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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The End of Faith by Sam Harris

What a book is all I can say. It will shake up the very foundation of your thoughts. It will engender hate from some people and a deep sense of “I’m not alone in my opinions” in others.

Has anyone else read it who stops by here? If so, what did you think when you read it?

I fear for the author’s life actually and hope that instead of being a male named Sam Harris who’s working on a PhD in neuroscience, the author’s actually Ann Smith, a stay at home mom who lives in the Midwest.

Off to work on a Grandma story. Three quarters of my teeth have been scaled and I’ve survived quite nicely. I love my dentist. I’m so proud of myself that I have overcome the horrible fear I’ve had of going to the dentist and I owe it all to Dr. Ed Kozinn and his staff.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Grandma and her Ugly Bride Book

In Grandma’s later years, she developed a few quirks, one of which was the creation of an Ugly Bride Book.

Her Ugly Bride Book was just a spiral notebook in which she pasted the pictures of brides who’d been published in the local papers.

Grandma, who loved everybody, who only showed kindness and understanding to all people, obviously had a problem with ugly brides.

By the time we found her Ugly Bride Book, she’d been working on it for a few years. It was almost filled with pictures she’d cut out from the papers and then pasted on the blue-lined sheets of paper. She had also added her commentary which wasn’t very nice.

(Shame on you Grandma!)

One page showed a beaming bride who was, let’s say, more than plump. Grandma, who wasn’t exactly skinny herself, commented:

Look at that arm! It’s as big as a ham hock. Why would she wear a halter dress with those huge arms hanging out when a small caplet sleeve would have been much more flattering?

Another entry showed a bride who had somehow missed what should have been mandatory orthodontic appointments.

Comments: She’s smiling a big wide smile so that we don’t miss the fact that she doesn’t have a single straight tooth in her mouth. Count her teeth…I think she’s got a double row of them. Why didn’t the photographer tell her to take a pensive pose and hide those teeth.

The overly made-up bride:

He’s going to get one hell of a surprise if she ever washes her face!

Bulging belly bride:

This one has got to be pregnant. Why else should she have so much belly? A girdle would have helped smooth out the front of her gown. Way too much beading.

Bride and groom with short dark bangs, big round glasses and pointy chins:

These two look like brother and sister. This could be an ad for incest.

Lots of cleavage bride:

Those things should be covered up more if she’s married in a church. She looks like she’s been around the block but notice her pure white gown and virginal smile. I never saw cleavage like that. At least she has a place to put her bouquet if she gets tired of carrying it around.

Bride with long pointy nose:

He didn’t marry a woman, he married a nose.

Every picture had a comment from sweet Grandma that wasn’t sweet at all.

Grandma was up in years so we didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but it was so out of character that this gentle, loving person would spend time cutting out pictures from the paper and adding her not-so-nice commentary – so we asked: “What made you create this scrapbook, Grandma?”

“Too much time on my hands,” was her reply.

“No really, you love everybody and never say a bad word about anybody, so why this?”

“Oh one day I was reading the paper and saw a picture of a bride whose face would stop a clock and I said to myself, I have got to cut this one out and keep it.”

We looked at her skeptically.

“And, it also reminds me there is always someone out there to love you, even if you are ugly. I get lonely sometimes since your Grandpa died, and I’m no beauty and never have been, so maybe it’s a way to have some hope I’ll meet a man someday who could love me as I am. Yeah, that’s it.”

We didn’t believe her, but we also couldn’t come up with a better explanation for Grandma’s Ugly Bride Book.

Can you?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Who Knew?

So I'm writing these sweet little stories about Grandma and half the people in the world are coming to my blog now because of Google searches such as:

Picture of Grandma's Tits
Grandma blow job
Grandma fucking Grandpa
Grandma masturbating

And much worse which I won't assault your eyes with by writing them down here.

I don't get it?

Who would ever think that the word Grandma could be linked with so many slang words for body parts and sexual positions? What has created this great interest for men -- I assume the visitors are men...? To me porn and Grandma just don't mix at all.

Anyhow, just thought you might be interested in how a sweet and simple word like Grandma has caused my keyword list to reach the height of lewd, crude and rude searches.

I know, just by writing this down I'll get more...but I had to tell you, because personally I'm shocked at this rather large group of people looking for pictures etc. of Grandmas for sexual purposes.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Romeo and Juliet or Grandma and Bernie

Grandma had one other boyfriend before she met Grandpa.

The relationship was just as ill-fated as the ones she had with Nuts or Hank. Bernie Rosenblatt was Jewish and Grandma was Catholic, but in 1929, they were just two young adults who took the same bus home from work.

Bernie was going to school in New York City, and summers he spent at his home in Bridgeport. His summer job was as a shoe salesman in a downtown women’s shoe store. Both Bernie and Grandma waited together at the same bus stop and before long they went from idle chatter to plans for a real date.

“How was I supposed to know he was Jewish,” Grandma told us. “All I saw was a handsome young man with great manners and beautiful shoes. Bernie had no way of knowing I was Catholic either. I wasn’t wearing a cross and he wasn’t wearing a Star of David. I still to this day don’t know why any of that ever mattered, but boy did it. I was soon to find out how much it mattered.”

Bernie and Grandma made plans to meet at Seaside Park on a Sunday afternoon. You could get a hotdog or an ice cream and sit on a bench, look out at the water and have a chance to talk and maybe even hold hands or kiss, Grandma said.

Grandma’s mother didn’t believe there was a man in the world worth a whit, because her mostly-absent husband was one of the worst, so Grandma didn’t tell her who she was meeting that day.

Grandma had a brand new outfit she’d just bought. It was a cream colored dress with a red crocheted edging on the collar and on the cuffs of the puffed sleeves and it had a red leather belt with brass grommets. She also bought a new pair of pumps the same color as the belt. It was by far the prettiest dress she’d ever owned, she thought.

And the shoes cost her a week’s salary because she didn’t want to have a date with a shoe salesman with cheap shoes on her feet. She knew she was living on the edge wearing red shoes, a color that seemed to indicate a woman’s virginity, or lack of it. But she threw caution to the wind and bought what she wanted. When she took the last look at herself in the mirror she thought she looked beautiful.

“I was that happy and excited,” Grandma said.

At the Rosenblatt house, Bernie’s mother was watching him preen in front of the mirror and wondering just who was this girl he was meeting.

When he told her who it was, Mrs. Rosenblatt “threw a seven,” said Grandma. Mrs. Rosenblatt told Bernie she knew the family quite well and they were not Jewish and they were French Canucks at that!

Bernie told his mother he didn’t care. He liked Grandma.

Mrs. Rosenblatt said like turns to love but Catholics don’t turn Jewish. She said he had a responsibility to marry a Jewish girl and that was that. She told him he couldn’t meet Grandma at the park and threatened to pull him out of college or worse.

All this was going on while Grandma was sitting on the park bench.

And she sat and she sat.

She watched the children go by on roller skates. She pet a wandering dog who stopped by the bench. She watched the sailboats come and go and saw the afternoon turn into evening. Through her tears, she ate a hotdog with sauerkraut and dropped some on her pretty dress. Then she left.

Monday evening, Bernie was already at the bus stop when Grandma arrived.

Grandma says she held her head up high and tried not to either cry or scream. She was hopping mad though for being stood up. And she was sad.

Bernie looked as if his tie was too tight because his face was purple and he looked nowhere near as handsome as he had on Friday.

“I’m sorry,” he finally blurted out.

Grandma had to ask. “Why didn’t you meet me like you said you were going to? I waited till it was suppertime and you never showed up.”

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “My mother found out who I was meeting and said I couldn’t go. You know, the differences in our religion.” He went on to explain to Grandma how like turned to love. He told her everything his mother had said. There was no sense in being friends if it couldn’t go anywhere.

“Your mother would feel the same way,” Bernie told her, and Grandma knew this was true too.

Did you ever see Bernie again, we asked?

Oh yes, a few years later I did, when I was dating your Grandfather and we had already made a promise to each other to get married by then. I saw Bernie in Uncle George's shoe store; he worked there for one summer.

(Grandpa’s sister Marie had married George, a Jewish man – we sort of knew that but to us it was no big deal. They were a perfectly normal married couple who even in their 80s showed much love and affection for each other.)

We had to ask, “Well how come Uncle George was Jewish but he still married Aunt Marie who was Catholic. That would have been during the same time period. Wasn’t it? How come they were able to get married?”

“Yes true, same time period but different people,” Grandma said. “Maybe Uncle George’s mother didn’t care so much and Aunt Marie didn’t have a mother which is why she and your Grandpa grew up in an orphanage. Maybe religion was able to take a back seat to love if the love was strong enough. I don't know.

“I’ll tell you one thing, though," Grandma said. “They’d have never gotten married if Uncle George left Aunt Marie sitting on a bench at Seaside Park. That’s one thing I know for sure.”

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Grandma's Short Time in Vaudeville

The reason Grandma and Emma ended up in “vaudeville” wearing scanty costumes was all because of William Clarke.

Clarke, or “Crow” as Grandma called him, played the piano at The Graham Academy of Dance. He also played piano at the downtown Majestic Theater – and was an expert at bringing silent films to life with his self-composed piano accompaniments to the soundless, moving pictures.

Clarke had a thick head of shiny black hair, round dark eyes that would flicker from side to side, and a nose that looked more like something you’d see on the face of a bird rather than a man. So Crow he was called, although never to his face.

It was 1927 and silent films were giving way to the new “talkies”. Vaudeville, huge during the silent era, was beginning to die. The Majestic, which once featured a 3 hour vaudeville show, with a short silent film between shows, was now featuring full-length talkies, and only half-hour vaudeville acts between movie showings.

Vaudeville performers were becoming scarcer and scarcer, moving on to other areas of entertainment, as jobs in theaters were harder to find.

But there was one thing that theater goers still enjoyed immensely, and that was the “girl act.” The girl act was just that, usually two young females, not bad on the eyes, dressed in something scandalous at the time, like short skirts or Cleopatra costumes – any costume that would give the theater the excuse to serve up some young females that were showing more leg or chest than one would see on the street, although not much more than could be spied at the beach.

The manager of the Majestic was lamenting the fate of vaudeville acts with Crow, telling him he desperately needed a good girl act to keep the audience happy between movies-- when Crow said he was pretty sure he could find a good girl act for him.

Crow didn’t need to look at the piano keys when he played, so he spent most of his time at the Graham Academy of Dance looking at the young women who were taking lessons.

He had a special fondness for Emma and her blonde curly hair, but he also thought Grandma had the best legs he’d ever seen in his life. And, they were both great dancers and could tap like nobody’s business.

Both Grandma and Emma had full time jobs, but they still took dance lessons on Saturday afternoons – sometimes they helped teach the younger girls too. It was fun for them and by now Grandma’s mother knew Grandma was taking lessons, but she also knew Grandma was paying for them.

At first Grandma was shocked when Crow approached her about performing at the Majestic. But after talking it over with Emma, the excitement of being on stage together was greater than the fear of what their mothers would say if they found out Grandma and Emma were dancing at the Majestic.

It’s not that theater dancers or girl acts were particularly naughty, but there was a stigma attached to performing at the theaters. Nice girls didn’t do it, that was for sure.

Grandma says it was a damn good thing she wasn’t a nice girl, because she remembers her short time on the stage with great satisfaction.

She and Emma and Crow worked out an act based on a dance routine the girls already knew backwards and forwards. Crow wanted them on stage for the next Saturday evening performance.

He looked through “props” and “costumes” in the theater’s basement, and came up with red, satin, boxer shorts and white jersey “farmer” undershirts. (Today we’d call these wife-beaters!)

He found two sets of small boxing gloves and had young Hank, the gorgeous, but deaf, stage manager, whip up a quick, easy to assemble boxing ring made out of the velvet ropes and heavy stands they used to keep the patrons in single file when entering the theater.

Crow showed the girls how to jab and punch without touching each other and tailored his music to the routine that had now been upgraded to a boxing, tap, girl act.

Grandma says the manager loved Crow’s idea and they were hired without even auditioning – Crow’s word was good enough.

The curtain rose and the spotlight went on, and Emma and Grandma were cordoned off in a twelve foot by twelve foot square where they performed their routine, tapping furiously while pretending to be boxers.

Grandma says she wasn’t nervous at all and when the crowd roared with approval she was sure that she was going to become a professional tap dancer. The applause at the end of the routine meant more to her than the money she got after the show.

(Which, by the way --and even after Crow had taken his 50 percent! -- was still more than a week’s salary at the furniture store.)

But it wasn’t meant to be.

At their fifth performance, Emma’s uncle Donald just happened to be at the show that night. He spotted Emma and had a conniption fit. He told Mrs. Caroway what Emma and Grandma were doing and Emma was forbidden to perform at the theater again.

Grandma said there wasn’t much future for one-half of a girl act, so she decided the stage wasn’t for her either.

“Did you ever wonder how different your life would have been if you had decided to continue as a solo act?” we asked Grandma.

“No,” she replied. “By that time I was already smitten with Hank, the stage manager, and learning sign language so we could do more than “moon” at each other.”

“So tell us about Hank? Did you love him? How long did you date him? How come we never heard you talk about him before?”

Grandma looked a bit sad.

“Hank was one of the most beautiful men I ever saw in my life. He had beautiful dark, red hair and the bluest eyes you ever saw. He was tall and muscular and strong.

But, he was deaf and my mother didn’t want me dating a boy who was deaf. She was afraid we’d have deaf children… or that he wouldn’t be able to support me and I guess, she thought, others would think I was so unappealing to the opposite sex, I had to marry a deaf man. It wasn’t a good time for people with disabilities. They were supposed to marry their own kind.”

“Oh Grandma, that’s so too bad, so unfair,” we said empathizing with her, grateful to be living at a time when such prejudices didn’t exist anymore.

“Keep in mind though,” Grandma said, “his own mother didn’t want him dating me either. She thought it scandalous that he even entertained the idea of dating one of the vaudeville girls! I never got to break it off with him, because he did it first.

“So, I don’t ever think about what life on the stage might have been like, but sometimes I do think about what might have happened if Hank hadn’t told me he couldn’t date me anymore. Maybe I would have eloped with him and maybe I would never have married your Grandpa. But that is one thing I’ll never know, and it’s one thing Grandpa will never know about either.”

She gave us the look that said: no more talk about Hank -- and just in time, as Grandpa came in the back door with a big basket of fresh tomatoes he’d just picked from the garden.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Grandma and the Vanilla Salesman

Grandma used to pepper her speech with lots of “sayings”. “Only one peacock per family; The cobbler’s children have no shoes; Look before you leap”, were some of her favorites.

She also would make-up her own sayings based on her life experiences. One saying she used over and over, -- (you couldn’t be in her company more than a few hours before you’d hear it )--was coined because of what happened one day between Grandma and the vanilla salesman.

After the war, a man named Bernie sold bottles of imitation vanilla extract, door to door. Bernie had lost a large portion of his right hand due to a war injury, and what was left was a mangled, red mass that looked more like a crimson starfish than a real hand.

Bernie used his deformed hand as a way to sell his vanilla. He’d knock on a door, and when the “lady of the house” opened the door, he’d shove his hand in front of her eyes – as she’d gasp, rattled by the horrific sight, he’d take a big step inside the house.

He would talk very fast – waving his hand back and forth while giving his spiel: “Good day Ma’am. My name’s Bernie and I lost the use of my hand in 1943 when I was tending to an injured soldier and a bullet flew through the air hitting my hand and the damn thing exploded before my eyes. Flesh, blood, bone – it was everywhere. Look at it; look at it. Look at it. This is what I brought home from the war. But I fought the good fight and thank God I’m lucky enough, to have made it home alive. But I can’t work as I did before, not with the hand, so I do this, I sell my vanilla. It’s good vanilla…one hundred percent imitation vanilla. It’s the best vanilla around. Here smell it.”

At this point he’d form the red starfish into a lobster-like claw, and remove the cap from the bottle with the injured hand, then he’d shove both the hand and the bottle right up in front of the woman’s nose. “Here, smell, smell, smell.”

Bernie’s vanilla cost three times what you’d pay at the local grocery store, and most of the women answering the door would never have purchased his vanilla except that he always managed to get his foot in the door by flashing his starfish hand, and once inside the house, he wouldn’t leave until you bought his vanilla.

He’d stay as long as it took.

The widow Chopsky said he stayed in her hallway for two hours until she gave up and paid him to leave. Once he left she threw the vanilla in the garbage because he’d opened the cap with that hand and the memory of it was enough to make her swear off vanilla for life.

Bernie was a master salesman and he never left a house without selling at least one small bottle of vanilla -- that was until he knocked on Grandma’s door.

It wasn’t that Grandma was heartless, but she’d heard Widow Chopsky’s story about the vanilla salesman who’d been knocking on doors in the neighborhood and she had no intentions of ever letting him in her house.

For a while, she was very cautious about opening the front door. She’d move the curtains and peek out, just to make sure it wasn’t Bernie. But this day was a warm day and the storm door was open and the screen door wasn’t latched, which meant Bernie was able to flash his hand, give his spiel, while pulling open the door and gaining entry into Grandma’s house before she even knew what was happening.

Grandma would have gladly given him the money for the vanilla to get him the hell out of her house, she said, but, she had no money to give him. Not even the few coins it would have taken to buy the extra-small bottle of vanilla he sold only to the people who swore they couldn’t afford the bigger bottle.

So there was Bernie two feet into the house and Grandma, without the money to stop him from waving around his mangled hand.

Grandma told him over and over again she had no money. Bernie shoved the hand and vanilla under Grandma’s nose for her to smell it. Bernie kept talking. Grandma repeated she had no money and he should go. Bernie wouldn’t move; Grandma couldn’t pay him to go-- so it was a “Mexican standoff” Grandma said.

Grandma says she asked him a dozen times to please go. Grandma says she offered him a blueberry muffin to take with him. Grandma says he ignored her pleas, didn’t want a muffin and told her he was sure she could find the money for a small bottle of vanilla and he’d wait right where he was till she got it.

So Grandma did the only thing she could do. She left Bernie standing in her “parlor” in her house --and she walked right past him, out the front door and down the street to the widow’s house.

Oh she was worried that maybe he was ransacking her home; maybe he’d steal her mother’s silver-plated tray or maybe he’d rummage through the ice box for food. But she just didn’t care. She wasn’t going to be trapped in her own home by a vanilla salesman, bad hand or not.

Mrs Chopsky offered to pay for the vanilla. But Grandma said no. Mrs. Chopsky said the poor guy was just trying to make a living after serving his country so heroically.

Grandma said he was nothing more than a huckster using his hand to frighten people – catch them off balance -- and even if he’d had a gun to her head, it didn’t matter. She didn’t have any damn money to buy his damn vanilla or any other damn vanilla for that matter.

Through Mrs. Chopsky’s window, Grandma kept her eyes on her own front door. It took a while, but finally she saw Bernie leaving her house. She’d won.

So, that is why you might have heard Grandma say, from time to time, one of her favorite “homemade” adages - -

“It takes more than a mangled hand to spend money you don’t have.”

It makes sense now doesn’t it?

Note: As it turns out, months later Grandma was telling the story of the vanilla salesman to one of Grandpa's poker buddies, a local police officer, and he told Grandma that Bernie had never served in the war. Bernie was nothing more than a local vagrant who'd been picked up for peeing in trash cans and for drunkeness. He drank up every cent he made selling vanilla, and when he was out of money, he'd start to drink the vanilla.

Bernie had mangled his hand when he fell down, dead drunk, and his hand was run over by a streetcar. It was no war injury at all.

We said to Grandma: "Gee that must have made you feel better about the whole thing, right?"

Grandma replied, "No, not really, didn't matter how he hurt his hand, what mattered then is the same thing that matters now, so remember these words: It takes more than a mangled hand to spend money you don't have.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Nuts Mahoney

I may have given you the impression that Grandma was a saintly woman who never did a wrong thing in all her days.

So it’s necessary to bring Grandma down a peg or two so the real woman shines through, because she was no angel.

When Grandma was fifteen, she had a healthy interest in the opposite sex and she and her best friend Emma were always on the hunt for cute boys. Cute boys were starting to notice Grandma too.

But it wasn’t just boys. Grandma, who had graduated from the 8th grade was now a full-time worker in a downtown furniture store. She was the bookkeeper and showroom cleaner. Of her two responsibilities, she far enjoyed the bookkeeping over dusting all the furniture and polishing it too, if the boss said so.

The boss was a middle-aged man named Hymie Wilner who had a wife and four kids. He also had an attraction to Grandma which he didn’t particularly hide.

She says he had a way of coming up behind her as she was bent over her desk and then pointing to something in front of her, the ledger, the bill spindle or even once her lunch and just barely brushing, with his arm, her very young and tender bosom.

He frequently asked her if she had a boyfriend which would make her blush.

“Oh come on, you must have a boyfriend you’re so pretty, you must have a beau,” he’d needle.

Certainly Grandma had no intention of telling him about “Nuts” Mahoney. Nuts, as he was called, was the closest thing to a boyfriend Grandma had.

(You probably want to know how he got the nickname “Nuts” just as I did.

When I asked her, Grandma replied, “Well, his real name was Marion Mahoney and if anyone dared to call him by his real first name he’d go nuts. That’s how he got the name.)

Nuts always seemed to be hanging around Grandma’s house. Nuts once gave Grandma a candy box in the shape of a heart. Nuts once put his hand on Grandma’s knee when they were sitting on the porch swing and once Nuts kissed Grandma (half-cheek, half-mouth) then ran like hell down the street.

So far, only Nuts and Mr. Wilner had shown any courting interest in Grandma and neither of them was someone Grandma would want for a beau.

Mr. Wilner was married and very old – probably 35 at the time, Grandma said. Nuts was her own age, but way too childish for Grandma’s taste. Plus he was plagued with bad skin, bad breath and bad posture. And, if you called him by his real name he really would go nuts.

So Grandma was not only unattached but also unskilled in the ways of courting or romance --or dealing with the opposite sex in general.

But she did know one thing, she sure didn’t like old Mr. Wilner accidentally on purpose, touching her chest.

When Grandma told her mother about Mr. Wilner’s accidental “touching,” her mother told her, in no uncertain terms, “Look, you have a good job and are making good money and we need your income to keep this house going.

“So you find a way to avoid that situation and you be polite to Mr. Wilner at all costs and make sure you aren’t doing anything at all to encourage him. And I don’t want you to bring this up again -- ever.”

Grandma was in a bad spot. How was she going to let Mr. Wilner know that this touching could not go on? How could she say it in words polite enough to please her mother and what on earth could she possibly be doing to encourage him?”

Grandma thought and thought and then it came to her. The next time Mr. Wilner came near her desk she was going to cross her arms in front of her chest and then when he accidentally on purpose rubbed up against her with his arm – it would be his arm on her arm and that was okay since people touched arms all the time.

For a good two weeks, Grandma employed the arms-crossed method of self-protection and the only feel Mr. Wilner copped was a bit of arm.

It was working. Grandma was proud that she had thought of a way to keep her mother happy and herself happy without confronting the boss.

It was almost as if Mr. Wilner got the point. Almost like he knew why she had taken on this new posture of crossed arms, Grandma thought.

And then Nuts Mahoney had to go and screw it all up.

It was Valentine’s Day, 1926 and Grandma was busy working at her desk when in came Nuts carrying a bouquet of flowers, fresh from the florist, and arranged in a beautiful cut-glass vase. She could see him hand it to the floor manager, Mr. Dagney, and then run out of the store like a thief.

Mr. Dagney started to walk back to where Grandma worked to hand them to her when he was stopped by Mr. Wilner. Grandma wondered what the two men were talking about. She could see their mouths moving through the glass partition but she couldn’t hear a word.

What happened next was so shocking to Grandma, that even in her later years she would still flush at the thought.

It was Mr. Wilner who brought the flowers in to her. When he handed her the vase she reached out to grab it-- just as Mr. Wilner did the same to her breast.

He squeezed it hard and smiled a smile that made her stomach churn and also made her do something that she shouldn’t have ever done.

She took the vase, and threw it right at his head, missing his head, she was glad, but splashing water all over the front of his suit. And then she got up and ran out of the store. She was never going to go back there no matter what her mother said; no matter if they ended up in the poor house.

Grandma’s mother never knew Grandma had come home from work so early because she too was working. That evening was just like any other evening at home, except that Grandma kept wishing she was dead.

The next day, Grandma didn’t go to work. She told her mother she was sick to her stomach and she really was.

The next day she said she was still too sick to go to work. She was terrified of having to tell her mother what she did. All day she moped around the house and ate crackers and butter to see if that would help her feel better.

Then there was a knock at the door and through the curtains she could see him, the devil himself was standing on her front porch.

As much as she didn’t want to open the door, she knew she had to. Maybe he had her last paycheck with him or maybe he was there to talk to her mother and tell about how she threw a vase of flowers at him.

So she opened the door and he instantly spoke, ”I shouldn’t have done what I did and I won’t do it again. You need to come back to work, it’s piling up. I’m giving you a raise for your troubles so please come to work today, as soon as possible. We will forget this now, won’t we?”

Grandma had seen a few worms on a few hooks in her day and that’s exactly what Mr. Wilner looked like to her. He wasn’t so tough or scary after all. He was practically pleading with her to come back to work.

“Okay,” Grandma said, “I will. But if you ever touch me again I’ll do worse than I did; I’ll kick you in the you-know-whats and I swear by all that’s holy I'll tell your wife and I’ll call the police too. And I want that raise and I don’t want to do any more dusting or polishing of the furniture either.”

Mr. Wilner agreed to Grandma’s demands and she ended up working for him until she was twenty-one. He never touched her again, never asked her if she had a beau; never did a single thing that made Grandma uncomfortable after their talk.

And Grandma never dusted or polished a single piece of furniture from that day forward.

For this fact, Grandma was always beholding to Nuts Mahoney who, by the way, became Marion again, when ten years in the future he was ordained a Catholic priest.

I guess he never really had been Grandma’s beau after all.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Grandma and the Hobo

During the depression, many ordinary men were forced to become hobos and beggars. Work was scarce, and men who once held a decent paying job were often left penniless and homeless when through circumstances beyond their control, they lost their jobs.

Some men would take to the rails, dangerously hopping on boxcars and then hopping off when they arrived at an area where they thought they’d find some work.

Half-starved, hobos begged for food. They knocked on back doors of homes that looked like the occupants might have enough to eat that they’d be willing to share some with the less fortunate.

Which is why Grandma was so impressed the day the hobo knocked on her back door.

Grandma really didn’t have enough food to spare, but by the very act of knocking on her door, the hobo had made her feel wealthy, lucky and “upper crust,” as she said.

Smoothing her hair with one hand while she wiped the other on her apron, she told the hobo that of course, she would be glad to give him something to eat.

“Just sit down on the steps and I’ll bring you something to eat right away,” Grandma said, holding her back very straight and smiling to herself.

Oh it was good to help the poor, she thought as she headed towards the ice box. But now the problem was just what could she give him to eat?

She always had good crusty bread in the house as she made a loaf every other day. But what on earth could she put inside the bread slices?

Then she remembered she still had one piece of meatloaf leftover from yesterday’s dinner. She had intended to give it to Grandpa for his lunch, but he’d opted for his favorite baked bean sandwiches instead.

She decided that the hobo would get the meatloaf and he would probably be so thrilled to get meat, any kind of meat, he’d most likely tell her that she was the kindest and most generous lady in the whole town.

She was going to show the hobo what people like herself, people of “means” did to help others. And, she was going to set him up a tray that would be as nice looking as if she were serving the king of England.

She opened the sideboard and took out her mother’s silver-plated handled tray. On the tray she placed her wedding gift silver-plated salt and pepper shakers. A good beginning she thought smugly.

Then she chose one of her loveliest plates, a blue willow plate that had always been her favorite. A fine linen napkin and a Royal Daulton cup and saucer were also placed on the tray.

After cutting two healthy slices of bread, she put the meatloaf on one slice. Should she ask him what he liked on his meatloaf sandwiches? She had some butter, only a tablespoon or two, she had mustard that she made herself and she had lettuce she’d picked that morning from the garden. So she layered the lettuce on the sandwich, spread some of her mustard on the top slice and decided to keep the butter as it was so hard to come by.

She fussed with the lettuce so that a pretty ruffled green border peeked out between the bread slices. She cut the sandwich carefully into two perfect triangles and placed it on the blue willow plate.

What else? What else should she give him, she thought.

Ah yes, he would probably love a hard boiled egg and she had one of those in the icebox which she was going to have for her own lunch, but after all a woman who could rent a house that was nice enough that a hobo would knock on the door…well she would also have enough hard boiled eggs to share, now wouldn't she?

So the hobo got the egg and on the side of the plate she placed a good sized scoop of her homemade pickled three bean salad.

When the kettle started to whistle, she placed some tea in the cup and remembered she hadn’t put out any cutlery on the tray.

Spoon, fork, okay. The tray was perfectly set for a nice lunch – a lunch suitable for the church ladies, never mind a hobo.

On the tray she also placed the last two oatmeal cookies she had which the children were looking forward to eating, but she decided the addition of cookies would make this hobo tell everyone in the town what a wonderful lunch he was served by such a wonderful, generous lady.

The children could have cookies some other day.

Smiling she carried the tray to the back door and handed it to the hobo.

“Knock when you’re done and I’ll retrieve the tray,” she told him, using a voice that was not her normal voice, but the voice of a lady who could give out meatloaf to a hobo.

Now all she had to do was wait. She was very excited listening for the knock and anticipated what the hobo would say as he thanked her for the lovely and delicious lunch.

Knock. Knock.

Grandma walked quickly to the back door, smoothing the front of her dress and taking on an expression that Grandma called “Lady Bountiful.”

"Oh my, finished already?" Grandma said as the hobo handed her the empty tray without a word. Not a thank you – nothing.

As he turned to leave, Grandma sputtered: “Wait, wait, I wanted to ask you if you enjoyed your lunch. How was the meatloaf,” she inquired, putting emphasis on the word meat.

“It was… it was okay,” he said. “The meatloaf-- it was a little dry, if you ask me.”

And the hobo left just like that, shuffling down the driveway with his flopping soles and Grandpa’s meatloaf, Grandma’s egg and the children’s cookies in his belly.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Notes on the Grandma Stories

I want to thank everyone, especially Lawbrat who's adopted Grandma I think! for all the kind comments on my blog and also by email; thanks for liking the Grandma stories so much.

I am putting these up on the blog in first draft form as I don't want to sweat the small stuff when I write them. Instead, I am looking to capture Grandma's voice, telling me the stories - the tone and mood of the incident. I hope to clean up the writing later. (I don't think I was successful on the diaper story but will redo it after I get the bulk of the stories down on pixels.)

AMK - I forgot to address your question on the Mad Stabber story. I have no idea what weapon made that v-shaped wound. Husband says it could have just been a knife -- I'm not sure, because all of the victims had that same v-shaped mark...so I'm guessing it was something sharp in the shape of a vee. I wonder what it was? Anyone have an idea?

When Grandma had terminal cancer and was moving out of her house and into the Nursing Home, she had her last conversation with Emma on the phone. She laughed and whispered so I wouldn't hear some of what she was saying. Her last words to Emma were( as close to verbatim as I can remember):

Emma, listen up, I don't want you to call me at the place and certainly don't even think of trying to visit. I'm be taking you with me anyhow-- I'll have plenty of time to remember all the fun days we had when we were young and footloose and fancyfree. That's the way I want it dearest of dear friends. Bye for now.

Friday, January 13, 2006

When Good Things Happen to Good People

It was Wednesday, June 6th, 1945 – exactly one year to the day after D-day. The war had ended and Grandma and Grandpa were expecting their third child.

Life was going to get back to normal soon, but for now, many items that had been easy to get before the war --were still scarce. Gasoline, tires, sugar, butter, meat, tea, and even diapers were often very hard to come by.

Grandpa and Grandma had saved enough money to buy a cute little house on Keaton Street, USA, and it was a happy time in their lives. The war was over and a baby was growing in Grandma’s belly.

Grandpa drove a black 1939 Chevy he named “Maria,” and this day, June 6, 1945, was just a regular day - and he and Mariah were driving to work like they always did.

He considered his ten minute “commute” -- his “thinking time”. And today he was taking stock of his life. Two more days of work till the weekend, all of his bills paid in full, (except the sideboard he had purchased from Nothnagle’s furniture store, the best furniture store in 60 miles.)

Four more payments and he’d own it outright.

He loved his new job as supervisor and was making good money, for the time. But even making “good money”, he still needed more than he brought in, that’s why he moonlighted as a chimney sweep so he could give his children a better life than he had.

“They have their own front and back door,” Grandpa thought as he smiled. For some reason, unbeknown to his children until their later years, this really put a smile on Grandpa's face.

He was excited about the birth of his third child and knew, at his age, this would be the last. Grandma had endured four miscarriages through the years, but this pregnancy had held. Grandma was due in September and they were prepared for their new little one.

He’d painted the downstairs bedroom a sunny shade of yellow, purchased a second-hand crib, and thoroughly cleaned and repaired the old carriage that had sat in the garage since the last baby seven years ago.

Yes, they were all set, except for one thing: He couldn’t find a single diaper to buy in the whole city – never mind a dozen!

He worried about where they’d ever find any diapers and wondered if they could use some soft, flannel fabric instead.

Diapers were on his mind when his thoughts were interrupted by a white paneled van, driving in front of Grandpa, which suddenly took a sharp left turn and when it did, two packages, wrapped in brown paper, fell out of the back doors which had swung open at the turn.

Grandpa laid on his horn, trying to get the attention of the driver but the driver just kept going.

Grandpa drove around the block and came back to where the packages had fallen. Maybe he could find some label or name on the packages so he could return them, he thought.

He pulled over to the side of the road and picked up the packages and placed them in the back seat of the car. There was nothing on the outside of the brown paper that would identify the owner.

When he returned home, after work, he brought the packages in the kitchen; Grandma was excited wondering what was inside. But the minute Grandpa slit open the brown paper and a familiar odor reached her nose, she knew very well what those packages contained.


Dirty diapers.

Dozens and dozens of dirty diapers had fallen out of a diaper service van right in front of Grandpa’s car!

Grandma says they worked all weekend soaking, washing, rinsing and ringing out diapers until the cotton fabric was as soft and as white as it could be.

When Grandma’s clothesline was filled, Grandpa started asking the neighbors if he could use their clotheslines to dry the diapers.

Grandma says it was a sight to see.

Every clothesline on Keaton Street was filled with clean, white rectangles-- flapping in the breeze.

The widow on the corner, the newly weds in the blue house, the creepy Adamchack family, the maiden lady who lived next door, the crabby German guy who seemed ashamed of being German yet wouldn't speak English -- they all had these white flags of hope, fertility, freedom, continuity and brotherly love...flying from high-tech umbrella clotheslines to pegs and twine, from sturdy rope to string as fine as embroidery floss.

Oh yes, every house on Keaton street, those owned by the barren, to those owned by the Bradey’s who had more kids than they could remember their names; they all came together that day, that moment to dry Grandma’s windfall diapers.

Grandma says it was a sight to see.

I see it.

Can you?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

That Scar on Grandma's Breast

When Grandma was twelve she met another twelve-year-old girl who would become her best friend for life.

Her name was Emma Caroway.

Grandma and Emma were as different as two girls could be. Grandma was one of four children being raised by her hard-working, single mother. Grandma was poor and (she says) homely. She had thin, mousy-brown hair and an eye that would tend to cross when she was nervous.

She was clumsy and chubby - had a slight lisp and a slight limp – a reminder and remainder of the bad case of rickets she had as an infant.

Emma was an only child with blonde, curly hair, dark-blue eyes and even dark lashes which was rare for someone with such light-colored hair.

She was the most beloved and doted upon daughter of her wealthy parents, Mr. and Mrs. Caroway. Mr. Caroway was a pharmacist and Mrs. Caroway was a beautiful blonde woman who turned heads everywhere she went and dressed in the latest fashions.

Grandma said Mrs. Caroway not only looked like an angel, but she also acted like one. Mrs Caroway saved Grandma from many predicaments and situations that her own mother would have punished her for or worse, not understood at all.

Because Emma’s parents were well-off and Grandma came from a broken home and was poor, Mrs. Caroway offered to pay for Grandma to take lessons with Emma. That way they could travel the bus lines together, practice together and keep each other company.

So Grandma took elocution lessons, dance lessons and piano lessons with Emma. She spent every spare moment she had at Emma’s house; Emma had the piano, Emma had lots of good food, Emma had her own bedroom decorated in lavender and cream chintz and a double bed all her own.

Somehow, Grandma knew that her own mother would not be happy about Mrs. Caroway paying for Grandma’s lessons so she neglected to share this information with her mother.

Single mothers were rare in the 20s and Grandma’s mother had to work all day at an upholstery company and much of the evening as a seamstress for a local dry cleaning store to make her “frayed” ends meet. She also took in sewing for her spare time: weekends and late evenings. Somehow she kept her family together which, I’m sure, is why later on Grandma was able to do the same when times were hard for her during the Depression.

Grandma and her three siblings had numerous chores they had to accomplish, but after that – they were free to be away from the house because their mother was hardly ever home. Grandma would do her chores as fast as she could and then run all the way to Emma’s house.

Grandma remembers this time as one of pure joy.

She loved her piano lessons and became very good at playing; she loved her elocution lessons and lost her lisp while memorizing beautiful poems and speeches she could still recite till her death.

Most of all, she loved the dance lessons. Her limp disappeared as her dance skills improved. She slimmed down and grew breasts. She was blossoming and soon she excelled in both tap and ballet as did Emma. They were the pets of the class.

She kept her tap and ballet shoes (provided by Mrs. Caroway) in Emma’s closet, but she managed to practice in her own home in socks and her Sunday shoes.

It was on the way to dance lessons, a warm day in April, 1924, that it happened.

Emma and Grandma had just gotten off the city bus and were heading towards The Graham Academy of Dance, laughing , half-running and feeling free and happy, when Grandma felt a thwack on her chest.

That man, walking in the other direction -- swinging his arm, must have bumped into her by mistake, she thought. But when she looked down at her white Catholic-school blouse she saw a circle of red seeping into the cotton fabric.

Emma was screaming so loud that Grandma had to tell her to calm down. Nothing hurt, thought Grandma, so where was that blood coming from?

Something weird was happening to Grandma and she didn’t know what it was. Then Grandma’s knees buckled and she went down with a thump onto the street. Her skirt hiked up so high, Emma had to pull it down or people would have seen her underpants.

In a few minutes, Grandma sat up.

It was fear that had made her faint. And not fear of the blood stain on her blouse. Fear of what she would have to tell her mother: Where she was when this happened and why she was downtown with Emma.

Once the truth was out and Grandma’s mother realized that Mrs. Caroway was paying for Grandma’s dance lessons, the lessons would stop.

Maybe her mother would stop her from going to the Caroway house all together. Maybe her mother would be so angry she’d forbid her to see Emma ever again, and if that happened, Grandma would have to curl up and die right on the spot, she thought.

“It’s going to be okay,” Emma said. “My mother will fix things. She’ll understand.”

Emma handed Grandma a beautiful handkerchief with purple pansies embroidered on it and dark purple tatting on the edges. Put that over where you’re bleeding and let’s get out of here now.

On the bus ride home to Emma’s house, she held the hanky over the spot that was bleeding and tried to breathe normally and not faint again.

Mrs. Caroway looked pale when she saw Grandma with the blood stained blouse and the scared face.

“Well, what on earth has happened here?” she asked.

“Oh please don’t tell my mother Mrs. Caroway. She won’t let me take dance lessons with Emma if she knew you paid for them.” Grandma cried for the first time since the incident.

Mrs. Caroway did understand.

She made Grandma take off her blouse and she could tell in an instant exactly what had happened.

She cleaned the v-shaped wound with brown soap and water, gently dried it and placed a bandage over the wound. It would heal up fine, Mrs. Caroway said.

“Emma, get her one of your school blouses please…I’ll keep this one and wash it and you can get it some other time dear,” she told Grandma.

Over lemonade and gingersnaps, Mrs. Caroway told Grandma about a bad man she had heard about, who was attacking young girls. He had a sharp object and would aim for their bosom, not wanting to kill them, but just to draw some blood. He was talked about in the papers and had been dubbed, The Mad Stabber.

Up until this incident, he hadn’t been in their city, but apparently he had moved to another area where the police weren’t expecting him.

“I should call the authorities,” Mrs. Caroway said, but Grandma pleaded with her not to-- so she never did.

Maybe The Mad Stabber found religion or got run over by a bus. Maybe he didn’t like Grandma’s city or maybe he got worse and didn’t just jab at young girls but went on to kill or rape – one thing is for sure, he never was in the local papers again after Grandma got stabbed.

Just what did he stab her with? Maybe you have an idea. It left a perfect V-shaped scar on her upper left breast, faint but there. It was rather high up on her breast and once in a while, she’d wear something with a round or vee-neck and we could see the place where he got her.

Mrs. Caroway never told anyone what happened and Grandma continued to take dance lessons until she and Emma were fifteen and landed a job at a local burlesque theater.

But, that’s another story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Hottest Day of the Year

In 1938, Grandpa decided to raise chickens in the back yard. He reasoned that food was scarce and money to buy food even scarcer, so having his own eggs and some chickens to slaughter would keep food on his table through these bad times.

He got himself a rooster and some laying hens and some fertilized eggs to hatch in his homemade hatchery. He built a lean-to chicken coop at the back end of the garage and fenced in an area to keep the chickens safe from starving dogs.

(Also, to keep them from leaving his yard and taking up residency in someone else’s yard. He didn’t want to see one of his chickens ending up as a neighbor’s Sunday dinner. )

These were tough times for Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa worked three jobs almost nineteen hours a day – just to keep his family fed and sheltered.

Grandma packed him his lunch and his supper in one bag. Baked bean sandwiches with a slice of raw onion and a dab of catsup were his favorites, but he’d eat anything between two slices of Grandma’s homemade bread, he’d always say.

Grandpa worked and worked while the chickens got bigger and bigger.

They went from youthful chickens perfect for sautéing or frying -- into tough, old birds only suitable for stewing, that is if they could fit in Grandma’s largest pot.

Hungry as his family was, chicken-hearted Grandpa couldn’t bring himself to kill a single one of them.

So instead of supplying his family with food, all he’d done was spend money on chickens, chicken wire and chicken feed. They’d have been better off with no chickens Grandma would complain.

Day after day, Grandma would plead, “Please, would you kill one of those chickens! They’re huge and ready for stuffing and roasting and we haven’t had meat since last week.”

Grandpa would reply, “Not big enough yet.”

But, Grandma knew, it wasn’t their size that bothered Grandpa, he just could not bring himself to kill a living animal.

As the chickens got bigger and bigger, the lone rooster became louder and louder.

He cockadoodledoo-ed all the time. Apparently he hadn’t read the rooster handbook that said only cockadoodle-doo at dawn.

Grandma’s ironing money went for chicken feed while her family was eating less and less. She was tempted to go grab a chicken and do the deed herself. But, she couldn’t do it either. After all, they still had bread, eggs, crackers and one-quarter cup of precious bacon fat in the icebox.

One night, Grandpa came home exhausted after working 17 days in a row at three jobs. He was a “cutter” for a bra and girdle company downtown. He was a machinist at an auto parts factory and he also worked loading boxes down at the docks – his favorite job only because it was his last one for the day.

He started his work day at 6 AM and ended it at midnight. Sometimes he even had to work past midnight, if a shipment was very large or late coming in.

Grandma says it was August but she couldn’t remember which day – only that it was the hottest day of the year.

She’d slaved all day ironing rich men’s shirts while Grandfather “sweat bullets” as he’d call it, guiding the arm of the cutting machine, working on the drill press and finally working on the dock.

Usually the cool night air made this last job almost pleasant in the summer.

But not on the night of the hottest day of the year.

Naturally, he had to work late on the hottest day of the year, and didn’t return home till almost one in the morning. He stuck his mouth under the sink faucet and drank till he’d killed his thirst, then dragged himself down the hallway and into his bed – the image of the bed had helped him get through that last hour of work.

Although the windows were open wide, the lacy curtains did not move. But heat or no heat, he was too tired to care and he fell asleep only minutes after his head hit the pillow.

2:45 AM


Grandpa stirred.

3:10 AM


Grandpa rolled over on his other side.

3:30 AM


Grandpa got up from the bed and bare-ass naked ran outside leaving the screen door to flap, flap flap until it closed.

Grandma thought Grandpa had lost his mind. The heat, little to eat and no sleep for days had probably turned him mad, she thought.

3:40 AM


That was it. No more.

Grandpa came back in the house and flopped into bed.

“What happened? Where did you go?” Grandma asked.

“I went out and killed that fucking rooster, that’s what I did. I wrung his bloody neck - now go to sleep!”

In later years they would laugh as they remembered the incident. The man who couldn’t kill a chicken to feed his family was capable of manually strangling a rooster who had woken him up.

We sometimes wonder if Grandpa would have murdered that rooster if it hadn’t been the hottest day of the year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Finding My Roots

I used to think that finding a good hair-dresser was the ultimate in good luck. Now that I am experiencing some dental problems, I know that the roots I should have been worrying about are not in my scalp but in my mouth!

I had to go to the dentist yesterday for the “talk.” The talk usually is expensive and so filled with doom and gloom I’m ready to commit hari-kari when it’s over with.

Not this time.

My wonderful dentist Dr. Ed Kozinn allayed my fears and the “talk” wasn’t a long drawn out discussion on how better my teeth would have been if I’d had orthodontic work when I was a teen – nor did I have to endure the articulated model of someone’s perfect teeth, staring at me – no laser pointers, no charts, no woulda, coulda, shoulda’s – just some fairly quick digital x-rays and a nod from the doc – yeah, I don’t have the best teeth and gums in the universe; but I have a workable set of choppers that can be improved without selling my firstborn or putting a “Help Me Pay My Dentist” button on my blog.

So I’m happy.

A good dentist is worth a hundred good hairdressers. A thousand of them!

Speaking of hairdressers, I have decided to boycott them for a while. My hair grows like rag weed and looks quite a bit like ragweed too. It’s blonde, gets the frizzies and I have a lot of hair on my head… I was told by a hairdresser she should charge me double because my hair was so thick it really was like cutting two heads of hair.

Once I even got a buzz cut (many moons ago) – so easy to take care of but only my husband thought it looked cute. Buying a Giant’s sweatshirt in a sports shop, sporting my ¼ inch of hair, a salesperson said to me: “Son, this sweatshirt should be the right size for you.”

(Oooohhh, I guess I should have put my earrings in and rouged up my lips before going out shopping in jeans and a flannel shirt. At least I should have dug out the Wonderbra from my lingerie drawer!

So from the sublime to the ridiculous. The yellow mane is growing down my back now. Split ends and all.

Husband likes it. (He’s really a good sport about my hair as he’s seen it go from way too short to way too long without a real problem.)

I have “Find a good hairdresser” on my 2006 to do list. But when push comes to shove, I just can’t get my teeth into this quest right now.

I have better things to do with them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What I’m Doing Differently This Year

I am blogging less in case you haven’t noticed.

Not because I don’t love to blog, but because I love to blog too much.

Books have piled up without me turning a page; more serious writing has been left to wither on the creative vine; friends and relatives have told me, “You live on the computer.” Home organization has diminished to chaos; dinners are hurry-up throw-togethers and I haven’t touched my piano in months.

So, I’m trying to approach blogging with less fervor and more restraint.

Only time will tell how this works.

(Just writing these words down will probably mean I’ll blog more than I did in 2005 as whenever I restrict myself from something I like, I end up doing more of it, evil one that I am.)

Since I’m back to reading again, I really wanted to find a book about all religions that was easy to read; a just-the-facts kind of book and especially one that had comparisons.

I didn’t get that book for Christmas but I did get “Islam for Idiots” and I learned a lot. My biggest revelation was how similar all religions really are.

I wish, though, the author had been unbiased; someone who did not practice any religion and could therefore look upon Islam with a clear, fresh, mind devoid of prejudices. Every time a truly controversial area of Islam would be brought up, he’d pooh-pooh the importance of the issue for example: Muslim husbands are allowed to hit their wives, but only with a toothbrush or handkerchief.

I don’t want to be hit by either a toothbrush or a handkerchief. I don’t want to be hit by anything by anyone. I don’t understand this part of the religion.

Husband’s reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris. I can’t wait for him to finish it as I’m dying to read it too.

As with the book on Islam, I am hoping that Harris is not someone steeped in his own prejudices and beliefs but rather a purveyor of facts and a reciter of history.

I like to draw my own conclusions and could never just accept something someone says or has written on face value.

Another change for the new year is I intend to put myself first more this year than ever before. I’ve always been a “you first” kind of person: a pleaser, easer and facilitator.

I’ve been the old-egg, bread heel-eater type my whole life.

This year I’m going to attempt to be a tad more “me first” in my daily life. Not a selfish witch, but more of a self-lover.

My mother said: if you act like a doormat don’t be surprised when people wipe their feet on you.

I think I’ve been doormatty with some friends and relatives and have allowed them to get out of hand.

Most family and friends don’t know of this blog. The ones that do, well -- be prepared for the new me.

Don’t ask to borrow money from me when your outstretched hands are sporting $100 worth of fake nails.
Don’t ask me to babysit your kids so you can go out to lunch with friends.
Don’t “borrow” a half-gallon of Vodka and “forget” to replace it.
Don’t call me on your cell phone because you are driving and bored and want to use me to make your trip seem quicker or more enjoyable.
If you borrow a book; return it or never expect to borrow another one again.

Mostly remember friends and relatives that my good nature has limits and for whatever reason, I’ve reached mine.

It’s your turn to be nice to me.

And, if I should ever do any of the above, you have the right to blogrouse about it too.

As you can see, this is one of my longer posts which I predicted the minute I said I was going to blog less.

Today I’ll probably loan out books and booze, babysit and hang on the phone while my friend drives from Connecticut to Maryland!

PS - A special thanks to Nils for the wonderful, unexpected and most appreciated Christmas gift. I was having a horrid day right up to the minute I went to get the mail. Your act of kindness won't be forgotten and may have even jump-started my new attitude. Thank you!

Monday, January 02, 2006

How to Get What you Want Every Christmas

It may take two to Tango, but it only takes one husband to end up with a Roomba*.

I should have known I’d find one of these under the tree. Husband has always made sure we had the latest, up-to-date technological advances in our house.

We’re wired for sound and cable and phones and dimmers -- and we’re just plain wired around here. (Except for the computer which is wireless ergo I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about my supply of AA batteries.)

Bundles and bundles of cables have been snaked down walls and pulled up into the attic, then down into the basement, attached to splitters and then pushed up into new walls and hooked by dismantled clothes hangers and yanked in through tiny holes.

“It’s this one, pull on this one. No not that one, this one, see it wiggle? Can you reach it? Use that hook. Do you have it. Damn, you lost it. Try again.” (I have always been an unpaid assistant in these wiring jobs…)

Anyhow, back to the Roomba, I can hear the wheels of his mind grinding…

A robot that vacuums the floor?

Heck, we gotta get one I’m pretty sure she won’t buy it, so I’ll buy it for her. She’ll love it. A real robot doing housework.

Terrific idea…I can’t wait to play with it. Let’s see: I have to set up virtual walls so it won’t go haywire. I have to set up the remote and find a nice safe place for its docking station. I will amaze and mystify friends when I grab the remote and out comes the little guy brandishing his vibrating whip and sturdy rollers, hungry for all particulate matter found on the floors.

Lucky for husband, the Roomba was not the only item I got for Christmas…jammies and jewelry - Islam for Idiots (a whole other story) candy and cashmere socks, lingerie and Rod Stewart’s American song book series. A comprehensive Johnny Cash CD and numerous lovely trinkets and treats.

I do not put the Roomba in the category of trinkets or treats.

But it does fit in our holiday ritual where every year I buy him something I really want and he does the same for me.

Last year, because I love fresh-squeezed tangerine juice poured over cracked ice, he got an electric juicer and an ice crusher for Christmas!

Because he wanted a jukebox CD player, I got one of those.

Because I love fresh ground coffee beans, he got a coffee-bean grinder and because he loves Classical music and I wanted to expand our Doo Wop collection, I gave him 5 Doo Wop CDs and he gave me 5 Classical music CDs.

It’s hard to be disappointed Christmas morning when you give your beloved exactly what you wanted!

* I just heard the Roomba shut off. While I was writing this journal entry, Roomba was cleaning my kitchen floor. Thanks Roomba!