Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Imperfect Union

I met The Big Daddy on a blind date thirty five years ago.  He was roofing his way through college and would stop and eat at Sambo's Restaurant where my friend worked as a waitress.  She got to know him and thought he was perfect for me.  After getting my phone number from her he called and asked me out.  I agreed because I had nothing else to do that night.

We went to Denny's.

When he dropped me off and we said goodnight, I closed the door and knew I had just met my husband.

After a five year courtship we tied the knot and the knot has stayed tied for thirty years this week.

The other day I was talking to a friend who has been on vacation and she was wondering if the four of us could get together on Saturday night.  "We can't," I said.  "Mark's boss is having his annual summer party that night."

Mark, who was in the room during this conversation said, "No, it's Owen's party.  He's having a party for Owen's promotion."

"Right.  The Annual Summer Party for promotions."

"Yeah, but it's for Owen."

"Sheesh, Mark, these people don't even know Owen.  They just wanted to know if we could get together over a bottle of wine."

The BD sighed loudly and went back to the paper.

An hour later, I was calling a neighbor to get the number of a plumber for our situation downstairs.......the pipe under the laundry sink that has had a bucket under it all week - not to catch a slow leak but a significant, steady gush especially when the washing machine is running.

As I was leaving a message for her, (i.e. talking) he said "I'm taking somebody out to lunch today.  Just a heads up in the finance department."

"Really, Mark, do you mind?  I'm trying to talk here and the neighbor probably doesn't care about your lunch plans today or our dicey finances."

"Well, you don't have to get so snippy about it," The BD said as he headed off for work.

What's the secret to a long, happy marriage?

I have no idea.  We have been making it up as we go since we started. 

What I do know is that the communication part that everybody talks about only happens when I pick up the phone or as soon as I put my mouthguard in when I'm going to bed.

And the arguing over little stuff that I'm so good at?  Usually much ado about nothing.

Larry The Affordable Repair Man never showed up for his scheduled appointment and so my pretend plumber kept his head under the sink until the problem was fixed.

I'm smitten with my husband once again and doing a load of towels sans the bucket.

Thirty years and one day.................


Sunday, July 28, 2013

One Black Sweater

Years ago when I first heard of estate sales and the incredible things you could find at them, I was a little creeped out.  Digging through the remains of someone's life seemed disrespectful to me and something I wasn't sure I wanted to participate in until a friend said to me, "If you died and your family took what they wanted, wouldn't you want the rest to go to somebody who would appreciate it?"

Yes, I would like that and so I started going to estate sales.

One summer afternoon I set foot in a charming cape cod and made my way through the house.  I am a methodical estate shopper.  I like the basement and garage first.  I am not after fine antiques or name-brand furniture.  I am attracted to the rusty-what-the-heck-is-this kind of castoffs that live in the dark.

I made my way upstairs into a bedroom full of linens.  I have never been a linen shopper at estate sales.  I remember the days of my childhood when my mother ironed dad's white shirts five days a week, six kids in uniforms with white shirts and the pillowcases for eight heads.  She would sweat over that ironing board every day and the hangers would fill the clothes rack.  When I see a stack of linens it makes me think of the thankless job my mom did for all those years, and so I take a pass on the embroidered penance.

Amongst all those folded linens on a make-me-an-offer bed was a small vintage, black sweater with pearl buttons.  It looked like it would fit but was a little pricey for an estate sale - $12.00.  It was also cashmere.  I had never bought clothing at an estate sale before and a lengthy argument ensued within regions of my brain as to whether this was a good idea.  The Catholic guilt side was telling me that buying a dead woman's sweater was some kind of sin.  The other side wondered where that sweater had been.  Did you go over a fancy party dress and dance the night away?  A luncheon with lady friends?   Perhaps packed into a suitcase for a vacation in Europe?  Were you worn in mourning?  Was your price tag so expensive that kids had to pool their money together to buy it for their mom?   Were you amongst many things of beauty in the closet of this woman who had great taste?

I told the Catholic guilt side to hush up and laid my money down.

That was more than ten years ago.  Since then I have worn it over a party dress, to a luncheon, in Spain, at funerals and everywhere in between.  It is showing its age now and so I wear it over my nightgown in the winter in place of a bathrobe.  It stays on a hook right inside the closet door - at the ready on those first cold mornings

That one black sweater I brought home so long ago is the only article of clothing I've ever purchased at an estate sale.  It is the guardian of a thousand stories............and what a treasure it's been to be the caretaker of a few of them.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Men Behaving Badly

Well, haven't we had a nice full week of lewd comments, lewd texts, lewd pics, lewd behavior, lewd men?  Although, in the case of Anthony Weiner who is running for NY mayor and Bob Filner, the mayor of San Diego, lewd is a rather tame word for their blatant, offensive crimes against women and civility.

They're not the only ones.  I would recommend staying off of Huffington Post during your lunch hour seeing as how they had a story this week about employees of Subway putting their penises on the bread of the sandwiches they were making.

I know.  I didn't even read it and still it caused my to lose my appetite.

When I was 19, my friend and I used to go biking a couple of times a week out to the forest preserve and back.  While stopped at a traffic light some guy hung out the passenger side window and smacked me on the backside so hard I nearly fell off my bike.  The car full of boys drove off laughing.  Since my friend was ahead of me she didn't know what had happened to me until we stopped.

I still remember the sting - physically and emotionally. 

I have never been on the receiving end of anything so physically blatant since then, but there have been comments and touches that have made me uncomfortable and that I have passed off as "you know how he is".........

...........the message being that it is okay even when it is not.


Nobody said it better this week than Helen Mirren.

"If I’d had children and had a girl, the first words I would have taught her would have been “f*** off” because we weren’t brought up ever to say that to anyone, were we? And it’s quite valuable to have the courage and the confidence to say, “No, f*** off, leave me alone, thank you very much.” You see, I couldn’t help saying “Thank you very much,” I just couldn’t help myself."

I used to work with this darling, young girl who waited on a customer once and who became so enamored with her that he frequently came in asking for her.  The manager devised a plan to get her off the floor when he came in the door because she was so freaked out by him.   Obviously, we weren't able to tell him to f*** off, but in hindsight I have to wonder why any business has to be polite to a predator and why we women are so hesitant to say the two words that will change the game.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Purses & Dresses

My Grandma Dora lived to be 97 years old.  As she got older she split her living arrangements between her daughters.  Mom and Dad's house from spring to fall in Chicago and the winter months at my Aunt Dood's house in Arizona.

She tended to make my mom nuts.

Every time she came to town she'd complain about her pocketbook.  "It's got all these pockets and compartments," she said.  "Look at this darn thing.  Everything gets lost in here."

Mom would let out a heavy, deliberate sigh about this ongoing pocketbook saga, but before long we'd pile in the car to go to Sears for Grandma to look for a new one.  Mom would wander off and my sisters and I would help Gram in the handbag department.  She'd look at all of them, open them up, try them out and say, "No, not this one."  Sometimes she'd poke her cane at one of the bottom ones and say, "Honey, grab that one.  I think we might have a winner there."

But we never had a winner.

After looking at every single one we would leave Sears empty-handed and then go to Kresge's for an ice cream cone before heading home.

Another few weeks would go by and Gram would say at dinner, "Why don't we go to Sears tonight and look at pocketbooks?  I need a new one."

"For crying out loud, Mom, you've been looking for a purse for twenty years," is what her daughter had to say about that.

Recently, I told Mallory that I was going to the mall to look for a t-shirt dress.  "They're on sale at the Loft and look pretty cute online.  Maybe this time I'll find what I want."

To which my daughter replied, "Geez, Mom, I think you spend every summer looking for the perfect tshirt dress."

I have. 

I do. 

All this time I've been channeling Gram.

For crying out loud.............

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Bee's Bday

When Mallie Bee was a toddler and would get upset, I'd pick her up and tell her to lay her head on my shoulder.  Every single time she'd do just that while she stuck her thumb in her mouth.

I had no idea it was that easy.

As she grew up she wasn't prone to tantrums, meltdowns or fits.  She has always been an observer of life and as my friend Carla recently said, "She is like a little sponge.  She notices everything and then soaks it all in."

Yes she does.

Besides being the loveliest dancer, she is a great writer.  I keep nudging her in that direction but she does things her way on her time.  She has never been one to succumb to peer pressure or mom and dad pressure.

She was recently telling me that she realizes that she is an introvert which in this very loud world isn't always so easy.  An introvert when you're in your teens must be especially hard, but she was swaddled in grace from the day she was born.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rodney & Trayvon

When we lived in Maryland, Maggie had a best friend named Nina.  Either Nina was at our house or Maggie was at her house.  Up and down the street those two ran - the best of friends.

Her parents became friends of ours as well.  Woody was in the Army.  I can't remember what Stephanie did but she worked while Nina was in school.

Because of where we lived and it's proximity to North Carolina, we sometimes had trucks come through our neighborhood loaded with furniture.  The driver would park and swing open the back end, go door to door knocking and you could shop from a semi at a deeply discounted price.  His goal was to return an empty truck back to the manufacturer in High Point.

One afternoon Stephanie stepped inside the semi and bought a white sofa.  She had been stashing some cash away and the perfect opportunity came to spend some of it, and within minutes the deal was done and she had a new couch in her townhouse.

I was in awe.

Who does that sort of thing?  Squirreling cash from the household budget?  I thought it was brilliant, but would Woody like the surprise of a new white sofa?   Would Maggie and Nina ever be able to sit on it?

It was during those years that the beating of Rodney King and subsequent trial of the Los Angeles cops who were videotaped doing it was taking place. 

I had the t.v. on when the verdict was announced and all those cops were found not guilty.  I couldn't believe it.  The whole world saw this guy being beaten over and over by five policeman.  Five against one.  How could they be found not guilty?

After awhile I headed down the street to Woody and Stephanie's house.  I could see inside that Stephanie and her sister were sitting on the white sofa and deep in conversation while the same news I was watching played in the background.  I decided not to interrupt them and walked back home.

Life got busy again and the opportunity passed to say to Woody and Stephanie "I'm sorry this happened."  Does a white woman who can shop wherever she wants and not be watched the entire time for suspicion of shoplifting even have the right to say that?  Does her husband who can drive wherever he wants without being followed by the police have the right to say that?

I still don't know the answer to those questions but to this day it feels like unfinished business to me, and I regret not knocking on the door of those dear people and having an honest conversation about what it feels like to be in their shoes on a daily basis. 

Now, in addition to the brutality of some cops, there is the brutality of pretend cops.  Forty five years after Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, the injustice piles up day after day after day, the not guiltys are delivered, we're all supposed to move on..........

........and beyond a reasonable doubt I am sorry for all of it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Dog Walkers

Since last Tuesday, we've been boarding Butters - the ADHD dog of Maggie and Nathan.  She's cute, I'll give her that.  You couldn't ask for a friendlier dog.  She doesn't eat much, that's for sure.  

And there was one other thing about her.  Now what was it?

Oh yeah..........she barks.

At.  Every.  Little.  Thing.

Three times in the last week she has started barking at 2:00 in the morning for no reason.  Henry, alerted to the possibility that Timmy fell in the well or there's trouble down by the railroad tracks, joins in and starts howling.

Awakened from a sound sleep, The Big Daddy goes stumbling down the stairs in his boxers to tell them to SHUT THE EF UP.......

..........which they do because even they don't know what the commotion is about.

After dinner we walk the two of them.  Henry lagging behind with his gimpy legs and Butters yanking my shoulder out of the socket because she's excited to be out.  Or in.  Or smelling.  Or looking out the window.  Or chasing the cats.  Or because the UPS truck went by twenty minutes ago.

Before long, The Big Daddy and I are each carrying a plastic bag of crap like it's some sort of accessory.  These days Henry doesn't even stop to go, laying turds as he walks like they're depth charges from a destroyer deep into the ocean floor.  Killing the dolphins or a decent pair of shoes.

We pass other dogs which gets You-Know-Who-And-Who all excited, and Mark pretends he's The Dog Whisperer and starts CH-CH-CH-CHing these mongrels as if he knows what he's doing and they know they're behaving badly.

On this night, Butters did her business for the second time and while I was cleaning it up she spotted a rabbit.  The one finger of mine that was at the end of her leash just about got amputated from my hand when the hunt was on.

I bypassed the CH-CH-CH-CHing and went straight to, "Calm down, you little asshole." 

Yet again another failed attempt by me and the mister at trying to walk two dogs at once and not completely lose our shit.

But we swung theirs like we owned it so we got that going for us...............

She's just looking to start something.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Butler & Me

Many years ago, my writer friend, Martha, told me about the website Head Butler.  "You'll like it," she said.  I did and started following him.

The Head Butler is Jesse Kornbluth and he reviews books, movies and music.  Off the radar kind of stuff, and my fondness for him and what he writes is because he never..........and I mean never...........dumbs anything down.  He always assumes his reader is intelligent, well-read and curious.

In this world we live in where everything is dumbed down, I am hopelessly devoted to Mr. Head Butler.  About once a year I send him a quick email to tell him that I love what he does because when it's just you and a keyboard and a cursor it's hard to know if anybody is out there.

This year when I saw Anne Lamott she said the same thing.  Am I reaching anybody?  Am I any good at this?  Anne Lamott said that.  Oh yes she did - the woman who packs a room when she's in town, so self-doubt must be the oxygen of most writers.

Sunday morning when the whole house was a quaking shitstorm, I decided to read a couple of weeks of posts from My Butler and once again he blew me away.  So I sent this................

I am spending Sunday a.m. catching up on The Butler.  While paint cans stare at me and demand I finish the job I started, I choose to steal some time to be enlightened by your fabulous site (which I bring up to friends about ten times a week).  Enjoy your week..........I will enjoy mine being a tad smarter thanks to you.

He sent this............

So I like praise.

But this a bit....beyond.

You fog my head.

Do we know one another?



I wrote back (with a plug of my own blog and the post I wrote about Will)..........

J...........No, I don't know you, but I've kind of made it a point in the last couple of years to send an email of thanks to people/places that make my heart go pitter-pat.  I have worked customer service jobs in the past and I now have a couple of kids doing that.  It is rare that they hear words of thanks, appreciation or kindness, and so I do what I can to spread the love.

I am also a writer ( and appreciate the work that it takes to convey one's thoughts.

Carry on and I shall do the same.....................k.

He wrote back...............

Great post

I look forward to reading much more of you.

And if you ever want to review for Butler....



Much more of you............

In italics and those were his italics.

Oh geez.  I wasn't expecting that.

The Butler fogged my head.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

If You Give A Trout A Paintbrush..........

Since I had FIVE days off in a row due to the 4th, I decided some sorely needed home improvement was going to take place around here.

Specifically, our bedroom which was last painted in 2003.  That also could have been the last time it was dusted.

I cleared some space and started on some built-in cabinets, doors and trim.  Vic says you should start with trim stuff first, then ceiling followed by walls.  Things were going well and it was amazing what a difference that white paint made and I was energized.  Before long we had to move the bed and so I went to Ace to get some Sliders and a gallon of ceiling paint.

Vic was there and we got to talking while my paint was mixing.  I told him how I crazy love hardware stores and he said, "I see you in here often.  Now what's your name?"  I told him and that's when he said............"Kathy, are you married?"

Oh for crissakes, Vic, don't go and ruin our great relationship trying to make a love connection in the paint aisle.

"Yeah, Vic, I am," I said, and he said the good ones always are.  Ace is the place with the Flirty Hardware Man.

I came home and things went down the toilet pretty fast after that.  Crap everywhere, dripping messes, rolls of dust (we are slobs) and me laughing that scary, freaky laugh when a project that was my idea starts going incredibly bad.  The Big Daddy was not amused.  Not once this entire weekend did he think anything was funny.

We shoved everything off the bed in order to go to sleep Saturday night and I figured a new day would bring some new enthusiasm to the project.  I went back to Ace in the morning and got a quart of the color I was sure was going to look great.

I liked it.  I hated it.  It was gray.  No it was pink.  Maybe it's the light.  Let's try another wall.  I like it.  No I hate it.  What do you guys think?  Be honest.  Really, you don't like it?  Why not?  Let me see the comforter again.  It's perfect.  I love it.  I think.  No I don't.  Do I even like this comforter?  Give me the paint deck.  What about beige?

It went on like that for hours and then I said screw it.  This bedroom will be Seattle Mist because I love Seattle and it's going to look great and everybody needs to calm the heck down.  Or maybe just me.

I went back to Ace and Vic was working the paint counter.

"A gallon of Seattle Mist, please.  Shaken, not stirred."

"Coming right up.  You still married?"

"Yes, Vic, I am.  But things have been a little dicey this weekend."

"I hear that all the time in this business,"  he said.  "That's why I keep checking."

Oh Vic.

I love you.

I need you.

You make me crazy.

It's like we're already married.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


The other night before I went to bed, I checked the news online and read that 19 fireman were missing and presumed dead.  I didn't think that was possible.  Surely by morning they would be found and safe at home.

The morning brought no such news and I watched a wife talk about her husband and their four children who are too young to even comprehend what their future will be like without their father.  Like everyone else, the enormity of the loss has weighed heavy on me these past few days.

There were also stories about Edward Snowden, George Zimmerman, Paula Deen and Kim and Kanye's baby.

Voting rights and marriage rights.

I suppose there is an audience for the former in a culture that is enamored with the celebrity of the moment, regardless of the unseemly behavior that got one there.  There is also an audience for the politician who vehemently opposes or supports the latter, although those opinions are strikingly predictable.

Thankfully, though, the majority of us live in the middle and avoid the fringes.  Mildly amused, irritated or angry with the daily news or the state of our country, but very well aware of the people in our communities who run towards the very things we run from, and whose claim to fame breaks our heart.

                                 Doce - Prescott AZ fire storm! -waynesworld photography ;-)