Archives for category: family

20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

In response to the daily prompt word, which was Float

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Around 10 years ago, we were on our yearly family vacation in Palm Coast, Florida visiting my dad. Our beach of choice while we are down there is Flagler Beach, a) because it’s right down the road from his house, and b) because it’s just an awesome beach.

My girls were young, and were playing in the surf under the watchful eye of their dad, and I decided to swim out a little.

A little.

I was treading water and decided it was time to head back in. I start kicking and paddling, and realize I’m not really getting anywhere. Every time I point a toe down to feel the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, all I feel is ocean.

I looked at a dude on his surf board, who was only a few yards away. I thought to myself, “should I ask him for help?” At this point I was very jealous of his floatation device. He could sit there cool as a cucumber, while I was beginning to feel the warm seed of panic growing in my lower belly.

Was I caught in a riptide?

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And then I remembered my father, who always said if you can’t get back to shore, swim parallel to the beach and eventually you’ll be able to make you way in.

For the next 5-10 minutes I floated and swam, floated and swam parallel to the shore, but moving slightly toward the beach with each kick and stroke. And finally, I could touch bottom. I lumbered my way through the surf and onto the beach where I heaved an audible sigh of relief.

I was safe, and I did it on my own. I didn’t need to be rescued by either surfer dude or the lifeguard. I walked back to where we were sitting…I was a good 75 yards down the beach…and plopped into my chair, out of breath. I told my sister and nieces what had happened, but seeing that I was back safe & sound, they didn’t make much of it.

But it had frightened me. I doubt either of my girls would have been able to keep cool and figure their way out of it. Now, I repeatedly tell them the same advice my father gave me every single time we are at the beach, and I encourage them to bring a boogie board with them in the water just in case.

And I watch them very closely…from the beach.

via Daily Prompt: Mope

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With the exception of two events, 2016 really sucked.

The two events? My daughter’s graduation from VCU and getting the best job of my life. Those are the only saving graces from 2016.

I spent a lot of 2016 moping. I remember long days at my desk at the real estate office, with little to do and less motivation to do what little work I had. I hated my job. I hated that it was only part time. I hated that I was chained to my desk, that getting time off required the approval of several people (in an office that only had 35 employees). I hated that I had no health or dental insurance, sans what little Obamacare offered me.

While I hated my job, I was grateful to have it, which was also mope-worthy. There had to be more to life than just working at a job you hated going to in order to pay the bills.

I had also stopped walking as much as I did. After pounding the pavement to the tune of 900 miles in 2015, and losing almost no weight in the process, I was discouraged. This year I only squeaked out 251 miles. The end result? I feel like shit as 2016 comes to a close.

The election? Let’s not even start. I am so disappointed in our country, who let a lying, racist, p*ssy grabbing con man get control of our lives. Fuck moping – I want to scream almost every day. I think my main goal in 2017 will be ignoring the fact that we have a president. I’ll just float down that river we call DaNile for a little while.

And my dad. Losing my dad sucked. Thinking back on all the vacations my family took to Dad’s house in Florida…all those days at Flagler Beach, playing volleyball in the pool, shots of slivovice with my sisters, and long dinners followed by story telling and reminiscing with dad. All gone.

That coupled with the election of Trumpsy Dumpsy really let wind out of my sails. I didn’t care about Christmas, I really didn’t care about anything.

But a new year is coming – it’s just days away and I can look forward to making improvements in my life. I’ve got this great job, with great benefits…I’ve got everything to live for, so it’s time to start taking better care of myself. Time to ignore the giant pumpkin in the white house and look at the joy in my own house.

Here’s to 2017.

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I don’t know what is wrong with me. I have zero Christmas spirit this year.

It might be because December was very busy for us this year. We had things to do every weekend from visiting family, one daughter’s birthday, and another daughter’s college graduation. The next thing I knew it was 10 days before Christmas and I didn’t even have my tree up.

Here’s what I did do.
I got a tree and put lights on it.
I put up lights on the house.

That’s it.

The tree has no decorations. I haven’t addressed a single Christmas card. I have started our family newsletter, but can’t seem to finish it. I didn’t set up our Christmas village…didn’t even take one box out of the closet. I didn’t set out any of my Christmas chachkis…The tin santas, the snowman on the sleigh, my wire reindeer, and the wooden santa with the little tiles that count down the days to Christmas are all still in their box up in my closet crawlspace.

As it got so late in December, I figured it was a waste to take them out only to have to put them back a week or so later. Same with the tree decorations. We don’t have a single ornament on the tree.

I had almost no time to shop. I did a fair share of it online, and one of my packages didn’t come at all even though I ordered it in November. Fucking low rent seller on Amazon. They’ll be getting a call from me on Monday.

Even wrapping presents today was a chore. I came to the realization as I huddled over my bed, struggling with cheap paper and a stubborn roll of scotch tape, that I hate wrapping.

I have deemed 2016 as the most unmerry of Christmases ever.

This may have a lot to do with my dad dying and a giant dangerous Cheeto as president elect. It seems life has little meaning.

At least I have good health coverage.

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When I was in college I took figure skating lessons for a whole semester, and I was pretty good. By the time I finished I could skate both forwards and backwards, and do both front and back crossovers. This was 1986.

Fast forward to 2000, when my husband landed a job at our local ice rink. We put our daughter in skating lessons, and she got to be pretty good too. I would still skate from time to time…I could still go forwards and backwards, but crossovers? Nah.

So I took adult lessons. And then I got pregnant. Not wanting to hurt the bun in the oven, I stopped my lessons. That was 2001.

Hubby recently began working at the same rink again. We got my younger daughter involved with skating lessons, and as I watched her unsteadily glide across the ice, it made me want to get out there with her.

So yesterday during my lunch I walked to the rink and slipped on a pair of skates. It was public session and the ice was sort of crowded. I gingerly stepped out on the ice and realized, with much dismay, that was not at all sure on my feet.

I hugged the wall 3/4 of the way around the ice, nearly losing my balance a time or two, and begged my husband to open up the door of the away-team bench so I could get the hell off. I couldn’t even make it back to where I had started. My head and body hurt from being so tense for the short time I was on the ice.

It really bummed me out. I used to glide with ease, helping my girls to skate, being the rock for them to lean on while they gained their footing. Now I’m just a fat fuddy-duddy hugging the wall.

Meh.


Sidenote: Thank God I stopped myself before trying to show my youngest how to do a cartwheel a year or so back

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Today I came back from my lunchtime walk to see several instant message alerts from my daughter in high school.

It seems that during her World History class, a boy who sits near her pulled her chair out from under her when she went to sit down. She was hurt and humiliated in front of her whole class. And me? I was furious.

I don’t understand why stuff like this happens. How a human being can think that it is ever a good idea to make another person look foolish when they have done nothing to you. Even that douchebag Trump waits until you criticize him before he throws you under the pussy grabbing bus.

Do you know the last time I pulled a chair out from under somebody? I was around 7 years old, and I did it to my babysitter to get a laugh out of my older siblings. The next day my parents tore me a new one, saying how I could have hurt her badly. I still remember that today, and I’ve never even contemplated pulling that stunt since.

I was a child then, but this kid? He should know better.

She spent that period crying, and trying not to show it. She texted me that she wanted to turn around and smack him, that she was really tempted to do it. I told her to think of what Michelle Obama said…”when they go low, you go high.”

She answered, “LOL true” and took the high road.

That’s MY daughter. A girl who is always friendly to others, who calls out bullies and who tries to be a good role model and top student. And what did she get in return? Some fuckwad who has no manners that thought he would brighten his day by humiliating my child.

I called the school to report it. See, it happened in front of a substitute and I didn’t want this little dickhead to think he got one over on her. Plus, my husband ranted to the assistant principal when he picked her up from school. He’ll get written up for it, and I’m fine with that. I didn’t expect him to get expelled or anything.

I just hope the school lets his parents know. I hope this “write up” goes home. Because mom & dad need to know that their little angel has shit on his halo. And they need to teach him how to respect people that have done absolutely nothing to him.

And my kid? She knows we’ve got her back. Big time.

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I’m going to have a different kind of Thanksgiving this year.

Hubby will be driving the Zamboni for Disney on Ice in Hampton VA that whole week, so we are spending our Thanksgiving at a hotel. That means, for the first time in my life, I will eat Thanksgiving dinner out.

I’m not sure what that will be like. Sure it’ll be nice to not have to cook all day. It’ll be nice to not have to do 2 or 3 loads of dishes either. What I’m not looking forward to is the traffic. Whether I decide to travel the night before Thanksgiving or the morning of, I think I’m in for some serious bumper to bumper action.

Then I wonder, should we try to find traditional fare that day, or should we just eat whatever…steak, burgers, Chinese? I guess it all depends on what’s open. I’d rather not get stuck at a Golden Corral or a Cracker Barrel, because to be blunt – the food pretty much sucks. But I also don’t want to pay $35 bucks per person either. So we shall see.

I mean, why should I care…it’s just a meal, right?

But Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to me – it’s family, and food, and wine, and laughter and a feeling of home. I don’t know if I’ll feel that at all this year, spending it at a hotel.

It should be an interesting weekend.

We are spending Thanksgiving evening viewing the annual Holiday Lights at the Beach. Seems they gussy up the Virginia Beach boardwalk with zillions of lights and displays, and you drive your car down the boardwalk and soak it all in.

Perhaps it will give me ideas for my Christmas decorations…a thing hubby and I argue over every year. He likes it simple…I’d rather go all out.

One bonus about this weekend? I already know what I’m making for Christmas dinner. Turkey with all the trimmings. For sure.

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I’ve been at my new job for a month now, and I have to say, I am really loving it.

After 2+ years of having to get permission from multiple people to take a day off, or leave early, and being chained to my desk from 9:30 to 5:30 (because God forbid the phone rings and isn’t answered IMMEDIATELY), it’s nice to be able to leave my phone-less desk and walk to get a cup of tea, or to just take a breather.

But it’s so much more than that. Because my newspaper is deeply steeped in our community, we have a presence at a lot of community functions. And with that presence comes free tickets. Free VIP tickets. Easy parking, lots of perks, and access to stuff the creme-de-la-creme of Charlottesville is used to, but I certainly am not.

For instance, next weekend I will attend the Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The next weekend is Tomtoberfest, a fall block party featuring a variety of danceable musicians and bands, a dozen of the best local food trucks and an Arts & Crafts fair. And all this is free and VIP. Yippee!

In October, my office will attend an Avett Brothers concert at an outdoor venue here in town. They have reserved this space called the Party Porch, and it’s a fun time to drink and socialize with my fellow co-workers. While I don’t really know the band very well, I’m willing to give them a listen to, especially if the wine is free.

I also found out, I get to claim expenses…now there’s something new. I get money towards my cell phone, towards parking, and if I joined a gym, they kick in money for that as well. When I go to take photos for the newspaper, I get mileage.

I get to work from home on Wednesdays. My company pays for a LogMeIn subscription, so I can access my work desktop from home and get my work done while sitting in my pajamas. It’s so awesome and it really breaks up the work week, making it seem a lot shorter.

And take this past Friday…almost the whole office left early. It was the Friday before Labor day weekend, and the ad work was all done, so…we just left, two hours early. And nobody cared.

At my last job there had to be a meeting of the chiefs just to see if we could leave early during a snow storm, or the day before Thanksgiving.

It’s all so wonderful. Each day that goes by, I discover something wonderful about my new job, and I’m pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

It makes me think back to the spring. I remember being in the shower and coming to the realization that I was never going to find another job. I hated the job I was at, but after several failed interviews at other companies I realized I was stuck where I was, and it was going to be fine. There were way worse places I could be working.

And now look at me. Everything has changed, and all because I happened to look on Craigslist on the right day. I’m certain it was divine intervention…or my dad from beyond the grave giving me a nudge.

When hubby and I were talking about all these fabulous new development and how happy and satisfied I am now, he said to me, “you’re not just on a roll. You’re on a buttered roll.”

He’s so right.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.28.15 AMOn Monday, June 27th I got the call that I had been dreading for years…My father had died. He was 92, and died in his own bed with my sister and his wife by his side, which isn’t a bad way to go. It was just his time.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to my dad, so I might just ramble on for a while and see where it leads me.

Pop was a morning man. I think this is where I get my love o’ the dawn from. Growing up, sleeping late on weekends was not an option. Before the smell of breakfast could reach your nostrils, dad was yelling up the stairs to “get the hell out of bed.”

Dad the Breakfast Cook. My father liked to cook breakfast every weekend. Anything from French toast, which I liked, to Liver and Onions, which I didn’t like, would be served up on our blue formica kitchen table. My favorite breakfast was Nana’s pancakes…Slovak crepes called palacinki. They are my daughters’ favorites to this day.

Dad was an adventurer at heart. While my mom was good for back to school clothes, or that pair of shoes you really wanted, she rarely let you walk on the wild side. But not when you were with dad…every tree was climbable, every rock was there for you to scramble up on, and every path was worth hiking down.

Dad liked to go visiting. I’ve blogged about this in the past, but Monday nights were his banking nights. He’d take us to his bank in Cliffside Park, and then we’d go visiting the various aunts, cousins and family friends who lived in the area. My father had no siblings, but he managed to make a huge family network for us made up of fairly distant relatives who felt like next of kin to us.

Dad in New York City. Many a Friday night my father carted all four of us kids into New York City. My brother and sister attended Slovak School, and my brother had accordion lessons as well. The lights and smells and sounds of New York in the 70’s is something that will always be with me. We usually ended up eating a dirty water dog from a NYC cart or a sack of White Castles in North Bergen.

Dad in front of the TV. My father had a bad back, so TV viewing was done on the floor laying flat on his back with head propped up against the couch.  He would do calisthenics and isometrics while watching “The Waltons,” or “Masterpiece Theater.” One of us kids would always make him a cup of Sanka, and bring him a piece of whatever Entenmann’s  cake mom had bought at the Co-op.

Dad on a Rant. Some weekends could be lethal at home when my dad was in a mood. Rooms had to be cleaned, the yard had to be raked, the garage needed cleaning out…you name it. I won’t even go into the lectures my poor mom got about all the food we had in the house that my mom wasn’t using – mainly because it was really far back in our ginormous kitchen cabinets.

Dad on Martha’s Vineyard. Dad was at his best up there…away from the pressures of work, and enjoying the place he loved. Mornings were for fishing (and catching a whole lot of nothing), afternoons were for the beach, and evenings were for dinner and a walk around town.

Dad behind the wheel. I’ll admit, driving with my dad could be a drag. He never got lost, but you had to listen to what he wanted to on the radio. That meant a whole lot of Bob Grant, and financial shows. I sent up a silent prayer when the Walkman was invented, and another when we could actually afford to buy me one.

Dad the Storyteller. Dad was always good for a story about his colorful life. Like how he used to get chased by the grumpy old man at the Palisades Amusement Park pool for digging holes in the sand…and then later in life, he became the grumpy old man as it was his job to fill in the holes the kids dug. Or how he and his friends would swing on a rope out over the Palisades, praying the rope wouldn’t break. And the one about him having to out-run some ruffians in his souped up car out in California. My dad had adventures, yes sir.

Dad the Healthnut. My dad was a bonafide health nut. He was always sneaking wheat germ and flax seed into our pancakes and oatmeal. When my mom boiled vegetables, he drank the water she cooked them in from a coffee cup because that’s where all the vitamins were. He took crazy vitamin pills like shark cartilage, and bee pollen way before it was hip and trendy. I am certain it is why he lived to be 92.

Dad the Helper. My father helped quite a few people over the course of his lifetime. He took my Aunt Carol, my mom’s sister, out of a mental facility to come live with us when he saw that she was never going to thrive there. She became a vital member of our family, and I cherished her presence growing up.

He was also a one-man Czechoslovakian UN.  My father sponsored my cousin Stello to come live with us for a year, where he worked in New York and was able to send money home to his family. He also sponsored my cousin Gitka, who came and stayed with us for a month and saw all the sights of the East Coast in the good old USA. He sponsored quite a few relatives to come and see the US – many of whom became citizens.

I also remember a couple who moved here from Czechoslovakia …Darinka and Louis, with their young son Renee. My father helped them get accustomed to the States, and we had them over our house many times for dinner – he let them know they had a friend nearby as they made their way in a new country.

I also recall him having the young son of a family friend stay with us over the summer. They lived in upstate New York, where there was little to do besides get high and get in trouble. This son was going down that wrong path, so he came to live with us for a few months. I had to take him to my volleyball matches, and listen to The Fixx.

I’m really going to miss him. I’ll miss breakfast at his house in Florida, sitting around the table as he yelled at CSPAN, while I did the crossword puzzle. I’ll miss his far left arguments, and his refusal to believe anything the right has to say. I’ll miss seeing him on the ferry to the Vineyard, big giant sunglasses and what was left of his hair whipping in the wind.

The world is a little dimmer without you here dad, that’s for sure. But know that you left some damn fine humans behind in your wake, and for that we are grateful.