11 March 2015

Saying Goodbye

I went to the old Galbraith family house today for the very last time. Tomorrow it will belong to another family, ready to begin new memories and traditions.
I thought I came to say goodbye to Mom, as she was the last to truly live in the house. But it was Dad to whom I ended up saying hello again. Upon going into the house, I immediately went to our parent's bedroom. I found a Mother's Day card beneath a drawer in their old dresser.  The signature was clearly Dad's writing: "From your girls."  He was not one to mince words.
I now wonder what led me to pull out that drawer in its entirety and find such a lovely albeit terse memento.

I also found a note pad with Dad's scratchings from a newspaper puzzle that we would race to figure out each morning before he went off to work and I to school.
Such a trivial thing, but such a shock to be given a piece of our past so cherished and brought immediately to the present.

Finally, in the basement by his impeccably organized workbench, a slip of paper fell to the ground when I opened a drawer labeled "chisels."  It was a receipt from a hardware store for the paint we used to paint my old bedroom.

It was the last project he and I worked on together, as he died not a full five months after the date on the receipt. There are still spots on the ceiling where my roller hit with wall paint. Drove him nuts.

After my discoveries, I let down my guard and saw the house again as I saw it when I was a child. The giant beech tree outside my sister's and my bedroom window, the one that gave beautiful shade and beech nuts that would fall into our pool and inevitably clog the filter.  The snow covering the section of our yard that, summer after summer, was home to our dad's vegetable garden. The dread of having to help him turn over the earth for that garden every spring. The bathroom sink my mom would fill when I was no older than three, to let me play in the water: "puddling" was her word for it.

So much of this was an unexpected surprise, an uncovering of raw emotion. I had only driven down to pick up a few last relics of our lives there.  I think the house and it's ghosts wanted to reminisce. I'm glad I took the time to listen. 

01 January 2015

For My Sisters

Ah, how the proverbial Time flies. It has been over a year since my last entry and life around our house has changed and has stayed the same all at once.

[Warning: Sappiness ahead]

The biggest change: I lost my mother back in June. She battled her sickness for a long time, almost five years, and when her final moment came, it came quickly. My sister Laura was with her down in our little hometown in Connecticut, and then minutes later, my sister Marianne was there as well. It was the early hours of the morning when Laura called me in Massachusetts and our sister, Sharon, down in Georgia to give the news.   

It was at that moment that we were a family more than we had ever been before. Because while we were parentless for the first time, our father having died back in 1991, we had each other.  

This was big. Very big. Because four sisters growing up in one family, all with individual personalities but all raised to be independent, intelligent, and strong, are bound to have differences if not all out warfare. Which did happen growing up. And still does happen, even today, when we discernibly love each other, but are still susceptible to becoming pissed off at one another, because we are human.  But no matter how far apart we drift, the DNA we share will continually bring us back. 

And so, this is my sisterly love letter to Marianne, Laura, and Sharon. My sisters. May the new year clear our hearts of the sadness that is loss. And may we always understand and love each other, even when we don't. You know what I mean. 

Happy New Year, everyone.  And peace.

08 November 2013

We Are THIS CLOSE to Becoming Known as "That Crazy Family" in Town

This is a warning to all you FaceTime users.  Take note:  it is not a pretty story.

Proceed with caution.
It all began yesterday on a drive home from my son, Alex's, doctor's appointment.  Normally I can't get any kind of information out of him, but I had him trapped in my car (another miracle since he got his driver's license).  And so we had a great chat, discussing world news topics, what's going on at school, things he has seen recently that he thinks are hilarious.  And then he came out with this, which I think is damned hilarious:

"Hey--last weekend Fred* wanted me to answer my phone, so he FaceTimed me.  But Dad answered and he was only wearing a towel.  And Dad was making one of those faces like he was some old guy who had no clue what he was doing.  Fred was so freaked out he hung up.  What's up with that?"

I practically had to pull off the road because  my eyes were filled with tears from laughing so hard.  We needed to get to the bottom of this.  Pronto.

When Jay got home, our son was out, but I couldn't wait until he was back to spring this gem on Jay.  The conversation went like this: 

Me:  "Did you know that you answered a FaceTime last weekend from Fred and you were only wearing a towel?!!!"
Jay:  "HARHARHARHAR *SNORT* GUFFAW!  OMIGOD!!  I thought that was a text from Jason!  My phone rang and I was just getting out of the shower when I answered it--I couldn't figure out what was going on!"  [Apparently he did not wear his readers into the shower]

Mind you, no embarrassment whatsoever. 

He explained that he totally screwed up his phone the last time he downloaded an iOS update, and now occasionally gets things obviously not meant for him sent his way. 

Poor Fred.  That kid will never, ever FaceTime Alex again.  And I warn the rest of you:  shield your eyes partially if you ever try to do the same.  You just never know...

*The subject's name has been changed to protect him from...well, you know.

29 October 2013

Who Needs Enemies When You Have a Morning Like This?!

It has been so many, many moons since I have last written. But this morning was a humdinger and after only two events I realized I needed to share, if only to give a laugh to someone or help another realize that life is good...especially if you're not Joanne.

The day started not that badly.  The dogs let me sleep until my alarm went off, which isn't an all-the-time kind of thing.  The kids got off to school without a hitch and Jay left for work without driving me nuts about why the upstairs office is such a mess, why there is only a 1/2 cup of coffee left in the pot, or how much he loves skiing and he wants to do it RIGHT NOW.  THIS VERY INSTANT.  

It was all good.

[Children take heed: The following is what happens when you: 1) Stop going to the dentist regularly once you are out from under your parents' protective wings and into the big, wide world of adulthood; 2) Ignore the dentist (once you do go) when they tell you that you have a cavity that needs to be taken care of.]
So after an uneventful early morning, my trip to the dentist happened.  I had a toothache.  In my experience, the less a dentist looks at your teeth, the worse the prognosis.  And so it was.  I heard the ominous words (cue the dramatic music), "This tooth cannot be saved."  I knew the end of my business with regular dentistry, at least for now, was nigh.  Onto the oral surgeon!  Implants and bridgework galore!  GroanI left the office feeling humbled, not because they were mean to me--actually the entire staff at my dentist's office is lovely--but that I was such an idiot to ignore one of the most basic things in life:  Teeth!
(By the way, I know my very best friend of all time, Laleh, who is all about going to the dentist regularly, may actually be comatose right now, simply from the sheer trauma of reading this (that is, if she has read this!). 

After such fun (such FUN), I felt the need for some retail therapy, if you count grocery shopping as such.  I did my trip through the store, completely distracted by the fearful daydream of dentures, paid and left.  As I was walking toward my car, I unlocked the doors, not really paying much attention to what I was doing.  Once at my car, I opened the back door, and there you go, Bob's your uncle:  the alarm went off.  Loudly.

My thought process kicked in...finally:

"oh.  wait.  this is not my car."

And then I got my butt out of there before the cops showed up.  This is not the first time I have done something like this, I remind you.  This was me, too:  http://theimperfectionist23.blogspot.com/2012/04/warning-lock-your-car-doors-here-i-come.html

I am now home, waiting for something else just as fun to happen this afternoon.  But in the meantime, even with my morning turning out the way it did, how can I not be happy when today looks like this? 

And so, my long-winded message is this:  find some good in today, even if everything is seemingly awful.  It can help you laugh at the crappy stuff, and who isn't up for that?!

25 April 2013

Yes, I Have Mirrors in My House. What of It?

An old errant habit resurfaced this morning, viz. not checking my look before I leave the house.  After I had dropped the kids off at school, I decided to stop by the grocery store to pick up some noshes to keep book club satisfied tomorrow night, and then on to that Shangri-la we all know as Walmart to get Janie a white t-shirt, which she informed me (last night) she had to have by today. 

Mind you, I am not the type to get all duded-up to drop the kids off at school, so I was less than public-ready when I started my rounds.  This fact only occurred to me as I was walking into Walmart and caught my reflection in the sliding glass door.  My sweater was rumpled and the jeans I was wearing were so baggy that the crotch was hanging out just above my knees, giving my legs a nice, stout, Oompa-loompa look.  The look was finished of by a pair of beat-up Ugg slippers (not even actual shoes/boots), lending a quality of super-sized, gout-ridden feet.  So pretty.

I bee-lined through the store, grabbed what I needed, paid, and booked it the hell out of there.  Back in my car I winced as I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror.  No make-up, hair finger-raked at best.  I was (OK, I'll admit it: I still am) rocking an awesome haggard and haggish (i.e. looking like a witch, not to be confused with the Scottish offal delicacy) vibe. 

And to think that as a child I was embarrassed when my mother would wear her around-the-house CVO's in public.  I've got it all over her.

I'll never learn.  It will happen again.  And I bet this makes lots of people feel better about their own look they're rocking today.

24 April 2013

Teeth Brushing Musings

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I was thinking about lots of things that, for me, have brightened the last couple of weeks.  Even in the darkest moments, it's nice to be able to smile, even if it is for a brief moment.  It helps you realize that there's always a bit of good out there.

Here are a few things that I'm grateful for (to my family and friends--forgive me--you guys are a given):
  • Anything written by P. G. Wodehouse. In addition to every story being light and frivolous, reading his work makes you want to say things like, "Right-ho!" and "Jolly good!"
  • Pansies, forsythia, and anything blooming after such a bleak and snowy winter.

  • How our small community has embraced helping out one of its own, Taylor Sack.  Taylor is a high school student here in our small Massachusetts town and suffered an injury to his spinal cord in a skiing accident back in February.  People here have done everything from organizing fundraisers to helping Taylor's family remodel their house so it will be a better living space for him once he arrives home.  One of Taylor's fellow classmates made a video for him to see how the work is coming along:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1knd-q0Gjw  The outpouring of love is just amazing.  Makes you believe in humanity. [cue me sobbing uncontrollably]  Here's a little more of Taylor's story:  http://www.taylorsack.org/ . 
  • The announcement of a new venture for a great musician, Tim Shiel.  He has begun recording with another talented artist, Ben Abraham, and together they are named Telling.  Here is their first creation made available for our ears:  https://soundcloud.com/#tellingmusic/stella  Love it.  I can't tire of it, and I'm looking forward to hearing lots more. 
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly as the flavor trend of the moment.  Salted caramel is so yesterday.  And what a great excuse to indulge in my all-time favorite combo, while staying in vogue.
Maybe one of these things will bring smiles to others, too.   Maybe not.  I just hope everyone can find something, anything to bring on a little joy.  Good luck to all finding your own bit of sunshine.

16 April 2013

How Sloshed Paint Became My Madeleines (à la Proust)

After getting a dose of today's morning news, I, like so many other people in the Boston area as well as nationwide needed an escape.  I did not want to minimize the horrifying course of events that happened at yesterday's Boston Marathon, but was in dire need of a mental escape if only for a few hours. 

What to do?  Exercise?  Yard work?  Bake?  Binge stress eat?  While the thought of a chimichanga washed down with a pint of Ben & Jerry's at 9:00 AM sounded quite appealing, I turned to the mindless and yet cathartic task of repainting all of the white trim in the main downstairs section of our house. 

Supplies gathered, I began to prep the paint.  As I was stirring it, some sloshed over the side of the can.  Automatically, I grabbed my paintbrush and brushed the excess paint up the side and over the rim back into the can.  And voil√†, a Proustian moment emerged.  I was transported back in time to my early teens, on a bleak Saturday in late winter/early spring.  I was helping my dad paint a room.  I was often dragged into such projects when he was forced to take on menial chores during the winter months that did not permit him to be out in his gardens, puttering endlessly.  My present-day self clearly remembered him showing me how to hold the brush and drag any excess paint back up into the can, just as I had done not a few seconds ago. 

Back in my kitchen as I worked on the trim, my brush strokes brought back different memories of other techniques he had taught me, though now I take them for granted as if they were an innate part of me.  Things like giving the brush a wiggle when the bristles aren't moving where you want them to.  Or how to remove a lone bristle from a wet painted surface with the tip of your brush.  Or how to fan your fingers across the ferrule to get better control.  How to paint with confidence.

And he was suddenly here with me, giving me comfort on a day when we all could use some.

Cleaning up, I mused at how, when teaching me his painting tricks, he probably never thought they'd resurface in my adult mind some thirty-odd years later.  I'm sure to him, they were just ways to make the job easier.  But for me they resulted in a fond and nostalgic memory. 

He's been gone from this life now for twenty-two years, and yet because of a rainy afternoon of painting so long ago, he was here today.  The small, insignificant things we do can touch lives just as much as the eventful, grandiose ones.  Let's hope we all give a warm memory to someone when we don't even realize we're doing it.  You never know.  You may have already done it many times.

And finally, on a lighter note:

Guess who helped paint today?