So what’s your answer?

The time for Hodgepodge has come around again, and this time I’m ahead of the game!  I haven’t posted anything else on the blog in the last week, but I haven’t had much to say either.  So that being said, let’s go with the randomness!

1. Describe love using all five senses.
Oooh, this could be interesting.  Hmmmmm.
See: When your soul lightens upon seeing the one you love
Smell: That unique scent that no one else has
Taste: Just tastes better when shared with a love one
Hear: The one voice that after all this time can still make you melt
Touch: That ability to tell without even looking that the one you love has brushed up against you, but you still know who it is

Continue reading

Do You Remember These?

Linking up with today’s Daily Prompt to chronicle three unforgettable moments in my life.  In no particular order, here are three of the ones that I thought of right off the bat. 1. The day my father told us that he was leaving our mother.  I found out later that mom had told him that he if wanted to leave, he had to tell us himself, she wasn’t to going to do it for him.  I was ten, and it was the night of the last day of school.  Dad put us in the car and we were going to go play Putt Putt and see Empire Strikes Back.  We were so excited, as we hadn’t seen dad much over the past several years in general, and six months in particular, and this was a night out with just dad.  JUST dad.  How cool was that? On the way to the golf park, dad said that he should have never been a parent and he wasn’t very good at it, and that he was moving to Washington, DC.  He was moving out on June 17th.  It was Father’s Day.  D and I were, of course, crying, as back then people didn’t get divorced.  And if you happened to be a child of one of the rare divorced people, you were then ostracized by your friends as their parents didn’t want you them to play with kids from broken homes.  (My own included until she became the head of a broken home herself.)  We played golf, and went to the movie, and barely remember much about that night we were so upset. Continue reading

Writing 101: A Childhood on the Beach

So I have had this blog for six years or more.  And I love it.  It’s totally random when I post, I don’t really promote it much (if ever), and I do it for me.  In January 2013 I discovered Link parties.  I loved them.  It encouraged me to post on a weekly (okay, 3 or 4 times weekly) basis.  Different questions picked each week, and different topics.  But it was all fluff.  It was nothing of substance.  And I found myself looking for motivation to write on a more meaningful basis rather than answering what my three favorite pins were from Pinterest or what the contents of my wallet happened to be.

Tonight I discovered the Daily Writing Challenge.  It looks like it might be the thing I am looking for.  I don’t know if I will participate daily or just a few times a month.  But I’m going to give it a try.  Let’s see how it goes!

The challenge is named Three times Three. You can choose to write a post inspired by a response to the “Threes” photo challenge, or you can write your post based on three photos you supply.  I chose some of the photos that were provided by the post and the memory that these pictures evoked in me.

Three Views Along the Shore by Sue Nash

The bambina will be here in 31 days!

I always said the Ides of April were much worse than the Ides of March–it is, after all, the day I was born!  But now, it’s also the day my nephew was born, and this year (as he turns three) it will also be the day my niece will be born!  Since I’ve already given them as gifts, I have these two (poor) photos of the most recent blankets that I finished for her.  So much fun!  20130302_193016

This was the first one I finished.  It looks a little more crooked than it really is, but I didn’t take the photo.  I’ve never done anything like this, with crocheted appliques.  It was fun!  So much so, I did another:Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 3.59.47 PM

This photo was taken by a girl I work with who is obsessed with owls.  I still need to block it, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.  So cute!

 

The loss of a beloved soul

Yesterday I had to go to a funeral.  I realize that’s a downer of a statement to start a blog posting with, but there you have it.  I went to a funeral.  For some reason, funeral attendance has been a common topic among some of my friends lately.  Maybe it’s because one of us is riddled with cancer in over half of her body.  Maybe it’s because an acquaintance passed away ten months ago and her loss is sorely felt every day.

Many of my friends have said that they have only been to a funeral, maybe two, in their lifetime.  I can’t say that.  I think I go to about three a year, and at least one (if not all three) are for family.  Y’all, my grandfather had 14 brothers and sisters.  My grandma, who came from the smallest family, had seven.  They all lived into their 80s, but lately we are losing a few every year.  And funerals, in my family, are not always a somber event.  They are frequently turned into parties, reunions, potluck picnics, and get-togethers.  When my Papa died seven years ago, my great-uncle (nana’s brother) left early because he had a headache.  Turned out to be brain cancer over 60% of his gray matter.  Three weeks later, my pseudo-grandma (and nana’s best friend) had a massive heart attack at her grandson’s football game and passed away.  Six weeks later, nana’s last remaining brother also passed away.  So in three months she lost her husband, two brothers and best friend.  That side of the family was thrilled we’d seen each other four times in three months, but hated the reason.  So we started planning a reunion every summer just because–and hopefully not having a funeral to see one another.

All that to say that funerals don’t faze me.  I consider it a matter of respect to the person that has passed to go to a ceremony or service that celebrates the person that lived, the soul and spirit of the departed, and to laugh and share memories of the loved one.  And bonus if they were a member of the church, looking down from the right hand of God and smiling at all of us remembering good times while he lived, knowing that one day we will be reunited.

Yesterday, I went to the funeral of a great, great man.  He was an elder in the church of my youth, and always good for a kiss, a hug, and a laugh.  His petite wife, a darling woman, was there by his side every day.  He’d been in hospice for almost two years, but only after having a stroke last week did the end seem near.  Blissfully, it was just a few days before he passed.  Married for 64 years, he had three children.  The boys went into the ministry, the youngest into the wilds of Africa with his second-generation missionary wife.  The service was a remembrance of the man, the father, the church elder, and the beloved man.

The service had a brass band playing.  No somber choir or soloist here.  The son-in-law of the deceased is a member of the orchestra (or something like that) and arranged to have the quintet playing.  Each of the nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren walked in a processional, carrying a long-stemmed red rose that was placed in a vase on the altar.  Then each of he three children got up to say some words about their father.

That’s when it started to get uncomfortable for me.  Not because of the words they said, in fact, I was envious of the things that they shared.  They had such a close relationship with their father and had the blessing of a man who was incredibly involved in their lives, a man who raised them and participated in their lives, and meant so much to them that they had small stories to share that had every one of us cracking up with hysterical laughter.

But the worst was when one of the ministers got up to read a letter that Cliff had written to his children.  It was the man I remembered.  To the point, it addressed each of the three kids, and said something specific to each of them that had all laughing.  It was full of advice, reminiscence, wisdom, and love.  It was absolutely beautiful.

And that’s what was so hard for me.  I have a relationship with my father.  He is 65 years old.  He isn’t the greatest father in the world (his own words), but he’s the only father that I have.  While each of Cliff’s children got up to speak about the joy that was life with their father, I kept thinking that the man I give that title to has been largely absent from my life, not really there when I need him, and rarely around to even speak to.  As I have gotten older, things have improved–mostly because he’s the king of text messaging.  It’s impersonal and brief.  Just like dad.

But more disturbingly, I don’t know of anyone that could say anything remotely close to that regarding my father after his demise.  He is not an easy guy to know.  He is not always nice.  He isn’t funny.  He’s not caring, nurturing, or loving.  He’s a cold-hearted, calculating, conniving soul if you want the truth.  And I hate to say it but I’m not even sure I would have a lot to say about the man in that sort of circumstance.  Would I be upset if he were to pass?  Of course.  He’s my father.  I might even be a bit more upset as he is also one that has walked away from the church, denying all faith.  So I know that when he dies, he is truly gone from me.  But I don’t know if I would truly have much of a loss to mourn, as any involvement he has in my life is restricted to conversations regarding his mother, quick conversations about the weather, and wondering if he is going to stop by my brother’s house for dinner when I’m in town.  We don’t talk much.  Not for lack of trying on my part, but there is only so many times you can hit your head against a concrete wall before you get a massive headache and stop.

I spent a lot of time last night upset about this.  I miss what my father could have been, had he only ever had an interest.  I miss the relationship we could have had, given the opportunity.  I miss the role he could have had in my life, if he only ever cared enough to take it.  He left my life over thirty years ago, and while he is present as a family member now that I’m an adult, it’s not as a parent.  More of a distant blood relative that I get along with on occasion.

So after witnessing the joy that was the service and celebration yesterday, I want to say this:  Lee, Craig, and Sharon: You are and were greatly blessed.  To have such a loving family surround you and support you all your life, and to recognize how special that was while you had the chance is a great gift.  I loved your father so very much, he was such a great man of God.  He did you all well, and you have made him so very, very proud.  I am so very sorry for your loss, but you know that somewhere he is waiting for you to join him.  In the meantime, he is finding a wig and using a funny voice to entertain hordes of children in heaven.  And if that doesn’t work, he’ll be there with a kiss, a hug, and a laugh.  God bless you all.

Seriously. Seriously??

So today I was informed that my brother is of the opinion that I feel like his wedding is something I’m not excited about, and I’m more concerned with my own life that I’m not excited for him.  That I feel the wedding is something to be wedged into an available weekend in my life.  Um, I’m sorry, but WTF?  This fucking wedding has consumed all waking hours of my non-work life for the last few months I feel like.  It’s not even MY wedding.  My friends are so tired of hearing me talk about it I’m sure.

I have done the save the date cards.  I have bought eight dresses to wear as a bridesmaid only to return them ALL.  I have another five that arrived today that I need to try on.  I spent a few weeks working on the gift with my mother’s help for the last bridal shower.  I have an engagement party this weekend–outside, in the sleet no less–followed by a bridal party excursion to Kings Dominion so we can ‘get to know one another’.  Next weekend is the bachelorette weekend, which I am SO over as something I wouldn’t have done when I was 21, much less 38.  The weekend was chosen because it is the same weekend as another shower.  Oh, and while we’re at it, the other bridesmaids have decided to throw a surprise shower for Carrie that weekend.  A naughty lingerie shower.  Which I am enough of an old fart to admit that I don’t enjoy them.  Plus, ew.  This is my baby brother we’re talking about.  I’m pretty sure my future SIL isn’t wearing a chastity belt (or if she does, that’s kinky stuff between her and my brother), still there is an ick factor.  That doesn’t count the six hours I spent yesterday coming up with the monogram design for the hotel gift bags to show mom today, and once I get paper tomorrow I have to make 60 of them.  Oh, and let’s throw in prepping for the rehearsal dinner and the photo station, the wedding itself, the brunch afterwards, and oh yeah I STILL HAVE TO FIND A FREAKING DRESS.  And playing the sister-therapist role as my father is his usual prick-of-a-self, along with his wife, and insults and offends Drew by not coming to a single blasted event.  So he vents to me.  And I can’t say “what’d you expect, that is what he has done since before we were born”, instead I have to be sister-therapist. Then you throw in Thanksgiving and the usual family drama that makes me want to move somewhere around Boulder every year this time. . . .

But I digress, for after all I evidently am only thinking about myself.  And to a point that is true–I’m thinking about myself to the point that I am working my ass off so that I can PAY for all this stuff, for if I don’t work I don’t get paid, and god knows the showers alone are bankrupting me.  I am thinking about myself to the point that I am trying to find a freaking black dress that conforms to the “tea length, must have some sort of sleeves, no additional ornamentation, no sparkles” rules that I was given (side rant: there’s something to be said for the hated bridesmaid dress.  They pick it out, you buy it, you probably hate it, you never wear it again.  End of story.)  I am thinking of myself in that this wedding is three days that I have to take off work, and therefore not get paid, right at Christmas.  I am thinking of myself in that I have a house that needs to be cleaned with a snow shovel at this point to clear a path through each room because I am not home enough to clean.

Yeah, I feel really fucking selfish, you asshole.

And maybe just a bit bitter.

It’s Anti-bullying month

My friends have used Live Journal for quite some time. I, however, only use it to download episodes of tv shows that I have missed. My friends use Live Journal to stay connected and, more importantly, to participate in fan fiction. I, however, only use it to glean info useful for mocking purposes at a later date.

One of the features I like, however, is what they call writer’s block. It’s a question that is posed on the front page, right when you log in, that provides you with a discussion point and something to get you writing. Something to respond to. Sometimes it’s a simple question, like favorite vegetarian dish (pasta, mozz cheese, basil, tomatoes–all fresh). Tonight, however, it was a bit more involved for me: Who is the biggest bully in your life? Continue reading

I am a bad granddaughter

I still have three of my four grandparents living, all into their 80s.  And one of them, my maternal grandmother, is the most negative person you’ve ever met.  She hates everything.  She doesn’t like anything.  But the entire world has to stop so that she can get what she wants when she wants.   It’s a huge catch 22 and it’s irritating as all hell.

And tomorrow I’m on duty.

She likes bottled water.  Claims the tap water (which was rated very high and tastes just fine) makes her sick.  Fine, that’s her preference.  But she complains about the fact that she has no water for SIX WEEKS and then gets upset that I haven’t offered to get it for her.  But the process of getting water is more than that.  It means she expects to be treated to lunch, must be taken shopping, then taken to Costco where I can lift the bottles into the cart and then take them upstairs to her apartment.

I know it’s little and trivial, but it is something I’m not looking forward to doing tomorrow.  Mainly because I cannot handle a day of snide talking and hateful attitudes.  I have worked very hard to cut out that kind of negativity among my friends and the people I hang out with, only it’s not possible to do that with family.  I wish it were sometimes, but it makes me a horrible granddaughter.

Wish me luck in the AM!

Generation Gap

I had half a post put together for tonight with Olympic moments, but didn’t get to finish it.  So I guess that will have to wait until after the closing ceremonies.  The reason it didn’t get finished is tonight, after choir, I had an impromptu meeting that took an hour and then I had to drive to Midlothian and work on my parents virus-infected computer for two hours.  I am now exhausted.

While I am thrilled that my mother/step-father and grandmother have email and love to use it, I think that someone needs to invent the fisher-price equivalent of computers for seniors.  Every thing that pops up, they click on.  Every thing they see, they install.  Which means I have to spend hours trying to clean up the system.  Tonight I didn’t even finish.  After over two hours I said sayonara and took off to come home, because I am beat!

Night all!

Roller Coaster Day!

You ever have a morning when you wake up and you really don’t want to get out of bed because you’re afraid the day isn’t going to get better?

That was me this morning.  I didn’t fall asleep until 5am, so I was exhausted when I woke up at 10.  But then surprise! I got asked to lunch by a friend I hadn’t seen in a few months and we had a delightful few hours checking up.  Then I went to the gym and swam not one but TWO miles.  Yay me.  (Side note: I realize it’s Purim, but it really is just plain EVIL to be selling Hamantaschen in the main hall.  Pastries in the gym? SO difficult to pass by!)  Then I met a former coworker and good friend for drinks, with plans to pick up another friend for our weekly TV night later.

But then the phone rang.  It was my someone who rarely calls me.  And as I had seen I had one missed call from him earlier this evening, I answered and asked if I could call back since I was still with my friend, but there was something in his voice that made me pause.  Something was not right.  Something was very, very wrong.  And he wanted me on the phone even if he couldn’t talk about it.  So I made my hasty apologies to my very understanding friend and spent the next hour on the phone.  My heart is now breaking for him, as I don’t know what I can do to help other than be here, and he is out of town.

I still picked up my friend, and still went to TV night (yay Lost!) but my head wasn’t there so much as it was with him.  And yes, it was a roller coaster day.  I guess at the end of the day all I can say is I love you, and if you need to call again I’m here.

Fat Tuesday Eve

Let’s make something clear.

I am not a Catholic.

This is something that my mother tries to force down my throat every year around this time, when I start talking about what I might give up for Lent.  “You’re not Catholic!” she says.  “You were raised Baptist! You’re not supposed to give up anything!”

I was in college when I first encountered people close to me that observed Lent.  Sheltered as I was, I had a lot of questions.  It was a few years, but after much deliberation I started giving up things for Lent as well.  At first it was the more popular sacrifices: chocolate, alcohol, salt, swearing.  Not too difficult, seeing as how I don’t go to chocolate first, don’t drink much (I was the permanent Designated Driver in college), I don’t add salt to my food, and at the time I was on a righteous kick so I rarely swore.  Plus there was always Sunday, which as a feast day was the day where you could indulge.  I made up for the prior week with mimosas and horrid food at brunch! 🙂

As I grew older, there were years where I halfheartedly made Lenten sacrifices.  Candy.  (Don’t really eat it.)  Sex.  (Wasn’t having it anyway.)  Smoking.  (Never smoked in my life.) Going out and partying.  (Never partied–I was working three jobs, so when I had free time all I wanted to do was sleep.)  Then, about five years ago, I finally got serious.  What is the point of sacrificing something if it wasn’t something that was difficult?  Continue reading

The Curse of Family Blessings

Longevity runs in my family.  It is something that I know I should be thankful for, although I didn’t see it that way all the time when I was a kid.  I grew up with all four of my grandparents living and within an hour’s drive of my childhood home.  I even had three great-grandparents on my father’s side, with the great-grandmothers passing away when I was 13 (she was 100 1/2) and 20 (she was 88).  After my parents divorced, we spent a lot of time with my mother’s parents who lived on the opposite side of town.  I saw my father’s parents, who live in Charlottesville, several times a year as well.  It was the status quo.  I was in college before I truly recognized that some people are not as fortunate–a friend of mine had spent the summer with his grandmother in California and had a miserable time because it was the first time he’d seen her in ten years.  I thought that was odd.  Didn’t everyone have a close family that got on each other’s nerves like we did?  And not just grandparents–there was a whole slew of great-aunts and great-uncles as well that were surrogate grandparents as well. Continue reading

When health care gets personal

Two things have happened in the last week that make me wonder how we got here.  I’m sitting here, typing away, and retyping every few keystrokes as my persistent, hacking cough overwhelms me and causes me to type on the wrong keys while I quickly try and cover my mouth.  Sounds attractive, right? Yet I can’t go to the doctor.  I am unemployed, and while I have health insurance it’s not the greatest plan in the world.  I only get to go to the doctor three times a year before I start paying out the wazoo for my visits.  I’ve already been to the dentist, have to have an annual checkup later in the year, which leaves me exactly one doctor’s visit to use at my discretion–in the next 48 weeks.

So is my hacking cough bad enough to go to the doctor now?  What if I get appendicitis? What if I break my wrist?  Then I’m up a creek later in the year because I don’t have the finances to cover a visit.  Sure, I could go to someplace like the Fan Free Clinic, which is a cause I support financially when I am able.  Or I could go to a Doc-in-a-Box where they are required to give you a prescription regardless of condition when you walk in, thereby incurring additional costs that I can’t cover.  It’s a vicious circle.

How did we get here?  Continue reading

Who knew that John’s Hopkins was in the Ghetto?

Two weeks ago today at this time I was in the backseat of a car, trying desperately not to get carsick, on my way to John’s Hopkins Hospital with my mother and younger brother.  My mom had finally gotten word that a skilled pediatric oncologist who specializes in tumor development was available to see her.  This is the only guy that we know of who has seen multiple cases of her disease, and he is a forerunner in the race to find a way to shrink or eliminate the microphages/tumors growing throughout the body of ECD sufferers.

This is a good thing.  We had waited for this appointment since around the first of the year, and I had been trying to convince  my mother to go for it seems like ages.  While I totally appreciate her perspective of not wanting to be a guinea pig or on display for a classroom, this guy merely wanted a consultation.  He got copies of her tests for the last ten years and then just gave a cursory physical (listen to the chest wall, the heart, look at eyes and ears, etc.).  When word had come a scant week before that he was available we made the arrangements to go quickly, my brother took some time off work, I found a dogsitter, and on a train we rode the day before.

It’s interesting, traveling with your parents as an adult. Continue reading

Thoughts on Father’s Day

Sunday was Father’s Day.

In the past, my family has not made a big deal out of Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. Both of my parents have birthdays within a week of their respective holidays so we always celebrated the birthdays and went about our usual Sunday business on the parental holiday. We gave cards, but that was about all. It was never a big deal.

This year, my father mentioned that he would be going to Charlottesville to see his parents. I thought it might be nice if I joined them as well, and we could spend a few hours visiting together.

I went to church as usual that morning, then was a leader in kids church, getting out around 1 o’clock. I then hit the road. And on the way up there I was trying to remember the last time I saw my father on Father’s Day proper. As a kid I would spend summers with him, but would usually get there a day or two after Father’s Day. As an adult I usually tried to see him between his birthday and the holiday, killing two birds with one stone so to speak. And then I remembered the last time I saw my father on Father’s Day. Continue reading