In the beginning

Every day I woke up daring to hope that the previous day, month, year had been a nightmare and that I was waking up to my real life.

This day was going to be my real life. I would see real curtains on the window. My bedroom would be clean, with sheets on my bed, washed recently by my sweet mother. There would be breakfast on the table when I went downstairs. Maybe freshly cooked eggs, toast, juice, milk.

My father would greet me with a hug or even an absent-minded pat on the head and my brother and sisters would be bickering over who got the funnies from the daily newspaper first.

I would finish my breakfast, gather my schoolbooks, and my mother, sweet-smelling and smiling, would hand me my lunch bag that she had filled with a sandwich, a piece of fruit, and something sweet she had baked the day before: a cookie or maybe some fruit-filled pastry she was well-known for. She would remind me that I had a book report due on Friday. I would reassure her that I was well into it and that of course it would be handed in on time. A hug.. and I would be off, holding my little sister’s hand as we went the two blocks to school.

(That’s the sound of an old vinyl record being shoved out of whack.)

What I awaken to instead is a cold wind blowing through the place where the unfinished wallboard meets the uninsulated attic space we called a bedroom. There were three such rooms: mine, my brother Jimmy’s, and my sister Dale’s.

I awake to my alarm clock beeping out and I reach over to shoot if off before it can wake up Jimmy and Dale. I have things to do before they need to be up.

I go downstairs to see that my mother is ready to head out or has already gone to her job at the floral plant. She works there making preserved eucalyptus stems and preserved ferns for wholesale florists. It is nasty, hard work and she barely makes minimum wage. She does not pack my lunch or my sister and brother’s lunch. That’s up to 10-year-old me.

It’s also my job to iron my school dress as well as my sister’s and also to iron my father’s work shirt. It is pale blue and one of the new no-iron fabrics that isn’t truly no-iron.

I heat the iron up and pull up a chair to the ironing board so I can reach better. While the iron heats up I start cooking my father’s breakfast. He is in the tiny bathroom right off the kitchen, having his morning poop and reading his book. He takes exactly 10 minutes. And you do not interrupt him! Ever!

I crack two eggs into the bacon drippings in the ancient cast iron skillet and push two pieces of white bread into the toaster. I cook them sunny side up with the ease of a short order cook in a greasy spoon. As I slide them onto the plate the toast pops up and I slather them with margarine, never butter.

I pour the coffee for Dad that my mother did manage to make before she left since she needs her two cups more than she needs family time. He takes his with exactly one teaspoon of sugar, no milk.

I place his plate of eggs and toast in front of him and he stirs his already prepared coffee distractedly while reading his current paperback book. He barely raises his eyes to acknowledge me, I iron his shirt which gives of a noxious smell unique to that perma-press material. I place it on a wire hanger and hang that on a hook on the kitchen wall.

I go to wake my siblings. Jimmy needs to be yelled at over several  minute intervals if I am to get him motivated to come downstairs. Dale comes down and I pour her cold cereal. The milk is generic canned condensed milk mixed with equal an amount of water from the tap.

She finishes eating and I tell her to brush her teeth and get dressed. I yell up the stairs to Jimmy one more time. He finally comes down, plunks himself next to Dale and pours a big bowl of cornflakes, then proceeds to dump several spoonsful of sugar and some milk into it. He eats with gusto while poking Dale with his bare foot. She shrieks and whacks him on the arm. He says “What was that for?” as if he didn’t know.

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a door opens

sexywineWell, I never got that awesome marketing job I wanted. Instead I decided to stop worrying about things so much and focus on getting a job where the work would be to my liking. Hmm, what would that be? It would have to be fun. It would need to be something I feel passionate about. I would have to like the people there AND the environment.

I frequent a lovely little wine shop on Park Avenue in Rochester called Wine Sense. Every morning the owner posts an email to her subscribers offering the “Wine of the Day” or WOD as we insiders like to call it.. *sniff sniff * With a few white wine exceptions and a few out-of-my-price-range exceptions I am almost always tempted to buy the required 3-for  deal she offers.

Last week when D’Bear and I went in for our WOD I pulled the owner aside and asked if she needed any help over the holiday season. To my delight she answered “Yes!”  So when I got home I emailed her my sad, pathetic resume and ten minutes later got a reply asking me to stop by on Monday for a brief chat. I arrived at the appointed time and within 10 minutes found myself with a job.

Now it doesn’t pay much, **cough-pitiful really-cough** but there is one incredible perk: I get wine AT COST!!

I love the wine. I love it so much that D’Bear jokes about it. (He should TALK!) I have a reputation as a good cook, having taught cooking classes and wowing friends with some pretty-darn-good food over the years. He jokes that my kids will one day say to me ” Mom, we’re thinking of having some close friends and family over for a get-together. Do you think you could cater it?” and after providing a bountiful table-ful of delicious eats they will sit me down and say “SURPRISE! This is an intervention!”

When I owned my kitchenware shop,  Christmas holiday season was INSANE ! It was all my employees and I could do to keep up with customer demands! We wrapped anything and everything. We made gift baskets. We rang up sale after sale all the while laughing and singing Christmas carols along with the stereo system blaring forth holiday music all day long! The store was ALIVE! My daughters would come home from college, roll up their sleeves and pitch in because it was fun! (and I paid them.)

I look forward to some of that once again. The wine shop is a fun place to work with really nice people working there alongside. There are wine tastings every weekend and special food and wine events scheduled around the holidays.

Now if my paycheck EVER makes it past the door…well, it will be good.

 

He’s ba-acck!

hangintoughha Yes, you heard it here first!

Our dear friend Peter Parkour is back at Hate & Anger !

I suggest you all run right over and check things out. He has awarded this Hanging Tough award to all the loyal followers who stuck around , of which I am PROUD to be a member. There are many of us who , over the time he was blogging, fell in love with this wacky, wonderful man.

Thanks, Spidey! I love the award… and I am so glad you are back.

suck sucky suck suck

cheap-fun-wineYeah, I’m pissed. And depressed.

I’m 55 years-old, smart, reasonably attractive, and fairly well-liked! I dress well, speak well, and I have SKILZ, baby!

If I were younger I would consider making an offer to sleep my way into a job.  I’d also take pictures and blackmail their asses but still….money is money.

On Friday, three days ago my daughter called me from work to tell me that one of her patients mentioned that a job had just opened for a Marketing Director at a nearby assisted living facility. She suggested that I would be ideal for the job and since I had “insider” information I might be able to beat the crowds looking for work there. It was too late to get my resume out to them by that time so first thing this morning, Monday, I called them to ask for an appointment and was told the position had already been filled.  WTF?

So I have decided that if I live frugally enough I may be able to make it through till I sell this place, collect Social Security (HA!), and maybe have something left over in my annuity to keep me from having to ask my kids to let me live with them.

So here are some ideas I have to save money:

I plan to unplug my clocks while I sleep. 

I will only eat whatever is on sale, and I will only buy what I know I will consume. In the past I have been rather wasteful. I have been known to buy items and then they sat in the freezer or produce bins until they were no longer edible. This spring I tossed some freezer burned edemame, chicken livers, a roast of dubious origins, several bags of Tater Tots , and a 4 lb. chunk of frozen Velveeta over the bank in the back field.  NO MORE! I also intend to start that diet. I think I can probably hibernate on these extra 20  40 lbs. I carry.

Two-ply toilet paper and paper towels? No more. Any remaining two-ply items will summarily be separated into single-ply and used thusly. By reducing my food intake (see above)  I will dramatically cut down on my own “solid-wastes” anyway!

I will get used to wearing a winter coat while in my house. My down comforter will substitute at night. Thermostats will be kept at 55 degrees.  I apologize to anyone visiting me but be forewarned to dress appropriately when coming by.

Coupons. I hate ’em. I will now use them.

Consignment clothing is chic, no? I may look retro-fashionable from now on (otherwise known as “the bag lady look”).

dress made from ramen noodles packages

dress made from ramen noodles packages

Mineral make-up is expensive but I love it. BareMinerals is my cosmetic of choice but perhaps some good old Pennsylvania dirt would work as well. It is, after all, mostly minerals! And it will work so well with the retro fashions I intend to adopt! Perhaps if I sterilize it in the microwave first…..

Siphoning gas from my ex’s vehicles will save me on gasoline bills for my car. Hey! Who asked him to build a house right across from me anyway?

If anyone would like to contribute suggestions on ways that I can save more money please comment and I will take them under consideration. If anyone would like to donate to my retirement fund…. I will adopt you. I could use the tax write-off of a dependent.

If only

SuperLogo

If only:

1.my hairdresser really WAS a magician!

2. all cookies were sold individually I could buy a “sampler”– 6 Oreos, 4 Pecan Sandies, 3 Nutter Butters, and a Mallomar!

3.my new shoes made me feel like I was “walking on clouds”.  **coughbullshitcough* Damn bunions! Damn flat feet!

4. rice cakes tasted like pizza.

5. pizza tasted like rice cakes.

6. men came with an “on/off” button.  I mean, come on… flip the switch- turn ’em on!  And vice versa!

7. cell  phones deactivated when inside of moving vehicles!

8. my ex could have danced half so well!

9. my underwear looked as sexy on  me as it did in the store…on a hanger.

10. cigarettes weren’t bad for you..I’d have a two-pack-a-day habit! I still miss ’em after 7 years!

11. being stupid was painful.  heeheehee

12. the “Blog Surfer” button on WordPress was a transporter, I’d have all my bloggy friends over for tea (or bloody marys)!

coming home

lexus man

Lexus Man

I drove home today along the NY thruway east and then 81 south through Syracuse, Tully, Binghamton, and then Great Bend, PA  and then on to my farm.

 The drive started off in Rochester at the tail end of rush-hour traffic but soon became just normal highway driving. You know, semi-trucks, U-Hauls, the Lexus Man with the cell phone firmly attached to his ear going 5 miles an hour faster than everyone else. Then there’s the career woman in the SUV also with her cell phone but unlike Lexus Man, her cell phone use causes her to drive in the passing lane 5 miles slower than everyone else, oblivious to everyone trying to maneuver around her slow ass. I got behind her thinking she would see me trying to pass but NOOOO! I had to blink my lights at her several times to get her attention. When I finally got her to move over to the right and passed her she still had the cellphone to her ear but she did take it away long enough to give me the finger. Such a lady!womancellphone

There were also the proverbial Q-Tips. You know, the retirees with white hair who barely can see over the steering wheel but insist on driving on the highway at 50 MPH !!  “Oh, look at me! I’m really flying here!!! No, Dorothy, don’t make eye contact! They’re crazy out there!! They might even have guns! Haven’t you heard of road rage?” They have a right to be there! I mean that, but they tie up traffic so badly sometimes it’s almost dangerous! Maybe we should have Senior Citizen Highways where no one can drive over the speed of 50 MPH! And no passing lanes…at all! old-driver2

 I love that drive though. It gives me time to segue between being part of the life with my honey, D’Bear, in the city and my life as a country girl with a big old farmhouse out in rural Pennsylvania. I love the scenery along the thruway in NY at Waterloo and Montezuma, especially near the big wetlands where huge flocks of migrating birds swoop over the highway in tremendous numbers, causing motorists to slow  to watch the display.

Then when I get past Binghamton, NY and enter Pennsylvania,  the scenery becomes completely rural with rolling hills and farmland and small, quaint towns with names like Thompson, East Ararat, Starrucca, and Pleasant Mount. These are towns whose entire village is the size of one city block in Rochester. There is usually one gas station/garage/junkyard, one Dollar Store, a hardware store of some kind, and a convenience mart where all the teenagers hang out. My favorite convenience store is in Great Bend and it is called, I kid you not, the HoMart!!! I admit I have not stopped there to see whether they do, indeed, sell Ho’s (how does one write that anyway?)homart

 

 

I returned home to find the lawn needs to be mowed, the leaves are falling rapidly and will soon require attention and a house whose interior was 55 degrees!! The mail was near to filling the mailbox and as a special present I found four dead mice in the mousetraps I had set before leaving. No matter what I do they insist on coming in every fall and raiding my pantry of anything not sealed in glass jars or metal canisters. I am very Martha Stewart-ish now with all my old jars lining the shelves filled with pastas, three kinds of rice, dried beans and peas, herbs, spices, dried peppers of all kinds, and cans upon cans of tomatoes, sauces, condiments, soups, and sundry yummies.

After emptying the mousetraps ( yuck!) I hauled in a few armfuls of wood and lit the woodstove and then went out to cut the last of the hydrangeas, black-eyed susans, sweetpeas, and yarrow to put in vases around the house.

Finally I settled in with a take-home dish filled with D’Bear’s special pot roast, which he had simmered in the oven all afternoon on Sunday, pureed butternut squash with nutmeg, and mashed potatoes. Belly full, toes warm, candles lit, and flowers on every surface…yes, the house welcomed me home.

My Home Sweet Home

My Home Sweet Home

I am alone but only temporarily.  The solitude gives me time to be with myself, to be who I am without the reflection of another. What better time than autumn to do that? Autumn feels like the right time to take stock of our lives, our thoughts, our habits, and our property. It gives us a pause before the hardness of winter to take a good look at where we are and where we need to be.

I look forward to this next week. Before you know it I will be back in the car headed north to my honey… with the winter wardrobe in the trunk. By wardrobe I mean my funky old sweatshirt, my Northface fleece, and my wool socks. Oh, and the sexy fleece pajamas with the dancing cats on the bottoms!! OOO-ee!! Prepare yourself to be swept away, D’Bear!

the good, the bad, and the snuggly (no, not the damn blanket!)

The weather sucks.

It really does. It’s 42 degrees outside and not much warmer inside, as far as I can tell. D’Bear keeps the heat off until icicles form on the computer screens. Hey, it is his house to do with as he sees fit. Oh, he tells me to turn the heat up but I know he hates it…so I don’t.

stanleyclarkeI am here in NY since last Friday. We went to see Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White play their amazing jazz in Buffalo at the University of Buffalo Center for the Arts.  I am learning to love jazz. I never thought I would!  Stanley Clark practically f*cked that bass, I swear! He made love to it and made it sing in ways I never knew a bass could sound. He strummed it, plucked it, beat the strings, drummed on the body, fluttered his hand over it like he was literally making love to it! Oh. My. Gosh.

Today is the 7th day in a row with no sunshine. I can’t take much more of this.

I considered going to Rochester Works , the NY State -run employment agency to look for a job here in Rochester. I changed my mind. I need a job. I do. Money is draining through my fingers way too fast. My savings are not going to be able to withstand the kinds of hits they took this past year again unless I can somehow bolster them up with some moolah this year.

My prospects aren’t that good back in Pennsylvania. The economy sucks there like in many small towns. The few manufacturing jobs they once had have long since dried up. Car dealers folded. No one is growing larger, business-wise. My marketable skills are … well, let’s say I fit a niche market, shall we? It sounds better than saying I am practically unemployable at 55 years-old.

Oh, I am smart, reasonably attractive, willing to work, and easy to train but let’s face it. McDonald’s doesn’t really care if I keep my nails nice and ran my own business for 12 years, right?

The job market is considerably better here in Rochester BUT, and here’s the rub, I live in PA! All my contacts, my “stuff” is till there, in PA.  My bank, my mechanic, my house, my daughter and her family, my art studio, my junk… all are there.  If I didn’t have my house there it would be different, but I do. Until D’Bear and I make other arrangements that’s the way it’s going to be.

I don’t want to get married. I want to live, love, laugh, and enjoy the years left without the legal shit. I want to be with D’Bear simply and truly because I love him. No other reason.

He found out this week that his contract job is coming to a close shortly, like in one to three weeks. That means he will be looking for the  next job, feeling the financial strain of living on savings and unemployment until the next gig comes along. Sometimes he gets cranky as shit and I have to put up with his moods and he tells me it’s because he is unemployed. Ahhem… helllooo!!! So am I!

I want to work, too. I just don’t feel like being degraded in the workplace by slinging burgers or emptying bedpans, or smiling at dumbass customers at Home Depot for a few measly bucks a week. I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with doing those jobs but I won’t go there. I am 55 years-old, and I deserve want to work in a place which respects the workers with a fair wage. And I will NOT work every damn Saturday!  I worked every Saturday for over ten years when I had my business and I will NOT do that again.

mcdonalds1Call me what you will.  I am not a prima donna. I am a damned hard worker. With me , you get 150%, but only if you grant me respect. Otherwise I’m outa there. I have watched pimply-faced 19-year-old boys in management at fast food places ,bossing around women twice their age, with sneers in their voices as though the women had no feelings.   I have seen the callousness of nursing home owners when speaking to the nurses’ aides.  I have heard the stories of the retail workers at that DIY place and I can’t imagine working there for very long.

So I am at a loss.

I’m going to sit here and figure it out. One way or another.

Hell, Cougar Town is taped! I can watch that! Noo, maybe not. I don’t need another media message telling me I should look like Courtney Cox in 4-inch heels.

Fuzzy slippers and a sweatshirt maybe.

OH! Here’s another thing! (You thought this damned long blog was finally coming to a close, didn’t you? HA!) After two years together, I am finally coming to the conclusion that I try too damned hard OR he-who-will-not-be-named needs to step his game up. I do not greet him after he comes home from work wearing sweat pants and a hoody. I smell good. I look good. I am cheerful. FUCK! I am practically June-Fucking-Cleaver!cleaverish He looks good when he goes to work. On weekends he wears cargo shorts and Tshirts. What happened to the nice pressed, button-down shirts and the neat jeans? When did wearing cologne become only for workdays? Hmm?

What happened to the sexy talk? When did sleeping- in become sleeping? When did saying “You look beautiful ” become a thing of the past? Where did the occasional love notes or flowers or kisses-for-no-reason go?

Every time I leave NY to drive home…EVERY TIME! … I write him a love note or letter or paint him a picture and leave it somewhere for him to find when I am gone. It’s become a game with us. As soon as he gets home he looks for it. Sometimes it’s somewhere obvious like on the bed. Sometimes I leave it a little hidden so he has to look for it. But I ALWAYS do it.

I am still waiting to find one from him.

Now, in all fairness, he does some wonderful and loving things. He does. He tells me he loves me pretty often. He is a thoughtful and considerate lover. He takes good care of me in so many ways. I am a bitch to complain.

I know he loves me. That’s not it. I am just tired of being the one to make all the effort here.

Men.

I love ’em.

when you hug a child

Today was one of those days.  Growing older and living (mostly) alone I often look back on my life and the vision is not always what I wish it to be.

 I cleaned house for my daughter today. I enjoy that and she pays me well but I do it while she is at work and the grandchildren are in daycare so the house is empty.

While I clean my mind is free to wander   As I cleaned my grandson’s room I remembered my own children and the way their rooms looked and smelled.  I remembered how when the girls were very young I would watch them as they slept and how they looked like little angels. I would often feel bad because during the day I had lost my temper over things that I now know are really unimportant. I would see their sweet little faces relaxed in slumber and feel the time I had with them rushing, rushing away!! I wanted to stop time, to rewind and get a chance to go back and do things better, more lovingly!

If only I had worried less about whether they tramped mud in on their shoes, or whether they goofed off at bedtime so as to delay the time for lights out and had instead spent more time playing Candyland and lying in the grass watching the clouds with them or catching lightning bugs in a jar on a hot summer night.

I found this video today. Please watch it and then ask yourself if you’ve hugged someone you love recently.

the 360 Tour

Imagine sitting at the very top row of the Rogers Center , home to the Toronto Blue Jays, a building  which could contain a 31-story office building, and which for concerts can hold 55,000 fans!  (Note: I was just informed by my friend Marlaine, a Toronto native, that for Wednesday night’s performance there were 63,000 people in the stadium, a record!) Over my right shoulder stands this, the CN Tower, which at 1,815 feet tall is the tallest freestanding structure in the Americas! It’s dark and I am waiting to see U2 and their world tour .
photo courtesy of Wilson Coley

photo courtesy of Wilson Coley

The band Snow Patrol is rocking the Skydome (aka the Rogers Center ) and thousands of fans are still pouring into the stadium.

When we first arrived and were directed to our seats we began the long hike up, up, up , up the stairs and thought WHAT THE FUCK? We paid for nosebleeds? But once we settled in and quaffed a couple of beers and looked out over this massive body of fans and saw the skyline of Toronto with the sun setting directly in front of us, framing the high rise apartment buildings in golden light… well, we realized it was all right. Very all right!

The CN tower has lights running up and down and around it and the light show they put on is nothing short of mind-blowing. Seeing the elevators going up and down while the lights blink and spin and change colors is amazing!

Then Bono and the band came out.

U2 tour

The set, one of three used for the tour, cost 40,000,000 dollars. YES! 40 MILLION DOLLARS! The “starship” was unbelievable.

U2-Zagreb-tour-2009-

U2-Zagreb-tour-2009-

While I would have liked for the sound to have been a little better, this was one of the most amazing concerts I have ever seen.  It’s hard to expect the sound quality to be excellent for every seat in a venue this large. It was still worth the trip and every penny we spent to attend!

U2imageThanks, guys, for an unforgettable night!

After the concert D’Bear, two of our good friends from Rochester, Mark and MaryJo, and I went for some food. We found a pizzeria with outdoor seating and sat and enjoyed gobbling down a couple of hot pepperoni pizzas and talking about the concert and our impressions of Toronto. I noted that it is a very quiet city! While we sat only a few feet away from a busy street, eating our post-concert meal, the traffic was heavy with thousands upon thousands of U2 fans filling the streets. And yet it was quiet! No one seems to blow their carhorns, or shout obscenities at other drivers, no screetch their brakes. It seems a very civilized and friendly city. People actually walk around with smiles on their faces! I kid you not!

The next morning, after a tummy-filling breakfast at Cora’s,  evidently a chain of restaurants in Ontario, where we ate a delicious meal of crepes, fruit, eggs, and coffee we made our way home via the wine trail. We stopped off at Tawse Winery and sampled some delicious Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. I highly recommend making the difficult drive to find the place. The are an amazingly beautiful winery located in or near Grimsby. They are an organic winery which uses geothermal heating and gravity-fed systems to make some absolutely amazing wines!

Home at 8:30 and four tired but happy people got to dream of the great mid-week roadtrip we had just had!

brrrrrrrrrr……..

 

 

 

 

deadbug1

Dead bug position

dead+bug2

REAL DEAD BUG

This morning it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit. I went to bed with a few windows left open and when I awoke I was shivering under my quilt and spread. I am not ready for winter. I still have too much to do!

 

I went to Home Depot today to buy a paint sprayer. I have over 500 feet of three-rail wooden fencing that is in dire need of painting. In the past I had access to a husband who was willing to either

a. have me paint it all summer

b. hire someone else to paint it

c. bribe one of our daughters to do it

or

 d. leave it go till it rotted and fell over.

I, on the other hand, do not have access to his money nor am I willing to paint it with a brush over the course of weeks and weeks. My life is too short to do that! I am old, dammit! And letting it go to rot and fall down is not an option if I am ever hopeful of selling this money-sucking monstrosity of an estate beautiful, classic farmhouse and surrounding acreage.

I was just in the last bit of cursing and kicking at the self check-out due to the fact that I had indeed, despite the damned machine’s insistence that I had not “placed items in the bagging area” when my friends Jay and Pinky showed up. Jay informed me that my idea of using the electric paint sprayer wouldn’t work. I had told him I was willing to use several extension cords rather than pay for a gas-powered sprayer which could cost hundreds of dollars. He tells me this after I check out!

I had spent 20 minutes in the paint department with two lovely male employees who were both willing to help me find exactly the right items. Of course one had no idea where the exterior paint was located so I am pretty sure his advice is fairly unsound. This was the really adorable one with the dreadlocks….in HONESDALE, PA! We don’t normally DO dreadlocks here in Nowheresville, USA but hey! We are becoming quite the trendy hot spot! They tended to my Home Depot needs quite attentively and I left with my new Ryobi paint sprayer. I like Ryobi products! I also like attentive male employees!

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I had on extremely tight jeans or maybe it was simply “Be Nice to the Old Ladies Day”. I prefer to think it was the former.

So now here I am with my purchases and Jay, aka Mr. I Know Everything, tells me it will never work. I can only hope to prove him wrong. PLEASE let him be wrong!

I also bought a 2 gallon pump sprayer for insecticide. Ever since I fired my exterminator and started spraying Spectracide Once-and-Done Bug killer around the perimeter of my home I have had far fewer invasions of ants, spiders, and other creepy-crawlies than ever! The fact that my urine glows in the dark is a small price to pay for not having earwigs crawling on toilet seats in the middle of the night, let me tell you!

I leave you with this bit of wisdom today:
 

 

 

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” —-Muhammed Ali