Skunks

I’m here because mr 9 wants the tv, to tell you the truth, I actually came home took a 20 minute nap in the car before the kids even knew I was home & really just wanted to sit down, eat a bowl of brussels sprouts (with butter & parmesan cheese but no salt- I’m trying, just not as hard as I should) & watch mindless television, I’m behind on a couple of shows from last week & Medium records tonight, although there is something to be said for letting 4 or 5 of the same tv show build up so you can have a fest. Cold Case Fest is  my favorite because that’s my favorite show (which has been on for a few years) my favorite new show is Life On Mars. I’m all into the retr0- past- history I’m afraid.

I was thinking on the way to work this morning about all the skunks around right now. It’s probably because of last weeks wonderful spring like weather. The problem is though that now we have dead skunks all over the place, right after I cross the county line back into my county each day after work, in a half mile stretch there are 2 dead skunks & then on my way down the secondary road I take after the main road there’s another 2 of them dead on the side of the road. There’s another one on the road from the county seat going towards my house & another dead one on the way from the main road to ms 19’s work. I smell them everywhere, on all roads & on the highway lately. What is causing this mass skunk suicide?

On my way to get ms 19 from work last Tuesday ( I drive a back road to reach her place of work that is not my normal way home) I saw a live skunk waddling off the road into a field, the really amazing things about him were that he was huge, the circufrence of a basketball around! & remarkably long, and his white stripe section was large & looked teased, Vince Neil circa 1988 had nothing on this skunk! He’s the first live one I’ve seen this year & I was glad I didn’t have to wreck my car to avoid hitting him because I haven’t hit anything at all with this car yet & would prefer not to.

When I was a teenager my brother (& my father) were avid fly fishermen, they would get up early (I mean like 4 in the morning) and drive to the cape & fish, then come home, they were catch & release people & we didn’t expect them to come home with anything, not catching anything at all didn’t bother my father in the least, he was very zen about it, my brother however would be in a pissed off mood if he spent the day fishing & didn’t catch anything, or didn’t catch anything but bluegill & pike (the days of excitement at any catch- including bluegill & pike were back when I was still willing to go along)

Ben’s word for not catching a fish all day was “Skunked” I believe my father would use that one t0o (it’s been awhile) One day a friend of mine (who was a little ditsy to say the least) was at my home when my brother & father arrived after a fishing trip, they came in, my father walking, my brother stalking in that way which told me it hadn’t been successful at all & of course I had to ask: “So how was the fishing?” “We got skunked” my brother announced, grabbed a banana & left the room. K, the friend who was there started freaking out, sniffing the air & getting upset, she thought he meant they’d actually been sprayed. My father & I had some doing to convince her that skunked merely meant they had caught no fish, not that they actually encountered a skunk.

And, of course, I never lived it down. My father was a tease & after that he always refered to her as the literal minded one who couldn’t grasp a concept. Sigh.

One of mr 9’s favorite jokes, without which this thoughtful post on skunks could not be complete (or so he says)
Once there was a mother skunk, she had 2 baby skunks which she named In & Out, One day In was outside their home & Out was in their home with their mother. The mother skunk said to Out “go out & find your brother & tell In to come in here” Out went outside & not two seconds later they were back. “That was quick how did you find your brother so fast?” mother skunk said to Out, Out replied “it was easy- Instinct”

New World Same Old Me

When I think of how many changes 22 years has wrought I am shocked, yes, technically there were cell phones when I first came to the place I now live (way back in 1987) but they were few & far between unless you were rich, (like Kennedys- the first one I ever saw was in 1985 in the hand of one Kennedy or another while they were driving route 3 to the cape & I was just on my way home on route 3, riding in my uncle’s car- he is who pointed the Kennedy car out to me as a matter of fact & also my only Kennedy sighting in my whole life!) self important (my father used to tell the story of a boss he had for awhile who would be all over his cell phone showing it off- call home & get in some petty silly argument with one of his kids- & look more the fool for it)  or truly important (like doctors) or some combination of the 3.

We used to talk about tvs in limosines for people to watch while riding around, now people my kids’ ages have & expect to have tvs in their parent’s min vans & suv’s while they’re just going to the mall or on vacation. The day cable came to my home town of Rockland MA (1985) was a huge day for my brother & I we had 58 channels! (that includes the HBO/Cinemax package my parents so extravagantly sprung for) this was before vh1, mtv2 or fuse, there was mtv & that was all. Videos, videos & Remote Control that was the whole channel 24 hours a day.

Now, for a remarkable low price (made even lower by the fact that I’m employed by the company) I have 200+ channels most of which I have no interest in (especially mtv- not because I don’t like the music- although I’m much more a rock fan than a hip hop fan & that’s what they seem to play mos on the rare occasion they actually play music- I just hate all the stupid shows- & especially the so called reality type shows. I won’t subject anyone bored enough to be reading this to a diatribe on that issue.

That’s only a couple of the changes, I could go on, but this was just supposed to be a short post. I’ve been thinking about changes, the differences between then & now, how many things seemed so much more complicated then & are simple now (I never worry about how I look or what to do with my hair- I really just don’t care)  & how many things seem so difficult now that I wasn’t aware of back then (I didn’t grasp taxes, insurance or the importance of people not throwing their trash on the floor back then & all 3 are heavily factored in my daily thoughts now)

Mostly because it’s that lovely time of year when the company I work for makes us update our health insurance, since the ex isn’t coming through with even half the child support he’s supposed to that past few months & hasn’t called since Christmas day I’m feeling like the kids’ insurance is not going to be forthcoming from him after all. Which means I have to think about it, it’s a lot through my company, I was considering the low level plan but the deductible is so high it wasn’t really worth it (the high level plan is not much better)

Then I started reading about the HSP = Health Savings Plan it sounded wonderful!

* I could save money toward medical expenses.
* Use a debit card to pay the doctor’s visit fee (a lot better than paying her off $20 bucks at a time every 2 weeks until I’m through paying off mr 9’s stitches from December in March)
* I could pay into it, the company matches my contributions.
* I could get a pap smear finally (it’s been 4 years & since I had cervical cancer back in 1987/88, I’m supposed to keep those up) as our doctor reminds me every time I see her.
* I could even use this magic debit card for over the counter medicine, so if the kids needed cold medicine or I needed nasal spray or aspirin we wouldn’t need to wait until my next paycheck.
* If I didn’t use what the company & I contributed to this wonderful plan at the end of the year I could roll it over into a savings account which I could use either for medical expenses later in life or for general needs if I waited until after I was 65.

Well of course, all things that sound too good to be true are too good to be true. I finally, after reading the information over (for the third time, because I was reading it during quiet time between customers at work & I tend to miss things with all the picking it up & putting it down) I caught the factor that made the difference. I had to be enrolled in the high level health insurance plan in order to qualify to save my own money in this HSP thing.

Why? why? WHY? would that be? What in the world would I need a health savings plan for when I had insurance? Why would I spend nearly $140 a pay check on insurance & then contribute yet more money to a savings plan that I can’t just use for whatever I want whenever I want it?

They have a health savings plan that doesn’t require the insurance too, but it covers less, has no company match & if you don’t spend all the money you put in by the end of the year you lose it. What is the point of that? I suppose it would be ok if you could get your money out in time, but other than a general health checkup for each of us once a year, who’s to say what else we might need?
I couldn’t have forseen mr 9’s stepping on that cookie cutter, I do know I should be keeping up with the pap smear, but to have it done is not just the $60-$85 cost of the doctor’s visit but also another $125 (or, it was in 2004) lab fees. There’s just no telling. And here is just another way the insurance companies are screwing us over.

Of All The Things I….

…. Hate– I hate football the most.

I used to tolerate it- when I was a 8-9 & slightly older kid- I liked going to Harvard Football games with my Grandmother – who was a huge college football fan – especially for Harvard (because her cousin went there & was captain of the football team in 1949) I liked going because it was fun to go with her & see my normally staid sedate grandmother yell- scream & pound her fist on the cement wall in front of her season ticket- seats.

When I was an older child- still a teenager- it was fun because of that great love of all teenage girls everywhere- college guys- I saw a lot of really interesting things over the years & even more exciting was when my favorite cousin J would come with her parents (also season ticket holders) & we would be allowed to walk around alone & talk.

I admit- none of my focus was on football. My Grandmother gave me a few quick cursory instructions in the general rules of the game back when I first went with her (I believe I was 8- got to ride the bus to Boston alone on Saturday morning for the first time that day too! I can’t imagine letting one of my kids ride a bus anywhere in MA without me there too- even ms 19!)

I didn’t really understand the game then & I have cultivated an aura of  not understanding ever since I don’t know a down from a penalty or what any of those arcane signals the referees give on the field (even after long hours studying the cartoon John Harvard demonstrating them in the program which my grandmother bought Every. Single. Week- crates of them were disposed of when my home was sold by my grandmother in 1991)

My dislike of football deepened when I was emotionally involved with ms 19’s dad. He was a sports nut (mostly due to his drinking – if there was a game there was a ‘party’ at least in his head) And it didn’t matter who was playing or what the sport was- he was there. So when I began to consider dating again after ms 19 passed her second birthday my first priority was ‘not a sports fan’

The Ex was not a sports fan- or so he claimed- except for hockey he said he didn’t care about any sports & I found after some prolonged exposure to hockey that I could follow it- I could get a lot of embroidering done while I followed it with him & I could definitely get behind him playing- I love hot cocoa & we’d always stay & take ms 19 skating during free skate after the games he played in.

This was up to about 1993-1994. Then the Patriots started getting good at what they do. And all of a sudden I was married to a football fan. He wasn’t a football fan he tried to tell me – he was a Patriots fan.  He was immune to my grandmother’s comments about fair weather friends & that the NFL was corrupt & true football fans watch college football. (all of this rolled off me like water off a duck’s ass-I didn’t care if it was ‘pure’ football- ‘corrupt’ football or European football- I didn’t want to watch it.)

I also found over time that there were some slight benefits to football- to get me to sit & watch the Superbowl many years in a row my ex plied me with lobster- steamers & other delicacies we would have friends in & party a little while the game was on & for a few years I would at least pay attention to the commercials.

The year the ex left- I was quite pleased to be oblivious to all sports especially football & unaware of the Superbowl except peripherally when the neighbors were excited their team won.  Then I got my current Job.

I discovered that there are people out there crazy enough to spend over $100. in any economy- to view the football games of their alma mater.

I found there are people who will re-point their dish in order to receive the
signal to get the channel “their game” is on.

I found that grown men will cry if I can’t get their signal back or their picture back in time for “the game”

And that other men will become verbally abusive if I don’t apologize enough.

Or don’t show enough knowledge of their favorite sport.

(women tend to be meaner than men but they seem to like baseball better- in my 7+ year- nationwide sampling)

I have had people take me to task for not even knowing who was playing (and for caring even less)

I have had entire rooms full of people cheer when I was able to fix the problem before the game began.

I have had 30+ people boo me when I couldn’t get things working

I also think people are a lot ruder & meaner when they have a houseful of guests & no game to watch with them (Understandable- must be embarrassing)

I have had people insist I say I would root for their team & get rude when I tried to decline.

I have never never had a day such as today though. I think I’ve mentioned that the chat function I work with allows me to help up to 3 people- other agents- actual customers or a combination of the two. Today we all were on 3 chats all the time (back in July/August it was like that all day every day but they trained more people & we’re only at 2 chats once in a great while- the last time I had 3 chats at a time was when – ahem- College football season started)

And at least one of the chats I was on all day long was someone with football issues- fix it so I can see “the game” get a tech here today so I can see “the game” give me a credit because I’m going to miss “the game”And then there were the ubiquitous people signing off their chats with “go cards” or “go stealers” or is that steelers? I don’t know & I really really don’t want to!

My99. Part 4- 24-1

We are getting down to it now. I didn’t think it would be so hard to do this- of course I decided to make it historical & put a comment on every song. I didn’t really consider how hard it might be to share some of these memories. So if it seems like I’m obfuscating or not elaborating like I did before- you’ll just have to accept it.

24. Bittersweet Symphony~ The Verve Pipe- 1998- The song at the end of the movies Cruel Intentions. Which of course is a modern day retelling of Dangerous Liaisons & a fairly sad story. I saw this movie with the ex about 2 months before we ended our marriage & then found out later it was what he used to seduce the girl he left me for & that they considered it ‘their’ movie. Which was painful- considering I’d heard something very similar from him after we watched it together (I wasn’t mean enough to tell the new GF that though- more fool I)

23. Ride On ~ Ac/Dc – 1976- ‘I got patches on the patches of my old blue jeans- well they used to be blue- when they used to be new- when they used to be clean’ A song about hitchhiking which I did a lot of as a teenager & young adult. Also when I was a teenager my mother & I played that game where she wouldn’t buy me any new clothes until I lost weight & I refused to lose weight ‘for’ her & so wore holey jeans which I was constantly patching so the lyrics resonate.

22. Wish you Were Here ~ Pink Floyd – 1975- Ahem- I had a crush on someone who wasn’t there for a ridiculously long time & this song still makes me think of him.

21. Tangled up in Blue ~ Bob Dylan – 1975-Well of course there’s that line about wondering if her hair was still red. Mostly though this one makes me think of my uncle who is a huge Dylan fan. He was 18 when I was born & baby sat my brother & I fairly often when we were young. In turn as a teenager living with him & his family & then later living with my grandmother I took care of his kids a lot. The first time I ever conciously heard this song was a time early in my years living with my grandmother. My uncle’s family went on vacation & I stayed at their house & house-sat for them (this would have been late spring in 1988). The first night there I went to use his stereo (my first access ever to a 6 disc cd changer) I put it on shuffle turned all the speakers on (he had them wired throughout the whole house) & went to the kitchen to prepare dinner (huge- lovely victorian house! I could write a whole post on the glories of that house- of course no one but me would ever read it) This song was the first song to pour from the speakers- I’ve loved it ever since.

20. Subdivisions ~ Rush-1982– The song that got me into Rush. I remember listening to it on WCOZ. I liked it better than the song from the same album which gained the majority of radio play – New World Man. My brother & I bought the album (one each- we did not share well with one another) a few weeks later. In spite of our divergent tastes over the years Rush was one band my brother & I could always agree on. Seeing them at the Fleet center (yes- I know it’s not called that any longer) in 1997 is still one of the concert going highlights of my life.

19. Voodoo ~ Godsmack – 1999– I swear I never heard this song until 2000- late 2000 at that- I suppose I  shouldn’t broadcast my out of it-ness but it was a weird time for me. Knowing my marriage was effectively over in my heart- but not wanting to deal with it or the pain & torture my ex was heaping on me. This song for whatever reason- is one which was very comforting to me during our separation & in the many months while we were taking care of the divorce long distance.

18. South Central Rain (I’m Sorry) ~ R.E.M. 1984– Remember when Michael Stipe had hair? REM was one of the bands my brother & I both liked up until the end of his life- this song makes me think of him.

17. In The End ~ Linkin Park- 2001-See Voodoo- except that I know I was hearing this song in November 2000- when everything I can find suggests it didn’t come out until 2001. It was also very comforting to me during my separation & divorce- of course- with those lyrics– how could it not be: “I tried so hard & got so far & in the end it doesn’t even matter” they completely sum up my marriage in retrospect.

16. Tonight Tonight ~ Smashing Pumpkins- 1996– I just like the sound of this song- the 1900’s video helps too- I’m a sucker for that particular time & look.

15. Outshined ~ Soundgarden-1991– I never realized that this song & the one below were recorded so far apart in time. I always think of the two of them as a piece- I love them both. I can totally understand that line about looking California & feeling Minnesota  in this song but I think the #1 reason I love this song is it’s one I can sing along to really well! (ahem- in the car with no witnesses that is)

14. I Stay Away ~ Alice in Chains – 1994– This song is beautiful & for a long time summed up my feelings about almost the whole world- up until last year that is- now I’m pretty much back to considering all but the select few people I know well & online friends the only trustworthy people in the world & I stay away from the rest.

13. Take a Picture ~ Filter- 2000-I don’t know exactly why I love this song so much – but it’s a pretty one & I like the end where he seems to be ranting about his father’s  opinion of him. I do often think of what my father would think of me now especially since I am nowhere near his opinion of physical beauty- I at least didn’t go all Badlands like he predicted I would.

12. Miss You ~ Blink 182- 2003- In researching exactly what year it was  I was hearing this song- I found out that although this song was nowhere near Blink 182’s highest chart topper it went platinum anyway because of the cult following.

11. Love Alive ~ Heart- 1977- Umm this is a song which 18’s real dad liked a lot- I absorbed his liking for it & it makes me think of him still- luckily I don’t have it on mp3 & I no longer have a tape deck.

10. Time After Time ~ Ozzy Osbourne- 1991- Probably my favorite Ozzy song. Although You Can’t Kill Rock & Roll & I Just Want You are biggies in my book too. For all his faults & mumbling he’s a pretty great lyricist. (I never watched the Osbournes on MTV just in case anyone was wondering- I prefer to think of him as the prince of darkness thank you very much)

09. One Thing ~ Finger Eleven -2003- I like this one a lot- nice sentiment.

08. Gold Dust Woman~ Fleetwood Mac-1977- This song makes me think of Chrissie- “pick your path & I’ll pray” indeed!

07. November Rain ~ Guns & Roses -1992- It would seem that there’s a Guns & Roses song for every relationship I’ve had. This was the ex’s & my song (though it wasn’t our wedding song- it should have been) I especially think of learning to play it on the piano.

06. Far Away ~ The Offspring – 1997- death- how he’d trade if he could- pretty much how I feel about my brother.

05. Over the Hills & Far Away ~ Led Zeppelin- 1973- This is such a pretty song & I had a thing as a teenager where my day was not complete if I didn’t hear it. I did a lot of walking back then & my walkman radio was my constant companion especially when I was walking to work in the rain I would hear this particular song- so often that I think of gray rainy days when I hear it to this day.

04. Under Pressure ~ Queen & David Bowie-1981- this particular song has enjoyed a resurgence in my life just recently- probably because of the pressured lifestyle I’m leading – much to my annoyance.

03. –Sugar Mountain ~ Neil Young- 1965- This song became Virginia for me- I was here at 19 & didn’t really fit in anywhere- there were all the hippie types with their kids & their concerns & there were all the kids- but almost none of them were anywhere near my age- “you can’t be 20 on sugar mountain- although it seems that you’re leaving there too soon” So I left & came back & left & came back again before I felt like I could stay forever. (I admit though- guilt over my mother’s age & no one to take care of her- does sometimes make me feel like I should go back to MA- since my mother refuses to come here to VA)

02. What I got ~ Sublime -1997- Words to live by.

01. Can’t Find My Way Home~ Blind Faith -1969- I’m sure this one is not a surprise to anyone who has ever read this blog for more than a post here or there- it’s just such a pretty song!

Just Stop By

It’s funny how one thing leads to another- when I wrote this it was supposed to be the lead in to another thought- a whole different post & it became a post on it’s own- one which was – I guess- more up to date & modern.

It took me so long to write the part I wrote that day- that I didn’t have time to write the rest & I also felt like there was enough there for 1 post & so I stopped- unusual for me. I admit as I do suffer from run on-itis when it comes to writing things.

When I was a kid my parents had company often- it was unsurprising to me when I was 3-4-5 & even older- for one of my parents to wake me late at night (probably only 9 or 10 really- my mother is a low energy person & when she could do so she sent me to bed early- I remember being 10 or 11 & in bed before it was dark in the summer which in MA means 9 or so)

In contrast my kids are up until 10 most school nights (not really because I want them to be- if I had my druthers I’d be in bed by 10 & they’d have already been there an hour or more- however I realize that they’re every bit the night owl I was & of course- they don’t listen unless I yell really loud to let them know I mean it & I don’t like to do that over something as trivial as bedtime)

The parent- which ever one it was -would usually say something like “do you want to wake up & play with Heather- or Stephanie?” Or one of their other friend’s kids (names have been changed to protect the innocent- almost all of whom I don’t know any longer)

I would always get up & we’d play with the play kitchen or build with the blocks until all too soon it was time for the friend to go & for me to go back to bed. In later years the parents still came but they often came during the day when my brother & I were home because of being homeschooled & so my parent’s friends wouldn’t have their kids with them because they were in school.

There was also the sub-genre of homeschool families- we would have visits with parents who were considering it (how I met Chrissie) parents who were considering moving to the area & often- visits with people we had met that way.

Eventually this evolved into a monthly “homeschoolers meeting” where the kids would try to play together & the mothers (& a few fathers- at least occasionally) would coffee klatch it up in the kitchen. We adopted a rotating schedule- traveling around the south shore to different families homes for this monthly meeting & so I have many great memories of Debbie’s waterbed & walking at Brant Rock beach in Marshfeild in the cold weather & checking out the ice formations made by the tide.

I soon learned that it was a lot more interesting when my parents had company & even at the homeschoolers meetings to sit quietly in the kitchen while everyone was chatting- you heard all kinds of things that way.

From how H was a drunk but was quitting & going to AA- only to have that same H who had drank coffee & discussed this ad nauseum for hours one week- show up the next week 3 sheets to the wind so that my father had to drive him home & bring his long suffering wife back to get their car.  becky700931

To how one of my father’s friend Jim worked as a building supervisor & maintenance man & while snaking a drain in one apartment accidentally brought the snake up in another apartment’s drain- hooked a kitchen rug & tried to drag it down the kitchen drain! (a side-splitting tale the way Jim told it- which I get the giggles even now- 25+ years later just thinking about)

To how difficult a life the devout catholic family in our homeschooling group had because they wouldn’t use birth control (this was actually not said at a HS meeting but during a visit between my mother & her best homeschooling friend.)

By the time I was 13 or 14 if someone did come to the house my brother & I would converge on the kitchen- we were so bored being homeschooled- while we did have 9 acres of woods behind the house to explore- we knew them well & we learned soon after starting homeschooling that going out walking around on the streets during school hours brought un-wanted attention from adults who wanted to know why we weren’t in school so a day in our house during the homeschool years was interminable & company a very welcome distraction.

Now of course- in an ideal world (my mother’s idea of how it should be) our ‘boredom’ would make us seek her out to learn things & we’d have great learning sessions. Honestly the first 2 or so years were like that & my brother even carried it through for longer- because he knew that’s what she wanted of him.

I wasn’t the sort of person to put myself out to do anything like learn unpleasant subjects like math or punctuation if no one made me do it. So my mother’s school lists for me ran to 30-40 books in a month (no lie- I would take 15-20 books from the library every 2 weeks & had at least 2 or 3 books I owned also in progress at the same time)

She also counted cooking time – by the time I was 11 I was cooking at least 1 night a week because she was an unimaginative cook & I got sick of the same 10-14 meals over & over again. (of course- I am now too- but I was a SAHM for almost the whole decade between 1990 & 2000 so I got sick of cooking & I also blame starting so early in my life too!)

Back to the visiting- I was seldom the sort to stop by people’s houses- when I lived on my own with Chrissie & then in VA I wouldn’t go anywhere without Chrissie’s influencing me into it- although I was always happy to see people when they’d stop by my house. The same when I was living with ms 18’s dad- it was an unusual situation though.

I was a little more into it when ms 18 was a baby & I’d go for my 1 week a month visit with my parents on the south shore- for that week- while I had a car (I didn’t have one of my own living with my grandmother because I couldn’t afford one) I would visit friends – some homeschoolers- some from other parts of my past- all over the south shore.lois-beck-91051

I started to feel funny about it though- like I was intruding upon their lives- they were busy- some were cool about it- I got in the habit of going to Gail’s on Thursday nights (this was 1990-1991) & watching the Simpsons with her & her boyfriend & sometimes her daughters who were college aged (2 & 3 years younger than me) & not always around.

Then my ex & I got together. He liked to just show up at people’s houses- his parents in particular & other family members & friends houses too. I felt bad especially because we had ms 18 in tow (she was 2- 3- 4 up to 6- when her sister was born & I didn’t want to drop by & impose so much & fussed about it more)

I reflected over the holidays how I didn’t feel like I could visit friends or even the ex’s family without our goodie bag gifts- which I haven’t made yet & don’t think I’m going to do at all. It just didn’t seem right to show up without anything to give them- like I needed an excuse to visit- which it seems- I do.

But if you’re ever out this way- don’t wait for an invitation – just stop by!

(well- you should call first- when you’re at least 15 minutes away or we won’t have the house cleaned up yet & you’re likely to get an eyeful!)

Chess Anyone?

I was discussing chess with a coworker the other day and telling him how I taught each of my kids to play chess & all of them- even mr 9 can beat me at it already. I had the same thing happen with my ex- although I expected that- he thinks 4 moves in advance about everything– which is part of the reason I worry so about him calling or showing up unexpectedly.

So in speaking about this with D (who comforted me by claiming to suck at chess too) I remembered one time I did beat my father at chess- my father started teaching me chess when I was about 3 or 4 years old & was beating me at the game (& Scrabble & Monopoly & multiple card games) from then on. He would sometimes give me extra things- like Boardwalk & Park Place at the beginning of a Monopoly game – or double money and he would still always win. My mother claims to this day that he cheated at all games – she just can’t seem to detail how.

So one day when I was 12 my father had been out jogging (I got my weight from him- when I was 8 he started jogging & went from being somewhere around 240 to 165 pounds – where he stayed the rest of his life- he always maintained that if I’d just run I’d be able to eat anything I wanted- I can’t run though- my boobs are too big) he would always sit in the kitchen & have a beer & then go take a shower. He agreed to my wheedling to play a game of Chess after he finished his shower. Finished his beer & went to take his shower.

While he was showering I set the game up on the kitchen table. My mother was in her rocking chair there in the kitchen with me- reading a book (As always) And then there was a knock at the door. It was a friend of my fathers who was on his way back from somewhere & just stopped by. He sat down had a cup of coffee with my mother & looked over the chess board. It turned out- though none of us knew it- that this friend Ray I’ll call him- had been a very good – professional I think- chess player.

So as a joke on my father he taught me a very quick & easy trap to put my father in on the chess board- with which I could beat my father in about 5 moves! As I mentioned before- my mother was of the opinion that my father cheated so was compliant in not saying anything & sat back to watch my father get beaten! When my father came back downstairs he tried to bow out of the chess game saying since Ray was there it was rude to play a game- Ray insisted we go ahead & play & my father acquiesced saying only 1 game though & that he’d make it quick. It was quick alright- but not because of him!

Ray sat at the table between us & watched. I know I did poorly in acting as if nothing was going on- but my mother & Ray kept completely straight faces & I think Ray being there unexpectedly had my father distracted enough that he didn’t pay attention to my state of high excitement. I beat him using Ray’s trick & he was mad! Really mad until Ray & my mother started laughing & explained the joke. My father loved a joke as much as he loved winning & he did see the humor in it. (He saw it less when about 6 months later I used the same trick again & beat him a second time because he’d forgotten about it- I was told in no uncertain terms not to try it again if I wanted to play chess with him)

Funny though- how competitive he was & how I am not at all competitive- the reverse actually- I’d rather let someone who really cares about the game – whatever it may be- win rather than beat them badly. That’s one reason Chrissie & I like to play games like Monopoly- Scrabble & Rummy together – because we’re usually pretty evenly matched in most games & so often tie or draw when we play. We also both are more about playing & having fun than we are about winning which makes it nice.

Rise To Vote Sir

Feeling a little backwards today.

Palindromes were one of my father’s favorite things. Madam I’m Adam- Able was I ere I saw Elba. I wish he could’ve seen this. (which is where I got the title)

The point however- was not palindromes but Voting. I got my sticker from Moms Rising today (I signed up for it so long ago I’d forgotten that I’d done so) & coincidentally my Obama stickers & 1 of the signs I ordered also arrived. (I guess they’re out of the yard signs)

I also finished watching Uncounted on the DVR last night & was feeling rather odd in general about everything voting related. I was thinking of my first voting ever (Dukakis against Bush1 in 1988) Which was done by absentee ballot because while I was living with my grandmother in Haverhill I hadn’t given up my residence at my parent’s house in Rockland yet (If I remember correctly I may have had some residual insurance from my mother which meant I had to act as if I was still there – in spite of being in Virginia- Haverhill- Maine & New Hampshire 98% of the time.)

I started thinking about how depressing & anti climactic voting by absentee was. I had grown up being taken with my parents when they went to vote & was not pleased about missing the drama of going to the high school – especially in the later years when I ‘should’ have been going there myself.

My mother never missed an election & always voted. My father always acompanied her & often voted on questions. He never voted for anyone (or at least almost never- he did occasionally vote against some people) He always said not to vote for politicians because ‘it only encourages them’ And he at least always told me he voted for Dizzy Gillespie if I was rude enough to ask if he had voted & for whom.

The year Clinton beat Bush1 The ex- ms 18 & I were living in an apartment in our hometown of Rockland. We lived close enough to the High School to walk over & vote & my friend J parked at our place & walked with us. She was a political science major in college & was maintaining that we would be voting for her in 20 years or so. She also flat out refused to discuss her choice for president that year. Since the ex & I were pretty open in our choice of Clinton I do believe she voted for Bush1. I wouldn’t have put it past her to vote for Perot though.

When Clinton ran for re-election Ms 12 was an infant. I went to the Library with the ex to vote but I’d been taken off the rolls (even though I had voted in the primary) somehow & had to go over to city hall to re-instate my vote – they explained it would be a provisional ballot (I heard more on this in Uncounted too) and since my 6 month old began to scream half-way through their explanation I had to give it up for the day & leave keeping the U.S. safe for democracy to everyone else. (they didn’t let me down)

We were here in VA from September of 97 forward & so 2000 was my first election down here- I had voted in the gubernatorial elections previously & so was bemused but not surprised by the antiquated actual lever activated voting machine- similar to the ones my parents voted on when I was very young – in much more up-to date MA.

The ex left me permanently November 8 2000- the Mess of that election is tied up in my mind with the death throes of my marriage – not a pretty sight either way. I do remember we had two facing couches in the trailer living room with the tv at the foot of them. We each sat on one couch & watched that count up & back. He wasn’t working at the time (nothing new) & it seemed like we sat there for days (we did- at least 3 or 4 of them) watching them hash it out on CNN & recount and arguing about what happened next in our lives during the commercial breaks.

2004 I was worried & it turns out with good reason. I had Tuesdays off back then. I went early & was one of only 2 or 3 people there at the time. I was not happy to see touch screen voting booths but what can you do? Of course Kerry lost. 2006 I stood in line- for quite awhile but my ‘team’ won so it was worth it. I’m not looking forward to this year. After the 2006 senate race I worry about going before work because what if they’re crowded & I’m late to work? And I worry about going after work because what if there’s a long line they close the polls before I get to vote?

I have made up my mind that I’ll go before work & if I’m late my company will have to deal with it. There’s no help for it at all. I’m not going to shirk my civic duty for my paycheck.

Picture notes: Mr 9 with fake tattooed vampire bite marks from my vampire safety kit courtesy of my workplace (he says his teachers just shook their heads & his classmates thought they were real) one of our kittens brought downstairs by ms 12- the apparently apropriately named (by mr 9) Flash – she is remarkably quick on her tiny little paws.