Be My Valentine

February 14th was very surreal this year. Two funerals and a birthday.

Fortunately my daughter decided to celebrate her birthday on Friday so we could attend her festivities. We went out to eat, drank and played an inappropriately hilarious game. It was relaxed and fun. No tears today, just laughter. Happy Birthday #2!

Love was celebrated on Valentine’s Day but that wonderful emotion was surrounded by tears and heartache. The elderly friend who died lived a full, rich life as her family’s memories attest to it. My other friend was taken much too young. She was my age and I loved her, and I love her kids. She was an incredibly strong-willed, kind and loving woman who raised two independent, strong-minded, happy, beautiful daughters. She will be missed by so many people.

Gary & I never did get around to celebrating St. Valentine’s Day for ourselves, although we did fit in a lot of hugs; it’s what I need the most when my heart breaks.

I’m appreciative of what our relationship has become after all these years. For every time we rode out the storm, and there were some intense ones, our marriage became stronger for it. So here is a belated gift to my love…

Reasons Why I Love You

1~ You love me unconditionally…good times and bad.

2~ You love our children unconditionally…you are a very good father to them.

3~ You figure out how to fix what’s broken…and have saved us thousands of dollars.

4~ You make me laugh…that’s quite a turn-on!

5~ The older you get the funnier you’ve become. I’m taking credit for some of that.

6~ I love the almost daily touches and signs of affection we give each other.

7~ You have the same political attitude as me…eliminates a lot of arguments.

8~ We make a great team when we’re working on something together.

9~ I am the Yin to your Yang…we balance each others strengths & weaknesses.

10~ We have an incredible history together.

11~ I don’t just love you, I like you…and way more times than when I don’t.

12~ You treat my family as your own…above and beyond sometimes.

13~ You take the word multiple very seriously…and I thank you for that!

14~ I’m proud of who you’ve become.

15~ You dance with me. I love that I have a willing partner.

16~ I enjoy the times we spend cooking and cleaning together.

17~ We can communicate with just looks.

18~ You stand patiently by me when I’m riding the crazy train having a meltdown and then hug & hold me when it’s over…my safe harbor.

19~ You listen to me and respect me.

20~ And I love that you look at me like I’m still the young thing I once was, when the mirror reminds me that I’m anything but.

Here Fishy Fishy!

It’s been 30 long years since I’ve been ice fishing. In anticipation of freezing my butt off I bundled up with cuddle duds, cozy socks under my boots and lots of layers. Gary relinquished his puffy down coat to me; that’s how excited he was that I was finally going to bite the bullet and go fishing with him. My version of the frozen tundra was about to begin. I grabbed the bottle of Fireball whiskey…just in case.

After some snafus with the brakes on the van & Gary having to stop every 10 miles to bang on it with a hammer we finally headed out onto the ice field. We didn’t see any gaping holes on our 2 mile journey out to the middle of the lake but I was very aware that we were driving over very deep water. I think ice fishing should be done with cars that look like boats that have wheels attached.

The dad of one of Gary’s coworkers directed us by phone out to where he was set up which was a miracle without any definite markers to follow. After introductions, he drilled holes for us and let us use lures of his that had been working for him. They had been very successful that day so we were hopeful as we settled in to fill our 5 gallon bucket.

With my Irish background I figured my jigging would produce enough fish to fill our freezer. I varied between a graceful ballet of ups, downs & twirliness to the mosh pit at a Flogging Molly concert. I did everything aside from putting a stripper pole down there. They were down there; they were teasing me with their nibbles at my spikes (maggots). I just wasn’t able to snag any of them.

The bonus is that I’m a lot more patient in my maturing years. I’ve become better at turning down the volume of the chatter in my brain and living in the moment; noticing the world around me. The sun was shining and it was warm so I was able to peel my layers off down to a sweater. When I scanned the expanse of snow and ice it looked as though it was sprinkled with glitter and there were chunks of sparkly diamonds scattered around.

And then something phenomenal happened. When everyone stopped talking and there was dead silence…you could actually hear the snow melting! It was a quiet sound, as if there were a stream of water running somewhere in the distance. It was SO COOL! Once I was aware of the sound I was able to pick it up even if there were other noisy distractions. That, in itself, was worth going ice fishing.

Gary found a castaway fish that was lying a distance from our van and threw it to a group of gulls that were oblivious of its existence (how they missed it is beyond me). It was a wintery version of the movie Birds (minus the phone booth). Just a heads up people; they pick out the eyes first. Gary & I entertained ourselves with giving them voices and scripting what they were screeching to each other.

The guys we were with are regulars and their van is rigged up as an ice shanty with holes in the floor. When they opened their van door a school of fish fell out. Their bucket was overflowing and because their freezers are full of fish they were going to send us home with 3/4 of a bucket of fat meaty fish. Yay! We questioned how they were able to do so well while I caught nothing and Gary only got three and we were less than 10′ away from them. They gave us a detailed explanation of how beneficial it is to have a fish locator! C’est la vie.

It took us over three hours to clean all those fish. Gary gave me the easy job of skinning & cleaning them. It was almost fun. I’ve decided I will have to do this more often because it’s such a thrill at the thought of having a freezer full of fish.

I’m leaving my lover

I started writing a blog post 2 weeks ago explaining the why’s and what-for’s and in the midst of it, Gary came over to see what was up ’cause I was crying. I quietly showed him the title of my post; he smiled knowingly and walked away. He knows well of my addiction to Facebook. He knows how hard this will be for me; I cry sometimes thinking about what I’ll be missing out on…probably a sure sign of an addiction. He’s going to be ecstatic; he’s getting his little woman back, like the old days.

And then in the midst of shutting down the computer for the night I didn’t save it. I think I should be happy because I was drinking scotch while I was writing and I was hormonal and emotional. One of those kinds of letters you’re happy you never ‘mailed’ because it sounds ridiculous when you’re back into a rational state of mind. And then I couldn’t get myself to write again. Procrastination, I excel at it.

I read different articles and humorous slams on the nonsensicalness of Facebook and it has merit but I also appreciate the intrinsic worth of it. I have a whole bevy of hysterically funny friends that I interact with. It’s like having my own comedy club. The laughter is extremely therapeutic. Yes, I’m on Facebook too much but my midlife crisis has been buffered nicely by the interactions from many old and some new friends. I will miss the people that I’ve reconnected with that I don’t see outside of Facebook.

I’ve used the excuse to prolong my leaving because I’m trying to win a VitaMix on one of my Liked sites although I’ve just realized I could probably still enter every day via the e-mail newsletter I get. Then Elizabeth reminded us all that our birthday is coming up and we really should stay on for the birthday wishes. “How rude would that be to leave before the well-wishes!” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy getting cards in the mail but if I didn’t get any, my day/week would not be ruined. The only ones I expect recognition from actually live in the house with me and I’ve never been shy to plan my birthday events/gifts from my family. So that plan has been dashed, sorry Elizabeth.

There are so many reasons why I want to stay on Facebook but my life is turning a corner and I’m trying hard to get back to basics with my life. It’s become a driving necessity for me. There are days that what I need to do seems so crystal clear and then the list of things that feel safe, fun & comfortable pops up. And eventually I go back to knowing what I have to do…at least for now. I’m giving myself a year.

Not seeing you hurts

(written Wednesday night) Yesterday one of my close friends called to say her sister has been admitted to hospice. Today they got the news that she has about 72 hours left of her life. I realize that nobody can predict your death but unfortunately I know too well that hospice is usually pretty accurate. After all, that’s what they do. I sub for her, so as much as I love the work, I feel sad that it’s for this reason. Shopping at the Farmer’s Market wasn’t as much fun anymore. Having her there with me would have been so much better! We definitely would have laughed and had fun. I started with a shot of wheatgrass & ginger to drown the sorrows that somehow snuck into my heart…and moved on to a beer. Sometimes alcohol is the right choice (unless you happen to be an alcoholic, then I’d recommend the gingersnap shot; it’s kickass delicious).

Dying sucks…for those of us left behind. Her sister is heading to an awesomely, beyond human description, phenomenal place. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier. You’d think if would; well, it doesn’t. I was with my uncle and grandma a few hours before they died. I was with my babies, grandpa, aunt, dad and more pets than I care to count when they passed on. It wasn’t until watching my dad die that I was able to look at it as a gift to be part of that process, despite the pain. I think that sometimes the person dying decides if they want you there or not. They already know how much you love them without you being there. I think at that point their energy is already part of you and your thought process. Whether or not you can be with them, they’re already with you.

I had two shots of Jameson for supper (Tebazilena also made me eat the carrots I bought at the Farmer’s Market because everyone knows that whiskey by itself doesn’t make for a sound meal). I can feel my dad with me right now. To remind me, while I cry out the sadness inside, that eventually it will be better again.

My heart goes out to my friend and the emotions she will be dealing with that lie ahead. My heart goes out to the sister that she loves so fiercely whose current journey is coming to an end.

My friend’s brother-in-law called early this morning. Her sister had her own idea of when it was time to go. My friend has her sister’s love wrapped around her now. She’ll need all that positive energy for the long car ride ahead…and for the sucky times when you just feel like hugging them for real.

Time out from Ireland

Okay, I realize I only posted the first 3 days of our Ireland trip and I’m already taking a break but there’s a reason so bear with me.

Spoiler Alert-don’t read this if you were expecting rainbows, sunshine & lollipops in all of my Irish blog postings: Irish people (obviously not all of them but a lot that we encountered)…are not as accepting of us as we have been led to believe. It was a rude awakening. I had tears every day for the first week and a half before I kicked myself in the ass over my fantasy world of expectations and decided to turn things around. (End of disclaimer)

So I’m back home and waiting to apply for a job that is supposed to be posted in August only to find out today that they posted it in July and the end date was August 2nd…the night I flew back in to Chicago.

Elizabeth~ “Are you f***ing kidding me?! Someone had to have done this on purpose so we couldn’t get the job!”
Tebazilena~ “That’s right, you are THAT important that someone specifically went out of their way to keep you from getting that job.
Elizabeth~“I KNOW HOW RIDICULOUS THAT SOUNDS…I’m just pissed off right now.”
Tebazilena~By the way, I thought we were going to start saying füking from now on.”
Betsy~“We’ve already been told that we would never have a full-time job there so maybe the Universe decided to sucker punch us this time so we would wise up and move on to get a full-time job someplace else.
Elizabeth~“I’m also getting tired of our füking Pollyanna attitude about everything. It’s exhausting, Ireland wore me out.”

Early One Morning from the movie Pollyanna, sung by Christy-Lyn in Doolin, Ireland

Tebazilena~“The alternative isn’t worth it. Remember when we were a bitch that whole year back in ‘82?”
Betsy~“We weren’t very good at it and all we did was annoy ourselves. Besides, I’m pretty sure whatever we’re supposed to be doing is obviously not at school. And it’s going to be even more fun than what we were doing.”
Elizabeth~“füking Pollyanna. I want a shot of scotch while we start job searching.”
Tebazilena~“Now see? Even crabbyass can find something fun about this experience.”

So things are a little gloomy in Pollyannaville, our smile is upside down, but we have made plans to go out tonight (after all it is Friday…yay Friday!) with my favorite eldest seester and other jolly party-goers. I will satisfy crabbyass with a beer and a scotch. Then we’ll lie on a blanket under a perfect August night sky and watch colorful balloons light up the sky and I’ll remind myself how lucky I am with what I have right now.

The Aran Islands

We’re waiting for the ferry. A local fisherman tells us there’s a dolphin that comes into the bay and the children swim with it. That sounds like fun until we see lots of baby jellyfish bobbing along the surface. Maybe they don’t have stingers when they’re babies but I think I’d always try having a full bladder whenever I went swimming with the little buggers.

Our first stop was to the smallest island, Inisheer, for a one hour layover. On the short walk from the pier to the local pub we were beckoned by a young man with a horse & wagon (and a cute dog). For ten euro each he’d give us a tour around the island. The island is literally covered with three foot high stone walls that outline rooms…as far as the eye can see. Some had animals in them, most were empty. He brought us over to check out a holy well (there’s a lot of them in Ireland). I don’t feel any holier for having stood there (I have to assume I’m already as holy as I can be). I would’ve drank some of the water or at least dipped my finger in it except that Bella, the dog, walked through it and had a long drink and sometimes an eel from the sea makes its way up to swim around. I decided to just stick to beer. I’m glad we never made it to the pub. We learned way more about the island from Michael than we would have with a Guinness.

We stopped long enough to pick up/drop off passengers to Inishmaan. Between all 3 islands there are less than 1300 people. Irish is their main language but most know and can speak English.

We struck up a conversation with the 3 elderly gentlemen sitting across from us on the ferry. The friendliest of the group, Michael, told us he knew where our B&B was and would drive us there. That changed after we got off the boat and he realized he misunderstood us. Our B&B was on the other side of the island which also made it the closest one, in Ireland, from America (I thought that was pretty cool). He dropped us off at his favorite pub and ordered us some Guinness while he went back and collected his two buddies from the dock. When we were all together again in the pub he called up the lady who ran the B&B (of course he knew her) and told her we were ready to get picked up. We later explained to her that it was not our idea for her to come get us. She mumbled something about him being a crazy old coot.

During our conversations over beer waiting for Maggie to pick us I was asked if I had any relatives over here. I said I was 4th generation Irish and then got an earful from crotchety old crank, Pat, about how I was NOT Irish. He went on about it for a bit and Elizabeth told him to fük off. Okay, so it wasn’t to his face but it should’ve been. I was still emotional from seeing my dead uncle, aunt & dad the day before so it felt a lot like someone sucker punched me. Welcome to Ireland…NOT! Despite the cruel way Pat got his point across I should probably be grateful because it was the catalyst of my mental journey to let go of my idealized notion of the Irish people.

After settling in at the B&B we hired the local taxi guy to show us the sights. His love for the island was evident through his stories. We learned most of what there was to know about life on Inismoor. It’s a beautiful island and although I can understand why people would want to live someplace so remote, I don’t know how well I would do with all that quiet. It is an intriguing thought though.

Over the next week we would meet people that did not welcome us with open arms. They were polite enough but had no desire to have conversations with us. Our accent even seemed to annoy some. It would take me a week and a half of wanting to escape this island and go back home before I finally let go of the romanticized feelings I had built up over my lifetime. They’re no different than the people from where I come from; they’re not friendlier, happier or more welcoming. They’re regular people with regular lives on an island with an incredible history and kick-ass marketing.

All I know for sure is that my ancestors lived, worked and loved in Ireland and their pride was passed down through the generations. I love the music both traditional and modern and now I love the land my bloodline came from. I’m proud of my heritage. I have to learn to not care what anyone else thinks about that.

I see dead people

Our second day we headed to Galway; that’s where some of our family originated from. While on our walk from parking the car by the harbor to the main hub of the city there was an incident with seagulls but fortunately the missiles didn’t fully hit their targets. Accidental bombings? I think not. I don’t believe for a minute that it’s random or innocent. I heard what sounded like screeching laughter after the attack. Terrorists!

The downtown area is amazing with all the *quaint streets and fun buildings lining them. The Irish really like using color when painting their buildings and decorating. The area is filled with shops, restaurants, pubs & street performers. I window shopped while the girls bought souvenirs. If we go back I know exactly what shop I’m heading to; they have some pretty sweet deals there.

While looking around my new favorite store I stepped aside in the aisle for a man passing through that was a dead ringer for my uncle who passed away 2 years ago. He looked so much like him that I made a comment about it to him. He and his wife joked with me about how good looking my uncle must be. I laughed and agreed with them.

Despite the fact that the streets are overflowing with people, about five minutes later, I saw a woman that looked just like my aunt who died the same year as her brother. To say it was freaky is an understatement. I told my niece that if I see my deceased dad next I might have a bit of a breakdown.

My main objective was to find a pub with traditional music. Our treks up and down the old-world streets brought us to a couple pubs with music blaring out but most were too crowded for semi-claustrophobic Rabid Tigress. We finally found a pub that we stayed at a while and I had a second sighting of a different woman who looked like my aunt. We eventually moved on and I was drawn into another pub by the feisty traditional music dancing out the doorway. I was being mesmerized by music I love and can’t seem to get enough of when my niece leaned over to me and said, “Look down the bar.” I stared into the pub and there in the dim light, standing by the bar, was my dad.

My first reaction was, “Oh my god.” My second reaction was, “Oh my god.” And then my eyes filled up with tears. My niece and daughter went into the pub and talked to him while I waited for my eyes to stop leaking. I’m glad I eventually talked to him because the resemblance was less obvious when we were face to face and he was also a nice old man. Before we left downtown Galway that night I saw a third woman who somewhat resembled my aunt.

The whole evening was a profoundly bittersweet experience. I don’t know if my dead family members were trying to send me a message of sorts but I definitely see our family features in the faces over here. Obviously Galway is home base to incredibly good looking people! I was also reminded of how much I miss the people I love who are gone now. On a pleasant note: the pooping seagulls were all asleep when we headed back to the harbor…I mean harbour.

*Rabid Tigress (niece) decided we were going to use the word quaint instead of cute while in Ireland. We expanded that into saying the Irish word instead of the American for anything we talked about (future post). I presently like saying the describing word ‘fooking.’ It doesn’t sound naughty at all with that cute accent.

Road Trip!

There are all sorts of road trips. My standard road trip is usually just me cruising down the highway, alone, with my favorite music cranked loud; preferably with windows rolled down and breathing in the smell of alfalfa fields or sweet grass or even the unmistakable odor of cow manure. It almost always relaxes me.

My ultimate fantasy road trip, on the other hand, required a large plane and comes with a lot of zany exploits courtesy of Ireland. And so it begins…

We flew out at 8 PM and arrived in Dublin at 9 AM (3 AM our time). My niece, Rabid Tigress, was our ballsy first driver. The ‘backwards’ driving that the U.K. has embraced is scary, thrilling & treacherous all rolled up into one. Our job as the passengers was to keep saying, “Stay to the left!” Once we were safely in our hotel, we lied down just to rest and promptly fell asleep for four hours.

Dublin has so many tourists that we heard more foreign accents than Irish. We got lost for 2 hours looking for the Temple Bar area and finally said to hell with it and headed to the next Irish bar we found that served traditional food and had music. The two young guys performing there played more American songs than anything else but it seems that’s relatively common here (even the car radio plays American songs). The guys obliged by playing a few traditional songs but they definitely prefer American songs.

We decided that instead of touring Dublin the next day we were going to head out of the city and find Ireland; the real Ireland. During check-out we were confronted by a giant spud named Tayto in the lobby. We found out later that (s)he is one hot potato over here. We wished then that we had gotten our picture taken with him (her?). There was a big football match going on at the stadium across the street and Tayto was a big supporter.

Driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the street, going the wrong way in the roundabouts is an incredibly mind-bending, hair-raising, life-threatening experience that involves numerous conversations with God…along with the out-breath of all the air in your body. Once we made it out of the city alive we headed out onto the open road only to discover that the scene from the highway looked much like the Midwest landscape. It was a bit disheartening that we still didn’t feel like we were really in Ireland. We decided to get off the main road and travel the back roads.

10:30 AM on the narrow back roads we saw a herd of sheep in fields marked off with stone fences and a thatched roof cottage and we all yelled, “We’re in Ireland!” Finally! We started seeing the rural scenes that the world is shown in postcards and picture books. We also got a taste of the craziness of locals driving fast on incredibly narrow roads where two cars passing each other come inches from each other because the vine covered stone wall on your left side is just waiting to take your side mirrors off given the chance and there’s never-ending death staring you in the face, that’s always a fun time!

Not only do you have to have keen peripheral vision to keep you 2” from the stone wall/cliff on your left and 2” from the car passing on your right but you also have to watch out for the walker/biker around every twist and turn. The wee duckling that crossed in front of me didn’t have a chance in hell.

Thank god for ‘Gertie’ our GPS voice because we would never make it to where we need to be on any given day without her. I will miss her when we give up the car although sometimes we think she’s had a nip of Guinness…that, or she’s just a crafty, twisted, filthy whore. She told me to turn on a one way street and of course I did before I realized what it was. There was no death involved but I fell out of love with her in that moment. It’s no longer unconditional love.

Disclaimer: Don’t come to Ireland if you absolutely have to have Internet! We had WiFi the first day in our hotel room and haven’t been able to connect anywhere until now…five days later.

You are a wet rag…and I love you

Joe, a young salesman at Sam’s Club, was trying to sell me his ‘wares’ yesterday. A lint roller set that you wash off and the sticky never goes away (that’s unnatural; Mother Nature is shaking her head). It had extensions & different sizes and it did everything other than make french fries.

Once those sales people grab your attention they don’t stop talking so you’d have to be rude to turn and walk away (I was amused so I didn’t).

He explained all of the fine virtues of all its wonderful attributes and the rocket steal I would receive if I purchased it now instead of its pricey retail value. And I wouldn’t get just one. No, they’ll throw in another one! Why the hell would I need two of those sets? Date night with Gary?

I chuckled a bit and said, “But wouldn’t that mean that I’d have to use it to clean stuff?
He just stared at me; probably never heard that line before. “Wouldn’t that give Gary reason to say, ‘Hey! How come you’re not using that new-fangled contraption you bought to clean up the house?'”

He was speechless but only for a second before he remembered what part of his script could answer that one. Besides, the kids gave me a little version of one of those over a year ago for the animal hair on the furniture. It’s still brand new. I found out a damp rag works slicker than shit…and it washes the fabric a little as it goes. Win-win!

I thanked him for the enjoyable presentation of his product and walked away. Our society (and my house) has too much junk as it is. My wet rag just beat out his gizmo. I possibly just saved my marriage as well as the planet…you’re welcome Gary…and Mother Nature!

I knew there was a song out there in my vast brain jukebox that had the word ‘rag’ in it. It took me five hours but I finally remembered it; “Country Joe & The Fish – I feel like I’m fixin’ to die rag.” As much as I like that song, my wet rags would prefer something a little cheerier. So here’s a song from my Junior High chorus days…

Holey Underwear Batman!

I’m pretty sure the idea of planning & packing for an oversea adventure is supposed to be fun & exciting all by itself. In a perfect world I would be freaking ecstatic by now. Unfortunately, I like to use things to the point of falling apart before I replace them…which is the condition some of my needed essentials are in right now. The trip itself is pricey enough without having to fork over cash for it before I even leave the country. And yet…

Shoes~comfortable ones are necessary for all the walking we will be doing. A LOT of walking! I’ve let mine go past the point of comfort (by about a year); the squishy comfortableness of them is long gone. With how misty Ireland tends to be (not to mention the daily rain), two pair are essential for the frolicking we’ll be doing in the dewy meadows…Ch-ching $$

Hooded Rainjacket~I don’t own one. I use an umbrella and if I don’t want to get wet I have a quirky habit of staying indoors. Ireland is too windy for umbrella’s; the wind eats them for lunch. We plan on being outside during the day, rain or shine, and I’d kind of like to stay moderately dry…Ch-ching $

Clothes~somehow, over winter, my summer clothes have all shrunk. WTH?! I am in a quandary about how this happened. I’ve been getting by with just basic pieces of clothing but of course what I essentially need is packed away in the “Maybe Next Year” bag. So I went outside my comfort zone and bought a BRAND NEW (Ch-ching $$$) shirt & two pair of pants that are lightweight & will dry fast (I plan on banging our laundry on rocks in the streams along the countryside…or maybe just use a sink). One pair unzips into shorts (which are usually not worn there unless you’re visiting during the years’ four days of unusually warm weather…we’ll see). Then I paid a visit to Goodwill. I now have enough appropriately sized clothes to get me through Ireland and beyond…Ch-ching $$$$$

Cold Hard Cash~I was aware that our dollar isn’t as strong as the euro (if a meal is 10 euros in that quaint jovial pub in Ireland, we will actually be paying $13; typical meals are 12+ eu) but it was a rude awakening when we got the visual. We handed over a large sum of cash at the local bank and they handed us back a very small, very thin stack of euros…a mere pittance of what we presented to them. Very saddening! Hostels, camping in the car & bringing 5 jars of peanut butter are starting to look doable…and affordable! I’m saving my euros for the pubs.

Underwear and Bras~I seem to have iron-clad underwear. If it weren’t for the holes that our quirky washing machine feels necessary to slash randomly in them they wouldn’t be all that bad (only does it to my dainties & t-shirts). But if I soil my underwear in an accident over there, I want them to at least start out looking nice. The first thing I want to hear from the emergency personnel is, “Cute underwear…did you know you shit in them?” (they talk in that sexy Irish accent and make it sound like it’s something everyone wants to do).
My bras on the other hand were treacherous when two weeks apart from each other, they broke their underwire. That’s dangerous; you could take out a lung if you bent the wrong way! Besides, if we do pay to get our laundry done, I don’t want the Irish washerwoman looking at me with pity when I come to pick up the finished laundry, (imagine her speaking with that cool brogue of theirs) “That poor, sad American. Look at her dingy bras. She can’t get her whites truly white.” I’m sorry but I have a patriotic image to uphold…Ch-ching $$

Andre Rieu and John Sheahan (The Dubliners) play Irish Washerwoman

You can bet I got the best possible deal on everything I bought. Some were virtually cheap inexpensive. At least this trip has forced me to replace things I’ve been procrastinating about. So I’ve finally got my packing list fine-tuned and my extra purchases made. My new mantra regarding luggage is that less is more…Pack Light…Pack Light…Pack Light…!

Funerals and other parties

I want my funeral to be a big party. After all, I’ll be 103 and I’m pretty sure people will have an easier time with that whole letting go process. My 50 year old blind lover will probably take it the hardest but he’s still young and quite fit so I don’t doubt he’ll find someone else in time. Hmmm, my daughters will be around 70 and their kids will be probably in their 40’s; he could go either direction. That’s kinda gross and a little twisted. Oh well, I’ll be dead, I won’t care.

A bunch of years ago I started planning my funeral party in my head. Just for fun. It revolved around music, food & laughter…and my body over there in the corner for viewing and making snarky comments. Even though I know I will be at my funeral party and probably affect some sort of shenanigans, it made me a little sad that it would just be my spirit. And family & friends that are older than me and a bunch that are younger will already have died.

Sidenote: I’ve had conversations with the funeral director in town and he said it’s never too early to start planning your funeral so if anyone thinks I’m weird for thinking about this, well, I’m not. I’m normal, dammit!

So anyway, when Gary and my 25th wedding anniversary was looming on the horizon my brain also became aware that I would be turning 50 that year (Yay for the Golden Year; break out the bottle of Goldschlager!). If these aren’t two huge reasons not to have a party, I don’t know what is! You may already be dead if you don’t agree. It was at that moment that a huge 3000 watt light bulb went on over my head. My world became crystal clear…I WAS going to be at my funeral party…in the flesh. It would be the perfect trial run (only with a live person, not a dead one…and probably a lot cheaper). We were going to celebrate with family & friends, right now, while we’re all alive!

The party took place and it was wicked good fun! It revolved around music, food & laughter and just like any big party you obsess about and take over a year to plan, it was over in the blink of an eye. The first half of the party celebrated our 25 years of marriage with a loosely-based ceremony & food. The music & dancing was all about me; my birthday gift to myself with family & friends. The funeral party trial run was a grand success and I haven’t done any funeral planning for myself since. I’m glad I was able to party with the people I love…in the flesh. I danced all night until I could barely walk. Good Times! I appreciate all the people who came to my ‘funeral party.’ Thank you!

Our daughters walked us up the ‘aisle’

Our ceremony was way more fun and a lot less serious this time. My sweet eldest sister officiated (she’s ordained on the Internet…how fun is that?!) and we had a ceremony for our girls and gave each of them a Tree of Life pendant

Happy 25th to us!

We started off the dance with an anniversary dance

And then…it was all about me!

Happy Father’s Day Dad…Olive You!

I paid my dad a visit today. I was going to make it official on Sunday but it was a beautifully sunny day so why wait for potential rain to muck things up. I brought him one of his favorite gifts…a jar of olives, the queen size olives! He loved eating olives but my mom always yelled at him if he ate the ones in the cupboard that were reserved for holidays, when guests came. I always thought that was a silly rule; same as the one where you don’t use ‘the good silverware & dishes’ for every day. So I broke the rule (I do that sometimes) and bought him big jars of queen size olives for any special occasion I could think of…and mom wasn’t allowed to have any control over them. He got pretty excited over having his own jar of olives. It didn’t take much to please my dad.
My dad was quite a talker and storyteller. It could be why I likewise have a tendency to talk a great deal. Today we were both pretty quiet. I toasted him with the jar of olives; a thank you for what a great job he did helping mom raise me. Then I silently ate olives while memories of my life with him ran through my head like a black & white filmstrip. The tears come with the understanding that there will be no more hugs & kisses, no more sharing our humor & stories, no more tender moments of dad’s love. It’s quite a conundrum, this sense of loss despite the feeling that he hasn’t left my side.

I watched the busyness of the ants for a while streaming across the fresh dirt and across my legs. I poured some of the olive juice over the grave and told dad I loved him and then I did what any self-respecting gardener would do…I picked the weeds out of the dirt. It’s all nice and tidy again waiting for the grass to grow back in. I’m not much of a grave visitor, I think everyone should be cremated, but maybe just for now, maybe Sunday, flowers would look nice on that little patch of dirt.

UPDATE: It’s the next day, Saturday the 15th, and #3 and I have gone shopping for supplies each of us need for our overseas adventures. We finally stopped for lunch; our stomachs had become quite unruly with their growliness. While we were waiting for our food the Kansas song Dust in the Wind started playing, to my surprised enjoyment. “Hi Dad, glad you could have lunch with us!” He loved going out to eat, always asking us to go along. “I’ll pick up the tab this time Dad. Thanks for coming along.”