Monthly Archives: March 2010

Granny

All this week my husband has been home and he’s been cooking meals from my grandmother’s recipe box. They’re pretty unique. My grandmother (Granny to me, Nanny to my children) was born in Southern Illinois to an all Irish mother and an all English father.

She  grew up during the Depression, on the banks of the Mississippi and Ohio River. She had one sister who was 16 years older than her. I believe there was a brother in-between but he didn’t live for very long and it was something they never talked about. My great Aunt used to tell me about hearing stories from her uncles about the Civil War and both her and my Granny had many, very funny stories about the Great Flood of 1937.

My sister and I were very close to my grandparents. I was affectionately known as my grandmother’s  ” little turd”. I loved my nickname and was truly devastated when I learned what an actual turd was. One time for our birthday they bought us train tickets from Orlando to Tampa. I think I was probably 10 or so and that was just about the best birthday present I ever received.

My grandmother was quite a woman and like so many of her generation, a hard worker. She raised two children, worked until her sixties, kept a sparkling clean house and took care of her elderly mother for years. She never lost her temper, except one time when she famously hit my grandfather in the head with an iron skillet — a story I heard over and over as a child. She sewed, quilted, baked and cooked. She had a fondness for whiskey, sea breezes (in later years), cigarettes and cards and was known to say “shit-fire under her breath quite often.  She was caring, kind, liberal, spiritual, a curly red-head and loads of fun. She was present for the birth of my first child and was there for my last. She just sat and watched and told me time and time again that I was fine and I could do it.

Granny and her great-grandchild

She died in October right after my sister’s,  my mother’s and my birthday 3 years ago. My 3 year-old at the time used to look up at the sky and talk to her while she swung on her swing set. She said, as only a child could, that it was ok, because Granny was in pieces (instead of “at peace”). My grandfather died the following March . Losing her, her birthday and their wedding anniversary was just too much for him to go on. Luckily he’s in pieces, too.

Granny and Papa, may they rest "in pieces".

She would have been 83 this March and would have celebrated her 62nd wedding anniversary. So it is fitting that my husband happened to be home this week, happened to decide to cook these wonderful, unique dishes from her recipe box and that this post closes out March. This to me celebrates a wonderful woman, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother in a very unique way, just like her.


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Guilt and Gratitude

Every morning as I speed cautiously drive out of the neighborhood to rush to work, you can find me cursing under my breath because I’m trapped behind not one, but two school buses.  “Missed it by one freaking minute…” (You must know these buses stop at every other driveway.) However, as the last bus at the last stop mechanically lowers out the ramp and the mom in the burgundy minivan rolls her child’s wheelchair to the entrance, I pause. Tears well up in my eyes and I think…

Yes, my children are spoiled but so am I. Yes, my oldest child’s legs work well enough to jump out of his window when he’s grounded WHILE we’re downstairs eating dinner with friends (You really thought you were going to get away with that?).

Yes, my middle child talks and laughs too much in school resulting in numerous parent-teacher conferences and detentions, but I am thankful he’s able to communicate.

Yes, my youngest can’t take it when her socks graze her pinky toe and I have to take the time in the morning to stretch her socks and ask her to “Wiggle your toes, is it still touching?” When I really want to yell and sometimes do, “It’s just socks — What is your problem?” But at least she can feel the difference and she’s able to tell me.

So when I watch this mom wheel her child to the bus, I think what an ungrateful person I am. I try to hold back the tears and I want a big do-over where I don’t yell, I don’t criticize, I just love. Then when I go to my teenager’s room to give him a kiss goodnight and realize he’s not in the bed (because he climbed out his window to sneak off to a friend’s) I just think, this is good fodder for my blog.

Yoga and Hot Green Tea

Ahhh, yoga. I love it. I’m lucky enough to have a studio within walking distance of my home so on this lovely Spring night I waltzed on over for my bi-weekly class.  Well I walked, anyone who knows me knows I don’t waltz.

As I lie (lay?laid?) on my mat and try very hard to stop the whirling dervish of thoughts in my head, I try to remember to breathe. Inhale — expand, exhale — contract. Let the thoughts which cross my mind just pop out of my head in a bubble. Eyes on your own mat, this is your experience — but I just can’t help looking at myself,  thinking I really need to diet… and run… a marathon… maybe a couple of times…a week. Ah, let those thoughts float out of my mind. Try for blankness, don’t forget to breathe…STOP obsessing about your stomach fat… Breathe. Stop thinking about the kids…accept their fuck-ups are their’s not yours… bubble…pop…Why am I thinking about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”?….Breathe…Flow…Where the hell is that thought coming from?…Breathe…Stillness..Yes…Blankness…Energy…Nice.

Now I’m feeling great; I’m relaxed. Time for some hot green tea, the warmth is wonderful, say my goodbyes to the teacher and fellow yogites, turn around and  spill the scolding water all over my hand…and the floor…Fuck that’s hot…now I’m embarrassed….and the floor’s soaking wet…and my hand is burning…

Breathe…

Namaste…

What Color is My Margarita?

What color is my Margarita?

I, like so many others, was not born with the gift of knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Hold me Mom, I don't ever want to grow up.

I never had the burning urge that I was meant to check the function of men’s bladders or women’s for that matter. I also knew from my first stick figure that ‘artist’ was definitely out of the picture. The same goes for anything dealing with spacial ability, 6 way ANOVA’s, annotating or footnoting papers, working for the “man”…the list goes on and on.

I tried so many things: Real estate school (Boy was that boring!) and by the time the State exam rolled around I was on to something else.  I worked for the government for a couple of years. I had the power to fight with utility companies that were ripping people off, that was fun. But I moved out-of-state and decided to stay home with the kiddos. [Read between the lines: I waited tables and tended bar on the weekends for the missing cash.]

Somehow I worked my way into healthcare administration and had the power to fight insurance companies for the “man”. Years later I finally finished a bachelor’s degree and then became certified to teach Social Sciences to high school kids.  This notion was stopped dead in its tracks by a dear friend who said I was way too “raw” to teach in public school. Ok, I do like to throw in a few hundred swear words every minute or two, but for fuck’s sake I grew up in New Jersey.

So where does that lead me…

Well I needed to take a good hard look at what I enjoyed. Somehow sitting poolside with someone rubbing my shoulders, drinking a margarita on the rocks (hold the salt), overlooking the ocean with good friends wasn’t anywhere on any job site I perused. (Don’t forget the steel drums in the background or is it Jimmy Buffett?)

Anyway back to reality, hmmm maybe Human Resources? That would only work if I could be the employee’s advocate not the companies.  I know, advocacy and arguing = law school. Ding, ding, ding…

Oh yeah, the papers and classes and everything in between makes me feel like sticking hot pokers in my eyes (much like the thought of scrapbooking) so that couldn’t be my “burning urge”. So, off to a more esoteric slant on things: Martha Beck’s “Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life No Matter What!”.  Great book, but I’m having a hard time applying it because basically, I really do want to sit poolside, drink margaritas, get a shoulder massage and enjoy conversation with my girlfriends.

Aha! I know, I’m going to “secret” it…. and in the meantime I’m going to go to the bathroom more frequently to get rid of this “burning urge”.

Life, Parenting, Marriage and the occasional nervous breakdown…

I have been reading various blogs for years, but never had the cojones time to write my own. Recently it has become clear, either I express myself and do something I enjoy instead of just work, laundry, cleaning and chauffeuring or I run down the street with a toilet brush in my hand, collapse on my knees and scream, “WWWHHHYYY?” (Yes, I stole that scene from a movie…but it rings so true in my mind, minus the death and carnage.) Plus I’m not sure how this fits into our Homeowner’s Association by-laws, do I need to ask permission of my neighbors to have a public breakdown?

Why “Parenting from the Couch”?  No, it’s not because I spent 10 years with 2, then 3 children, getting a BS degree in Psychology (I can’t tell you how much this degree has increased my earning power — insert lightening strike). No, it’s not because I spent years time “on the couch” with various licensed mental health professionals. It’s because in my own perfect utopia, I would be able to lounge on the couch all day, drift in and out of consciousness, get up for the occasional snack jog while my children rub my feet, confess their admiration for their mother and recite  poetry or their latest thesis on world peace.

Instead I walk around my house and sometimes pick up shoes, dirty socks (a whole blog post in itself), dirty dishes, empty bags of chips and then sink into my couch, yell gently command my children to finish their homework and wonder why I was not chosen as Anthony Bourdain’s sidekick.

Let’s hope this blog keeps me sane and allows some kind of cathartic healing for a life that never was…Plus my couch is getting torn to shreds and my kids have resorted to wearing ear plugs.

Next Post: Why must a trip to Target cost me a $100 for a tube of toothpaste? Deep stuff.