Monthly Archives: July 2007

A to Q

Make wisdom your provision for the journey from youth to old age, for it is a more certain support than all other possessions. Bias


I wanted to investigate the whole “pack rat” thing I’m accused of… Yes, I like to keep stuff that I find to be meaningful. I’ve also found that it’s not always appropriate to throw out stuff you haven’t touched in a year. Look, I threw out my funnel and then I had to borrow my sister’s when I needed to pour the limoncello I was making in a bigger bottle.

midden is a fancy name for a pile of trash, often left by pack rats. Pack rats leave middens near their nests, which may be continuously occupied for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. Each layer of trash contains twigs, seeds, animal bones and other material, which is cemented together by urine. Over time, the midden becomes a treasure trove of information for plant ecologists, climate change scientists and others who want to learn about past climatic conditions and vegetation patterns dating back as far as 25,000 years.

So that led me to thinking about things like treasure troves and scientists and others who want to learn about past stuff.
I never realized my mom was a bit of a pack rat until we had to clean out the kitchen before my dad moved. A lot of stuff got tossed but I managed to save a couple of Mom’s really, really old cookbooks… and tucked in the pages of one of those cookbooks was a letter from my Nana to my Mom with directions to make homemade pizza. Darn it, if Nanny didn’t write it just the way she would have spoken in it if she were sitting right there in front of Mom. To me, it is such a treasure.

And then there was the black plastic trash bag. My friend, Julie, might remember a creative writing assignment she gave once to a writer’s group and I submitted this story based on a real event. I wasn’t in the group, I just submitted a story and I didn’t follow the directions, but everyone said the story was good. It really was another one of those fact is stranger than fiction – or sadder than fiction.

We were helping my Dad clean the basement and I opened up a black trashbag only to find a brown paper bag filled with old greeting cards and other assorted mementos. My mom had saved them. There were cards that celebrated my parents’ engagement, wedding shower, and wedding. And then there were cards for her baby shower and then cards that were sent for the birth of their children (the most of them were from when I was born – I was the oldest so it just figures, huh?)
There was a letter from the hotel, where they spent the first night of their honeymoon, quoting the price for the stay. There was a matchbook from the hotel where they stayed in Bermuda – the same hotel where I was conceived, mind you!

Oh and the point of all this is that my dad was going to throw it out. I guess in his mind, Mom was dead, his marriage was over and all of this was now trash. Maybe it was just too painful for him to look at anymore. Maybe it was really trash. I saved it all. I gave the cards to my brothers. I have the rest of the stuff.

I also have a coat that my grandfather made me when I was like 5 years old… and my First Communion dress that was made by a great aunt.

And yes, I have shoeboxes filled with ticket stubs and programs from concerts and shows and museums. And cards that were pretty cool with neat sentiments. And race numbers from when I ran in 5ks and other road races. And heavens, I don’t know what else. I think it is time to go through those boxes again.

We’re going to be moving sometime in the next year. I dread going through all the stuff but it has got to be done. I know there are things I will sell and things I will trash – but those shoeboxes and those cookbooks and that bag of cards and that dress and coat – they’re keepers.



Filed under Life

Quirks (or I just haven’t got much to say today)

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller


I got tagged on my Yahoo 360. Yeah, I’m there too! It’s because of my addiction to Pyramids. I play a lot. I’m even in a league. Heck, I’m even a head Tournament Director in a league.
In any case, you were supposed to tell 7 things about yourself – things that no one would know… presumably.
So I got to thinking of a few little weirdities – ok maybe more than a few – about myself and it occurred to me that the weirdest is one I wasn’t even aware of:
I play a game of Free Cell every day and if I win, I can expect a good day, if I lose, not so much. I sometimes play after midnight if I wake up in the middle of the night – and that counts! It also helps me fall asleep because I can then look forward to a good day. If I lose, I usually don’t fall back to sleep easily.
It got me thinking about other quirks, like when I’m conducting a show… I have to have a BaggieÒ of those little hard pretzel nuggets to snack on and a large pontoon of water. I don’t eat before a performance. I also bring a load of Pixy StixÒ. Everyone in the pit gets them. It turns even the stuffiest musician into a complete idiot. We have a Pixy StixÒ toast before each act.
I had a friend who was manic about his props. Before each show, he would go through the show mentally, checking to see if his props were exactly where they should be. That’s probably not a bad thing, given that if they weren’t in the right place, he’d have been up a creek without the proverbial paddle.
I have a friend who counts in 7s. Everything is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. It’s not annoying at all because she does it silently. It’s just a thing for her. When she can’t sleep, she counts 7s on the clock LED. It helps her fall asleep. She is my sister’s sister-in-law.
My sister and another one of her sisters-in-law are knee or thumb writers. They use their index finger to trace what they’re saying on their knee or thumb. Again, it’s not annoying because they don’t make a big deal out of it and you’d never know they were doing it.
Kind of like that Free Cell thing…


Filed under Fact is stranger than fiction, Friends, Life

Q & A

Abraham Lincoln:
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.


I love to weed my gardens. There’s something peaceful about sitting outside in the fresh air, yanking on ugly green things until they release their hold in the earth. The big weeds are difficult because they’ve matured and have had so much time to course their way through the soil. The little weeds are even more of a pain because they are young and hard to grasp and difficult to pull out completely. If you leave any root, those suckers will grow back with  vengeance.
I spent the better part of the morning weeding and I got to thinking about my life.
Do I need to go back into therapy? I have so many questions. Why am I perceived as being immature and an embarassment to people who love me? Am I really drinking like a 20-year old and, if not, what is too much? Am I really mean, and if not, why do I say such mean things? Is it wrong to want to feel young? Is it wrong to want to try new things and experience new adventures? Should I just accept that I’ve lived my life and the only thing left to do is die? Am I hurting people I love by my behavior? Am I hurting myself?
Am I angry, depressed, happy? Is it wrong to wonder what comes next?
I couldn’t answer any of those questions but I pondered them for a long time. The yanking and pulling made me think of things I could change. The prettiness of the now weedless flowerbeds made me want to be a better person.
I thought about my mom and how she glowed when people told her she didn’t look her age – and she didn’t and I don’t. She was a classy broad, my mom. She wanted to look her best and even in death, she was beautful and in my mind, she is as pretty as those days when she asked me “How do I look, Peg?” and, gosh, she did look pretty.
Is there much difference in the way she drank and the way I drink? or the reasons?
Do I hoard things because, like my mother, I’m a bit of a pack rat? Or are those shoe boxes full of ticket stubs and programs and birthday cards so that I never forget how I felt when I had those experiecnes?
Is it time to change jobs? Is it time to change careers? Would I rather have stayed home and raised my son?
I can’t answer a lot of these questions. I can ask them and think about them? I can hope that I am a better person for asking these questions and considering the answers.
Like my niece who asks, “Do you love me or my baby brother more?”, I can pray that in articulating the questions, the answers will be easier to accept – that maybe there is no right answer and that only time will tell. Or that the answer may be different on any given day.


Filed under Gardening, Life

Why I got home at 7:30 last night

I worked late last night. It was my own choice. There was stuff to be done. I did it. I also had to do some off-hours upgrades so I did all the prep work after 5 so I’d be able to complete everything from home. I was on the phone with a co-worker, who was also working late, when I received an email from our receptionist (who wasn’t working late… we just have phone coverage from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm, so it was her turn to work the later shift) who let me know that our VP of Sales was holding for me.

Got off the phone with my co-worker and took the call from the VP who was traveling and couldn’t get connected to our VPN. It’s too long to explain how I helped her but I did and in the end she said “How did you know about that?” I laughed. Then I closed up shop and left the building.

Now, they’re doing construction on 295 – the southern end that I travel. The end that rarely has heavy traffic. It’s become a bit of an inconvenience but I realize it won’t be forever and patiently wait for the gawkers to drive by the construction areas so that I can make my way to 130 and home. I always listen to KYW – 2, 3, 4 times a day – for the traffic, the weather, the news. They have yet to mention the traffic jams caused by this construction, but by golly, didn’t they mention a refinery fire at a Sunoco plant in West Deptford? It was supposedly caused by lightening and it was at 3 alarms by the time I crawled past it.

sp_a0216.jpgTook these pictures with my cell phone.

The reason for the back up… people just stopping their cars to gawk. I felt bad for a horse in a neighboring lane. His driver had his window rolled down and was smoking a cigarette. The horse trailer windows were opened too and the poor horsey had to ride through the dark haze.

sp_a0219.jpgBlack smoke filled the angry sky. And their were folks who actually stopped their cars, pulled over and began video taping the whole mess. Folks from news vans were busy filming for the 11:00 pm news.

sp_a0218.jpgYeah, I left late, but this didn’t help.


Filed under Work

Marc Broussard makes good music

This guy is the total shit! Dooner saw him in NYC like 2 summers ago. His first impression was, “Ugh, this dude is gonna be an asshole…”, but, as Dooner said later, he was totally cool, an awesome dude and a hell of a musician.
One of my on-line friends lives in the town where he grew up. She’s watched him grow and concurs – he’s a very talented young man!

I’ll be seeing him live on July 22!!!

Yeah – Looking forward to the weekend…


Filed under Holidays, Music