Archive for December, 2009


December 15, 2009

I wrote this a few years back.  It’s one of my favorites…..


As I lay on my sofa the other night, looking at our beautiful Christmas
tree, I was really moved by the ornaments. 

There are ornaments on there from when my Uncle Roger was in the Army.
 He was one of the lucky ones that made it home safely from the Pacific
Rim, delivering a box of Chinese lantern ornaments to my mother.  We’ve
have had those on our trees since I can remember.  My Uncle Roger, Aunt
Maggie and cousins are on our tree…

There are ornaments on our tree that my grandmother made and some she
taught my siblings and I to make, which are also hanging there.  We
learned our sewing stitches making them.  I called her the other day
and she had just spent the day making her “to die for” homemade fudge
and baking banana bread. She will be 91 in January, is nearly blind and
is my only surviving grandparent.  My children are lucky enough to have
four grand parents and three great-grand parents.  “Grandma Iowa” as my
children affectionately call her is on our tree….

There are ornaments on our tree from various journeys that have been
made by us, my mother, and my mother-in-law. We get them on business
and family trips.  There is the bear from the Navajo Nation, the
steamboat from Seattle, the glitter fish with glasses from North
Carolina, and the phone booth from London. There is the gold ball from
my best friend’s wedding. The world is on our tree….

There are ornaments that are made by my children.  There’s one with my
daughter Nina’s foot prints on it from her first Christmas.  There is
the Nutcracker made from the toilet paper roll, the Wreath with my son
JP’s picture in the center, the Joy one made with dried beans and my
son Grant’s picture in the “O.”  There’s a snowman with Theo’s name and
“2003” marking her first Christmas and reindeer ears made from brown
construction paper.  Our future is on our tree…..

I look around at the other ornaments, through the golf cart, Cherokee
angels, retro glass ones and Santa Claus (that I have had since I was a
kid), and I see one kind of tucked back in the tree.  It is the bell
with the date, July 6, 1996 on the back.  It is the favor from our
wedding.  The love of my life is on our tree….

I think of how rich our lives are and have been….to have traveled the
world, to have our health and to have family and friends that have
filled our home and our lives with the warmth of their light, love,
laughter and joy and I know that we are truly blessed……..

Merry Christmas




The Hungry Bum….

December 12, 2009

If you have been keeping up with my posts (which of course you have!), you know that I am not of a slender nature. As a young one, I was slim, with a head of curly hair, and a caboose. I looked like a frilly toothpick with an olive half way down. But life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have gathered on various parts of my body through the years, and this includes my hind parts.  At this point, my olive has been over stuffed.

One day, after doing some running, I needed to hop into the shower to defunkerate. We have a stall shower in one of our bathrooms, which is a nice way of saying vertical coffin with water. Needless to say, there isn’t a whole lot of room for maneuvering and even less so when you’re as well endowed as I. Nevertheless, it gets the job done and if properly used, one comes out all nice and clean and sparkly. If properly used…..

Everything was going along swimmingly. I had finished lathering up and was returning the soap to its place, when I dropped it. “Hmmmm, this is going to be interesting. Bending forward is no use, because I still won’t be able to grab the soap and I might fall out of the shower, which is not out of the realm of possibility for me, really. I can’t lean to the side and pick up the soap because I’ll hit my head on the side of the stall or I could myself get wedged between the side walls and need an aerial rescue that would require the jaws of life for extraction . Got it! I’ll give myself some room if I face the back of the shower and point my bum towards the curtain. I do the hokey, pokey, turn myself around and head south.

I grab the soap and stand back up. Woo hoo! back in business….Where’s all that light coming from? Why is the bathroom rug getting all wet? Wait, why can I even see the rug …what the….? Upon successful retrieval of the soap and subsequent return to vertical, my bum, my caboose, my junkie trunk had swallowed my ENTIRE shower curtain. My hungry bum ate the whole thing.

In comes Big Daddy who needs to use the commode. Trying to figure out why he needs a row boat to get to it, he looks up and sees me holding the soap in one hand and dislodging my butt drapery with the other. He shakes his head.

All I can do is smile because really, how does one explain a self-induced curtain wedgie?

Jersey Girl and the Marathon…

December 10, 2009

 I ran the Marine Corps marathon in 2002. I am NOT a runner. I hate running and always have. But our realtor ran it a few years prior to raise money for the Whitman-Walker Clinic in DC. Of course, she did yoga, and ran 500 miles a day, and wasn’t bigger than a minute—you’d think my internal warning system would have gone off reminding me that I had eaten steaks bigger than she and that this was not such a good idea. Alas, it did not and a signed up anyway. Through the training program, I would be better, stronger, and faster and I would bond with the people in my pace group, blah, blah, blah. I fell for the little promotional video hook, line and sinker. I was a sucker. I thought aaawwww, I could say I ran a marathon AND helping people living with AIDS. I was reserving my seat in heaven. So I go out to the meet site on the first day. Mind you, I have given birth to two children thus far, so there is some extra shit jumpin’ around that wasn’t there before. But I’m figuring I was an athlete in college and I’m not in all THAT bad shape. And I have mega-ultra spandex on, so bring it on, baby! I am, along with about 100 other people are all pumped up, ready to do our part for mankind. Go Team! We are instructed to run three miles, 1.5 out and 1.5 back in. In my usual, overly exuberant way (that’s code for not being able to pace myself), I blast out, thinking 3 miles is easy, how bad could it be? Bloody Hell!!! I get about 1/8 of a mile and get a stitch in my side and a cramp in my calf. Trying not to look like an Uber Ass, I pushed on through and FINALLY finished. I think I missed one of my kid’s birthdays it took so damn long. The following week we are assigned our pace groups. They call names for the four-minute mile group, then the five-minute mile group (Bitches). I know I am not in the fastest groups, but am sure they’re going to call my name relatively soon. Eight-minute milers are called (Whores). Ten… (I must be in the next group, okay maybe the next). I finally hear my name. 15-minute mile group????!!!! Surely there is some mistake because I KNOW I can walk backwards faster than that. My pace group gathers together for introductions….One guy has a pacemaker and went to high school with Jesus. One lady, whose running in orthopedic shoes is rubbing her varicose veins. I am soooo screwed. I “ran” with this group on Sundays for a few weeks, but then decided to change groups, otherwise I was doomed. I put “ran” in quotations, because those of us that were younger in the group never got a full run in because we were too busy administering CPR to Methusala and her posse of ancients who picked the symbols for the Rosetta Stone. So, I switched to a Saturday group. The gods had indeed smiled upon me for there were people who were born within 10 years of me, so I could hang up my defibrillator. There was another transplant from different group who left her original group because they said they didn’t cuss, to which she responded, “Well FUCK!” My kindred spirit! Fuckin’ A right!

There was another woman in our group, with whom we bonded, who oddly enough walked faster than she ran. I’m not sure how this works from a physics standpoint, but hey, she worked it out. Three Musketeers look out!

Through it all though, Jersey Girl and I really bonded and pushed each other, laughed, growled, and cussed, and then cussed some more. We talked of her upcoming nuptials, parents, my life on the edge of crazy. Only she could appreciate me showing up to her wedding in my running shoes because I was running late and thought I’d rather witness the big moment than wrestle my pumps on. She is God-Mother to my youngest child. I am the one she calls first when her son is sick. Her husband has reminded her on occasion that I am not actually a doctor to which she responds that I have four children that are alive and thriving and that I don’t charge for midnight calls. I can call her to back me off my edge of crazy so as not to end up in jail for some momentary lapse of sanity.

I laugh that we could have been on the sappy promotional video for runners that took up the gauntlet in the years following our successful completion of the 2003 Marine Corps Marathon. (My husband laughs because the 83 year-old man and the one-legged man finished before us, but we finished damn it, unlike the 4,000 runners and the dead woman who didn’t. ASS!) It was most certainly true that the bonds we would make would be for life, that we would be forever changed by the experience. Truer words were never spoken.

I still hate running. But I love my Jersey Girl.


December 9, 2009

If you have not gone to see the movie “Precious,” do not pass go, do not collect $200, GO to this powerful movie.  The script and cast are phenomenal. The story was horrible to watch and process, especially when one realizes that this happens all too often on a daily basis, and not just in the black community, but all of them. 

The alternative school teacher in the film is the ray of hope through it all. She cajoles and pushes her students to complete the program, but more importantly, she lets them know there is at least one person in their corner.  And with that encouragement, she helps them find themselves through the written word.  In many of these cases, that kind of encouragement is what changes the course of these children’s lives.

My mother-in-law, “Ma,” is that person for the children of Connecticut.  She heads up Children in Placement, a program that trains volunteers to act as guardians-ad-litem for abused and neglected children in the Connecticut court system.  I remember when she was deciding between this position and another one.  She chose this job because while it would offer a number of challenges (and less money), the rewards would be far greater. That was 15 years ago.

Over these past 15 years, she has been that encouragement for the children that cross her path.  She has been their voice when they had none, but more importantly she has helped numerous children find their own.  Through The Connecticut Youth Alliance, she empowers current and former foster children to use their voices through digital story telling. They put their life stories down via computer (while learning some great writing and editing skills).  Initially, the students weren’t sure where to begin, could be believe that they had anything to say. Or that anyone would want to hear what they had to say since no one had ever really asked. With Ma’s support they find their way forward.

Rather than sharing what the students have written, she takes them along to events and presentations to share their own words, exposing them to people, environments, and situations that they would never have thought possible. On some occasions she spends her own money to do so.

Her success stories are the students that have gone on to bigger and better things, including college, some on full scholarships.  Her students come back to see her and to share their success with kids who came from where they are, letting them know that there is hope. They come back to say, “Thanks.”

This film shed a glaring light on the vicious cycle that poverty, abuse, and neglect can bring to bear on a community, reaffirming the need for what my mother-in-law and so many others like her do every day.  It has motivated my husband to action.  I hope it motivates others so that one day there will be no need for programs such as Children in Placement. And we will all be better for it.

Thanks, Ma.

I’m Baaack……

December 2, 2009

I have finally recovered from Thanksgiving…sort of. 

Those that know me, know that while I was an athlete all through high school and college, I am clumsy as hell and manage to injure myself in ways that might never have been discovered until I came along.  And so it was on Thanksgiving morning when I steam cleaned the inside of my nose and my eyeballs all in one shot.

So, I was doing my bit for the Thanksgiving feast.  We we’re expecting a crowd and we’re cooking like crazy. Big Daddy has the Turkey in the oven and is getting ready to put the ham in as well.  Ma is cooking up the candied yams adn dressing with chestnuts and sausage.  I had finished snapping 3000 green beans and had tossed them in a big pot with some onions, seasonings, chicken broth, smoked turkey necks and my favorite thing next to butter, bacon drippings. I turned the fire up and let it do its thing. It did it’s thing alright. 

I heard the pot bubblin’ away and went to check on my beenage.  A quick peek would hurt and I wanted to make sure that weren’t overcooked.  I lifted the lid did a quick flip of the wrist and got a full frontal-USER ERROR, USER ERROR!  As I had turned the lid, it acted like a scoop and lifted a wad of steam directly up my nostrils, which were instantly fried. I flushed my face with cold water, and luckily no permanent physical damage was done, but my DUH meter went up quite a bit.

When Big Daddy came into the kitchen and saw me standing over the sink, my face dripping wet and me squinting like Popeye, he knew that I had done something.  Giving me the  not- again face, he asked, “What’d you do?” “I burnt the inside of my nose,” I say, shaking off the water like a wet retriever. He rolled his eyes and smirked. He asked if I was okay, and then remarked, “Only you….”

Who knew you could burn the INSIDE of your nose???? It did take a few days to realize that I had also cooked my eyeballs and their sockets.  I thought it was my allergies, but then realized that was not so and there was little more to that feeling of someone rubbing steel wool back and forth over my corneas, that fact that I look like I lit a big fat spliff (without the benefits….so I’ve heard), and that my eyes hurt looking at bright light like I’m a bleeping Gremlin.

So, I am going to the Dr. to make sure there is no permanent damage, which will be interesting when I have to explain the nature of my visit…”Uuuuuh, I have green bean burns in my nose and on my eyeballs.”  I can just see all the little question marks floating above the receptionist’s head.

I can just feel my DUH meter inching up a little bit more.




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