We have a tree in the house!

For the past two years, because of the Tiny Terror, we’ve had a small artificial Christmas tree. I bought that little tree the year my mom died, only because my great nephew, who was two years old at the time, wanted to know why I didn’t have a tree in my house. I was living in my parents’ house still, going to grad school, trying to settle my mom’s estate with my sister (you can probably guess which one) fighting me tooth and nail because she wasn’t in charge. In tears, I called the Bear and said, “I don’t have a tree, I don’t have money for a tree, and Alex wants me to have a tree!”

At this point I should explain that out of all my nephews and nieces and great nephews and great nieces, there is one child who can do no wrong and for whom I would do absolutely anything, including hiding the body if it were ever necessary – and that child is Alex. (His brother runs a close second in my affections)

Bear said, because he’s always been my heart, “go buy a tree.” (From that day, he sent me money every week so I never had to worry again about draining my savings account paying estate bills that would later be reimbursed.)

That little tree moved to PA with me. We used it when Max was a puppy. We used it the year that no one wanted Christmas – I put it up Christmas Eve and took it down Christmas night. (I don’t want to remember that year, but it happened)

I love Christmas trees. I walk onto the lot where they’re for sale and I start to smile. Bear says I always end up with the first one I walk to, and he’s right, but I still have to go talk to all of them. They’re all different, some are happy but want a house with kids, some are happy and want to be with a single person, some are annoyed at being stuck with those other trees as if – AS IF! – they belong there. One will always shine and I know that’s the one. There will be light in my house because of it.

The Terror has so far ignored it. At first he was totally unsure – “what the HECK?” but he’s gotten used to it quickly. Tomorrow I may put some lights on. Lights make me happy. We’ll use the Dollar Store ornaments. If they break, it’s not a big deal. I haven’t used the ornaments my mother loved so since we got Max – first because, duh, puppy, and then because that dog had the fluffiest tale ever and he would sweep those things right off that tree. Breaking my mom’s ornaments would break my heart.

And so we bought a tree. And there was a ten dollar off coupon, so we bought a bell and a Christmas cactus for Momma Joan just because.

It’s starting to feel like Christmas in my house. And in my heart.

Posted in Christmas, family, Maverick, my life | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Do you remember?

Do you remember walking into a store and seeing smiles? Do you remember seeing shelves full of goods, more than you could ever want? Do you remember turning on the news and seeing actual stories, real reporting? Do you remember when people were respectful of the people in office, even if they disagreed with them? Do you remember when you thought your vote counted, even if the person for whom you voted didn’t win?

Do you remember when Twitter was full of silly pictures of animals, and Facebook was where you caught up with old friends?

Do you remember not being afraid? I lost some of that innocence when planes flew into buildings and some people did something. I lost more of it when I was told that I was to blame for every racial injustice ever done since my skin is white. I lost even more when Orange Man Bad became the mantra – when no one could answer my question as to how his policies had changed their lives for the worse.

I think it’s pretty much all gone now. I watched suitcases of ballots pulled from beneath a table in GA, vote counts suddenly switch in PA, and “news” media call an election before it was anywhere close to over.

I remember when people didn’t shame each other for disagreeing – when you could walk outside with the wind in your face and not be told you were selfish. I remember when Thanksgiving was a day to be grateful for all the bounty of this land, for the love of family and friends and for all the food we were going to eat together, even if Janet did try to delay the pie. I remember when statues were teaching tools – we taught the history of our country by touring battlefields and talking about monuments and viewing the wonders we had wrought. We were taught that our ancestors had treated the native Americans poorly, as they had treated the Japanese, so that we would learn to never act that way again, not so we would feel endless crushing joy sucking guilt over things we hadn’t done and couldn’t possibly undo.

I remember when we trusted our elected officials to do our will, and not try to impose their will on us. I remember when the idea that our rights would slowly be stripped from us and people would beg for more restrictions was something out of science fiction – that could never happen! And yet…………it has.

And while I remember, I wonder. How can we ever get back our joy, our freedom, our innocence? I wonder if I’m strong enough to face that test.

Posted in Corona virus, fear, my life, politics | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

No, *Janet, you will not ruin Christmas

*with apologies to anyone named Janet

My oldest sister would have loved what’s going on in the world today. Janet, yes that was her name, loved rules. She had rules for everything, from how to vacuum a floor – you had to unplug the vacuum from the living room plug and plug it in in the kitchen, even though the cord was plenty long enough to reach. You couldn’t put ice cream in your grocery cart until you had everything else on the list – never mind that the grocery stores are normally kept at meat locker temperature and the chances of melting were slim and none, or that she kept a cooler bag in the car because you never know – it might melt during the 10 minute ride home.

She also hated most holidays. Easter was okay because you went to church and most likely heard about how sinful you were. (I could be wrong about that, it’s been a few years since I went to an Easter service, this witch tends to break into giggles in churches so I try to attend weddings only, where people don’t look at me like I’m going to Hell tomorrow, if not sooner. Well. Giggles during a funeral are considered unacceptable in polite society.)

She thought Thanksgiving was ridiculous. It had nothing to do with any guilt about something our ancestors may or may not have done 200 years ago that has nothing to do with any of us and I can’t understand why I should refuse a good meal over, or why it should keep me from being thankful for the good things in my life now, but I digress. That kind of self flagellation was not a thing in Janet’s life. She hated Thanksgiving because, in her words, “who eats dinner at 3:30? It’s a stupid time for a meal.”

Thanksgiving when I was growing up was a full day of eating. We were down with the snacks, the celery stalks filled with cream cheese and olives, the crackers and cheese, the olives – especially the big black olives that you could stick on your fingers and use as puppets. We started eating at noonish, and all those snacks never seemed to ruin appetites for the big meal that started at, yes, 3:30ish, and ended usually around 9, when everyone was pretty much in a coma. I kid you not, there would be someone at the table from the time the turkey landed until there was little left of anything but bones. (In the meantime, dishes were washed, coffee was brewed, dessert was brought out and devoured, turkey sandwiches happened, cookies and snacks were munched – it was a marathon)

The last time we had dinner at Janet’s, the food was whisked off the table when the first helpings were barely gone. No snacks reappeared. A second glass of wine was frowned upon. (And it wasn’t even expensive wine!) Finally, my mother asked when the pie would be forthcoming. Janet replied that her food needed to settle and it would be some time. 15 minutes later, my mother announced that HER food had settled nicely, and with that she got up and brought the pie to the table and started handing out helpings. Janet was not pleased.

She saved her most vehement dislike for Christmas. She was subtle about it and it took me a long time to realize that she actively hated the holiday. She had a limit on gifts – what she bought me cost no more than $10 and my parents got something that cost less than $25. She had 4 grandchildren, one of whom lived with her. That child got no more than $100 in gifts, and the one that lived far away had the shipping costs deducted from the total spent on her. The other two were the children of the daughter she had disowned so they got nothing.

One year she put the tree in a back bedroom so she could close the door when no one was around and forget about it.

Not content with merely disliking Christmas, she was on a mission to make sure that no one else enjoyed it either. Every year, she would almost convince us that she wasn’t going to be a grinch, and at the last minute, out would come the fangs and she would suck every bit of joy out of the day. It never failed.

She hated me my entire life. I spent half my life wondering why and then decided it didn’t matter, but I’ve never really convinced myself of that. When she died, I sobbed. Bear asked why I was crying over someone who had hated me all my life and I said, “I’m crying for what should have been and never was.”

Why was she like this? I have no idea. Maybe it was the brain tumor that eventually killed her that made her so very hateful. I’ll never know.

All of this leads me to current events. The Janets are in charge, it seems. You WILL NOT HAVE THANKSGIVING! YOU WILL NOT HAVE CHRISTMAS!

Yes, Janet, we will. I will have Christmas, as I have every year – it’s been a long time since I let anyone ruin Christmas for me and this year will be no different. I will have a tree, and I will have presents under the tree, and I will invite my friends to come in for hot chocolate, a cookie, a glass of wine – refills are allowed – or a cup of tea or coffee. There will be no masks, and there WILL be hugs.

The Janets who think they’re in charge are welcome to come into my home, but if they think they’re going to enforce arbitrary rules – we have pie when the mood strikes and not when some rule says it’s time. So sit down, grab a fork, and smile.

The Janets need to be told to sit down and shut up.

Posted in Christmas, Corona virus, family, home, my life | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Fear and loathing

Trigger warning – I use the f word a lot in this post. (sorry)

I’ve been trying to write something for over a week and I just can’t seem to get past a few paragraphs. Most days I walk around going “What the ACTUAL fuck is going on?” I mutter to myself a lot more than I used to, and I’ve pretty much had an ongoing conversation with myself since before I learned to talk.

So there was an “election.” I put that in quotes because, seriously, what the actual fuck WAS that hot mess? The term “shit show” frequently comes to mind. We’ve got states that can’t count, people not being allowed to observe counts, ballots being tossed, people voting for only one person on the whole ballot, vote counts suddenly being changed in the middle of the night, boxes of ballots appearing as if by magic, and a whole crap ton of dead people walking from the cemetery to vote for someone who often looks like he’s about to join them.

We have the media declaring a winner. Umm, who gave them that power? I thought the people elected a president, I wasn’t aware that the media selected a president. BUT, Goddess forfend you say that out loud! We’re being told to shut up, accept the “results,” and oh, by the way, you racist, stupid, uneducated, deplorable, chumps – wanna be friends?

What.

The.

Actual.

Fuck?

I was unfriended by someone I’ve known for a long time, someone who used to call me and threaten suicide on a regular basis while deep in drug addiction, someone I talked off the ledge countless times over the years. Why? Because I asked her to answer a question without mentioning Trump. (The question, which I have asked of many, was “what would you do if some strange man came up behind your daughter and sniffed her shoulders and hair?” My answer is that he would picking himself up off the floor.) Her response was to tell me that I was stupid and she couldn’t respect me because I don’t hate President Trump. Yeah, so much for that. (She did mention that I was educated but apparently that has not effected my stupidity cuz you gotta be stoopid to git that masters digree in accountin. I is edamakaded!

If I won a contest, and half the people involved in choosing the winner accused me of cheating, I would want to prove to them that no, I did NOT cheat, I won fair and square. Nope, not gonna have that this time – shut up, you racist bigot and hey, wanna be friends? Cuz I really want to be your friend, right after I put you on the list of people who should never be allowed to hold a job again. K? C’mon, man!

What.

The.

Actual.

Fuck?

Meanwhile, in the spirit of “nothing to see here, watch my other hand!” Covid cases are conveniently increasing and hysteria is mounting. Because we’ve proved that shut downs work SO well (heavy sarcasm), hey, let’s try that again! And by the way, you need to start doing what you’re told. Because GOD DAMN IT, you’re trying to kill GRANDMA again!

Sometimes I think I’m living in an alternate universe. In my world, we’re going about our lives and taking the normal precautions we would during flu season – other than the hated masks. I read a lot, and I think that even though I’m a stupid deplorable racist, I can figure out what I should believe, what I should toss, and what I should consider further. I was asked why the “anti-maskers” think those who religiously wear them love them. Gee, I dunno, maybe cuz you preach to us all the time?

One of my friends went to DC the other day for the rally to support the president. She said it was a happy, peaceful day, she made new friends, felt a great sense of how good this country really is. She got out of DC before dark, before Antifa (which is only an idea, remember) and BLM started randomly beating people up. If you follow only main stream media, you probably wouldn’t know about that. You also wouldn’t know about Dominion and that there are multiple affidavits affirming voting issues.

It’s okay. I think that breathing sand might be fun. I guess if you stick your head far enough down that tunnel, it all seems okay.

And because I cannot figure out what the actual fuck is going on, I’m going to go on living my life. If our governor tries to lock us down again, I will simply ignore him in the same way he ignores me. I will pray for a resolution to the election debacle – and if CreepySnifferMan is finally declared the winner, well, he’ll never be my president unless he agrees to an investigation into this mess and proves that he actually did win fairly, but he’ll still be CreepySnifferMan in my eyes. (I put up with four years of Orange Man Bad, deal with it). And I’ll go work on a quilt for the new baby born to the young couple down the road, and planning all kinds of fun things for the new baby to be born in our “family” this Spring, when my BFF becomes a grandma for the first time.

This child to come is already surrounded by so much love that all the rest of the fuckery is forgotten in the joy of an ultrasound picture of a tiny baby foot.

Posted in Corona virus, family, fear, my life, old friends, politics | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Ration books and memories

My mother lived through both WWII and the Great Depression. On rare occasions, normally when someone of her generation was present, she would talk about those times. She was a great believer in “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” (I hated that as a kid, when my friends were getting the latest cool clothes and I was wearing something she sewed. I had no appreciation then for the talent and love that went into that garment.)

She would talk about ration books and going without necessities. She didn’t smoke, but got coupons for cigarettes and would trade with her friends and family for things that she needed and they didn’t. She talked about gas rationing and how the farmer down the road, who got more gas than most, would let her take his car when she needed to go somewhere. I remember her getting so mad at me and my sister when she told us about a butcher in a nearby town who didn’t require the ration stamps but would take money instead, and we said, “MOTHER! You shopped the black market?” She was appalled that we would think such a thing of her! (We never brought it up again but once in a while shared a giggle about it.)

I never thought I’d see such times. I never really thought about it, I’ve never seen a time in this country when there wasn’t an abundance of goods and food, for those who could afford it. I understand that not everyone could, I’ve had days when I didn’t know where my next dollar was coming from, so it’s not because I grew up rich. I never walked into a store and saw empty shelves. I never wondered if I’d be able to buy food.

Then Covid hit. I walked into the grocery store that Friday after our oh so much wiser than the rest of us Governor closed all non-essential businesses. There were empty shelves. Not a piece of toilet paper or a roll of paper towels could be found, no meat, no eggs, no bread. I’ve seen that store when a blizzard was predicted, I’ve never seen empty shelves. I wanted to make lasagna that weekend. I couldn’t find noodles, I couldn’t find hamburger.

Things in that area have gotten back to normal. We’ve been able to buy everything we need, and some we don’t need. I never want to live that way again, wondering where I’ll get supplies so we can freakin eat. Eating is important here. Well, it’s important everywhere.

And now the election hangs in the balance and the man who may win has publicly stated that he wants to shut down the country again. Yesterday I went to the store. I bought extra stuff, canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies. I won’t be caught short again. And if he doesn’t win, well, I have extra stuff and won’t have to shop if we get bad weather. If he does, God help us all

My fears are real and whether you love Trump or hate him, at least he didn’t try to destroy the economy. If you voted for the other guy, don’t ask me for TP, I’m not nice enough to share.

Posted in Corona virus, fear, politics | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Liver, no onions

When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally get pig’s liver and cook it with onions. Those were the nights I ate a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. My mother wasn’t one of those, “you’ll eat what I cook” type parents, if you didn’t want what she made, you were welcome to fix something else, but she wasn’t doing it for you. I graduated from peanut butter – I miss the days when that didn’t make me stop breathing – to canned soup to scrambled eggs and toast, etc. If you made a mess, you were expected to clean that shit up, too, she wasn’t gonna wash dishes that you didn’t need to dirty because you were a fussy pants.

Liver has always been on my “gag me” list.

I buy it for the Bear once in a blue moon – hey, we just had one! because he loves it. He hates Chinese food, so he has liver and I have Chinese and we both try not to gag at what’s on the other person’s plate. (Are you eating it? Then shutty your mowfee about it)

Enter Maverick. He is the epitome of Mr. Fussy Eater. What is caviar today is anathema tomorrow. I wish I could capture a picture of the look of disdain he gives me as he sniffs the bowl, and walks away as if I’ve tried to poison him with the very food he gobbled down yesterday,

When I was in NY, my niece in law was observed cutting up liver for her dog’s “leave it” treats. Hmm, I said to myself, because talking to myself is somethin I often do, and sometimes I argue with myself and lose but that’s a topic for another day.

I was given a dehydrator a couple of months ago. I did some pineapple, which I keep forgetting to eat. 🙂 I planned on doing more and then stuff happened, school and Maverick and just no time. But I thought I’d give liver a whirl because my favorite trainer, (Ian Dunbar, look him up, he’s not bad to look at and his voice is smooth as Irish Mist) always talks about liver treats for dogs. I bought a package of presliced, frozen, liver at the grocery store, cut it up and put it in the dehydrator last weekend.

I’ve handled some gross things in my life – I have a dog, picking up poop is up there on the list of “things I never thought I’d do on a regular basis.” Let me tell you. Cutting up raw liver has shot to the top of the list of “the grossest things I’ve ever done.” It’s slimy, and wet and it moves around, and it’s just seriously nasty.

Once it’s dehydrated, it’s like beef jerky, with no seasoning. (I didn’t taste it but Bear did and said it was delicious) (Bear eats some weird shit) Maverick about lost his mind when I gave him a piece.

It’s our go-to treat for the park because apparently it’s even better than squirrels. So, yeah, nasty, slimy, gross stuff that it is – I bought more last week and proceeded to cut it up and load up the dehydrator once again.

And should the country be forced into another shut down, and supplies become hard to find (this is a very real fear, I clearly remember not being able to find toilet paper because, you know, Americans don’t panic) we can always eat the yucky liver!


*I’m going to cut it while still frozen next time.

**I’m also trying to dehydrate apples tomorrow (for snacks, not because of the election)

Posted in dogs, Maverick, my life, training | 10 Comments

There’s no place like home

Sometimes I’m not sure where home really is.

I moved here 17 years ago, in the midst of a terrible, confusing, dark time in my life. The only light was my Bear – he held the broken pieces of me safe and helped me to put them back together. And I built a life here.

But there are times. I go back “home” every year because I have family, and memories, and history there. It isn’t home anymore. It’s the place I used to live, and the place I still love, but not the place I’ll ever call home again.

I leave some tears behind each year, mostly at the cemetery, because I don’t think you ever stop missing your mom and dad, no matter how many years they’ve been gone.

I cry when I get home because this is where I know I belong.

And then the days become routine and I feel like maybe I don’t. I’m a stranger still, in a strange land.

And the weeks roll around, and it’s time for diamonds and dinner with four of the most beautiful, wonderful, people, in this crazy world. For a few hours, we eat and talk and laugh and do silly things and tease each other (please, don’t let the food be dry!) and then…………. I go home.

I am blessed to have two families. One by blood – where I grew up. One by choice – where I live now. My heart is home and I am so grateful for the joy that just bubbles up from a night of food, talk, laughter and love.

Posted in family, home, old friends | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Stress, stress and more stress

I’m crabby. I’m not sure if it’s the moon phase, the election, constant Covid crap, or just general annoyance with the world, but I’ve got a serious case of crabby pants the last couple of days. I’m tired, tired of people hating, people judging each other by whether or not they voted for a certain person – I was taught that was a nunya (as in nun ya bidness) – we did not talk about politics or religion in my family. I have no clue for whom parents voted, although I do know my father was not a fan of John Kennedy, not because of anything he did but because of Joe, the father. My parents may have spoken of politics when the kids weren’t around, but never in front of us that I recall.

I’m also tired of the mask debate. Wear one or don’t, just shut the hell up and stop the dueling “experts.” Anyone who’s done any kind of research into pretty much anything knows that you can always find an “expert” to back your theory of the way things should be. Don’t believe me? Go to any dog forum and ask what food you should feed your puppy, or better yet, bring up neutering. That one will get more crap thrown at you than you can imagine. (My own sister sends me articles that “prove” that I should have neutered Maverick at 6 months. Stuff it, I love you, but those go in the trash because MY experts say to wait. So there)

And then there are my darling students, who do not seem to grasp that A) I am not your previous instructor and no, I’m not going to change my entire teaching method because she did things differently, and B) “virtual” and “remote” learning are two very different animals. Virtual means you do it yourself, you are responsible, whereas remote means I hold your little hand and we have class, albeit on opposite sides of a computer screen. Also, I didn’t spend several hours creating content for you to tell me that there’s nothing in the class that explains anything.

Yesterday a new Supreme Court Justice was confirmed. I happen to like the lady, I think she’s smart, articulate and balanced. Hey, anyone who can get 7 kids to sit still through hours of hearings has got something going on! And I get some of the arguments of those who don’t agree with her confirmation, although I don’t agree. (Merrick Garland would never have been confirmed because the Senate didn’t have the votes, they knew it and decided not to pursue it – that’s the plain and simple truth) It’s the people screaming about RBG’s legacy who are standing on my nerves.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not OWN a seat on the Supreme Court and could not pass it on to someone like a diamond bracelet left to a favorite niece. She could have, and probably should have, retired while Obama was still in office had she been that concerned about her successor. You do not get to decide who gets your job once you’re dead, and death bed wishes are wonderful unless the survivors don’t want to hear them, and there’s nothing in the Constitution that says anyone had to do so with her.

Much as I’d like to tell my Dean to make sure one of my favorite grandchildren gets my job when I’m gone, that ain’t how the world works.

I’m tired of election commercials. Joe, when you tell me to “take my word for it,” I laugh myself stupid. (Did you take Hunter’s word for it that there was nothing bad on the laptop so don’t worry that I forgot to pick it up, Dad!) I trust you about as far as I can see with my eyes closed. And all the local politicians, just stop. Sending me daily crap in the mail just annoys me and clutters up my trash can. Try stopping that shit if you’re so concerned with saving the forests.

I’m tired of Covid. I’m tired of the fear mongering from the media who seem to want us all to cower in our houses and never go out. Yes, the number of cases are up, because DUH the number of testing is up. I read something today that said the number of deaths is down! And I KEEP seeing that there’s a 99% survival rate. I’m seeing students who cannot learn, faculty who are at their wits ends and parents who are just totally at a loss. People are depressed, people are terrified, this is no way to live We need to get back to our lives. Stop it, just stop it. I HATE seeing people outside in the fresh air wearing a damned mask. Let those of us who are adults and have been making decisions for ourselves for a long long time continue to do so, back off, sit down, shut up and do your damned jobs – my mom and dad are long dead and I don’t need a freakin babysitter.

And finally, dear Maverick, it is NOT necessary to bark your head off every time the wind blows a leaf around or a squirrel farts in the woods. Nor is it acceptable to be a total jackwagon at the park when Mommah has NOT had nearly enough coffee.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Life is Peachy

Peachy is actually a dear friend of mine, and she just started a blog, writing about her life. She’s seriously awesome and funny, so you all need to go follow her – she’s also nervous about the whole thing so be kind.

K, here’s the link: https://itsmepeachy.com/

Do it!

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Home is where the Bear is

A week away doesn’t seem that long when you say it. It’s just seven days, eight days, seven nights, who’s counting?

You plan and plan and make lists and agendas and then you pack and pack way too much – four books, none of which you’ll open – a diamond painting that you won’t touch – a Kalimba you won’t play – a deck of tarot cards you won’t shuffle. But you might. So you bring them. Because there might be a time when you’re all alone and you just want to read. Or play the Kalimba. Or shuffle the deck.

You won’t, but if you don’t have them, you won’t have pieces of home.

I started missing the Bear and the Little One the second day. Day One was driving, and family, and tired. Day Two was family, and visiting dead relatives, and going back to a motel room, and climbing into a huge bed all alone, and alone isn’t all that fun in reality.

Each day, I called home a few times, to check on the Little One, to tell the Bear I love him, to hear his voice. Each day, I cried a little when I said goodbye for the night. Each night it got harder.

I planned to come home on Monday. I came home on Sunday. I’m exhausted and facing a week of little time for myself and if I had stayed overnight in NY one more night, it might have been better for getting shit done, but it would not have been better for me. Or Bear. Or Maverick.

The reunion was epic. There were tears of joy, and a face licked half off, but what the hell, it could use a good wash. My eyes are held up with toothpicks and I DO NOT CARE because I will crawl into my bed, close my eyes, snore so loud that I’ll wake the dead – who know better than to come round when I’m tired and not in the mood for shenanigans – and tomorrow will be full of joy because I’m home.

And home is the bestest place in the world.

Posted in family, home, Maverick, my life, old friends | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments