Saturday, August 01, 2015

Laughter, tears, family and frustration

When I called to wish my dad a happy birthday, after I had done so, Mom got on the phone and told me Aunt Cathy had died.  Aunt Cathy was really Mom's aunt, and my great-aunt, but she was always Aunt Cathy.  She was married to my grandmother's baby brother, a wonderful man who she survived by 10 or 11 years, and they had three kids, five grandkids and four great-grandkids (by the time Aunt Cathy died).

My grandmother was the oldest of four, so there was quite a gap between her and Cathy, but despite the age gap and despite my grandfather moving the family from Pittsburgh to Elyria, my mom still grew up spending time with her cousins and her aunts and uncles.  Mom and her siblings attended Ed & Cathy's wedding, but were deemed too young for the reception, so they were bundled off back home while their parents went.  Mom remembers that Gramma brought them each a piece of cake, but that she was still mad because it wasn't the same.  That may have been what inspired her to allow my brother's and I to come to the wedding of Ed & Cathy's younger daughter.

Since Mom and Dad and I left at 7:00 a.m. to be at the church by 10:00 (with a generous margin of error for Pittsburgh traffic and directions), we had lots of time to talk about that wedding, my grandparents, and Ed & Cathy.  When we arrived early enough to grab a cup of coffee, Mom and I got a case of the giggles when Dad could not get the voice-activated Google maps to understand "McDonalds".  But we found one, and I had a quick iced coffee and Dad had a cinnamon thing (or McThing, who knows?).

The church was large and modern, the soloist/organist was a phenomenal musician and the priest did a good job despite the fact that he had never met Aunt Cathy.  Apparently, her church doesn't have its own priests, but relies on visiting priests from other parishes.  The one who performed her funeral mass was built on the same lines as Shaquille O'Neal.  He also had a very good singing voice.

The trip from the church to the cemetery was a long one, so more Mom and Dad and Jammies chatter ensued.  I mentioned that it was the only time we could run red lights in a car with out-of-state plates and not get pulled over.  Fortunately, as part of the procession we did not have to interrupt our conversation to listen to the GPS.  A large part of the chatter was Mom remembering where Uncle Henry lived, or Uncle Bill, or Uncle Ed, and whether or not she and her siblings had visited.  Two of Uncle Henry's children were at the funeral, and Mom made sure to get e-mail addresses for everyone.

The 'graveside' service was actually at the mortuary at the cemetery, and everyone else went straight from there to lunch.  Since Mom wasn't about to have visited Pittsburgh without visiting her parents', grandparents' and sisters' graves, we followed the hearse to the grave site.  When we left, we got lost in the cemetery, but found our way out in time to truthfully tell Mom's cousin that we were on the way to the restaurant.

Lunch was very nice, and I got to know two of my first cousins once removed more than I did 10 years ago.  They're very impressive young men, and Aunt Cathy had reason to be proud of all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  When we left after many hugs and some tears, Mom asked if anyone wanted an ice cream cone or a milkshake, and Dad didn't, but I did.  Since we were right by the Pennsylvania turnpike, we got on and stopped for our sugar fix at a service plaza.  Mom got a milkshake, I got an apple & caramel sundae, and Dad got a frozen coffee drink.

Shortly after we left the service plaza, traffic started to slow up, and then it stopped.  We sat at mile marker 225 for an hour in the hot July sunshine, with the car turned off and all the windows open.  After a while, people were getting out of their cars and walking forward to try to see what was going on, a few cars managed to turn around and go back east on the westbound shoulder, and three assholes on motorcycles rode up the shoulder to try to get to the head of the traffic.  Dad hoped that there would be a cop waiting for them.  I just hoped they crashed and totaled their bikes!

After an hour, the traffic started to move, and we drove west to mile marker 223, where we were directed across the median and onto the eastbound turnpike, where we had to go 9 miles back to get to an exit, then wait in line for another 25 minutes to actually get off the turnpike.  It turns out there was a horrible accident and the whole turnpike was closed.  Although I had joked (before learning why we were stopped) that Mom's craving for ice cream got us stuck, it could very well have been that it saved us from being part of that accident.

Mom and I were relatively pessimistic about the people zooming up the left hand lane and whether they'd cross back into the right line just at the exit and Dad said he didn't want to hear us being negative.  So of  course as we tried to find an alternate route back home, Dad called the voice on the GPS a "chirpy little bitch", told it to shut up and told Mom that the frustration had to come out somehow!

After a stop for gas (for the car), cheese popcorn (for Mom) and almonds (for me), we got back on the turnpike and had an uneventful trip home the rest of the way.  I slept for a bit in the car, then took a short nap on my folks' couch, then came home to a very, very hungry dog.  Fortunately, LMPP forgave me as soon as the food hit the bowl, and does not seem to be holding a grudge.

One of the things Mom said as we left the church was that she was grateful for a happy childhood.  I am equally grateful for mine, especially as I have grown up and learned that happy childhoods are not as common as they should be.  Aunt Cathy was part of that happy childhood, and it's hard to imagine a trip to Pittsburgh that doesn't end with seeing her.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Things I have learned in the past week

1.  It really sucks when you have a black eye and an allergy attack which makes your eyes itch.

2.   I stink at typing with a cold pack held to one eye.

3.   There is a line between "summer casual" and "escaped from the ER before they got the restraints on you" and some people are not afraid to cross it and then come to court.

4.  Our local hospital chain thinks prohibiting any personal expression in hair color or tattoos is unprofessional, yet dressing medical staff in all black is professional and so is making fun of Walmart shoppers.

5.  My new-ish co-worker loves makeup as much or more than I do, but she's not a big fan of horror novels.

6.  Hoicking boxes filled with books around the living room two days after a major fall is Not A Good Idea.

7.  I am not a complete loser when it comes to nail art.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I have kick-ass co-workers

When I got to work this morning, my desk was all decorated, both with pre-made 50 decorations and streamers and with office-made signs that said things like "Fifty is the new fabulous."  The one that made me laugh out loud even though it hurt was the one that said, "It Took 50 Years to Look this Good."

One of our investigators was hanging out with my accounts colleague, and she said something that was to become a familiar refrain through the day, "Happy Birth--what on earth happened?"  No one I talked to wanted to believe that I'd fought off a black bear that attacked my parents in a parking lot, so I went with "Walked into a bathroom doorframe".

There was a surprise birthday lunch for me and two of my colleagues, one of whom is also 50 and the other of whom is literally half that.  Someone made the Italian green bean salad that I love and was surprised at how many people asked for the recipe.  I didn't, because it is my favorite summer salad, but I did compliment her on it and notice the basil she put in.

My lip and my eye still look awful, but what hurts is the chest muscle I pulled.  I have to give a shout-out to Mallie, who was the one who talked me into spending money on bras that actually support my boobs, because when I woke up this morning, the pain was so bad I nearly barfed, and I hate to think what it would have been like if I'd gone through the day with inadequate infrastructure.  As it was, I was still in a lot of pain at four o'clock, but I made it home without crying.

Speaking of crying, there was a card in yesterday's mail that was all about what's good about turning 50, and while my niece would dismiss it as "Sappy!"  it made me tear up because it was from my 80 year old uncle.

Family, friends, food and fun.  I could get used to this 50 thing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So far, 50 sucks

Mom and Dad and I had a very nice dinner last night at a local high-end steakhouse.  I had tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic vinegar,  half a pretzel breadstick, a NY strip steak with brown sauce and black peppercorns, fries and a slice of flourless chocolate cake, courtesy of the management because Mom had told them we were celebrating Dad's birthday and mine.  I'd probably have been fine if I also hadn't had two Lemon Drop martinis, which hit me hard about a 40 minutes after I got home.  I fell once in the kitchen while I was trying to set up the coffee and then walked into the bathroom door frame while trying to go lie down.

Gross stuff after the jump:

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Food, family, fireworks and fun!

I'm home after two lovely days at the lake.  Things did not start well, because at 6:20 Monday morning when I tried to re-settle the carafe in the coffee maker, I wound up splashing boiling water and coffee grounds all over my right hand, the counter, the coffee maker and the floor.  When I got that cleaned up and the car packed, dropping Little Miss Piggie Pie off for boarding was easy, and I grabbed a quick and expensive cup of coffee at Bruegger's before starting out.

My trip was exactly 100 miles in 100 minutes, yay me and yay Edgar.  Mom met me at the Dollar General closest to Lakeside because she was out riding her bike in traffic when I arrived, and gave me her credit card to buy my ticket and car pass and then we headed to the house.

My nieces and nephews are turning out to be really great people, smart and kind and funny.  At the advanced age of 15, The Awesome Nacho still lets his youngest cousin beat on him with a pillow.  Super Doughnut was so afraid he'd miss the golf cart ride to get doughnuts this morning that when I opened the garage door at 6:30 to go outside for a smoke he came barreling down the stairs and stuck his head out the door pleading for me not to leave without him.  I told him to go back to bed, it would be a while.  Princess Mathgeek cheerfully peeled potatoes, went to East Harbor with the joy of a swallow returning to Capistrano, and displayed the snarkasm that is the hallmark and birthright of my family.  Princess Minnie is bright and affectionate and totally and completely addicted to chocolate.

I met three gorgeous dogs--two Golden Retrievers whose owner called them "English Cream Retrievers" and a very sweet, very old, very shy Siberian Husky.  I am totally bragging when I say the latter took to me to such a degree that I heard her owners talking about it as they walked away.

I helped Mom delete the zillion text messages from Verizon on her phone, took the nieces and nephews to the Cheese Haven, read two books and ate several wonderful meals, including an early birthday Bastille Day dinner of beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, port wine & shallot sauce, roasted green beans and cake.  I took at least four golf cart rides, driving three times, and discovered that Jeeves and I have a fear of heights in common.  Dad set off two fireworks and when the power went out he took the coffee maker out to the garage and ran it off the golf cart battery.

Today I went to The Patio for doughnuts, one dozen for the famdamily, two dozen for work, then got packed up and left Lakeside.  I dropped off the doughnuts, picked up the dog, who was clean and very fluffy after her complimentary bath, came home and took some Benadrool (my eyes have been itching non-stop) and took a nap.  Then I collected the three boxes from my porch--one from Ulta, one from Bath & Body Works and one from someone named Keith in Augusta, Maine.  I haz a puzzled about that last...

As always, I'm glad I went and happy to be home.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

"Admit it," he said, "You've always wanted a hug in the middle of the jury room."

And while it had never occurred to me that I might be hugged in the jury assembly room, I will never decline a hug from my father.  Dad got three times lucky last week when he was summoned for jury duty.  He didn't have to appear on Monday or Tuesday, and while he and I were chatting Wednesday morning, Judge Croce herself came down and dismissed the jurors, saying the defendant had pleaded guilty.

Dad looked very nice on Wednesday, and when I told Mom that, she said "Because I dressed him!" :-D  I am fairly sure, btw, that she meant that she picked out his clothes, not that she put them on him.

Last week at work, Monday and Tuesday were frantic, as I tried to docket everything I could before the automatic hearing date changed.  Wednesday I got to see Dad and Thursday was more frantic reviewing and docketing so I could feel free to take Monday through Wednesday of this week off.  County employees had Friday off for the holiday, and come Monday morning, I'm a-headin' up the lake.

While I'm there, I will spend time with my family, eat my mother's wonderful cooking, visit the Cheese Haven and read a book or two.  So looking forward to it!

Saturday, June 27, 2015


So you've heard about the Supreme Court decision.  If you're not overjoyed, go read someone else's blog.  :P  I've always said that Probate Court does two happy things, adoptions and marriage licenses.  Friday afternoon, the happiness doubled.

From the first couple willing to have their pictures taken to the dudes who looked like extras from Duck Dynasty to the little girl with rainbow-striped bows in her hair whose mommies were getting married, the whole court fizzed with excitement.

My department is at the other end of the clerk's offices from the records room, but I did legit need to be over there a time or two, and it was just wonderful to see all those people using our newly remodeled room as it was intended.  The renovation was completed on Wednesday and the marriage license counter was moved from the main counter into the records room where you can get copies of any non-confidential license we have.  The help desk is now there instead of outside the magistrates' offices, and it's been repainted, has sound baffles on the ceiling and an open floor plan.

So congratulations to the U.S. for freaking finally joining the 21st century, and let's keep going.