Friday, February 26, 2010

Florida looks like a ......

I'm not sure if my morning muffin should have icing on it.

That's not a metaphor; I'm really wondering how healthy a muffin can be; I mean, the muffin itself is not particularly healthy (although it's carrot....but I believe they just wave the carrot over the batter as they're making the muffin) and it's literally stacked with a type of cream cheese frosting that you simultaneously covet and condemn (mostly covet).

And no amount of low calorie beverage is going to wash the sugar from your soul.

And I don't care right this minute.

I'm three days from a vacation. It's warmer in Florida; but not by much. I'm looking forward to eating my weight in anything that includes the company of just about schedule has me eating mostly alone these days....and I'm looking forward to watching one of the first Grapefruit League games...Pittsburgh against Baltimore.

It's been a long while since I saw the Gulf of Mexico. For some reason, my memory tells me that the last time I saw it, I was running North, away from Hurricane Andrew. But I'm not sure if that's real, or a vodka soaked illusion.

And now I realize that the last time I was in Florida, I was drinking a lot; I hope it didn't color my interpretation of how I enjoyed the state.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic Random Thoughts.

Random thoughts:

Slovenian Petra Majdic is my new hero. She won a bronze medal in cross-country skiing after falling into a hole during a practice run; and afterwards, it was learned that she did it with four broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Have you ever done any cross-country skiing? You need at least three lungs, and she did it with one.

I like curling. Even though I'd seen curling before (living in Detroit, you get the Canadian Broadcasting Company) and actually tried it once when I was touring up in Calgary back in the 80's (it's harder than it looks), it took me about three hours of watching and a quick trip to a curling website to get the rules. If you saw the Canadians take on Great Britain, you saw about as good as it gets. It literally is a game of inches. And inches were the difference between two US victories and losses.

I've decided that although I'd like to see the USA win hockey gold, I covet the Swedish Hockey jerseys. Don't ask me why. And Norway is kinda cool, too.

Women's hockey is out of control; the scores were as lopsided as your average Detroit Lions game. And those girls can HIT.

Figure skating isn't what it used to be, in my opinion; the scoring is all FUBAR; so that we're seeing people fall all over the ice, trying ridiculous feats, and scoring higher than a flawless performance that wasn't quite as difficult. Even though the flaw makes the diamond, it's important that we award perfection, and not valiant effort, even though I'm not knocking valiant effort.

Snowboarding. Jury is still out.

I'll always have a soft spot for the Winter Olympics; it was the constant during a very difficult week, recently. It gave us something to talk about, something to cheer for. It distracted us, and in that distraction was the power to heal.

That's my story.

Friday, February 19, 2010


This is my 401st post.

Okay, I have to be brief because the battery is waning on my handy laptop, but I've been sitting on a bunch of notes for a few days, and I need to write something to get it out of my head.....

It is amazing to me how long three days can last. I swear a week passed in the two days following our arrival here in the Mitten. It was a surreal experience, to which I'm sure some of you can attest.


The funeral director was very nice; he is actually a family friend, but even so, he seemed a bit too friendly. I believe his personal feelings for my Mother and my Father were causing him to overcompensate, but I have to tell you, he did it up right. The whole nine yards were quite beautiful.

My Mother looked lovely. My Mother always looked lovely (Mothers always do) but given the fact that her descent was so consuming, they did a wonderful job of it; and I'm saying that in the full knowledge that I hate viewings. I find them barbaric and absurd, and in this case a little frightening. I became a small boy again, unable to grasp the idea....I stayed in the back of the room for most of the evening, and I couldn't....look...very much at all.

Flowers from all over.

I was sitting in the back, talking to my Niece and my Nephew, when in walked a face I haven't seen in 25 years; an old friend that spent a couple of weeks with the family over the course of our dating life, and still well remembered by all the members of the family. Vicki came to pay her respects, and we spent some time together regaling my wife with the tales of a young man's derring-do. We left out the really personal parts. I don't need to say because.....

Did the Eulogy on Tuesday morning. I read a version of post 400. Cracked like a walnut. Got through it, got some subtle laughs, and the reviews were positive. I don't wish to repeat the program, however. Good music, and excellent Priest (Mother was Roman Catholic) and then it was time to go to the cemetery.

Pallbearing sucks.

They will be together, when the time comes, in a quiet spot near the north fence of the old cemetery, just under an old pine tree, in a quiet neighborhood just three blocks north of Main street. It snowed, and the wind was cold, and I left a flower before I returned to town for the wake.

I thanked her for shaping me into what I am.
The love was unspoken.
But I'll fight any man that disputes it.

The restaurant for the wake; open bar. Good food. Old stories, like a comfortable pair of shoes. The time for grief is passed (but unpassing, alas) and the time to celebrate this tiny woman with the enormous heart had come.

And the day went on forever.

My Mother was a petite woman; 4'11" and ninety pounds. She and Father had come up to the Northern University to see their son perform his last pieces before graduation; his final jury selections, and goodbye to that painful crap. I was standing with four of my taller friends in the lobby when they walked in. I introduced my Father, and we all shook hands, and then I went down on my knees to introduce my Mother, and all my friends followed suit.

I got that whooping laugh of hers.
The greatest reward. It was the surest sound; if you got that laugh, there was nobody that could say you weren't funny.

Flying out tomorrow.

See ya.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I can't see; and I don't want to right now...

My Mother passed away this morning at 0630. When my phone rang at work, and I saw it was my Father, I knew. I held it together...for a good, twenty or thirty seconds. And now, I'll make the pilgrimage back to Michigan to say goodbye, so I'll be out of touch for awhile. I leave you with something I wrote a couple of years ago; a tribute to a loving Mother from an Arrant Son. It's better than anything I could come up with now, and woefully inadequate to show the depth of my gratitude and the wholeness of the emptiness I'll be feeling for...well...the rest of this ride.

I love you, Mom.

My Mother, Elizabeth (not Besty, or Beth, or God Help You, Liz), once said to me, "I don't think you'll ever settle down." She said it with an ache-inducing sense of sadness in her voice that I can still hear in my head after all these years. This pronouncement came about three years before I met my wife, and prior to that bolt of Motherly futility, she was always encouraging, saying the usual, "oh, there's somebody out there for you." And I would joke that I could see her across the street, oh, she's coming this way, oh, look out for that car, oh, damn. And she'd laugh a bit, and tell me to be patient. And then we'd argue with good humor about politics (she hated Clinton and loved Bob Dole) or who was the most beautiful Hollywood star (she always kind of leaned toward the young Hepburn, Bergman, and such).

One of the last things I can remember my Mother saying to me was, "She's beautiful." She was referring to my wife. And this wasn't the first time my Mother ever saw my wife....this was the third time my wife and I had visited her and my Father at my boyhood home in Michigan. But for my Mother, it was like the first time....because by the time I got married, my Mother was in the throes of Alzheimer's Disease, and every day was like a clean slate.

Now, in the winter of 2007, my mother spends her time in a very nice assisted care facility not far from the family home, where my Father visits her twice a day, every day. He sits with her, and he shares the events of the day, much like Cyrano would share his "Daily Gazette" with Roxanne. But if my Mother understands, she has no way of transmitting that idea, for the ability to articulate is now gone. She is reduced to sounds. And laughter. My Mother has a whooping kind of laugh that causes laughter, if you know what I mean.

My sense of humor was largely developed by the tastes of my Mother. She was the one that introduced her young son to the works of Danny Kaye, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello. This woman, so apparently staid and conservative would whoop with laughter and the most over-the-top slapstick comedy, and giggle girlishly at the whole, "The pellet with the poison is in the chalice from the palace and the flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true" shtick from THE COURT JESTER. At a young age, I don't know which was funnier; my Mother or the movie.

She also loved the films of Doris Day, the music of Frank Sinatra, the dancing of Fred Astaire, and figure skating. She never got over the fact that Sonija Henie was a Nazi sympathiser. Or that Rock Hudson was gay.

My Mother made the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

She named me for my Uncle John, her older brother, who was killed in Korea. But in thirty eight years of my life, she never mentioned him more than a half a dozen times, and those times came in the early eighties when they reinstated the selective service registration, and her sons had to sign on the line, just in case of a draft. But the memory of the end of her brother's life outweighed the rest of his existence, and I never got to know about him.

That's what this is about, really.....I had every opportunity to quiz my Mother about the family history, or even where she kept that damned recipe for cookies, and I thought I had all the time in the world......and now, all I really would like is a day.

When blinking feels like sandpaper....

If I'm this tired, then it must be Friday.

I don't get much sleep between Thursday morning and Friday afternoon; it's impossible to do that kind of 180 degree turn from nightwalker to daywalker and back again, so instead of sleeping, I find myself staring off into space until it's time to go to work.

The Winter Olympics begin this evening, and I'm afraid I don't have much enthusiasm for the fact, I don't think I've really followed the Olympics since the United States stopped using amateurs.....In fact, I can still recall with almost frightening clarity the '72 summer games, with all of the triumph and tragedy.

When I think about Olympics I've watched after that, I can only recall basketball players representing this country who are arguing a traveling call, and getting a technical foul, and complaining about that as well....even though he was, in fact, traveling, and that they don't call that anymore in the United States. And he was a bad sport on top of everything.

Then again, in '72, the entire US basketball team refused their silver medals, and for good reason; they got screwed. Look it up, it's a good story.

I remember being in Calgary just before the Winter Olympics in....uh....1988. They had this really cool museum-type thing, where they had simulators for the bobsled and the ski jump. Really cool. And then, there was that really pretty blonde waitress that stole my heart for a few days, and whom I still see in my memory from time to time.....

Oh, and there was this really good bakery called Cookies By Golly! that made, bar none, the best iced sugar cookie I have ever eaten. For those cookies alone I would have migrated North. The girl and the Olympics would have just been...icing.

I'm going to need a cup of coffee the size of Columbia.
Juan Valdez is my b**ch.

Have a good day, people. Much love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


There is a special anticipation, when you're waiting for the pizza fairy to come.

The wife is out of town, enjoying the special qualities of Columbus, OH, on the government tab. So, aside from some training classes, it's all wine and song over there in the land of the Buckeye. Leaving me, of course, to trod along the path with nothing but three cats and the pizza fairy to keep me company.

Frankly, I got tired of cooking for myself. And the pizza place is local, not chain, so at least I contributing to the local economy.

In other news....

Nothing new from Michigan. Apparently, we're running silent, and deep, and all is static and silence. I'm okay with it; they'll call when the time comes. And when the time comes, I've gotten clearance to leave my post on a moment's notice.

I'm okay, really. Although, at work on Monday, at 0300, I burst into tears. Cried like a baby for about thirty minutes. All the time thinking, "I'm glad it's 0300, because I'd have a hellava time trying to explain this."

Believe it or not, I have the reputation at work of being the lighthearted but cynical pragmatist. And there's no crying at Homeland Security.

Unless something heavy lands on your foot.

Ah, the pizza has arrived.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Show me the way....

One year ago, I was sitting in my older brother's family room, watching the Super Bowl on his television, with a pair of Buddy's Pizzas (a Detroit Tradition), and my Father and my Brother and his family and I ate and drank and laughed and caught up and it was wonderful.

This year, I worked all night, took my wife to the airport so she could fly to Ohio for some training and was about to go to sleep when the phone rang. A twenty minute conversation with that same elder brother robbed me of sleep.

It won't be long now, I fear; and I wonder what the plan is that keeps her here when it would be far more fair to see her soul fly free. What are we all supposed to learn from this that hasn't been driven home this past decade?

If you have a spare minute, could you help prepare the way? I fear my prayers are inadequate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I do more (and less) by 8:00 AM than you do (or don't) all day (or night).


Haven't seen you in a while; how've you been?

I'm good. You know; work, sleep. The daily grind. Counting the days until vacation.


Nothing much is happening, really. It's cold here; but it's always cold here. And the only thing bearable about February is the fact that it's short. I've been going to the gym a few mornings a week, after work. Don't see much change, really. But I was never a very good judge

On so many levels, I've completely mismanaged my place in the world.

You see, I always considered myself transitory. You know the kind; the kind of person that shows up for a little while, gets a few laughs, helps out with a few jams, and off he goes into the night. And, largely, forgettable.

Being forgettable was a blessing in a way; if I screwed up, nobody would remember, and if I helped, then being forgettable provided the kind of anonymity that prevents having to deal with the thanks of a grateful person.

I would like to say I'm humble, but more to the point, I'm frightened and suspicious of other people's gratitude. Having my generosity pointed out serves only to embarrass me. And that's why I was never comfortable accepting compliments or awards. And why I turned down so many of them.

Now, come to find out, I'm not forgettable.

This just f**ks up my whole perspective.

I need a new one.

As if I don't have enough to do, NOW I have to go shopping for a new perspective.