Category Archives: Music

Stones Bookends

Next time this happens, I’ll know what to do.

I pulled out of the garage around 8:30 this morning, expecting a stressful day at the office.  I was right — it was a rough day. 

But I should have known just how stressful it would be based on the first song to come on the radio:

I should have gone back to bed.  But I didn’t.  I proceeded with my stressful day.  And while I’m not sure I had 19 of them, I certainly came close to a bakers’ dozen nervous breakdowns.  You know the sort of day I mean.  Everybody wants/needs/must have something from me.  Oy.

At about 7:15, I left the office, bringing a briefcase full of documents that I still need to read to prepare for tomorrow’s meetings, where I am anticipating Nervous Breakdowns 14-19.  I just hope the Stones aren’t planning a sequel.

As I approached home and my garage, the Rolling Stones greeted me on the radio again:

Yeah, it was a bitch of a day. 

Next time, I’m staying in the garage.

 

*     *     *

I may be AWOL in the next several weeks.  Work is Cre-a-zayzy.

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Filed under Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, Health and Medicine, Humor, Mental Health, Music

Home for Christmas, Again

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  If possible, I think that Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943
Mom, Circa 1943

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943
Dad, Circa 1943

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935
Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

*     *     *

This is another re-posted piece.

Happy Holidays to all of you — May 2014 be a Happy, Healthy year for all of us.

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Filed under Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, History, Holidays, Humor, Mom, Music

Both Sides Now

“The Season” makes me crabby.  Grumpy.  Irritable.  I’ve come to hate it.  Everything about it.  I hate the music, the crowded stores, the decorations.  I especially hate the decorations.

Last year a friend stopped by our house in the middle of December.  “God, it’s December 15th,” I said to her, “and the only decoration I have up is the wreath on the door!”

“I don’t think that counts, Lease,” responded my husband John. “You didn’t take that down from last year.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Tonight, I’m looking around at my undecorated house thinking, “uggggh,” not “Ho ho ho!”

It wasn’t always true, though.  I used to be one of them.  I was a veritable Christmas Elf.  I baked, I decorated.  I embroidered Christmas stockings for the whole family.  My son Jacob and I built gingerbread houses that did not come from a mix or a box and were actually made of gingerbread stuck together in the shape of a house!  My friends got a bottle of homemade Irish Cream liqueur.  Some used it to get their kids to bed on Christmas Eve.

But mostly, I sang.  The records, tapes and CDs came out on Thanksgiving.  From the moment I woke up the day after Thanksgiving, until New Years, I would trill away.  “White Christmas,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  I belted “Mele Kalikimaka” when I had an established escape route to avoid people trying to punch me.  I know the words to all 18,423 verses of Frosty the Snowman.  I would start singing in the shower and keep going until John tackled me and put duct tape across my mouth, usually at about 8:30 a.m.  Regardless, I’d start up again the next morning.

If the current, Crabby Christmas Me got a hold of the old Merry Christmas Me, I would slap myself silly.

So you see, I do understand the Christmas-sy part of Christmas.  The love, the joy, the traditions.

But now I see the other side.  And it’s that “tradition” part that is to blame.

You see, my family’s always been fairly competitive.  My mother and her sister Ruth were particularly so.  They’d argue at each shared Sunday dinner over a million things:  whose gravy was better (my mother’s), who cracked the best one-liner (always Aunt Ruth – she was a hoot), and most traumatically for me, whose young daughter was taller. (Duh, Maureen was almost a year older than me – of course she won every time.  But you’re not taller now, are you?  And you’re still older, Maur.  You’re still older.  How do you like it??)  Darn, I wish I’d missed the competitive gene.

When I was a kid, Aunt Ruth was high on the list of my favorite relatives.  Now she’s tops on an altogether different list.  And it ain’t Santa’s list, neither.

Because Aunt Ruth started a family tradition.  A competition.  But it’s not a family tradition I recommend, especially during the Christmas season.  In fact, it should have a warning, although I’m not sure where you’d put it:  Don’t try this at home.

You see, Aunt Ruth started the tradition of kicking the bucket on a major holiday.  What fun!  Great idea!  Not many families do that!  Hey, we are DIFFERENT!

Knowing Aunt Ruth, I’m sure her last thought was “Doris, you’ll never top this one!  I’m dying on Thanksgiving!!!!”   She was no doubt a bit miffed when my mother joined her a couple of years later.  Because, not to be outdone, Mom arrived in the afterlife on Easter Sunday.

Their party really got going when we reached Y2K, and my sister Judy died unexpectedly on my birthday in January.  Now, you might argue that my birthday is not, technically speaking, a holiday.  Not a paid day off for most folks.  But hey, in my book, this qualifies.  So there.

As time went on, there were fewer and fewer holidays I could celebrate.  The only big one left was Christmas.

Guess what happened on Christmas, 2000!  Yup, Dad reclaimed his spot at the head of the table with Mom, Judy and Aunt Ruth. Dad trumped them all.  Or because it was Christmas, perhaps he trumpeted them all.  Maybe both.

I must say I am rather ticked off about it all.  Sort of changes the tone of the Holidays, you see.  I plan to have words with all four of them, next time I see them.  And I will not be nice.

In the meantime, celebrating holidays, well, it just seems so odd to me.  Especially Christmas, because Christmas is so stuff-oriented, and most of my Christmas stuff is from them.  It takes a bit of the fun out of decorating.

For a while, I considered joining the Eastern Orthodox Church.  That way I could celebrate the same holidays, just on different days.  I could keep all my Christmas crap!  I could decorate!  I could bake!  I could sing!  But then I realized that the change would just give us all additional high priority target dates, and I don’t have enough family members left to meet the challenge.  So Eastern Orthodox is out.

At the same time, I also realized that, when Dad hit the Holiday Lottery, the whole tradition had to stop.  Because I’m pretty sure that biting the dust on, say, Columbus Day, just wouldn’t cut it.  So why bother?

Nevertheless, this whole thing has made me decidedly anti-Holiday.

There is one holiday I still look forward to, though.  Groundhog Day.  I just can’t figure out what sort of decorations to put up.

 *     *     *
When I first posted this piece two years ago, my blogging buddies didn’t know whether it was safe to laugh at it.  It is. 
This is a reprise — it’s one of the most healing pieces of writing I’ve ever done.  I re-posted it for the two new followers I have and the 1,242 robots who have started following me since I first put my blogging buddies in the awkward position of not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Mom, Music

A Fiery Mystery in Maine

Dum Dum Dum, Dump Dump Da Dom

Dum Dum Dum Dump Da Dom

Storm Clouds Comin' In

Storm Clouds Comin’ In

There are some songs that shouldn’t leave the shower.

There are some songs you just don’t want to have stuck in your head.

There are some songs that you just don’t want to have become part of your life.

 

Smoke on The Water is one of them.

Our little retirement/vacation cottage in Maine caught fire in July.  Spontaneously combusted.  Burst into flame for no reason anybody has ever figured out.

We weren’t there.  Nobody was there, luckily.

Even more luckily, it burned just a little bit.  The nice part, naturally.  Not the kitchen which I would have been happy to replace.  Not the bathroom that has pink 60s tiles with cute pink fishies.  Nope.

The nice part by the living room burned – the picture window that overlooks my masthead and “No Point.” [That’s the bit of land in the picture that looks like the first point.   John dubbed it “No Point” because from our angle it looks like a little point, but it isn’t a point at all.]

Interior ceiling

And even more luckily, it happened at lunch time, when a guy who was renting a cottage across the cove was relaxing outside with a sandwich, noticed smoke and called the fire department.  The fire chief, a volunteer, was working construction two doors down.  He arrived within minutes and the damage was kept down to mere pain in the ass status, as opposed to total devastation.  So we are lucky.  Very lucky.

Volunteer Firemen -- Risking their lives

Volunteer Firemen — Risking their lives

Nobody can figure out what happened.  There were no bad wires, no combustibles in the attic.  No evidence of vandalism.  Nada.  A flamin’ mystery.

Danielle exterior roof

We are still trying to find the person who reported it, so we can thank him.  He was renting a house across the way, and we don’t yet know who he was or how we can get in touch with him.

So John and I up here in Maine, looking at a different angle, trying to get work going on our house.  And saying thank you to a whole lot of folks.

Special thanks to the firefighters who arrived so quickly and saved our cute little place.  And to the mystery man who saw it and saved it.

Huge thanks also Doug and Renee, who have done so much in the immediate aftermath and ever since.

To Danielle and to Ella for breaking the bad news.  To Annette and Danielle for the pictures.

Thanks to Bill and Ken and the other insurance folks who are helping us rebuild.

And I’m thanking my lucky stars that it wasn’t worse.

 

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Filed under Huh?, Maine, Music, Mysteries

Five Hundred Miles

Four years ago on a gray August day in Cleveland, nobody knew what to do with my sister Beth.  Except me.  I knew exactly what to do with her.  Nobody listened.  But I’m tellin’ you, I was right.

My sister Beth was a born wanderer.  Wherever she was, well, she wanted to be somewhere else.  For nearly 20 years following her divorce, Beth worked as a traveling nurse.  She criss-crossed the country, falling in love with California wine country, Albuquerque, Florida and points in between.  Just when she seemed to be settling in one place, she’d get that urge to go again.  And go she did.  She wanted to see all of America.  She said she never wanted to stop traveling.

So when Beth died due to complications of a stroke and kidney failure on August 11, 2009, I knew just what to do.

“She wanted to be cremated,” I informed my nephews, Dave and Chris.

“Why didn’t she tell us that?” Dave asked.  “Are you sure?  Nobody else has been cremated in our family.”

“Worms,” I responded simply.

They both laughed, realizing just how well I knew my sister.   Creepy crawly things?  Beth wouldn’t be caught dead with a worm anywhere near her, dead or alive.  Cremation it was.

“But what do we do with the ashes?” Chris wondered aloud.

That was a dilemma, because Beth hadn’t filled me in on the second half of the plan.

“Well, she really hated it when she could no longer travel,” I said.  “Let’s pour her into a cardboard box, poke a small hole in it, and tie it to a freight railroad car.  Let the train scatter her ashes across America.”

Sadly, and to my regret, Dave and Chris didn’t take me seriously.  They flatly refused to break all kinds of laws and get arrested for terrorism or littering by letting their mom wander like Marley’s ghost, only without the chains.

So poor Beth is still in Cleveland – the one city in America she lived in that she hated.

When I read this story about a woman who placed her husband’s ashes into a bottle and threw it into the ocean in Florida, where he got to visit parts of the state that I’m sure he never would have visited otherwise, well, I was delighted.  Finally, I’d found a different sort of after-death experience for Beth.  Naturally, I sent the story to my nephew Dave.

“But Lease,” he responded.  “She has a new great-granddaughter.  She’d never want to leave Cleveland now!”

Ellyana, Sitting in a Bug

Ellyana in a Bug

Beth never did like the beach much, anyway.

*     *     *

Thanks to Diatribes and Ovations for their post which inspired me to share this story with my Word Press Family.

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Filed under History, Music, Stupidity, Traffic

Birthday Board

There are some songs that just make you smile.  There are others that make you think of people.  There are some that get stuck in your head.

There are people like that too.  People who make you smile, who make you laugh, who make you hit yourself upside your own head and say to them in the most embarrassing moments,  “You’re Nuts!”

This song is like my son, Jacob.  He makes me smile, makes me feel good.  Sometimes he keeps me up all night swimming around in my head, thinking, “He’s Nuts!”  And you know what?  He IS!

Happy 22nd Birthday to my favorite longboarder (see Mom shudder.  Shudder Mom Shudder).

Holding up the Tower in 1999

Holding up the Leaning Tower in 1999

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Family, Holidays, Humor, Music

Wedding Poo-poo

Men really don’t understand the importance women put on their wedding day.  I mean, we can’t help it.  From the moment we are born, everyone is telling us that our wedding day will be the happiest day of our lives.  And since we tend to do it at a relatively young age, well, then that means life is all down from there.

So since there really is nothing left to live for, we should be excused from being a little bit weird in the planning.

For our wedding, we tried to be low key and keep craziness to a relative minimum.   John really didn’t care about anything except for the fact that he did not, I repeat, did not want those sappy “LOVE” stamps on our wedding invitations.  So we picked stamps that we both liked:

Arctic explorer stamps

Yes, we had pictures of Arctic Explorers on our wedding invitations.  Surprisingly, I did not hear a single joke about my being or becoming frigid.  Nope, nobody, not a soul commented on it.  [Had I gotten an invitation with that stamp on it, I would still be making jokes about it, 26 years later.  Our friends and family are way nicer than I am.]

There are a few things surrounding my wedding that I do feel bad about, though.

John and I got married in 1986 in September.  I feel guilty about the fact that it was really hot out that day.  John had wanted to get married in October, but that coincided with a big work project of mine, so I said no, we’ll do it in late September.  It’ll be very cool by September 20, I assured him.  It was approximately 180 degrees “cool.”  In many of our pictures, John is sweating bullets and I’m pretty sure he was not terrified of marrying me.  I don’t think.  Although it never occurred to me to ask him.

I also feel guilty about the fact that our church and our reception hall were in different states.  You see, we got married in the church where John’s parents had been married 41 years earlier.  It seemed like a good omen.  Plus it is a beautiful stone church.  I was game.  But it was a long way in between the two places.

 

wedding map

It was a loooooonnnnnggg way from A to B

Our reception was also in a really beautiful place.  Plus we could afford to rent it out on our tight budget.  It didn’t occur to us that the fact that the two places were a zillion miles apart might be a problem.  But we have good friends and they made the trek.  Family did too, but they had to.  They were family.

If it had been up to me, I also probably would have had regular music, but, remember, John and I have different tastes, and he chose the music.

 

Yes, we had a bagpiper, although not this one.  And John, who went to college in Scotland threatened to wear a kilt.  Having a piper was OK, though.  We didn’t know anybody in the neighborhood.

But we didn’t really demand much of our guests.  We wanted them to share our day, have a good time, and enjoy themselves and each other.

Isn’t that what most people want from their wedding guests?  Isn’t that why we invite them?

It would never have occurred to me to make other, more, well, personal requests.

Today I had lunch with my old friend Keily, who was one of my bridesmaids.  Her son recently got married in Brazil and she was showing me pictures of the festivities.  So it got me thinking about weddings, naturally, and about mine.

And then I happened upon this article about a bride who is asking way more of her guests than I certainly would have asked.  She want’s them to do a three-week colon cleanse before her wedding day so that they will all look their best.

“Health guru” to the stars Rainbeau Mars will soon tie the knot with Hollywood business manager Michael Karlin, and she’s making one huge request: Each of her guests must do a three-week cleanse before her Big Day.

According to an email from her publicist, “Rainbeau hopes that by requesting her guests try out a vegan, and subsequently live food diet for 21 days, everyone will look and feel their best for HER big day.”

So I’m going to stop feeling bad about making people drive so far and about the heat and the piper.  Because I stopped short of requiring bowel cleansing in my guests.  I was, apparently, the perfect bride.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Conspicuous consumption, Family, Humor, Music