New habits living alone

My new stage of life has created new habits, procedures and practices. Living alone, after raising a family and being married, for what my heart thought would be forever, has created a lifestyle I was unprepared for. Everyday brings a new adventure.

For well over 22 years, I never woke myself up or had to make coffee. I am totally unfamiliar with how to set the alarm clock. The alarm on my phone is not loud enough, even planted on a docking station. Stumbling over the dog and canine toys on the floor in the morning to make coffee is still a foreign practice. I not only have to make the coffee – it isn’t delivered to me in bed anymore. I’m still shocked when I wake up. The dog has learned to dodge me, especially if I can’t find my glasses.

Getting the trash out to the enormous vessel on wheels is a monumental task. Then, the small bag of trash in the ginormous vessel on wheels needs navigated to the street on a designated day and time. I feel a little guilty from all those years of nagging the kids to get the trash out to the curb. My sons were famous in Covington Woods  for chasing down the garbage truck, dressed in whatever they’d been sleeping in.

Meeting decent dietary requirements is still rocking between “I know better” and “who gives a rat’s ass”. There have been a lot of wasted trips to the grocery store. It seems to be a difficult endeavor to purchase food. Real food – not cookies and bottled water. I wander around the store with no list or menu and leave with 3 bottles of wine. The emotional excuses are stupid but still understandable. I don’t buy in quantities anymore and all portions are too large. I can’t eat a whole pie – even though the challenge is enticing. I don’t want to eat the same thing everyday for a week. My cooking skills are not the best. Frozen dinners are awful. See where I’m going with this – It would be best to move the smoke alarm out to the garage and keep on trying.

I’ve owned ten vehicles in my life. I just changed the registration sticker in one of them for the first time. It sounds like a silly accomplishment but I didn’t know if I’d be able to get the old one off and get the new one on without screwing it up. Per square inch, it is an expensive sticker!

I had never used the riding lawn mower in the garage. Since finding the manual was overwhelming, I went to the internet for spiritual guidance. It gave me the direction needed for all mechanics except the one problem of driving over a ridge or hole in the yard. It took me a few times of bouncing off the seat to realize that is what makes the damn thing stop running.

Simple home repairs are manageable if I wasn’t afraid of breaking the faucet off of the outside of the house. It irks me to have to call the plumber to replace a rubber washer in a faucet because I couldn’t wrench the damn thing apart. I was able to use the fancy, battery operated wine bottle opener when I had a broken arm. Someone needs to invent something like that for faucet repair.

Social anxiety is a weird, new experience. In the past year, I attended a couple of funerals alone. This was an excruciating, lifetime first for me. It didn’t help that the driver side door handle broke on my SUV. There is nothing more horrifying than being crotch up in the windshield, dragging my ass across the center console, getting into the driver’s seat in front of a funeral home. I know Aunt Altie was laughing from heaven xx

A social event at a friend’s home, produced an instance that struck me sideways. Someone asked me out. It was a shudder moment that left my mind racing for a way to handle the situation. I am naive in that I don’t realize one’s intentions. I just thought he was being kind. Another broken heart left in the flying dust of the highway.

The DeWalt drill is now my new friend. My Realtor® signs had always been put together for me. Today, I drilled holes in a post, found the right size screws, washers and bolts. It took 3 HOURS but I think I know how to do it now! The drill scared the bejesus out of me when the drill bit flew out of it. No injuries to report.




















Airport opinion

Frequent and recent travel brought up opinions in reference to various airports. There is a reason to believe some may change for the better if it has been decades since you’ve landed there. Constant travel, especially connected with your occupation, convey preference for ease of exiting the joint and layover conveniences. Globe trotters and the family group of vacation awe gawkers are busy with the entire airport experience by stopping in front of you when you’re imitating an OJ Simpson maneuver to catch a flight.

Way back in the college days, my friends and I would spend spring break in New York City. One reason was the drinking laws allowed 18 year old naive fools the ability to make asses of themselves. The Greater Pittsburgh International Airport seemed huge and intimidating to those of us who rarely or never had flown before. It had been entertainment to make a day trip to the airport to watch a plane take off or land. This airport became a hub of comfort and familiarity as we all became frequent fliers. Then all hell broke loose in 1992 when the shiny and bright new complex was opened at PIT. People are still moaning for the “old” airport. No one likes taking a tram or train from terminal to baggage. We liked walking up and down the steps, dragging our Samsonites to the back door to be picked up curbside.

Those spring break trips landed at LaGuardia Airport. It was as if you were landing in a black and white photo from the graphic artist’s point of view. In fact, it was reminiscent of the brochures female high school graduates received in the 70’s touting the glamorous life of becoming a “stewardess”. I did a layover at LaGuardia Airport the other day and was astounded at the revamp made to the gate areas. It looked like something out of George Jetson’s world. Every table seat had an IPad available. Crisp and swift wait people were serving food and the environment exuded the high end oyster bar or cafe’ titillation. Sure beats the days at Houston Hobby Airport, laying my sleeping toddlers on a blanket on the filthy floor and trying desperately to hold my breath in the restroom.

We used to gauge airports by the availability to get to a smoking area between flights or the ability to make a quick cab getaway to an outside eatery or bar. It is now a day trip to exit an airport in a timely fashion. Smoking is out of vogue and standing in a plexiglass room, filled with smoke is not conducive to smell like an ashtray at your 2:00 pm business meeting. It isn’t proper business etiquette to drink a beer at 7:45 am in the airport bar because you could smoke, if you purchased an alcoholic beverage!

Airport security is a touchy subject. It may look like you slept in your clothes when appearing at a meeting because the TSA tossed every item in your meticulously packed bag. I am always “randomly” selected to have every item I am carrying, carefully examined by security, especially when I am traveling with one of my kids. I was asked for my 9 year old niece’s identification, multiple times, when checking our bags curbside at Dulles International Airport. She wasn’t even big for her age and was carrying a Hello Kitty backpack. Maybe the checker didn’t understand the words, “She’s 9 years old!”. Co-workers intimately get to know you when a TSA associate is taking everything out of your bag and your dirty gutchies are out on the table.

Flying is an improvement when comparing it to a ship or Greyhound. Trains aren’t bad if the plan is to view the countryside. Local trips are still more efficient by car if the destination is within a 4 to 6 hour window. It saves time and you have a vehicle when you get there. Driving does insure that I’m not going to be wedged between 2 individuals with their elbows in my breasts, their dog breath blowing in my face and the window seat passenger’s incessant need to urinate every 12 minutes!



LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport

Garage sale observations

Each region of the USA has a garage sale aptitude. Previous experience did not seem to make a bit of difference with the rhythm and dance of each community from Florida to Pennsylvania and different locations in Texas. We all know Texas is like it’s own country. What happens in Brownsville is foreign to Fort Worth.

Advertising plays a huge part in the prospective customer’s expectations. An estate sale will conjure up the customer seeking the Antique Road Show treasure they can retire with. We did make sure there were no $100.00 bills stuffed into book pages or rolled into a pair of socks. A yard sale banks on a casual customer and those flying the nest with tighter budgets or the presumption you are willing to all but give away the merchandise. The famous garage sale fires up the trepidation that there may be further entrance into the home or higher end assets must be protected from the elements. Multiple times we had offers to purchase the home or property. I don’t feel the inquiries were sincere. It was more or less the human need for further information. Not all sales are out of desperation, foreclosure or a move out.Garage sale observations

Pennsylvania sale attendees seem to be aggressive prior to opening day. They knock on the front door and ask if they can see the forthcoming riches. It doesn’t concern them that it is dawn and you’re in your robe with bed head and lion breath. It doesn’t faze them to bang on the doorbell after dark when man and beast is already butt up on the couch. They are non-apologetic and even act a little ticked that you won’t let them traipse through your home.If I didn’t know any better, they camp down at the stop sign until “Sale is On”. I even had a woman ask me what I was going to do with the valuable jewelry and glass! I informed her there wasn’t any valuable jewelry or glass. She said, “Honey, we know all the relatives strip everything bare before the garage sale!” I informed her that it was my junk. I’m very much alive at age 27 and I didn’t have any of that stuff!

The Quaker State buyers snatch and grab. They don’t even examine the items. It is as though they are on a game show and the clock is ticking. A favorite and common comment – after accumulating all of the highest priced items, is to offer you $8.00 for the entire mountain of merchandise. Itemization may total $482.50 and they are ready with the shocked and disgusted garage sale face. The attitude is they are there to do you a favor and you are an ingrate. I favored the patron feigning  to be deaf and waiving the $8.00 at me because they were stroking out because you are telling them, “no” to their cheap ass offer.

Florida had the most polite and gracious group imaginable! During multiple garage sales, they would line up in a formation similar to the Metro bus riders in downtown Houston. It was fascinating. Hail and tropical storms did not hither this assembly. It reminded me of the affluent bunch politely scouring the shoe sale at Nieman Marcus in Dallas. Their hearts are beating wildly but you can not appear to be uncouth. To our knowledge there was neither theft or breakage at the Florida sales. Offers were reasonable. No one asked me to deliver a furniture item to their 36th floor condo, 84 miles down the coast. I still shake my head at the man who purchased the pile of debris that was swept into a pile in the middle of the garage floor at the closing of a sale. What on earth was he going to do with wood chips and a very small piece of chain?

Oh, Texas, my Texas! Garage sales in a Houston subdivision are civil and non-eventful. It was the quintessential block party. You may have lived next door to the engineer from Exxon and his Junior League wife for 4 years and didn’t know them. Stick a Weber grill in the driveway with a table full of your kid’s Transformer underpants and it’s old home week. You would’ve thought we were joined at the hip. I wouldn’t have know these people if I ran into them at the corner dry cleaners. It was a discovery of we golf at the same club and share the same arm pit specialist. They pay what is posted and notice that the satchel you pack their new belongings into is from Ann Taylor. You pick and choose who to give your prized shopping bags to.Some of these egos can’t tolerate a Walmart plastic bag. A bag from Barneys will actually yield an additional sale because they think you’re a regular shopper at a place that has extremely overpriced pants.

Garage sales in the paradise of Paris, Texas let you know you are a real person among good people, except for the family dropping “F” bombs on each other. During my short tenure at country living, in the bible belt, this behavior was, as my grandmother would say, “rather unbecoming”! “Yeah, baby”, every character type, cowboy, farmer, Hispanic, MeeMaws, ranchers, city folk, single parents, widows and widowers marched through at a consistent stream. This group didn’t do “the line-up”. A large number of them stopped by the house the day before the sale to observe the setup! In fact, the first customer didn’t appear until a half hour after opening. Country folk like to visit. I had 7 gentleman tell me they lived alone and some even told me how big their house was – 4 bedroom, 3 baths! Instead of, I guess they see who is available at garage sales! I did try to introduce a few to each other but I don’t know if there were any hook ups! Over a 2 day period, almost everything got sold, even an old bicycle seat.

True and experienced garage sale buyers, eager to be the first customer, fancy themselves on presenting a $100.00 bill for an item priced at $.25. They know it will wipe out your cash fund, if you have that much in your cash fund. They are banking on you to say, “just take it”.

Garage sales are social events and a way of clearing out the closets and out buildings. My favorite part is watching the eager and ecstatic people so pleased with their new treasures.




Rescue dogs

The most intelligent dogs I’ve had the privilege of living with have been mixed breed rescue dogs. This is not to say that the pedigreed dogs were stupid. It is a comparative observation. It doesn’t lessen the love. The mixed breed dogs were quick to learn commands and would do anything to please. There were a lot less health issues as well as being a lot less maintenance. Rescue dogs are capable of having as much high heart value as an expensive, paper’d, pedigreed dog.
The CockaDocker and Beagle-Basset were not the dogs mustering attention during long walks. The Dachshund and Cocker Spaniel were always the relatable dogs. “Oh, we had a dog just like that.” The Cockapoo was always mistaken to be a Terrier and the CockaDocker was always thought to be a baby Lab, Most of the time, there were multiple dogs in our household. When one dog garners attention, it was as if to say, one child is beautiful and the other two are homely! Just like a jury of your peers, we did work hard at creating personality for the quiet puppy or the one with an “up front” personality.
Texi, our Beagle-Basset was a notorious bitch, to say the least. At the time, she was the lone female with two male cohorts. She was amicable and well behaved but did like laying on her duck rug in the corner of the breakfast room. I made her a red lace dress out of fabric printed with a young Elvis Presley on it, for Halloween. This was almost an exercise of desperation to liven this young lady up. Believe me, with an active young family and a couple of jobs, I was lucky to pluck an eyebrow let alone make a dog dress! Femininity blossomed from her spirit when I gave her a middle name, Texi Anne. A resident Diva Dog with a bark like a Basset Hound was akin to an unattractive, diamond decorated aunt who always brought candy but bitched about the entrée served for dinner. This precious rescue dog ended up being a savior when someone, uninvited, entered our home. Texi Anne took a mega bite out of the intruder. She came to us, on ‘Go Texan Day” from a friend who witnessed Texi being thrown from a car on FM 1960 in Houston, Texas, one sleety, rainy night. We had her for 12 years. She is still missed.




Harley, a pure bred mini Dachshund, was delivered to our door by a neighbor. He was a puppy, as big as my hand. This dog had been bred to be sold, as in money making profit product. We were the last chance to take him because the families he had previously been sold to brought him back because he kept crying. Being the runt, the breeder family didn’t want to deal with him. Mr. Runt was obviously cutting into the bottom line. It was either we take him or he was going to the pound.
Harley possessed an uncanny and comical personality. He’d do laps in the bathtub and take the king size comforter off of our bed and drag it through the house. His legs were exactly one inch long and at his heaviest, he weighed 10 pounds. Har was an alpha dog with the management style of a Harvard Business School graduate. If the doorbell rang, Harley would lie in his dog bed and bark for one of the other dogs to rush the front door to announce the visitor or dinner delivery. This dog would come when he was called and show up at meal time. That was the extent of his disciplines. He ran our home like a drill sergeant and we willingly fell for his every whim. He was happy being carried around and loved on constantly. We didn’t have favorites but Harley was a remarkable treasure of the heart.
Our smartest rescue dog is a Schnauzer mix. Vincent Star (Vinnie) is addicted to television. His favorite show is “Lucky Dog” and anything on Animal Planet is a strong substitute. If allowed, he’d monopolize the TV with his programming and forfeit PupCorn, his favorite treat, at the instant he hears Brandon McMillon’s voice on Saturday mornings. Vinnie is extremely disciplined and rarely misses a command. His life purpose is to please and be loved. Except for lying on a freshly painted baseboard, I can’t remember any other instance of him being subjected to dog jail. Vinnie is the poster puppy for play, performance and pleasure. Approximately 12 years ago, a neighbor rescued Vinnie from the local animal shelter. The neighbor died 2 weeks later. Instead of returning the 12 week old puppy to the shelter, Vincent became the third Musketeer of our gaggle of dogs.
I read an article in The Dallas Morning News, Sunday, August 5, 2012 in reference to a photographer in Taiwan, making a social statement by photographing dogs immediately before they are euthanized. The article prompted me to write the blog entry, Dogs to advocate for 4 legged furry friends. Again, if you are unable to give a home to one of God’s innocent creatures, please advocate for them.


A multiple number of transitions and changes have me focusing on chairs. It appears to be a re-appearing theme in my frazzled brain. Trying times create a need to capture sanity saving modes to fixate upon. This week, it is chairs.

Recently, my brother, Humbucker, and I cleared out the family home to ready it for sale. In Dads new chairthe corner of the Florida room was the Lazy Boy chair he and I purchased for our father. The chair Dad had been sitting in for decades was decaying. Our mother had made covers to camouflage the worn patches. I am sure to make the chair socially acceptable was a consideration. During my last visit, I didn’t know it was my last visit with my Dad, I noticed that when he would push the chair back to recline, it would bounce and almost slip out of gear. I was concerned his head would hit the terrazzo tile floor. Dads favorite chairHumbucker and I thought it would be a glorious idea to surprise Dad with a new chair. After returning to our respective homes, we researched and found a chair which most resembled the one Dad loved so much. Ordered it, had it delivered and put into place. We were naive thinking it would be well received. Our Mau was thrilled and excited about it.

Needless to say, when I called Dad on delivery day, he said the chair didn’t “sit” the same. It was difficult to push it into the recline position for him. He had acute rheumatoid arthritis. Oh, I went into a panic. It was supposed to be an improvement. Mau told me the delivery personnel were kind enough to put the old chair on the curb and someone picked it up within the first hour. My heart sank. Always optimistic, I told Dad he had to break in the new chair for it to work the same as his old one. He graciously thanked us for the chair but our hearts were still broken over the decision of trying to change something so integral to his comfort. Dad passed away 6 weeks later. The chair is now in Humbuckers home. I am sure he thinks about the events woven through it. We always try and hang onto a thread of history.

A small portion of the furniture cleared from the family home in Florida was moved to my home in Texas. The movers were conscientious and efficient. I screwed up and missed a small occasional chair on the check list. I signed off not missing the item during the mini chaos. Mau loved the little chair Maus chairbecause she could easily move it to where it was immediately needed. So did I, especially during the months it took me to wrap up business in Florida. I took a photo of it with my phone because it was where I kept our parent’s photo safe from flying paint,contractors and plaster during the last rush of finishing out the house. It was important to keep track of it. During the furniture delivery in Texas, I was stressed from multi tasking, again. I preach all the time about making sure the plan is carried out and the items are accounted for. So, Sorrenson Mayflower Movers out of Orlando – if you find our chair, please let me know.

Moving a lot of furniture around, to make room for more, generates images from the deep crevices of your mind. The little rocker I grew out of a long time ago has had a lot of little butts sit in it since.My little chair with Joe in it Our children and their children have rocked in it, sang, laughed and cried in it. The little rocker now moves from the extra bedroom to the living room for visiting babies. It still has the X’s I carved into the back of it with a metal nail file when I was about 5 years old. X’s seem to be my sign off trademark to this day.

There’s a cherished chair in my home now. I should have learned from previous lessons, but this chair was joy. It was a lounge chair, bought and delivered, to be in place for Lover when he was sprung from open heart surgery. It was a wonderful surprise for him. He loved it. Lovers chair

I’ve witnessed daughter #2 crawling into it, searching for the comfort of her father. Lover’s cousin walks around it but will not sit in it, even if it is the last available chair in the house. His brother appeared nervous when I offered him a seat in it recently. He declined.  At first it was a shrine, I would stare at. Now, it is important to remember the few but vivid memories of moments shared with Lover as he sat proudly in his new chair. Always appreciative of being thought of, he was thrilled if someone gave him a koozie.

Don McLean wrote a song, Empty Chairs, which encapsulates a loss and pain associated with his chair. It was one of my favorite songs when I was a kid. Mr. McLean was wise and  I was young. It will serve a greater purpose to think of the magic in the moments associated with these chairs. The personalities and stages of my life by the side of those walking through with me.

One of the happiest days of my life xx

One of the happiest days of my life xx



The things our children’s father did that pissed me off

Happy Fathers Day, PawPaw xx

Happy Fathers Day, PawPaw xx

I’m trying to use some humor here. I loved my kid’s Dad with all my heart, even his faults. It made up all the pieces of his gracious heart and loving disposition. We laughed a lot.

The things our children’s father did that pissed me off:

Lover would take apart the boat, the jeep and parts of the house to remodel, restore and to repair, all at the same time. He was excellent at tearing stuff apart. His schedule to put things back together was not the same as my schedule.

Lover refused to call a contractor to make a household repair. In his defense, they always did a half assed job and he would end up doing it over himself. A fine example is the Hurricane Ike damage to the dining room ceiling that started to disintegrate on Christmas Eve.Hours before we had invited guests to arrive, a great talent, Lover artistically cut the mess out and restored it perfectly. That said, it took 9 months to finish laying the ceramic tile flooring through out the entire house.

Lover never took time to find something. He would just go out and purchase 10+ more! I am now the proud owner of 8 coolers, a guzillion grinding wheels, countless cans of spray paint (lots of the same colors), dozens of pairs of work gloves, tons of nails and screws and every girl’s dream – multiple gas cans and containers.

More is so much better than less. If Lover was sent to the grocery store with a short list, you can bet the farm he would return with 15 bags of salami’s, cheese, beer, hot peppers and a piece of meat I’d never heard of . When I’d ask where the list items were, he would tell me pastrami cost $7.95/pound and he forgot the list in the truck!

Though his pagers, cell phones, Bluetooth, etc., were usually attached to him with some kind of case or clip, Lover always failed to be able to locate them at 5:30am each morning when exiting the house. They were usually found underneath the seat in his truck. The truck keys were usually on the lost list when the panic attack started. One time the entire truck was stolen from a work site with the personal cell phone, checkbook, wallet with credit cards, pager, a very expensive loaded toolbox, 15 pair of Levi’s that had just been picked up from the cleaners and his Whataburger lunch. That was the last time I told him to keep all of his things in the truck where he could find them!

Lover was extremely experienced at driving on the Houston freeways, during rush hour, while talking on the phone, taking notes on his famous steno pad, smoking a cigarette, drinking coffee and steering with his knees as he swore out the window at some moron who had just cut him off. I sometimes was the witness to the “moron holler”. The kids wonder why I’m high strung and nervous!

Lover was very particular how his Levi 501’s had to be creased. When holding the jeans upside down, the side seams are matched from top to bottom with the pockets equal distance apart  from the center creases. I screwed up, before we were married, and didn’t fold and press the Levi’s to spec. I did it once. For over twenty years, Violet, at the dry cleaners on Eldridge Road, Sugar Land, Texas, became Lover’s Levi angel. She had those Levi’s starched, pressed and hanger folded to Lover’s exact requirements.

When the Sunday Houston Chronicle was left all over the ceramic tile floor, the room became a slippery health hazard

Too many times, one of the pickup trucks were overloaded. I’d be told, “Don’t worry about it. It will be okay. You worry too much”. We, at times, resembled the Beverly Hillbillies.

I worked from home during the majority of our marriage. If he was home, the rule was not to swear at the dogs while I was on a conference call. Harley, our dachshund, never failed to pee on the floor when Lover was home. He would step in it and proceed to swear in his beautiful booming voice as I was trying to wind down a million dollar commitment with 7 programmers on the speakerphone in my home office.

The boat was always a bone of contention. It was like Lover’s lover. It always needed something that cost bucks. It had to have pricey accommodations. If there was a weather alert, extreme strides were taken to go to the beach and bring it to our primary residence. The HOA would be typing the violation letter as it was being parked in front of the house. The motor, boat and trailer had to have registrations at three different state agencies. “Someone” was always taking it through an oyster bed or trying to sink it off the Gulf Coast. (You’re supposed to put the plugs back in it before it is launched!) God only knows how much he enjoyed being out to sea and running out of gas as a Carnival Cruise ship was coming straight at us! Taking that walk on the wild side.

Happy Fathers Day, Lover

The father of my children has been gone for two Fathers Days. Last Fathers Day, I didn’t even know what was going on. I was lost and it was the first day I was totally alone since his death on June 1. I transplanted a tree in the backyard. It quickly died within weeks. I took it as a sign that there was no hope in the world. Through a lot of trials and tribulations this past year, a grip on my life, as it is now, has taken a lot of turns.

I miss my husband. Our kids miss their father.

What I would give for him to leave his dirty socks on the living room floor or empty beer cans on the table on the back porch. It would thrill me to see a broken carburetor on the glass top dining room table or to hear him singing a George Jones song from the garage.

Hold your Dads close. Tell them now how much you love them and appreciate them – everyday. We did.


Witness to my mother’s life

When I was about a year old, my mother was shopping in the PX on the base in Cherry Point, NC where my father was stationed. She purchased a pound of ham from the deli. By the time she reached the check out, I had eaten the entire pound of lunch meat. There were no scan labels in those days. She told the cashier to weigh me on the scale and deduct a pound from my given weight for price purposes.

On Easter Sunday’s, it was a tradition, for my sister and I,  to wear our mother’s Easter hat and high heels to have our picture taken in front of our house. She was so proud of us. I could feel it. My brother, her little man, dressed in a suit complete with bow tie and suspenders would pose perfectly with his Easter basket.

A few days before each Mother’s Day, our Dad would purchase hundreds of flowering plants. We were recruited to assist in planting the flowers all around the house and in the planters. I say, recruited, but we were useless participants. The display was always lovely, large and ostentatious. Dad would spend most of the time deciding on color coordination and keeping us from crushing and maiming the blooms. Mau would act like she had no idea what was going on outside even though the noise was at kamikaze aircraft levels. Always the humorist, Dad would keep telling us to cut out the grab ass and laugh every time a pallet of exotic color exploded on the driveway. When the gazillion flowers were strategically in place, all the walkways were hosed off and the containers discarded, we were finally told to go in the house and tell Mau there was a huge surprise for her outside! Of course, she would act extremely surprised and ohh and ahh at every turn of the property. My brother, sister and I were the recipients of the greatest gift for receiving the memory.

Christmas was surreal and magical because of our mother. She set the expectations higher than possible and worked diligently to make it happen. We poured pounds of sugar all over the kitchen baking cookies. There were always multiple Christmas trees to be glorified in the house. The lights on the evergreens outside were something like Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation. We were then decorated, stuffed into snowsuits and hauled all over Pittsburgh to children’s holiday events, photos with Santa, church and Sunday School programs and visits with friends and relatives.The happening of Santa’s delivery always included every whim, wish and want a child of the world could ever think of. I always wondered how she fit in the hair appointment at the beauty salon to get all of her hair methodically formed into “french curls”. As an adult looking back, each holiday was perfection with laughter and chaos.

I remember Mau proudly telling everyone her favorite gift was a scrap of foil wrapping paper my three year old brother had given her. He told her he wanted her to have something pretty.

During my 7th Christmas, I was bothered because a neighbor friend of mine did not receive a gift during the party gift exchange at school. I later learned it was because she did not have a gift to share. She was one of nine children, wore tennis shoes in the snow and her coat was a thin windbreaker jacket. Winters were rugged in Pennsylvania and her hike to school was farther than mine. My mother, not wanting to have a second of unhappiness shroud my soul, bought, wrapped and created magic for my little friend. To this day, I remember Arlene’s shaking hands as she accepted and unwrapped the present. The joy in that moment superseded all of the other glitter. The memory of my mother’s compassion for me and Arlene was insurmountable.

Summer camp was always an arduous event for me. Now, I know why it was important to have my silly ass thrown out into a world different than Pleasant Hills, PA. At the time it appeared to be an escapade of campfire smoke, food I wouldn’t like and a panic over a Snicker bar shortage. I went to a camp in Angola, NY. Geez, that was out of state! How far would my mother go to get rid of me? – was what went through my mind! The traditional breakfast before camp drop off was always corn fritters smothered in powdered sugar and all the other brunch accoutrements. I would whine with worry over losing my spending money. What if my parents forgot to pick me up? I don’t know those people at camp, etc. Mau would offer the usual reassurances. One week did not equal a million years. There were enough new clothes and toothbrushes in my bags to supply every camp participant. Camp did not serve poison in the mess hall. My exit was with trepidation. The return was always, as she said, one of the best memories of my life.

There was only a handful of times I witnessed my mother crying. When she was in her mid twenties, her best and lifelong friend, Nira, died, leaving five tiny children. Mau took us to a South Park picnic pavilion, which held a lot of joyous memories. While I entertained my younger siblings, my mother cried her grief stricken heart out. I didn’t know how to make it better. She cried after my little girl was killed in a car accident. My crying made her cry even more. One time, she cried when we were at the airport in Pittsburgh when I was returning home to Houston. I was taken aback because she was always such a brave soldier. She cried when my father died. She cried when my husband died. She wasn’t a fan of my husband. She cried because my heart was broken. It was extremely uncommon. A strong woman in every respect. I would boohoo if I yelled at my kids and hurt their feelings for breaking something or each other.

Her laughter rings in my ears when I remember her and my sister wrestling over the last serving of “second day spaghetti”. She roared with laughter trying to get out of the back seat of my college boyfriends Mustang at Tastee Freeze. She didn’t laugh too much when my Aunt was stuffing chicken into her purse at Johnny Garneau’s Buffet and my father wrote, “Watch the chicken on the left disappear” on the linen napkin for me to read out loud at the table! She laughed later at the outcome, not the act. My father’s crazy antics and stories always brought uproarious laughter out of her. He worked hard at making simple moments into revolutionary amusing elements. After dinner, he would lay in the middle of the hall floor where we would all have to walk around him,  while my mother would bark orders for us to clear the table and load the dishwasher. It was the same clamorous routine every night. We were all exercising our “outside voices” in the dining room and Dad would say, “I’m going home if this noise keeps up.” She would poke him with her foot and tell him, “Fool, you are home and you’re stuck with us.”  They were made for each other.

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mother. She died last October and my heart is broken missing her. You always need your mother, no matter how old you are. I miss her guidance, comfort and insane opinions. I still have her all encompassing love around me. Being a mother, myself, the most poignant thing you can share – is yourself. It all goes so fast.

I love you, Mau, even though you yelled at me for standing on the headboard of my bed to reach the window to talk to my boyfriend in the drivewayxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxMe - Mau Ormond Beach









Monuments, wedding bands, grave markers & everlasting love

- Mik Everett

– Mik Everett

I have been postponing the purchase, creation and permanence of a monument for my precious husband’s grave. It is funny how your mind doesn’t work properly when half of you is missing. I have a fear of not being able to find his grave. I have a fear of being sorry I made the wrong choices. He wouldn’t approve of anything other than the marker provided by the VA. I heard many times, over many years, ” put me in a wooden box and throw me in the ocean when I die. Don’t be spending all that money on stuff that doesn’t matter.” I would then inform him, “Don’t worry about it. I need to die first because I wouldn’t be able to live without you.” Sad fact, I am existing without him.

There is a deja vu in making choices for things you will have hanging around for decades. It took me the better part of a year to say yes to my husbands wedding proposal. He didn’t actually propose. He told every human being he came in contact with that we were getting married. Choosing wedding bands summed up the same mind dilemma I am having now with the grave monument. It had nothing to do with how I felt about my future. Married or not, I was going to be with the love of my life till “death do us part.” Those words really had no meaning to me until the “death do us part” actually and unexpectedly happened. Wedding rings are something you have to live with day in and day out. They had to be just right. Not too wide and not to gaudy with a reflection of who we actually are. They’re a proclamation to society. That part always bothered me because I picture a cave man dragging his cave woman by the hair and screaming to the other cave people, “this is my cave woman!”

Always marching to the beat of a different drummer, it was important to us to know we were together forever with everlasting love. The wedding rings were part of the permanence. It made for memorable events. We learned a lot about each other in the transaction of choosing styles and price. It was a surprise to know what was truly important to him. A diamond engagement ring was included in the ring round-up of dancing from jeweler to gold and diamond retailer. I came to know my happiness superseded finance, though my taste was simple. Joy and being proud of the achievement radiated from my prospective husband. It was as though the “deal was sealed”. I was elated in sharing the symbolic time with him. Writing about this remembrance in our lives has evoked a moment of happiness in me.

The grave monument will be the “forever” in my life time. It is evoking a similar correlation to the purchase of the wedding rings except I am doing it alone. I say, I am doing it alone but his voice is in my head. His feelings are in my heart. I still feel him walking beside me but then reality kicks in. Learning to be just me again has not been an easy endeavor. It’s a good thing my preferences are usually simple and minimalist in nature. Preliminary research has presented some examples of extreme grief exhibited in multiple ways and means. It is not my intention to leave all of my feelings and price tag hanging from an over-extravagant exhibition at the graveyard. My precious husband would surely be “rolling over in his grave.”

We never discussed epitaphs except the famous one, probably presented from a Facebook passage, that said, “I told you I was sick.” My husband was an award winning writer. It creates a need to put a poignant phrase on the granite. Do I write something myself? Do I put a quote on it from a song? His most famous saying was, “Now, here’s the deal” which was used many a time for problem solving purposes and to teach life lessons to our kids. In fact, our oldest daughter created a sign with that verse on it as a remembrance for her Dad.

It has been a compromise to appease the rest of the family during this turbulent and trying expedition. He was a part of their lives, but he was my world. I will not be asking advice or opinion for this decision. It may rock some hemispheres if a quote from a Led Zeppelin song appears on the marker on the Oklahoma prairie. This resolution is personal and mine. Just like the wedding bands, the grave monument will be there a long time. It’s a symbol of everlasting love.



Is the Levoxyl recall really a recall?


Levoxyl 01-2014When is Levoxyl going to be available? Will Levoxyl become available again? When trying to gain answers to a mystery – you start to question the sources of information when seeking answers to the conundrum.

Levoxyl, (levothyroxine sodium), previously manufactured by King Pharmaceuticals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc, is no longer in production due to smells being emitted by some container situation. After some preliminary research due diligence, another reason production was halted may be due to a profit gain/loss decision to move the manufacturing to another facility.

When a company has to answer to shareholders, it is always a money decision. A recall has to ring adverse when presented to the public keeping consumers “informed” and investors “happy” in harmony. A voluntary recall is not the same tiger as a mandatory recall by the FDA. It would upset the public to hear a necessary prescription was out of production because it wasn’t keeping the money bags content. Shareholders want to be held in high regard when it comes to media output. A bad smell from a container almost conveys a sobersided directive of grievous content.

A quick, brief and analphabet review of the Pfizer board of directors reveals credentials conducive to profit over health ethics. I personally have been a director on multiple boards with members not having a business clue to the company mission, means or mechanics of the organization, with one being an exception. The Pfizer board does have a lot of fancy titles and upper echelon corporate titles.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists website claims, according to Pfizer, Levoxyl will become available March 2014. This may be more of a hypothesis than fact. As of the date of this post, I have been unable to verify any information in reference to a date Levoxyl will become available or if it will ever become available.

The repercussions of not having Levoxyl is pragmatic. Beside the fact many families are affected by plant closings – which is tragic and can take another bandwagon tour in itself, thyroid patients unable to get their hands on Levoxyl now have a diminished quality of life. I know because I am unable to fill my long term prescription for Levoxyl. Health care professionals uninterested or unknowingly think other drugs such as Synthroid or generics can be automatically substituted for Levoxyl. Patients know this is not true. It takes a true time commitment with qualified endocrinologists to know everyone reacts differently to different drugs.

Generics are not the same as name brands. Research for this post resulted in seeing a lot of formulary lists for health insurance providers. Health insurance companies are quick to say generics are sufficient. Their primary concern is not for your health. It is to watch profits soar. If your health was a primary mission, formulary lists would not be necessary.

I found out my Levoxyl prescription could not be filled the day after my beloved husband passed away. The nurse practitioner and pharmacists did not have an explanation as to why it was not available. I found the information myself and informed them. I am on my third substitute in 8 months. Blood tests have revealed the current substitutions are not the same. My thyroid levels communicate why my hair is falling out and clogging drains and snarling the vacuum cleaner. My skin is so dry my hands are cracking and snag leggings and fine fabrics. I am lethargic – sleeping twice as much as a normal human being. Intolerance to cold is unfavorable with frigid polar vortexes rampaging. The thermostat is cranked and I’m still wearing a coat around the house. It is best explained as feeling like you are walking through the bottom of a huge swimming pool. I am exhausted, fatigued and frustrated. Blood tests are a true gauge of physical limitations. I thought I was just severely heartbroken and grief stricken. It obviously is not a good time for a compounded predicament.

This is clearly an unscientific and non-professional opinion. It is purely personal.   If anyone has additional information in reference to new production or availability of Levoxyl, please share. Your opinions and thoughts are valued and valuable.


Complaint-Lamar County Tax Assessor/Collector office

Recently, I went to the Lamar County courthouse in Paris, Texas to conduct changes on vehicle titles. I also had a registration that had expired in November 2013. The reason this specific registration had not been updated was due to Haskell Maroney – I take it is the person as the named Lamar County Tax Assessor-Collector, returned my check to me because the bank or credit union does not appear on their list as being “local”.

I asked the “representative” behind the counter, what specifically constitutes a local bank. Said “representative” told me if the bank wasn’t on their list, they could not accept the check. I asked how this policy or rule got instituted. She informed me the county lawyer made the rule because he was unable to collect on bounced out-of-town checks.

I think an attorney who knows how to collect bounced out-of-town checks needs to replace an attorney who does not know how to collect on insufficient out-of-town checks. For pennies per item, the checks can also be validated at the counter from an out sourced system. So, to save this “attorney” from conducting due diligence, the citizens of this county are subjected to being treated like a deadbeat. The assumption is every check not written on a local bank is bad.

If you use a debit or credit card, you are charged an extra percentage above the transaction. Without being privy to their merchant agreements, I don’t know if this percentage exceeds the amount the financial institution is charging. There are not any disclosures displayed at the counters.

Your choices for paying for the vehicle registrations are:

1. Get back into your car, find an ATM and obtain cash to pay the registration transaction.

2. Use your debit or credit card and pay an additional fee.

3. Get back into your car and drive to a bank, listed as a “local bank”, open an account, drive back to the courthouse, and wait to see if the bank is still on the local list and your check is accepted.

I did #3. When the local check was presented for the registration, I was then asked how many tickets did I receive for driving a vehicle with an expired registration. I informed the “representative” that the vehicle had not been driven with an expired registration. I had just paid her for title changes on two other vehicles with current registrations. Again, being treated like a deadbeat.

One of the title changes I requested was for an antique plate. The original antique plate registration was paid for in March 2013. This plate was good for 5 years. The “representative” told me it was expired. I informed her it was less than a year old and expires in 2018. She told me it was too late, she had already entered into the system to reissue a new one in my name only. The previous owner was my deceased husband. Because she read the expiration date as 2013 instead of 2018, it cost me more money to issue the new antique plate. When I questioned the transaction, I was immediately dismissed, again with “it’s too late, I already put it in the system”.Auto Registration 01-2014

There seemed to be little to no interest in looking at the insurance verification I presented at the window. It makes me wonder who is insured around here and who isn’t.

Word to the wise – don’t change the titles until the registration expires. Know who your elected officials are and what they won’t do when you go to the polls. Mail your “local bank check” to the Lamar County, Texas Tax Assessor/Collector so you don’t feel like a common thief, deadbeat, low life when doing it in person.

Customer service is non-existent when there is no competition. It takes training, common sense and effort to convey respect and “delight” to serve from behind the counter of a public office. Even if the policies were made by someone uneducated in the means to create fair and non-discriminating practices to the majority, the message could be relayed in a professional and positive manner. I’ve goggled this specific office and have found this situation is not new or recent. The solution to the problem is someone speaking up, providing the information necessary to rectify the adverse actions and implementing the personnel willing to practice the golden rule.

I have volunteered at a local food pantry. The clients utilizing the services of the food pantry are treated with higher regard and respect than at the courthouse where we pay all of the salaries.