Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kicking Off Girls' Week The Right Way!

There are a few words I never mind hearing especially, today, at this very moment.

“We got a late start. We’re just getting on the road now.”

 “Oh Darn! Well hurry up, I’m just sitting here waiting for you!” I always reply.

Of course I’m not just sitting here waiting for my houseguests, who happen to be my close girlfriends. I am running my ass off making sure everything is just perfect when they get here!

They are the easiest people in the world (well three of the four). And even though they want to bring everything and come bearing gifts (and wine), I say “No! I want you to just bring you! We’re going low key this week."

(World's Best Noodle Seat)

Even though it might sound like I’m complaining a teensy bit, I assure you I’m not; I’m not looking for any sympathy or having a “poor me” moment either. It’s just that I like things to be carefree and wonderful from the minute someone walks through my door. I want them to feel like they’re on vacation. I want them to have a blast.

You have certainly heard me b$#ch about houseguest before. It’s my fault that some expect to be treated like guests at a Bed and Breakfast when they’re here. I’ve made it all too easy for them (inlaws?). I do too much and that needs to stop for some of them. Yet, I admit I am an enabler*.

I learned the gift of entertaining from my mother who is world class and I mean it! She has Martha beat hands down. She entertains because she loves it. It makes her very happy.

I love it too and I’ve become a chip off the old block. I can entertain the hell out of a rock (maybe even a rock star). I’ve done so figuratively before and God help me if I do so literally. I’ll do just about anything so that the expectations of my guests, or whoever I’m with, far exceed what they thought.

Yes, I’m crazy this way but I can’t help being an overachieving hostess. It’s hard wired, I’m afraid.

Lest you think I’m a crabby hostess right now; I AM not. I’m very excited for my girls to arrive. All four of them!

They’ve packed their bikes, running shoes and swim goggles for what they believe is going to be the training kick off for the triathlon we’ve all registered for in August. Whose ridiculous idea was that anyway? (We do host the Post-Race kegger and hotdog roast after, however).

I can tell you right now, it’s not going to happen. My lazy bag of bones will not hear of it, not this week with the weather forecast being two days of 90s and Thursday hitting 100 degrees!

What I’ll promise them is we’ll eat really healthy unless we break down and head to The Frog for fried food only rural Indiana knows how to do so well. I’ve been to the “good” market a few towns (20 miles) away and we are stocked full. 

(This morning’s shopping compadras.)

I stopped at Pamida (a lower end version of K-Mart (how can there be one?) but a step up from the other shopping option in town, The Family Dollar). I bought new noodles, a few more rafts, two supersoakers, more shampoo, conditioner and razors (for lake baths) and loaded up on water and adult beverages.

Oh, I forgot to mention…when in Syracuse, you read the gossip rags. So I have the newest “National Enquirer”, “Star Magazine”, “US Weekly”, “In Style” and all the Fitness Mags I could find. Nothing like conversation enhancers to provide some laughs. Plus, it’s all true, right?

Lunch is ready. Towels and sheets are fresh. Flowers clipped and arranged by everyone’s bed.

My plan is to “float” through the week and relax with my girls!!!

* I enable a few other things but that's for another post altogether.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pretty Please Somebody Write Trifecta for Me This Week?

It's Girls' Week here in the middle of nowhere...beginning tomorrow! Woo Hoo!

But if I had time this week, I would totally be doing Trifecta’s Prompt #3! 

Write a 33-333 word response to the song featured below. There are no other requirements for this prompt. Just use the song to inspire a creative response. The Smashing Pumpkins’ song “Thirty-Three”.

First of all, I’ve always liked this Chicago band and bummed out they broke up. There’s a ton of significance to thirty-three in this song. The video is awesome, quirky and sooo good! Watch it.

Love this line for some reason; “Tomorrow’s just an excuse away”, among others.

Somebody out there! Pretty please write this for me?

Of course, as you, however. I don't cheat!

(I just wanted to put it on record the hour Trifecta published the prompts that this is the one I would have chosen even though I'm not writing for it)

The Smashing Pumpkins

Speak to me in a language I can hear
Humour me before I have to go
Deep in thought I forgive everyone
As the cluttered streets greet me once again
I know I can't be late, supper's waiting on the table
Tomorrow's just an excuse away
So I pull my collar up and face the cold, on my own
The earth laughs beneath my heavy feet
At the blasphemy in my old jangly walk
Steeple guide me to my heart and home
The sun is out and up and down again
I know I'll make it, love can last forever
Graceful swans of never topple to the earth
And you can make it last, forever you
You can make it last, forever you
And for a moment I lose myself
Wrapped up in the pleasures of the world
I've journeyed here and there and back again
But in the same old haunts I still find my friends
Mysteries not ready to reveal
Sympathies I'm ready to return
I'll make the effort, love can last forever
Graceful swans of never topple to the earth
Tomorrow's just an excuse
And you can make it last, forever you
You can make it last, forever you

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The First Time We Met Obsession: Stream of Consciousness Sunday

Quite possibly, one of my favorite times to write is Sunday night. It’s likely when I have the most material after a weekend or probably because I haven’t written in days. Sooooo, I do love Fadra's Stream of Consciousness Sunday. Sometimes I use the prompt and other times I don’t.

Today, I will. Although, I have two teeny, tiny tales about us that I’ll separate by a line and you can read one or both or neither! How’s that?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Would Have Much More Time In My Life If...

I didn’t spend what seems like half of it looking for my cell phone. It’s been gone for days. I haven’t panicked but I’ve been pretty curious about its whereabouts. No telling how many messages there will be. Who's been looking for me and thinking, "Boy, is she rude or what?"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Taking Song Suggestions: I HATE Chores!

I. Hate. Chores! But if I have to do them, like this afternoon, I’m going to do them MY WAY!!!

I’m not a hoarder by any means but I am a “keeper” and “cluttery” and a person with separation anxiety for things I just may need sometime in the near or distant future. Parting with clothes is what I’m working on now and it’s hard to do (I'm talking decades worth). Hard unless it doesn’t fit anymore but I swear most of it still does.


My way of doing things means loud music, dancing and lots of breaks (having one right now). And a bunch of Diet Dew (I might be a little hyped up right now so maybe I should lay off of the Mountain Dew a bit but being hyped up helps for this sort of thing!). I’ve actually shut my door and I’m having a private moment and please don’t knock and ask what I’m doing in here because I really can’t hear you with the music on so loud. Just go back to what you were doing and I’ll slide $10 under the door so you can go get some lunch.

So, I’m kinda doing a girl crush music thing at my dance party. At the moment, I have huge crushes on Colbie Caillat and Pink so they are heavily featured this afternoon. I keep replaying “Brighter Than The Sun” and “Raise Your Glass” and shakin' it. I think this could double as my workout today, don't you think?

This song just shuffled through on my iPod and I was like, “Ya, Baby! That’s right!” Not sure why it got that reaction out of me at this particular moment. But it did!

“Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything”
King of Anything by Sarah Bareilles

I still have a lot to do. I’m reloading my Coke so text me your song suggestions. I’m taking requests!

Gina, go back to work! Alright already, I AM!

Sunset at the Lake

Some people CAN really fly.

People experience things differently.

Some only watch as the world spins all around them.

Others actively take part and pursue what it has to offer.

 Sometimes, I do both but prefer one over the other.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Damn You Auto Correct

I was warned. I didn’t heed advice. It wasn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.

Call it my wiring. If my curiosity peaks, there’s almost no way of stopping me. There’s this pull inside of me that just needs to know, needs to explore, and needs to get to the bottom of it especially if someone says, “Maybe you shouldn’t.”

I’m being pretty dramatic here but it really is true.

At the wedding this last weekend in California, I was talking to this kid at the reception. I’m calling him a kid because to me he was; yet he was actually 28 years old. I guess not technically a kid but a kid to me.

Anyway, we were talking about a whole bunch of kid like things…I’m really just razzing him here…we were having a serious discussion about the meaning of life and experience. No we weren’t either!

We were talking about texting for no other reason then I received one, while standing next to him at the wine bar, that got jumbled up and I started to laugh out loud apparently. He asked what was so funny. So I showed him the text which, in turn, caused him to join me in what became more of a fit of laughter over something really stupid.

Alex told me about this website, “Damn You Autocorrect”. I’d never heard of it before which is not unusual. I’m not always on top of my game when it comes to professional web surfing. Kids are for this educational purpose, for me at least, and I learned this from the kid ;-) at the wedding.

I’d forgotten about it until last night when I got an email asking did I remember the website and have I looked at it yet and did it make me laugh?

(Of course I do), (No, I hadn’t), (Oh My Goodness, YES)

I was laughing to the point of tears, so hard that my daughter walked into the room and said, “MOM, what is so funny? What are you looking at?” almost in an accusatory tone. All I could do was show her.

So inappropriate. So hysterical. So addicting!

She’s warned me in the past about getting started on “Stumble Upon” saying it wouldn’t be a good thing for me. Does this kid know me or what? I didn’t but if it’s as funny as DYAC, maybe I should.

Alex should have warned me about this but then again, he doesn’t really know me.

If you haven't seen this before, check out this link or google it. I'll warn you that most are inappropriate but silly fun...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gotta Have My Coffee: Morning Conversations

I’ve written about coffee, talked about coffee, enough for most of you to know that it is a true addition for me AND an absolutely mandatory morning ritual. Unfortunately, it’s third in line after the face and teeth things but it should be first. Anyone have a coffee maker in his or her bedroom? Kidding.

I don’t know what it is, maybe my impatience, but I don’t care for coffee at home. Or, just maybe, I like someone to prepare something for me one time during my day. Could be that.

I am not a coffee snob except to say that I don’t/won’t drink Starbucks. I must be the only person in my town, with the exception of anyone over the age of 70, that doesn’t go to our “see and be seen” Starbuck’s.

I’d rather support Quinn’s Coffee House, the local place in town (where all the over 70’s go). I’ve been going there for 20 years and it’s just my spot plus they have the world’s best cake donuts covered in fudge frosting (I try for not more than one a week).

Mudgin and Patrick will start fixing my coffee as I’m opening the front door. Mudgin chats me up for five minutes, but Patrick won’t even look me in the eyes as he takes my money or bags my donut. (And he hasn’t more than a few times in all these years. What’s with that? I’m not scary or anything.)

There are two problems with Quinn’s. Town is only two blocks away but on the opposite side of the tracks from where I need to be most mornings. Getting stuck by commuter trains can easily tack 10-15 minutes onto a 5 minute drive. AND they raised their price for a large cup of coffee to $3.45. I pay it but I think it’s a lot. Don’t you?

Since I’m often running just a smidgeon late (no, not me!), I go to 7-Eleven, which is in the opposite direction but on the right (correct) side of the tracks and closer to where I’m headed.

I love it in 7-Eleven for two reasons. The coffee is really good and they have 8 different types including some high-octane stuff that I’ve never tried (maybe for the truck drivers?). I always love options. And I love paying only $2 for a 24oz. cup!

But who really makes my morning, where I’ve been going mostly of late, are Cerim and Zena. Cerim and Zena have been working at the corner 7-Eleven for so many years I can’t even recall when they started.

They’re super friendly and every morning Cerim greets me the same way with a big smile on his face. “Good Morning, Gina. How are you, Gina?” He uses my name twice in not so many words, kind of funny to me and makes me smile. I ALWAYS reply, “Good morning, Cerim. I’m great! How’s your morning going so far?” “Not too busy.” he replies. ALWAYS!

On my way out the door, we do our thing in reverse. “Goodbye, Gina. See you tomorrow, Gina.” “See you tomorrow, Cerim. Have a great day!”

I’m feeling I need to change this up a little, don’t you think? Change the conversation Cerim and I have every morning? I must be boring him. But what should I say to Cerim? What can I ask him that wouldn’t be awkward?

Zena and Cerim have the same accent. I wonder where they’re from? I could ask him but that feels weird, too, because they’re from here now. Just like me. I’m not comfortable saying, “So what do you have going on today?” He’d just say, “Working.” Hmmmmmmmm…… I’ll have to think on it.

P.S. Never mind the fact that on several occasions (Okay. More than that, actually) I’m without cash and both places gladly float me a loan for the cup. They know me, and they’ll see me soon, and they know I’m good for it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

BLUE and Missing You

33-333 words for:
BLUE: (adjective)
3. a: low in spirits: melancholy
    b: marked by low spirits: depressing<a blue funk> <things looked blue>

Something silly or stupid would happen almost every single day and I'd think of you. I'd pick up the phone to dial your number so I could laugh…with you… until our sides hurt like they always did. Knowing you would crack up, too, even while I struggled to get the words out because I was giggling so hard. Because you're silly just like me so you’d get it. 

I’d run into that certain acquaintance of ours, and quickly insert foot directly in mouth. So typical. You're the one I'd text because you always say, “That wasn’t so bad, really (slightly cringing inside). I’d give you a hug if I was with you.”

I’d see Like Crazy or Somewhere In Time or read a love story I knew we’d both like; and immediately, eyes still filled with tears, I’d think to shoot off an email and ask if you saw the same ones, read the same book. “What did you think? Did you love it, too? What are you reading now?” and know your reply would take no time at all.

I’d sit down to write you a letter like we used to love to do and do so often. Then check the mail basket the very next day in anticipation of your written reply even though it wouldn’t arrive for one week. The waiting would be excruciating but oh so, worth it. It would be the second best part after your words.

Sitting, something touching, whispering, anytime we were together.

I still want to do all these things, all the time. 

Then I’d remember. 

I can’t do any of these things because we don’t do any of them anymore. Sometimes I forget even why.

But I do know exactly why we don't do any of these things anymore and it breaks my heart all over again.

Today, when I wanted to tell you something, I remembered again that I couldn’t and all I felt was blue. I suppose I’m making some progress.

In A Daydream...Rambling On!

Caution: Ramble Warning!

Tuesday morning,
Never looked so good.
I'm already in,
In a daydream.
(In a Daydream by The Freddie Jones Band)

What a perfect morning to ramble on randomly with total recklessness. I’m not the only one who does this. Just go visit Stacey Uncorked and you’ll see.

Whoa, baaaabyyyyy! 92 Degrees on the way today. I LOVE hot weather and, actually, it can never be too hot for me. I’d rather be too hot than too cold any day of the week! This kind of weather means warm water and swimming to me. Also, it’s time to break out the paddleboard just before sunset, one of my favorite times of the day and a great way to get/keep my head on straight.

Why is it that I spend all day long thinking that I have nothing to write and that I’ll just read my time away instead, then when I hop in bed, all sorts of ideas begin invading my brain, so much so that I struggle to fall asleep because I’m willing myself to remember everything in the morning? I refuse to turn on the light at that point ‘cause it’s late and I’m NOT getting out of my cozy bed. I give up on this sleep thing. I here by declare, “Sleep…You’re Overrated!” anyway!!!

Still catching up from being away for a while and hating the laundry as usual so it’s sort of not getting done, at least, so far. What’s really been weird since we’ve been home is being in my house without my darling, brown creatures accompanying my every move (the bathroom gets crowded when two 75 lb. Labs join you). No kids. No dogs. Too quiet for me. Changing this immediately.

So I might have called my husband mean last night because he said, “For Heaven sakes, no more dogs.” I can do a pretty mean (in a good and loving way) puppy dog/bat the lashes eye thing and it's usually pretty effective, at the very least, able to get a “Maybe”. My end goal is for a rescue Lab in the near future. It’s going to take a lot of sugar sprinkled around to get this to happen BUT I’m good with sugar tactics.

I have this theory about parties, weddings and things like that. You have to make your own fun, be responsible for you, because sometimes things just aren’t. Like the wedding I went to this weekend. On paper, it should have been the best wedding ever...set in a grove, on a beautiful day, on a vineyard ranch in California. My friends and I took matters in our own hands with some decent results…

 (Sure, stick me on a horse for your own amusement)

(Susie and I always think we should kiss things/people, even ponies)

 (Why is there a Gucci mini car in the lobby of the hotel at Midnight?)

(Where’s Security? And why don't people tell me to mind my behavior or go to bed?)

If you made it through this entire “Ramble Session”, congratulations and thank you for indulging me. Sometimes this is all we can do or all our minds will allow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Things That Happen When You Go Out Of Town

If you’ve been a parent long enough, this will happen to you too.

Imagine enjoying a leisurely vacation morning spent working out then digging a fork into your favorite breakfast, huevos rancheros, while slowly sipping your much anticipated first cup of delicious, golden brown and hot coffee.  You are with your closest friends and you can’t, at the moment, fathom being any happier. You are having the best morning ever, almost.

My friend, Susie, is never without her cell phone and sometimes that bothers me particularly when it rings during a peaceful, quiet meal together. That is exactly what disrupted our breakfast Friday morning.

Sue’s eyes flew wide open as she listened. I could almost hear what the girl on the other end of the phone was saying but I definitely could tell she was worked up. I assumed it was Sue’s daughter until she handed the phone across the table to ME!

“Mom, I’ve called you and Dad like seven times. Why don’t you have your phone with you (because I didn’t anticipate needing it)? I’ve been in an accident.”


My question is this. What’s with kids wanting us to be immediately accessible to them at all hours of the day or night? Parents out there with young kids, listen up! This doesn’t change as they get older. The problems just get bigger and more difficult to work out. This, I can promise you!!!

As soon as she heard my voice, she calmed down. Although, she’s not the kid that gets her undies in a bunch often; that’s the other one! She’s generally calm, cool and collected. I wonder whom she takes after?

Here were my immediate questions….

Where? On the Eisenhower Expressway heading into the city (which is one of Chicago’s biggies).

When? Friday afternoon just before rush hour. Oh, oh!

How? A five-car chain reaction.

Are you hurts, is anyone hurt? Thank God for a sturdy SUV and only one injury. Addy was in the car too? Poor girl!

Which car? MY CAR! Why were you in my car? This question has lots of it’s own questions.

What's the damage? Scraped bumpers and a few broken reflectors. No harm done and drivable (none of the other cars were so lucky!).  Again, thank God for a big and safe SUV!

WHOSE FAULT? Phewwwwww! The lady behind you started the whole thing. My girl does not need any more driving issues!

(The car that hit her and started the whole chain reaction. Not good!)

I do believe this made the news!

A pile up on one of Chicago’s major expressways that closed down all four lanes with five cars, three police cars, two ambulances, and two fire truck for two hours just before rush hour. YIKES!

If I were a motorist on the Eisenhower Friday afternoon, I’d be fit to be tied. If you’re unfortunate to be “stuck” between exits, you’re totally hosed until the accident is cleaned up! Oh, and it was about 95 degrees, too.

You also always hope you DON'T get a call when you're out of town.

AND you always hope your children never make the paper (sports and academics being the exceptions) because, in our community, it’s usually the Police Blotter for unsavory behavior.

AND I’m so happy my kids have my best friend’s phone number, too!

AND that Sue is never without it! I will never mention it again.

As a side note: I find it very interesting that whenever my kids are in a pickle or they’re having a problem and no matter who answers the phone (meaning dad), they always say, “Can I talk to Mom?” 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bottling a Feeling

It’s Sunday, which means Stream of Consciousness over at All Things Fadra.

I’ve inserted toothpicks in my eyes to keep my lids open for five minutes while I type this. It’s late at night but it’s not. It just feels like it from an extra long weekend and a long travel day. Pajamas have never felt so good, well almost.

Also, there may or may not be pictures forthcoming in the form of a blog post titled something like “Mischievous Wedding Guests aka Double Trouble”. I’ll have to do some editing first if what I have on my camera is any indication of what is on my friends' cameras.

Five Minutes, unedited, GO!


Weddings take you back, don’t they? They do me. Way back.

If there is one thing I wish I could bottle it would be the feeling on the day you marry the person of your dreams. And how it feels right after you are pronounced man and wife and tenderly kiss (but I've seen people totally get after it too). How you feel the entire evening surrounded by friends and family celebrating the two of you. And rejoicing in your love.

Your journey is just beginning and that day you start to “make” your life together and if you are so blessed, your groom one day becomes not only your husband but also a father. And you know deep in your heart that he’ll be a great father.

I’m an observer and there is almost nothing I love better than to watch a wedding although it’s been a long time since we’ve attended one! Kleenex is a must for me.

I love seeing the bride for the first time but, honestly, my eyes are hardly focused on her. My eyes always move to the groom. I watch as he anticipates seeing her and I can tell he's slightly nervous, then he sees her for the first time and grins. He watches her take every single step as she slowly walks upthe aisle. When they hold hands the first time and almost shyly smile at each other, I find this moment beautiful.

I’m the hand grabber of the couple, so I grabbed my husband's hand and heldon tightly during their vows yesterday.

At dinner, I whispered a question, “Honey. What do you remember from our day?”

The rest of the evening I watch a couple very much in love that has their whole life ahead of them and think about the excitement of that feeling. 

I watch their first dance as they hold each other closely. Probably my favorite part of all.

And I think, how can I bottle this?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Naughty Girl: Trifecta Writing Challenge

This is the picture for this weekend's Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt and my 33 words describing it.  

Are you a horse? I lost mommy. Can we have a wide?  

Wait! I have cotton candy and carrots at home.  

Mommy said walking away from somebody's wude.  

Naughty girls go to timeouuuuut!                  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Get Me Out of Here. NOW!

Develop the mind of equilibrium.

You will always be getting praise and blame,

but do not let either affect the poise of the mind:
follow the calmness, the absence of pride.
Sutta Nipata

I don’t know if I’m in a feisty mood or a cranky mood but I’m definitely in some kind of one. That is for darn sure!

AND…I’m supposed to be doing all sorts of things. Obviously I’m not doing them because my fingers are moving here and not elsewhere like packing. I have not one single item in a suitcase for a five-day trip. Not good considering the taxi will arrive in a few hours to wisk us away.

I’m in a very conflicted state at the moment so possibly that’s why I’m taking time, which I don’t have, to clear my brain matter here.

Why in such a state if you care to know?

For the last eight years, I have left on this very morning to travel what seems like (and is) all day to see my Goddaughters at Hogar de Niños Nazareth in Comayagua, Honduras.

They write me all the time and ask who’s coming; who’s coming? Is Amanda coming with you or Mateo? Secretly, they always hope its Mateo, the blond hair, blue eyed, wild and crazy, teenaged, soccer-playing boy, even though they pretend not to like him.

I bring them presents, and we hang out and they teach me to make jewelry. We talk about a million things (or as much as my Spanglish allows). They love to laugh at me speaking but carefully correct each and every word, as I do with their English. They think their Madrina (Godmother) is muy loco and I say, “You Chikas are too!”

So I won’t see them and it makes me very sad. I sent gifts and letters with one of my travel buddies and they’ll take pictures and write letters in return, which will make me cry. But none of it will come close to my desire to hug them tightly and look into their eyes.

They will be sad and disappointed, too, when the bus pulls into the orphanage and we aren’t on it.  I’ve never not come in June, for eight years. They count on it, we all look forward to it, and I feel I’m letting them down.

On a much lighter note….

I’m still procrastinating. I'm still sitting in the same spot. I’m still not packing for the wedding I’ve been writing about for the last few weeks.  Or I should say I’ve been writing about the dress for the wedding (fingers crossed for a fit!). Well, that dress isn’t packed yet either but it will be. I always forget something, though.

The timing of this get away couldn’t be better. It’s perfect! I need this. And I’ll be with all my closest friends and we’ll be laughing and having fun and it'll be a blast and a weekend for the memory books.

But my heart is divided and won’t entirely be in either place.

"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections." --Unknown

P.S. See you all next week!!!

Why Do Dogs Leave Earth First?

I don’t know who wrote this but it was given to me as a gift yesterday along with a beautiful framed photo. If you happen to know the author, please share.


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found that he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything more for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for 6 year old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. The young boy, Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a long while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about he sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why”.

Startled, we all turned ot him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try to live.

He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The 6 year old continued, “Well dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Things That Happen In Alleys...

Thank God for the distraction of writing but, mostly, reading!

There are two distinct worlds in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood; the beautifully maintained brownstones and three flats of the street fronts, and the alleyways that exist almost secretly behind them.

Alleys have their own eco-system it seems; even their own terrain with mountains of trash, ruts and potholes big enough to warrant Jeep Wranglers. ANIMALS, People, Smells.

I’ll bet it’s a different world than most of us know. Yet, I do because I lived on an alley for eight years.

Things happen daily in alleys. 

Then there’s THINGS THAT HAPPEN in alleys.

I’ve seen lovers locked and been that lover. One felt slightly intrusive, the other steamy on a cold winter’s night.

Muggings were seen, and heard, from my bedroom window; Fights, both domestic and drunken brawls.

People waited for you to empty your dinner’s trash with hopes of something decent to eat so, most often, you'd bring a full paper plate out instead.

Cars driven in nearly foot deep ice ruts with no choice but to do a sliding sideswipe of a passing vehicle. Been there, done that. Oops!

I’ve witnessed a garbage bag filled with clothes intended for the Laundromat disappear from the apartment to discover moments later it was mistakenly dumped in the alley as trash but reconciled the anger immediately as somebody needier finally had baby clothes.

There was a late night standoff in cars when all I wanted was to turn into my parking spot and another refused, mid-block, to back up ten feet. I’m stubborn; we sat for 20 minutes, me signaling him to please back up and receiving “the finger” in return. Not my brightest moment but DIDN’T move either!

Have you ever seen rats the size of toddlers (not quite that big but BIGGER than you could ever imagine) with beady red eyes staring you down?


The worst thing I ever saw was a boy dressed up as a girl earning money the only way he knew how because he, surely, was desperate.

Monday, June 11, 2012

May Heaven Be.......

A Never-ending Float Boat Ride at the Lake…Your Favorite Place Here on Earth.

I’ve only done one thing harder in my life. It was a goodbye, of course, while holding the hand of my Mother-in-law in her final moment. This girl, who we call the “Big Brown Nurse”, was at Hospice, too, licking that same hand.

Today was the second such painful goodbye. I can hardly think of her, let alone speak her name but I can still smell her on my hands from the last time I stroked her soft ears and held her in the last moments. Looking down, I can see a streak of slobber on the thigh of my jeans and brown hair completely covering my white tee shirt. I don’t want to wash my hands or my clothes then Eleanor (“Ellie”) will really be gone for good.

Her last boat ride.

A few years ago on “her” boat.

 Oh My Goodness, the kids are young (13 & 16 maybe)

 Ellie thinking "When's she going back?"

 Snuggle Time on a Winter Lake Weekend!

 The one who doesn't know a minute without her.

 This morning during her last “good” moment.

She was pretty “hot” back in the day.

Birdie, her best friend who was waiting at the gate for her today.

There won't be a day that goes by where we won't remember you...the sweetest dog that ever lived. We know you are resting in peace, finally!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Three Times Asked

If I'm writing on a Friday or Saturday, I have a reason...IN-LAWS and I'm hiding!


My Italian heritage is well known amongst my friends. And that’s why he was nervous.

“My dad loves you. It’ll be easy.”

“Ya, right!”

Four eyes peeking out the window, my mother’s and mine, we watched as they got up from the table and walked away. Where in the world?

Anticipating an eventual return and being in on the secret for days, my mom said, “Let’s get it ready.”

“Oh Gawwwd, I sure hope so.”

My dad and new fiancé walked through the door forty-five minutes later. “Carol, is the champagne ready?” Phewwwwww!

“Sweetheart, may I speak with you in my study.” Giddy from champagne, I wondered what was on his mind.

“Your mother and I love him. He’s all the man a father could want for his daughter. It’s the first time I've truly seen this in you, too. Are you certain?” My father loves deeply but is realistic as well.

“Yes.” I replied.

“I’ll ask you again, for it's better to be completely sure than know in your heart it’s a mistake.”

“Ok, Daddy.” I grin.

On my wedding’s eve, pulling me into a big hug he whispered. “Are you certain?”

Eyes sparkling and cheeks flushed from a wonderfully sentimental night. “Yes, Dad. I am.”

With uncommonly spectacular weather for mid-March in Chicago, the procession traveled slowly from their house to the city and LSD* proved nearly impossible to traverse. The first beautiful day on the lakefront and traffic was backed up for two miles. Why didn’t he choose the Kennedy? I could run faster than this.

Approaching the church in tears and 35 minutes late, Father Speiss opened the limo door saying, “Child, he’s waiting for you.”

With no time to wipe my makeup streaked face before rushing in, my father grabbed my hand at the end of the aisle and for the last time said, “Sweetheart, are you certain?"

“Dad, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life! Let’s go!” 

He asked me three times.


Author’s note: To this day, neither my husband nor father will divulged the content of their 45 minute walk just after he asked for my hand in marriage (From what I surmise it was about “commitment” and the constant work a loving marriage takes but I could be wrong). However, my guy always jokes that a limousine, on the street, secretly met them and the window rolled slowly down….

*Lake Shore Drive

“To The Moon…”

We used the phase "To the moon..." daily when our children were growing up.

Mommy said it in one fashion; Daddy in another.

For me, “To the Moon…” began when they were babies in their cribs.

As I brushed my hand along soft cheeks, I would lean over whispering in their ears, “I love you to the Moon and back.” The covers tucked and animals properly arranged, we’d squeeze each other tightly.

As time passed, I’d see their little minds’ wheels spinning and noses crinkled deep in thought.

“Mommy, that’s a long way”, she’d say.

“It is a long way, baby doll. As long as it would take to get there and back, that big wide sky, that’s how long and as much as I’ll love you. Forever.”

“Would we go together?”, he’d ask.

We’ll go everywhere together, pal; for the rest of our lives. You will never be without me and I will never be without you. No matter where you go or what you do, look up at the moon and know that I’m standing under the exact same one loving you.

“I like that, Mommy.”, they both said.

Now, the opportunities to tuck them in are few and far between but I steal them. We still love those quiet moments. And the sleepy hugs…..

Daddy started saying “To the Moon…” when they were about 3 and 5.

When our children were little, The Honeymooners reruns were on at 10:00pm every night just after FOX News. Falling into bed from pure exhaustion as most parents do, Daddy would watch while I read. Something about the slapstick and silly, simple humor (maybe his roaring laughter?) pulled me away from my book. We'd snuggle up close and relished the mindless break from everything.

That’s when, “To the Moon…” became “Dad speak” in just about every frustrating situation one might experience with a rambunctious, gregarious, charming, somewhat naughty three year old.

Let me tell you, Daddy had the move down.

Sometimes, it was “Bang Zoom…To The Moon.” Arm flinging up and out, pointing on the diagonal directly at the moon.

Other times, it was “To the Moon, Matthew!!!”

Matt would giggle saying, “No, Daddy, No!” He'd turn and run leading his Dad in a chase all over the house, up and down the stairs.

I can guarantee, Dad was probably hot about something but he never showed it. Patient man. It became silly fun and whatever the situation, it melted away.

As Matt got older and smarter (smart-alecky-er?), he’d say, “Daddy, you can’t do that.”

Dad would flex his muscle and say straight-faced,  “Would you like to try me?”

“Yes!” and the running and laughing and wrestling would begin…again.

Obviously, both ways this phrase was used were meant with extreme affection.

One was a mother’s expression of deep and never ending love for her children. The other was a father’s way to defuse and lighten many stressful and frustrating situations.

We remember “To the Moon, Alice!” quite fondly over here.