Thursday, November 30, 2006

A meme from the Leptard and his buddy Brendan:

"[P]ost a comment and I'll give you a letter if you ask nice. Then list ten things that you like that begin with that letter. It's all about the loose letters, round here..."

Brendan gave me the letter "P," so here's my list of ten, in no particular order:

Peppermint puffs from King Leo Candy--pure sugar and peppermint oil. Yum.

"Pink" by Aerosmith.

Fiction by Sara Paretsky, Robert Parker, Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters and Terry Pratchett.

Posting on message boards like the Great Escape, the CyberSoapBox and the Chat House.


Packages from friends.

Plush animals, particularly bears.



Products from Lush.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Midweek snobservations

To the tail-gating idiot in the Lexus SUV: You do know you're a jerk, right? What is there that's either sporty or utilitarian about a giant, gas-guzzling, marshmallowy SUV? Just because it's big and expensive doesn't make you exempt from safe driving, you poser.

To the family in the house on the corner of Cuyahoga & Uhler: Will you please pay some attention to your dog? You leave that poor Akita mix out there, tied up 24/7, and none of you ever pat him or cuddle him or give him one bit of the affection he undoubtedly craves. He's a dog, damnit, all they want is to please a human, and I've seen all of you walk past him repeatedly, kids and adults alike. You're breaking his heart, and ruining my commute by doing so.

To You people are getting entirely too big for your britches and too sloppy about your customer service. Yes, I qualified for the free shipping. No, that doesn't mean I should have to wait until after Christmas for you to send my order, especially when every item had a little line of text reading "Receive this by November 21 with priority shipping." How exactly can I get something in four days with priority shipping and SIX WEEKS with standard free shipping? I hate you. I had Christmas presents in that now-cancelled order. Your customer service people are perfectly nice, but when they don't have the power to actually FIX things, they're as useless as all get out.

To Snoopy: How did you reach the age of thirty-eight without learning social boundaries? Sometimes, Goldilocks and I talk about girl stuff, and yes, we shut up when you bounce out of the file room and want to join in. You want details? You're going to get them. I swear, if you ask me one more dumbass personal question, I am going to start telling you every single detail of my period, followed by stabbing you in the gut so you know what the pain feels like. And when she had to take a day off for a funeral, it was REALLY tacky to say, "Whoa, how'd the family member die?"

To our stupidest client: I understand that you've had some medical problems, and that they have affected your mental functioning and your memory. But you know that too, and it seems to me that if you know about such problems, you could take notes when you talk to your attorney, instead of pestering her secretary two weeks later because you don't remember what she instructed you to do. The worst thing is that if you don't do it and wind up facing a contempt charge, you will blame her. Write it down, damnit!

To me: Don't ever again brag about what a good day you've had at 5 p.m. Remember what happened yesterday? Oh, yeah, it was a great day until you bragged about it, and then your printer jammed and one of the dogs had an accident in the living room. Brag just before bed, okay? :p

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nearly perfect

So the library is done, and beautiful.

I've lost the amount of weight my OB/Gyn wanted me to lose before she would do the hysterectomy.

All but three of the Christmas presents I need are purchased and waiting to be wrapped and mailed.

December has five Fridays, which means an extra paycheck.

Weekend after next, my baby brother is coming to Ohio from Texas for a job interview.

I'm wearing my splendid new Christmas robe.

I shall splurge on some fancy wrapping paper this weekend.

Work is productive and interesting (if a little sad right now) and we've got our Christmas lunch scheduled.

I just wish I would stop having extravagantly romantic dreams which remind me that I'm a middle-aged spinster. Grrr.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Deep in the stacks

Welcome to Casa de Jammies. Our tour today starts and ends with the recently neatened library--please note the presence of shelves and the absence of cardboard boxes!


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Oh dear oh dear oh OOPS

Having spent the day with my books and my shelves and my catalogue*, I find that I now have 8.5 shelves left empty, which wouldn't be bad if I didn't have 10 boxes of books. I've filled the built-in shelves in the living room with hardcover books (sorry, Snick, I know you liked it with just the knick-knacks) and filled the built-in hutch over the computer with my reference books (how did I wind up with all these dictionaries?). I have a shelf in the basement which should be enough to handle the overflow (at least until the box from Amazon gets here), but I don't know where I'm going to put it. It's an old one that my dad made out of 2x4s, which I washed and painted to match my bedroom. Why not put it in the bedroom? Because all of the bedrooms in this house are dinky, and mine already has too much furniture in it. However, I may be forced to take that route when I run out of space in the library/study. The shelf certainly can't go into the guest room--I'm aiming for elegance in there, and brown 2x4s certainly aren't elegant. Not that it's all that lovely in there at the moment, with Christmas presents, boxes, wrapping paper, mailing paper, etc. strewn all over, but next weekend, I should be able to do something about that.

I'm halfway between regretting lazing away Thanksgiving Day and glad I did. On the one hand, if I had started on the books then, I'd be done by now. On the other hand, it was a good break from the chaos and craziness that so often marks my life. And my life isn't even particularly stressful--I work, I come home, I clean, yak on the phone or the internet, read, maybe rot my brain with some television, sleep. Oh, and take care of the puppymonsters, but still--I don't know how modern parents manage it. Or even people who have, you know, those "life" thingies.

I keep buying presents for people I already have presents for, and still haven't gotten anything for my middle liddle brother or my younger nephew. Ack! I know what the kidlet likes, I just don't think my brother and sister-in-law will let me live to New Year's if I buy him $25 worth of MatchBox cars. ;) He's not a stuffed-animal kind of kid, so that's out, and yes, I probably will get him some clothes and books, but since his brother is getting a toy, I want Dip to have at least one shiny cool toy too. At this point, I'm about to get my brother one of those joke sacks of coal and leave it at that, since he won't give me ANY ideas.

For all of my friends, a blessing I found today, which I send with love and hope to all of you:

"May the light always find you on a dreary day.
When you need to be home, may you always find your way.
May you always have courage to take a chance.
And may you never find frogs in your underpants."

*A friend told me cataloguing my books is "sexily geeky" and when I told her it's alphabetically by author, she swooned. *grin* Made my day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

You bring the cheese, I've got a selection of whines.

#1: I worked very hard today, and only managed to catalogue 120 or so books, empty ten boxes and fill fifteen shelves. I've got twenty-four boxes left to unpack.

#2: My skin is dry and itchy, and I know it's because of my bathing habits, but I just can't give up my nightly Lush fix.

#3: My knee is so sore it's basically locked in place.

#4: I had a dream about being wrapped in someone's arms today. It was nice while I was dreaming it, but just made me sad when I woke up.

#5: My linen closet is really much too small for someone with a severe bed linen addiction.

#6: After I unpack the rest of the book boxes tomorrow, I have to clean like a fiend so I can decorate on Sunday.

#7: My latest Lush order is only "en route to Illinois." What is up with that? Grrr.

#8: I'm really bothered by #4.

#9: Somebody spammed up the Leptard's blog page and so far nobody's fixed it. Double grrr.

That's enough whining for one day. Time for the Jammies to shut up.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

police psych eval florist question

Ahhh, yes, ye old referral log. Gotta love it.

"multiple sclerosis -died -fox"

Yes, I have MS. No, I haven't died. Yes, I've been told I'm a fox. *blush*

Wow, someone in Eugene, Oregon got an url for my blog via e-mail. Now 'fess up and tell me who sent it to you. I want to know who thinks my blather is worth passing on. *grin*

"flu shot gluteus maximus"

Two of you looking for this--trust me, get your flu shots in the arm. If the nurse whacks a muscle, better that your arm be a bit sore than that you can't sit down for a day.

For the dozens of you looking for "contemporary bathrooms" on Google Image Search--how bored ARE you? I've checked out of curiosity, and my blog isn't on the first eight pages of results. You've got an awful lot of time to waste, that's all I can say!

"complaints about colyte"

Lots of complaints--it's totally disgusting, trying to keep down a gallon of salt water in eight hours. If you have to do it, you have my sincerest sympathy (and I'd recommend a 'scrip for Phenergan, too). And on a related note, to the person searching "What if colyte doesn't work," gah, what a nightmare. I can't imagine drinking that swill to no effect. I'm gonna have nightmares now, thanks.

To whoever at the Kohler company checked out my blog: You folks make awesome tubs, and I've linked to your site a few times. Care to give me a free tub for the publicity? You're getting more and more from all these people who keep pulling my blog up on Google--you'll get your money's worth in a year or so, honest, and I don't want much, just the two-person overflow jacuzzi with colored lights and the ceiling-fill spout.

"cramps diarrhea vomit worst story laxative"

Yuk. I am so not telling my worst cramps diarrhea vomit story on here--I'd like to keep my six or so readers. Go read the Best of Craigslist for that kind of stuff.

To the person from Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek, CA: First of all, a friend who works for Kaiser in SoCal says you've got a lot of nice weird people at your office (lots of IT geeks, I understand), so hello. Second, thank you for coming back to read my blog after your first look. Thirdly, you win the prize for most creative Google search. I'm also appalled that my blog is the seventh link when you put "police psych eval florist question" in. Finally, what did you decide were the appropriate flowers to send to someone who just flunked the psych eval for a police job? In case it ever comes up in my life, of course...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

So it's been three years.

And MS is now just a part of my life, not the ruling force. The tingling in my feet, legs and hands has never left me. Some days, it's worse than others, but it's always here. Ironic, considering that it was the neuropathy that led me to a doc for diagnosis. In that, I was amazingly lucky--there are people who wait sixteen years for a diagnosis and I had one in six weeks.

Some other things I've been lucky in with regard to the MS:

My "MS Guru," Patty, who is a client, a nurse, and was diagnosed 13 years ago. She was absolutely correct--the first year is all about the MS. Working in the garden led to thoughts of "How long can I do this? IhaveMS." Flirting led to thoughts of "Should I tell him IhaveMS?" It went on, and then, thankfully, I moved on.

My neurologist, Dr. Cohen, and the rest of the cheerful and friendly staff at the Mellen Center at the Cleveland Clinic. It's worth the 45 minute drive to get up there. As an aside, I'm very glad his first nurse practioner, Nurse Tardy, retired. I thought I was going to pop a blood vessel the morning she walked in past me 20 mintues after our scheduled appointment time! The new NP is a punctual, friendly, warm person, yay!

The fact that my MS is mild, and that the resident at my GP's office just wouldn't quit until we knew what was wrong with me. Thank you, Dr. Adolph, and I hope that whatever line of medicine you chose after your time at my doc's office, you have patients who appreciate your tenacity and your capacity for listening.

The fact that the MS community is so warm and open and caring. To the folks in the local society, who made a nervous, shy stranger very welcome at that first Christmas luncheon and the folks at Jooly's Joint, who I met when I was terrified that my bout of optic neuritis was going to lead to permanent blindness in my left eye. Thank you all.

Some things I'm not thankful for:

Well, okay, I have MS. It's mild and it's in remission, but it still sucks.

The cost of my meds--$17,000/year. That's about the Federal poverty guideline for a family of three.

The MS depression which has me taking a little more Lexapro every year, when I managed my depression for 25 years without meds. I still hate that I'm dependent on a pill to keep from sleeping 24/7 when things go wrong.

So it's been three years, and I'm lucky things aren't worse, and I'm proud of me for making sure MS is just a minor part of my life, not the central facet.

Friday, November 17, 2006

4:45 p.m., November 17th, 2003

When I got home from work and checked the messages, there was an urgent one from the resident at my doctor's office who'd been treating me. Unfortunately, the office had closed at 4:30. I knew it had to be the results of the 2 MRIs I'd had the previous week--one of my brain and one of my spine. The MRIs were the culmination of six weeks of intensive testing. On September 30th, 2003, I went to the doctor because I'd had pins and needles in my feet, legs, hands and arms for over a week and they just wouldn't stop. Because I'm overweight and my grandfather was diabetic, the resident explained to me, what I was feeling was probably diabetic neuropathy, and I should have a blood test and see him in a week for the results.

When I went back in a week, the blood test showed normal sugar levels. Okay, said this bulldog resident, maybe you've got a pinched nerve. Let's do a nerve conduction test and an electromyogram. Turns out it wasn't a pinched nerve. Okay, says the resident, let's do a blood test for lupus. Nope. Wasn't lupus. This was where it started to get way scary.

The doc explained to me that we had eliminated all of the "easy" answers--testing for diabetes, lupus, a pinched nerve, he'd eliminated MS because my strength was good, etc. We were down to things like ALS (Lou Gehrig's disese) or a brain or spinal tumor, so it was time for MRIs. Somewhere I have a file where I wrote up all my impressions from inside the machine--thinking about writing it out was all that kept me sane in there. No, I'm not claustrophobic, it was BORING. 'Nuff said. Anyway, I had the MRIs on 2 successive nights, and then waited a week for answers. When my doc did have them, he called at home while I was at work.

After a night of freaking out, not sleeping, barfing, etc., I called my doctor's office the minute they opened on the 18th. The resident who'd been seeing me wasn't in, and my doctor wasn't in. I very carefully explained that I was going to work, and one of them needed to call me AT MY WORK NUMBER. When I got there, there was a message on the voice mail, left during my commute, asking me to call. When I did, the nurse asked me if I could come in right away--they had my test results.

Oh, not good. Any time they want you face-to-face, that's just not good. So I left work, flew over to the doc's office, and met with the resident and, for the first time, my primary care physician. After some distress when they saw that I was alone, and a little hemming and hawing about why I would think I had a brain tumor, my doc broke the news.

"You have multiple sclerosis."


"Are you okay?"

"Hmmm. Yes."

Of course, I wasn't, it just hadn't sunk in. I called my boss, told her, got permission to take the rest of the day off, went home, and cried. My tears were probably a 50/50 mix of relief that I didn't have ALS or a tumor and fear about what was in my future.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Two memes

One from Sherri:

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

And one from Jay:

RULES: Each player of this game starts off with 10 weird things/habits/little known facts about yourself. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 10 weird habits/things/little known facts as well as state this rule clearly. No tagbacks.

Okay, I don't know ten people to tag, so anyone who thinks this is kind of cool is welcome to do it.

1. My eyes change color from blue to green to grey depending on my mood and/or what I'm wearing.
2. I actually love my job most of the time.
3. I ordered five pooping reindeer for Christmas--four for presents and one for me.
4. I sing to my dogs, and they each have a special song.
5. I can't seem to write fiction right now. :(
6. My bath addiction is at odds with my dry skin, but the former always wins.
7. Despite my research into their love lives, I don't actually own all that many socks.
8. The ones I do own are sorted by color and arranged in rainbow order in the drawer.
9. The only time I've turned on the television in my bedroom in the last year was to see if it still worked.
10. I'm still not convinced that there isn't a mad duck living somewhere in my basement.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

O Torturous Torment!

No, I am not talking about the aches in my gluteus maximus and my right calf from two hours of mulching on Sunday.

Nor am I talking about trying to explain to a collections representative that a guardianship is more powerful than a mere power of attorney.

I'm certainly not talking about anything to do with Mr. Potato Dick.

I'm not even talking about the soul-searing anguish of discovering that I've put a hole in the heel of my neon-kitty socks.

No, I'm talking about the tortures of the damned. I have to sit here at work for another gross of minutes (yes, exactly 144 minutes) while at home, on my doorstop, is my LUSH order. It's sitting on my doorstep, lonely and waiting for me to come home, open it, sniff everything, sort all of my new stuff into the appropriate hidey-holes around the house, sigh longingly over the items I'm giving as gifts, and then, finally, take a bath with it!

This day will NEVER be over and I will NEVER get home to my Lush. *sob*

Okay, I managed to kill 4 minutes by blogging. I still want my Lush.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

For those using Google to find bathroom pictures

First of all, you'd be better off checking out the Kohler gallery than reading random blogs. Most of the nightmares are in the "Traditional" section--you've been warned.

Second, if you're really that curious about the bathroom of a stranger, here are before and after pictures of mine. For those of you who don't know me, my entire interior was swathed in 1970s Mylar wallpaper when I bought this house two years ago, and I'm removing it at a rate of one room per year.


During the renovation:


From frou-frou to plain jane. Any questions?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Dog Formerly Known As

I can only conclude that my elder dog has decided to change his name. After several days of observation, I have noted that I can call "Stormy" while he is four feet from me and he will not acknowledge even my existence. However, if I call "Dinner," he can hear me from forty feet. He is undoubtedly thinking that humans are stoopid, since it took me so long to figure out the name change. Still, I can have endless moments of entertainment by petting him and saying, "Good Dinner!"

Mom and I had a great time shopping last night. Gabriel Brothers had a very poor selection of boys' clothes, so I still don't have a Christmas or birthday present for Dip, but I had great luck in finding four outfits for Baby Mathgeek (who thankfully is too young to care that she's only getting clothes). I still haven't found anything for little little brother, so the van's going to leave for Texas without a present for him, and I'll keep on looking.

My Christmas list is still about halfway done. I did go over budget last night, but mostly because I found CHRISTMAS SOCKS. They are adorable beyond belief, so I had to get a pair for all of the Christmas boxes that will be going out. Yes, Sherri, Heather, Bri, this means you. No socks for the guys, which is probably a good idea--none of the guys I know are into "cute." I still need presents for: both of my younger brothers, Scarecrow, Dip, my oldest friend in the world and our law clerk. The last one will be easy, though--he adores candy. When VL's secretary handed out bags of Halloween candy, Snoopy spread his all over his desk and sorted it just like a little kid with his loot, and then ate his favorites last. Then he went back to work on the office candy dishes. I could hate him, I really could--he's 37 and way too slim for someone who snarks down all that sugar!

The only productive thing I did today was get a haircut. After a consultation with my stylist, I came to two conclusions. My surgeon was talking out his butt when he said my hair was thinning from the anesthesia (he was looking right at the one thin spot I've had since the late '90s) and cutting my hair shorter would only accentuate the roundness of my face. I'll have to wait until my weight loss shows on my face to go with a shorter cut. I had time beforehand to go buy the rabbit ears I need for my bedroom television, but I couldn't find a RadioShack anywhere in the shopping center clearly marked on the map. By the time I got home, I was in a "screw it" sort of mood and decided I didn't even want to call them. They can do without my ten dollars for another week. Hmpf.

Of course, all the laziness today means I'll pay for it tomorrow, but oh well. Worth it. :-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006


My Lush is still halfway to Ohio.

I'm halfway to getting over Mr. Potato Dick.

Literotica has deleted my stories but not my account--only halfway there.

I'm halfway through my Christmas list.

I don't like being halfway.

A quick giggle

Vegan Lawyer's hubby stopped by to trade cars with her, and while he was waiting for her, he chatted with me for a bit. She obviously had told him about the surgery, because he asked how I was doing (very well!) and if it was a big life change for me (yes, and a good one).

VL came out of her office, and as hubs wasn't quite sure how to end the conversation, he blurted "You have pretty hair" at me and left before I could even stammer out "Thank you!"

Made me grin.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Nah, not so much. Okay, we've elected the first Democratic administration in years, but the election results were not unmixed for me. A friend's husband lost his race for the state house, we're stuck with our oogy state senator, and we've got two more Repugnicans adding to the stranglehold on the state Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the library levy passed without my vote, school levies in a number of municipalities passed, and we've got a smart, scholarly new judge on the 9th District Court of Appeals.

Best of all, though, was that the Jay came up with a new name for me--I am now "Frog Goddess." I cherish this title and will wear it with pride.

I wish my Lush order weren't stuck in Illinois, though. Who knows what kind of cooties it will pick up? Bleargh.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Part of the great American process

Voting, not cheese food, although if you read labels, the making of the latter is also a great American process. I think that there are probably more stringent requirements for the making of cheese food products than there are to insure the fairness and accuracy of voting, but then, I've been a cynic since 2004, when one of Bush's biggest supporters (then and now our State Secretary) supervised an Ohio election riddled with errors and inaccuracies that nevertheless delivered us to Bush, all wrapped up in a pretty red ribbon. That same jerk is running for governor--may his campaign go down in flames! I'm also rather skeptical about the accuracy of our elections given that Diebold, the maker of the electronic voting machines, is a BIG presence in Ohio, and despite numerous tests where their machines have thrown up error after error, the state insists on every precinct using them.

Even though I don't believe in the accuracy of our elections, I get out and vote every year. This year's voting was just a huge exercise in frustration, though, starting from the moment I got out of my car at the polling place.

1. None of the cars pulling out would pause for the thirty seconds it would have taken me to cross the parking lot in front of them, so I had to stand in the rain and wait for a chance to get across the lot and inside.

2. Once in there, none of the tables were marked. Thankfully, I have a loud voice, and when I asked someone for 8-B, a gentleman in the longest (of course!) line told me that was 8-B.

3. When I looked in the mirror this morning, I thought I looked kinda pretty (new hairstyle). Unfortunately, the hottie in the line with me didn't seem to think so (at least, he didn't want to flirt back). And before anyone suggests it, he wasn't gay. No gay man would have been caught dead in those shoes.

4. My ballot (and those of my neighbors, but I don't care about them) didn't have the library levy on it. Evidently despite living in "The City of," I do not live inside the city and do not get to vote for "city issues." I now feel as if I have a $150,000 house on the wrong side of the tracks.

5. The printed instructions for submitting the completed ballot left out a key instruction, leading to much frustration on my part and on the part of the lady next to me.

6. I was late to work after all that mishegoss.

Ah well, at least I voted. Then, after work, I did another fall thing--I went and got my annual flu shot. Why should the state of Ohio be the only one to cause me pain today? :p

Monday, November 06, 2006

Yay for me!

Since July 5th: 62 lbs.
Since August 3rd: 56 lbs.
Since August 23rd: 50 lbs.
Since September 7th: 33 lbs.
Since October 1st: 16 lbs.
Since November 1st: 5 lbs.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I am so blessed in my friends. Many of you know that I got my trust and my heart broken, so I'm not going to go into that again. I just wanted to say thank you to all of the wonderful people who have supported me.

Mallie, who put up with me all day at the expense of her NaNo writing.
Rob and EA and Mark, who offered to beat up the guy who hurt me (or in one case, to "nuke Chicago").
The Scarecrow, who let me see that he does have a brain, he just hides it from most folks.
Mat and SJ and EL and Selena, who said they'd miss me.
Roxanne, who tried her best to make me stay, and accepted it (eventually) when I said I can't.
Mike, who offered hugs and changed his Yahoo av to cheer me up (I :heart: Pooter).
Vella & Lucky, who tried to figure out a way to get me to Texas for Turkey Day.

I am humbled and grateful to find that I have so many wonderful and supportive friends, and I hope that I shall deserve them someday.

Oh, and to the one who said, "I hope someday you will let me be your friend again," there is only one possible answer:

In your dreams, fuckwaffle.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Snobservations again

First off, to whomever from "Chambers of Andrew Trollope QC, London, Lambeth" is surfing the interwebbinet looking for pictures of contemporary bathrooms--don't you have work to do? :p

To Bed, Bath and Beyond--you are NEVAH going to convince me that I should buy expensive cookware if you insist on showing pictures of it with BRUSSELS SPROUTS in it. Ewww, ewww, ewww, get those away from me!

To the sheriff of Summit County--dude, I voted for you because your predecessor was as corrupt as they come. Don't think one vote makes me A. a Republican or B. willing to accept your endorsements for other political offices. You just wasted thirty-nine cents plus the cost of your copier toner.

To Betty Montgomery--your track record as state auditor & state attorney is not good enough to compensate for the fact that you were a member of the state government in a position to supervise, question, and possibly even STOP Mr. Noe from plundering the Bureau of Worker's Compensation to the tune of several million dollars. I will not be voting for you or any other incumbent. I don't hate all politicians, the way your ad says, but I do hate your record of either stupidity or connivance.

And finally, to me--hey, stupid, you've got bruises on your leg and a sore neck & shoulders because you FELL Tuesday. In the cemetery, remember? Duh!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween melancholy

Yesterday was road trip day. Mom had a meeting in Steubenville, so I rode along and navigated. The directions came from Dad's brand-new map program, and were a bit confusing at the end, so she wound up being about fifteen minutes late. I dropped her off and visited the Fort Steuben mall, was fairly underwhelmed and returned to the parking lot to sit in the car and read magazines. When the meeting ended, we went to the post office, then lunch, then Mom dropped a bunch of paperwork off at the county court office.

I fell off the wagon cigarette-wise last weekend, and Mom caught me smoking, so that made for a bit of a quiet drive for a while (btw, I am now back on the wagon!) as we headed out of Steubenville for Pittsburgh. The directions for this leg of the trip were flawless, and at this point, it was still sunny and reasonably warm. The sky started to cloud up as we reached the Penn Hills section of Pittsburgh, and by the time we got to Great-Aunt Cathy's house, it was raining. We were in the house only long enough to look at some pictures and for Mom to show some to Aunt Cathy, then the three of us headed out to find the Allegheny County Memorial Park. Mom's cousin Mary Lou had provided excellent directions, and we didn't have any problem until the last intersection, which was a five-way and not well-marked. Mom asked at one of the gas stations, and we found the cemetery.

Having gotten there, Mom had to do a fair bit of driving around until we found the correct portion of the cemetery, and then the real looking started. As with most cemeteries these days, this one now allows only flush-to-the-ground markers, and Mom and I had to clear leaves off about fifty of them before I located our family (to Mr. Betts--I am very sorry I tripped over your headstone and fell on your grave. I slipped in the wet leaves and caught my foot on the edge. Please forgive me). I cleared the leaves off the family stones, and Mom escorted Aunt Cathy from the car to the plots. The most recent marker is my great-uncle Ed's, from last July. Aunt Cathy talked about how she met him after his discharge from the Army during WWII. My grandmother's parents, Hattie and William, are buried there, as are my mom's twin sisters. Joyce and Nancy were born in 1937, and Nancy was stillborn. Joyce died 8 months later of SIDS, and while I never spoke with my grandmother about this, it has to have shaped the rest of her life.

About half of my grandmother and grandfather's ashes are interred with the family. Grandpa wanted his ashes scattered over the Pacific outside of Santa Barbara, where he and my grandmother had so many lovely vacations. Gramma wanted both of them to be buried with the twins and the rest of the family. She wouldn't explicitly go against Grandpa's wishes, but she couldn't bring herself to carry them out, so Grandpa's ashes stayed in the hall closet for the eight or so years between his death and hers. When she died, Mom and her brothers did the sensible thing and divided up the ashes, burying half and scattering the other half. Aunt Cathy made a reference to the family legend of Grandpa's father, whose ashes were put on a train in Pittsburgh to be buried at the family farm in Ohio. When the grieving family got to the train station--no ashes. Great-grandpa may still be riding the rails to this day, and as he worked for the railroad all his adult life, it's fitting.

On the one hand, my trip to the cemetery made me oddly happy. I was glad to have some time with Aunt Cathy, who is amazingly sweet and pretty damn sharp for 84, and glad to have grown up in a close and loving family. On the other hand, a selfish part of me looked at all those joint headstones--"Harriet & William," "John & Mary," "Edward & Catherine," and just felt like such a failure for being the only one in the family to be unmarried. *sigh*

As I'm sitting here writing this, it just occurred to me that the opening scene of the first "Night of the Living Dead" opened with a visit to a Pennsylvania graveyard on a grey and gloomy day. I'm terribly pleased I didn't think of that yesterday while we were there!

We got lost several times on the way from the cemetery to the restaurant Aunt Cathy recommended for dinner, owing to the rain, the early darkness, some vagueness from Aunt Cathy (who drives very little these days) and some inattention from the driver as she and her aunt discussed their addiction to ice cream. Dinner was lovely, even if I did eat myself sick and the restaurant was full of Steeler's memorabilia. After we dropped Aunt Cathy off at home, we got lost again trying to find the PA turnpike, and when we did, it was pouring rain, the road was full of big trucks, and it was pretty scary. When we crossed the Ohio border, we both took a deep breath, which turned out to be a mistake, as someone must have hit or scared a skunk recently. Eww. Nonetheless, the trip was much easier from that point on--the rain even stopped!

We were at Mom & Dad's by 9:40, and I was home and drying my feet by 10. All in all, it was a good, if sad, Halloween day.