Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is cooked

The stuffing is made

The smell of fresh pies

For days, will not fade

The silver is polished
The table is set
As I look around
I'm not finished yet

I have to give thanks
To my Lord up above

For all of my blessings:

Friends, Family and love

As we all gather round 

On this festive day

No matter how many

No matter which way

Let's us all give thanks

As well as we're able

For all we enjoy

as we dine at life's table

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name

  Today I attended a lovely alumni reception at St. Patrick's Church, which is celebrating its centennial. Although the reception was light on actual former St. Patrick's School students, the hall was filled with the bustling, devoted women who have lovingly kept the parish running for more than half of the celebrated centennial.  As I bent over the dessert table to get a homemade piece of chocolate cake to go with my coffee, one of these devotees called out, "Karen!". I instantly raised my head and responded, "No. My name is Kathy". She gave me a perplexed look and then started talking to the woman behind me, whose name actually is Karen.
 I laughed to myself as I walked back to my table, the calling of that name bringing back a flood of memories; Memories of 8 years spent  following my well behaved, studious older sister, Karen, though school.
  Not once, during any of those 8 years, by any teacher, was I ever called by my rightful name, Kathy. In every class, the teacher's eyes would come to rest on me and, with the certainty of the sunrise, that teacher would: 1) call me Karen; 2) be offended when I corrected her; 3) 15 minutes later, call me Karen again.
  One elderly teacher not only couldn't get my name right, she couldn't even get my sisters name right, so I went through 4th grade as Karen Louise. Now, it's bad enough being called the wrong name, but tacking a Louise onto it just added insult to injury.
 To compound this confusion, all through school there was a girl in my class whose actual name was Karen. Karen's older sister was in my older sister Karen's class. Guess what Karen's older sister's name was? You got it- Kathy.
 Let the hilarity ensue.
 Poor Little Sister Karen and I never knew which one of us was being spoken to. The teacher would ask, "Karen, would you please spell PREPOSTEROUS" and when Karen opened her mouth to respond,  she would  invariably be beaten back with whatever weapon the teacher held at the time and told "I was speaking to Karen!"
  If Kathy was asked to come to the board to diagram a sentence, I was meet with equal fury upon rising.
 Throughout the years LSK and I endured endless blows raining down on our heads from countless yardsticks and pointers for the imagined disrespect of not answering to the wrong name.
 I can still hear my comrade's plaintive voice pleading, "But my name is Karen, Sister." in her never ending attempt to rectify the injustice.

 I gave up around 7th grade when I realized it was probably better if they didn't know my actual name.

Karen Louise- identity crisis over and no worse for the wear 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thoughts on an Autumn Evening

as I settle
by the fire
on a cold
Autumn night,
the leaves
through my window
catch the sun's

all day it's been raining-
and green

the Earth
like the crown
of a queen

some still cling to branches
to go

their vibrance
a memory
of Summer's
warm glow

I tend to the fire
then take

turn up the lights
and open
a book

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Light in the Darkness

  The city of Bridgeport often gets a bad rap for a variety of things: corrupt politics, unplowed streets, being crime ridden and dangerous, just to name a few.
While much of this disfavor is well earned,  I'd like to offer up a little bit of the good side. Specifically, Ruben Gonzalez, supervisor of The Bridgeport Department of Public Works, who went above and beyond the call of duty to help a little old lady find her purse; That little old lady was my mother and that purse was one which accidentally got taken out with the recycling bin.  
 Labor Day Monday, after fielding a tearful call from my mom, Ruben went to her house, took all her information and a description of the purse and the circumstances, then started making phone calls to see which truck picked up her bin. All the trucks had already unloaded for the day, so he learned the purse was somewhere buried within the city's tons of recycling. The fact the purse was inside a brown paper bag when it was put out with the bin only added to the hopelessness of the situation.
 Undaunted, Ruben reassured my sobbing mother they would find it and asked her to give him 24 hours.

 Mom didn't sleep a wink that night; she cried, she worried, she berated herself for putting her purse in a brown paper bag.

 Well, her sleepless night was in vain. Ruben called first thing in the morning and told her the good news; He and 4 workers sifted through countless pounds of debris and recovered her purse with her wallet and belongings still intact. He even made a special trip to her house to drop it off to her personally. She was ecstatic, to say the least.

 Thank you, Mr Gonzalez. That's what I call Public Works.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hello Sailor, Come On In...

  Mike and Rose were just heading out to a late showing of "The Conjuring" and I was letting Jakey out the back door to take care of his nightly business, when Mike yells out to me that there's a dog wandering around our front yard. In the time it took me to get to the front, the chihuahua had already made it into the house and was picking out his bedroom; What the little guy lacked in size, he made up for in chutzpah.
 We removed him from the foot of my bed, wrangled his collar off and I called the number on his anchor dog tag thinking how happy his owner would be to hear I had found his little friend; "Mailbox full" was the response I got for my efforts. The next several times I called, the phone didn't even ring, it was the ol' straight to voicemail trick. Perhaps my new found friend had overstayed his welcome at his own house and  was looking to branch out. 

  Resigned to my houseguest,  I dragged up the dog crate up from the basement, fitted it with a Red Cross blanket (seeing as he was kind of a refugee in distress), gave him some water and a treat, and made plans to track down his owner through his Ash Creek rabies tag in the morning. 
  He just sat and wagged his tail.
  We were all just getting to know each other, when the phone rang and a hopeful voice asked " Do you have my dog?".
 "Yes. Yes I do." 
We made arrangements for pickup and few minutes later my tiny houseguest was happily wagging his tail from the front seat of his owner's jeep.
 I'm glad my story has a happy ending, and Jake is happy he hasn't lost his spot at the foot of my bed.
                                                Sailor: The unexpected guest

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Meaning of the Word

  While battling my latest bout of insomnia, I found myself looking through Facebook posts of some obscure pages I liked once upon a time. On these pages I found a wide variety of comments and opinions on many different topics. One thing struck me as a common thread throughout all the pages, though: The ridicule of people who can't spell. I know it's a common thing for the spelling police to swoop down on a comment on pretty much all the pages you visit, but for some reason  it really hit a nerve with me today.
  One poor man was trying to ask a question, his spelling and grammar made the post almost indiscernible, and the spelling police let him have it. Here this man was, reaching out to try to connect with people, and they couldn't see it, all they saw were the misspelled words and incorrect punctuation. It made me angry to think anyone would completely disregard the content of his question simply because he couldn't express himself in a way that met their standards. There are many possible reasons as to why this man can't spell, none of which give people the right to disregard him or his question.
   Finally, one kind soul answered his question without any mention of the errors in his asking.

  It reminded me of a dear friend I had when I was growing up. He had a learning disability. He also had a pretty tough time at home. He ended up in jail and we use to write to each other. His letters were riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Most of the time I could barely make out what he was trying to say, but I took my time to try and decipher it because what he was saying was important to him.
  That friend died of Leukemia several years after he was released from prison. His misspelled, grammatically incorrect letters are priceless to me.

  My friend's lesson, of  looking past what you see on the outside to find the meaning on the inside, has stayed with me to this day. So, before you hit enter on your witty spelling correction comment, take a moment to consider what you're really saying ... about yourself.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Waving Good-Bye

  As I sat next to my son at the DMV today, waiting for our number to be called, I found myself suddenly fighting back tears.

 I'm not sure if there's a word for the emotion that causes these unbidden tears, but I know most parents are all too familiar with them. They're the ones you cry when something wonderful happens, but in that bit of wonderful, you feel you've lost something too.
 They're the tears you cry when your child says their first words or takes their first steps.
 They're the ones that fall when you drop them off for their first day of school or they ride their bike without training wheels for the first time.
They're the ones you cry behind the closed front door when they leave to spend the night away from home for the first time or to go out on their first date.

 They're also the tears you cry when they buy their first car.

 Well, I managed to make it out of the DMV without embarrassing either of us. I made it through the ride home, I made it through putting the new licence plates on his car, and I even made it through the hug and kiss he gave me when he thanked me for all my help.

  Watching his smiling face as he drove down the street waving good-bye, that proved to be a little too much for me.
   The tears finally won the fight.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lazarus and The Two Finned Nine

  Sometime last week I depressed everyone, including myself, with my sad 'Little Rays of Sunshine" tale.
  Well, weep no more.
 Since the fish were gone, I decided to empty the pond so I could clean it. When I got down to about five inches of extremely murky water, I noticed a large, orange spot on the bottom of the pond. "What is that? Leaves?" I asked my husband. Then the orange spot started to move.
 "My fish!" I screamed (my neighbors for 3 blocks around don't need to read this post. They definitely heard me).
  It's true. The fish are alive and well and living in the pond. I don't know how they eluded me that day. The water was murky, but I thought, for sure, with all my poking around, they would've surfaced. They must have been hiding in the leaves at the bottom, traumatized by the Heron.
 The only other excuse I can think of is, perhaps it's some type of Easter season miracle; I did find the fish three days after I thought they were gone.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This Boy's Heart

  Music has always been a big piece of who I am. I've always felt as if it's a part of me, like tasting or breathing. From the time I was young, when I would sit in my little chair listening to a song over and over again on my record player until I knew all its secrets, I've felt it's power. Music is my companion and confidant.
  It's my heart when I don't know how to expose my own.

 While driving to the store the other day, a song I've never heard before came on the radio. From the first notes of the guitar, it pulled me in. As I listened to the words my eyes filled with tears.
  She was singing about me; Singing the words I would have written if I could have found them.
  Words about how I felt growing up and still feel now.
  Words of sorrow for the pieces of himself my son must leave behind in order to be considered a man.
  Words, which, quite simply, tell the story of us all, before we're told who we're suppose to be.

 There was no need to listen to this song over and over again; Its secrets have always been kept in this boy's heart.

Me and "Mean Green"  1975

Dar Williams "When I Was A Boy"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Little Rays of Sunshine

  Last Spring, I battled the underpaid kid at the neighborhood pet store to wrangle ten bright, orange fish out of a tank of thousands of mixed brown feeder fish. Twenty minutes and $1.90 later, I went home to add my hard-gotten pets to my newly installed pond. Now, before you get any grandiose ideas, my pond isn't some sweeping, landscaped body of water with a weeping willow tree gracefully reaching out to frolicking frogs and wildlife; By pond, I mean a 4 by 3 foot hole with a plastic liner and some water. "The Pond" was my Spring project last year.
  My small, swimming friends assimilated to life in "The Pond" quite well. Every morning and evening I feed them and they, in return, take my mind from all life's daily pressures, if only for a few minutes.
  I never, technically, named the fish. They have monikers such as: "The One With White on His Face", "Black Tailed One", "The Shy One" and "My, Isn't He Getting Big". Even nameless, they quickly became a much looked forward to part of my day.

 My little oasis was really put to the test of being a true part of New England this past year as Mother nature played her worst tricks on us. My little buddies survived the winds, falling trees and weeks long power outages of a hurricane in the Fall. Then, after all the clean up from the hurricane, Mother Nature decided we had spent enough time being cozy and warm and sent a blizzard to keep us trapped in our houses and ponds under three feet of snow. As the weeks went by and the inches of snow slowly melted, I waited anxiously to see if my finned friends had survived the onslaught. The first glimpse of the melted pond revealed a flash of orange and I knew all was well.

  Spring has come back around and the plants and wildlife are blooming. My fish and I have again begun our daily ritual of food and peace. I spent hours yesterday, under the warm Spring sunshine, cleaning the leaves and other trappings of  a hard winter from their home in preparation of  my quiet, summer evenings reading and stargazing by "The Pond".

Today, I was hurrying to finish my painting project so I could get outside and start work on my garden when my dog began to bark out the den window. My husband called to me to come see the Great Egret in our back yard. Being an avid bird watcher, I dropped my paint brush and ran to the window to see this spectacular sight. I didn't make it. The dog's barking and my husband's calling had scared the great bird away. Damn!
  I was just heading back to my paintbrush when I suddenly remembered what Great Egrets eat. I hurried to my pond and searched for my little flashes of orange; I moved the plants, searched with the net and took the filter out to see if anything was caught. I even fished around with my hand through the murky water.

  Farewell, my Little Rays of Sunshine. My evenings by "The Pond" will be considerably less gratifying without your colorful antics. Your tenacity was no match for that three foot tall, bill like a spear, version of Mother Nature.
I will miss you; Especially "My, Isn't He Getting Big".

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A night in the life


  So we're all on the front porch talking, taking a break from band practice, having a beer and a cigarette (because it's a well know fact you should always smoke right before you're going to sing) and we hear this horrible screaming coming from, what sounds like, my neighbor's yard across the street. I walk across the front lawn to see who's being murdered and realise the screams are coming from my backyard! 
  In a flash it dawns on me and I scream: "My chickens!" and pick up a rock and run like a maniac to the back yard, picking up a big stick on the way. Lou, Eric and Tom come running frantically behind me, trying not to spill their beer; Tom also had the foresight to arm himself with a piece of firewood, (I guess you can tell which two of us grew up in the heart of the urban decay that is Bridgeport CT).  Hurling my rock and flailing my stick, screaming "GET THE *#@! AWAY FROM MY CHICKENS" like a nut, I descend upon my chicken coop ready to pummel any and all intruders. 
  All this fuss for two raccoons battling for supremacy in a tree 60 feet in the air ABOVE my chicken coop. Chickens- Not in any danger whatsoever.
  Luckily, my son's new girlfriend showed up just about this time. 

  My daily public humiliation...complete.