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August 2009

July 2009

A Decade

Today, is my tenth anniversary. We have officially hit double digits, that point when time spans become marked not only by years, but decades. Well, one decade anyway. A decade sounds way too old. I'm way too young to have already been married a decade. Of course, I was just a child when I married, really. And so it's already happened.

Truly, it doesn't feel all that auspicious. It seems we should have some special way of marking such an occasion. But in reality, it's just another day. Just another day at work, just another night at home with the kids, or one of the kids anyway. Trouble's doing BS camp during the day and LT's spending the week at my mother's. Another night with me sitting blogging, Blackstone watching TV. Not that I mean to make it sound dreary. I don't find my life or my marriage dreary. Not by any means. I am happily married after ten years. We had a wonderful vacation earlier this year. And honestly, I don't need a huge to-do to appreciate my life. I enjoy the day-to-day just fine. I don't find it mundane or draining. I enjoy family dinners, date nights, exercise, story time, watching the kids do karate, baseball, basketball, and starting Monday, football (lord help me on that one!), sinking into the tub with my Kindle, walking the bike path at lunch. Life is good. It could be a little less stressful without the recession (depression), the money worries. But other than that, seriously good. Like, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, good. Because with more than 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, when's it going to happen to me? How do I get to be the lucky one? Not even just still married, but still enjoying it.

My relationship has been the one thing in my life that I've always been able to count on. It has been largely without drama, fighting or stress. Often, it's been the only part of my life without drama. Except for that year around when we got married. That year sucked . . . hard. But I know why it sucked. It was hard because it was a year of so many transitions for us and our families. Not just the marriage, either. That was also the year I quit teaching and when back to school. The year Blackstone finished grad school and started working for the state. The year my parents moved back from VT and lived with us, and then my in-laws, and then us again while they were trying to sell their house.

That was the year we almost didn't make it. No year since in the past ten years has been that hard. Somehow I had the confidence that we were strong enough, devoted enough to each other, to make it through that year. Not that there weren't moments I had my doubts. I remember telling Blackstone a week before the wedding that it was too late to call the whole thing off, but that if things didn't start turning around soon, I'd have no problem turning around and divorcing him. We both agreed to put all our fighting aside for the wedding and focus on the fact that everything with us had been good before and that we both believed it could be good again. I really enjoyed my wedding, and my wedding night, despite the fact that we'd barely spoken in weeks. Bookgirl likes to quote one of the guys that saw me partying my anger away at my bachelorette party, "Yeah, that marriage is going to last."

Things are not always what they appear.

Even though Polly grabbed my arm and told me not to do it right before I walked down the aisle. Even though after the JP asked for the rings, there was the tinkling sound of the ring dropping to the floor and rolling right to the edge of the deck. Despite the fact that after signing the third marriage certificate, even I was getting a little superstitious. And even after starting marriage counseling pretty much immediately following the ceremony, here we are ten years later. That ring is still on my finger, that marriage certificate is still binding, and Polly can still be seriously inappropriate.

A decade. Who knew. 

Of course Blackstone is actually on his second wedding ring. He lost his something like six years ago now. He was doing a soil evaluation and was flinging dirt off his fingers in a six foot hole in the cold and rain. At first he was afraid to tell me. Then after a while he decided to see how long it would take me to notice it was missing . . . . Two years later I finally asked about it.

He wears the new one now when we go out. But he's left handed and he's taken to wearing it on his right hand, so technically he's out with his widow. Maybe it's easier to stay married when your wife is dead.


Li'l Grandma

We lost my grandmother three years ago today. This is the eulogy I gave at her funeral.

When I was a little girl just learning to talk, my grandmother would not allow me to call her grandma. “I’m not old enough to be a grandma,” she told me, in complete defiance of her new role. This posed quite a dilemma for my young mind. What do you call the woman who won’t let you call her grandma? Though I don’t even remember doing it, I named her L’il Grandma, which somehow took the sting out of grandma for her. And L’il Grandma she’s been in our family ever since.

 L’il Grandma was not a woman who let age slow her down. Whether she was volunteering at The Lord’s Provides here at St. Theresa’s Church, working in her yard, shopping and running errands,  or visiting with family and friends, she never seemed to stop for more than a moment. For this reason, I’ve never thought of my grandmother as an old woman. If you were to measure age not in years, but in youth of spirit and exuberance for life, she was still a young and vibrant woman, just one with lots of experience.

Fourth of July weekend, my husband, and I, and our boys spent the day with L’il Grandma and our cousin. We had lunch at Chelo’s, grandma’s favorite restaurant, and spent the afternoon at Slatersville Reservoir. We took grandma out in our little row boat and spent hours sitting with our chairs half in the water, while the boys played and swam. She sat with her pants rolled up and sneakers in the water, saying that now she understood why people actually wore those ugly water shoes. Grandma told us stories of days she spent as a girl at a relative’s small beach shack on the lake. How they had a little motor boat and spent all day on the water, swimming and water skiing. I never knew my grandmother had water skied as a girl. I wonder now how many things I will never get a chance to learn about her.

 It still shocks me to think that this day at the reservoir Fourth of July weekend, is the last day that I spent with my grandmother. We still have plans that she has yet to break. My grandmother, mother, sister and I, along with a friend of ours, have tickets to see The Color Purple in New York this weekend. We leave on Friday and will spend the weekend shopping and site-seeing in New York. It can’t be true that we will be robbed of this trip with my grandmother, that there are no more memories to be made with her.

While this seems cruel and unfair, I force myself to remember that I am blessed to have three decades of wonderful memories with my grandmother. There are so many things that I will always remember about L’il Grandma. She spoiled me as only a grandmother can when I was little. Her kitchen was always stocked with treats for me and my sister and brother. She was the one who gave me my first car the summer before I started college. A quirky ’86 Dodge Colt that wouldn’t run when it rained. She was at my wedding almost seven years ago today. And I’ve never seen her happier than when she was playing with her great-grandsons. For the past five years L’il Grandma has been our official family photographer, chasing after my two little boys with more energy than I can often muster myself. And she always developed two sets of pictures, so she had a set for me.

L’il Grandma hosted many holiday meals and baked countless cakes, pies, cookies and squares. I’ve never met anyone who did more Christmas baking. There were always a dozen types of cookies, expertly decorated for every relative, friend and neighbor. She could have given Martha Stuart a run for her money. Her panucci squares are legendary in our family. They disappear with lightening speed, one person always blaming another for eating more than their share.

It is hard for me to accept that there will be no more panucci squares; no more lunches at Chelo’s, grandma ordering the lite chicken sandwich or dinner; no more summer days at Breezey Acres in Douglas with L’il Grandma in her sun hat, camera in hand; my five-year old won’t be asking what surprise Great Mooma has in her pocket; and hardest of all, I know that my two-year old will only remember her through pictures and the stories we tell him.

But through this sharp sense of pain and loss, I want to remember to celebrate the 75 years of my grandmother’s life; to remember that she was a woman who never let life get her down. I celebrate the more than 40 years she spent teaching generations of kindergarteners and first graders. I applaud the decades she spent volunteering for The Lord Provides. I thank her for the hundreds and possibly thousands of photos she’s taken of generations of our family. And I search in myself for some of her strength to pull me through this overwhelming sorrow and pain.

Over the past week, I’ve found there are reminders of my grandmother everywhere. I still have the pan I need to return to her in my kitchen and a few panucci sqaures in my freezer. When I was feeling sad the other day, I realized the chocolate I was eating she had given me. The perfume I used this morning was a Christmas gift from grandma. I know it is this way for all of us who loved her and were a part of her life.

As a mother of two little boys, I am not allowed to dwell on my grandmother’s passing for too long without life pulling me back to the busy reality. And for that I am grateful. Life goes on, and it is my job to take care of my children. They are, after all, my grandmother’s legacy. I will tell my boys stories of their Mooma Alice. How she loved them and held them, laughed with them and played with them. How she was loud and funny, and was never afraid to speak her mind. L’il Grandma will continue to live in our hearts and our memories. We will carry her with us always.


Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Well, I think Polly, Bookgirl and I proved we can still party like we're rock stars this weekend. I haven't seen Polly knock back that much Tequila in a while. Maybe it's because she lives so close to Mexico now. It could be seeping into the ground water. The woman has quite a tolerance. Night and day compared to last time she was here and we had to bring her home early. This time she was fully fortified with a nap before going out. and Tequila once she got there. A red eye and three hour time zone change can seriously drag you down. And frankly, no one should look that good twelve hours after a red eye. She was all decked out old school in her chucks too. So cute.

I, myself, am not a big fan of going out on Friday nights. Friday is generally movie night at our house. And the past work week was quite a stressful one, tipped off by a killer Friday. I was still on the adrenaline rush when I got out of work. And before I could start crashing too hard, I started the night off with a Red Bull and vodka. Not generally my drink of choice, kinda sweet for my taste. But it certainly does the trick in a pinch. That or an espresso martini. My parents' bar isn't exactly the martini place, though.

And Bookgirl looks terrific! She did amazingly well sticking to her meal plan under the duress of a weekend filled with partying and drinking. She didn't even eat any birthday cake at Polly's cousin's wedding. The wedding I sort of crashed. I wasn't technically invited, and Bookgirl was Polly's date. I was more an approved tag-a-long. I showed up after dinner. They didn't have to feed me. The wedding couple was so cute! About the same age Blackstone and I were when we got married. So young . . . . We hit our tenth anniversary in a couple of weeks. After our wedding, at around two o'clock in the morning, Polly and Bookgirl were sitting with us at our kitchen table eating the top of the wedding cake. Honestly, Bookgirl. No wedding cake. That's impressive.

We met up with an old friend we hadn't seen in years who is a tattoo artist now. Partied with my sister and her best friend. Danced until late into the night, and then continued the party at my parents' hot tub. And that was only round one. We danced our feet into oblivion again at Polly's most-adored-cousin's wedding, and then landed ourselves back in the hot tub. At least until the violent thunderstorm kicked us out. And we brought one of Polly's cousins with us. Not the newly married one, a different one. One we partied with more than a decade ago on another very memorable night.

She had just turned twenty-one then, and we had crashed another of Polly's cousin's weddings. (Girlfriend has a lot of cousins.) We went clubbing in Providence. And thank heavens Blackstone was with us. The little twig of twenty-one-year-old passed out while walking down the stairs at the Complex. If Blackstone hadn't managed to catch her, it could have been seriously bad. On the drive back to our apartment, Polly and her cousin made him pull over on 95 so they could pee. Not only did he have to pull over on the highway, he had to half carry both of them drunk down the embankment and hold them up while they peed. And up the stairs to our apartment when he got there. That husband of mine, he's truly something.

Twiggy wanted to know if I was still with the same guy, the one who gives the really good back rubs. You bet I am! You don't let the one who gives the fantastic back rubs get away. Mama didn't raise no fool!

And Bookgirl made me breakfast. I heart you. I couldn't tell you the last time someone made me breakfast.

Oh, and long live the HBP ladies ; )



Summer? What Summer?

Fourth of July weekend was fabulous. Mostly because we had two gorgeous, sunny days with absolutely NO RAIN. Because, from what I understand, it was only the sixth coldest June we've ever had in NE since they started keeping records, which you couldn't really prove by me, so maybe those other five happened before I was born. However, it was the June with the least amount of sunshine EVER! Did you notice? You might have noticed.

I noticed. I noticed because I'm in the midst of having my roof redone. (Yeah, shut up! I can hear you laughing.) It's my husband's ex-uncle that's doing it. (Is that what you call it when your aunt gets divorced? I'm really not sure of the protocol there.) And he had the bright idea to take off part of the roof over my bedroom right before one of the thunderstorms that dumped inches of rain in the space of an hour last week. Flooded one corner of my bedroom. Fried the cable box, but the TV still works. Soaked the rug. The ceiling needs to be repainted. We're calling in a specialized cleaning company to make sure there's no mold problems developing.

As we speak, it's raining again. It's been thundering again. They worked on the roof this morning and now there's a huge blue tarp covering the front of my house. You may be thinking, why plan on working on a roof when there's rain in the forecast? The question of the summer here is : When the fu*k will it stop raining? The depression rate most be soaring. What's happened here, as I imagine what happens in England and Ireland, where you expect this kind of incessant, gray, wet, disastrous weather, is you just start to function around it. You play baseball in the rain. You wait out the shower at the beach. You work on the roof during the patches of sun (or at least no rain) and cover it with a tarp when it starts again. You keep living your life and get a new prescription of Xanax or pick up some Melatonin from GNC, because what other choice do you have?

And it's not just the rain. The thunderstorms have been vicious. The building I work in was struck by lightening. Twice. We didn't have phone service for two days. Our time clock was fried. The whole town was without power for over an hour. It's been Build-Your-Own-Arc, Armageddon kind of weather. I hear there have been tornadoes in CT. Hail the size of golf balls is threatened twice a week. Luckily, I've yet to see these gems, but I'm on watch for them, as well as the frogs and locusts.

The one good thing about all of this, is that we've always had this problem with our basement flooding. But at the beginning of June, Blackstone had special drainage pipes put on the front and back of the house to stop the flooding. And miracle of all miracles, it actually worked! So while our bedroom may have flooded, the sump pump in the basement hasn't come on once! Not one drop of water. It's fantastic. That husband of mine, he's pretty smart when he's not forgetting everything. So I guess if the roof caves in under all the rain, we can go sleep down there.

Oh, and Bookgirl and Polly are coming in, so if Armageddon is on its way, it better hold of until Sunday. Party starts Friday night at my parents' bar. Feel free to come whoop it up like it's actually summer or something.