Category Archives: Holidays

Fathers and Daughters

The father-daughter relationship is fraught with all the possibilities a therapist could wish for.  Even in my family.

Well, except for my relationship with my father.

You go ask Dad …” was one of the enduring sounds of my childhood.I only asked “why me” once:

It was a hot summer day when I was about four.  I was happily cooling off in the puddles on the sidewalk.  I didn’t even really want to go to the beach.  My brothers and sister did, though.

“Go ask Dad if he’ll take us to the beach,” Judy commanded.

That summer, Dad, already working two jobs to support his wife and five kids was studying to take his insurance licensing test.

“Why me?” I whined.  “I always have to ask Dad.”

“‘Cause when you ask him, he always says yes” Bob responded.  Judy and Fred agreed.

So I went in and asked him.

Sure enough, he packed up his books, loaded the four of us up into the car, and headed off to Beardsley Park, where there was a delightful stream that formed the most wonderful pools of different depths, where we would each be happy and cool.   I can still see Dad sitting on a rock ledge in the shade, his pants legs rolled up, his feet in the water and a large black binder on his lap.

I never again asked “Why me” when it came to getting Dad to do anything. Because I realized that my brothers and sisters were right.  Dad always said yes to me.

Somehow, the fact that I was the clear favorite in Dad’s eyes was rarely held against me by my brothers and sisters who all had far more complicated relationships with Dad.  It was pretty much accepted by everybody.  That’s just how it was.

Dad and Me in Geneva, June 1998.  You have to guess which is me.

Dad and Me in Geneva, June 1998. You have to guess which is me.

I don’t have any recordings of his voice, which was deep and scary (to everybody but me) when we were kids, and became deep and comforting when we were grown. But this song, while he never heard it, always makes me feel close to Dad, who died in 2000. Today would have been his 98th birthday.

I love you, Dad.

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Filed under Baby You Can Drive My Car, Birthday, Crazy family members, Dad, Family, Father-Daughter Relationships, Geneva Stories, Holidays, Humor, Love, Missing Folks, Taking Care of Each Other, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?, Writing

A Phila — A Philan — A Good Deed Doer

A week or two back, on Gibber Jabber, I responded to a question (because that’s what happens over at Gibber Jabber, she asks questions and you answer them.)  I said that my dream job would be to be a philanthropist.  A good deed doer.

They're called ... (Google, natch)

They’re called … phila — philan — “Good Deed Doers” (Google, natch)

 

And of course, if I could, I would give the world a whole lot of good stuff.

But this week I’ve found myself to be the benefactor of a good deed doer!  Yup, Me!

A very generous, very wealthy man gave me, John and mostly Duncan a lovely hunk of land in Maine on Mount Dessert Island where we are right now.

For many years, we’ve been coming to this island with our various dogs.  Acadia National Park takes up much of the island, and it is an amazingly beautiful place to hike or just sit and watch the sea from a pink mountaintop.  Acadia is magical.

But there are leash laws in Acadia, as it is a National Park.  And while we haven’t always been strict adherents to that particular rule, well, the park is full of people, some of whom don’t really want to meet my dogs (imagine!).

Last year, we found out about Little Long Pond. It is a family preserve, owned by the Rockefellers, with hiking trails, carriage roads and a lovely, well, long pond.  Dogs were allowed to run free there.  In all 1,000 acres of the place.

Little Long Pond Boat house

And this month, David Rockefeller celebrated his 100th birthday by giving this piece of land to Duncan!  Well, and me.  And John.  And you!

FREEDOM!

FREEDOM!

To celebrate his 100th birthday, he donated the land which abuts Acadia National Park (much of which his family had also donated) to the nonprofit Land and Garden Preserve, so that they will keep and preserve it AND CONTINUE TO LET DOGS RUN FREE!

Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller!

Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller!

Thanks, Mr. Rockefeller.  We wish you many happy returns.  We know we will have many happy returns to Little Long Pond; and we will think of you and thank you each time we do.

*     *     *

 I am not a particularly good photographer, but I have a camera shy dog.

 

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Filed under All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Dogs, Duncan, Good Deed Doers, Health, Holidays, Humor, Maine, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other

Do I Hear Five?

On May 29, 2011, I was fifty-four and a half years old.  And I was seriously irritated at the GOP in Congress.  You see, they had announced that they were going to take away Medicare from those then under 55 years old.  And that meant me.  I spouted off about it to anyone who would listen.

They’re gonna take Medicare from ME!  I’m 54-1/2!  That’s where they’re gonna start!

After the first 528 times I mentioned this fact to each and every person I could corner, I still felt unsated.  I wanted to tell more people of my irritation.  Whether or not I knew them.

And so I heard a voice inside my head (something I rarely admit to):

Go forth, it said,  and start a blog.

Oh and give it a stupid name to keep yourself humble.

And so I did.  Both of those things.  FiftyFourAndAHalf was born with this post.

Blogging has been a completely different experience than I expected.

My original plan was to do a political/humor blog.  But in spite of a never-ending source of fodder, I found that I wanted to write about other things, too.  That part didn’t really surprise me.

What surprised me was that blogging, and Word Press, became a place where I met new friends, discussed topics important to me.  Where I laughed and cried along with folks I will probably never meet.

Thanks, everybody.  And while I’ve been writing less than usual and reading less than usual, I love the special place that is the ‘sphere.  So, yeah, thanks for being out there, for reading, and for giving me stuff to read too.

From Daily Kos.com

From Daily Kos.com

 

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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

Shades of Gray — Copycat Edition

Doobster of Mindful Digressions named me in a photography challenge.

And since I am really a rotten photographer (but I do Google Images with finesse), I figured, what the hell.

Here are the rules:

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Post a black & white photo daily for five posts in a row.
  2. Invite someone different to participate each day.

Ummm, except for photos of my black and white dog, which I take in color but still end up being black and white due to the subject matter, I don’t really do black and white.  I don’t do much in color, either.

But here goes.

My old headder in color

My old headder in color

 

And now, if I can figure out how to do it …

Does this work?

Does this count?

 

OK.  I’ll do it right.  I think ..

I did it!  With Doobster's help.

I did it! With Doobster’s help.

 

I’m going with the color one(s), I don’t know about you!

These are pictures of the place in Maine where my family goes in the summer — and occasionally in the winter.

I’m not going to challenge anyone to do this — feel free to do it and link to Doobster.  But it is kind of neat to see my photo in black and white.

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Filed under Humor, Climate Change, Word Press, Bloggin' Buddies, Holidays, Huh?, Maine, Love

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