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In late May of 2016, I unknowingly took my last drive down to see my father in Palm Coast, Florida.

We usually head East on I-64 and then hit I-95 for the duration of the 11 hour drive. But this year hubby got the idea for us to take an inland route to try and shave some time off our journey. In retrospect, this wound up being a huge bummer.

First of all, we got lost pretty early on. There was an exchange outside Farmington, VA that we totally missed, and we travelled a good 15 or 20 miles before I figured out something was amiss. We needed to turn around and go back.

But rather than backtrack to the place where we missed the turn, we tried to navigate our way through backroads in an attempt to recoup the time we had lost. And in doing that, we got even more lost.

For me, it wasn’t so much the getting lost that still remains with me today. It was the countryside we got lost in. We passed through several small Virginia towns that at any other time might have seemed quaint or charming.

But in late May of 2016? It was wall to wall trump signs. That entire, miserable trip down to my dad’s was nothing more than a marathon of small, trump-loving country towns. I feel like had we taken our usual route down I-95, I may not have been so assaulted with signs proclaiming support for the lying, orange conman.

And to make matters worse…we took the same way back home.

My dad died shortly after we got back from that trip. So the memory of my last journey to Florida? Yeah, it’s really marred. It’s soiled. It’s tarnished. It is also eerie. My dad hated trump as much as I do. He never got to cast his vote for Hilary.

That endless parade of trump signs? They haunt me. Especially now when the country is spiraling into disaster. It would have killed my dad. Seriously. Had he not died before the election, I think he would have given up by now.

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I can recall the day I decided to stop ordering drinks at restaurants. We were at a TGI Fridays, and we only ordered a few appetizers to share trying to keep costs down. Yet when the bill came, it was still super-expensive.

So I looked at the bill. $12 of it was soft drinks….sodas and my iced tea. TWELVE DOLLARS. For that amount of moolah one of us could’ve ordered a burger, and it was only for drinks.

So I turned to my girls and said, “Next time we eat out, let’s not order soda…we’ll just drink water.” And that’s just what we did.

And you know what? Nobody suffered without their Diet Coke, and although my usual beverage of unsweet tea with lemon would’ve been nice, water whet my whistle just fine. The best part? I really noticed the difference in the bill.

My husband is a professional soda drinker, and he’s the only one I have not been able to lure to the water side. He will still order a soda when we go out, but it’s okay. This way if one of the girls DO want to indulge in a sip of sugary sweetness, they just take a taste of Dad’s.

I figure I’ve saved myself at least $500 in the past few years by just cutting soft drinks from our lunch/dinner selections.

It’s an eating out strategy I am super proud of.

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Have you ever heard of the word “snork?” If not, read the urban dictionary definition above.

Yes, it’s that gross sound someone makes when their nasal passages are filled with snot, but rather than grab a tissue and discretely and privately blow their nose, they choose option B…which is to suck said snot up their nose and swallow it. AKA the snork.

It’s a disgusting sound – loud, wet and rattling – a sound that cuts through the air and makes those who are forced to hear it shudder. Or gag.

That being said, let me share a little something with you. I have a co-worker who snorks continually, all day, every day. She’s not sick. She does not complain of constant sinus problems. She just snorks. She’ll be standing over my desk, discussing an ad design with me, and before long I am forced to hear 4 ounces of phlegm travel up her nose and into her throat.

It’s worse after she sneezes. She has one of those stunted sneezes…not a hearty “achoo!” at all. It sounds as if she is swallowing the sneeze, and to make it worse, she’ll “sneeze” about 7 times in a row. And then…then comes the snorking. Over and over again, every 15 seconds or so. *SNORK!*  *SNORK!*

I am certain she has swallowed at least 43 gallons of snot since she began working here.

How does someone develop such a disgusting habit? I mean, she’s a grown woman with children. I don’t know how she has gone this far in life without someone taking her aside and asking her if she’s ever heard of a tissue. Or that foreign practice of nose-blowing.

She did this continual and constant snorking once during a staff meeting, where the entire office was present. It was so gross to hear, and I’m still baffled that not one person called her on it. We have some folks here who can take being snarky to an Olympic level…but not a peep from anyone.

Maybe it’s just me.

Nah…it can’t be. It’s too gross a sound. I guess everyone is too chicken-shit to call her out on it. I just hope I don’t snap one day, stand up and scream…”WILL YOU PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST BLOW YOUR NOSE!”

I really don’t want that to happen. I’ve already snapped at her for being a control-freak-know-it-all. I can’t handle being the snork police as well.

Oh God…she just sneezed….

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Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s been gone for 23 years now, and of course, I still miss her. My mom was a warm hug. It’s really the perfect way to describe her. You never doubted her love for you, unless you pissed her off, and even then, it took very little to get back in her good graces.

As I think about my relationship with my daughters, I can see some parallels between our relationship, and the one I had with my mom.

Mom would wake me up with a song when I would retreat under my blankets on a cold November morning.  Usually it was “Life is just Bowl of Cherries.” I don’t know why she chose that song, but it became synonymous with my mom’s cheerful, coaxing method of rousing us from our beds.

I do the same with my girls…but I use a song I wrote myself. Even at 22 & 15, some mornings my daughters beg me to sing it for them as they snuggle under the blankets for one minute more. I like to think they will sing it to their children one day.

My mom showed a lot of love – and not just through hugs. She was a great cook. Nothing gourmet, but just good, homey food. Pot roast, roast beef, great spaghetti sauce, and soups that I still crave to this day. She was also great about taking us shopping. My dad might bitch at her when the bills came due, but I would rock those new jeans she bought me like it was nobody’s business.

I try to do the same. My girls and I hug a lot, and there’s a lot of “love you’s.” As for the cooking? I’m not in the same ballpark as my mom. I’m not even tailgating in the parking lot of the ballpark. But I can make mean chicken soup, creamed spinach, and palacinke. My meatballs aren’t too bad, and I make a passable ziti. And shopping? I can’t tell you how many times I put off buying new sneakers, or a purse so my girls could get some new shirt or dress.

And they appreciate it. They will hug me and thank me for a good meal, or that pair of shoes. They tell me their friends think I’m a “cool mom.” Everyone loved my mom too. I get tons of Facebook messages from folks who remember my mother fondly.

One difference between my mom and me is the amount of openness about uncomfortable subjects. My mom was not the type to sit you down and tell you the facts of life. I knew about getting my period from girlfriends and movies at school. When my period started, I went to our local pharmacy, charged a box of maxi pads, and that’s how she found out I’d finally joined the ranks of womanhood.

Although she had an interesting life before she married my dad, she rarely shared anything about it. I know she lived and worked in Miami for a while after high school, and that her family life growing up was somewhat strained. Other than that…she was just my mom, with little to no history before she became “mom.”

In contrast, I try to be very open with my girls regarding boys, sex and their bodies. I say “try” because my oldest daughter wants nothing to do with conversations of that ilk with dear old mom. She’s very private.

My youngest? She’ll ask me anything and everything. She’ll talk to me while toweling off after a shower, not caring in the least that I see her naked. I helped show her how to use tampons. You don’t get much closer than that.

I also share my past with my girls. Rarely do we take a half hour drive where at some point I turn the radio down to tell them some stupid little tale from my past. Just this morning on the way to school, I told them about a club I frequented when I lived in Vienna for a semester.

Hell, it’s why I write this blog. I started it when I realized I knew zero about my mom’s history. So I tell my stories, so that they can always look back and see what there dear old mamsh (nickname) was up to in her youth.

So mom, on your birthday, I dedicate this blog to you. Your love, warmth and support showed me how to be the mother I am to my two girls. And I know they really appreciate it. You might not have been here for their lives, but you gave them a pretty awesome gift in showing me how to rock the role of Mom.

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I really dig old movies. Growing up there were many times I would stumble across some movie on AMC or TCM, give it a few minutes and get drawn into the story.

Five of my favorites have one thing in common. Ward Bond. This dude made hundreds and hundreds of pictures…sometimes just bit roles, others major players. I don’t know when I realized that this guy kept popping up in all my favorite movies, but time after time, I’d be like…Hey! There’s Ward Bond again!

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Movie 1 – The Grapes of Wrath
I love this book, and I love this movie. Bond had a bit part as a motorcycle cop giving the Joad family the low-down on work in the area.

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Movie 2 – The Fighting Sullivans
This is one of those movies I stumbled across on a Saturday afternoon – I think I was in my late teens. I got caught up in the story of 5 brothers who did everything together, including joining the Navy in WWII. Bond, in another small role, plays Commander Robinson, who has to deliver the sad news that all five Sullivan boys died in the line of duty. It’s a tissue-worthy scene.

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Movie 3 – Gone With the Wind
Another small role for Bond, but in one of the greatest movies of all time.  In this classic, he plays Tom, a Yankee captain who comes to arrest Ashley Wilkes for leading a raid on a shantytown. His attempts are thwarted when Rhett swears that Ashley was with him at the home of Belle Watling, the local prostitute. Bond leaves without Ashley, and with his tail between his legs.

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Movie 4 – Mr. Roberts
Playing the role of Chief Petty Officer Dowdy, Ward Bond joined the crew aboard a United States Navy cargo ship during WWII, mercilessly ruled by James Cagney. If you’ve never seen it, add it to your list. With a cast that includes Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon, you can’t go wrong.

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Movie 5 – It’s a Wonderful Life
Good old Burt the Cop…Remember the scene where Burt, Ernie and George are ogling Violet as she walks down the street in her pretty dress? Burt says, “I think I’ll go home and see what the wife is doing.” I don’t know about you guys, but I think old Burt was looking for a little afternoon delight.

In conclusion
I didn’t realize until this morning that Ward Bond was kind of a Hollywood douche. According to IMDB Bond was “perhaps the most vehement proponent, among the Hollywood community, of blacklisting in the witch hunts of the 1950s, and he served as a most unforgiving president of the ultra-right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. ”

Sorry, in my book, that sucks. I loved you in the movies, but screw you Ward Bond.

thomas_mitchellAn interesting side note…
There is one other actor who shares the screen in 3 of the above-mentioned movies. Thomas Mitchell plays Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life, Gerald O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, and Tom Sullivan in The Fighting Sullivans

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During my last doctor’s visit, while my numbers still needed improving, he was impressed with the amount of walking I did. Most months I walk around 65 miles, and while I was hoping to keep that up, August happened.

I’m not a fan of August now that I’m older. When I was young it was prime summer vacation time…hot, trips to the pool, weeks spent on Martha’s Vineyard. But now? It’s just hot…too hot to walk other than in the early morning. And add to that equation the fact that my daughter starts school the 2nd week of August, and my morning walks go out the window.

But I really didn’t even walk on the weekends. I’m not sure why. I was being lazy, I guess.

But today dawned cool and rainy…what is left of Harvey is paying us a visit. And while I can forgive myself for letting August slip away, I won’t let that same mistake happen in September. So I grabbed my umbrella and did my morning walk – just a little over a mile and a half.

It felt good.

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The world went berserk the other day when Melania trump showed up with don the con to survey the damage of hurricane Harvey in a pair of 5 inch stiletto heels.

I was one of them. I want to try to explain why this made me angry.

It was pouring rain here in Virginia on Monday. When I was dressing for work, I thought about what I should wear, because, like I said, it was raining. I’d have to walk from my parking lot to my office, and knowing I would encounter several puddles, I chose to wear my sneakers.

So when Melania knew she was going to a flood zone, an area ravaged by 2 days of rainfall, she chooses to wear fuck me pumps. Why? Because she is totally out of touch with reality.

She’s been lavished with money and privilege for so long that she need not worry about stupid little details like stepping in puddles or remembering your umbrella. She is used to stepping directly from limo to Neiman Marcus without a drop of rain hitting her perfectly coiffed head.

She made no effort to appear humble, or ordinary, or commonplace. She feels the need to be stunning at all times. She has no clue that appearing in Houston in an outfit that probably cost more than most people make in a week is offensive.

Just like her stupid, dimwitted, lying husband, she is clueless as to what being a real American is about. Just stick to your ivory tower, FLOTUS…you don’t fit in out here with the rest of us.

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Did any of you view the solar eclipse yesterday?  I for one wasn’t sure I was going to be able to

First there was the business of finding glasses. Like usual, I procrastinated until about 9 days before the eclipse. I found glasses reasonably priced on Amazon, but with all the phonies out there, and the fact that I sort of hate Amazon (trump/Breitbart) I never ordered them. Plus, I had looked at the forecast for the 21st and saw that there was a real possibility of cloud cover and *gasp!* rain. My thought was, why spend $40 on glasses if I can’t use them?

Then I found out that our local library was giving them away. I called to find out if they still had any left, and they had given out their last pair just an hour before. Typical.

But the librarian told me that you could get a pair if you attended their viewing party at 1:00 pm the day of the eclipse! Yay! Glasses. Boo! I have to work.

My solution was to send my daughters to the viewing party and for hubby and I to wing it in town. Older daughter did not have to work, and younger daughter’s school was doing ugats in the form of eclipse viewing, so I wrote a note excusing her from school at 12:45…after all, how often do you get to skip school to view an eclipse???

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A few days before the big event, I found out that the local library in Charlottesville was also handing out glasses. This turned out to be very clusterfuckish. I showed up at the library a good hour before the line for their viewing party was to begin. In the lobby I was “greeted” by a very snarky woman who spent the next 10 minutes rolling her eyes and huffing and puffing because she had to repeat “the rules” several times. There were only 300 pair of glasses for all of Cville….rats. I was going to have to make my own luck.

Deciding to ignore “the rules” I high-tailed it up to the 3rd floor where the event was to take place and found 4 others quietly sitting in a small foyer. We began to quietly chat confirming that we were all here to try to get dibs on the glasses. After several elevator dings later throngs of noisy people were crowding the small foyer, thus drawing the attention of other library personnel who made us all skedaddle unless we had a physical impairment that made climbing steps impossible.

Busted. We all  had to go down to the children’s library and get in line. The crowd for the elevator down to the main floor was large, so rather than wait like a good sheep, I took another hallway and found the steps down to the children’s library. I was about 70th in line, and beat all my foyer buddies who took the elevator. Long story short, I got my glasses!

The line for glasses went out the door, down the street and around the corner. Poor dudes. It was hot out, and probably zero chance for any of them to get glasses. But the minute I had the sun in plain view, I put those puppies on and took my first look at the 2017 eclipse.

I was so excited! It was all working out! My girls had their glasses back home, and hubby and I could view it in town! Hooray! I was sharing the glasses with co-workers and hubby…and then…

21015836_10155144154914332_5680576542622452146_oClouds. And rain.

I was bummed to the core, but didn’t lose hope. At the time when the eclipse was to peak, I ran up to hubby’s work, in the rain, on the off chance that the skies would clear for us.

And you know what? They did. Right at peak coverage, a tiny hole in the clouds appeared just enough for us to view the eclipse. While it was only 87% coverage, it was still very, very cool.

Shortly thereafter the clouds blew elsewhere and we were able to see the back side of the eclipse. My girls weren’t so lucky…the clouds did not cooperate for them to see anything more than the beginning and end.

Despite all the trouble and worries I had leading up to the eclipse, it all kind of worked out. That was cool.

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Recently I was on Martha’s Vineyard, and my sister, with a penchant for apple fritters, insisted we wait in line at Back Door Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oak Bluffs that will sell hot, fried, sugary delights from the back door from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

We had taken part in this new island tradition the last time we were up there, but we did it earlier in the evening and sampled the greasy goods while sitting in ocean park during sunset. I was never really impressed – perhaps I’m just not an apple fritter kind of gal.

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This time we went much later in the evening. I think it was closer to 10 pm and the line was enormous. It snaked back and forth along a roped off path; I’d gamble to say that there were at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I think the line for Space Mountain was shorter.

I was already weary after a long night of walking around town, but my husband and kids wanted some hot donuts, so we decided to wait in line with the family. While waiting we perused the menu they had written out by hand on a couple of sheets of poster board. My brother aptly stated “these better be the best donuts on the planet for this long of a wait.”

After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes, we finally went to place our order, only to find out that 75% of the donut varieties on the menu board were sold out. At no time did any bakery employee come out and announce that they were no longer available, or better yet, place a sticky note or a placard saying “SOLD OUT” over that variety on the menu.

Nope, these greedy mothers wanted to you keep waiting in line, KNOWING that you would settle for any donut because like an ass, you had waited in line for an hour.

Typical of Tracy, I was not amused…especially since I didn’t even want a fucking donut. I got the fried dough instead, which wound up being a total disappointment. I got crispy, over-fried strips of dough that more closely resembled bread sticks. My idea of fried dough is like what you would get at an Italian fair…a zeppole. I gave the bag to my sister who had smartly decided to have a few beers while we sheep waited in line.

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I won’t ever waste my time there again. If hubby and my girls want to that’s fine.  I’ll sit in the park watching the gazebo and hearing the waves crash along the Oak Bluffs beach – let someone else wait in line.

20170606_163147I am not ashamed to admit it…I love my job.

Sure it can get frustrating constantly dealing with deadlines, and clients who get their ad materials in an hour before press time. Sure it sucks when your sales rep gives you the bare minimum of information when designing an ad that you spend an hour on, only to have the client say “it’s not what they were looking for.

But when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, I love my job.

Take today…I am working from home. I already work from home every Wednesday, which is our slowest production day, but this Friday our sales team met their goal, and they have the day off. My publisher, the fair and reasonable gal that she is, told us we could work from home as well. So I sit here in my jammies, mug of tea by my side, writing this rather than driving into town to the office.

This happens frequently. On days where she can our newspaper and magazines are in good shape, she’ll send us home early. This is because she knows that when we are swamped with ad builds, we work weekends and after hours to get proofs out. She acknowledges that, and gives us time off when we are slow.

This is something my other bosses never quite got. Hell, at my last job if I needed to leave early because family was coming in or I had a doctor’s appointment you had to SHOW you made up the time. The fact that I came in 1/2 hour early every day, or sometimes never took a lunch break escaped their notice. They were slave masters when it came to hours.

I also love my job because I respect the product we put out. My newspaper is the heart of Charlottesville…the alternative to your basic newspaper, we cover topics that others won’t touch. This was the cover of our last issue of 2016…12_28_2016 CVILLEWEEKpg01It took BALLS to put this out there for all of Charlottesville to see….to boldly show that we do not agree with what is going on in Washington and around the country. We got a lot of flack for this cover. There are still a few advertisers that refuse to do business with us. But that is why I LOVE our product. They are not afraid to tell it like it is.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 7.42.22 AMThis is another one of my favorite covers from a previous year. Colorful and fun, promoting equality and diversity…and with a drag queen front and center.

My paper sponsors a lot of awesome events in town as well. Not only the Pride Festival, which this cover was promoting, but the Tom Tom Founders Festival, our local baseball team, the Tom Sox, along with a plethora of other community events. They are very invested in our town, and I really dig that.

My company also shows a ton of appreciation for it’s employees. We are fed often…There are always snacks on the table – actually, I’m not sure if this is really a good thing…

My boss is taking my coworkers and I to lunch next week – this after she bought a whole bunch of us lunch just a few weeks back. We frequently have work time-outs where we play games, drink wine and snack for an hour or so at the end of the day. They plan outings for us as well. In a few weeks we will all meet at a TomSox baseball game for a barbecue and drinks.

Yes, there are perks a plenty! Gift cards, free concert tickets and tickets to lots of community events are handed out frequently. During the spring my family got to attend an outdoor barbecue that costs $75 per ticket. I got my daughters free tickets to a Parachute concert a few months back.

Ooops! It’s 9 am! time to log in from home and begin my day. You know what they say…when you love your job you don’t work a day in your life.