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Love Is Not Optional

Dear Joanie has had another number of recent losses in her life and has had an opportunity to reflect.

First of all, love is not optional.  It does not allow you to choose it- rather it chooses you.  Whether it be in the sweet face of a newborn with its little wide eyed gaze or the face of a beloved mother in the last moments of her life- looking at you for all the world as if you are the world’s most important girl- it is not optional.  A husband asleep on his pillow- a puppy lounging at your feet- a baby in her crib- what sweeter times are there?  None, really.

From the moment you first exchange glances, breaths or thoughts, love is. Joanie has had a lot of opportunities for love in her life and she is so thankful for it.  She thinks of all of the times that it has stood at her doorstep, and the times that she has opened the door to it, and the most wonderful of those times have been when it has been welcomed in.

We live, we love, we lose.  We love those who do good for others, we love those who do for us, and we love those that we help because they cannot help themselves.

She is sad when she loses someone special- she is sad when bad things happen to great people- she carries flowers to memorial services and cemeteries without fail and she mourns her losses.  She buries the dead and marries those alive and full of hope.

Joanie has been placed on this earth to be there and she knows it.  She is at births, she is at deaths and she is there inbetween to share joy and to share sorrow.  And for that she is grateful.

God bless you, my dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.

Love Is Not Optional

Dear Joanie has had another number of recent losses in her life and has had an opportunity to reflect.

First of all, love is not optional.  It does not allow you to choose it

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March 7, 2012 · 4:19 am

Moving Michael: It Takes a Village

DAY ONE:

Oh dear what a day it was!  Took an early ferry home- Daughter Dear, who lives next door to Joanie and Dear Paul, is moving to the upstairs portion of the house she has lived in for over 6 years, and Michael the Male Mental Hospital Attendant is moving into her basement apartment as he is experiencing some “money trouble…”  Talk about a recipe for disaster.  So, Dear Paul announces to me “Michael called and he’s ready to move- why isn’t she ready?”  Well hells bells I have no idea, since she has had weeks to prepare.  Bottom line is she isn’t ready and neither is he, and housekeeping skills are neither parties’ strong suit.  Sister Janis says that Daughter is a throwback to Mom and Aunt Mary Ann, neither of which would win any prizes in the “Clean House” category.  And of course, it is my sorry task to assist in the move.

Daughter has been in her place for a long time, and Michael has only been in his area for  a year, but Boy oh Boy what one human can do in a year is incredible.  Stink, funk, cat litter, stains and junk everywhere, and the house is ENTIRELY full and not a single thing has been packed for the move, including about 100 dead plants and huge freaking full fish tank- where’s the pit bull, Michael?  That’s about all that is missing to make this nightmare complete.

So, now envision Michael, who is huge and sick and keeps leaning on things and muttering “Sara” this and “Sara” that- who who in the heck is Sara?  Oh lovely- Sara is the half bald manic depressive bipolar cat that somehow managed to escape from the downstairs bathroom (her room) and then promptly ran upstairs to the open attic door and hid in the rafters somewhere.  Good.  Lock her in.  She’ll die eventually.

So, somewhere between hacking up a futon upstairs with a hand saw to get it down the stairs, heaving bags of complete rubbish out the upstairs windows, hauling a SLEEPER sofa out (those things weigh a ton), and the moving of Daughter’s piano… Son declares “Mom this isn’t a move- it’s a United Way project!  An eviction!  Where do you get these people, Mom?”  Oh boy I wanted to smack him one but needed him to continue to help so held myself back.

So, as we are wrenching every muscle in our collective bodies moving the piano, who do I see?  Oh yes!  I see Dear Paul and Michael, lounging on the sleeper sofa we had just hauled into the yard, munching contentedly on sandwiches, shooting the breeze like neither of them had a care in the world.  Michael stops chewing for a moment to ask if there is any Coke left and you can only imagine my answer.  We could have stranged both of them with the dirty pair of Jockey shorts I was hauling down from his compost heap of a bedroom, along with his stained sheets, comforters, “Jugs” magazines and smelly socks.

Oh and you can just imagine the refrigerator- new a year ago- full of condiments from KFC and did I mention the awful sheets he tacked up over all of the windows to see the TV better?

Thank God for Sister Janis and hubby or Dear Joanie would have had a stroke- they came over after work and helped for a couple of hours with the worst of the mess.  Sister Janis took one look upstairs where Michael was wheezing while slowly leafing through what he referred to as “paperwork” and “personal items” and she promptly instructed Dear Daughter to bring up more garbage bags and just started right in, loading them up around him.  She is quite decisive and Thank God for that!  She would have been a great Army general.

Ok, now the move gets even sweeter:  Daughter has to work the next two days.  So who gets to finish for her?  I bet you, Dear One, can guess the answer to that.  The entire house looks like a hurricane hit it and I can  tell you that it was ugly. Hurricane Michael is alive and well in Upper Whiskey Gulch.

Did I forget to mention that we also were contending with Molly the dog that barked for the ENTIRE day?  Someone, get Joanie a hatchet please because she is going to self inflict a head wound like Auntie Mary did, AFTER she kills the dog!  But there is a silver lining to every cloud I guess because when we let Molly back into the house since it looked like a thunderstorm was about to hit, she ran in and promptly ratted Sara the bipolar manic depressive half bald cat out of the attic.

So, Michael got his cat back.  In the meanwhile the thunderstorm starts and most of his belongings are in the yard.  “Oh well”, Michael said, “I’ll get it eventually… I’m pooped!”

DAY TWO:

In addition to the barking it now appears that Molly the Dog’s nasty habit of biting men has resurfaced.  Well, since this is her 11th foster home, Dear Daughter is trying to “make it work.”  We hadn’t planned to put her to sleep but did discuss it, and Dear Paul helpfully offered to put her in a box and “smoke her”- “won’t feel a thing” and I took the opportunity to remind him that that’s the very reason  Sister got divorced the first time- her also helpful (and cheap) husband offered to shoot her horse rather than spend the money to have the vet come out.  You can guess the outcome of that little skirmish I bet- Sister 1, Husband 0.  Molly made the cut- no smoking this one today…

So, on Saturday of Move Weekend, Joanie was at her house, fetching, no doubt, another gallon or two of cleaning products,paper towels, rags or garbage bags, when one small Granddaughter comes schreeching in, dragging a wild-eyed, panting Molly by her leash-  “Grandma- she screams, breathlessly- Molly bit the neighbor!  Molly bit the neighbor!”  First I told her to loosen the leash a teensy bit as Molly was looking somewhat limp, then turned pale and asked her which neighbor- the nut job down the street that likes to point her security cameras at everyone- the one that has a fondness for restraining orders and calls the local finest each and every Fourth of July to report our fireworks, or the guy right next door whose cars were run over in a “mishap” caused by our son- the same man that calls the cops when people turn around in his driveway?

“No, Grandma, Michael” she said “Molly bit Michael!  And he says send alcohol, Grandma!”  Does the man not stock a freaking cupboard, I mutter under my breath, but, thinking lawsuit I sent over a bottle and some bandages.  Well I can say we did warn him- we did- that Molly hates big men (big men especially in dark pants), Really Hates Men and has a hefty track record to prove it. Well she snapped at him and there is oh yes, a scratch on his huge hairy leg.  Apparently he was kicking at her at the time so I didn’t really blame her, and he himself admitted that he does deep fat fry a lot of chicken so maybe that was part of her issue, but in any case, now not only is he half hysterical, wheezing, short of breath and in bad physical condition overall, now he’s INJURED!  Great!  He’ll never get moved!

So, Michael gets patched up and we attempt to get back to work.  The space he is moving out of has a big sun room which was filled with hundreds of dead and dying plants, and rather than haul them downstairs he suggests that I hand them out one of the windows to him- a full story down, and he would reinstate them in the yard.  So, he clambers up into the planter area and heave ho, away we go!  I hand them all out until we get to the great big ones, which I hesitate to hand out, but hey, he’s insisting, so what choice do I have?

Pots filled with spiders, dirt, old leaves, termites, gunk- thar she blows, Matey!  And that’s not counting the old crates, tables with teetering legs, milk jugs filled with murky fluids and potions.  Guess what?  He gets those too!  I must admit I hesitated again when taking stock of the now empty and huge and heavy fish tank, but hey, he’s game and so I am too.  He stumbled a little as I tipped that one out but he should be ok soon.

Soon we about finished up except for what I have dubbed the “widowmaker”- a large flat box which apparently contains a particleboard computer desk that weighs approximately 400lbs. which he didn’t want “But it’s a good one”, and an old TV set and a nice little antique table with the veneer peeling off from all of the plant water.  Michael, who is tired OF COURSE, announces that although he dropped the TV as he was moving in “I’m pretty sure it works, Miss Joan, and you can keep it if you want it. It’s a nice quality item.” Right.  Oh hell no we do not want it, and he must have seen my eyes roll in disbelief because he then suggested to me (I must have looked like a linebacker or weightlifter to him, right?) to “Go ahead Miss Joan and throw it in the back of my truck if you don’t want it.”

As Joanie walked back into her house that evening, dirty, tired and desperate for something liquid with preferably a lot of alcohol in it, Dear Paul looked up from his book-  “Hey, there you are-what’s for dinner?”

Have a wonderful week, my Dearest of the Dear.  Amen and good night.

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Flea Circus!

It has been a particularly pup filled holiday season, beginning with my troublesome but adorable Shih Tzu puppy Teddy’s 1st birthday in September, which Joanie will admit, was completely excessive, marked with a full on five- alarm fire celebration- “Holy hell, Marge, would you look at this spread!”  One guest at the event, which by the way took place on the very last balmy summer evening on the patio at Farragut Gardens, commented to me later: “Joanie did you know that not one of the dogs at your party were over 8” tall?”  They each had party hats, custom created of course, and from what I hear the little creatures all had a blast.

Seems like dogs are stealthily creeping into what used to be a fairly canine free existence for Dear Paul and I.  In the last  few years we only had the occasional visit by three sweet little poodles, Lambie, Charlie and Barney and suddenly this year we now have regular visits from Oliver- a little caramel colored puffball of a Pekinese and of course dear “Teddy Rumpus”, or “T” or “TT” or “Monkey Dinks”  as I like to refer to him, who  lives with us now- as well as occasional visits from Chloe, pup of Dear Sister.  Chloe is a runner- a dog for whom an open door is an irresistible temptation… so she doesn’t get out to visit much.  Just like the old grandma in the birthday cards “She left the house and we have no idea where the hell she is!”

That said, it has been a lot of fun to have the pups around.  Nothing like a wrestling match on the down filled couch, right?  Trying to dig a hole in the couch cushions to bury a chew toy seems to be one of the basic tenets of Teddy’s life lately.  That and continuing to chew on the dining room chairs and snooze contentedly on our occupied bed, scratching his fleas and taking up more than his share of space.  We oversee him like doting parents, and have fallen in love with dogs, do you even believe it?  So, recently, when dogsitting for little Oliver, whose ears were all wet for the entire weekend because the Tedster was chewing on them, it was particularly upsetting when Dear Paul misplaced him…

As you may know, Dear Paul has the attention span (to quote David Sedaris because this is so good) of a common housefly.  Things happen.  Last week he volunteered to take little Ollie out for a potty break and promptly lost him!  I was at the time just getting out of the shower, and I noticed Paul on the patio, in his robe (naturally), hosing the patio down like the cousin in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with the hose.  When I asked through the screen where Oliver was he looked at me blankly and said “Oh I don’t know- he was here a little while ago!”  Of course I promptly went into a rage about “How could you lose him, Paul!  He’s not EVEN OURS!  We will lose our manny!  (Oliver’s owner Jim is Teddy’s male nanny…)”

Needless to say, I threw on my robe, wrapped my wet head in a towel and grabbed the car keys, while Paul was otherwise engaged- getting ready, apparently.  He can wear the robe to Albertson’s but I guess dog hunting he can’t do in it… in any case I screeched down the road and found our little charge, panting and shaking on the front porch of his house, five or so blocks away.  I scooped him up, set him in the front seat and had him back to the house before Dear Paul had managed to pull on blue jeans.

These little furry people fill up places in our hearts that we didn’t even know existed, and I for one am thankful for our smiley little pup.  My good friend recently lost her wonderful and faithful companion of many years, and as I reflect on the year that has just passed, I am thankful for the 10 + years she had with her.  I know she will rest in the sweetest peace because she loved and was loved by a wonderful family.  All dogs go to heaven.  Of that I am totally convinced.

Happy New Year to the dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.

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Joanie’s Christmas Gifts- or Not

Seems that Joanie has always been a bit off kilter when it comes to being the recipient of Christmas gifts.  Not that she hasn’t received wonderful gifts in her lifetime, mind you, but some in particular stand out in her memory:

Christmas 1958:  Joanie hears Mom and Dad yelling in the living room about Dad attempting to put together 6 bikes and 2 electric train sets.  Seems to her bourbon and cigarettes were involved.  Also tinsel.

Christmas 1960:  Joanie discovers a wonderful cache of gifts while furtively digging in the Christmas bags in the basement of her home, and happens to pull out a beautiful yellow organza dress!  Oh how perfect!  Her dream dress!  You can only imagine her dismay on Christmas morning when alas, the dress was for her little sister Janis.  Not only was the beautiful angelic dress for Janis but hers (oh Good Lord) was red corduroy… Joanie vows to never ever ever peek again.

Christmas 1970:  Was this the year that they collectively decided to wrap the entire bookshelf of Reader’s Digests in aluminum foil?  Mom was such a good sport! She loved that about her!  That may have been the same year that they received the Beatles White album and the boys (her brothers) shot the bb gun at the white cat while they turned the music up on the stereo and scared her.

New Year’s Eve 1970:  Her boyfriend ( and Dax and Jessica’s future father) schreeching up her Mom’s road in his Camaro at 11:59, with perfume and a musical jewelry box and leaping out of his car to kiss her in the moonlight.  Oh that was a great New Year’s Eve.  Mom had no idea, being fast asleep in her bed… She still has the jewelry box.  Wishes she still had Jess.

Christmas 1972:  Can anyone say Crock Pot ?

Ok she now havs a mental block.  She has no idea where those years went!

Skip to the year 1984:  Dear Paul appears at her bedside with a bejeweled pearl casque.  How lovely!  Later that year he proposed at the Manchester boat launch and presents her with a delightful diamond ring that she wears to this day and one that her dear Mom thought was “Way too big and too many diamonds, Joanie!”

Christmas 1988:  Hmmm don’t remember.

Christmas 1999:  Dear Paul tells her that her Christmas gift is the ramp of the boat launch where he proposed.  They were dismantling the boat launch for a newer version and he couldn’t bear to see it go.  Gotta give him 10 points for sentimentality.

Christmas 2000:  Dear Paul lost her gift that year and found it in July.  A blue platter- lovely but a bit late.

Christmas 2001-2010:  Lots of interesting gifts- like the time that she had selected a diamond and sapphire bracelet from her late friend Steve’s jewelry store and asked him to tell Paul about it.  He did.  He told Paul “It’s 8 big ones, Paul.” And Paul dutifully met him at the ferry dock with $800.00, only to be told it was $8,000.00. Dear Old Paul, instead of going ahead and buying it for her, instead, in his “holiday depression” about the bracelet, bought himself a Cadillac Fleetwood to assuage his remorse.  You can only imagine her reaction, when, at the end of the Christmas Day, full of gifts and food and drink and fun, she finally asked him if he indeed had no present f or her.  “Oh no hon, I couldn’t afford the bracelet!”

Christmas 2002 I think:  Ahhh- She had survived the “I bought myself a new Cadillac but couldn’t afford to buy you anything honey” Christmas, and she had once again unwisely selected a piece of jewelry, thinking that there was no way she would lose out this year.  Steve assured her that he would save the diamond cross pendant for her so that she could once again direct Dear Paul to the purchasing counter so she was not worried.  She even went to the store to make sure that he hadn’t sold it only to be told that inadvertently it had been!  OH NO now what???

You can only imagine the next Christmas morning as Paul pulled out a small box, wrapped in old paper and a used bow.  You could feel the tension in the living room among all those present as he presented it to her.  The tension was thick in the air as the Universe knew this was now or never as far as Joanie and the Paul presents were concerned…  and as Joanie unwrapped the small box and unearthed the diamond cross pendant from its wrappings, all at once all was right with the world.

Merry Christmas to my dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.

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Wine and Rat Traps

Wine and rat traps- life in this semi-rural waterfront town can be quite interesting- one minute Joanie is polishing the sterling and ironing the linens for a pre-wedding dinner party 0n the terrace and the next minute she is hearing ominous scratching noises from the attic.  Rats!

Her Dear Paul, ever the cost-conscious entrepreneur, is absolutely convinced that “a few more candy bars should do it!”- meaning the extra strength rat killer bars he gets at the local feed store down the road should finish them off.  He has even begun nailing the bars down in the attic because some of the greedy beasts actually pick them up and haul them off to who know where up there!

Well, last week her granddaughter Cassie May announced “Grandma there’s something upstairs!  I hear it scratching!”  This occurred as she was watching a dvd at Joanie’s house.  Well, that did it!  She has put up with various sounds over the years as ones tend to do when living in an old house, but now not only did she have scratching, she also had thumping, smells AND flies!  Even her troublesome pup Teddy can hear them!

So, Joanie got online and made contact with the apparent (self appointed) guru  of rat trappers- Jeff of the Rat Patrol.  Jeff would be only so happy to come out to the house for a full inspection and diagnosis for a mere $300.00, and she would have been happy to pay it.  Turns out Jeff is actually from Tacoma, a ways away, and did come out, only to poke around with Paul in various and sundry places to announce “Oh yes Ma’am, it’s rats all right but it will be hideously expensive for you to hire me to trap them since I have to come so far over here…”  So, Dear Paul of course is delighted, because not only can he save money, one of his life’s ongoing goals- and can go back to his “candy bar” cure, but for Joanie, she thinks traps are in order.  Good thing her sister Janis has a whole pile of them, and- bonus- a son that happens to excel in rat trapping!

So, Sister arrives early Sunday evening, armed with wine and rat traps.  Which reminds Joanie of another story she will tell one day soon about the time  her other sister and she drowned a rat in a garbage can one hot sunny day after one too many gin and tonics… they don’t think the kids have ever recovered from that one.   I’ll keep you posted.   Amen and good night.

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Bread Bags and Snowfalls

As my brothers and sister and I were growing up- not all that long ago- it wasn’t as if we were neglected or doing without.  We had hand sewn holiday dresses each year for Easter and Christmas, and new underpants, undershirts, socks and shoes.  Sometimes matching coats, hats and even muffs if we were particularly lucky!  Remind me to scan photos for you all- so cute.

As well as I remember the holidays, I remember the winters even more.  Our house was pretty warm as I recall, but not toasty.  We slept upstairs in what today I would call the attic, but I don’t remember ever being cold.  Funny how we forget- right?  My sister Janis and Mary Ann and I slept in one room, and my sister Kaye had her own little area, and my brothers- good grief I cannot remember where they slept!  Somewhere downstairs I bet.

In any case, as soon as the first snowflake fell we would instantaneously be catapulted from our beds, rushing to find our “snow clothes” – whatever those were!  Usually a coat, a scarf for the girls and a hat of some sort for the boys, followed by much anguish and gnashing of teeth about boots.  Seems to me each year not only did we not have boots- those things you would wear with socks, but the plastic over the shoe things- more like galoshes really.  And generally speaking we never had any that fit.  We would throw little fits and sometimes tantrums and eventually Mom would put down her cigarette and her Reader’s Digest Condensed book, and go rummage in the kitchen for plastic bread bags and rubber bands.  She would line us up, sit us down and find the right amount of bags for each of us.  Our boots!  Hallelujeh!

From that point on it was every man for him or herself.  We would locate old dusty sleds in the basement and Dad would yell, and then we would brave the cows in Mr. Beam’s field, and sled down the big hill, time after time, until finally Mom would come out and ring the bell on the porch and we would be forced to come in and thaw out.  I am confident that we were hypothermic, but in those days there was nothing that a hot bath would not cure.  I agree with Mom’s theory to this day in fact.  Give me a hot bath anytime and I can promise you I will feel better soon.

One year that I remember very clearly was the year that Mom and Dad had a New Year’s Eve party, and although we were supposed to be in bed, the majority of us watched the party from the cracks in our bedrooom doors.  There was much cigarette smoking and laughter and piano playing, and I remember the ladies in their wonderful glittery dresses and high heels and glasses filled with ice.  As the New Year approached, a number of the ladies joined our fathers out in the snowy driveway where they giddily stepped into Dad’s plastic rowboat, sequins, cigarettes, drinks and all and launched themselves down Mr. Beam’s hill, past the cows and into the future.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my dear friends, the dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.

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Feasties for the Beasties

One year, while unfortunately still married to Cranky Jim-  a man with whom I served a 13 year sentence that I am forever thankful for finishing- we had a very cold winter.  Our washer was in the garage and it had frozen up, so it was definitely cold that Thanksgiving week.  I had gone to the local store and bought a nice turkey, which I thought could certainly defrost in said garage, and so I placed it out there in its blue and white enamel baking pan, which I still have to this day.

Well let’s just say it was not the best of holidays.  First, Jim was mad because of the washer, then he was mad because somehow I had managed to break the transmission in my car whilst rocking in reverse and back over and over, trying to get it out of the driveway in the snow to go to the store.  I think the power had also gone out and I am pretty darned sure that was also the year that our neighbor came over to inform us that my son had sold his 9 year old some illegal smoking material… Jim was not a happy camper and soon I was to be an unhappy camper as well.

I went out to the garage to check on the turkey and somehow the neighbor cat had gotten in and eaten most of one of the breasts off of the bird!  Oh No! Oh No!  Jim, being from Florida, had an unnatural aversion to vermin, of which he considered cat to certainly be.  I, cheery try- to- make-the-best-of-it-type, volunteered to wash the bird, cut out the jagged areas and go ahead and bake it.  The heat would kill any germs, right? Oh hell no- this was not to be!  He not only wouldn’t let me bake it, and he wouldn’t even let me throw it out in the woods for the beasties!  How cruel!  No, instead he drove poor mutilated Tom up to Thriftway where he threw it into the Dumpster.  I was mad for a very long time that he did that.  I can’t remember what we ended up having for Thanksgiving but I can tell you it was most likely unpleasant.  Even Jim’s awesome album collection would not prevent me from eventually walking away.  Note to Self: A sweet temperment in a husband is a wonderful thing.

Speaking of sweet temperments, my dad certainly, positively did not have one.  My sisters will correct me, but the year that our German Shephard Rex stole the turkey from the top of the portable dishwasher stands out in my mind as another Thanksgiving disaster.  Do I remember Dad freaking out?  Or was that the time that he had thrown the box of puppies off of the deck?  Seems to me we were listening to the Beatles White Album at the time so I probably have my timelines all mixed up.  In any case, at our house, holidays usually also coincided with lots of yelling and septic tank problems, which made Dad mad too… “Doris!  Jesus Christ almighty! Tell the kids to stop flushing!”

Then there was the year in the early 70’s that our friend Guy had just purchased a microwave oven and I remember standing in his kitchen, marveling at it with 20 or so assorted pals.  “Hey!  This thing will be done in 13 minutes! It’s like magic, man!”  Too bad that the bird had to be shoved into the Amana Radar Range  so hard that the door barely shut, and by the time it was “finished”, if that’s the right word for it, the majority of his guests had wandered off.  The poor bird was as white as a ghost and not even Guy’s packaged gravy could save the beastie.  Not a memorable dinner as far as taste but we had some awesome tunes going so it was cool.

Here’s to memorable Thanksgivings.  Amen and good night.

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Rearranging the Holidays

As Joanie has just moments ago packed away her Halloween decorations, all umpteen dozens of them, she realizes that Good Lord Are You Kidding Me?  It’s Thanksgiving basically the next day?  She ponders the excitement of digging in the attic (you would have to actually witness this event at Farragut Gardens to even begin to understand the impact of this sentence) for the “Thanksgiving” crate, which happens to be located in an attic area behind a huge honking armoire which requires moving, a lamp which requires plugging in, stacked with dozens of other holiday crates among old tubas, accordians, tables which require refinishing, someone’s old high school yearbooks, headboards, old wood… bookcases, rat traps, old insulation and aging oriental carpets?  Ah yes.  Is it too early for a glass of wine?

Joanie thinks that someone goofed in the holiday planning process.  We have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter all jumbled together- then a long dry spell until the Fourth of July!  Why?  And for someone like her, someone that simply cannot let a holiday wander in and wander out of its own accord, someone whose DNA must include the Decoration Enzyme, this creates much stress and packing and unpacking problems.  Thank God she is also a little OCD otherwise can you imagine what her crates would be like?  Little sparkly cherubs mixed in with the bunnies- commingling with the Day of the Dead devils?  Leprechauns running amok?  I know the turkeys would love it but after all they love a good escape once in awhile but- it could be utter chaos!  Would they like each other?  She is concerned.

So, to alleviate the stress she endures year in and year out, Joanie plans to present a new Holiday Plan which will also include dumping the ridiculous Daylight Savings Time/Standard Time thing where we all get mixed up and forget to change our clocks and are constantly missing important appointments, although Dear Paul revels in that particular event because it gives him a perfectly sane sounding excuse for why he is late… (note to Reader:  This man is ALWAYS late, no matter the season!)

Her plan includes spacing out the holidays in a more organized manner- we have twelve months, right?  She is going to change her schedule like this:  Valentine’s Day moves to May and will be celebrated in conjunction with Mother’s Day which prior to now did not require any decorating.  St. Patty’s Day remains the same as its decorating requirements are minimal and fairly easy as long as you have a corned beef on hand and some beer- Easter will move to September and will be celebrated along with the Back to School events!  Cheer those kids up!  Have a chocolate bunny with your new pencils and PeeChees!  Fourth of July remains the same because it is Dear Paul’s favorite holiday and Joanie loves to light things on fire and fly flags, and then she will have a nice reprieve until Thanksgiving which she is seriously considering eliminating due to the number of requests she has been receiving from the Turkey Union (those poor babies, seriously? Do we really need to EAT them?)  She proposes that Christmas remain the same, however has decided to enlist a personal assistant this year to heave the crates for her.

Now since Joanie is exhausted from the rearrangement of the holiday seasons, she will excuse herself, find Teddy, her troublesome pup and head upstairs to bed.  Amen and good night.

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Can I be 100% transparent?

Oh my goodness this is the toughest night of the year.  I think so much about Jess and what I could have done and should have done for her- but then again I remember driving over Snoqualmie Pass in the deepest darkness and finding out that my mom and my sister Janis were there with Jess as  Rachael was born-and Jess with her pretty smiling face showing me her baby girl… and then later being with her as Tony was born and being his watchdog as he went to the nursery-“Mom would you go with  him?”  Oh my goodness what an honor.  My grandson with his grandmother on patrol.  I held him, I watched him, I loved him.  OMG as I go to the cemetery tomorrow and as I cry and place wonderful flowers, I would give anything, anything, to have my girl in my arms again.  Oh dear God, bless us all.  Amen and good night.

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BELOVED JESSICA TORRES

Only dear Teddy Rumpus, Big Dog On Campus, could possibly wake me up at 2:30 am to have me let him out, which I did this morning.  I opened the door and he ran out, and once I did I heard tiny little noises-clip clop, clip clop, and sure enough, once again we had deer in the road right in front of the house.  Teddy peered at them, and they peered at him, and they proceeded to delicately move into the bushes.  I stood outside for a moment or two, admiring the moonlight and pulling the hood of my robe up over my head, as I contemplated the scene- one cute little pup and two deer, each eyeing the other without fear.  How sweet, right?

As I think of sweet moments I must introduce to you the theme for the rest of the week and that would be my daughter Jessica.  Jessica’s birthday will be on Friday the 18th and there’s not a moment in my life that goes by that she does not enter my thoughts.  She was a little sweet baby, a sweet toddler and sweet little girl.  She looked for all the world like Laura Ingalls Wilder in her younger years with her little buck baby teeth and sweet red headed little smile.  My God I miss her.  So on Friday which would be her birthday, I will say special prayers and buy beautiful flowers for her grave and for my table and will celebrate her life and the 34 years I had with her.  She is my beloved daughter and I know in my heart of hearts that she hears me as I wish her a very Happy Birthday.  Amen and good night.

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