Tuesday, July 20, 2021
It never ceases to amaze me how often we experience six degrees of separation. Take my family for instance. We weren’t wealthy but growing up, we did have an in-ground pool. As common as it was for a bunch of kids to be swimming, it was the same for the guys Dad worked with, or the trainers and jockeys he knew from the track to pop over for a swim on hot summer nights. After a quick drink at the bar next door of course.
Being a regular at the restaurant son #3 works at, the track announcer and he became friends. He joined us once for Christmas dinner and was there when Wingman died. A man with a quick wit when calling races, he had a memorable one in 2010 that led to a contract with NBC calling the Triple Crown. For a couple of summers, my son and I visited him in the call booth at Saratoga. At dinner on one of those trips, a local trainer came to the table with his son and while the men chatted, I spoke to the son, a senior football player.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Since just in the past few months I made the switch to a happier place to work, he has focused his microscope on my personal life. And it always involves talking about a guy we’ve both known for years. Decades even. Someone who, because he never EVER gave me the time of day, I presumed to be a pompous jerk. Someone who, like my dislike of dark chocolates wouldn’t have peaked my interest at all if he hadn’t been at the same charity function as me and wasn’t quite as pompous as I thought. Not as great as milk chocolate, but interesting just the same.
But the texts were few and far between, even when I accidentally sent him one intended for a same-name coworker. He asked me if I was asking him out to dinner and we agreed to meet the following week. Apologies by him a couple of days later-he had to travel out of town. Our only date was a year later and, as I call it, a “one and done” date. The morning after, I texted him thanks for a nice time. His response was cryptically non-committal and weird. I rolled me eyes (I mean, enough with the cryptic talk!) and offered a reciprocal lunch date.
Friday, May 14, 2021
opting to move the furniture spring and fall to her liking. I would use the physicality of moving furniture to work out problems in my head...sometimes to the complaints that the sunlight on the relocated TV blocked out the Yankee game. Feng shui be damned.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Being a widow has allowed me the ability to watch eight years of Hallmark Christmas movies without criticism, but there are times admittedly, when it’s just not fun going it alone. Take vacations for example. I’ve been following a winery in British Columbia which coincidentally shares my maiden name. They don’t have distribution in America so it's going to take traveling there to buy their wines. A trip half-way across America is not something I relish doing alone-especially since it’s at least a four hour drive from the nearest airport. Ideally, I envision a week to see the Napa Valley of Canada.
Saturday, September 5, 2020
It was family events that it hurt to miss more than concerts and shows, because they didn’t get makeup dates. April was always a busy birthday month and one son and granddaughter were royally gypped. Wingman, if he were alive, would also have had an April birthday, but wouldn't have been nearly as gracious as either of them. He loved his birthday and would have expected the birthday drive-by (complete with fire trucks) that have become common during the quarantine. There was also no Easter, no Easter egg hunt with the family, no big Italian Easter meal together. The only consolation was that the quarantine allowed me to win the coveted family Devilled Egg contest for the first, and probably only time. I made them, I voted, and I won.
Try walking an 128 pound dog when the new normal included not only other dog walkers, but all those new walkers, runners, bikers, and people with baby strollers trying to escape the four walls of their homes. When the parks closed, they had nowhere else to walk except our normal potty paths. So while he was busy sniffing the ground, my head was up like a prairie dog trying to avoid having my arm pulled out of its socket. We ducked between cars and zig-zagged across streets like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Yep, a real thrill a minute minus the movie cameras and stunt doubles.
Sunday, July 26, 2020
Wingman loved the Yankees as much as any guy could love a team. He convinced the film company he worked for to buy season tickets, which got us to plenty of games and landed him some coveted signed pictures of his favorite players. A little bit of him now lies directly between Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson in Monument Park. And last year, when Summer Son found the one-of-a-kind Aaron Judge Golden Rookie Card in his Topps card box, I found myself wishing he was around to giggle at the thought of seeing a card that the kid later sold for about what two years of college tuition costs. Maybe it's better that he wasn't around, because I could see him wanting to own it.
The last song he was trying to learn before he died was Neil Young's "Harvest Moon". He would actually get choked up listening to it, and since he couldn't read music, he would play it over and over trying to learn the chords by listening. Whenever I hear it, I'm reminded of his passion for music. And in the music that I had recorded on a thumb drive, was the only song he ever wrote and sang called "I'm Your Pilot." The most notable line that still makes me wince is the last one: "You bring me down, down, down..."
Wingman had a terrible fear of heights, which included not only planes (quite ironic considering the title of his one-hit wonder), but included famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, buildings, amusement park rides...even ladders to do chores. Despite that, he painted our two-story house single-handedly and would hang the five-foot wreath I insisted we had to have on the second-floor side every Christmas. It's all that I can do to drape the same wreath over the side of the deck with bungee cords.
So this weekend, I'll be sitting and remembering the good times while watching a Yankee game with the remote planted firmly in one hand and a tomato sandwich in the other. I'll to go to the Quick Chek Balloon Festival and marvel as a hundred or so hot air balloons ascend into the morning sky. And I'll listen to music that recalls the better times in both of our lives.
Friday, February 28, 2020
Having crooked teeth only works if you’re a British actor. Hugh Grant gets away with it. So did Matthew Lewis as the Harry Potter character Neville Longbottom. And even Kiera Knightly doesn’t get any grief from Johnny Depp for her mouth of crowded teeth since he has a snaggletooth of his own.
My childhood dentist use to say that he couldn’t make any money off of my parents since my teeth were so straight. Straight, but soft. The poor old guy shouldn’t have retired because he could’ve made a fortune off of me now. In the past year alone, I had two teeth with childhood silver fillings deteriorate, which led to root canals which led to crowns. I could have gone to Europe for a couple of weeks for that. Or for sure he could have.
Wingman had much better teeth than me, and use to flip out when I came home with dental bills every six months. One year right before Christmas, I broke a prominent almost-front-tooth and the oral surgeon proposed a necessary implant to the tune of $4500. When I told Wingman the cost, I was shocked that he actually endorsed it...until he realized that I was talking about a tooth and not the only thing men associate with implants: breast augmentation. From the bone graft, to the titanium post, to the final tooth screw-in, I had to live with his snide comments that if I had gone for breast implants, no one would have noticed the gaping hole in my mouth.
My resolutions included more trips which don't include passports, and at least for this year, my smile is my vacation. But next year don't expect to see any photos of beautiful waterfalls or sunsets or beaches. Because every picture is going to show nothing but teeth. Mine.
Friday, January 31, 2020
Take for example, a recent chili cookoff. I had a recipe for what I thought would be award winning, but since I was immersed all day watching Hallmark movies, I was late making it. Since I didn't get there until everyone had eaten and voted, I had to drag home what I brought and freeze it. So now I have to eat at least one container every week to be done with it by summer.
Wingman was Type A (totally anal) in our marriage. He could move a manual sprinkler around the yard every hour to achieve a carpet-like lawn. Mine only got somewhat that way after I installed sprinklers, and only because the sprinklers went off on a timer. His garden was lush. My under-watered tomato plants were an embarrassment even to me.
So this year, like an old tee shirt my son has that says "the low man sets the bar", I'm going to do some of the many things I dream of doing that don't have hard timelines or deadlines. Things like:
See the sun set. Pretty easy to do on my way home from work. I can stop by the river and chillax after a tough day.
Watch the sun rise. This is a little harder because it means I have to get my lazy butt out of bed instead of checking social media. I did it last Sunday-took the dog with me for a long walk as well. More about that later.
Take rides to towns I've never been to before like Cape May. Smithville. Lancaster. Nothing that needs a passport. Drop in with a cake or pie or a bottle of wine and see people I only call or text. Visit local food festivals and craft fairs. More crafts? Maybe I'd better just keep driving past those.
Clean out my closet and donate things I don't wear. I can think of more than just a pair of pink jeans that need a new home. In the same respect, I'm going to dress up for no reason. What good was working in retail the last decade if I can't wear those nice things I just had to have? Pink jeans not withstanding.
Try new foods of different ethnicities. I have Italian down pat, and know my way around grilled meats. But French, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine? The worst I can say is I will never eat it again.
(with two perfect children) waiting for their ultra-successful single high school sweethearts to come back to their hometown and decide to stay? The Royal House of Windsor provides the dirt, and Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez makes me realize that all those squeaky-clean single Hallmark guys aren't half-bad after all.
Do random acts of kindness. Anything as simple as letting a stranger go in front of me at the grocery store or complementing someone who looks frazzled. I bought the cop behind me a cup of coffee at a Dunkin Donuts one Sunday. He pulled me over a couple of minutes later-just to say thanks and I spilled my coffee all over the seat of the car. Gave a new meaning to warm and fuzzy.
Walk more-by myself or with the dog because both of us can use it. And remember when I said I took him for a walk to see the sun rise? The boardwalk was a sheet of ice so we had to walk on the grass. We carefully made our way down the ramp UNTIL he got to the grass and lurched because he had to pee. My feet came out from under me and I landed flat on my back which was not how I intended to watch the sunrise. I have bruises everywhere except my butt, which I guess isn't as lazy as fat.
So maybe I should think about losing weight. No, that requires the discipline to shop and plan healthy menus. Something that, like Scarlett O'Hara said in Gone With The Wind, follows my procrastination motto:"I will think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day."
Saturday, October 19, 2019
High school wasn’t an easy transition for me. Race riots in my public high school made my parents choose to send me to the Catholic one in the next town. It was virtually impossible to break into the cliques which were largely determined by which Catholic grade school you came from or the beach club you went to every summer. I was part of the small group of misfits.
Segue back to Florida at Easter: I was absolutely miserable being with these “old” people (reference point: if I was 14, then my grandmother was 56 and her second husband was 46). A couple of days into my hell we went to visit a family from New Jersey where the dad had worked with my grandfather the year before. It turned out that one of the sons was - gasp – the quarterback of my new school’s freshman football team. For the next couple of days whenever the families got together we hung out, until the one day that he had such bad sunburn he couldn’t go outside, so I spent the day talking to his one year older brother.
Back home, I told a girl on the bus about the guys I met. She was excited to tell me that her friend was going out with the older brother. After school that day, she dragged this girl over, who, in her extreme jealousy that I was in Florida with her guy, looked like I was destined to be school bus roadkill.
And that was how my BFF and I met 50 years ago.
I will forever say that she has been a better friend to me than I’ve been to her. She’s given me some of my best life advice-even if at the time, I stubbornly refused to take it. When we were younger and single and sometimes liked the same guys, I joke that I did the “animal testing” by going out with them and saving her the aggravation. She ended up with the prize in the Cracker Jack Box-her plus one is a gem.
In a blink of an eye, we’ve celebrated 50 trips around the sun. I can’t see out parallel course changing in the future, and look forward to always laughing and celebrating with her.
Minus the Spanks and shoes that hurt our bunions. We always were, and always will be bathing suits and flip flops kind of gals.
Friday, October 11, 2019
So this is my last week before the "GOOD-GOD-HOW-DID-I-GET-TO-BE-THIS-OLD?" number. While Paul McCartney hasn't knocked on my door to sing this love ballad, it hasn't stopped me from belting out the lyrics when no one is around to laugh.
I'm older; not losing my hair but not dying it either. I've gotten the hang of using the brightening shampoo only sparingly so my hair doesn't turn a subtle shade of lavender. While mentally younger than 64, physically, the jury is still out. There are moments when I look in the mirror and the face and body that stares back at me is as frightening as Freddy Krueger. My waistline is pictured on milk cartons with the caption "Have you seen me?" And if that's not enough of a reminder that time is marching on, the new little red, white and blue card that says I'm a ward of the good old USA for basic healthcare sure does.
And I'll continue to express my point of view in my own warped musical way with my blog. While no one fills the shoes on mine forever more, I plan to spend my last week of adulthood checking off more boxes, drinking good wine, and singing a new song: “Forever Young.”
The first time I went out with Wingman, he remarked about how much I reminded him of his mother. When we finally met, I just didn't s...
Wingman use to call me many things. Obstinate. Overcritical. Certainly bitchy. I even recall on our wedding day that he called me "b...
A friend calls me pretty regularly to check in. After the usual banter back and forth about our kids and grandkids, his wife, golf games and...