Righting Wrongs: Or fixing the past in the present so we can have a better future

Last Sunday we shared our ride home from Georgia with boxes of pictures, memories of the past, and ghosts.  Lots of ghosts.  Because we’re cool like that.

PS- you know you want to be us, right?  Well, you’re in luck, classes start next week.  Yes, the tuition is a bit high but we do take Mastercard, Visa, and most student loans work for payment too.  We do accept cash, just make the check out to Childrens And Sailors Home, you can abbreviate that to CASH, spends just the same.  Remember, education is the key to the future, invest wisely.

But where were we before the commercial?  Oh, right, the boxes of Ghosts.  That I want to return to their rightful homes.  You see, it’s a long and tortured family history, filled with lots of drama, name calling, and ridiculousness.  Just like all family histories I think.  We’re no different.  We’re just like all of you.  The upshot of all that drama though was that when my Grandparents passed everything they had left went to my Mom.  Yep.  Everything.  Some things got distributed.  I think.  But there’s still lots of my Grandparents stuff in my Mom and Stepdad’s house.  Probably stuff I don’t even know about yet.  Stuff I’ve not even seen.  Since, you know, Mom’s only been dead a little over a month and we’ve not even begun the real work of cleaning out her stuff.

Yeah.  Wow.

But the first thing for me that had to come out was the pictures.  Pictures are sacred to me.  Probably because I love photography so much.  And Mom had lots of pictures.  LOTS OF PICTURES.  Really.  And on top of her own prodigious collection, she also had my Grandmother’s picture box.  Filled with more pictures.  Imagine?

Sadly, most of the people in these pictures are gone from us now.  With families who might not even know these pictures still exist.  They do.  They’re very much still around.  Mamaw saved them.  And now one of the jobs facing us is to figure out who these people are and separate the pictures into family groups and get them to their loved ones.  That’s a hard job, just so you know.  But I think it’s worth it.  To give my cousins at least something from the memories of the past.  I think they deserve that.

I understand that there’s lots of drama in our collective past.  But we are family.  There were people outside of the family who caused much of that pain.  But when you examine the truth you see that the reasons for those upsets were based on stories told by people who were… how shall I say this?… far less than truthful?  Yeah, that’s it.

And no matter what their words are today, their actions speak much louder.  Hummels held hostage and an entire legacy gone missing, and yet this same person is on Facebook today talking about Jesus’ love and forgiveness?  He better hope Jesus forgives him… because – newsflash – I won’t.  Not ever.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  Ready, go.

Today I want to fix some of the wrongs.  If I can.  And I’m starting with the pictures.  Be ready cousins.  There’s lots coming at you.  Memories from our past.  From our roots.  And I know it won’t make everything perfect, but it’s a start.  After all Life isn’t perfect, ever.  It just happens, in all it’s messy and unkempt glory.  And if we’re smart we’ll celebrate it, because it was our life.

Pictures of the past.  Showing us our present.  Showing us who we were and helping us know who we are today.

Pictures.

Life.

Family.

I think we’ve rented the zoo…

Flash news update!  We have new family members here at Casa de Weiner.  Along with Harold, the Rats, and all three Dogs .  Apparently we hung out a sign somewhere, or this house is the secret replacement for Noah’s Ark, or some such craziness because now we’ve got new additions.

Ants.

Lots. of. Ants.

Cue groans.  Okay, thanks.  Love sound effects, don’t you?  They just add so much to stale words, written on a page.  If I keep them then you might actually forget that you’re not watching TV.  See?  I’m sneaky like that.  Forcing literacy on the unsuspecting. It’s my life goal.

Anywho, yeah, we’ve got Ants.  LOTS. OF. ANTS.  Like perhaps they came in a box labeled exactly like that.  Only I didn’t see their box.  I just see them, showing up in random places, all the time.  Like the one that just mysteriously appeared on my laptop while I was writing, just a second ago.  I have no clue where he came from, unless they’re falling from the ceiling, and I’m not entirely sure that Ants can do that.  But you can be sure that if they can, my Ants would be the ones to try it.  Like Keanu Reeves in Matrix.  Only I could get Ants who can mimic that stuff.

Lucky me.  Most people get bugs, I get the frickin’ Avengers, disguised in tiny bug suits. Yay.

So now, what with the influx of pestilence, I’m wondering when the frogs and boils are coming.  Prudent like that I am, everything leads back to the old testament.  Everything.  PS second lesson from there is don’t eat the Lobster… seriously trayf.  Like, so trayf it gets capitalized.  TRAYF.  Look it up, Deuteronomy, my Nana told me, you’re welcome.

Anyway, dammit, back to the Ants.  And what to do.  And most definitely what to do about the damned Ants in the house.  If anyone in Lakeland can recommend an Exterminator that’d be great.  Or a new rental house somewhere in the Lake Hollingsworth area, preferably without a whole collection of current tenants of the unseen variety, that’d be just great too.  Two bathrooms would be a huge bonus.  Truly, you have no idea.  Bob might actually sponsor a parade in your honor.  Two bathrooms?  That’s an embarrassment of riches beyond our wildest dreams.  I might swoon from excitement.

But yeah… exterminator or new rental.  Either will work.  In the 33803.  Because we’re townies like that.  No bugs.  No rodents.  Finders prize to whoever nails it.  Okay… ready… go!

The Weekend Update

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So far we’ve slept a little, eaten a little, and I’ve worked on homework.  Can I screw up a vacation or what?  Yeah, that’s me.  Funsucker extraordinaire!  Yeah, I know, there are worse things.  Far worse.  But still, I’m studying.  No matter how nice the jail is, you’re still in it, right?  My thoughts anyway.  But doing what I must, when I must apparently has become my new mantra… WTF?  Who am I, what have I become, and where is the pod?

As for the food consumed so far?  And you know there’s food, we’re in Asheville after all.  And, of course, like all good Asheville trips, this one started at the North Asheville Tailgate Market.  If you really want to fall in love with organic?  This is the place.  A bag of homemade Rosemary Herb Crackers from some crunchy hippie girl… they’re delish! Tomme Cheese made from  Goat & Sheep’s milk from Three Graces Dairy – and yes, another older crunchy hippie woman, equally as delicious.  And a grand finale of Salami from Hickory Nut Gap Farms – no crunchy hippies there but it is organic meat and cruelty-free so there’s that.  I can honestly state that if I lived here full-time my shopping would be mostly done there, every week.  I really wanted to get Garlic Scapes… just to experiment with, but I didn’t think they’d survive the trip.  Likewise I wanted to buy two of every herb there was there… I didn’t.

Restraint.  I haz it.

After all that joy, and a side trip to Old World Bakery the next obvious step was to… go out to dinner.  Of course.  I know that’s what seems logical, right?  And, as usual, we went to Vinnie’s, where I had a Cuba Libre Martini with homemade Cola Syrup no less.  Yum.  Should have had two, or three.  Note to self – do this next time, especially if the whole famdamily is with us.  Especially then.  Pre-medicate with wine too.  It will be easier.

But back to Dinner which, as always, was amazing.  Ribeye topped with Gorgonzola, grilled Vidalia, and Arugula dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Plus I had the grilled Caesar… nomnomnom.  And today there’s more food on the horizon… more food.  Wow.  Imagine.  Shocking.  Brunch at Avenue M, then grilling hotdogs here at the house.  Hoping to sneak in a visit to French Broad Chocolate Lounge… that’s my plan anyway.  And I’m also planning on not doing any more homework.  That seems like a good thing as well.

With all that, did I mention yet that I love it here?  Did I forget?  I’ll try to take more pictures and do less homework today… but I can’t guarantee that.  Wish me luck.  Right now though I’m going to find a cup of coffee and some eye makeup remover.  Then I’ll be ready to face the day.  This vacation is hard work, yo? Enjoy.

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The sights, sounds, and smells of Asheville…

The tang of Goat cheese as it oozes out of an Omelet and slides into the salty sweetness of the Sea Scallops sitting quivery and golden, and the peppery sharpness of the Chipotle Hollandaise that is pooled under them like creamy yellow sunshine poured straight from the summer sky.

The tang of applewood smoke that you only taste in the very first bite of Bacon, and the salty richness that is the fat released from it’s crusty bonds as you bite into the very best gift a Pig could give us, along with his life.

The toothachy sweetness of the first bit of Sugar crust on Creme Brûlée, and the decadent smoothness, combined with the sharp bite of the dark chocolate filling in that same creamy treat.

Opening the door to the smell of knowledge, mixed with crisp, sun-bleached paper and old ink, and walking through the stacks of used books that you haven’t yet read, and the sharp smell of excitement, peppery and fast, as you choose a selection from the shelf and start to open the cover of a different place.

The sticky, different-tasting sweetness of Agave, melded with the tangy zest of citrus, mixed with the crisp bite of soda water in a homemade soda concoction like nothing Coca-Cola will ever be able to bottle and sell.

The slightly acrid smell of patchouli and young bodies that are likely not as clean as their parents would prefer wafting from a darkened shop that makes you pause at the door and simultaneously wonder whether you are too old to shop there and hope you are not.

The screechy sound that fiddle strings make as a bow saws across them.  When you hear that sound you can also smell the pangs of hunger mixed with slight desperation as a street musician attempts to earn enough change to get him a good meal and a few beers in a town with far too many musicians and not enough paying customers.

The stinging scent of hairspray and cigarettes, mixed with the soulful smell of longing to belong to someone emanating from the group of young hipster girls posing like 1950′s pinups on the sidewalk outside of a darkened club.

The smell of contentment, which resembles vanilla, but with a tiny pinch of cinnamon and a splash of nutmeg, wafting over us as we walk together, where we are still in love.

The sharp stinging salty scent of sadness, like Methiolate, staining my heart pink, as I remember why I love this beautiful place and remember the many people I’ve shared it in the past who can’t share it with me anymore.

The crisp green and swirly blueness of Summer – like apples, and sun dried sheets, and the sweet trickle of sugary water from the first popsicle of May.

Find your sights, your sounds, and your smells – such are the stuff of memories, the stuff of life.  Hold onto them.  And when you smell them again, remember.

Again.

Going to (Asheville) Carolina – and not just in my mind…

So, if you’re reading this then you’re alone.  I’m not here, because I wrote this on Tuesday, right before I left town on Friday, because we ran away for a couple of days.

We’re irresponsible like that.  If you’d like to dust I’d be fine with that… and maybe wipe down the countertops?  Bob’s allergic to the sponge, says it doesn’t fit his hand or some such bullish*%.  Yeah, so, since you’re here please tidy the place up… fluff the couch pillows… oh, and thanks!

But while you’re doing all that, keep in mind that for our Memorial Day Weekend we’re hanging in Asheville.  For the first time this year.  Because it’s way past time to go soak up some mountain cool.  Hey! Woah! Don’t throw stuff at me!

Sorry… okay, not, but it sounds legit, right?

PS – seriously?  You’d get mad?  Are you reading this thing regularly?  If so then you should have at least a small idea of how ready I am to be here  Yeah, really, that ready.  Actually ready doesn’t begin to describe how ready I am.  Lusting.  Yeah, that describes it better.  And there’s so much to lust for up here.  Hell, the whole place is Temptation – on a Cracker – with homemade Pimento Cheese and Country Ham Slivers.  Yep, that about sums it up.

Just so y’all know, French Broad Chocolate Lounge better have a Pots de Creme with my name on it… or two.  Hell, I might splurge and go for the truffles, and you can bet I’ll have at least one scoop of Maple Bacon Ice Cream.  And you can also bet that I’m hitting the North Asheville Tailgate Market Saturday morning… hoping against hope for a Proscuitto score from Hickory Nut Gap, and Goat Cheese from Spinning Spider.  I could go on, but then I’d have to stop writing and go fix breakfast, and there’s no time for that!

I really do miss my little haven in the mountains.  I just wish socks weren’t required in order to live there.  My relo list doesn’t include anywhere that involves socks.  Yes, it does.  Really.  Make a note Recruiters.

But anyway, enough scribbling.  I’m on vacation.  Enjoy your weekend too.  I’ll post pics and checkins so you can be jealous from a distance.  I’m kind like that.

Vacation.  In the mountains of NC.  For this Florida girl that sounds just a little bit like heaven.  See ya there?

I coulda’ been a Contendah…

In so very many things, I think.  But definitely on the Debate Team.  Because when it comes to arguing?  Oh, that’s Missy FTW… no matter who I’m going up against.  That is my special talent, arguing.  I glow with excitement (or maybe high blood pressure?) whenever I manage to get myself into one.  Yeah, really.  So it’s truly sad that I didn’t pursue this “talent” of mine… I could have been a Star.  With a trophy and accolades and all.

Trophies are sparkly and shiny… I need one don’t you think?  To go with my Crown?

Of course, for those two or three of you who’ve been on the losing side of one of my many Harangues – Bob, I’m looking right at you, everyone else is too – you might think I relish these opportunities to engage with verbal fisticuffs with others perhaps more than I should.

And you would be wrong.

Amazingly, my favorite opponent isn’t Bob, believe it or not.

Cue chorus of “Poor Bob”… and cut.  He appreciates your sympathy, really.

No, my best efforts happen internally, where no one can hear me, as I argue with myself.  Pssssst! Most people think that means I’m crazy.  They might be right.  But my internal debates are legendary.  The mental gymnastics I put myself through when I’m wrestling with a decision?  Mary Lou Retton was never that bendy, not at any point in her life.

Tangent – when the heck did she get so old?  Wasn’t she like thirteen or something just a couple of years ago?  Oh, right, she’s  nearly my age… and I have apparently gotten old too.  And again with the same question – second verse same as the first – when the heck did I get so old?

Okay, we’re back, did we lose anybody?  Oh no, well next time everybody needs to hold onto the rope and that way nobody gets separated.  The guy from Dubuque’ll figure it out… he usually gets lost on the Tangents.  Those aren’t good for the people in the square states.  Not at all.  But anyway, where were we?  Oh, right, the whole arguing thing and my current mental debate.

Sidenote:  I hate it when that happens.  Trains of thought are getting fewer and farther between for me, I need to stay onboard and ignore the temptation to get off and look around at every stop.  Frequently I’m finding myself standing at some random station, in the middle of nowhere, in my mind, and I don’t have any idea where I was going, what train of thought I was on, or when the next train is due.  Old age sucks, make a note and save it for me.  Because, you know, I might forget.

Anyway, after two diversions I’m going to do you all a favor and not go on a tour of my current mental debates – yes, there’s multiples going on, simultaneously, are you surprised?  No, I figured not.  But anyway, suffice to say I’m wrestling with some big ones… personal life path crap.  Stuff I should have decided long ago, when I first considered the whole “what to be when I grow up” question.  Yeah, that one.  I deferred that one, because apparently I had some crazy idea that I wasn’t grown up.  I’m still not BTW… nope, and you can’t make me.  But I’m still working the arguments on the question, even if it’s rhetorical.

Growing up, making decisions, choosing paths.  Brrrrrrr… just felt the icy finger of old age and death brush my cheek.  So, no, I’ll just keep arguing with myself and defer the decision until later.

Until I grow up.

But, then, isn’t not making a decision still making a decision?

And right on cue… it’s those stellar debating skills.  Magical I tell you.

Simply magical.

Oy.

Living among giants…

I didn’t want this job.  Never.  Not at all.

I didn’t want to be the one left behind.  The one who has to pick up the pieces.  The one who has to be the glue.

I’m not her.

But somehow that has become my role.  That is what I do now.  That is me.  I am an adult, at the Grownup Table, although I keep thinking that it’s not possible that this is true.

I’m not ready.

I spent several hours this weekend looking at pictures.  Pictures of Ghosts.  Well, most of them anyway.  Pictures of my parents, and my Aunts and Uncles, and my cousins and me.  And it seems like those pictures were just taken a week ago.

Really.  Just a week.  Not 30 years.

Thirty years, how can that be?  They all looked so young, so confident, like giants.  To me that’s what they were.  And are.  They were the grownups, at the Adult Table, laughing and talking, and we were not.  We were the members of the club known as The Children’s Table.  Because we were the children, best seen and not heard, and they were the adults.

They were legendary to me.

And back then, as I sat at the Children’s Table, I looked so longingly at the Adult’s Table, and I wanted so badly to be able to sit there.  To be able to be in their club.  It looked like it was so much more fun.  Like it was much more magical.  To sit among Giants.  To sit with them.  And sometimes you get your wish, but the way it is granted hurts so badly that you don’t know why you ever wished that wish to begin with.  Because those Giants are almost all gone.  And we are sitting in their seats, pretending to be grownups, pretending to be Giants.

We are not.

We’re not adults, we’re not giants, we’re the people at the Children’s Table.  We are not them.

But this is our time, that is our table, and life moves fleetingly fast.  In what seems to have been seconds we populated our own group for the Children’s Table.  The Giants at the Adult Table moved aside for us.  But I still see them sitting there, laughing and talking, just as powerful in death as they were in life.

Memories.  That’s what life is made of.  And changing seats.  And somehow through the sands of time I have emerged as that person.  Putting it all together.  Holding it all together.  But please remember that I am not a Giant.  Not like them.  But I know what Giants looked like.  They looked like that.  And if I can one day be half the person that the generation before me was then I will die happy.

But let me die at the Children’s Table.  Because I don’t want to be in charge.  I don’t want to be a Giant.

I don’t.

I’m not.

I’m just doing what I must.  Being what I have to be.  Living in the midst of death.

Living.

Me.

Because I must.

I must.

Nine and counting…

Last weekend we began the process of dismantling my Mother’s life in earnest.  Hard stuff.  Seeing her life reduced to the banality of stuff.

Lots of stuff.

But stuff nonetheless.  Detritus.  Flotsam and jetsam.  And it just seemed so banal.  So common.  And I kept thinking as I did this hard work that she was so much more than all these piles of things.

So much more.

She was our world, she was our heart.  She was our Alpha and Omega.  She was.

But now all she is for us is piles of stuff.  Tee shirts of every color and style.  Forty two pairs of Jeans.  Thirty pairs of shoes.  Just stuff.  And somehow none of the stuff that meant so much to her, that sparkled so much when she was alive, looks that good now that she’s dead.  Like maybe somehow she was throwing some sort of magic onto all of it while she was here but when she left the magic left too…

Like that.

And now that she’s gone, all there is left is stuff.  Stuff that must go.  Stuff that none of us need or want.  Just stuff.  So far I’ve cleaned out nine bags of it.  So far.  There will be more.  Much more.  She liked stuff.  It made her feel secure.  Which means that the dresser filled with picture frames must have been her personal holy grail?  Yeah…  another three bags for that one I’m thinking.  At least three.

Wow.

And as I did the sorting and bagging, all I could think about was her.  And me.  And how one day someone will have to do this for me.  Someone will have to sort out my stuff.  And I wonder what they’ll think when they do that.  What will they say about me and my stuff?

Is what we leave behind?  Is what remains after we’re gone a picture of who we were in life?

Stuff… that draws a picture of us… in cotton, and wood, and glass… that shows the world an imago that we never intended to leave behind.  Such is the stuff from which a life is made.

Stuff.  Nine bags.  And counting.  And nowhere in all that stuff can we find her.  I know, I’ve checked, she’s not there.  All it is is stuff.  Leftovers.

And I want to just scream “take it all”  because I know better than anybody that in all that stuff that’s going away, she’s not there.  She is gone from us.  For good.  Because so far this death thing appears to be pretty irreversible.

So far.

So please just take the stuff.  We’re keeping the memories, and the magic, inside of our hearts.  She’s not in that stuff.  That’s just stuff.

Stuff.

Lots of stuff.

Who me? Are you talking to me? Are you sure?

Yeah, er, no, probably not.

And what that’s all about is the latest comment someone I don’t know made on one of my posts last week.  Someone kind.  Someone clearly confused.  Someone named Lloyd.  Who said this…

This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

Er, yeah.  Thanks?  I guess that’s the right response, right after “SRSLYWTF” that is.  Followed by “bless your heart”, because clearly he’s cray-cray.

Um hmmm, you know it.

But thank you Lloyd for your vote of confidence in my incredibly suspect skills on here.  I try.  It’s mostly coherent.  But I’m by no means the best.  Clearly my Statcounter numbers show that picture.

Clearly.

I was asked last week where I get the post ideas from.  And I think it concerned them when I replied “it’s all just swirling around in my head”.  Which means that Harold, my Mom, the dogs, the rats, Gandhi, and Harry Ashkenazi were all sharing that particular space for a few days.  Along with school, work, and life with Bob… which I chose not to include in my braindump.  Perhaps I’m the one who’s cray cray?

Perhaps.

All I know is that what happens on here is not magic.  It’s not planned.  It’s just what I feel like saying.  Whenever I feel like it needs to be said.  So I say it.  in 5000 words or less, and then it’s gone.

Like vomiting… with my fingers… in words.

You’re welcome.  Yet another visual you’ll not soon get rid of.  For free.  Take two, they’re small.

But thank you Lloyd for your kind words, and thank all of you four who read this thing… my Mom would be so proud that someone else is doing her job.  I’m nearly sure you’re not expanding your mind with this.  But it is marginally better than Faux News.  At least I’m honest… so there’s that.  But thanks for coming back.  It’s gratifying to see you all in the readership numbers.  Nobody likes to think they’re howling in the wilderness, with no one to hear them.  Well, no one other than Little Dog.  She frequently howls in the backyard.  Of course our backyard isn’t exactly what I’d call the wilderness, and Little Dog isn’t going to be mistaken for a Rhodes Scholar.  Not this week anyway, since she’s still got that annoying habit of recycling everybody’s poop into her own personal buffet.

Bless her heart.

And there’s another of those freebie mental pictures I give away like candy… again, you’re welcome.  Pro tip:  if she tries to kiss you –  JUST SAY NO.  Again, you’re welcome.

Anyway, thanks Lloyd, and thanks to all four of you regulars around here.  And thank you and good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are… which shows my love for inane and obscure trivia.  You are my village.  I am your idiot.  Are we all lucky or what?

Yeah, what.  That’s my vote.  Well, that and Lloyd.  I vote for him too.

Thanks.

Boy will he be disappointed…

So, I posted this on Facebook but I think it deserves a full writeup.  Because I’m really amused at how things sometimes get misdirected and go awry.  Pro tip for all of you… check your email addresses when you’re sending something that’s important.  Because sometimes things don’t go as you plan.  Because of stupid mistakes.

Such is life.  Right?

But, because I find much to laugh at in the ridiculous, I’m sharing this email, received by my hubby last week, because I want to crowd source the reply Bob should give this kind gentleman… if any… or if we should just let harry ashkenazi (of no capital letters  fame) wonder where his orchestra is on June 3d.

Here’s the email:

From: Harry Ashkenazi
To: Robert Weiner
Re: Harmonia Orchestra – June 3rd

Bob,

I received your voicemail today. Yes the gig is confirmed and I’d like to book you.

Please confirm.

Thanks,

Harry

Yep… apparently my husband has an orchestra?  The Harmonia Orchestra?  Who knew?  Well, me, for one, but only after some quality bonding time with the Google, and here’s their link:  http://www.harmoniaorchestra.com/.  Yes, indeed they’re for real… wow.  But unless he’s hiding far more from me than that single 1970′s era VHS pron tape that he can’t even watch any more because we no longer have a VHS player, Bob isn’t one of them…

I think.

But then again, there are times when he’s gone on Saturdays… could he be playing Simchas all over the Tampa Bay area?  Flying up to NYC to hit the Bar Mitzvah circuit?  Does he have a whole other life I don’t know about?

I don’t know.

But I do know that this confirmation needs to be answered.  I think.  So let’s come up with a crowd sourced reply to mr. ashkenazi (of no capital letters fame).  I’m waiting for you to weigh in.

Misdirected communication.  So easy.  So fun.  Like the postcard that got lost 50 years ago that shows up unexpectedly today.  From Bill’s Giant Ball of Twine.  Serving as proof that your life was just as ridiculous all those years ago as it is today.

It was.  It is. It will be again.

“Sorry harry… Bob can’t make it.  His backup singers are needing their shots and can’t currently get on a plane due to missing DHPP vaccines.  Mabel sends regrets… but Little Dog just ate your email and farted.  Oh, and she ate the Autoharp too, so clearly we can’t let her travel due to risks to the plane.  The wings are obviously her next target.  Thanks, but no.”

There, that’s one reply.  Give me yours.

Operators are standing by…