don't know why. Well, that's not altogether true. I'm just a little depressed about things.

I really try to be positive and I hate talking about things that are wrong. When I was diagnosed with MS, I didn't want anyone to know. Well, except for my husband and my family that is. But I just didn't want to have to talk about it. I didn't want to have to say those words out loud "I have MS". Most of all, I did not want anyone to feel sorry for me. It took a couple of months before I could talk to anyone about it, to say it out loud. And then I was okay.

Whenever anyone would ask me, I would just tell them that everything was great. It was no big deal. It wasn't stopping me from doing anything. And then I would change the subject. I am a person with MS. It does not define me and I don't want to dwell on it.

And luckily, it has been very benign. But I do feel the fatigue. Especially in the summer heat. I can't seem to get through the afternoon without needing a nap. And that just ain't right! I am NOT 80 years old for cryin' out loud! But if that's the worse that I have to deal with, then I can't complain.

But it's my eyesight. And it has nothing to do with MS. Other than the fact that my right eye is affected by optic neuritis (a symptom of MS). But that is sometimes bad, and sometimes okay. It's never completely normal. My big problem right now is that I have had one surgery to fix the muscles of that eye because my eyes aren't on level. I've had it all my life, but a prism in that lens was enough to correct it. As I've gotten older though, the muscles have weakened and I have constant double vision. So I had one operation in July. That didn't fix it so I'm having another one next week. Damn, I just want to be able to see clearly again! I can't read for very long because my eyes just get so tired....

This morning I woke up and my other eye, the good one, was sore and swollen and red. And I can't help thinking that this sucks. I don't know if it's an infection or what.... but I hate it. I'm tired of it. I just want all of this stuff to go away.

So I am feeling sorry for myself. And I hate feeling sorry for myself! This is NOT SO BAD. And I usually suck it up and move on.... but I just can't seem to shrug things off as easily as before.

Well, that's enough for now. Except GO LONGHORNS! It's gonna be a good game tonight. So I will have a good time. I promise. We're going to have friends over to watch it. I'll drink some wine and laugh a lot. I prefer wine to whine any day!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Family Visits

My brother and his family (wife and two daughters) were here for a week. I haven't seen them in over 10 years. It was a really nice visit.

I left the northeast in 1994. We lived in Florida for two years, and then moved here to Texas. Even though I spent the first 35 years of my life in the northeast, I never missed it once I left. I did, however, miss Florida like crazy when we moved to Texas. I still want to go back to Florida. But not central Florida. Gawd no... our house in Boca was 12 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, it got hot. Yes, we had humidity. But it wasn't oppressive. I loved it. The climate fed my soul. I loved it! I have, however, been to Orlando in July and would NEVER recommend that! Now THAT is oppressive. You have to live near the coast to appreciate Florida.

When we first came to Texas, I hated it. I felt like I had been ripped out of paradise and deposited in the desert. The summers are hotter and the winters are colder. It's a lose/lose situation. But after 9 years, it's home. The summer is still hot. The winters aren't as bad as the northeast. And it's home now. And if I must live in Texas, the Austin area is the BEST.

My brother and his family had never been to Texas. They loved it. They went to the Alamo. We took a Sunday drive all through Austin and stopped in to see the Capitol and toured the UT campus by car. They really thought it was a great city. And I guess it really is. It's interesting to see your 'home' through a visitor's eyes. And I can appreciate how funky and different the city of Austin is. To me, Austin is a big town/little city. I am not intimidated navigating it's streets. Drop me into the middle or Dallas or Houston and you will see panic! I hope Austin never gets like that (although it's growing more crowded every year.)

The thing that they kept saying was how 'clean' it is here. Is it really? No.... it's just younger. I remember when we first moved to Florida. I had that same impression. Everything is clean and bright. I think it is just that in comparison to the northeast, it seems that way. The northeast is the oldest part of our country. It was once very industrial. The infrastructure is aged. The winters take their toll on things. It's just older. And I do believe the air isn't as clean either. So there are many factors. It's a comparison between apples and oranges.

There are times when I miss the history of the northeast. But those times are few. I do miss the mountains of New York in the fall. We had a wonderful view from our living room window that was like a picture postcard on autumn days, and in the winter after a snowfall. But I really have no desire to move back there. I do need to go for a visit one of these days though.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The difference between my mom and me

My mom has been living with me for 12 years now. Gawd.... that's more than half as long as I lived with her before I grew up and moved out. Well, it hasn't always been terrible, but lately I have very little tolerance with her. And I feel kind of bad about that.

I have two teenage sons, 14 and 17. They are great kids. They aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they are both great students. They get mostly A's and some B's on their report cards. They and their friends spend lots of time at my house. I like to make them welcome here because I want them to spend lots of time here. Sure it means that Jim and I usually end up watching tv in the bedroom so the kids can have the family room, but that's okay.

You know how people tell you that you'll understand your parents once you have your own kids? Well, I understand all right. I understand that my mother and I look at things very differently. My mom was a control freak when I was young. She is the type of person who always thinks the worse of people. I am not like that. My boys understand that I trust them, and I will trust them until they break that trust. So far, they haven't done anything that would even remotely cause me to be suspicious of them. That doesn't mean that I don't check up on them. It doesn't mean that they can do whatever they want whenever they want. But overall, they have given me no reason to doubt that they are good kids and that their friends are good kids.

But my kids have two 'moms'. My mother pushes her authority a little too far sometimes. She second-guesses ME which drives me up a fucking wall. She is always saying stuff like "He reminds me of your brother." My brother barely made it through school, he was a terrible student. He started drinking when he was about 12. He was always off wandering somewhere. And the more my mother tried to control him, the worse he got. My kids are NOTHING like that..... They are usually here, their friends are usually here, and when they are not, I know where they are and who they are with. They know my rules, and I don't feel the need to 'control' their lives. I accept that they will try to sidestep some rules, but they have not yet broken my trust. As a matter of fact, my oldest was at a New Year's Eve party two years ago and the friend that drove him there had a drink or two. He called me at midnight to ask us to pick him up. He knows that I never want him to get in a car with anyone who's been drinking. No questions. No lectures. We'll talk about it later. We did. And we're okay. No big deal. My mother, on the other hand, has to get all hysterical about stuff and it's a big fucking deal..... That's why I don't tell her most things that go on with my children.

I am amazed that as my kids go through their teenage years, I am finding that the resentment I felt toward her when I was a teenager is still there. I could never be honest with her. To this day I can't be honest with her (and I'm 46 years old!). So I guess it didn't happen with me. I never came to that understanding about why she was such an obsessive-compulsive, distrustful person when I was younger. And why she's still that way. I just wish that she would let me parent my own children without interference.

Okay, rant over......

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Last summer, my son got his first real job. He was 16 1/2. I took him out to open up a savings account in a local bank so that he could take the responsibility of depositing his own paycheck. He already has a savings account at my husband's credit union, where we have banked for 25 years. But the branch is in Austin, it's not local and convenient. I wanted my son to go through the process of opening up his own account and taking care of his money. The account I've had for him since he was a baby is something I've always handled. Plus, I don't really want him to have access to that account yet.

So we go up the street to the Bank of America. I could not believe it when we sat down and they would NOT open up an account for him unless I had an account there with a minimum balance! That's ridiculous. Believe me, I understand that banks are all about money and my son doesn't and won't have much in this little account. But I could not believe they refused to let him open an account. I guess I'm out of the loop, but it just didn't make sense to me.

When I was a little girl, probably 9 or 10, I remember opening up my first savings account at the bank across the street from our house. They gave me a little plastic transistor radio for opening an account with probably about ten bucks! I would save quarters for crying out loud! I guess things have really changed.

I then took my son to Wells Fargo, which was just down the road. What a difference! A really sweet woman sat down with us and opened up an account for him, explained to him all the details, he doesn't have to pay a monthly fee, he gets a visa check card, and he has online access to his account! When I told her what happened at Bank of America, she was very surprised. She said that in her opinion giving my son an account is an investment in the future. One day he will need a car loan, or a mortgage, or investment counseling, and that hopefully he will stay with Wells Fargo. EXACTLY!

He has his paycheck deposited directly and he keeps track of his account online. It has been great for him. And I would like to thank Wells Fargo for being teen-friendly! As a matter of fact, two of his friends also opened accounts there on his recommendation because they were also turned down by other banks!

Okay, that's just something I wanted to get out there today.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Thunder and Lightening

Welcome to spring - storms rolling across the area today. Saturday was meh - wet and dreary. Sunday was sunny, warm and gorgeous. This morning it's raining and storming again. We've had lots of rain recently, but in Texas it's either feast or famine. We'll probably be going through the same extremely hot and dry summer this year. Once summer rolls in, so does the excruciating heat and relentless sun. So I won't be complaining about all the rain we get now.

Boring post about the weather. There is so much I want to talk about, and all I can talk about is the damn weather?


Tuesday, February 22, 2005


We all get it..... somehow some of it manages to elude the gatekeepers guarding our mailboxes. No matter what software you are using, or internet provider, or how vigilant you are at keeping your address from the general public, these parasites manage to worm their way into your personal space. I have a few web-based email addresses that I use whenever I am forced to enter an email address anywhere - whether it is to sign up for online newspaper access or to buy something from a commercial site. Those are the ones that produce a flood of unwanted spam from under every rock buried under the foundation of the internet. My primary email address, which I pay for via my SBC Global account, is amazingly free of spam. SBC Yahoo does one helluva job keeping it out (so far). But I am very stingy with that account and only use it for personal email. Anything else goes to one of my 'free' mail accounts. And those accounts are overrun with spam at all times of the day or night. I guess you get what you pay for.

Which begs the question - who in their right mind actually reads this stuff? Who would actually click on one of those links? Seems like a lot of people are interested in cheap rolexes, access to various prescription drugs (vicodin, viagra, etc), want to view free porn, increase the size of their male member, and untold other things. Sometimes the subject of the spam is cleverly hidden - so I will check the missive just to be sure. Silly me - if I don't recognize the email addy you would think I would know better. And there it is - another friggin' ad for something I don't want, need, or believe would actually serve any useful purpose at all! Is this business really that lucrative? It must be because there sure is alot of it. Someone must be buying what they're selling or it would stop being profitable. I refuse to 'click' because I know that means someone is gonna get paid for bothering me! It's the principle of the thing..... But someone, somewhere is clicking at this very second. Amazing, isn't it?

Before Texas started their "Do Not Call" list, I bought a TeleZapper at Radio Shack. That sucker worked like a charm! Within a couple months, my telemarketing calls were down to nothing. When the "Do Not Calls" came out, I signed up for them also. If I am needing something, I will go looking for it! Don't call me - I'll call you! Why can't we do that for spam also? And don't give me that freedom of speech crap either. You can advertise all you want - but don't solicit me directly.....

I just wish people would stop reading, and if they must read, don't CLICK!!! Don't put money in the pockets of the bottomfeeders who are generating this stuff from their kitchen table in their spare time!

Okay - rant officially over now. We now return to our scheduled programming.......

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Why do I begin this blog with 1980? Well, it's on my mind tonight. ESPN showed a 25th anniversary repeat of the USA hockey team victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. The now famous "Miracle on Ice". That was a very precious moment and I remember it well. I was already a hockey fan. I grew up just outside of Philly and I was a rabid Flyers fan. Our Olympic hockey team in 1980 was amazing. The game was actually played in the afternoon but not broadcast until prime time that night. Since there wasn't any internet in those days, if you avoided the evening news and anyone who might already know the outcome, you had no idea what the final outcome was. I was still living at home and I can remember sitting in the family room with my dad and crying when that game ended. I still have the details of that room in my mind - the hideous foil wallpaper, the green "early american" style couch... and my dad had a fire going in the fireplace. Real wood - not gas which is what I have now in my Texas home.

Yes, 1980 was a good year. That June, I turned 21. Turning 21 was a huge deal in those days. It meant that I no longer had to drive 20 mins to Delaware to a dive called Stanley's Horse and Buggy Tavern to legally buy a beer. Drinking age was 20 in Delaware at that time. Before that, we would sometimes drive over to Jersey because their drinking age was 18. That was just a little further drive - maybe 1/2 hour. Now that I am a 45 year old mother of two teenagers, I would NEVER want to see my kids doing that shit! We were insane. It's funny how you feel immortal when you are young. Nothing bad can ever happen to you. Everything was so innocent.

My parents had a swimming pool in the backyard. On my 21st birthday, my best friend Betty, and my fiance (now husband) Jim and other friends showed up at our house was a quarter keg. That was a helluva party. Jim also brought me a bottle of champagne and a dozen red roses. When my parents came home from work, the party was in full swing. Even though I had very uptight parents, they were amazingly cool about it.

That summer, I was getting ready for my wedding. That happened in September. Wow - this will be our 25th anniversary this year. That's a fuckin' long time! So in September, Jim and I got married and we packed up my stuff and went to New York. That's where he had been living and working for over a year. The Catskill Mountains, Kingston, to be exact. Beautiful place. Mountains and lots of snow in the winter. We had a great apartment a few blocks from IBM (where he worked). I can still see the parking lot view from my window. I can still almost smell the hallways when everyone was cooking something different for dinner. It was so exciting for us to have our own place..... it was so cool! I didn't have to live with my mother's furniture and wallpaper and stuff anymore. I was four hours away and I finally felt like a grown up.

October 1980 the Phillies won the World Series. I loved the Phillies. My dad used to take me to the Vet to see Sunday doubleheaders..... They were always such an awful team but they had their highlights. Like the year Steve Carlton won 27 games AND the Cy Young Award. I think the team only won about 50 games that year total, so Carlton was responsible for more than half of their wins. But I didn't care if they didn't win much because I was a devoted and loyal fan no matter what. When they went to the World Series, I was so excited. Jim was working second shift in those days, so I was by myself in the apartment. The last game of the series, Tug McGraw pitching. Last inning. One more out. I was on the floor in front of our 19 inch television with a glass of wine in my hand...... I remember crying when it finally ended. I was so happy and yet so sad. I was so far away - I wanted to be in Philly for the parties and the parades and the excitement. Instead I was alone in my apartment........ but it was still great!

Damn....... 1980 was a very good year!