Sunday, December 24, 2006

I almost didn't see it

I take my dogs on many walks through the park trail near my home. One morning, something caught my eye. Was that a little blue door in the tree?

How very clever.... how incredibly random.... how bizarre! Yes, it's a door. And a little welcome mat made from a small stone. And a sign that says "Peace in the Universe". What a sweet little thing to find. So whimsical. I wonder what sort of mythical creature resides behind the blue door.

And then one of my dogs decides to investigate that which has drawn my attention.

Unfortunately, he wasn't quite as charmed. It was just another tree to him and he lifted his leg and peed on it. (No, I didn't take a picture of that!)

December 23rd

Christmas Countdown #23

It's not easy being green! In the early 80s, we were a young, married couple living in the Catskill Mountains. And we were all about skiing! Naturally, we collected lots of skiing ornaments for our tree. Kermit is one of the coolest.

December 22nd

Christmas Countdown #22

Here is another New Orleans ornament. A very pretty ceramic Mardi Gras mask. I actually received this one from my mom years before I visited New Orleans. She had gone on a business trip and brought it home. My mom has always fed my Christmas ornament addiction.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

December 21st

Christmas Countdown #21

We picked up this ornament in Las Vegas. It's actually a fired clay bag... tiny little bag. It has a handpainted quail (or some other kind of bird?) on it. Very cute. And Vegas was FUN!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 20th

Greg was nuts about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in the early 90s. I don't remember where I got this, but it is definitely one of my favorites..... Rafael on skis!

December 19th

Christmas Countdown #19

One of the first Texas ornaments that I bought when we moved here in 1996. It's homemade, with sparkles, and it's pure kitsch.

Love this silly chili pepper. Gotta have some tackiness on the tree or else it would be boring!

December 18th

Christmas Countdown #18

This is the first ornament I ever gave to my husband. It was 1979 and we were dating. He loved hockey. So, of course, I had to buy Snoopy and Woodstock playing hockey. It is a really cool ornament...

Our very first date was September 26, 1977, and we went to see the Philadelphia Flyers play the New York Rangers at the Spectrum. I should have realized then that hockey would always be a big part of my life. Both my sons have played hockey, (Chris still does), and Jim still plays and coaches... To be honest, I am just a little bit tired of hockey. I know I'm going to miss being a 'hockey mom' when it's all over, but I think I'm going to enjoy it for awhile once it's over.

Friday, December 15, 2006

December 17th

Christmas Countdown #17

Back in 1980, Jim and I were married and headed to Disney World for our honeymoon. Disney World was a much smaller place back then. It was the Magic Kingdom and three hotels. That was it. No Epcot, no MGM, no Animal Kingdom, etc. I actually think it was much better when it was smaller.

There was a small shopping village in Lake Buena Vista. This has now morphed into something way bigger and commercial. There used to be a small Christmas shop there. This is one of the ornaments we bought on our honeymoon. Santa in a helicopter. Nothing fantastic or unusual. But plenty of memories in this little wooden trinket.

December 16th

Christmas Countdown #16

Here's another Hallmark ornament that I love. It actually belongs to Chris. He was a huge Lego fan when he was little. He'd spend hours building things. I always imagined he would grow up wanting to be an engineer, or a builder, or an architect..... but that's not the case yet. He still has two more years of high school and he hasn't decided what he wants to be when he grows up.

This is his favorite ornament and it gets a place of honor just below the blowfish at the top, center of the tree.

December 15th

Christmas Countdown #15

Once a Philly fan, always a Philly fan. Even though I'm living in Texas and surrounded by Cowboy-mania *barf*, I will always cheer for the Eagles. Or the Phillie, or the Flyers....

Even though we are brutally honest in our assessment of how our 'home team' is playing, we are always loyal. Oh, and just because Philly fans have been known to boo Santa, we love him too!

This cheap little bear, dressed in his Eagles uniform, has been on my tree for over 20 years. And I hope he brings the birds good luck on Christmas Day when they have to face Dallas at Texas Stadium.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

December 14th

Christmas Countdown #14

Well, here's another ugly one. It's a trout, I think. It's hiding on the back of the tree (which is where I hide all the ornaments that I'm not crazy about). This was given by my mother-in-law when she was going through her 'fish phase' of Christmas ornamentation.

I've always hated this damn fish..... but it's on my tree anyway. You just can't see it unless you are searching the back of the tree.

December 13th

Christmas Countdown #13

This is the first Hallmark ornament that I'm posting! I have lots of them on my tree, and they are all pretty, but there really isn't anything particularly unique about them. And they aren't hard to find. And most don't really have 'stories' to go with them.......

But I've always thought that Chris' Spiderman ornament was neat. Notice he has 'web' shooting from his hands to other branches of the tree.

Yeah. It's dumb. But he's cool.

December 12th

Christmas Countdown #12

Look! It's scuba Santa! This ornament is from 1985. Jim was very much into scuba diving back then. He has had many hobbies, and he always dives in head first (no pun intended). I actually went through the class to get my certification. I did well. Until it was time to get in the pool, under water, with all the apparatus. I just didn't like it. There is something unnatural about breathing underwater. I bailed.

It took a couple of years, but he eventually stopped diving, too. I think I found this ornament at the Lucy Evelyn gift shop in Beach Haven, NJ.

Have I mentioned that I really do miss the Jersey shore?

Friday, December 08, 2006

December 11th

Christmas Countdown #11

This ornament is Greg's. It reminds me so much of the hours he spent learning and practicing the sax. He's been doing it for seven years now, since 6th grade. He loves it so much, he is majoring in music in college. He plans on getting a degree in music, and education. His goal is to become a band director. At least he won't end up as an unemployed musician..... I hope.

Friday, December 01, 2006

December 10th

Christmas Countdown #10

Jim's grandparents lived on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. When he was growing up, summers were always spent on the beach, or on his granddad's boat fishing. (Now you understand the fish and crabs and other sea life on my tree!)

This ornament was given to us by his mom. Barnegat Light is on LBI. This is a wonderful memory of the Jersey shore on our Christmas tree!

December 9th

Christmas Countdown #9

Another ornament that belongs to one of the kids. This is Raider Red of Texas Tech. Given to Greg last year when he made his college choice.

December 8th

Christmas Countdown #8

The blowfish. The pink, glass blowfish. One of the oldest ornaments on my tree. One of the most delicate and carefully handled. And probably my husband's favorite. It was given to him by "Santa" when he was two or three years old. That would make it almost 45 years old! The blowfish always gets the best spot at the top of the tree, dead center. It is really pretty.

My mother-in-law went through a 'fish' phase in the 80s, also. I have about five other fish on my tree, none as pretty as this. Actually, most of them are downright ugly. I'll share one or two of them with you, also.

But blowfish is definitely pretty. And it wouldn't be Christmas without him! (or her since it's pink???)

December 7th

Christmas Countdown #7

Okay, I promised you ugly ornaments, too. So here's the first one. A pink, plastic, bearded crab wearing a Santa hat and holding a green sack.

What else can I say? It's tacky, and it's ugly, but it's still on my tree!

December 6th

Countdown to Christmas #6

There really isn't much of a story to go with this ornament. Except that it is one of my favorites, and probably one of my most expensive. Jim gave it to me three years ago for Christmas.

It is a Lenox china ornament. Beautiful. And much too classy for my crazy tree! But I do love it!

December 5th

Christmas Countdown #5

This is another ornament that we acquired on a vacation. Back in the early 80s, we were in love with skiing. We lived in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and there were some decent slopes within an hour drive.

But then we discovered Killington, Vermont. I think we went there four years in a row. Just for a long weekend. And we took along a bunch of friends. We would rent a condo (or two) right at the base of the mountain. We would take lots of food, and drink, and other stuff.... it would be one long party. And the skiing was the best.

This ornament is one of my favorites. It is a handpainted, fired clay bell. Very pretty. And every time I unpack it, I think of the New York gang waking up to get to the slopes on a cold winter morning after a long night of partying.... Good times.

December 4th

Christmas Countdown #4

Monopoly was always a favorite board game of ours. It seems that we stopped playing board games, and card games, so long ago. I miss that.

Before our kids were born, we were very much into card games, also. UNO was a huge favorite, especially since we had our own cut throat rules (draw cards could be piled on). Crazy Eights and Follow the Bitch were also lots of fun. Many nights we would be up until the wee hours of the morning playing cards with our friends. I think I took a few years off my liver in those days. There was also a great card game called Milles Borne that I loved!

But my all-time favorite card game is euchre. There were many parties where we would have a couple of tables, and people waiting to play the winners. Mike and Mel, where are you guys? Our gals vs. guys games were some of the best times of my life!

Besides cards, we also played darts. Backgammon was another favorite. That was back in the 80s. Then we had kids. That's not to say we stopped playing altogether. It just left us with much less time. And then eventually we just grew away from it. And now we live in a different era. And, to be honest, it's kind of boring. I miss those days. Playing games, whether it was cards or darts or board games, was a great way to socialize with friends. I have fewer friends these days. And we never get together to compete. We talk, we laugh, but we don't play. How can we get that started again?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

December 3rd

Christmas Countdown #3

Greg plays saxophone, Chris plays bass guitar. Finding a saxophone ornament - no problem. Finding a guitar ornament - no problem. Finding a bass guitar ornament? Well, thank gawd for the internet.

We are now on day three of my advent calendar, and all I've posted are my kids' ornaments! But, there are many many more. Stayed tuned!

December 2nd

Christmas Countdown #2

This dragon ornament belongs to my youngest son, Chris. He is a Round Rock Dragon football player. He is on the JV, but he has been practicing with the varsity as a member of their 'scout team' since they have advanced to the state playoffs. Round Rock barely made the playoffs. It was down to the final game of the season, and they clinched the fourth place in their division, and the last spot in the playoffs. Amazingly enough, they defeated A&M Consolidated in the first round. A&M Con was ranked 8th in the state. The next week, they had to face powerhouse Lufkin. A team that was nationally ranked. Once again, the dark horse Dragon team stunned the Texas high school football hierarchy and soundly defeated Lufkin.

Today, December 2, the Dragons face their third playoff opponent, Allen, at Waco. Will the story continue, or will it end? I sure hope they go on..... but it's been a helluva ride so far. What an amazing team.


UPDATE: The Dragons lost to Allen 42-35. Helluva game. Congrats Allen and Amazing playoff run for the Dragons! Ya'll should be proud. I know that I am.

Christmas Countdown

In honor of that age-old tradition, the Advent Calendar, I am going to present to you a selection of my wonderful tree ornaments. These ornaments, which I curse every year because they are so much work, really mean a lot to me. There are many memories tied up into these cheap little trinkets. So counting down to Christmas, I present to you one per day. The good. The bad. The ugly.

Click for larger image

The first one is a favorite of my oldest son. He is a saxophone player. We got this on a trip to New Orleans in the summer of 2002. New Orleans was a stinky, simmering, sweaty mess of a city in the summer. I am, however, glad that I got to visit before the catastrophe of Katrina.

After a couple days in New Orleans, we went to Panama City, Florida, for five days. Stayed on the beach in a nice little motel with efficiency rooms. Then we went to Disney World for four days. And then the long drive home to Texas.

I would have to rate that as one of my top five vacations ever. The only thing I would do differently is to go to Disney World, and then spend five days at the beach. I loved the beach because it was really peaceful, quality time with the boys. Disney World is hectic and exhausting. I could have used some quiet time at the beach after that!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


What am I finished with? My Christmas tree, of course. I've been married for 26 years. We have accumulated ornaments at an average of 5 a year, every year. Whenever we go on vacation, another ornament. We always gift each other with a new ornament every year. Jim came into the marriage with a small collection also, because he got one every year of his life from his mom. And, of course, my boys get one from us and sometimes some from the grandparents every year also. So I have one HUGE collection of ornaments.

Each ornament is packed in it's original box, with the date and the place on it. And all the little boxes are packed like a jigsaw puzzle into two bigger boxes. The unpacking takes forevah!!! Not to mention trying to put all the little boxes back into the bigger boxes so they fit. It only took me two days to do it this year..... that's actually pretty fast.

I do love my ornaments though. So many memories. My boys have some great ones, but I will be happy to pack them up and send them to their house when they are on their own. That will be less for me to deal with every year! They will have a good size collection to start their own Christmas traditions. I just hope they take the same care with them that I do.

And the worst part of all this? I have to pack them all up and put them away after Christmas!!! Dayum.

Friday, November 24, 2006


So, I fell today. Sometimes I wonder if it is just my inherent clumsiness, or something a bit more sinister. This time, I missed a curb. I was hurrying from my car and just went down..... of course, I put down my hand to break my fall. Now my thumb is very sore and not very mobile. A little swelling. I'm giving it a good keyboard workout. Hopefully it will be fine by morning. Or much worse. I never realized how valuable a thumb can be. Especially on your dominant hand.

The monster cannot be doing this to me. It was just an accident. I'm sure it was.

At any rate, Thanksgiving was great. Very calm and low key. I do miss not having big family gatherings at this time of year. They're all too far away. But most of the time, I'm glad they are far away. I really do want to make a trip back East next year. Maybe. I've been feeling nostalgic for Philly lately.

Seems like it's been a million years since I was back home. It's actually been 13 years. Time to go back for a visit, I think.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

WOW....... a new outlook.

Do I regret that I spent the last sixteen years staying at home and taking care of my family? Every single minute of those sixteen years were the most important and most rewarding of my life. I did, however, miss having a job.

When I left IBM in 1990, there were only a few PCs around the site. We didn't have voicemail. Calendars were only beginning to be kept online. "Online" was being connected to the company mainframe, not a PC network. Laptops? Didn't exist. Local printers? They took up an entire 8x10 room and everyone in the department used the same one which was kept behind a locked door. Everyone needed a hardcopy of everything, so of course there was an entire department devoted to copying. Email was just beginning to be used on a regular basis.

As you can see, I am obsolete. Well, sort of obsolete. I started using the internet in 1994. Well, it wasn't exactly the internet as we know it today. I connected to the world via Compuserve. On a 14.4 kbps modem. It was amazing to me.... and I got hooked very fast. I didn't actually leave the safe little world of Compuserve until around 1997, when I started realizing I shouldn't be paying for this service by the hour!

And I'm now on my fourth PC. And I had email before spam was invented. And I keep our little family network of three PCs running and in order.

But, when it came time to build a resume, I had nothing. Nothing for sixteen years. And I really didn't want to step into full-time work anyway. I just wanted to get out and get a part-time job so that I could ease my way into things again.

I just kind of fell into this little job. Driving by, saw a Now Hiring sign (one of many) and stopped in. I walked out with a job. Now it's not a 'professional' job. It really is retail in all respects. And it's not much money.

But oh..... I do love it. I get to see lots of people every day. I get to go to work and do a job. And it is very strange to me that it has made me feel so damn good. Today is Saturday, and I'm not working weekends yet, so I went grocery shopping, built a lasagna for dinner, went with my husband to get his satellite radio installed, and just felt good about everything today! Those are usually errands that I loathe. But they felt great to me on this beautiful fall Saturday.

Last night, after my first four-day week, I was exhausted and asleep by 9:30. But I woke up at 6 this morning and didn't want to go back to sleep. I feel good. If I can do this job for awhile, then maybe I can get back into full-time work again next year. I don't think I'll be in a hurry to leave this one though. I really lucked out. It's great.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back to Work!

After sixteen years of staying home and taking care of house and family, I am going back to work tomorrow!

It's just a grunt job - counter work at a retail shipping center, and it's only part time, but I am really looking forward to it! Of course, the holidays are coming and it's going to be very busy, but that's okay.

I need to get out of the house and have a job. It's not even the money, although that won't hurt, as much as it is a chance for me to have a responsibility and identity that doesn't revolve around the other people in my life.

Wish me luck... I'm going to need it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


We finally have an honest-to-God cold front! Yay! It's 56 and brisk outside. I love it!

We had some wicked weather last night which usually happens when the cold fronts move in. Lots of thunder and heavy rain and tornado watches. And, of course, Chris had hockey practice so I had to be out driving in it.

I always roll my eyes when the weatherpeople tell me that a cold front is moving in. That usually means we're going to drop from 95 to 80. Big damn deal... This time, I'm loving the cool fall weather. And I'll enjoy while it lasts because I'm sure by the weekend we'll be back to 90 again.

Saw my neurologist yesterday. Got to look at the pretty pictures of my brain. There are a lot more white spidery spots than the last time. The doctor says there are definitely more lesions, but no brain atrophy. I have no new symptoms and I feel fine. No change in medication or anything. So I guess the nurse didn't need to scare me to death when she called. Just a few more corrupted files, but the operating system is still working. Maybe not as zippy and perfect as it was, but I can deal with a few minor lags or errors. The system hasn't crashed yet!

Football tonight! In this nice cold weather.... I love it!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


It is very difficult to be dishonest. My dishonesty isn't anything scandalous or illegal. It's emotional. And at 47 years old, I am getting tired of not being honest. Oh, I could be honest. But it would have repercussions that I am not prepared to face. I am afraid. But why should I be afraid? Of my mother? Isn't it time that I started being honest with her? Impossible.

My mother is the definition of passive-aggressive. I've dealt with it all my life. And I guess I have a few more years of dealing with it. Is it worth the hurt and pain to confront her, or should I just continue stifling my feelings? I'm afraid that if I actually open up my mouth, it will all spill out. All the frustration and emotion will just pour out before I have a chance to stem the tide.

Every once in awhile, I will forget myself and something will slip out. She will get indignant and the 'silent treatment' will come. I can deal with that. I've dealt with it all my life. When I was younger, I would try everything to 'make it up to her' and practically fall all over her with apologies. Once she was satisfied that I had suffered enough, things would get back to normal. Now? I just ignore it and act as though nothing is wrong. I will talk normally and if she doesn't answer, I will move on to something else. I will not grovel. Eventually, she'll get over it and things will be 'normal' again.

It's getting more difficult to keep myself in check though. If only I could sit down with her and discuss things in a straightforward manner, but I don't have the balls to do that. I'm a coward when it comes to confrontation. So I just keep on going, living this dishonest life. I get jealous of women who have great relationships with their mother. If my mother didn't live with me, I doubt I would spend much time seeking her out. Oh, I would visit her and she would visit me. But it would be respectful and polite. Not fun and invigorating.

I don't blame her entirely. Well, okay, maybe I do. Or maybe it's my fault for coddling her all these years. I am a good person. She doesn't really know me at all. I wish she did.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Road Trip

This time, we were headed to Houston for hockey games. (as always, click will get you the bigger picture).

A happy water tower near Bastrop.

Forward and Behind

A typical Texas landmark.

This LED sign for a tiny pecan stand was very bizarre.... it seemed to be floating in the middle of nowhere for no reason at all. Very big and very bright.

Our destination, the Sharpstown Ice Center

The pigeons like the "S"

The well-fortified shops across from the rink.....

Monday, September 25, 2006

Five Years with a Time Bomb

Five years ago this winter, I was diagnosed with MS. I woke up one morning with limited vision in my right eye. After visiting my eye doctor, he ordered an MRI because he suspected it was optic neuritis, a symptom of MS.

That was a very scary time for me. I didn't know much about MS, but I pictured myself in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. After the MRI, and the confirmation of MS, I saw a neurologist. He explained it all to me, and put me into a clinical trial for Rebif. That didn't go well, as it began to affect my liver. Plus it was kicking my ass with nasty flu-like side effects. I wasn't sorry to be taken off it. Ever since, for the past 4.5 years, I have been taking a shot of Copaxone every single day. And not a single negative side effect from it.

A little over a year after my initial diagnosis, I had another MRI. I wasn't sure that I wanted one. After all, do I really want to know if the disease is progressing if there is nothing that can be done about it? I'm kind of weird - I sometimes feel like what you don't know isn't going to hurt you. I know that is incredibly naive, but sometimes I really don't want to know. Do you understand what I mean? But the doctor talked me into it, and it was great news. Everything was stable.

This past month, I had my third MRI. The first one in three years. I have been feeling fine. No new symptoms. Life is good. I try not to think about it too much. Take my shot every day. I figured it would be the same as last time. No worries.

Well, this morning the nurse from my neurologist's office called. He is 'concerned' about the MRI from last week..... he wants me to come in to the office to possibly change my meds. I can't stop thinking about this today. I am completely bummed..... I have been doing fine. The disease has been benign for the most part. And now this? It just plain sucks. Hopefully, the monster will stay asleep... Now I will be paranoid about everything.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another Day, Another Tantrum

Every parent has experienced the fury of toddler temper tantrums at one point or another. They are frustrating, at times frightening, and always annoying. And every parent also knows that the first rule of dealing with tantrums is DO NOT GIVE IN. And when the calm finally sets in, do not reward the child for calming down. All of that is negative reinforcement.

Well, once again, the toddlers of the world are having a tantrum. Muslim fury at pope jihad comments. Let's see what it is they're screaming about now.... oh, same old thing. They are insulted. They insist on an apology. They are a religion of peace. And one other thing - the shock and awe of it all is gone. When we hear that Muslims are 'furious' 'upset' 'demanding an apology', it all seems like the movie Groundhog Day. What? Again? *yawn* blah blah blah

And the grownups of the world are giving them exactly what they want: mass media attention, and apologies. Oh my.... that should hold them for a couple of days until the next tantrum.

This is getting very annoying and very old. If they want to be treated as equal citizens of the world community and sit at the table with the grownups, then they damn well better grow up themselves!

Sorry.... but I have no sympathy for them anymore. At all. They need to join the 21st century where everyone is used to being insulted at one time or another. Shit happens. People get insulted. People get over it. End of story.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let's Talk about Radio

I really don't listen to radio that much. In fact, the only time I listen is when I am driving. A few years ago, I loved to listen to The Bob and Tom Show on 102.3 here in Austin. Unfortunately, the station didn't renew their syndication contract, the station changed formats (twice) and I don't listen to that station AT ALL anymore.

Bob and Tom had (have?) one of the best morning talk/comedy shows on radio. There were times that I would be laughing out loud while I was driving. I really missed them on my morning drive. Bob and Tom do internet stream, but you have to pay for it. Screw that. First of all, I don't have a computer in my car. And that's the only time I listen to radio, really. It's a shame because I really enjoyed them. They sell plenty of CDs and stuff on their website, but I'm cheap. I'm just not interested enough to pay for it.

After they were gone, I tried to listen to Dudley and Bob on KLBJ. That lasts about ten minutes with me, then I get disgusted and switch the station. It is very rare that they don't irritate me. I really tried to listen to these guys, because they are local, but no one is more annoying than Dale Dudley. He's an overgrown frat boy with a serious case of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) and he's always yelling about something. It's not the politics that bother me so much. Hell, I didn't vote for Bush. But I don't live my life complaining about him. There's an election every four years, and his two terms are almost up. I am fed up with the constant Bush hate. It's as bad as the Muslim riots. Repetitive and unimaginative. And Mr. Dudley is one of those obsessives who is off the deep end. I don't have to agree with people politically to enjoy them. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert - funny. Bill Maher/Al Franken/Dale Dudley - deranged and not funny. I'm just too tired of all the political hate in this country. Their humor is mean-spirited at times, also. It sort of reminds me of those assholes in high school who thought they were too cool for everyone else and spent all their time making fun of the kids who were 'not as cool'. These are the kind of guys that trigger the Columbine impulse in their peers. They have their fans, and that's great for them. I just don't like being annoyed when I'd rather be entertained. *shrug*

Well..... now I have this amazing thing called an Ipod. And I have just discovered Podcasts! When I was in high school in Philadelphia, I always listened to WMMR. And on ITunes, I discovered that WMMR's morning show, Preston and Steve is available for podcast subscription. And it's free! (for now anyway). I had never heard of these guys, so I figured I would give them a try. They are great! And it's good to hear about Philly again. So I can download their show, and play it in the car or when I walk the dogs.... I really enjoy it even if I get it a day later. I'm not sure why they offer it for free (and without commercials) but I love it!

It's amazing to me how technology is giving us more choices all the time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sad Anniversaries

Tonight is September 10. And we are inundated with television and print remembrances of 9/11/2001. And I have come to tears several times today. Damn the NFL and the wonderful pregame of the Giants/Colts game tonight in New Jersey. More tears. I don't mean 'damn them' in a bad way. Because in a way, I needed to feel this way today. I thought that I was beyond tears after five years. I am incredibly grateful that I am not.

So in the past couple of weeks, we have seen more of the Katrina devastation. And I am sad for all those whose lives are still in a mess. But at the same time, I can't help comparing the two events.

The attacks on the WTC center provoked so many emotions in me, and those feelings are still strong today especially. This morning there was a special on HBO. And I was moved to tears for the first time today. My son had a hockey game, and while I was sitting outside waiting for the game to start, I took a scrap of paper and just wrote the following: anger, horror, shock, despair, pride, anger, no fear, commitment, resolve, just do it, don't appease ever, firm. Resolve to live. They can be damned.

As you can see, the emotions were at the surface. And one word was repeated several times on that scrap of paper: PRIDE. I remember the NYPD and NYFD heroes. I remember thinking they were amazing - and how heartbreaking that so many gave their lives just doing their jobs. And it occurred to me at that moment: Where were the heroes of Katrina? That was what was missing in all that mess. Where were their police and their firefighters and their heroes? The WTC attack was shocking and sudden and unexpected and catastrophic. Katrina was no shock, really. Hurricanes never are. Yes, the levee breaks weren't expected....... but then again, who could ever expect anything man builds to withstand Mother Nature at her most deadly?

That was the difference that I saw today, in a sudden epiphany. Where the hell were New Orleans' heroes? They weren't there.... they were failed by their public servants and their public officials. Rudy Giuliani was there, almost buried by the rubble, breathing the toxic air, leading.... where was Ray Nagin? Where were the friggin' heroes for the people of New Orleans?

What a difference...... I will never ever forget the firefighters and police of New York on that horrible day. I will never forget the sorrowful wail of the bagpipes at all the funerals for New York's FINEST (and "finest" is an understatement of epic proportions). I will never forget that in the horror of that day, I felt so much pride for these hardworking American citizens.

God Bless New York, all it's citizens and public servants, and God Bless America. And to all those who wish us harm, damn you to the bowels of hell.

Update: I came across this essay, Tribes on another blog which says everything much better than I could ever say... an excerpt:

So, on one hand, we have a very blue city – New York – confronted, out of the clear morning of a perfect fall day, with no warning – with a terror attack, and they march toward the sounds of screams and falling bodies and die by the hundreds. On the other hand, we have New Orleans law enforcement – also blue – whining about wet shoes and helping themselves to the happy period of lawlessness that followed an event that had been expected for no less than seventy-two hours.

In New York, we had a governor who got every available resource on the ground as fast as it could get there, and in Louisiana we have a governor who...cried. Governor, your job is to not cry. Your job is to be strong. We have plenty of civilians crying. You want to cry, cry in the car on the way home like everybody else did four years ago. Crying Governors, race-baiting mayors and looting police do not a Finest Hour make.

In New Orleans we have a mayor who left some 400-500 buses sitting fueled and underwater in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool saying that evil white conservative America was selling out his people within 24 hours of the catastrophe, from a safe and dry and adequately toileted location, while four years ago we had a Mayor who ran to the site of the disaster so quickly it is a full-blown miracle he was not killed when a building collapsed literally on top of his magnificent, combed-over head.

Now, much has been made of the fact that Ray Nagin is an incompetent, race-baiting black man, and Rudy Giuliani, who was neither, is white. Also, feminists are upset that people dare attack Governor Blanco because she is incompetent, weak, indecisive, and also a woman. And no doubt there are salivating long-haired, short-cortexed idiots just waiting for this to be over so they can sail into the comments section and tell me what a racist and misogynist I am.

Well, here’s the news flash: Nagin isn’t incompetent because he’s black. He’s incompetent because he’s incompetent. Condoleeza Rice is black. Colin Powell is black. Ted Kennedy, a man well-acquainted with rising water crises is as white as they come. Kennedy is incompetent; Rice and Powell are two of the most competent people on the planet.

This is about tribes, all right: not black and white tribes, but rather a battle between the capable and the culpable.

I have just one response: Hell Yeah! This is a long essay, but read the whole thing. It is well worth the time.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


September has come, but it is only chronological. The landscape does not change. The landscape of Texas in summer reminds me of northeastern winters - no color, no life except for the truly hardy, and no vibrancy.

The few flowers which have survived the unrelenting heat and lack of rain seem anemic and as faded as a 20 year-old silk corsage tucked into the bottom of a matron's hope chest. Even the crape myrtle which are still blooming lack vibrancy. It seems as though they have been washed in hot water and bleach. Faded and wan, the blooms seem to be disappearing into a monochromatic world.

The lawns which are watered are green and yet they are drab. Even still there are patches of brown, especially along sidewalks and driveways where the concrete soaks up the sun and radiates heat twenty-four hours a day. The trees live, and the flowers exist, but they are not flourishing. They look as tired as I feel.

This is late summer in Texas. Where the only color is the brightness of the sky. And yet I long for clouds. A gray day in this gray landscape is actually a blessing. It seems unfair that the sky is so blue and the sun is so bright when everything else lacks luster.

I cannot wait for it to end.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Trip through Texas

I never realized how much stuff my son had until we had to pack it all up to take him to school last Friday. I did, however, manage to pack it into the back of our Jeep Cherokee. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a squeeze. Being the great mom that I am, I volunteered to ride in the back seat. I just couldn't see my 6'5" son squeezed back there on about 18 inches of seat.... crowded by boxes and bags and other stuff. (click on pictures for a larger view)

So, off we headed on the 400+ mile trip to Lubbock. It was a long, boring, and slightly uncomfortable drive for me. So I pulled out my camera. Why not? When we first moved to Texas, I was surprised that it didn't look anything like I imagined it would. But Texas is a big damn place, and on the road to Lubbock, I discovered the Texas of my expectations. (Keep in mind you are getting the same view I had - through the window with glare and reflection,etc)

Small towns....

Miles and miles of open land....

Classic Americana billboards

A sign that we're getting closer....

The landscape gets harsher

Pumping oil

and windmills!

It was a long trip, and sometimes boring, but the size of this state, and the diversity of it's landscapes, is fascinating.

Oh, my son is settling into his dorm at Texas Tech and doing well. Of course, it's only been two days...... I miss him. I have great hopes for him. And I envy him. He has his whole future ahead of him. He's a smart boy. And a great kid. And I am proud of him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tombstone Puzzle

My grandmother's parents emigrated to the US from Poland sometime in the late 1800s/early 1900s. I am working on getting more info. Today I got this picture from my brother, who has been with my grandmother at the cemetary where her parents are buried. I have scant information on her family, so I asked if he would get me the info from the tombstones if he could.

My grandmother had told me her mother's name was "Dominique" or something like that... and my brother said that when he was there with her, she told him this was the grave of her parents and two of her siblings.

I am a little puzzled. First, there are two people with the same name apparently: Antoni. Antoni #1 was born in 1891 and died in 1918, according to the tombstone. Antoni #2 was born in 1884 and died in 1944.

Also, I am assuming Dominika is my great-grandmother. Her dates are listed as 1869-1921. Wawrzyniec is likely my great-grandfather and he is listed as 1829-1923.

So... is it unusual for a family to have two children with the same name? And, if Antoni #2 was Dominika's child, she would have been 15 when he was born. And her husband was 40 years older?

Isn't that illegal?

I do know that one of my other great-grandmothers was married at 14 back in 1906, so I guess it wasn't that unusual. But still....

I am just wondering why they would have two children of the same name, and is it really possible that a 55 year-old man was married to a 15 year-old. I suppose it was.... still kind of strange. A possibility is that she was his second wife and the elder Antoni was a child from a different wife. I have found that when a spouse died back in those days, there was always a quick remarriage in order to provide support(financial for the woman, childcare/household for the man). So maybe that is the explanation. I will probably never know because I doubt I'll be able to access any 19th century Polish records.

Edit 8/29/06: Got an email from my brother today. Apparently, I have misread the tombstone. He stopped after work and checked again. The dates for the second Antoni are 1864-1944. I would assume that he and Dominika (1869-1921) are husband and wife. Antoni 1891-1918 was likely their son. I don't have any idea who the fourth person on the stone is. Perhaps a parent of either Dominika or Antoni?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

In the Kitchen

Have you ever gone into the kitchen, turned on the light, and seen, out of the corner of your eye, something scuttle across the kitchen floor? That's a pretty freaky feeling, isn't it? It makes you jump, or at least makes your heart jump..... Well, it happened to me tonight. But the good news is that it was just a baby lizard. Now, I don't actually know the scientific name for the little lizards around my yard here in Texas. They are small, probably the biggest one I've ever seen was maybe four inches long. This one was a real tiny baby. Could not have been more than an inch and a half long. And it was whitish because it was on my white kitchen floor. So I guess these lizards are chameleons because they adapt to the background color?

Do you know the best way to remove a lizard from your house? No, don't stomp on it. I could never kill one. I think they are cute, and they serve a useful purpose because they eat bugs (which I have no problem killing if I'm confronted). I learned this trick when I lived in Florida from a neighbor, because I used to find at least one a week in my house there. I've been in Texas for ten years, and this is only the second one that I've found in the house (although there are plenty around my yard).

Here's what you do to safely and humanely relocate a lizard. Grab a piece of paper and a small tupperware container (or other generic plastic container). Quickly put the container over top of the lizard. Hopefully, he's not moving, because if he is you won't catch him. Note: Do not worry if you catch his tail with the edge of the container and it comes off. This is a defense mechanism. The tail will continue to flop around for a few seconds..... but just leave it. As long as the rest of the lizard is safely under the container, he's just fine. Lizards regularly lose their tails to predators, but they grow back. The continued movement of the tail makes the predator believe it has captured the lizard, while the lizard has a chance to escape. Isn't nature amazing?

Once you have the lizard (with or without tail) under the container, slip the piece of paper underneath. Make sure the lizard is between the paper and the container, then lift both at the same time. You are now holding the paper tightly against the container with the lizard inside. Carry it outside, and let the lizard run off into the grass.

Your house is now lizard-free, and the lizard has found it's way back into nature.

Doesn't get any easier than that, does it?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Weekend Update

Squirrel goes nuts! James Klute said his 3-year-old son was also bitten on the calf while they were kicking a soccer ball at the park.

The squirrel was sent off the field in disgrace after receiving a red card.

Urban Fish Farming In the basement of an ivy-covered building on the surprisingly leafy campus of Brooklyn College is something even more surprising: thousands of tilapia packed tighter than a subway car into 300-gallon fiberglass fish tanks..... "We're subsidizing everybody in the world to grow fish that we can buy back from them," he said. "It doesn't make any sense to me. We should be creating jobs here."

Yes, and real estate big enough to hold hundreds of 300-gallon fish tanks in New York City is definitely cost effective. Sounds like a winning plan to me.

Worm Entrepreneur Shut Down For the last three summers, 13-year-old Joey Cadieux has headed outside with his flashlight on rainy nights to collect nightcrawlers from his yard.

Purchased by passing fishermen for $2.50 a dozen, the wriggling worms brought him $7 to $10 in a good month, just enough for bike trips to his favorite neighborhood pizza joint.

But when a town official recently objected to his stenciled black-and-white "nite crawlers" yard sign, Joey's business got the hook.

Maybe Joey should get together with the urban fish farmer.....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Perfect Storm

It took me two hours to make a rountrip to the skating rink tonight to get my son to hockey practice. The rink is about 8 1/2 miles away. Why did it take so damn long? Well, sit back and I'll tell ya.

The rink is south of me - just off IH35. From my house, I go east to get to I35, and then south to Austin. There are only two eastbound roads near me. The first one, 620, was shut right in the middle of rush hour traffic because of a gas main break. They are replacing the utility poles, and apparently they hit a gas main. So east and west traffic was closed.

I can get to the other eastbound road by going through my neighborhood and taking Hairy Man Road (yes, that's really the name!). Hairy Man is a winding two lane road.... Hairy Man would take me to the other eastbound road, it is approximately a three mile drive. So I headed that way. But so did every other single person who was pouring off eastbound 620 at rush hour. This is a backwater road, two lanes, and a couple of four-way stops. It took me 45 minutes to go three miles!!!! What the hell!

On top of that, where Sam Bass and I35 meet, a tractor-trailer had overturned. Luckily, it was after the access road on the northbound side, so I was able to get on I35 and head south.

And then, the same deal coming home. I left the house at 6:25. Got home at 8:30. This roundtrip normally takes me 1/2 hour.

On top of that, I only had a quarter tank of gas, and I was just praying during all that stop and go traffic that I would make it to a gas station.

The people who planned these roads obviously never considered the growth we have had in the last ten years and the lack of alternate routes.

Rock the Day

I love YouTube. Go ahead, try it. The search facility is great. I'll get your day started with something special. Knopfler and Clapton are two of my favorite guitarists. I promise to share more later.

Eric Clapton With Mark Knopfler - Layla

How about we amp it up a bit with some Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith?

Led Zeppelin& Aerosmith

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Random Incoherence

We're going to hit 100 today. And the next day. And the day after that. Which makes me wonder: what in the hell was everyone whining about in the rest of the country all summer? Here in Texas, that's a normal summer. Okay, granted they aren't used to it. But still, summer is supposed to be hot. I don't like it, but you get used to it.

Getting a kid ready for college is expensive! Took Greg to Target yesterday and spent $200 on miscellaneous stuff for his dorm room. It's amazing what you take for granted after you have accumulated 30 years of stuff in your house. The stapler is in the desk drawer. But wait, he will be over 400 miles away, so he's gonna need one of his own. A couple of melamine plates and bowls for in-room meals. A rug for the floor, a pitcher with water filter, some replacement filters, some little plastic drawers for organization, collapsable laundry hamper, shower caddy, heavy duty bike lock, blah blah blah. We are so ready now. The big question is how are we gonna fit all this stuff into the jeep for the trip out there??

The world is in turmoil. Again. Can't we all just get along? I know the arab/palestinian/muslim world is in dire poverty and despair, but wouldn't it make more sense to invest in industry and education than weapons? Just askin'.

I love my Ipod. Have I mentioned that lately? All the CDs that have been gathering dust on my shelves have been reborn. I am listening to things that I haven't heard in years. We are creatures of habit. I've forgotten how good some of it is. I've also bought some new music which I've never heard before and discovered some current artists that I actually like! Welcome to the 21st century. It's about damn time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Full Moon on an August Night

I love it when the moon is bright enough to cast shadows. The backyard is dark. But it's not. Everything is visible, even the long shadows of the trees. But yet, it's dark.

And it's still pretty hot at 11:00 PM, too. Funny thing about where I live, hours after the sun goes down and it's still 90 degrees outside.

I had to go to the grocery store around 9:30. We were out of wine. Hockey tryouts are this week, and Jim went to the rink after work and was on the ice for four hours. I knew he would be looking for a glass of wine when he got home. Of course, I wanted a glass, too. And that is the only reason I would go to the store at 9:30 at night. People shop for odd things at the grocery store at night. There were two ladies ahead of me in the checkout line. The first woman had a container of Silk soy milk, some yogurt and a frozen Marie Callender Coconut Cream pie.... she wants to eat healthy, but she doesn't. That's cool. The second woman had a plunger and a bowl brush. I know why she had to make a nighttime trip to the grocery store. She had my sympathy. And I had my box of wine. Yes, I buy wine in a box. Is there a problem with that? It will last a whole week, or more. It's just more convenient. I prefer to get a bottle of some good pinot grigio or cabernet sauvignon, but for everyday, the box will do.

Monday, July 31, 2006

It's August!!!

Well, it is officially August, 2006. My oldest child will be off to college in three weeks. Am I sad? No, actually I am envious. He's going to start a great chapter in his life. I am going to miss him. A lot. The house will be a bit quieter. My grocery bill will be a little smaller. But I just got the first statement from the university and I think it's a good thing I'll be spending less on groceries!

We went up to Lubbock two weeks ago for New Student Orientation. The boy is already completely at home on campus, already knows many people, and didn't need me at all! I was amazed at the young people at orientation - I have never seen so many attractive young men and women in one place in all my life! Seriously, Texas grows some good-looking kids!

I remember what it was like to be eighteen years old. I guess that's why I have been spending so much time thinking about my youth lately. It's probably normal. If I could go back and do it all over again? I probably wouldn't change a thing. Seriously. What needs to be changed isn't the past, it's the present. I have to start thinking about the rest of my life! I still have a 16 year old at home, who doesn't need me quite as much as he used to, but 'the rest of my life' is starting already and life is too short not to take advantage of every minute. So, time for the second chapter, I think.

So what's next?

Early Summer Morning

It is 7:00 AM and it is 79 degrees out. There is a big dark cloud covering part of the sky, but I can see the sun trying to burn it off. Since my backporch faces east, I usually share my morning tea with the rising sun.

I love the very early morning. The hummingbirds are fighting with each other over the feeder (they do not like to share). Four of them dodge and dive at each other, while their high-pitched chirping fills the morning silence. But it is not completely silent, I can hear some lawn sprinklers somewhere on the block. My dogs are stretched out on the grass, not even noticing the tiny hummers battling above their heads.

I know that the sun is going to win the battle with that cloud. There will be no rain today. It will be another hot, sunny Texas summer day. Sometimes I long for a dark, gray rainy day. When I lived up north, we had lots of those. And they used to depress me. But when you have been living for ten years in a place where 60% of the year is constant sun, you actually look forward to those rare gray days.

When we get storms, they tend to be violent. The rain sweeps down in torrents, and the thunder is loud. Very rarely do we get those soft rains. I would love to wake up in the morning to the sound of a gentle rain and a dark day. The kind of rain that lasts all day and encourages you to curl up with a book and a cup of tea.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer of '76

The first real job I ever had was at the Philadelphia International Airport in 1976. My dad worked for Eastern Airlines, and he basically got me the job. I worked in the gift shop on concourse B. The shops were run by Aero, which was a subsidiary of ARA. They had a contract with the city to run the shops and the food service in the airport. This was back in the day when airports didn't look like shopping malls or food courts. There was limited choice when you travelled.

It was the bicentennial summer, and we had to wear these ugly red, white and blue nylon smocks. It was actually a great job for a seventeen-year old. It was so much better than working at Burger King or something. This girl was a child of the suburbs, and the airport was a dynamic place with all manner of fascinating people.

Obviously, airport security was a joke back in 1976. In other words, there wasn't much security at all. There were a few homeless people that pretty much lived there. One little old man was known as "Birdman" because he was always whistling. He usually slept across the terminal chairs at night.

And whatever happened to the Hare Krishna freaks? We used to have so much fun tormenting them. I remember a customer rushed into the gift shop one day and was just pacing around. I asked him if he was looking for something. He said that he was trying to avoid a Hare Krishna guy (who was standing outside the door looking in). They used to have these books that they would hand to people to look at, and then shake them down for a contribution. The implication was, if you don't donate, you give the book back. Well, this customer took the book, didn't donate, and came into the shop before the Krishna could stop him. The Krishna's weren't allowed to set foot in the shops. So there was this angry guy outside the shop waiting for my customer to come back out. My customer looked at him, handed me the book and said "Here, you keep it". I looked up at the Krishna guy and made a point of dropping it into my trash can where he could see it. Oh well..... get a real job, loser. He turned a few pretty shades of red over that. When did the Krishna's disappear from airports anyway? That's one positive thing about air travel in this century.

It was really a fun job. Our shop had two cashiers, and my partner was Linda Takacs. We owned concourse B! Linda was a couple years older than me, but damn, we had some fun. Whatever happened to Linda? And we always had a lot of laughs with the stockboys.... John Franzini, Dennis Hardy, John Hardy, Bill Coughlin, and the boy who would become my husband a few years later, Jim. And 30 years later, we are still together. Who says that summer romance doesn't last?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Immersed in Old Stuff

My mother left today to visit my brothers back in Pennsylvania. For the past two weeks, I have been wading through boxes of old pictures, plus all my genealogical research, to put together a package of our family history for them. Now that it's all organized, I can take a deep breath and review all the things that I've unearthed in the last few weeks.

First, back in my Odds and Ends review, I posted a picture of a Strong Fire Truck that I found on Coalregion.Com. At that time, I wrote
My mom thinks this is the firetruck that she and my dad rode on their wedding day (my grandfather was a volunteer fireman)

Well, I found a picture of that event, and I think my mom was correct! Sure looks like the same truck to me!

I have lots to write about, but for now, I'm going to finish watching Trading Spaces and go to bed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

History of Grocery Stores

I'm kind of weird. Well, I'm sure anyone who has read any of this blog can figure that out by themselves, but I'm just warning you.

In my 47 years, I have lived in 7 different houses, and a few apartments. Four different states. Many different towns. And since grocery shopping bores me, I tend to let my mind wander when I'm forced to do it (which is at least once a week). This past Sunday, while pushing the cart with the unruly wheels, I was thinking about how I can relate all of the places I've lived to the grocery store chains that I've patronized.

My earliest recollection is of Secane, Pennsylvania. There was an A&P directly across the street from our house. But mom didn't really shop there except when we ran out of milk or bread. No, her preferred grocery store was the Acme on Baltimore Pike near the Bazaar. You didn't buy your meats there though. For meats, you had to go to Roy Tweedy's butcher shop on MacDade Blvd. And for cold cuts, there was a deli across the street that had the best. Everything else came from the Acme. I'm not sure when butcher shops and deli's stopped being so important. I don't even know when I was last in a butcher shop. But in the 60's and 70's, mom always made a special trip to Tweedy's for her meats.

When we moved to Aston, we shopped at a different Acme, closer to our house. Cold cuts were gotten from the local Wawa, though. My mom never bought cold cuts at a grocery store (back then). She would still make the longer drive to Tweedy's now and again, but she had learned to tolerate the meats from the Acme.

I moved to New York in 1980 when I got married. There were two big grocery stores there. ShopRite and Grand Union. I always shopped at Grand Union. For everything, including cold cuts. I don't think I ever went to a deli or a butcher shop.

On to Florida, which was an interesting experience. I have never lived in a place that had so many grocery stores! You couldn't drive four blocks without coming to another one. But there were really only two: Publix and WinnDixie. And wherever there was a Publix, there would be a WinnDixie across the street or at least in the same block. It amazed me that you never had to drive more than five miles to find a grocery store. How could one area support so many stores?

When I lived in Florida, though, I always shopped at Publix. Just liked it better. And it was amazing how much cheaper my grocery bill was in Florida! I never realized how expensive things were in New York. Now, there were two Publix stores that I liked. One was a bigass store at Glades and 441. Really nice - but I learned to avoid it between January and April. Why? Snowbirds. The population would double in the winter. So I would go to the Publix on Sandlefoot during those times. Now, there was an excellent deli near my house and I did get cold cuts there on occasion, but not too often.

In Texas, we have a few choices - Albertsons, Randalls, and HEB. That would be H*E*B. It's initials, not a word. The guy who founded the chain was named H.E. Butts. I think it was a wise move to just go with HEB. At any rate, I shop at HEB now. For everything.

Sometimes, I find myself saying "I'm going to Grand Union", which really puzzles me. I haven't shopped at Grand Union since I left New York in 1994. It must be senility setting in.

Oh, and of course Walmart is everywhere..... but I HATE to shop at Walmart. I don't want to buy my food where people are buying tires and sneakers and toilet seats, okay? I just want a grocery store. In and out, without having to deal with all the rest. They opened a HEB Plus store here recently and I hate it. I think they are trying to Walmarticize it. NO NO NO. Just groceries, okay?

But, I do hate grocery shopping. So why did I just spend so much time writing about it? I already told you that I'm weird.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Incredibly Beautiful Morning

It's 81 degrees out right now, and there is a nice breeze. Seems like the soggy weather we had last week is finally gone.

I just hung out some wash on my 'illegal' clothesline. Damn fascist homeowners association doesn't allow clotheslines. So mine is just below the fence so that no one can see it from the street. I don't understand their thinking. With energy prices high, it only makes sense to hang out as much wash as you can instead of burning up the meter with the clothes dryer, right? And I'm kind of old-fashioned - I just like hanging my clothes outside. No, I don't hang everything out, but some things just get beat up in the dryer.

The good thing about Texas, if you get the wash out early it usually dries within two hours. The bad thing about Texas, if you don't bring it in quickly, the sun will fade it....

Time to take the dogs for a walk before it gets scorching hot.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

White towels only, Mom!

So the boys just left to go to the gym, again. Greg just got off work, came home, changed his clothes, packed his gym bag, grabbed his brother, and they're off.

In my younger years, I probably would have enjoyed the gym at 11:00 at night. Now? Not so much. I'm sitting here with my glass of wine, barely motivated to type up this post.

But Chris, he was complaining. Tells me that we need white towels. I believe he is suffering from that rare teenage disease called "Hue-phobia". Believe me, my towels are not all yellow, pink and orange. I have some green and some blue. But I really don't have any white. I do have a few beige towels, but that's still too much color for 'the gym'. I am told that I must invest in some white towels. Never in my life have I seen a kid so distressed by the fact that he has to drag a steel blue bathtowel to the gym.

I know where his allowance is going to be spent next week. If he wants white towels, I'm sure he can stock up at Big Lots or something.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

I spent most of today being very depressed. Knowing that you are going to be forty-seven years old tomorrow will do that to you. I've really got to make some changes in my life, and I just don't know how to do it. I'm just no fun anymore. What happened to the girl who was funny and lively and had lots of friends? I feel as though I've retreated further into myself these past couple of years.

Then at 6:30, the phone rang. My wonderful husband, who has been in China for the past three weeks, called to wish me a happy birthday. Well, it's 7:30 tomorrow morning there, so he's right on time. He said he had a present for me. I assumed he meant he bought something in China and I'd get it when he comes home on Saturday.

Then he said to go to his nightstand and open the bottom door. There was a package in there, all wrapped up, with a card. The man bought my present and wrapped it before he left three weeks ago! And, he got me an IPod!!! I have been wanting one for so long, but I just couldn't justify spending the money on it. My son has one, and I borrow it all the time. I love it..... and dammit, he bought me one for my birthday. The IPod is amazing, but just the fact that he thought ahead and had it ready for me on my birthday is just soo... well, he's awesome.

I love that man. For 29 years, he has always put so much thought and care into every gift he gets me. He picks out the most beautiful cards.

Forty-seven doesn't seem so bad anymore. It's going to be an awesome year. It has certainly had a great beginning.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Another Saturday Night

... and I have no life, dammit!!

I've been working on photo archives for the past two weeks. Okay, I'm trying to get my family history files up to date. I went out and bought some acid-free photo boxes for some of these old photos. A few of them are in very fragile state. I've scanned them and will probably send them to Walgreen's to get copies made.

I found a really great picture of my grandfather and my father, from 1934. My pop was about two years old. Very cool.

Someone please remind me to backup my photos!! The blank CDs are all upstairs in Chris' room and I keep forgetting to bring some downstairs so I can backup my geneology stuff. I would hate to have to put in all these hours again!

Why am I doing this? Does it really matter? Are my kids going to ever care about all this history? I also want to make copies for my brothers.

The amazing thing about doing this is that you never finish! I want a complete record for my kids, which means doing my husband's family also. I haven't even started that! Although his aunt has done quite a bit of research on his grandmother's family already. They've been in this country since it was a colony of England. Very old Philadelphia family. Friends with Ben Franklin even. This great-granddaughter of lowly Polish, Slovak, and English coalminers who crossed the Atlantic in the early 1900s feels very unworthy.....

Ah well, I come from very sturdy stock!

Monday, June 19, 2006

In the garden

Friday and Saturday night were stormy. Those nightstorms that roll in after midnight and wake you from a sound sleep with crashing thunder. By Sunday afternoon, it was sunny again.

I was just weeding the garden and tidying up from the mess that Mother Nature had wrought. My fountain had lots of mulch and leaves in it. I decided to drain the basin, rinse it, and fill it with fresh water.

When I lifted the lid off the base, there it was. A snake. Okay, so it was only about six inches long. So it was a garter snake. But it was still a snake! I called my oldest son to come out and catch it and relocate it away from our yard. He tried to grab it, but it headed under the basin and out of reach. Arggggh!!!

I know snakes are good for a garden. Well, at least the non-poisonous variety. And, after all, I had provided water, rocks for sunning, and plenty of cool safe places to hide, hadn't I? I practically invited him to move in! But, there is just one thing. I.DON'T.LIKE.SNAKES!!!!

I love the lizards. They are cute and they eat pests. And they are fun to watch. But a snake? Can I learn to love a snake? Well, snakes eat pests too. So they aren't so cute. Can I go out on the back porch without looking for him? Wondering where he is? I hope so.

Today I found myself trying to find it. Well, not that I would do anything about it, but just so I knew where he was. I'm paranoid. I keep expecting him to be everywhere that I'm walking or doing anything. I'll get over it. I'll forget I ever saw it. But it's going to be awhile before that flower bed around the fountain gets weeded!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lot and Bessie

Who were Lot and Bessie? They were the parents of my paternal grandfather. I am looking at a copy of their marriage certificate. It is 100 years old. It is in terrible shape and I hope to find a way to preserve what is left of it. (click to see larger copy)

At some point, my grandfather must have pasted it to a brown grocery bag because it was starting to fall apart. That has held it together for now, but I'm sure the glue has contributed to the sorry shape that it is in. He also took the time to transcribe the certificate on a piece of notebook paper. Smart man, my grandfather. He had very old-fashioned, elegant and beautiful handwriting. The transcription:

This certifies that Lot Millard of Mt. Carmel, State of Pennsylvania, and Bessie V. Frederick of Mt. Carmel were by me united in marriage according to the ordinance of God and the laws of the State of Pennsylvania at Mt. Carmel on the Eleventh day of April in the year of our Lord 1906.

Miss Orpha Brown
Mr. Richard P. Morgans

By Rev. R. Smith Stull

Because of the size of my scanner, I wasn't able to get a scan of the whole document, but I got most of it. A trip to Kinkos for a proper copy is in order. I want to preserve the original somehow, but I also want a good copy.

Lot was born on June 28, 1884. I found that out from the caretaker of the cemetary where he is buried. That kind old man actually walked to the family plot and sent me transcriptions of the headstones. It was a surprise when I got his letter. Even more of a surprise that my great-grandfather and I share a birthday!

I have a copy of the Bessie's social security application. She has listed her birthdate as January 10, 1892. If that is correct, then she was 14 when she married Lot.

My grandfather was born April 22, 1909. Lot was killed in the coal mines on August 13, 1909. My grandfather only four months old. Bessie only 17. Lot was 25.

Bessie remarried. That's what women did in those days. I don't have the exact date or place, yet.

Obviously, this certificate meant a lot to my grandfather. He never knew his dad. And yet he lovingly tried to preserve this all those years.

There is so much more that I have to go through in these boxes. I have had a quick glance at some pictures and things. I have to get organized and find a way to safely store and copy all of the family history.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ten after Midnight

Just waiting for the boys to get home from 24HR Fitness. It must be nice to be a teenager and have the energy to work out this late at night. I can almost remember.

So I sit here, surfing the net, with HGTV on in the background, the dogs snoring at my feet.... and I wait for them to come home. If I went to bed, I wouldn't fall asleep anyway.

I wonder at what age you stop worrying about them? When Greg goes off to college in August, I'm not going to have any clue what he's doing or where he is at any point in time. I'm not looking forward to the inevitable tug of war when he comes home and has to go back to the rules of the house.

There are so many adjustments that I'm going to have to make in the next year. For him, there are so many new experiences to be had. I do envy him. He is at the beginning of the rest of his life.

Ah...... they are home.

Good night.......

Saturday, June 10, 2006


For some reason, I have been looking at things differently today. Just reflecting on where I've been and how I ended up here in central Texas.

Thanks to Jim's job, we've lived in New York, South Florida and Central Texas. Sometimes I think back on the first years of our marriage living in upstate New York. That was a beautiful place to live. It was very rural, for the most part. Traffic was non-existent. The winters were harsh. The mountains were gorgeous in the autumn. The sweet corn was incredible! The pizza at the Hurley Mountain Inn was the best.

Skiing at Highmount and Belleayre in the winters. Summers on the boat out on the Hudson River. We were there for 13 years. I remember the last time I crossed the Hudson River, over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to catch the plane to West Palm Beach. It was Good Friday, 1994. I was actually happy to leave. It had been a rough winter. There was still snow on the ground at that late date. The palm trees and beaches of Florida were looking awfully good to me at that time. And they didn't disappoint. I call that my 'two year vacation'. Boca Raton. Beautiful. We spent that Easter Sunday on the beach with the kids. It was surreal. I loved it there. It was good for my soul.

Then we moved to Texas in 1996. Hotter summers and colder winters. I hated it. I mean I HATED IT.

But Texas is home now. I actually like it here. Well, except for the summer and the traffic. Oh, and I miss sweet corn. Real sweet corn. The corn here is....... disappointing. Dumb, isn't it?

But I looked around my home today. Worked in my garden. Sat on my back porch. This is my home. My boys have basically grown up here. Ten years. The second longest that I have ever lived in one place. And I will probably finish my life here. And it won't be so bad. Well, except for the summers. And the traffic.... But our home has always been our family. Where will my boys end up after they finish school? Will life lead them to other places like it led us? I hope they are never too far away. But I will understand, and I will be happy as long as they are happy. And I hope their adventures will be as wonderful as mine have been!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Graduation, home, assorted rants and breakdowns

School is over. Greg has graduated. Summer vacation has begun. It's only been two weeks and chaos reigns.

First I must rant about my mom. Yes, again. She is so obsessive about 'picking up'. She goes into the boys' rooms and she has to pick things up and put them away. Never mind that Chris has cables for his guitar amps, USB cables for all of his electronic gadgets, hookups for the PS2 and the DVD players, cell phone and MP3 chargers, etc. She insists that it must all go into a basket or something. Which always leads to us searching for something..... Is it too much trouble for her to just stay out of their rooms? They are 18 and 16 years old. They aren't slobs, it's just that there is so much gadgetry..... and I just wish she would leave them wherever the hell they are! grrrrrrrrr... I really need to just tell her. But she is the queen of passive-aggressiveness. "Well, I just won't do anything at all around here... " grrrrrrrrr again.

But she's going away for four weeks in July and August. I can't fucking wait! Am I a terrible daughter? She is going to visit my brothers. I am so looking forward to the break. Now that the boys are older, she just insists on always getting into their business. They are good kids. I give them their space and their privacy (okay, so I do keep a discreet eye on them, but they don't need to know that.). She has always been a control freak, and I am the complete opposite. They've given me no reason to distrust them, and I don't need to micromanage their lives. Back off Grandmom!

Greg's graduation gift was a new computer. I set it up this week. He's been using a six-year old dinosaur. The new one is great..... I kept the packing materials because we'll have to pack it up in August for him to go to school.

Chris went to volunteer orientation at the hospital today. He's really looking forward to working there this summer. I hope he likes it. I think it will be good for him. I remember volunteering at a hospital when I was in high school. I loved it. And my favorite job when I got out of high school was also working in a hospital. I should have gone to school and become a nurse or a lab tech or something.

It's already damn hot. Definitely felt like summer today. I couldn't make it through the afternoon without taking a nap. I hate this. The heat just sucks the life right out of me. The doc said that it is pretty much a given that MS patients don't handle the summer's well. I think I should move to Alaska or something till summer is over.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


My oldest son has graduated from high school. 29 years after I graduated from high school, I found myself trying to remember the ceremony. I can't remember a single thing! Seriously, not one detail about the whole graduation. I remember high school, and I still remember some teachers. But the ceremony itself? Complete blank. I must have slept through it.

So here we are, celebrating the Class of 2006. And we are at the graduation ceremony. The band plays "Pomp and Circumstance", the speeches, they each cross the stage to get the 'token scroll' and then it is over. Balloons descend from the ceiling. The speakers come alive with the opening riffs of the class song, chosen by a majority vote of this class of 409 students. Imagine my surprise when I recognized the opening of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "FreeBird". Yes, the class of 2006 chose a song that is over 30 years old. Freebird was huge when I was in high school. And today, it is the class song of my son's graduating class.

I wonder where are the current rock anthems? I think it's cool. In my heart, I will always remember the 70s and the great soundtrack of my teenage years. And it seems that my kids are appreciating my music, also.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Less than a week.....

In one week, my oldest will be graduating from high school. Where did the last 18 years go? I have two wonderful sons. I know that I'm a mom and slightly biased, but I really am blessed.

For four years, Greg has attained academic achievement (honor roll), has a 4.2 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society, has had three years of leadership positions in band, had a major role in the production of "Beauty and the Beast", and he has the best laugh of anyone I know. He has a booming laugh which reminds me so much of my dad.

Chris is just finishing his freshman year. Chris also got academic achievement this year with a very difficult schedule crammed with pre-AP classes. He was on the freshman football team and he played high school hockey, plus he was a member of a AA travel hockey team.

Both of them are very smart and very talented. And I have no idea what I ever did to deserve them. There have been times when I wonder who I would be if I hadn't quit my job 16 years ago. I need to get back into the workplace, especially with Greg going off to college. I'm scared though because I have 16 years of nothing. Nothing except two incredible human beings who are a better reward than any career I could have had. So I think it was worth it. Well worth it.

But now I have to get up the courage to try to get back into the workplace. I keep putting it off. I don't know that I have anything to offer. And, to be honest, I'm not sure I can handle working 40 hours a week. Especially with summer coming. Physically, I have a hard time handling the Texas heat. It drains the energy right out of me. People with MS should not live in this kind of climate.

Wish me luck. It's time for me to get out there and do something. But what? I really do need to do it, not just financially, but sometimes I just feel stagnant. I just have to do it. I'm scared.