Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Early Adventures With Alcohol

Today [I know, I said it was yesterday. Well, I was wrong, OK?!] is my niece's 21st birthday and she just emailed me that she and some friends are going out tonight to buy her first, legal, alcoholic drink. Now she's no boozer, so it'll probably be a beer or two. Anyway, this reminded my of my first, formal alcoholic drink. I have to put it that way because when I was perhaps 15, I was allowed a glass of wine during a family dinner at a friend's house. Not wishing to appear uncool, I worked very hard to keep a straight face. We were told all about it's vintage and all the adults oohed and aahed with their first sips. I, on the other hand, thought it tasted dreadful and barely choked it down. Not even the slightest little buzz could induce me to finish my glass. About three years later, during my first Thanksgiving home from college, my parents treated me to an elegant evening out in Chicago. I dutifully dressed in stockings, heels and my first basic black dress which, in my case, was navy blue cuz I don't like to wear black. Mom and Dad had given me a Borgana coat for Christmas before I went away to college, so I felt quite elegant in my fake fur and heels. When we were seated at the Four Seasons by a tuxedoed waiter, I knew I was way out of my league. Still, I wanted to prove I was grown-up and capable of handling myself appropriately in these circumstances. When the waiter returned to take our drink orders, Mom and Dad ordered a glass of Harvey's Bristol Creme Sherry for me. ALRIGHT! Gonna get a buzz on -- with my parents . . . ?! With the first sip, I thought my mouth would turn inside out. It tasted the way paint thinner smells! An 18-year-old-palate just isn't ready to appreciate that kind of thing. I thought I saw the slightest smirks on my parents' faces, but chose to ignore them and was grateful when the bread and butter was served! Through gritted teeth, I got down every drop of that disgusting stuff and was just a tiny bit wobbly walking out. We then attended a marvelous performance of "Man of La Mancha" during which I developed a huge crush on the lead, Richard Kiley. Don Quixote is such a sympathetic character . . . or was it the booze talking? ;-O

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh, Happy Day!!

This adorable toddler turns the big 21 today.

Happy Birthday, Carolyn!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Picayune Observations

Macho-man, Dr. Phil has his eyebrows waxed. I can tell because the skin above and below his brows is shades lighter from having been ripped off with the hot wax. Don't know whether to pity him or laugh at him! [Stopped watching his-cocky-self long ago, but tuned in recently out of curiosity. He's still cocky.] Laughing when a little kid puts a pea up her nose won't help when you have to take her to the emergency room to get it out. No matter how it's framed, belly-button lint does not qualify as art. A man doesn't have nearly the "holding-power" a woman has. If he can't find a bathroom, he'll go anywhere. ABC's anchor, Charlie Gibson, wears glasses when he's not on camera. You can see the long, horizontal indentations in his hair. I still prefer him to the rest of them. It WILL rain when you don't have your umbrella with you. As soon as you think you've conquered a zit, it will double in size while you sleep. Only those who kiss-up to Martha have their comments posted on her blog. The perfect retort to an obnoxious comment will only come to mind long after the perpetrator is gone. I just love the word, picayune. It's so descriptive and fun to say.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Home Town Part III

Just finished reading the local, weekly rag for my home town. Seems that "Gypsy Thieves" are back, taking advantage of the good folks there. I would have thought that the good ole days of open, unlocked doors and windows were long gone, but not in MHT. Seems residents still leave their houses open while they're in the backyard gardening or pooling or whatever it is they do back there. "Gypsy Thieves" have known about this for years and each year, about this time, they take advantage of it. Some poor woman is missing a $20,000 family heirloom. I'm sure there are equally tragic stories from years-worth of other victims. MHT tends to give visitors and residents alike a feeling of small town, security and ease. You don't see many cop cars patrolling which gives one a false sense of security. There just couldn't be any crime in my lovely, tastefully landscaped town! I grew up with this mentality, but in those days, it was reasonable and normal. There wasn't much crime in MHT. With a settled, well-grounded community of 7,000, we watched out for each other and knew who went to which church. Often, if a kid did something wrong, punishment dispensed by parents was far worse than anything a judge could impose, so that's how it worked. [Funny how "Leave it to Beaver" comes to mind. . .] Anyway . . . kids were able to go out to play in the morning and not return until dusk or when they got too hungry - whichever came first. No one worried much and we only got anxious when someone lost a shoe to the quicksand in a ravine or someone's dog wandered off. Yup, no leash law. Too few, slow moving cars and dogs knew better than to spend time on the railroad tracks. The vet came to our houses to vaccinate every pet [THERE'S another story in itself!] so rabies was non-existent. Our bicycles were licensed and inspected annually by the police and we had to pass a bicycle safety course. Helmets were unheard of then, but would have been a good idea for those of us who were reckless bikers. But then, you had to be to escape from the nasty, big poodle two blocks into your ride to the beach. Sorry -- I digress. The memories just start to floooooww. . . Back to the "Gypsy Thieves" . . . When Spring finally arrives in the North, the first impulse is to open up the house which has been hermetically sealed since the first cold snap in September. Storm windows come down and screens go up. Doors and windows are left open to catch the cross breezes, even if the temps are still only in the high 50s. The "Gypsy Thieves" know this and, unlike residents, don't forget it from year to year. The population in MHT has tripled and, apparently, not wised-up to the subtle ways of the "Gypsy Thieves." Another example of more dollars than sense.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What Privacy?!

Where has confidentiality gone? It used to be that personal information was protected from prying eyes. News reports force me to believe that's not possible anymore. Privacy, in every sense of the word, has been stolen not only from celebrities, but from ordinary folk like you and me. It's not only computer thefts, either. Think about being out in the public and suddenly having an itch in, shall we say, an inopportune spot. If a security camera doesn't catch you trying to tactfully scratch it, some one's cell phone camera just might. What's a person to do?! It's like everyone is suddenly a paparazzo. Some years ago, an elderly, well known friend handled an embarrassing situation with uncommon decorum and grace. She was exiting St. Matthews Cathedral through a side door when the elastic on her half slip let go. She simply stepped out of it and kept on going. Nowadays, this little event might have been captured on several security cameras aimed into the alley where she was walking. That's not totally a bad thing, but footage usually isn't viewed until after a crime has been committed. Of course, she did not commit a crime, except maybe littering. On the other hand, people who think they can mine the insides of their noses while driving are another case. It's disgusting and, drivers: you may think your car is a sanctum, but it ain't.
Common decency used to prevent us from deliberately embarrassing others, whether or not we knew them. How have we become so callous and self-centered? Can we turn this trend around and preserve some human dignity?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gratuitous Cuteness VIII

I can't help but grin looking at these two cuties.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Crocodile Tears and Dirty Money

Relatives of four girls long neglected and eventually murdered by their psychotic mother are now coming out of the woodwork. Suits against D.C. agencies for multi-millions of dollars have been filed, months after the dreadful discoveries in a Southeast row house. One particularly onerous case involves the birth father of the eldest. He is demanding $25 million for "the financial loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society." While there is no evidence to indicate that he was every more than a sperm donor, he feels entitled to compensation for his loss. IF, and that's a big IF, any of these relatives actually took interest in these girls, they might still be alive. Granted, mentally unstable individuals are difficult to deal with. However, in this case, it seems very little effort was made by relatives to help the mother, much less her daughters. I believe the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has weakened laws and regulations designed to help those who cannot help themselves. There's a fine line between protecting civil liberties and protecting the rest of society from those who knowingly or unknowlingly abuse them. In the case of these four little girls and their mother, there is plenty of fault to go around. Now the lawyers take their turn at getting a piece of the pie.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another First

This Sunday will be my first birthday without my Dad. Mom told me that since she could get through her's in January I'd get through mine. Sure, I'll get through it. I just hope I don't have a meltdown in front of my nephews! I really don't feel like celebrating. And it's not because I'm rapidly approaching my sixth decade, although that would be enough to make any woman cry. No, it's because my Dad won't be there with his big bear hug and grinning, birthday greeting for his "little girl." It's goofy because I'm the oldest and least slender of his three daughters yet he always called me his "little girl." In return I called him "Big Daddy." We had fun with that. . . When does the pain of loss go away? It's been five months and it still feels so raw. I know there's no timetable for grief. And I suppose I'm working through it because it's slowly getting a little easier to accept. Still, I can't help feeling cheated -- I wasn't ready to let him out of my life!

Friday, April 4, 2008

1968 . . .

. . . was a pivotal year in many lives, including mine. The memories are so fresh that it's hard to believe so many years have come and gone. When Dr. King was assassinated,forty years ago today, I was a college freshman. We thought the world was coming to an end, just as we'd felt when John Kennedy was shot down five years earlier. Horror and pain mixed with total disbelief --why? who? how could they? what happens now?! I was living in a women's dorm, attending a small, liberal arts college in Iowa. The environment had been relaxed, open and inclusive. The Black students seemed fully integrated with the rest of us which included many foreign students. Sadly yet understandably, soon after Dr. King's murder, some of my Black classmates turned away from non-Blacks. There was one wall phone in the hall for incoming calls which were announced on the P.A. system from the front desk switchboard. There was also one pay phone for us to make out-going calls. Neither offered any privacy. When I overheard a Black classmate talking about killing her family if they didn't "get with the program" I was shaken and felt so sad. The Black Panthers were recruiting on college campuses and she had fully embraced the movement. It would get much worse before it got better. It was a relief to get back home to my family and friends that summer. But, only weeks later, on June 5th, Bobby Kennedy was shot down in Los Angeles. Oh, God!! What was happening?! Life was scary and hatred was widespread. In August, my then boyfriend came to visit and we took the commuter train into Chicago. We wanted to visit our hero, Eugene McCarthy's campaign office. Mayor Daley chose that day to make his disgraceful decision ordering police to attack anti-war demonstrators outside the Democratic National Convention. We took the train back north before the situation got really bad. BF regretted not sticking around -- I was relieved. Little did I know then that, in December of that year, my family would leave our comfortable, Midwestern lives and move to the D.C. area. I also had no clue that I would be pepper-gassed and tear-gassed a year later during anti-war rallies at the University of Maryland.
The singular bright spot in 1968 was the first birth in the next generation of my family. Her arrival on October 26th was such a blessing. Her innocence and deep brown eyes inspired and charmed all of us and gave us hope for the future.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Afternoon Delight Sparrow Style

There was quite a ruckus on the balcony yesterday afternoon. It was so loud that it actually took my attention away from a steamy romance novel.

I don't know how sparrows choose their mates, but it's rigorous to say the least. It sounded and looked like a life and death battle with feathers flying!

Five male sparrows were fighting over a female who frantically tried to avoid them. She never actually flew away until well after one of the males did the deed.

Once the rowdies dispersed, leaving the female looking indignant and with her tail up against the wall, the male enjoyed an animated birdy bath. I half expected him to light up a cigarette when he finished.

I felt sorry for the female who was definitely short-changed. About three seconds -- wap, bam, thank-you ma'am. But then, again, once she smoothed her ruffled feathers, she seemed relieved to get it over with. . . hmmm

P.S. Pic was taken through a screen door from 10 feet away, thus the fuzzies.