Friday, March 29, 2013


Had to force the forsythia to bloom this year because of an early Easter
I always loved Easter. When I was growing up, we would drive down from Upstate New York to my grandmother's house in North Bergen and later in Jersey City. The forsythia were already blooming in New Jersey--showy yellow bushes, even along busy Route 17, which was a shopping mecca even then. We passed signs for towns with exotic names--Ho-ho-kus, Moonachie--on our way across the Meadowlands on Paterson Plank Road, originally a toll road in colonial times with broad wooden planks over the marshy stretches. It was one of my father's favorite routes and allowed him to tell the story of how Secaucus was once dotted with pig farms.

We always arrived on Good Friday evening in time for a dinner of canned Franco American Spaghetti and fish sticks or tuna salad on hard rolls. Saturday we ventured into New York City--my father and brothers and me--while my mother stayed with Grandma and my aunt and went visiting. My father loved the city and had his favorite haunts--the old Barnes and Noble and Scribner's bookstores on lower Fifth avenue, the odd lot stores on Vesey Street, years before the area became the World Trade Center. He always had a must-see exhibit on banking, stamps, coins or equally boring subjects to a young girl.

I was fortunate when my brother reached the age when he could shepherd me around the city on his own. He was probably 16 and I was 10. We went to the Museum of Natural History and I weighed myself on the different scales representing each planet. We didn't have a pen or pencil on us, so my brother had an elaborate system of bent pages in a sightseeing booklet to keep track. When we got back to Jersey City it was a little confusing. Was I 13 pounds on the moon and 189 on Jupiter or vice versa?  We always met my father afterwards and ate at a "nice" restaurant -- one even had fingerbowls which I managed to use correctly without embarrassing my siblings. I was dressed in my Easter finery, a yellow spring coat with cape sleeves and looked lovely until you noticed my black sneakers peering from below. My mother's motto had always been "be comfortable."

Easter Sunday we attended Sacred Heart Church in Jersey City, a beautiful, dark, mystical church with huge columns and small overhanging chandeliers. My uncle sat by himself (why?), while my aunt and grandmother and the rest of us squeezed into 'their' pew.  Dinner was the traditional canned ham with creamed corn and other staples of the 50's and early 60's. I had eaten candy all day long, so the menu was unimportant to me.

As time passed, the Jersey City neighborhood deteriorated and the park around the corner where we had played became off limits. A trip to the local store to get milk became less carefree, as we plotted our course to avoid the people hanging on the street corners, particularly near the corner bar.

Easter Monday was a glorious day. We would pile in the car to go to the shore to visit two sets of cousins--but never together. The early day was spent at one house, after an agonizing wait in the car, while my aunt did the shopping for the party--hotdogs, sauerkraut, cheetos, ice cream. As the sky darkened, we headed to our second cousin's house, a few miles away. As a kid, you don't really question things, but it was odd. My two aunts had a long standing feud which went back to some rivalry over their first borns. Eddie's new shoes or Patty's new dress had not been sufficiently praised. Years passed and life went on around the dispute.

We returned back to Grandma's late Monday night, exhausted and happy. The next day it was back up the Thruway and home, feeling happy and a little lighter knowing that our next trip would be to go "down the shore" for a long, leisurely summer.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Match Puppy: FB seeking companionship and love

During my wonderful week with Kona, my daughter and son-in-law's FB (French Bulldog) , I found my texts to the nervous, vacationing parents had begun to sound like a personal ad on a dog dating site. Yes, believe it or not, there are a number of sites, including MatchPuppy, DateMyPet and PetsDating.

Here's Kona's description:
Svelte, fun loving French Bull Dog may look sad, but she's happy go lucky.
Princess Kona on her sheet covered couch

Enjoys long walks around the neighborhood, especially if there are lots of cars and kids;

eating twigs but not earthworms;

snuggling on the couch;

watching TV especially Golf channel and ESPN (or maybe that's just on a lot in our house);

playing incessantly with a green squeaky ball;

eating peanut butter and treats (venison/sweetpotato);

is afraid of stereo speakers, white safety gates and her reflection in the sliding glass door (that other bad FB);

dislikes going in her crate (I'm in jail!), and mornings when she realizes her parents have abandoned her.
Where is that ball?
Sleeping in the sun

Seeks another FB or similar small dog for chasing down leaves, barking at strange sounds in the night and romping through the neighborhood.

Are we having fun yet?
Kona and Gary

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Urinetown was a popular send up of musicals a few years ago. Not really that good, as I recall. But I experienced my own personal Urinetown last week.

A 24 hour urine test is not a big deal at all, compared to the multitude of tests, scans, biopsies and procedures you can have. You simply collect all your urine from a 24 hour period, excluding the first one of the day. Why then did I have so much trouble?

The medical technician presented me with a one gallon orange receptacle, similar to a bottle of Tide. "Maybe I need a bigger one," I joked.  "I can give you two," he quickly responded. Yikes, how much urine can one person produce in a day? It's not a question most people often contemplate, unless you've recently been on a Carnival cruise.

"You can store it outside or on the porch--that way you don't need to refrigerate it," my helpful tech continued. "That's a relief," I said. Not that you'd mix up the orange jug with your orange juice, but it's preferable not to have close proximity.

Deferring to the female anatomy, my tech included a hard plastic urine cup. I put that in the upstairs bath and set aside a softer plastic cup in the downstairs bath. The orange container rested in my mud room. All set for the next morning.

I soon learned the advantage of the official hard plastic urine cup, when I squeezed the softer one and was sprayed with ...yes. Enough said.  I got better during the day with a well organized system of transferring urine to gallon jug from various bathrooms.

When Gary got home from work, I said, "Hold on. I just have to go to the bathroom." I quickly stripped down to my underwear and disappeared into the powder room.
I explained the splash problem and noted that I had already generated some extra laundry, so this was my new system.
"Not familiar with that as a problem," Gary replied.

Far from filling the bottle, I registered a mere two inches at the bottom of the jug. Poor production, I thought. How weak. I momentarily considered watering it down. I didn't want to make an embarrassing showing--not that it was a contest. I did have to make up for the spillage factor. Finally decided to stay the course, as Gary raised the spector of kidney biopsies or further tests to explain strange results.

'Should I just dump this then and start a new 24 hour period?" There was some discussion involving the words--obsessive behavior, and latent potty training trauma--so i wisely concluded to drop off the jug and move on.  My cute, young med tech was not there when I delivered my specimen, so I didn't share any experiences with the stone faced woman who replaced him. Perhaps best all around.

Got my results and here's the best part. I get to do it again next month!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where is your spouse?

Hate to joke about a serious crime story like the fall of Olympic star Oscar Pistorius and the death of his beautiful girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius' bizarre description of the events that evening made no sense--how dark does a room have to be before you realize someone is not in the bed? Wouldn't you check with your loved one, if you heard a noise from an intruder? Wouldn't you ask who was in the bathroom before pumping three shots through the door? Absurd.

Then, last week we had a similar experience (without the gun).

Gary got home around 4:00 one afternoon, just as I was going out for my walk. He decided to take a "chair nap" in the family room, since he had an evening dinner meeting to attend. I was out for over an hour, relishing my new-found energy and raising the bar considerably from my daily walk to the mailbox. I puttered around the yard, picking up detritus, previously hidden by the snow, and then ambled down the street, crossed the little bridge over the creek and entered the park and municipal ball fields.

By the time I returned an hour later, it was getting dark. I tiptoed through the darkened family room, surprised that Gary still slumbered. I went to the living room to check my emails on my computer; then into the kitchen to round up some food. I thought I'd better wake up Gary for his meeting. I flipped on the lights.

No Gary on the couch.
I yelled upstairs to the bedroom.
No Gary upstairs.
I checked the garage for his car.
No car.

I can imagine what a police officer would say if Gary were suddenly a missing person:
So you came back from your walk and how did you get into the house?
I walked through the open garage door.

And which garage door did you walk through?
Well...the one for my car...I think.

And was your husband's car still in the garage?
Well....I thought so.

And when you walked through the family room, you saw him on the couch?
Well....I thought so

It was dusk, not midnight. Your husband is not a small man. Did you see him or not?
Well...I thought so.

I understand your husband is a noisy sleeper. Did you hear him snoring, breathing loudly or making annoying guttural sounds?
Well...I passed through quickly.

And at what time did you go into the kitchen?
Well...maybe 5:30.

I see. We checked your computer and you sent an email at 5:14. Where do you think your husband was between 5:14 and 5:30? 
Well....maybe he went upstairs to change and then left the house without me noticing.

And isn't the living room right next to the stairway to the second floor?

So how could you have not heard him?
Well...he may have just awoken and gone directly to the car, realizing he was late.

But you heard no noise.
Well....not that I recall. On second thought, maybe he said his meeting was at 5:00. Then he would have already been gone.

But your statement says you saw him in the family room sleeping?
Well...maybe that was a different day after all.

You can't remember what happens from one day to the next?

Luckily for me, Gary was not a missing persons case and I was not under suspicion for any felony charges--maybe just the crime of not noticing a spouse, a practice I'm betting is fairly common. He comes, he goes. I have to start noticing!