Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Time Grabs You By The Wrist, Directs You Where To Go...


When I worked at Wrinkle City, I gave lectures at our sales luncheons about the wonderful quality of life one would have living there.  I would admonish everyone however, that because they would be downsizing, they couldn't move in with everything they had in their big houses. In my 12 years working there, I don't think one person ever listened to me.

Moving into my smaller townhouse, I didn't listen to me either.

It is 5 days after the move, and as of last night, I still have 34 unopened boxes in the garage. Plus, there's a patio table and six chairs that don't fit on the deck. Equipment for a wood burning fireplace-unnecessary with my gas one.  A countertop microwave when I have a built-in. Even after I purged what I thought was a tremendous amount of  furniture and furnishings, I'm drowning in stuff...

I looked for a smaller place to live for almost a full year.  At the beginning, I had lofty dreams of eat-in kitchens, cathedral ceilings, clubhouses with fitness centers and swimming pools. As the months passed and the house didn't sell for the price my realtor assured me it would, I came back to reality and assessed what I really needed-one closet big enough for my shoes and one for the vacuum cleaner. When I stressed over figuring out if I could bring a favorite piece of furniture not knowing if it would fit, people suggested "Just sell it and buy something new" as if the checkbook magically added extra zeros to my paltry paychecks.  (Here I insert my "I wish I had listened to the nuns and become a teacher so I'd be retired with a pension and not just a bunch of fashionable shoes" rant.)

Other well-intentioned people told me not to buy-just rent...well-intentioned DINKS (double income, no kids) who walk their sweater-wearing teacup dogs in baby strollers. Most rentals I looked into came with the clause that no pets were allowed, or were limited to one dog under 30 pounds. My horse of a dog eats and poops that daily.

I opened my search area, and found a cute, end-unit in a town that when I told them, some people turned their noses up. It borders a couple of towns that are being revitalized but have sketchy histories. It recently gained notoriety from an Inside Edition piece about a murder in this "sleepy little seashore town" which is OK, because the sleepy little shore town I just left was featured on a 48 Hours episode about a murder as well. Watching the newer piece, I was happy to see that the police department had compassion for everyone including the victim's dog. Anyway, all it needed was a paint job and some closet remakes.  It was owned by son #3's grade school teacher so I felt an immediate connection. And best of all, it's just a long dog walk to a beautiful beach.

This past Saturday, I took the dog for our first long walk.  Just him and I, no phone to interrupt our exploring and met a few new neighbors including two with shepherds. We got back home only to find the following scenario:  Front door: Locked, and "someone" forgot her keys.  Deck door: Locked. Basement windows: Barred and locked.  Garage Door: Only works from the outside if the interior light is left on. Kitchen window: Too high to climb into.

In a word: screwed.

I did the only thing I could think of-walked to the police station where two nice officers called my son at work and scared the Bejezus out of him: "Hi, this Officer X of the police department.  Don't be alarmed, but we have your mother and dog here." Oh to have seen my son's face when he got that call.

At least the dog was well behaved-he must have remembered how the officers treated the pup in the TV murder show. And one of them was my attorney's secretary's son and he already knew about me.  The Village Idiot was welcomed to the neighborhood.

Last week, I vowed not to buy anything new for this place until I Marie Kondo'd the condo clutter. This week, I bought house keys for everyone who won't get annoyed if I do it again.  Because I'm afraid if I do and need the police again, they're going to suggest that I move to a nice safe place like Wrinkle City.

And I can't face downsizing again.

Monday, March 18, 2019

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, If It's The Last Thing We Ever Do


When I babysit my grandkids, they love to be read to before nap time, and they usually bring out the biggest books in the pile.  One of the most beautifully illustrated is a book of fairy tales which I always enjoy reading plus oohing and aahing over the pictures.

All except Hansel and Gretel.  I hate that story. Because while I'm waiting on my condo to close, I'm living the "fattening up the kids" part with my mother. In just six short weeks I've put on five pounds.  That's all I'm admitting to and the scale will never tell it's version of the truth.

I'm not saying that my mother is a mean old witch by any means.  She is everyone's idea of the perfect grandma. She's gone to every game of every sport for all eight grandkids for almost 30 years. She's babysat, done homework with (and yes, even spanked them when they needed it).  She brings her homemade chocolate chip cookies everywhere she goes. She goes down in the books with the story that when son #2 wanted lasagna as a kid, he called grandma, and she made it-just for him.  She gives the rest of us a bad name.

No, she's not a witch but my mother has never met a carb she doesn't like. The night of the move, I got to her house where she had a wonderful dinner waiting: Roast chicken, roasted potatoes, corn, lima beans and garlic bread.  The two vegetables were higher in carbs than the potatoes. And every night that she's cooked, there have always been a plethora of starches:  Mac and cheese, stuffed pork chops with stuffing on the side, baked ziti. Did I mention that she's a Type 2 diabetic, and is also feeding my Type 1 son? Pass the gravy and the insulin, please.
The snack closet is filled with potato and corn chips, and cake and brownie mixes. The freezer is stacked with a vast assortment of ice cream. But she only bought them when they were on sale, she insisted. And we only eat them on day that end in "Y".
 

At breakfast, there is always that damn Entenmann's Crumb Cake on the table, joined by a box of donuts and Thomas' English Muffins.  My Special K with fruit was sniffed at, and the morning I made egg whites with spinach, she created a little castle wall around her plate with the boxes, lest something healthy get too close. But those donuts, those powdered sugar donuts...like white crack. Even when I finished my egg whites, I found myself drawn to taking one. They're irresistible, and keep calling my name, and just like Michael Corleone said in Godfather Part III:



For the past week, Mom has been down in Florida, and I've been able to eat more of what my son's GF who's a nutritionist tells me to eat.  Sweet potato toast with avocado, bone broth soup, plain egg omelets and salads.  Between eating better and taking the dog for longer walks on the warmer days and nights, I should be able to knock off that extra five and a few more before the two-wedding weekend in the fall.

And when I move, I'll miss Mom even though I'll only be 20 minutes away.  Maybe not her retelling every episode of Everyone Loves Raymond, or what Judge Judy ruled in every case.
 
 
But I will miss those high calorie, home-cooked meals every night.  And the powdered sugar donuts every morning most of all.
 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Good Luck Movin' On 'Cause I'm Movin' Out




According to Science Daily, the average time from ovulation to giving birth is 268 days. According to MLS, the time between the day I listed my home, sold it and moved out was 6 days short of that at 262 days. Unlike any of my pregnancies, there was nothing “magical” or exciting about trying to keep the house clean and look like I didn't live there with an adult son with allergies to vacuum cleaners and a big old hairy dog. Having the home inspection was similar to the unfounded fears in amniocentesis and praying the buyers didn't find anything majorly wrong. And just like a woman whose water breaks unexpectedly in the grocery store and goes into quick labor, I got a call that the buyers wanted to close in just two short weeks after waiting 5 months for them to get a contract. Delivering my 10 pound, 12 ounce second son without an epidural was less painful.

Speaking of the dreaded home inspection, the house IS 40 years old. I didn't appreciate the 20 page report with the "problems" they wanted fixed. You don't like that the garage door opener runs on an extension cord? It works, doesn't it?  You want me to replace the entire Master Bathroom shower because there are a couple of chips on the floor from slippery shampoo bottles? A bottle of epoxy paint fixed them right up. You worry that your kid's head will go through the living room railings that have been there since the house was built (and that at least 3 other families have lived through)? Teach your kid not to put her head there. Because if my guys couldn't or didn't do it, trust me-yours can’t either.  In the end, I gave them the washer & dryer in exchange for replacing two fogged windows and cash for the unknown lump under wall to wall carpeting in a bedroom. (I saw the lump-it was worth paying them).

Wingman was so much better organizing our moves than I was with this one, of course, not without his much-loved George Carlin's "seven-words-you-can't say-on-TV-but-are-perfectly-acceptable-to-use-when-moving". He got the mortgages, the movers, threw out the stuff he didn’t think we needed, boxed the rest and left me to take care of the boys.  This process has been so different.  I had to qualify for my own mortgage. Find my own mover.  Box everything-including a bunch of stuff that I know I will probably never use again. Do it without the seven words (but with a few tears). It might have been worth it to enter the witness protection program just to have get some extra help to get me out in a hurry.

A week before the closing, the buyer called, begging me to let them move-in yet an additional day early, since it would cost them a lot of money to store their belongings.  Wingman would have told them to pound salt in a George Carlin-esque way, but being the almost total wuss that I am, I conceded. I instructed my attorney to schedule the closing for the end of the day (like 5:00) to give me the maximum time to get out. As I was to find out, he obeyed me like my dog and my kids. On closing day, my extremely efficient movers showed up at 9:00 and had the truck loaded with everything going to storage by 1:00. I still had a couple of hours of work to do including emptying the fridge & freezer and doing general cleaning. To my surprise, at 2:00, their movers showed up, and my son, a prodigy of his father, not-so-politely told them it was still our house and where to go. At 3:00, the buyer's mother showed up and tsk-tsk'ed me for not having the refrigerator cleaned out yet. I handed her a sponge and bucket and said "start washing." At 4:00, an email was sent to my phone notifying me that the closing ended at 3:00 and I had to vacate the premises immediately. (I'm not sure if it was the buyers or the attorneys who ignored me. Probably both.) Fortunately, I couldn't find my phone so I never saw it until I left at 5:00.  Wingman and George must have been looking down (or up) and were both using all seven words as the day progressed. 

The house is now someone else's problem, be it with nor'easters, frozen pipes or clogged toilets. Wingman would be heartbroken because he really liked that house and loved his perfectly mowed grass, his flowers, his vegetable gardens.  So I left him there in the yard.  Well, a little of him anyway. Right under the only tree in the yard that survived Sandy. The one that he planted himself. The one he never used the seven words on.


Monday, December 31, 2018

And So This Is Christmas, And What Have You Done?

This year, I overcame my compulsion to create the “perfect” Christmas. For too many years, I over-bought, over-wrapped, over-decorated and over-everything-ed, attempting to over-compensate for Wingman’s dislike of my Uber-Christmases and his drinking. Every year we were like two speeding Polar Express freight trains heading towards each other with the same disastrous results.

There was a one year reprieve in 2012 with Wingman’s death and Superstorm Sandy hitting right before Christmas. But going back home in 2013 allowed me to add something new to my holiday mix: guilt. My sons now had NO father rather than an alcoholic one, and I reverted to over-buying /wrapping /decorating /cooking/etc. And I was frustrated when these kids didn’t seem to appreciate my efforts. An old client from our deli/catering days suggested that I put some of my energy to better use volunteering with her and her husband, but I declined: some of our ex-friends were very involved in their group and it was still too painful to see them. I know...wah-wah boo hoo. I needed to get over myself.

The economic climate of retail in 2017 was so bad for mall stores that I feared that mine wasn't going to survive, which would probably mean unemployment again. I was in a rut personally and professionally, so I looked up that old client and asked how to join that volunteer group. I spent my first nights taping pump bottles of lotions and packing them back in boxes so they wouldn’t leak. Having never worked on an assembly line before, I figured if nothing else, I could spin it somehow to use in my resume.

This group only allowed three first year volunteers to work each entertainment event, and I was eager to start. On my first bus trip (to a center in south Jersey for developmentally disabled adults) I was given bus protocol: the musicians sat in the back of the bus and volunteers sat up front. Volunteers would be carting the food, the props and the cases of duffel bags filled with sweatshirts, socks and personal hygiene products for the people they served. Musicians would carry their instruments...like drumsticks.  And microphones. Oh, and the leader was quick to tell me that musicians didn’t talk to volunteers...all except one-a nice guy who actually treated the volunteers like we were valued. The leader said she would be happy to introduce me to that guy as he was a personal friend of hers. More about that later.

The events were a blast. To see adults get excited about The Grinch, or Santa was joyful. To dance and spin children in their wheelchairs was heartwarming. But I was also totally ignored by a guy who use to be part of my posse...and well, that still sucked.

The last event I worked in 2017 was actually seven shows in a row for developmentally disabled children, teens and adults, We were all in the school’s kitchen when “that nice guy” walked in. It was like seeing Norm in Cheers-everyone called for him and he knew everyone’s name. When he saw me, he came over and gave me a big hug. There was an audible gasp from the above leader who asked how I knew him. I replied “Him?  He was in my wedding. And once set my hair on fire.” Score one for the new kid-no introduction needed.

This year gave me the opportunity to volunteer every weekend in November and December. My favorite places were veteran’s homes where the residents ranged from WWll seniors to Afghanistan vets suffering from PTSD. I met a 95 year old guy named George who was in the invasion at Normandy and was the spitting image of my dad. I made him promise to be there when I come back next year. Then there was Lee, the Vietnam double amputee with the great wheelchair dance moves.  We danced to “My Girl” and he said it was the first time in a long time he was out on the dance floor. Bobby was a two time Bronze Star winner who couldn’t look anyone in the face and missed his wife. Miguel was training his Malinois to be his service dog after attempting suicide. I realize now just how much we owe our veterans, and how little they really get from our government.

I also liked an event for drug and alcohol rehab residents. I “adopted” a table of guys who were mostly from Philly and south Jersey. While learning about them, one guy told me that he has nine children. I asked him if I could give him some motherly advice, and he agreed.  They all listened intently as I leaned in and said “put that thing in your pants AND KEEP IT THERE". The rest of the guys cackled, and called me Mom the rest of the day.

That was also the first time I dressed as a character. I discovered my inner ham as The Grinch, Frosty and Rudolph. At one event, I appeared as Elmo to my former neighbor’s Cookie Monster. We only had one song for me to quickly become Frosty to his Grinch. As we ran to the side stage he said “I’ll undress you first and then you undress me”. I stopped dead in my tracks and said “The last time someone said that to me was a long time ago and alcohol was involved”. Silly fun.

And now it’s over for the year. I will miss volunteers like Mary, who adored children and who I greatly admire for going to Haitian orphanages every January if just to hug the babies. Rocky, with her cool demeanor even when things go wrong (like me dropping a box of 10 dozen dinner rolls). Rene with her crazy costume and delicious brownies. And another Mary, who played the lead as Catherine in Phantom on Broadway, sang sweetly and never missed an opportunity to hug every dirty, smelly homeless person she met. I will laugh, remembering  the little power struggles I witnessed, glad to be “just a volunteer". I learned that musicians DO help with carting and serving...especially when the founder is leading the band. And I will miss the Christmas songs that still make me smile.

The thing that makes me happiest though, is that my oldest son, seeing me tired but happy after long trips said that he would like to volunteer next year.

Tonight, I feel like celebrating New Years for the first time in quite a few years. A friend is having a party for misfits, and I’m so glad to be invited.  Because, like the groups’s opening and closing song “Nobody Ought To Be Alone On Christmas.”

Which goes double for New Years Eve.

Cheers to a great 2019.



Me and my favorite Santa.
 
 
Me as Rudolph.  The most difficult costume to see out of-The eye holes are too high and the mouth is too low.
 
 
Reconnecting with an old friend who knows that face painting isn't my strongest suit.
 
 
Dancing with a homeless Navy vet who got a hot meal, a warm coat and a little fun.
 
 
 
With another neighbor who volunteers. She face painted-I served hot dogs.
 

 






Tuesday, October 16, 2018

You Just Keep Me Hanging On

One evening last week, I was working the phone like my job was in a call center: stressful and with frustrating results.  The buyer of my house was begging for ANOTHER extension since he hadn’t sold his townhouse. My realtor was insisting that we squash the deal and let him find me a “real” buyer-something that he hadn’t produced in the previous five months. I was trying to juggle meeting up with a friend who simultaneously was trying to juggle a mandatory visit to an in-law in the hospital. A lot of talk with no action.

That night, I had a dream about Wingman which shocked me because I don’t recall having even one dream about him since he died. In it, we were on a cruise ship which was apropos, since he said, after our only cruise together, that the next one would be “over his dead body”.

The ship was at port, but the sea was rough, and water was breaking over the bow. A large wave swept me into white water on the deck. Suddenly, a hand grabbed my wrist, and wouldn’t let go. I was tossed around under the water but because of the grip, I couldn’t right myself dammit. As the water subsided, I looked at the person who grabbed my hand to yell at him for almost drowning me. I couldn’t see the face, but the voice was definitely Wingman’s. The body however, with the six-pack abs certainly was NOT. I gasped out loud and sat bolt upright in bed. If not Wingman, who the hell was it? And why didn’t I thank him for trying to save me?

Hello 4:17 AM. Welcome to my panic attack.

I asked Google, or “G”, my know-it-all husband of sorts what the dream represented. Drowning? Being overwhelmed. The hand holding? Loneliness. And the six-pack abs? My inner desire of how I want to see myself.

Yes, I know, time to go back to the gym.

I’m suffering with the paralysis of analysis right now. I want to move, but can’t because my buyer can’t sell. Because of that, I can’t get motivated to pack. I won’t relist the house because it will require me to live like a guest in my own home-again. I want to join a gym, and know I SHOULD. But I know me and if I really do move, I know that I won’t go which is a waste of money that I don’t have because I CANT SELL THIS STUPID HOUSE. I lay in bed flipping between apps like Redfin looking at townhouses I can’t have and Our Time, looking at men I don’t want.

Truth be told, I’ve been working myself up into a mental frenzy about a year from now when I have two weddings on the same weekend. Both are the daughters of dear friends and I couldn’t be happier for them. But after feeling totally alone at a wedding a couple of years ago, it took jumping out of an airplane for me to regain my sense of worth. To be dateless at two? It may require being ejected from a fighter jet to get over that. There is however. one happy thought I'm holding onto: I may not have a dance partner, but there also will be no one to tell me that I can’t have a second piece of wedding cake. Two days in a row.

Then I’ll think about that gym membership. For real.







Sunday, September 23, 2018

Like Painted Kites, Those Days and Nights, They Went Flyin' By

Just call me Rip Van Widow. I went to bed on the last night of spring, and woke up on the first day of fall.  WHAT HAPPENED TO SUMMER??? More importantly, why does summer seem to get shorter every year?

Many years and a lifetime ago with three ridiculously active sons, I spent all of my days off between June and August either at a baseball field or on the beach.  It was infinitely satisfying sitting doing absolutely nothing except the NY Times Sunday Crossword (in pen) while enjoying a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich along with a cup of coffee. The only way I knew where I was headed, was by what I wore. A tank top was important in keeping my tan lines in check, but wearing a bathing suit to a baseball game would have embarrassed the hell out of my sons.

Watching baseball games with Wingman was fine, but going to the beach with him was not. While the boys took all of about 10 seconds to scatter like cockroaches from the horrors of being associated with us, going with Wingman was akin to the hassle of bringing a baby: he needed a regular lounge chair with an umbrella, a blanket, radio, food, drink, sunscreen AND something to do. When he was bored, he wanted me to put down my book and talk to him. He wanted me-a non ocean person-to go in the water when HE was hot. Eventually he made us all happier when he chose to just stay home and watch the Yankees on TV.

Being on my own these past six years, I've tried to make summers different from the ones before Wingman died. The first was my “Karma” year volunteering with the YMCA to build a playground and again with another group, helping special needs kids enjoy the beach. The second was a feeble attempt to rework Wingman's yard. I've been to Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, circuses and fairs. No, I didn't get arrested for scattering Wingman's ashes in Monument Park, and yes, the circus protesters did, trying to free the elephants.

This year, I wanted a summer to remember so I made a Bucket List of everything I wanted to do and everywhere I wanted to go. I surprised myself with how much I really did,  and as it turns out, some of the most simple were the most memorable like blueberry picking with my grandkids and seeing their joy in bringing that $40 almost full PINT (after spending $14 per person to get in, the bushes were mostly picked clean) home to their parents. Or saying "On your mark, get set...GO!" and jumping off the platform over and over again at the lake with my grandson.

I saw Broadway shows and rock concerts, heard bands at bars and went to a couple of barbecues. There were the predictable sunsets to see, beach with the BFF, and an almost annual tradition of going to Saratoga race track with son #3. I made a point to go to places that Wingman HATED like the crowded July 4th fireworks, firemen's fairs and even a mermaid parade.

There was also the unexpected that was added to, but not intended to be on my list: my car breaking down while I watched dozens of hot air balloons ascend at sunrise. It took 5 hours to get towed 50 miles only to have to lease a brand new car a couple of days later. (I was pretty proud of myself with that deal.  The salesman said that I was scary-good at negotiating.) Oh yeah, and that broken filling which led to a crown which led to a root canal...

And now, its fall and everyone's starfish and mermaids have morphed into pumpkins.  The shelves in the grocery store are filled not only with Halloween candy but some marketing idiot's idea that pumpkin Cheerios, pumpkin Oreos and even pumpkin pie Pop Tarts are a good idea. I'm ready to close my eyes again and wake up on Christmas Eve.

But first, I have a new Bucket List for fall.  One that's already started with a high school football game, and a trip to Yankee Stadium, and includes a street fair, a couple of concerts (including one on my birthday seeing The Boss) and going to Florida with the BFF.  I have question marks next to places like a Lantern Festival, Sleepy Hollow at Halloween, and oh yes, moving-a task not yet complete from my summer list.  If it doesn't happen real soon, the item "visit a jail or penitentiary" will get a check mark, because I will put a beating on someone.

I  read somewhere that if you make friends with yourself, you might be alone, but you will never be lonely. The voices in my head at 2 AM most nights can attest to that. Being alone means that I'm the lead dog and can do just about anything new and exciting I find, which is great, because, as they sang in "Bye Bye Birdie": "I've got a lot of living to do".

I just wish I was doing it IN THE SUMMER.


                              

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Cause You Had A Bad Day, You're Taking One Down, You Sing a Sad Song Just To Turn It Around

Thanks to social media, I'm able to remember all of the happy moments I've shared to prove to mostly total strangers how wonderful my life is.  Today, I had what started out to be one of those days, a day that I was happy to share worldwide...followed with another of those events that I blog about.  And for some reason, Social Media reminded me that today, July 29th, has historically not been a date that I want to remember.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

For The First Time In History, It's Gonna Start Raining Men

There is an old saying about how things happen in threes.  With Wingman dying, my house flooding and losing my job-all in three months, you'd think that I would have been happy with just the 2012 version "Been There, Done That" tee shirt and given myself a pass.  But no, this year-with losing my job and putting the house on the market, I wanted another three-peat.

Because I was going to dump a man.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fathers Be Good To Your Daughters. Daughters Will Love Like You Do

Of all the Hallmark holidays, Father’s Day doesn’t cost me a dime. No grandfathers, godfather or father-in-law. For the past seven years, not even the father-of-my-children which saves me money not having to buy ugly tank tops and Yankees shirts for the boys to excitedly give him. Father’s Day use to be a testosterone filled, toilet seat in the vertical position, who-is-playing-on-what-field day. It’s anything but that now.

Four years ago, my dad died.  It wasn't totally unexpected.  He had been sick on and off for about a year, with the doctors misdiagnosing his pulmonary fibrosis.  He died three days after Wingman's birthday, and I literally WILLED him to stay alive at least a day past that so I wouldn't be forced to say "Yep, today is Wingman's birthday and the day Dad died.” It may not have been as much my will as his final wish to see his great granddaughter one more time before he died. I guess I know where I get my stubbornness from.

My dad dropped out of high school to join the Navy in World War ll.  His mother wouldn’t give him permission to enlist, so his older sister signed his papers. He was a skinny kid who was too light to load the big guns on a ship, so he became a radioman. When he got out, his family had moved to a different state and he started over, working for no pay in his parents’ grocery store. When he started dating my mom, he had to ask his mom for money to go out with her.


At some point, he stopped working for his parents and became a bricklayer. He wore flannel shirts and white undershirts and the same khaki work pants day after day, year after year, that he would take off at the back door before coming into the house. When I was in high school, he worked on converting a garage in the school parking lot to a building for athletes. He drove me in his white Jeep Wrangler-the consolation prize for stupidly co-signing a loan for his brother who couldn’t pay for it.  I don't recall any conversations, but I'm sure I probably talked enough to make his ears bleed. Usually after work he would head next door to the local bar, and have a couple of beers with his friends. If you’ve ever watched the Springsteen Broadway show, when he talks about his dad sitting at the bar is spot-on with what I remember of mine.

Dad was a quiet guy.  No drama, never an angry outburst and as kids, we knew that we could get away with stuff with dad without punishment.  He would threaten to take off his belt and we would just laugh-unlike the smack down mom was known to give. The only time I ever saw him TRULY angry was when First Love threatened to kill my BFF and I . He went with me to the police station, and the Sargent wouldn’t/couldn’t believe that a nice kid could be violent. My dad got right up in his face and threatened him saying that if anything happened to me, he would come and do the same to him. Fiercely protective as only a dad could be.

Dad didn't have any real hobbies but he loved horse racing which sometimes got him into trouble. One Friday when he went to the track and didn't come home on time for dinner, my mother dropped a pot of steamers in front of him on the floor.  Fortunately, they literally came up out of the pot and went right back in without spilling a drop.  His brother owned a couple of horses and somehow, my dad bought one too. I made his silks using the star pattern from my company's Performa for the design. One day, he called me at college to say that Lindy was running. I skipped school, took a bus to Jersey and we drove to the track in Cherry Hill. Even though Shining Lindy didn’t win, it was one of my favorite days with my dad. (and mom never knew.)

In his later years, he became obsessed with watching every World War ll documentary he could find on TV.  His best friend survived the sinking of the Juneau (the ship that the five Sullivan brothers perished on), and they spent every Memorial and Veteran's Day together.  Today, I meet his friend's son at those events, honoring them and their service.

We laugh that when picking out their mausoleum crypt, he picked one high enough and close enough that he could hear the race calls at the nearby track. Today, I'll go over, knock on the front of the crypt and to say hello to the man of few words.  And then head over to the track to place a bet on any horse with a name like Lindy or a jockey wearing silks with stars.

Because that's where my dad would want to be today.  And where it makes me smile to remember the great dad he was.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Love and Marriage, Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage


The Royal wedding is over. The royal horse manure has been picked up, the fascinators are back in their boxes and even Joss Stone, who sang at the royal after-party, is back in NJ with my brother rewiring her house. I’ll admit that I got caught up, along with about 1 in every 10 people in America. Today, on the eve of my anniversary, it's hard not to think about the glaring contrasts between the that and my own wedding, and even some of the others I've been a part of.

First of all, they got picture perfect weather while I married Wingman in a Nor'Easter which flooded the entire Jersey Shore peninsula. I sloshed down the aisle after my train fell in a puddle outside the church-no cute, toothless pages to carry it in. The flooding meant that people just couldn't show up to our $35 per person (including $2.00 extra for shrimp cocktail) beach reception, which certainly wasn't the case at the $45 million British bash.  I'll bet the royal guests would have paddled their own canoes to the castle if they had to. At the end of the night, Wingman's Best Man's uninvited quasi-girlfriend (a girl who yes, just showed up-good thing we had empty seats) took the top tier of my cake as well as the dorky dove topper-both which were never seen again. By the looks of Royal Best Man William's slim bride Kate, I doubt she even had a piece of the lemon elderberry cake, much less stole a whole layer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

She’s Leaving Home After Living Alone For So Many Years

Wingman was a partner in an up-and-coming Dotcom company which was eventually bought out by a much larger Dotcom company. The owner got cash for his shares of stock while all the limited partners got was their stock transferred to the new company. When the owner bought a big, beautiful  home, Wingman wanted a bigger home too. We argued about selling our little ranch-after all, in just a couple of years, the boys would be starting college (think tuition) and moving on. And where would we get the money for that bigger mortgage? Wingman rationed that once he could sell his stock, we'd be fine. Very reluctantly, I agreed to buy the home I live in now.

One week before we closed, Wingman lost his job.

A month later, a tree in the front yard keeled over, hit the house and broke the front door.

Two months later, the Dotcom bubble burst, and the stock we owned wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Boy, did I hate that house then.

Time Grabs You By The Wrist, Directs You Where To Go...

When I worked at Wrinkle City , I gave lectures at our sales luncheons about the wonderful quality of life one would have living there....