Tuesday, August 30, 2005


New Orleans breathed a prayer of thanks on Monday morning when Katrina veered to the right. Things were going to be bad, but not as bad as they had feared.

Then the levee broke.

Look around the city in which you live and imagine it becoming suddenly uninhabitable. For everyone.

Lives are gone.
Homes are gone.
Possessions are gone.
Jobs are gone.
Roads are gone.
The newspaper is closed.
Banks are closed.
Emergency services have poor communications as radios are failing.
No food.
No water.
Bodies are seen floating in the water.
Cemetaries have been destroyed and caskets of the long dead are floating away.
Hospitals are closed; the patients being airlifted to other hospitals. Do their families know where they are going? Are their families alive?

Life's necessities are gone or going while flood water is in abundance.

Bad enough yet? Here come the alligators, snakes, and looters. In hours, the city known as The Big Easy became a third world country. And those scenes were repeated all along the Gulf Coast.

Some are calling this the American Tsunami. Does it matter? Gone is gone; no matter what the method was.

Cherish and be thankful for who you have and what you have; because in the blink of an eye, it could be gone.

Salavation Army on-line donations

Red Cross on-line donations

Monday, August 29, 2005


Update: American Red Cross for online donations for aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Recovery is going to take awhile.


Katrina was one angry woman.

I awoke this morning to news that Hurricane Katrina was downgraded to a Category 4 and had veered to the east, sparing the catastrophe that had been predicted. But the news assured their voyeuristic viewers that there would be devastation nontheless. One weather man stated it aptly when he pointed out that there is no easy side to a category 4 hurricane.

One city's good fortune was another's disaster. Biloxi and Mobile were going to get the brunt of Katrina's wrath. And, boy did they ever. And I'm sure that those whose homes and businesses were destroyed in New Orleans don't feel all that lucky.

I went about my day as normal, but every so often I would log onto various news websites to check on the progress. It felt strange that while my day was progressing normally, peoples' lives were being dramatically altered just a few hours away. Usually, we don't monitor the progress of devastation; we see its aftermath. It seems the only times we can do this is during a hurricane or a war. When I've seen enough, I click the mouse and I'm back to my normal life.

We received the good news that a family member was safe. She lives in Baton Rouge with her husband. They had power, but the winds were 65 mph and raining hard. The roads were closed so they were staying home. Good.

I later saw footage of flooded downtown Pascagoula, Mississippi. I had worked there on an assignment one summer and hoped everyone I knew was safe and sound. Ironically, my last day in Pascagoula was when Hurricane Danny hit in 1997. It had been a tropical storm shortly before hitting, barely meeting the qualifications of a hurricane. Totally different from this one.

Early in the day, I read about people refusing to leave. One man angrily said he didn't like mandatory evacuations. Later, I read about a man talking to a reporter on a cellphone from his house in New Orleans begging for help. When I saw footage of people standing on rooftops waiting to be rescued, I wondered why they thought they could beat a monster storm. I later realized that many of those people were in the poorest areas of our country and did not have the means to leave the path of the storm.

Being able to leave and defying the odds is stupid. Being doomed due to economic circumstances is tragically sad.

And then there are the people who try to make lemonade from other people's lemons. On my way home tonight, my daughter called from Murray, Kentucky to tell about gas gouging there. She reported that gas in Paducah was selling for $4.00 a gallon, and stations in Murray were starting to raise their prices. The reasoning was that all of the oil production in New Orleans was stopped. Hopefully, that will be corrected by morning and the gougers summarily shot. OK, not shot. Tarred and feathered. OK, OK. Sent to their rooms without supper, TV, DVD, iPod or laptop.

After I got home from work, I spent some time watching some of the news footage on the various networks. There were the obligatory shots of reporters attempting to stand up in hurricane force winds. That reminded me of the joke about a weather rock. (To paraphrase an old joke, if a reporter is perpendicular to a sign post, there's a hurricane.) There were the shots of people standing on roofs hoping for rescue, some rescues, floods, floods, floods, and floods. I became very irritated with various reporters who seemed to be reassuring me there would be more deaths than the three nursing home patients who died while being evacuated. I was getting the feeling that they felt their jobs were in jeopardy unless there was substantial deaths to accompany the destruction. Many people lost homes, possessions and jobs. Wasn't that enough?

I watched Anderson Cooper trying to stand still next to a crane which had come loose in the screeching winds. I imagined his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, at home in her New York City penthouse apartment, drinking her morning coffee while watching her son report from inside the jaws of a bitch of a hurricane,debris flying around, standing next to a crane precariously flapping around. I wondered if she thought to herself "I raised an idiot."

Other stories filed by Cooper had him excitedly pointing out pieces of signs blowing around; apparently his trademark in hurricane reporting.

There was another reporter on CNN whose name escapes me who seems to like to duck walk in high winds so he can get behind stationary objects to report that it's very windy and to caution everyone to stay inside.

A young female reporter in Alabama was trying hard not to get blown down the street. I wondered if her cameraman and producer would tape the whole thing if she did, or if they would go help her. Fortunately, she made it back. I think. Maybe they turned off the camera before she blew away. Nah, she's OK. There would be footage otherwise.

And just as I had watched all I could, CNN apparently had had their fill as well and went to regular programming, which prompts me to ask:

Who is Nancy Grace and why is she yelling at me?

That is one angry woman.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

KNOCK IT OFF!! A life and death struggle with a purse

Let's review:

I had taken a trip to NYC with my daughter, sister and niece. While there, we bought a number of purses, knock-offs, from street vendors. We had also stocked up on shoes (not knock-offs), and I had lost the left shoe of a beloved pair of Liz sandals. We gave our purses new names to reflect the fact that they are imposters: Phooey Vuitton, Fake Spade, Nada Prada, Fucci and Foach.

My daughter fell out of love with her Fucci, mainly because it's a larger sized purse than she would normally carry. She made a deal with me and I bought the Fucci and her Foach wallet for $25.00. Here's a picture of the Fucci:

It's the right size for me, classic styling, and slender silhouette.

It's also a pain in the a$$.

The Fucci is the purse equivalent of the black hole. Stuff goes into it and disappears. It has three main compartments and two of those have an additional zippered pocket. The top of it stays together nicely because it's design was based on steel bear traps. When I open it to put something in, I have to be fast because it will quickly snap shut, trapping my hand inside. Then I have to go through the tedious task of gnawing off my arm to set myself free. And that's not as much fun as you'd think.

Notice the handles. They don't move. Ever. They stick straight up, getting in my face as I'm trying to pry the sides of the trap apart and peer inside to find my wallet, car keys, make-up, whatever. If I bend a handle to the side to get it out of my way, it quickly snaps back, whacking me across the bridge of my nose as I'm searching inside black hole to locate the item I need.

Earlier this week, I walked up to the plaza in the center of town and had dinner; eating outside, reading a book and enjoying a lovely evening on the plaza. When I left home, I had dropped my house key into a side zippered compartment in my purse. It was a single key on a butterfly keychain.

I got back home around 10:00, and went rummaging around in my purse for my key. It was gone. I sat down on the chair on the porch and started a fight to the death with my purse over possession of the key. It was determined not to give it up. I pried open the purse, slapping at those damn handles and item by item, emptied the purse. I had it completely emptied and no key. Risking amputation, I meticulously went through each compartment of the purse and did not find it.

I picked up my cell phone and called the restaurant and asked if they had found a single key on a butterfly keychain. No.

I felt through all of the pockets in my shorts. No.

I battled with the purse looking through each compartment again. No.

I threw the purse down on the floor of the porch in frustration and heard a small muffled metallic tinkle.


I picked it up, clutching the sides, and glared at it. Through gritted teeth I snarled, "Give it up or I'm giving you to Goodwill!"

I stuffed my hand inside again, feeling around and through several layers of black rayon, I could feel it. I just didn't know in which compartment it was. Keeping ahold if it in one hand, I used the other and went through each compartment again until I felt the cold metal with my fingers. A HA! Victory! And I KNOW I had searched there before. Demon purse!!

The other morning on my bus ride in to work, my cell phone rang, but I couldn't find it inside that black hole. I knew it was in there because I could hear it. A similar battle ensued, this time in public. The other passengers were looking at me rather nervously as I fought with my purse, called it names, while my cell phone rang and rang. I finally held the purse over my head, looked up in it, and shook it. The phone fell out with a solid clunk to my nose.

I wouldn't be surprised if that lost sandal is in there somewhere. And Jimmy Hoffa. And the Lost Tribe of Israel.

You ask why I still use it. Look again at the picture.

It's a great looking purse.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Our fishing trip last weekend was just about perfect. We couldn't even complain about the rain. When you are smack dab in the middle of a drought, it's not a good idea to complain about a gentle soaking rain getting in the way of weekend fun.

We got down to Bennet Springs Sunday evening and still had time to get in some fishing.

Jenni was the first to catch a fish. This is her "catching a fish pose". From every fishing trip, we have photos of her like that. She always looks so graceful. She did NOT get that from me.

Tim caught the next fish that night. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this was the first time he's fished since he was five years old. He wanted to release his trout, but it had swallowed the hook and we didn't know if it would make it. He was initially concerned about that; we called it his "Phoebe moment". If you've ever watching Friends, you know what I'm talking about. Jenni made an agreement with him that they would put it on the stringer, put it in the water and if it recovered enough they would release it. It didn't recover. Jenni ended up cleaning it.

She later suggested to Tim that he use a single hook without barbs instead of the barbed treble hooks as those are easier for "catch and release". He opted not to because they would be harder to catch. He had apparently gotten over his "Phoebe moment."

That evening, Jenni caught two, Tim caught one, and I didn't have any luck. Dad opted to sit and watch.

A fog rolled in and gave the stream a mystical appearance.

We had some visitors that evening in the form of a blue heron

and an otter.

OK, you're pretty much going to have to trust me on the heron and otter. But they ARE there. If you click on the photos you can see the heron; and you can see the wake the otter was making in the water.

The next morning, we had to get into our rain gear. We make quite a fashion statement, don't we? Check out the kicky boots.

Tim was the only one whose hair benefitted from the weather.

We were in the water by 6:50 am; waiting for the siren to blow. We never heard it but Dad and the guy he was standing next to looked at their watches, saw it was 7:01, and decided it was time.

Every time I go trout fishing, I dream of catching a fish on my first cast. It's never happened to me. It happened to Jenni this time. A few minutes later, I did get my first trout. I love that feeling when the pole jolts. I tried to reel him in, but he wouldn't get any closer. I knew it was a trout and not the bottom of the stream or a branch, because I could feel him move. I wondered if he was just so big that he was stronger than my reel. He did jump out of the water at one point, and I saw he was a good sized fish, but no lunker my any means.

So I beached him. I slung my rod over my shoulder and walked up the shore and drug him onto the beach.

A few minutes after that, I had to land my second trout the same way. Obviously, something was wrong with my reel and I was going to need to replace it. But Dad came over to show us he'd caught his limit (at 7:20!)

So I used his pole. It has a left-handed reel, but it worked for me.

Jenni was the next to catch her limit, but she started cleaning her fish before we got any pictures of her stringer.

I was next...

....and then Tim. This is him netting his fourth trout; a good sized one. Jenni started cleaning his fish when she was done with hers, so we didn't get a picture of his stringer, either. I never could get her to clean her room when she was growing up, but she's a demon when it comes to cleaning trout.

But we did get a picture of them with their cleaned trout.


All four of us had caught our limit and had them cleaned by 10:00. That has NEVER happened before...for us. It did help that the limit was lowered to 4 from 5 trout, but it was still a good feeling.

We were able to pack up, get on the road and get back to St. Louis in time to have a fresh trout dinner on the table by 5:30 that night.

It was delicious.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Makes you wonder what they were feeding their kid. Love the last paragraph; "Police gave the all clear after they contacted the woman who told them the intercepted package contained only a malfunctioning diaper."

Malfunctioning diaper? That can't be good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


As I had related in the "Gone Fishing" post of last week, our recent family fishing expedition was the first time my son-in-law had fished since he was five when there was the unfortunate incident with the crawdad, a cat and Tim's big toe. By the way, I just found out that the cat was named "Pickles". That bit of information is really neither here nor there, but an attack-cat named Pickles just tickles my funnybone.

Anyway, our proposed trip came up at a family dinner last month, the night before my daughter's graduation from graduate school. Her father was there and proceeded to tell everyone about a time we had gone backpacking and canoeing in the Boundary Water Canoe area somewhere north of Ely, Minnesota. There were eight of us on that trip; four couples. Stan, Cheri, Homer, Loretta, Jim, Judy, Don and me. We had decided that we would have a fishing tournament; men against women. The day before the tournament, Cheri and I decided to go practice. Fortunately, before we set out in our canoe, I overheard her husband say to Homer "Do you think they'll know what to do if they catch a northern?" Homer didn't think so, and doubted that we would catch one. He did, however, think that it would make for good entertainment.

Hearing that, I knew there was SOMETHING about northerns that was different from the bass, trout and perch I'm used to catching. We had a good day of fishing and caught bass after bass after bass. Being one who was raised that if you catch it, you clean it, I was becoming aware that I was going to be rather busy that night before dinner.

Suddenly, I felt the strongest tug I've ever felt on my line. Let me amend that; I felt the strongest tug on my line outside of inadvertently catching a five year old boy downstream from me when trout fishing. Since we were out in the middle of a lake, there were no five year old boys around us and my line was definitely in the water, I got a bit excited. I am not one who likes to fight with the fish. I know there are those fishermen who enjoy that more than actually catching the fish. I prefer to get the fish in the net. They are more likely to end up in the skillet that way instead of breaking the line and swimming off to freedom.

But this fish wanted to fight. He swam under the canoe, behind us, in front of us and back under the canoe. Cheri asked "do you have the Loch Ness Monster?" I can't remember if I answered. I was strugging to reel in whatever was down there. Finally, I saw something coming closer to the surface. Then I saw teeth as the snout of that fish broke the surface. It had tiny sharp teeth clutched around the hook and line. THAT'S what the guys were talking about. I was standing in the canoe now, Cheri nervously trying to balance it so we didn't go over. I pulled my rod up...and up...and up... and finally saw the tail of that thing come out of the water. Cheri helped me out by getting it in the net.

We sat down, gasping to catch our breath, the fish on the floor of the canoe. Most of it was in the net; but then it started flopping. Damn! I covered it with the net, grabbed my stringer and looped two of the links through it's gills. I went to get the hook out of it's mouth, saw those teeth and opted to cut the line with my knife instead. I would get the lure later during the cleaning process. We dropped the stringer into the lake and paddled back to our campsite. We had plenty of fish for dinner that night and the next.

The guys came out to help us beach the canoe and asked how we did. Cheri held up the stringer of bass and they were amazed and congratulated us. Then she turned around, gestured towards me and said "you ain't seen nothing yet."

I held up Moby Pike. There was momentary silence as jaws dropped to the pine needles that covered the ground at our campsite. Then my husband stood on a rock, pounded his chest, pointed at me and said "That's MY woman!"

We secured the stringers on a log crossing a small inlet next to our campsite. It would be a few hours before dinner and since there were no refrigerators, the fish got to live a little longer.

Now, where we were camping, in the Boundary Water, there are only three campsites allowed per island. We hadn't seen very many people; yet somehow word went out that a northern had been caught. Canoers started paddling up to our campsite asking about it, and we showed them. I was asked what kind of lure I used. It was one that Stan had loaned me, a fuzzy yellow thing with a fringe. So I answered, "it's a fuzzy yellow thing with fringe." That was the wrong thing to say, apparently. Stan corrected me, "No, no, no. It was a yellow spinner with a skirt."

Yeah. That sounds better.

My husband really wanted us to take the northern home and get it stuffed and mounted. But we were three lakes and three portages away from the outfitters at Ely, and I reminded him what it was like lugging the canoe and our voyager packs on the portages, much less lugging a northern. So we opted to take photos and then eat it.

Don and I went down the trail away from the campsite to clean Moby Pike. Let me briefly describe my husband (now my ex) to you. He's a city boy. Born and raised in Chicago. He was used to catching fish at the fish counter at the Jewel Tea grocery store in Chicago. This canoeing and camping trip was outside of his realm of experience. But he did well -- until I cleaned the northern.

First, I dug a pit to bury the head, tail and innards. Then I sliced down the fishes' underbelly with my knife. He got very quiet. Don, not the fish. Well, the fish was quiet, too, at that point. Then Don pointed out in dismay that the heart was still beating. I quickly and cleanly beheaded it. He pointed out the heart was STILL beating. I cleaned out the cavity of the fish, dumping everything into the pit, retrieving the yellow spinner with the skirt. The heart laid there in the pit. Don said "It's still beating." I covered it all up with dirt and set about to finish cleaning the fish and cutting it up into pieces for for dinner.

We had a wonderful fishfry that night and all agreed the bass and pike were delicious. Don said he saw a totally new side of me that day.

He also started sleeping with one eye open.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Yolanda was 21 when she came to America, not knowing any English. She hadn't left her family to come to America; they had had been the ones to leave first. When she was two, her mother and father went to America with their oldest child, a son, Mickie. They left their oldest daughter behind in Italy with her grandparents.

It was understood that after they saved enough money, they would send for her. But they had Julio, Julia, Orlando, Louie, Albert, Eva and Jean. There was never enough money saved up to send for their daughter that they had left behind. Nineteen years later, after her grandmother died, she paid for her own way to America to meet her family.

Her life in Italy wasn't a bad one. As family history relates, her grandmother was the wet nurse to the Prince of Italy. In fact, it was always said in capital letters, as though that was her grandmother's title, "The Wet Nurse To the Prince of Italy." Her clothes were hand-me-downs from the Principessa and many of the furnishings in the house came from the Princes' family.

When she was 21, her grandmother died. Her grandfather had died sometime before that, so she was alone. She packed up her belongings and went to the other side of the world to join the family she didn't know.

She had the good fortune to meet a couple from Italy who helped her with the American language and traveled with her on the train from New York City to Chicago. She made her way to her family's home and walked in to the middle of bedlam. So many children!! She was used to a household consisting of her grandparents, an aunt or uncle or two; and herself. Some time later, she found out that some neighborhood children were added to the mix of her own siblings.

That night, she fell into bed, grateful for sleep after the long journey to rejoin her family. But the sheets kept her awake most of the night. They were handsewn, pieced together from flour sacks. The crude seams and the rough cloth irritated her back. They were not the soft, comfortable sheets she had slept on in Italy that were given to her by the Prince's family. Sometime during the night, she vowed she would return to Italy and a life that made more sense.

The next morning, as she was helping her mother with all of those children, she saw a little redheaded girl of about five, standing in the corner. The little girl was quietly sobbing, watching her with big brown eyes as she sucked her thumb. Yolanda approached her and knelt down. The little girl removed her thumb from her mouth and asked "Are you my sister?" Yolanda found out this little girl was her youngest sister, Jean.

She decided Jean needed her and that she should stay in Chicago to watch over this this little one to make sure she didn't get lost in the crowd of the other siblings. A special bond was formed between the two. Yolanda was always there for Jean; Jean was always there for Yolanda.

And so, she made her life in America, working as a seamstress at Hart Schaffner Marx, becoming a wife, and then a mother. She also became an aunt to many many more. She hosted every holiday meal over the years. The centerpiece of the Christmas meal was her homemade ravioli. Surrounding that on the table was roasted chicken, roast beef, fiorie, fried zucchini and cauliflower. A favorite treat of everyone who visited her were the brigidini cookies. They were a wafer thin cookie flavored with anissette.

One day, a nephew asked her to teach his wife how to make ravioli. This wasn't a dish that could be made from a recipe. The cooking lesson included trips to the butcher and the farmer's market. The young woman was introduced to the butcher and his wife. Yolanda explained that she was teaching her how to make ravioli. A look of delight came upon their faces, "Ahhh, how nice." Then Yolanda explained, "She is not Italian." The delight dimmed, they nodded in understanding to Yolanda and gave an almost imperceptible shrug, as though to say, "at least she's trying."

Yolanda was a short, stocky woman with an ample bosom. At the family dinners, if a baby became fretful and fussy, she would pick it up, hold it against her bosom and walk around, cooing and singing. The baby would generally fall asleep in the most comfortable bed in the house; Yolanda's bosom.

Fifty years after she left Italy, she returned for a trip home. But it wasn't the same. Upon her return to Chicago, she declared that in Italy, "if it's filthy and falling apart, they call it art!"

Not long ago, it was becoming apparent that Yolanda's journey was coming to an end. The family started to gather to be with her.

This morning, at the age of 95, Yolanda went to sleep and slipped out to join her husband, Placido; parents Isola and Narchiso; her brothers Julio, Mickie, Louie and Orlando; and her sister Julia. Surrounding her at the end were her sons, nieces, her brother Albert, and her sister Eva. And of course, at the end, was her baby sister Jean.

Ciao, Auntie Yolle. Thank you for teaching me how to make ravioli, even though I'm not Italian.

I'll miss you.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


My Dad, daughter, son-in-law and I are leaving tomorrow to go trout fishing for a few days at Bennett Springs State Park in South Central Missouri. When I was growing up, we went trout fishing quite often; usually at Montauk State Park, which is only a couple of hours away. Bennett Springs is further away from here. When Jenni was younger, she and I sometimes went fishing together; just the two of us, leaving Meghan at home with her Dad. We would generally go to either Montauk or Maramec Springs Park; which is not to be confused with Meramec State Park. Notice the difference in spelling. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Several times in the past few years, Jenni and my Dad would go on a fishing holiday, spending a great time together. I haven't gone for a number of years, and decided it's time.

This will be my son-in-law's first time fishing since he was five years old. Apparently, there was a rather traumatic event at that time that has kept him from fishing ever since. While he was fishing, a crawdad somehow latched onto his big toe. Naturally, this scared the little guy and he kicked his foot around, screaming to get it off. Before anyone could reach him, a cat attacked the crawdad which was attacking his toe. To this day, he avoids fish, crawdads and cats. It is a measure of his love for my daughter that he's agreeing to do this.

Dad told me that the State of Missouri has changed the daily limits on catching trout. The limit used to be 5, which I reached only once. I would generally catch only 3 or 4. Dad was saddened to have to tell me that the limit is now 4. I can only see that as an advantage, because now I have a better chance of getting my limit.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


In just a couple of hours the Perseid Meteor Shower arrives for its annual rein. This year's prediction: spectacular.

In reading the attached story, I started to reflect back to a summer several years ago. A group of us were spending the weekend at a friend's vacation house at Lake of the Ozarks in Southern Missouri. We had spent a long, wonderful day on the lake skiing, fishing and even getting in some scuba diving in water with 5" visibility. "Scuba diving for the blind" is what I called it.

After a wonderful steak dinner and dealing with a minor power outage caused by a squirrel in a transformer, we sat out on the deck of the lake house enjoying the evening air, drinking margueritas and pina coladas and sharing stories and jokes. Someone mentioned that there was going to be a meteor shower later that night. Well, actually, very early the next morning. We all promised we'd go out on the lake to watch it.

Close to 2:00 a.m., the peak time for the astrological event, only two of us were able to make it; my good buddy Jason and me. We have been friends for a long time, the kind of friends who have dated each other's best friend, but not each other. We've cried on each other's shoulders during breakups, shared secrets and confidences; all which will keep us as good friends and nothing else.

Jason and I tried to wake up the others but got grumpy "go away's" from them. After awhile, we gave up trying to wake them, grabbed a couple of air mattresses and headed out the back door to the swimming deck. Already in our suits, we eased ourselves into the warm, quiet water and climbed aboard our air mattresses. Since I'm not the graceful type, I flailed around a bit before I was finally able to lay down on my raft and enjoy the night sky.

Jason made a sarcastic commented about my flailing. I made some kind of smart aleck comeback.

We laid there for awhile, enjoying the quiet. Our rafts were gently bobbing up and down on the water. We listened to the night sounds; a few locusts, an occasional dog, the quiet sounds of the lake water lapping against the docks, and a bullfrog.

I was getting drowsy from bobbing up and down on the water and struggled to keep my eyes open to watch the night sky. We waited. And waited. As I was starting to doze off, I heard Jason:

"Hey! There's one!....there's another.....and another!"

I opened my eyes wide, but saw nothing. I rubbed my eyes, but just saw stars.

But he was evidently having better luck. "There's another...and another....and another."

I squinted, and started to sit up on my raft, but felt like any movement would cause me to fall off again. So I quieted on my raft, still seeing nothing. Oh. Wait. I saw a flicker...and another....and another.

Jason was excited now. "There!! See it? There's another one! And another!"

I saw. "Jase?"


"Those are lightening bugs."


"You're not going to tell anyone about this, are you?"


Monday, August 08, 2005


.....such as losing the remote control. It's not a garden variety remote, either. It's the fancy schmancy DVR remote to the digital TV. The Tivo-like remote. It's amazing how its disappearance has had an adverse affect on my life; and I didn't think I watched a lot of TV for it to affect me so.

Since having my DVR, I have gotten "hooked" on rewinding live TV shows to catch something I missed or to watch my own replay of a Cardinals game. Another advantage to this is if the phone rings in the middle of a show, I just hit pause and I don't miss anything. I also tape The Daily Show and catch up with it when the time is convenient for me.

Without the remote control, I can basically turn the TV on and off and manually change the channels. This is a pain as the "system" seems to take a few seconds before advancing to the next channel. When one has several hundred channels from which to chose, this takes awhile.

Quiet often, I tend to tune in to one of the music channels; but since those are in the 900 range on my channel selection, I haven't been taking the time to manually select those.

The house has been torn upside down and sideways in my search for the remote control. I thought back to the last time I saw it and that was last weekend when my daughter and son-in-law were in town. I remembered seeing Tim sitting on the couch watching a Cardinals game while Jenni and I ran errands. When we got home, they opened their luggage and re-arranged things prior to leaving for the airport to go to Florida.

Naturally, I suspected the remote ended up in their luggage. They have claimed they've searched it and can't find it. With it being such a fancy schmancy remote, I can't go to Target and pick up a universal remote. I've put off calling the cable company to get a replacement because I know it's going to cost me a lot of coin. I keep waiting for the kids to call me and say "guess what?" In fact, every time they have called, I've started off the conversation with "you found it?" I think that was beginning to annoy them.

Last night, I was getting desperate. For the UMPTEENTH time, I removed the couch cushions, this time stacking them in the middle of the room so they would not be able to camouflage my objective. Then I ran my hand all around the edges of the couch, finding tissues, a sock, two pens, lottery ticket and......THE REMOTE!!


Life is back to normal.....except I am now missing the little black rubber plug to the little metal thingy on the steamer on my capuccino maker. You wouldn't think that little thingy would make a difference, but it does. I've been placing a folded paper towel over the teeny tiny opening, but it's not the same.

When I called the kids to ask them to look through their luggage for it, they hung up on me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


They had the kind of relationship we all want, but few have. They were soulmates. From the beginning, it was apparent it was meant to be. Her maiden name was even very close to his. All you needed to do was switch two letters and add an "s" to hers and it became his.

They weren't kids when they married; in fact, they were close to middle age. A love of the outdoors was shared by them. They participated in century bike rides, and spent a good part of each summer touring national parks. Last summer they hiked 72 miles in Glacier National Park.

Hers was a kind and generous heart. She was active in her church and was a Stephen Minister, reaching out to others who were facing a life-challenge. She wasn't blessed with children; but the second graders she taught for close to thirty years were blessed to have her as a teacher.

So why was she taken?

They were vacationing in Wyoming, on their way to go hiking. She was driving the car which was pulling a trailer. A rogue, strong wind hit the car, flipping it several times.

Her body survived the crash; but her brain did not. She slipped into a coma and then two strokes in succession finished any hope she would survive.

A long way from home, his own body badly injured, her husband had to make the decision no one ever wants to make.

Among the many friends they have through their church, community and work, they also have friends from when they first met. Friends they had made in a community of people who came together to heal. They didn't all stay in contact over the years, but whenever one of their own suffers, the others gather to lend support.

And so they gathered for the wake, which was held a month after the accident, over two weeks after her passing. It was delayed until he was recovered enough to make the trip home.

But as they met outside of the church, they realized this wasn't the time for them to lend support. The line of mourners was long. Hours long; as though every student and every parent of those students she taught for thirty years had come to say goodbye. So they melted away for now, knowing that the time would come when the crowds would dissipate and the shadows would close in. If he needs them, they will be there.

In memoriam. Ellen Cathy Rhodes

Monday, August 01, 2005


It's not a bomb.


One would think that being in a golf foursome with one's ex would provide a lot of blog fodder.

Amazingly, no. Other than playing a not-so-hideous game of golf, the day was pleasantly uneventful.

The reason my ex and I were in a foursome was due to a family gathering for our daughter receiving her Master's Degree in Math Education. A year ago at this time, we had all gathered for her wedding. The day before the wedding, our son-in-law hosted the First Annual Ball & Chain Invitational. I didn't get to play because I was busy finishing the necklaces I was making for the wedding party.

When we gathered this year, it was decided we should hold the Second Annual Ball & Chain Invitational.

There had been a heatwave earlier in the week, but the weather broke the day before. We all met at the golf course under beautiful blue skies and pleasing 75 degree weather. When we formed our foursomes, it ended up that I was in one with my ex and our daughters. It was also was my fourth time playing golf. Ever. I figured all of that added up to some good stories to relate.

We played "best ball" (even used my ball on a number of occasions) and I didn't have to go upside anyone's head with my 9-iron. The fact that we used my ball several times was an indication that either I'm better than we all thought, or they all suck. I'd say it wase actually a combination of the two. I did manage to lose two balls, but found three others, so I figure I came out ahead.

On the third hole the others had already putted and had done poorly. Jenni said, "It's up to you, Mom, save us." As I was lining up my putt, my ex grabbed his throat and started making choking noises. I glanced over at him, held up my putter and said "Don't forget, I am armed."

Basically, that was about it.

Blog-wise, a disappointing day.

Family-wise, a success. And that's what really counts.