Category Archives: Family

Everybody Hates Birthdays

It’s Duncan’s First Birthday!

There are presents!

There are treats!

There are new things that squeak!

And there are these damn hats.

What’s with these damn hats?

 

I am going to bite that woman.

I am going to you, Mom.  Hard.  Really, really hard.

 

Now that he’s a year old, Duncan is no longer a puppy.  So he has to behave.  Right?  Right?

Actually he’s started behaving better already.  He didn’t eat the hat.  That’s a start.

 

 

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Crazy family members, Criminal Activity, Dogs, Duncan, Family, Farts, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, laughter, Love, Mental Health, Negotiating, Peace, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts, WTF?

Earth Day/Birthday — Recycled Recycled Post

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the 45th Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 63rd birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets find food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

*     *     *

If this looks/sounds familiar, it’s because I recycled this post from last year.  Because you should never use fresh when you can reuse something already written.  And you can never get enough of “Hey Jude.”

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Filed under Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Beatles, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy family members, Family, Farts, Global Warming, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, laughter, Love, Politics, Science, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts

Dog in a Box?

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a dog lover.  Even when I want to throttle my own dog, Duncan, I love him.  So I don’t.  Throttle him, that is.

If you know anything about dogs, you know that they are bursting with personality.  Each and every one of them.  But until you get to know a dog, you don’t often get to know what they’re all about.

So Guinnevere Shuster, a photographer who works for an animal adoption organization in Utah, found a creative way to capture the personalities of several dogs who were up for adoption.  She put them in a photo booth.

Here are my favorite photo groups:

I need someone with a good sense of humor to humor me

I need someone with a good sense of humor to humor me

And this one:

Seriously.  You can't go wrong with a guy like me

Seriously. You can’t go wrong with a guy like me

There are more photo series at this article.  Thanks for this one go to my son Jacob who sent it on to me.  Thanks, kiddo.

And since I can’t do a dog post without a new picture of Duncan, here you go:

Duncan 4-19-15

Camera Shy Duncan 4-19-15

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Filed under All The News You Need, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy family members, Dogs, Family, Health, Huh?, Humor, laughter, Love, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts

My Silver Lining – Shining Again

It’s Easter Sunday.  On Easter in 1997, my Mom passed away.  It was a relief for her, I’m quite sure, as she’d been ill for many years.  For the rest of us, our sadness was soothed, knowing that she was no longer suffering.

My Dad was devastated.  I’ve written about the two of them before, most memorably here (in my best piece of writing, ever).  I’ve been working on another story about the two of them to post soon, but I thought today I’d post this one again.  Because I’m thinking of her and missing her.  This post makes me realize just how lucky I’ve been, even when I’ve been unlucky.

My Silver Lining

Thursday, November 22, is Thanksgiving in the U.S.  It is also the 30th anniversary of the surgery I had for what was then thought to be severe ulcerative colitis.  It was a difficult time for me, but one for which I will be thankful for on Thanksgiving and really every day.  Yes, I got my health back as a result of the surgery, but that wasn’t the best part. The most important part, the silver lining, was that I got to know my Mom, and it started a close relationship that lasted for the rest of her life and that I will feel grateful for for the rest of mine.

Mom was the sweetest woman on the planet.  My friends adored her.  Our house was always open to hoards of kids.  We lived near the beach, and it was convenient for everybody to just hang at our house.  But it was more than that. For years dozens of teens used our house as their home away from home.  There was always room, always plenty to eat, always a welcome.  No one was ever turned away, and the answer to “can So-And-So stay the night” (or “the weekend” or in some cases “the summer”) was always “sure.”

But we weren’t close, Mom and I.  I was Daddy’s girl from the start.  Mom, well, I loved her.  I even liked her, mostly.  It’s just that there wasn’t a whole lot about Mom to make me respect her.  She was completely helpless, you see.  Hopelessly so.  I can’t stand that and never have been able to deal with dependent people.  And “helpless”?  That was Mom in a nutshell.

She didn’t drive.  She didn’t shop without Dad.  She didn’t go for a walk alone.  She didn’t try to take control of family problems and help figure out how to solve them.  She waited for my dad to get home to reprimand, make a decision, to blow her nose, or so it seemed.  She was utterly and totally dependent upon my Dad.  It was incredibly annoying to this girl growing up in the late sixties and seventies during one of the strongest pushes for equal rights for women.  My friends’ mothers were out protesting the Vietnam War.  Mine didn’t even vote.  They burned their bras; Mom ironed hers.  They voiced their opinions ever more loudly.  Mom looked to Dad to indicate which way was up.

After I left home and became more self-sufficient, my irritation at Mom’s inability to do anything without Dad’s help, grew.

So when Mom announced, just weeks before I was to have radical, difficult surgery, that she was going to come to help, well, I panicked.  She was going to help me?  Yeah right.

Her announcement sent me into apoplexy.  It was the worse possible news heaped on a whole ream of really shitty news.  Who the hell was going to help her?

I lived with my roommate, Keily, and my 120 lb. alcoholic German Shepherd, Goliath, in a tiny Washington, DC, townhouse, in a not terribly safe area.  I was sure that Mom would get mugged — she’d make an easy target.  I feared that she would let the dog out and they would both die.  I drove a battered and temperamental VW Bug with a stick shift that Mom didn’t know how to use.  And of course, I wasn’t going to be able to help her because I was going to be recovering from having my guts totally ripped open and reorganized. I couldn’t believe she would do this to me.

At the same time I couldn’t hurt her feelings and tell her that I didn’t want her.  Nope.  I could never have done that.  Not if my life depended on it.  Which of course, it might.

But once she dropped that bomb, I stopped worrying about the surgery, about the recovery, about everything except how I would take care of my caretaker.  Thankfully, my brother Fred came to help too.  He could drive my car; he could help with Mom for the week he took off from work.  My roommate, Keily, was a star, too.  (That’s a whole different story.)  But Mom came for what was a very long recovery, 2-1/2 months, so felt like I’d be pretty much on my own in taking care of her.

It wasn’t long after she arrived before I realized that Mom without Dad was a different person.  Dad loved the caretaker role, and she was happy to let him play it.  Without Dad, Mom had opinions on stuff, could make decisions and could give savvy and sage advice.  I decided quickly that maybe she and I were related after all.

And as soon as we got to the hospital, I was incredibly glad she was there.  I was admitted and headed up to my room, sending Mom and Fred to get settled in their hotel.  It was about dinnertime, which didn’t matter to me; I’d been on a clear liquid diet for about a week.  And while I was starving, I knew I couldn’t eat.  I had my instructions from my doctor:

(1) Do not eat; (2) Continue taking your medicines just like you are now; (3) Show up to the hospital.  (Always pay attention to the details when your guts are on the line.)

Now Hopkins is one of the best hospitals in the country and it was also one of only two places in the country where the operation I was to have could be performed.  The surgery was brand, spankin’ new – just a smidge beyond experimental.  It was dangerous.  It was highly specialized.   My doctors were to take out my large intestine, rearrange what was left of my plumbing so that things worked normally, and close me up.  Two surgeries were involved – they had to give me a colostomy (ewwww – a bag) in between the two surgeries while my innards healed.  Only 100 of these surgeries had been done in the world.  I was my surgeon’s 7th.  I was scared shitless which is saying a whole lot for a girl with bowel trouble.

But when I got to the hospital, everything went wrong.  They tried to insist I eat; they tried to give me the wrong medicine; they forgot about me and left me hanging out in my room where I fell asleep for several hours before someone wondered who I was.

The grand finale came when two nurses wheeled in an EKG machine, hooked me up and turned it on – and the machine started smoking.   The nurses, trying valiantly not to laugh, had to quickly unplug it and get it out of there.

“MOM!!!!”

I called her at her hotel in a complete panic, hysterical. “I am not going to have this surgery.  What kind of a hospital is this?  They can’t even get an EKG machine to work.  It was smoking Mom, SMOKING!!!!  I’m not.  I’m not. I’m not.”

How is it that Moms know just how to calm down the most hysterical daughter?  I was and she did.  And she didn’t need Dad one little bit.  Yup, she calmed me down, and then, I heard later, called the nurses’ desk and chewed them out royally.  I’m pretty sure that was the first time she’d ever chewed anyone out.  But she wasn’t going to let anybody or anything upset her daughter or get in the way of the surgery that her daughter desperately needed.

And whatever she said worked.  Nothing else got screwed up.  They paid attention to her daughter. In fact, Helpless Mom became SuperMom.  She corralled doctors when they didn’t come in a timely manner, she sweet-talked most of the nurses and they seemed to come around more and more often as they laughed and joked with Mom.  She was on a first name basis with all the residents and interns, knew if they were married, where they were from.  They got a little bit of mothering whenever they came into the room, and she charmed the lot of them.

She was always full of laughter, encouragement and fun.  Except when her sixth sense told her that I was feeling sorry for myself; then she’d tell me to stop sniveling.  Sometimes I needed that.

Back at home, she was great too.  She found the grocery store and walked to and from, lugging bags of food.  She fed me and Keily, gave beer to the dog, helped me get upstairs and downstairs.  Helped me do many things that were totally disgusting.  She helped me be independent again.

We laughed our way through Christmas together and then my birthday in January.  We laughed for two months, barely coming up for air.  We talked a whole lot, too, about everything.  We became fast friends.

There is one incident though, that made me realize that I’d never really known her before.  Could this crazy woman really be my Mom?

We’d driven my VW to Baltimore for a pre-surgical checkup before the 2nd surgery, scheduled for the 9th of February.  It was late January, and there were several inches of snow on the ground.  On the way back home, the VW died in the center lane of a busy highway.  I managed to coast to the side of the road, where the bug sighed once and died.  Shit.  I was still not at my best, and the promise of a long snowy walk was not a pleasant one for either Mom or I.

But a blue Honda Civic two-door driven by a big burly guy pulled up along the roadside next to us.  He rolled down the window and asked if we needed a lift.  I was about to explain that my car had just died and would he please call a tow truck, when, well, Mom jumped into the back seat! I stood there with my mouth flapping. Because I could hear her voice from my childhood talking in the back of my head:

NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GET INTO A CAR WITH A STRANGE MAN.

THEY ARE ALL RAPISTS

But there she was, the woman who taught me never, ever, to get into a car with a rapist — she was in the back seat of a stranger/potential rapist’s car.  WTF?????  What the hell was she doing?

I didn’t know what else to do, so I got into the front seat.  And there on the floor was something else that shocked me:  A  teddy bear with a green t-shirt that said “I’m Going To Steal Your Love.”

“Wonderful,” I thought, “a rapist with a sense of humor.”

As it turned out, the guy wasn’t a rapist — really!  He took us to a reputable garage where they agreed to tow and fix my damn car.

But the adventure wasn’t over yet — we still needed to get home.  The hotel across from the garage had a shuttle bus that went to BWI Airport.  From there, we were told, there was another shuttle bus that could get us back to DC.  It sounded perfect. Perfect except for the fact that we had hardly any money left  The shuttle to DC only took cash.  No credit cards.  No beads.  No chickens.  Cash.  Shit. We didn’t have enough for the fare, and couldn’t have come up with any more money.  But that didn’t stop Mom. She walked up to the shuttle driver and chatted her up.

“Do you think you can let us both on for $16.50?”

“Sorry M’am, the adult fare is $10.”

“What’s the child’s fee?  I mean, after all, she’s my little girl.”

The driver let us both on, shaking her head and smiling at Mom.  Feeling like she’d done a good deed (she had).

Mom was there for my second operation, and then she headed home with Dad who had come up for it.  When he arrived, Mom didn’t just let Dad do everything as she always had before.  She showed him around — showed him her turf.  She had realized that she really liked feeling in charge, and doing things on her own, for herself and for me.

For the rest of Mom’s life, she and I had a whole different relationship.  I had always loved her, always liked her.  But her care for me, and her resourcefulness and sense of duty and just plain fun let me develop a respect for her I’d never had.

I’ve always felt lucky in a way to have had these health problems.  Because they gave me my Mom.  I would never have known her, never have laughed with her so very much.  I wouldn’t have heard the stories of her life, told with love and humor, the way she did everything. So on Thanksgiving, I will raise a special toast to Mom, my SuperMom.

Could you say “no” to this woman?

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Crazy family members, Family, Humor, Illness, laughter, Mom, rapists, Surgery

Learn and Live? A History Lesson

We all thought it would be different, didn’t we.  After Columbine.  After Aurora.  After Sandy Hook.

But no.  Nope.  Nada.  Didn’t happen

We’ve all gotten used to thinking the unthinkable:  Not a chance for change.  Not with the money the NRA has behind them.  Not with the gun folks getting progressively crazier.

So some creative thinking was called for.

BAM!

Right to the Heart!

 

Naturally, the gun nuts are going, well, nuts.  As reported in the Huffington Post where I found the video:

The National Rifle Association’s New York affiliate immediately condemned the stunt and called for an investigation into whether the organizers violated New York’s gun laws.

“[It is a] felony violation of the Sullivan Act for a person to possess a handgun anywhere in New York without a license. The video clearly shows individual ‘customers’ handling various handguns and doing so in an unsafe manner,” New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Thomas King said in a press release.

Because, you see, it’s not OK to “handle” a gun, but the 2nd Amendment gives us all the right to own them.  And use them.

*     *     *

Timiny Cricket, a commenter, said that he’d

like to hear about some of the positive examples where a gun scared away someone about to commit a crime or even was used in self defense and saved the owner’s life.

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

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A Love (?) Story — Revisited

When I tell this story, I always have to put in a disclaimer.  Sort of like Dickens at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, when he says

“It must be understood that Marley was dead, otherwise nothing strange and wonderful could have happened.”

In this case, this fact must be understood:

I was really, really nice to everyone

Promise me you’ll remember that.

Once upon a time, I had a job at a law school.  The most fun job I’ve ever had.  I was the administrative assistant to a student organization, the BSA.  Pretty much the Boy Scouts of America, law school chapter.  The BSA members were 2nd and 3rd year students who did a lot to make the first year students happier during their (relatively miserable and difficult) first year.  They did orientation, taught legal writing, answered questions on where to go, what to do.  The office was large, with comfy chairs and a couch, a full free coffee pot.  A good, friendly place to hang out.  The members did, and so did a core of 1st years who, naturally, tried to become members for their 2nd and 3rd years.

It was a wonderful job.  Basically I answered questions and was nice to people.  Always.  A smile on my face, a laugh, a soft shoulder when needed.  It was easy to be nice in such a fun job.

Substantively, I had to know what was going on with the members’ various activities, because I was the one in the office when the 1st year students had questions.  I had to know what was going on to give the  answers.  Because that was my job.  The BSA members were all nice.  Except Monte.  He wasn’t.  He was a jerk.  Totally uncooperative.  He deserved that name.

Monte was in charge of a very important program that was one of two mandatory moot court programs for all 1st year students.  Essentially, it’s where they learned how to present and argue a case.  A whole case.  They write the briefs and argued the case in front of a panel of judges.  The students had a million questions, and they were also apprehensive, because it was an important part of their first year.  They asked ME all of those questions.

But Monte was in charge and wouldn’t let me know what was going on.  He wouldn’t answer my questions.  He wouldn’t keep me informed or involved.  I invariably had no answer to give to the poor student who really needed one.

Now, it might surprise you to know this, but I really hate to look stupid.  So one day I’d had enough of being unable to help, unable to answer questions I was supposed to answer.  Unable to do my job.  So I took Monte into the back room and politely explained in the nicest possible way, why he had to do things my way.

He responded, and I quote:

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”  And he left.

Me, except I’m blond. And in color.

To this very day I have never been so mad at anyone.

I went back to my desk fuming, steam coming out of my ears, angry tears, the works.  As I stood there, shaking mad, a tall, blond 1st year student entered the office, came up to me and said – oh I don’t remember what he said.  But it was a question about that program.  Monte’s program.

“I DON’T KNOW.  YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK MONTE WHO IS A COMPLETE JERK!” I screamed at the tall, completely innocent blond guy.

He stood there, put his hands on his hips, shook his head and left the office.  He never returned.

I remember it clearly.  Well, except all I can see in my memory is the outline of a tall, faceless blond guy.  Standing there, hands on his hips, shaking his head and clearly thinking “what a bitch she is not very helpful.”

John did not propose then and there.

In fact, we didn’t even cross paths again that we know about during the two years we were there together.  We met again in DC through a guy I was dating who worked with John.  Years after I broke up with the other guy, John asked me out after we met up again at a party.

Whenever someone asks us the “how did you two meet?” question, well, I make sure I tell the story.  Because John claims I fired nuclear weapons at him, which is a slight exaggeration.  And it makes me look bad.

Really, I didn’t shoot at him.

But hey, my husband can never claim that he didn’t know I could be a bitch.  And that has been worth its weight in gold (or nukes) for almost 30 years.

*    *    *

This is an old piece that I’m replaying for Valentine’s Day because, well, it’s one of my favorite “love” stories.  And because there are lots of new followers who didn’t read it.  If you already read it, you can stop here.  See?  I told you I was nice!

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Christmas Stories, Criminal Activity, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Law, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

The Funniest Ad I Have Ever Seen

I only hope my husband doesn’t think this would make an appropriate Valentine’s Day gift.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Crohn's Disease, Disgustology, Family, Farts, Flatulence, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Huh?, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts