What was I thinking?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How American Are You? and What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Stolen shamelessly from Sandra's blog:

You Are 62% American

Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

OK, not what I DID on my summer vacation, but what I'm going to do between tomorrow and July 17th when I don't have to work (for 18 days!).

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1. Sleep in

2. Wear a bra ONLY if I have to go out in public.

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3. Sit on patio, sipping coffee, enjoying the outdoors and our gardens, and asking each other "What should we do today?"

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4. Celebrate two anniversaries on July 5th -- Vermont Civil Union 5th anniverdary and Niagara Falls, Canada marriage second anniversary.

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5. Go to Gay Pride parade and Cultural Festival on the 9th.

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6. NOT check my voice mail or email from work.

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7. Think about going to Renaissance Festival, maybe even go.

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8. Go camping for a few days -- location unknown at present time.

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9. Knit

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10. Have quiet, intimate, private time with my Lisa.

I guess that just about covers it. I may or may not pop in from time to time and update this sucker, but don't hold your breath.

Oh, and, for your amusement, you might want to try this "Who said it -- Coulter or Hitler" quiz.

Have a great holiday weekend!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Recap of June

Now that the emotional aspect of June is for all intents and purposes over, I can sit down and breathe for just a little bit.

June 1st was supposed to see us in a courtroom, listening to arguments on our civil lawsuit. That morning, a continuance was granted to the other side. This is becoming habit for them, waiting until the eleventh hour then getting a continuance. This process started in mid-March of 2004, more than 2 years ago.

I didn't post a birthday wish to Linda, my middle child. She turned 27 on the 5th. She lives out in Colorado with her husband and son, and is due to have their second son in September. Linda and I are a bit estranged, although not completely. She thinks I didn't do enough for her when she was younger. Of course she had a car, cell phone, independence, a decent home, decent clothes, a job, food, and a mother who desperately WANTED a decent relationship with her. As time goes by, and as her own children grow, perhaps she'll figure it out.

The 6th was my brother's birthday. He turned 52 but, like my father, looks 20 years older than his biological age. He smokes heavily, now has diabetes and emphysema, and has the IRS taking all but $100 per week out of his pay. After his wife died almost 3 years ago, he let the house go into foreclosure. He still carries an awful lot of baggage from the abuse of our childhood. He always believed everything that came out of Mom's mouth and, when she insisted that we'd never amount to anything, it appears that he accepted that as gospel.

The 6th also brought sentencing for my father. A confusing jumble of emotions for everyone there.

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The 7th was my nephew's 30th birthday. The first grandchild, Bobby was my brother's only offspring (although he had 4 stepchildren and their children call him "Papa"). Bobby was a troubled youth, growing up amidst the violence his father inherited and, at the age of 15, pretty much was done with school. He's a handsome young man, with the "Murphy curse" of early male pattern baldness. He spent some time in the county lock-up for throwing a destructive tantrum in the emergency room. After his mother died, he swore he'd never touch alcohol again and, for a while, he did pretty good. He married, had a little girl, divorced, and is now re-married with one step-son and 2 children of his own. He doesn't see his oldest daughter. He was fiercely loyal to my father as long as he thought he was going to get one of my father's vehicles. Once that vehicle was sold, Bobby's loyalty went with it. It was his wife that signed the complaint that put my father in the county lockup for violating the protective order. Truth or payback? We'll never know, I suppose.

The 10th is/was my ex-husband's birthday. He turned 53 and, according to his wife, is in poor health and in need of retirement. He can't retire until he pays off the child support arrears (only $3500). Somehow I have a hard time dredging up the sincerity for sympathy for him. He was sick of being broke, having to pay $500 per month in support. I was sick of never having enough money to pay the bills to support 3 kids, and raising the 3 kids alone. Poor little putz.

The 19th was my oldest daughter, Michelle's birthday. She and her husband will be separating -- something that shocked everyone. Hopefully they'll work through it and get back together.

The 22nd was our "Town Meeting" with the ACLU/NYCLU entitled "A Night With Local Heroes." It was a panel style format with clients for their three biggest cases on the panel. Besides me there was a young femal artist that had a freedom of expression issue, and two young high school boys with a freedom of speech issue. The artist hasn't filed suit and is still working through some issues with the town she's having problems with. Folks there have spit on her and issued death threats -- she says they're VFW members. Vets. The young men have taken their experiences and worked with them and have become active members of their student government, one becoming president. Their council has grown from a 5 member "prom committee" (as one put it) to 30 members working toward making their school and community a better place. Of course, our case is the lawsuit against my employer for recognition of our marriage so that we can have spousal benefits. Here's a copy of my intro speech:

Good Evening and thank you for having me here tonight.

Once upon a time, I used to be one of those people you see a lot of. You know the type. They sit around and complain to friends, family and co-workers about what they think is wrong in the world, but never really doing anything about it but complain.

As I got older, I realized that it did me no good to complain to my friends, family and co-workers because they couldn’t do anything about what was wrong. I began to understand that complaints should be made, not to people who care enough about you to not tell you to quit your complaining because they’re sick of it, but to people who could actually DO something about what was wrong.

I have worked at Monroe Community College for a little over twelve years now.

On July 5, 2001 my spouse and I entered into a Civil Union through the state of Vermont. A year and a half later, in late 2003, her employer announced that they would no longer be paying full health benefits, and that the employees would have to start paying for half of their benefit.

I asked HR if the college provided Domestic Partner benefits at the time and was told they did not.

In the year that followed, San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Two weeks later, New Paltz Mayor Jason West performed same sex marriages on the front steps of the village offices, explaining that it was his duty as an elected official to honor the rights of all of his constituents.

A week after Mayor West performed these marriages, New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer issued an informal opinion which basically said that any legal unions entered into outside of New York State jurisdiction would surely have to be recognized, under the law, in New York State.

We got on the waiting list to be married at New Paltz and, on March 13th we were married by Unitarian Universalist Minister Marion B. Visel in New Paltz. Upon our return from New Paltz, I approached HR for spousal benefits and was unceremoniously turned down. It was then that I decided to contact the ACLU for information on whether my circumstances would be of interest to them.

In the meantime, on May 17th of 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legally allow same-sex couples to marry. However, Governor Mitt Romney invoked a long forgotten and rarely enforced law enacted in 1913 that would prohibit marriage of out-of-staters if that marriage was illegal in the parties’ home state.

Knowing that our New Paltz marriage was shrouded in a cloud of legal ambiguity, we longed for marriage that would be legally uncontestable. While we had an eye toward Massachusetts, we also began to look north. Eventually, we decided that going to Massachusetts could very well end up with us adding just one more legally “iffy” marriage to our growing collection, so we decided on Canada. We were married on July 5th of 2004.

Armed with my legal marriage certificate and record of solemnization, I approached HR once again, and was once more turned down.

Lisa and I did not want to be trailblazers. As she half-jokingly said one night, “I don’t want to end up on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.” I assured her that wouldn’t happen, as Rather was retiring. Through many discussions, we began to realize that we cannot sit back and wait for others to carve a path for us, if we wanted recognition of our marriage, and if we wanted all the rights that go with marriage. We would have to carve our own path and, in doing so, hopefully leave behind us an unobstructed road to the simple rights that all should enjoy – a road for others to follow.

We’re not heroes, contrary to how Barb DeLeeuw paints us. We are simply two people who loved each other enough to make a lifelong commitment to each other, not unlike any heterosexual couple out there. And, with that commitment, we assumed the responsibilities of marriage. But how can anyone sit back and expect a citizen of this country to fulfill their equal responsibilities, if they cannot have equal rights?

The true heroes in our eyes are people like Mayors Gavin Newsom and Jason West. Clergymembers who risked their legal freedom like Marion Visel. Public servants like Elliot Spitzer. Attorneys like Jeffrey Wicks. Organizations such as the ACLU, HRC, and Lambda Legal.

And to all of those heroes, thank you once again for your collective work on our behalf.

It was an interesting evening, and very heartening to see the support we have from people of all walks. There were a lot of "old" folks in there. Retired military. Christians/Catholics. Politicians. Lawyers. School teachers. Young and old. After the panel discussion, we were approached by many members of the audience and congratulated. We were offered words of support and good wishes by everyone we talked to. It was a bit overwhelming, to be honest with you. It makes me feel like there IS hope for mankind.

Today, I'm practicing "avoidance." I just had to take some time off to just sit and handle all the phone calls and crap for my father. Two bank accounts overdrawn, one for $600 and one for $500, an outstanding DishNetwork bill for $200, an outstanding HFC debt for $700, court fees and legal fines for $1400, $400 in arrears on his storage unit, a vehicle I can't seem to sell, and a letter every day from him begging for money for the commissary there. I sent him one money order for $300 and it arrived at the county jail the day he was transferred to the state intake facility. They claim the mail was returned, but I've not seen hide nor hair of it in the 13 days since the transfer. I have ascertained, as of yesterday, that the money order hasn't been cashed, so now I have to track that as well.

We have a Silpada Designs party this evening at 6:00. Lisa bought me two beautiful necklaces from there for Christmas, and I just love them (it's all sterling silver, my fave). An old employer/friend of mine is giving it, and she loaned us the walker for my father at Christmas time after his stroke, and she allows us to store our antique truck in her barn for free. Of course we're going! LOL!

Tomorrow, as part of our ongoing C.E.R.T. certifications, we're scheduled for Hepatitis B shots, the first in a series of 3. Based on my reading, there are hardly any troublesome side-effects, although it does indicate that it could be less effective in people over 50 (that's me).

Now it's time for us. After Thursday of this week, I'm off until July 17th. Lisa is off with me, only she has to work this Friday. We've got nothing specific planned, other than sleeping in, and maybe getting some putzing done around the house, at our own pace. Perhaps a day trip here, a 2 or 3 day camping trip there, but for the most part, we're not holding ourselves down to any schedules. I may work a bit on The Chronicles of Yawnia and sit and knit a lot, but other than that, I don't plan to do anything extensive other than to give my brain, my emotions and our marriage a much needed rest.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Joe!

Whatever happened to my little boy?

I remember telling the doctor, as you were being born "He'd better be cute!" because you laid on my sciatic nerve the last two weeks of my pregnancy, and I was in excruciating pain throughout most of that time.

But you had a better plan. You were born with the cord wrapped around your neck and were blue. When they finally revived you, your cry sounded more like a calf than a human baby, it was so low and gravelly. I guess you figured if I felt sorry for you, I'd stop being mad at you. You were right!

I can't count the number of times we watched The Karate Kid and Beetlejuice. Every little thing about you made me laugh, making it impossible to be stern or angry with you for those little things that children do that sometimes frazzle even the best of Moms. I was just highly amused with your little boy ways, which caused some problems with your sisters from time to time.

Our last week in Hawaii, after the girls went to bed, I'd take you out to the sea wall that separated our temporary housing cabin from the beach, and we'd sit and watch the waves come in, wrapped in a blanket, and you'd sing "Say you, say me" to me. No star in the sky was brighter than yours that night.

You excelled academically and, even as you got older, you still constantly made me laugh. We were the best of friends, you and I. Our common love for video games saw us sitting Indian style in front of the television more often than I should have been there. With you, I always took the mindset "When he's older, he'll remember the time I spent with him and he'll never remember how clean or dirty the house was." It became our tradition, the day after Christmas, to sit in our pajamas, playing video games the entire day. I can't count the times during those sessions that you made me laugh to the point where I literally hurt. God I loved being with you!

We went to your sister's cheerleading competitions and basketball games and football games and you were always one of her biggest fans. When you began playing football yourself, I marveled at how respected you were by your teammates and coaches, given how small you were compared to your peers.

The single most thing that stands out in my mind, as you were growing up, is that you seemed to learn from your sisters' mistakes and, while I fussed at you from time to time, that was about all I ever really needed to do. But, beyond being well behaved and a bit of a corker, you became a gentle, kind spirit with a marvelous sense of humor, a razor sharp wit, and your very own person. But more than anything else, you were always someone that I could have a conversation with -- about anything. You were my best friend.

How does one get so lucky as to have a boy who never asks "Why do *I* have to take out the garbage," or whined "I don't want to help clean the garage." You always just DID things. Even now when I ask you to do things, you just cheerfully say "Okay" and do it.

I quit smoking when you were 15. The single biggest factor behind my success was you -- at my side through all of the physical projects I kept finding for us to do while I got over those humps. Every single day, without fail, you asked me how I did. I couldn't have done it, honestly, without your support.

When you were 17, I told you about myself, knowing that if I still had your love and support, I didn't really much care about the rest of the world. Later that year, when Lisa moved in, you just seemed to assimilate all of these changes effortlessly. When you got your license you were gone a lot more, perhaps knowing that I wouldn't be lonely now, since I had Lisa in my life.

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Your 21st birthday hit me hard. But because of the nature of your personality I got through it pretty well. Why? Because you never make me worry about you. You make good choices. (OK, you have a bit of a lead foot, but besides that....) And, of course, the deposit you left on the driveway that night helped seal the driveway.

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Two weeks later, as my longest and best friend, you stood up for me when Lisa and I got married. I often look at this picture and think about how much it shows that I'm so proud of you, and how much I adore you.

I often long for the little boy who was my best friend, but I am so fiercely proud of the man that you've become. And while we no longer spend the same kind of time together, my love and respect for you has not diminished one bit.

You are still the brightest star in my sky.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I'm done here in about 3 hours for the week.

I'm taking tomorrow off for some prep work I need to do (along with some errands) before the ACLU/NYCLU/GVCLU annual "Town Meeting" tomorrow night. Barb DeLeeuw (the executive director of the local chapter) has invited Lisa and I , and a couple of other folks along for a panel discussion of our cases, and what they mean to others like us.

I worked all week on a general statement (they want me to say a few words first) thanking them for their help. In the agenda, they list us as "Local heroes" but I've indicated that the real heroes are people within the ACLU and folks like my lawyer who is working pro bono because he believes that it's the right thing to do. And I call on all citizens to stop sitting back and complaining to people that can't do anything about what's wrong -- we all have to stand up for what's right. It's our very complacency, I think, that has made us such a stagnant and impotent society.

A large part of that, though, has to do with the divisiveness of our politics and our (collective) sense of entitlement. And, our "My way is the only right way" mindset these days. Conservatives lash out at liberals and liberals insult conservatives, and each faction believes adamantly that the other has lost touch with reality. Zero tolerance has spawned zero intelligence. Intelligent design has spawned a backlash against Christianity. The leaders of large ministries such as Falwell, Swaggart, and Roberts have gotten fatter and fatter financially by using wedge issues such as gay marriage to further their own agendas. To paraphrase a line from the movie Oh God! they claim to be speaking God's words, but they ran out of Gods words a long, long time ago. We send soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan telling them at first that the Iraqis are our enemy, now we tell them they're our friends and we expect them to conduct themselves unemotionally when their friends are being blown up by suicide bombers who look just like the people that they're supposed to be treating as if they're our friends. Hillary Clinton's critics lambasted her because she stuck by her husband, saying she was stupid to stay with someone who had undermined her trust in him, yet we expect these everyday people (part-time soldiers) to TRUST that the Iraqi coming toward them doesn't intend to harm them. And that's probably what got those two soldiers killed earlier this week. It's all just too damned confusing.

But, as much as I despise Bush, we can't lay it all on him. There's a mindset out there that parrots everything Bush has said about invading Iraq. You know the argument, about "liberating" the people of Iraq. Yet, according to the U.N. News Center:

Over 250,000 people in Darfur have been displaced by new fighting since the start of 2006, WFP currently is feeding about 3.5 million people in Sudan, and the number is expected to go up to 6 million by August. Those figures do not include hundreds of thousands of refugees in the neighbouring countries who have also fled and need assistance.

Children are being hacked with machetes -- one three year old girl having both her arms hacked off, out of cruel pleasure. Angelina Jolie recounts first-hand all of the horror she's seen, the quagmire of squallor that these people live in and the fact that there's just not enough money to provide aid.

Yet lawmakers approved another NINETY FIVE BILLION DOLLARS for the "war" in Iraq. Why haven't we gone into Darfur to liberate those people? No oil. And where are the conservatives who so adamantly support the "liberation" of Iraq when Darfur is mentioned? Where's their indignation about the slaughter and maiming of these people in Darfur?

On a brighter note, I saw a film clip today about a young woman who went to her doctor for a physical for life insurance. She learned that she had extremely high cholesterol, the kind that's typically hereditary. Her doctor advised her to get as thorough a medical history as she could of her biological parents -- she'd been adopted as an infant. Long story short, it turned out that she had worked with her biological mother for a long time in the same hair salon. Pretty cool, isn't it?

I have one more week to work before we go on vacation for two weeks. At this point, we've got nothing solid in the works. We so enjoyed our vacation last year that we decided to do the same thing this year. That is, wake up when we wake up, and decide what we're going to do for the day, if anything.

The only thing that will tie me down with any certainty is the fact that I'm going to have to go see a lawyer regarding some of my father's financial affairs. He owes so many people money, it's mind-boggling. And some of them are taking advantage of the fact that he's incarcerated and "padding" their balances. I'm at my wits' end and decided his money would be best spent in paying a lawyer to sort it all out. This after I spent 20 minutes on the phone last night with some asshole who cussed and swore at me because my father is 5 months behind on his storage facility. I sent him a double rent payment last month following a conversation I had with him (with a proposal that he AGREED to) and the unpaid balance went UP from $225 to $460. He says if it's not paid, he'll sell my father's stuff. He's already moved the stuff to a smaller storage room and THREW AWAY stuff that he felt was junk or unsalvageable. By law, he must advertise for two weeks that he's going to do that -- he can't just go in and start throwing stuff out.

eBay wants over $250 from him, Cellular One says he owes them $280, M&T bank agreed to let him pay $100/month on a $500 overdraft on a now closed account, but they keep charging him $88 per month in "administrative fees," so the debt won't get paid for 4 years or so, at that rate -- that's an annual "interest" rate of just under 200% for M&T. A collection agent from HFC called and I spoke to him, faxed him my power of attorney and he said he'd send a confirmation letter regarding the lowered amount that HE offered -- this was 3 weeks ago. Instead, I got a letter from a law firm showing a balance of $120 more than was originally stated, more than $300 more than what the collection guy offered. My father offered to pay my brother half of his storage space fees because he's got stuff in with my brother. But, when I told my brother I was going to come and get my father's stuff and put it in with his other stuff, he denied having anything at first, but then admitted having it, but keeps telling me he can't get with me when I propose a day/time to go.

Most of the crap is of his own doing, but I can't let these people take advantage of him, either. That's why I think it's time to hire a lawyer to write $600 letters for me.

CALGON! Take me away!

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Michelle!

Where have 30 years gone?

You were a beautiful baby -- not just physically, but in every way. You were happy, contented, and seemingly comfortable in every environment. You were very personable, too, even as an infant.

As we looked through the glass of the nursery window, I said to your father "Just think, tomorrow she'll be dating." That seemed to jolt him, and he said "She's not dating until she's 30." Well, sweetheart, you're 30 now and you can start dating.

I remember when you were three, and we were in Okinawa, and I got a letter from my mother telling me that my beloved grandmother had died unexpectedly. I burst into tears, and you wrapped your little arms around me and just stayed like that, letting me cry.

I used to get the biggest kick out of making you a little girlie girl. You loved it when I braided your hair and wrapped it into a bun. You loved your little ring-toed sandals, often wearing them to bed.

One day, when you were five, we were on a plane and you pointed to the ashtray that was built into the seat's arm and said "That says PUSH." Surprised, I asked you how you knew that and you said proudly "I sounded it out!" You'd begun to teach yourself to read.

You were 7 when we transferred to Hawaii. Your sister was 4 and your brother was just an infant. We worked the graveyard shift and Dad would go to bed as soon as we got home in the morning. I'd stay up with your sister and brother until it was time for the little ones nap at about noon or so and I'd fall asleep on the couch after putting them down. You'd get home from school at about 2:00 and fix a bottle for your brother, change his diaper, and keep him and your sister in his room quietly playing until Dad woke up around 3 or so. Nobody ever told you to do that, you just did it.

We did Girl Scouts and t-ball and soccer and we boogie-boarded for hours in the ocean (you were my water kid -- the only one).

I remember sitting in the dark with you and watching it either snow or storm outside -- we loved the thunderstorms, you and I. And there were other storms we weathered. My divorce from your father was probably the hardest for you, being only 11 at the time. I relied on you heavily to help out around the house and with your younger siblings. You rose to that occasion in ways that I probably didn't acknowledge properly back in those days.

Remember Mr. Augello?

Your inability to wash ALL the dishes?

Splashing around in Lake Plainfield?

Michelle, you've also walked some roads that no mother ever wants to see her daughter walk. Kicking that asshole Kenny to the curb was the beginning of your ascension out of the mire you'd found yourself in, and you've turned your life around with beauty and grace and dignity.

And now you face another challenge. While I'm sad for you, I'm also very confident that the strength and grit you've shown all your life will get you through this as well.

I look up to you. I admire so many things about you that I can only sum it up by saying that I love you very much. Very much.

But, do me a favor? Stop having birthdays so fast, okay?

Love you, sweetie!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wind down...

It's Thursday! Thursdays are my Fridays as far as the work week goes. I'm off on Fridays during the summer and I just LIVE for these 3 day weekends. Of course, the summer goes by very quickly as a result of the time off, but we pack a lot into these weekends, or at least we try to.

I haven't had much work this week, but also haven't been without it, either. I'm still watching videos at work and have been able to figure out how to use my DVD player on the computer in a minimized state, and keep it on top so that I can work while watching/listening. Yesterday I watched The First Wives Club, which is one of my personal favorites. I adore Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn and the partnership of just the two of them was terrific. Don't look for me to say anything nice about Diane Keaton because back when she did Looking for Mr. Goodbar it affected me so badly (the movie) that I've not been able to watch anything else she's done and enjoy it. Weird how some shit just stays with you, isn't it?

I was flipping around with the remote last night, and landed on Mommie Dearest. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that movie but I can tell you that, for me, it's like a train wreck. I just can't pull myself away from it. Lisa's never seen it and when I landed on it last night, it was at the part where Joan had been fired by MGM and was in the rose garden late at night cutting down all the roses and pretty much destroying her garden. Her face was red with blood from being scratched by the thorns during her frantic tirade. This reminded me so much of my own mother, how she'd get into such a rage swinging her belt that sometimes she'd hit herself with it. The rage over the wire hangers, and the unclean bathroom also put me squarely back in my childhood as well. Like I said, a train wreck. Somehow I managed to change the channel and find something less...dark to watch.

Between what John Edward said on a program I'd seen, and Mommie Dearest popping up last night, I'm overcome with thoughts of writing a letter, and actually sending it, to my own mother and two younger siblings. It's time for closure, and I don't want to waste one more minute of my life with angst or negative feelings about any or all of them. I'll start that letter today.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWe're planning on putting up our new tent this weekend. The one we used over Memorial Day weekend was great, but at only 9'x7' it seemed really small and crowded once we got our gear stowed inside for the evening. And, I never stepped into the tent, I fell into it. So we got this new one that is 16'x7' and I think will afford us much more comfort as far as space.

I don't know that we'll do much of anything besides just hanging out, enjoying the gorgeous weather we're supposed to have, maybe do some weeding, suck down some Smirnoff Ice, and enjoy the beauty of a sunny summer day off with someone you love.

Ahhhh.....yeah.....that's the ticket.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oriented to day and date...NOT!

OK so one of the things they evaluate someone on during a screening for dementia is orientation to date and time. Now, I think that's really stupid because, on our best days, we often don't know the day, date or sometimes the time. So what?

But I woke up this morning with Tuesday on my mind, walked into work thinking "Shit, it's only Tuesday," and spent the entire morning working thinking it was Tuesday.

The sudden realization that it was Wednesday prompted me to check my watch (for the date) and the calendar (for the day of the week) just to make sure that I'm not in some sort of demented time warp. Nope. No time warp, just not oriented to day and date. I frantically searched my Prozac fogged brain for any particle of memory of Tuesday, or rather what I knew to be Tuesday. It seems that Monday and Tuesday have merged together in my memory. Imagine my pleasure in knowing that it's Wednesday and I have only one day left in my work week! I love my Fridays off! This week, Mary and I will go to the "Firefly Frenzy" sale at JoAnn Etc. where we can get 50% off the regular price of any one item. I have three of these coupons, as does Mary, so we're going to make the rounds to three different stores and get some stuff that we've been wanting but didn't want to shell out big bucks for. I want the Boye Crochet Master Set (as I'm learning crocheting as well) so that I have a good variety of crochet hooks. I already have the circular knitting needle set, and just love it (although I could use another, honestly).

My father has apparently been calling the house collect a lot. We didn't recognize the caller ID number but I was getting quite annoyed at the insistent ringing several times each day. Of course, the answering machine has been out of order, so we didn't even have a small clue that it was him. He called last night and I'd had just about enough of this number calling, so I angrily grabbed the phone and said "Hello!" I got a recorded message saying I had a collect call from [my father] and did I want to accept the call? I pressed "3" to accept the call and spoke with my father for a few minutes. He'd gotten the check for $300 I sent him from his checking account, so that he could make purchases at the commissary at the jail. But, it turns out that they don't take personal checks -- money orders or bank drafts only. *sigh* So, I had to go down to the Student Center and buy a money order this morning. Anyway, back to the phone call...

I spoke to him a few minutes, then he said "I have to go get my breathing treatment," and hung up. A few minutes later the phone rang, and I recognized the caller ID this time, and answered the call. I had the option to press a key for the rate for the call, so I did. There's a FIVE DOLLAR CONNECT FEE, plus the collect call charges. ULP! I accepted the call, and spoke with him for exactly 3½ minutes until we were disconnected for some reason. So, he called back and I spoke with him for about 10 or 15 minutes longer. That's going to be $15 in connect fees ALONE. Good thing he has income, because I'm paying those fees from his checking account. Otherwise I'll have to get a part-time job just to pay the phone bill.

Lisa talked with her mother last night, and was happy to hear that Mom was feeling a lot better. She was apparently on her third bag of Heparin and felt that made all the difference. It's thought that she may have had some sort of mild blockage that the Heparin helped clear through thinning the blood. If that's the case, I suspect they'll put her on a daily blood thinner medication. She's upset at the thought of this because when she was on the Plavix it cost her $150 per month and she just can't afford another $150 per month medication. She's insulin dependent plus she has to buy syringes and all the supplies that come with being an insulin dependent diabetic. She's had both carotids roto-rootered, had heart bypass surgery, and has some sort of degenerative bone disease in her hip. Fortunately, though, she gets her medications through some agency associated with Social Security now and it has saved her a bundle of cash.

I think Lisa's mother is thinking about dying. That is, I think this latest event has gotten her to thinking about her mortality because she told Lisa that she and Lisa's father had a conversation a couple of nights ago about putting the house in the five kids' names. I think Lisa's mom wants to do that while she's alive because she knows that, realistically, her husband would likely leave the house to his two sons only -- and the house originally was purchased for Lisa's mother by her grandparents back when Lisa's mother and biological father separated. And of course Lisa's mother wants her kids taken care of.

Lisa's grandfather, who is almost 92 now, was scared to death when he learned that his daughter (who is only 63) was taken to the ER again. I would think that, at 92, you face your own mortality each and every day but when your own child begins to suffer from ailments that typically afflict the elderly, that's got to be sobering. He said he never felt old until the day his own youngest offspring began to draw Social Security.

Speaking of children becoming elderly...

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Michelle, my oldest, (seen here with her brother and her 3 daughters) will be 30 on Monday. Where have 30 years gone?

Born in San Antonio, Texas on June 19th, 1976 she was our first. We named her Alisondra Michelle with the intention of always calling her Michelle. You can normally find something nice to say about newborn babies but rarely can you honestly say they are anything that resembles good looking. Michelle had a yellowish cast to her skin (slightly jaundiced) and with the redness of a newborn, the two colors combined to give her a healthy tanned sort of look. She was born about a week earlier than my due date. Weighing in at only 6 lbs. 3 oz. she was classified as "premature" only because of the due date and something to do with the hair still on her ears. She was a sleepy, lazy baby, needing to be taught to suck on a nipple -- and we had to use a preemie nipple at that because regular nipples were just too much work for her.

From the time she was 10 days old, she slept all night. When she woke in the morning, she'd lay in her bed and "play," often going back to sleep. She rarely, if ever, cried. Mostly she'd fuss a bit here and there, but rarely did she let out with a full-bellied cry. Until the day she got a spinal tap when she was two years old. She was diagnosed with Asceptic Meningitis but was only in the hospital for two days before her release.

How I adored that child! My first child, but also the first human being I truly felt deep and lasting love for. The night I went into labor for my second child, I sat and held Michelle and cried because I knew that our relationship would change. At that moment, I resented the intrustion of the yet unborn second child into my world that revolved around Michelle.

And while the journey between that night and her 30th birthday was fraught with trials and tribulations for both of us, the end result is that there is a marvelous human being in my oldest daughter. There is a compassion for all people that is deep-rooted, and she gives an awful lot of herself to others. Not just people she knows, but to perfect strangers as well.

She just finished up a degree in Paralegal Studies and has opened a lot of doors to opportunity for herself and her family. She's a good Mom, with three daughters of her own. She's also a good wife, I think. My son once described Michelle and Doug as a "fun couple." They laugh a lot, and I think that when laughter is prevalent on a daily basis in your relationship, you can get through just about anything together.

I adore her. I'm fiercely proud of her. And I love her very much.

Finally, want to see something that will freak you out? I have no earthly idea how this thing works, and I've tried for a few days to figure out what it's secret is. If any one of you can figure it out, I'd surely like to know. WEIRD SHIT!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Monday Monday, can't trust that day...

Nah, really, not too bad for a Monday, all things considered.

I took some much needed mental time off. Promised myself on Thursday morning that I'd do nothing concerning my father until today. While I did sort through and organize his stuff on Saturday, it was more along the goal line of reclaiming my house than organizing his stuff. And it felt good to get it out of the way.

We put the gazebo up yesterday. That's always our "It's officially summer" event. We usually set up a small patio table in there, a couple of resin chairs, a couple of chaise lounges, some citronella candles, and we're golden. This is where I typically spend my Fridays off, when the weather is nice. I can carry a small 13" television out there, my portable DVD player and my knitting. There's no world around me when I'm in this turd mode! Often Mary will come over and sit with me, as she's off on Fridays during the summer as well. The problem at this point, though, is that we had a couple of weeks in early May where the weather was beastly hot and humid, but in recent weeks, it's been quite cool. We had heavy rain, ferocious winds, and hail on Saturday. We didn't have much of a winter and often, when that happens, we don't have much of a summer, either.

I read an article about an hour ago that Ben Roethlisberger, QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers (and youngest QB to ever win a SuperBowl) was injured in a motorcyle accident. They describe the scene as having a "...pool of blood" and they've indicated that he's gone in for surgery. He apparently rejects the validity of any argument for wearing a helmet. Must be when you're a 23 year old SuperBowl winner, you really believe you're invincible.

Have you ever heard of John Edward? I've been watching his show on WE (Women's Entertainment) a lot lately. This guy claims to be a psychic/medium and brings messages of love and hope to people from "the other side." Often the messages are powerful, and sometimes they just are in the form of something like "Hi." But at the end of every show, he tells his audience to "...appreciate and validate now so that you don't need [a medium like him] to do it for you when it's too late." His show is thoughtful, humorous, and touching.

So what does someone like me see in a show like this? Not really sure, to be honest with you, but the more I see of this guy, the more I believe in what he claims to be, believe it or not. And even if he's not what he purports to be, I always take something away from his show with me. I saw a show this past weekend where he encouraged a woman who had been "disowned" by her mother to bring closure to herself, not necessarily to mend the relationship, but to evict the poison from her own heart and give her a chance to move on. He suggested even writing a letter. She did just that. I think it's time I did that, too. If you get the chance, check him out. On DirectTV, it's channel 260.

Speaking of mothers, Lisa's mother was taken to the ER this morning and transferred down to Scranton to the hospital where she had her carotid artery and heart surgery last year. So far everything seems fine and normal, but they've admitted her and will run tests to ensure that her heart and carotid arteries are functioning properly. Apparently her sugar level is a bit out of sorts, too (she's an insulin dependent diabetic). We're waiting for word on that -- and Lisa is very worried. It's her Mom, after all. I'm glad she spent two hours on the phone with her Mom just yesterday morning. I think she's glad, too.

More as we learn it...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Memorial Day Camping Trip

OK, now that the ugliness is behind us (see post below), we can get back to living, and enjoying doing so.

There really isn't a lot to tell about our camping trip other than the fact that, while we planned to hike and do other things, we ended up just sitting at our site and enjoying the peace and quiet and fresh air and sunshine. We did get out to the Old Indian Village, but that's about it.

Here are some pictures:

My Aunt Wanda and Uncle Bob. They're both 72 years old, but don't let their age fool you. Wanda can outwalk, out garden, and out anything a lot of women half her age, including me.

This is actually a 4 person tent, if you can believe it. We had an air mattress in it, and stowed some of our gear inside, and found it to be just way too small. We've since purchased a bigger one and will use the smaller one to stow gear, or have guests (if we're so inclined).

This is our site, set up and ready to rock and roll. Note how beautiful my little RAV4 is. I've had it for 3 years and still just love to look at it. But, I digress... This is what we wanted -- "roughing it" camping, without all the amenities. I don't get it when people say they're going "camping," and they bring gazebos, camp kitchens, generators, and stuff like that. What's the point? In my opinion, that's not camping. Why haul all that shit from home, set it up outdoors, and do exactly what you'd do in your house? It's wannabe camping. But, that's just my opinion. Even the folks in the pop-up next door did everything other than sleeping in true camping fashion.

OK, so, I had a bit of a Tom Hanks moment, and stood over the fire I'd built from twigs and leaves and pronounced myself queen of my domain. And, if you must know, yes, I danced around the fire while doing so!

And the wonderful thing was that the only major decision I had to make at any given time was whether I was going to put another piece of wood on the fire and, if so, how big.

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We cooked everything over the wood fire except for coffee the last morning, which we prepared on the camp stove for the sake of time. That first night we had hamburgers and hots, but the second night, Lisa prepared venison steaks, potatoes, onions and peppers in aluminum foil bags, just tossing everything into the bag and then on top of the fire. It was frickin' AWESOME! We enjoyed bacon and eggs and toast for breakfast, all done over the fire using a camp griddle. Everyone should know how to cook over a wood fire. Shoot, with the cost of natural gas and heating oil, it might become a necessity!

The gypsy moth caterpillars were everywhere, and I mean everywhere. When we broke camp, we found them inside the sleeves for the shock poles on the tent. And, their doo-doo was all over my RAV4.

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Memorial for Gen. John Sullivan and commemorating the battle at Newtown.

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For anyone who has in their head that New York is one big concrete state, this should put that to rest:

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This is a tree that grew around a vine that had encircled it, girdling the tree.

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The morning sun, and sunset in the trees:

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A replica of an Indian Village -- Click on the thumbnails to view:

One of the hiking trails we explored a bit:

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This is one of New York State's best-kept secrets, if you ask me. It's quiet. It's away from the hustle-bustle of everyday life. There are miles and miles of hiking and biking trails. They even have pavilions, equpped with fireplaces, for large gatherings.

Just looking at these pictures, almost two weeks later, still makes me grin.