Here on the frontier, There are falling leaves, Although my neighbors are all barbarions…And you? You are a thousand miles away. There are always two cups on my table.

Archive for May, 2011

The Annapolis Date And The Van-With-No-Reverse

Who drives a van with no reverse???? 

No one in their right mind maybe?

No reverse, that means no backy- uppy.

What the heck? How can the van have no reverse???

Imagine that said in a very loud voice, mine to my mild-mannered husband.

Tell me dear, how long has this piece of crap van not had a functioning reverse?

Weeks??? This is unacceptable. (That’s me being patronizing).

We were in Annapolis on a date. Yes kids even after 30 years of marriage this grandma and grandpa go on dates. That’s all you need to know.

We were going to walk along the waterfront after dropping an oil drum at a restaurant. It was 10 p.m. I was driving the van which had about 8  (200 gallon) empty drums behind the seats. I had pulled in to a parking spot behind the restaurant when my husband started shouting, “Don’t park head in, don’t park head in!!!”

WHY???

“There’s no reverse!!!!”

WHAT????? No Reverse???? Honey that is just messed up….

Too late, I was parked. Husband got out and had to push while I gunned the engine of the van-from-hell to try to force some backward movement. We need help. Some guys walking by came over and put their weight with my husband’s and the van was pushed out of the parking spot.

I climbed into the passenger seat muttering, I am not driving this lousy piece of….

We pulled to an alley behind the restaurant and parked on the street. Husband unloads the drums. It was dark and vacant back there. I kept my eyes open for trouble from the relative safety of the van-with-no-reverse.

“I’ll be right back.” and husband jogs off. What? Where is he going? Leaving me in this dark alley in this good for nothing van! I was outraged.   Until the police car pulled up alongside the van. Great!

I started to get out of the van until the cop shining a flashlight in my face yelled “Stay in your car!”

Okay fine, you don’t have to yell.

Now my heart is pounding in my chest. I am sitting in a dark van with several very large oil drums in it. I have a rag tied around my head.  It’s only been 5 days since Osama was killed, and Annapolis, if you don’t know is neighbor to DC. The security is tight.

I figure I have 2 maybe 3 minutes before the Cavalry shows up and my face is on the pavement. I’m scanning the van to think could Bart or my husband have any weapons on board that I need to declare to the cops  but I don’t dare move, especially not to look for a weapon. No that will definitely raise the ire of the cop watching me and probably get me shot. No I’ll just sit quiet-like and curse my husband for running off and leaving me here.

Then just as suddenly the back of the van flies open and it’s husband grabbing out another drum and talking a mile a minute.

“They need another drum, they are doing a bang up business, saw 2300 people in the last 2 days…” he doesn’t see the cop.

The police car rolls forward as my husband is carrying the clearly empty drum off the van. The cop slowly drives off. I want to cry.

Husband gets into the van. “Now we can take that walk on the waterfront! Romantic!” He rubs his hands together and smiles like a kid.

Take me home.

“What???”

Just take me home.

“I don’t understand you.”

You just ran off and left me here. There was a cop who yelled at me to stay in the van. He thought I was a terrorist or something.

“You’re fine, there’s no cop.”

There was! Now take me home.

“Try to do something nice for you…”

Just drive. Oh and first thing tomorrow this ‘gadawfulpiecacrap’ better be at the mechanics!

No reverse! Give me a break!

“Wow! That’s nice talk dear.”

I can laugh about it now. But at the time? I was fit to be tied. No reverse…who drives a car with no reverse……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Lenore Diane: A Perfect Stranger

For Lenore….

For no reason, no reason at all, someone did a kindness.

They took a bit of time out of their hectic busy life and did a kindness for someone they don’t even know. I am the recipient of that kindness. Honestly, I am touched and more than a little amazed. It changed my day. I walked around feeling like a sparkly bit of magic had suddenly colored my crapulous  day.

I get so caught up in the whirlwind of my family life that I ignore  anything outside of it. The telephone calls, the knock at the door and anyone who I believe not a priority. It all gets thoughtlessly delegated to the circular file in the corner.

But not today. Today when the phone rang with the call from the person who rants on and on about their difficult life I picked up the line and listened as she got it all out.

 

 

Today I finally met a commitment that had seemed like it just wasn’t going to happen. Coordinating a visit with some kittens for a friend who is home bound with advanced breast cancer. The owner of said kittens was not returning my calls!!! Imagine! I went to her house (with a fresh loaf of home-made bread) and banged on her door, and when she didn’t answer I banged louder and waited. Eventually she opened up. Just me, hi. Can I bring Debbie to see your kittens?

She couldn’t have been nicer after that and was very sweet even leaving the door open when I returned with  Debbie.

That was a wake up call.

Today I was driving home from work. The car in front of me took a turn way too fast and swerved in to oncoming traffic. He over-corrected back into his lane and jumped the curb over the sidewalk and straight thru a 6 foot fence hitting several trees planted along the fence! Loud crash! I jumped out of my car and yanked open the driver’s door. The driver was trying to unbuckle an elderly man in the passenger seat. They were both coughing and disoriented from the crash and the fumes from the airbag deployment. The front of the car was pushed towards the front seat and although the men weren’t crushed the elderly one was stuck with the dashboard near his chest.

The younger man got out of the car and I got in. I took the elderly man’s hand.

Hello my name is gmom and help is almost here. I’m going to stay with you until they get here. Are you okay sir? Are you in any pain? What’s your name?

“Joe” he said “I can’t get out.”

That’s right you can’t. But you will soon. You are doing fine Joe.

“No, I can’t get out”  He waves a hand towards his wet pants. Got it.

Oh that’s perfectly normal sir, happens all the time. Don’t you worry.

The firemen pulled the car out of the tangle of the trees and fence freeing up the passenger side. An EMT was at the driver’s door with a neck brace.

I’m going now Joe, this nice EMT is going to take good care of you. Now you take care! I scooted out of the car.

  I walked past several police cars and firetrucks and equipment on the ground. At first I couldn’t even see where I left my van. An EMT started to guide me to an ambulance.

I wasn’t in the accident. I was keeping the old man company until you got here.

“Oh, okay” They opened up a space and let me pull my van out.

When I got home I remembered the small kindness that a stranger had done for me earlier that very day.

Because of that small kindness,

I answered the phone for someone who needed to vent.

I showed up for a friend in need, who just needed a few minutes of normal.

And I sat in a smoking wreck with an elderly stranger and held his hand.

I wanted to be,

if only for today,

the perfect stranger.

This is gmom,

peace out.

Family Wedding or Welcome To Fight Club

Another family wedding.

I don’t know about any other families but with ours….?

It’s not a picnic to put all the extended family together in one room.

There should probably be some law prohibiting it.

Between the mass alcohol consumption and the golden rare opportunity to finally tell Uncle so-and so what he did in 1986 that still has you making excuses.

Cousin Chris? Who married your girlfriend after you broke up but before you were sure you absolutely hated her, as he claims you did..

You just can’t resist revisiting that time can you.

For myself, honestly I hate having to remember who I told what to,

and who I told never to breathe a word about something…

but about what I’m not sure anymore.

It’s a regular Jerry Springer marathon event but with a seven piece band and eight course dinner.

The wedding is out-of-town.

My dear mother in law.

Who I really love, by the way, wants us to stay with her and Dad.

How do I politely tell her no thanks I’ll be hightailing it out of there before the,

“”so what are you up to these days…”

from my third cousin twice removed,

turns into,

“Did you hear Jen’s husband Bob is in rehab?”.

(“Uh, Jen is standing behind you, with Bob.”)

Fun.

I’ll spend an hour trying to remember everybody’s kid’s names and ask the little darlings how third grade is treating them.

I’ll be patient and understanding when they cry out loud during the wedding ceremony and while their mom hustles them out to the hallway.

I’ll be okay when I go to the women’s room to find 3 adolescent girls in tears over a torn dress hem.

I’ll spend time with the ancient aunt who never fails to ask after the health of my dog Cujo but can’t remember my name to save her life.

I’ll hug my brothers and sisters. We don’t say much, foxhole buddies.

We leave feeling exhausted,

and mortal,

riding  the New Jersey Turnpike at 2 a.m.

I drive back to Baltimore with one of my children.

We will meet in the parking lot of the wedding hall.

I’ll probably share a smoke with Bart and a few laughs over something,

like dad pulling the cord on the band’s amplifier. Ha! He did warn them to turn that dang music down.

China and Silver will be waiting like sentries for everyone to be present and accounted for before we go. Silver sneaking short drags on his skinny cigars, like he knows he’s doing something wrong.

And on that night,

when two lives are bonded in the crucible of marriage,

I’ll pray that the younguns’  find some happiness in this complicated world of relationships.

I’ll pray that the husband loves his wife in the way mine loves me,

just as I am.

A hopeless non-conformist, sarcastic, cynical, talk too much, say too little.

A person so completely smitten with those people standing in the dark,

waiting by the car.

Those people whose jokes I get.

And always think are funny,

even when they are not.

Laughing too loudly in a tight little impenetrable mob,

The other guests  give them a sniffy wide berth.

But I walk straight into their midst,

and take my place.

 

This is gmom,

peace out.

A Father’s Tribute/The Strongest Man

My Father-in-law spoke in Washington this week.

Holocaust Remembrance Day.

He is a survivor, historian and regular speaker at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. He was asked to give a short talk at the SEC. I went along. I have heard him speak many times, but hearing him speak publicly is always a special treat that’s hard to pass up. He is in his 80s and I don’t know how much longer he is going to feel up to these excursions. But there he was, dapper as ever, with a discreet American flag pin on his lapel.

The SEC, Securities Exchange Commission  had a full house with an overflow room and the talk was televised to offices in several other locations. While we waited for everyone to get seated I glanced around the room at all the Brooks Brothers suits and carefully coiffed women. They all looked friendly and open. Nice.

My father-in-law gave a recount of his life just before the war, during Hitler‘s regime and his time in concentration camps. The audience was as riveted as they always are. I have heard the stories, read the books so many times that they have lost the “punch in the stomach” effect on me.

The men from his hometown, Warsaw  Poland, forced inside cattle cars,traveling for days, not knowing their destination. The heat unbearable, no  water never mind food. The arrival in concentration camp. Getting off the train to the barking of dogs and Nazis who shot anyone who staggered or tried to run. The death selection lines they passed through. Who shall live and work and who shall go ahead to the human ovens for immediate extermination like so many pests. Horrifying. Imagine your own husband, brother or son going through such a process. The women experienced much the same and the children..

So I sat and listened to him recount, and stand witness.  I have read his memoirs, his published book,  I knew what he told these privileged people was but a glimpse of the nightmare he lived.

Then he told of the last time he spoke to his father,before they knew the horrors that awaited them. He was a boy in his teens. His father blessed him and said, “My son, there are very hard times coming. You will have to be very strong.”  My father in law’s voice broke down with the memory of this last exchange. He brought his hand to his mouth. The audience waited. He gathered himself together and continued. “It was the last time I saw my father.”

I heard gasps behind me. I turned to see a man wiping his eyes.

I think if my father-in-law’s father could see  his only child that survived the war and the time he spent in the concentration camps, who went on to marry and raise a family in America.  A man who never lost his faith in God. A man who stands witness and consistently gathers the strength to go back to one of the world’s most terrible crimes, man against man, he would see his blessing came to fruition.

He would be so proud. My father-in-law was strong when he had to be, and continues to be strong because he chooses to be.

He is the model we live up to, the man we can only aspire to be like, with a strength beyond our understanding.

He is husband to one.

Father to five.

Grandpa to many,

and great-grandpa to a growing number of lucky little souls.

This is gmom,

peace out.

———————————————————————————————————–

                        INVICTUS

OUT of the night that covers me,
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank the God that ever will be,
  For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
  My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
  Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
  How charged with punishment the road,
I am the master of my fate:
  I am the captain of my soul.(William Henley)

Things We Say To Our Kids/ Dad And Momisms

10 Things I say to my children, and 10

things my mother said to me.

____________________________________________________________________

1. Call me when you get there.

2. Clean up, I am not the maid here.

3. You want to leave? Do you need help packing?

4. Wait until your father gets home.

5. You only have to be tall enough for your feet to reach the ground.

6. Don’t smart mouth me young man (lady).

7. You’re going to take an eye out with that thing.

8. You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.

9. It doesn’t matter what other people think,you can’t control that.

10. Don’t tell me to mind my business, you are my business.

and…

1. How do you know it tastes bad you haven’t tried it yet?

2. If you don’t have something pleasant to say, don’t say anything at all.

3. It’s for your own good.

4. No one said life was going to be fair.

5. What if all your friends were jumping off a cliff would you jump too?

6.  If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t say anything.

7.  It’s never going to heal if you don’t stop picking.

8. Be home before dark.

9. Put other people’s needs before your own.

10. Mind your own business.

Now which group of 10 were my 1950-1970’s mother and which are mine?

What do you say to your kids?

What did your mom say to you?

This is gmom,

peace out.

Carousels

Hoo, 20 months old pointed desperately at the carousel.

“Oh gosh, that’s fun let’s take him on!”

Good idea, right?

Started out okay. His mama, Eggs  sat with him on one of the painted ponies.

We waited for the ride to start.

The Calliope played the tinny tune while we, Hoo’s fan club stood at the fence and waved madly.

 

Then the meltdown.

Hoo started crying and slithering in that way he does where the only thing you can do is gather bunches of his clothes and drag him up off the floor like spilt milk.

The carousel started up and Eggs quick tossed Hoo on to the chariot seat and held on. Hoo cried and wrestled pointing at the horses. Eggs tosses him back up on to a horse and jumps on behind him…and he cries…and he cries.

We his cheering section…are  laughing our ever-loving’ heads off.

“You’re doing it Hoo! Yay Hoo! You’re riding!” We called every time he went by, then we collapsed in hilarious laughter until he came around again…still crying, with Eggs hanging on to him.

“Yay Hoo! You are awesome dude! You are riding!”

Finally the carousel stopped. Eggs carried Hoo over to us and happily handed him over….and…he started crying!

What is it? Why are you crying now?

Of course he wanted to go back on the carousel again.

That destroyed us. We couldn’t stop laughing after that.

He rode the carousel all day long.

 

If you ever wonder is the world going crazy or is it you.

Hang out with a 2-year-old. Chances are (sigh) it’s you.

I mean me.

This is gmom,

peace out.

Apple (Lappal) Cake

Something about apples…

They are so…American.

In light of that sentiment and the news of the day.

Shall we tally ho and forth and so on with this ultra-comfort food.

Pass me another piece!!!!!

A Teenage Gourmet published this recipe for apple cake.

I made it today with little granddaughter Starlite, who calls it lappal cake.

It is as delicious as it looks and super easy.

Here is the link to Sammi’s blog where you can get the recipe.

http://ateenagegourmet.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/heckuva-apple-cake-for-mom/

Absolutely, totally worth it.

I made the cake as Sammi suggested with granny smith apples.

I used the full sugar and oil, and no orange zest.

I was working with Starlite’s help so I kept things simple, and moving fast.

Awesome, awesome cake.

Thanks Sammi you rocked this one!

I made the cake in 2 pans so Starlie could take home one to Mommy!

Apple cake served with ice cream.

Here is a bite for you!

Yummy! Thanks Sammi!

This is gmom,

Have a safe weekend.

Peace out.

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