I’ve been explaining to Duncan for weeks, that starting today, April 27, 2016, he is a grownup dog. That means no more stealing shoes (always mine), no more stealing socks (usually Jacobs and always dirty), and no more poop eating.
Because today is Duncan’s 2nd Birthday.
Oh GROW UPPPPPPPP, Duncan!
Duncan in Jacob’s Man Cave
So far today, he stole my boot, lunged for a pile of horse poop — Mom was too fast for you today! — and stole a clean sock from the basket as I took a load of laundry out of the dryer. Dogs are gross.
You may have seen this before, but I tried to write something new about my sister Judy. And, well, this piece really just sums up who she was better than anything I’ve come up with since.
She’s been gone now for 16 years. Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her. There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister. Even long after they are gone.
Today, April 22, is Earth Day! It’s the 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 64th 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 food, shelter and work — to enable them to jumpstart 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.
Since I was a tomboy/ragamuffin hybrid as a kid, nobody called me “Princess.” And the one time I tried to be a princess – the time when I was 4 and dressed up as a princess for Halloween and fell on my face in a Queen-size mud puddle – that pretty much cured me of any princess fantasies I might have had.
But there was one time, one time, when I really did feel like a princess. I felt that like a princess because I stood in an actual ballroom. That’s where princesses hang out, isn’t it?
I looked around the room in wonder. It was, of course, huge. I easily imagined hundreds of beautifully dressed dancers waltzing around the floor. There were floor-to-two-story-high-ceiling windows all along the back of the room, covered in Scarlett O’Hara’s curtains. Thick, heavy green velvet drapes with gold brocade tassels holding them back. And through them, I could see to the sea. Long Island Sound.
This isn’t the actual room, although there are similarities. You see, I had forgotten my cell phone that day in 1965, and couldn’t snap a picture. I had to use Google Images. Thanks, Google!
A balcony surrounded the ballroom on three sides, and it too rose way up. The floor is what I remember most clearly, though: Black and white marble, a massive checkerboard, without a single scuff mark in the entire room.
As was true of all of my childhood adventures (or since it was a princess-thing, perhaps I should call it a fantasy), this one came to me courtesy of my brother, Fred.
You see, Mr. Richardson, the wealthiest amongst our very wealthy neighbors, had invited us to his house. And we were to use the front door! Because we — me and Fred (and our sister Beth) — were heroes. Heroes always use the front door.
Wanna know what happened?
Well, one hot summer day, Beth and I were out in the backyard, when Fred came racing in from the outer limits of our yard, near “the fields.“ The fields was a tract of land owned by Mr. Richardson, located behind our yard. It stretched for several hundred acres. Part of it was meadow, but part of it was made up of small, neatly spaced and impeccably trimmed pine trees.
The Fields Behind My House. I think. Google Image. So really, it could be anywhere.
“Tax haven,” my Dad said, rolling his eyes, when he realized what Mr. R was planting. “A Christmas tree farm.”
Well, yeah. Probably. Whatever.
But Mr. R believed in investing in land, and he bought anything he could. (He was away when our house went up for sale, or according to my Dad, my childhood would have been spent elsewhere. I will always be thankful for that trip of Mr. R’s.)
Anyway, Fred came running in from the fields, shouting “FIRE!” “THERE’S A FIRE IN THE FIELDS!!”
Beth and I didn’t ask any questions, but apparently we rushed into the house, called the fire department, grabbed brooms and blankets and rushed out to where Fred had seen the fire. That’s where the fire department found us. We had contained the fire, and there was very little damage. Without our intervention, well, who knows what might have happened.
So back to the Ballroom.
Mr. Richardson had invited us over to thank us. And he gave us a gift!
“I want to thank you for putting out the fire in my fields. You were very brave, and I am very proud of you both. And as a reward, from now on, for as long as you and your family live in that house,” Mr. R said, “You and your family may take any Christmas tree you want from my field.”*
Before becoming heroes, we had managed to get our Christmas trees for the $2 that Dad bartered with with for as long as we all could remember. But our heroism took us to the upper crust of Christmas trees. Because from that year on my family did, indeed, get our Christmas trees from Mr. R’s field. We chose the biggest and nicest of them all, cut it down, and dragged it home.
But (and you know there’s always a “but” or a “butt” in my stories), it wasn’t strictly Kosher.
You see, not a whole lot of years later, in 1972, Mr. Richardson died. He willed the land to the Audubon Society, and ever since then, the Audubon Society has been selling those very Christmas trees. No mention was made, apparently, in Mr. R’s Last Will and Testament, for heroes who got free Christmas trees. No mention at all. Naturally that didn’t stop us. But we also didn’t mention our prior claim to the Audubon Society.
And there was another issue.
If you guessed that my brother, accidentally started the fire, well, I will simply remind you that the Statute of Limitations is 7 years. We’re way past that. The Statute of Limitations is still 7 years on Christmas tree theft, isn’t it?
* I think there might have been other rewards; at least I hope so. Because I’ve always thought of Mr. R as a really nice guy. After all, he let me be a princess that one time, and, honestly, it was pretty cool even if I was more Cinderella than Snow White. So I don’t want to think he was a skinflint who just gave us kids, who wouldn’t be paying for them anyway, free Christmas trees, for saving them. Then again, it was the 60s. Everybody didn’t get a trophy.
Or we could eliminate all news of the GOP and fill the airtime with additional CSI series in different American cities! Because, really, you just can’t have too many gun-drug-sex related crime shows set in America’s cities, now can we?
I must confess, I’m leaning towards the last one. Because I have just the city for the show! A city that combines crime with a Democratic Tradition!
The Park City — Bridgeport, Connecticut!
Wait, wait! Don’t go. I’m not done! And I have good reason to suggest this location!
You see, I, personally, was born in Bridgeport– as were all of my family members whom you’ve come to know and love. The fact that we moved away really has no bearing on the issue of whether a good crime drama could be situated in Bpt.
Equally important, one of my relatives once served as Mayor of this fine city. I never met this cousin 238 times removed. But still, blood is blood and that’s important in any crime drama.
Lastly, on Tuesday, the City of Bridgeport — my home town — elected an ex-convict Mayor.
Voters in Bridgeport, Connecticut elected as their next mayor an ex-convict who spent seven years in federal prison after being convicted on 16 corruption charges.
Democrat Joe Ganim, 56, had served as mayor of Bridgeport – the state’s largest city – 12 years ago, from 1991 to 2003, when he resigned after being convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals and companies in exchange for sending city contracts in their direction, the New York Timesreports.
Since he was released from prison five years ago, Ganim has worked as a legal assistant at his family’s law firm in Bridgeport, though he has not been able to have his law license restored.
Now tell me, which would you choose? To watch the GOP or to watch a colorful Democrat?