Friday, September 23, 2022

Twenty and Four

For the second time in my life, I am wishing a child of mine a happy 24th birthday. That seems crazy to me.

But, 'tis true; the Man-Cub turned 24 at 7:29 this evening. We didn't wait until 7:29 to celebrate, however, mostly because the Cub is camping, which creates a challenge. Instead, we took him and Shanti out for dinner on Wednesday night. Before leaving for the restaurant, we left him "unwrap" his gift.

Spoiler: It was a Blackstone! Hugh has enjoyed his so much; we thought the Cub might also want one. His is a smaller, portable model that he can take camping or use on his deck. We included a number of accessories and a set of spices and I think the Cub was happy.

Isn't it crazy how our taste in gifts change as we get older? It seems like yesterday that he would have been begging for a game system or a set of Legos and no here he is, thrilled to receive a cooking appliance.

That's 24 for ya.

Happy birthday, Cubby!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

A Grave Affair

We held a private memorial service for Mom's late dog, Roper this past weekend. His ashes were interred next to Dad's in the cemetery in Mayberry and we are all happy to think that they are together again.

Is burying a dog in the cemetery allowed? Probably not. Did we ask anyone? Nope. We just grabbed one of Dad's old shovels and axe and got to work (the ground was incredibly hard, hence the need for the axe, to break up the soil).

It took some doing, but Hugh and the Cub eventually carved out a hole wide and deep enough to shelter the box containing Roper's ashes.

Then Mom did the honors; settling Roper in to his final resting place.

We said a little prayer and Mom tossed in the first handful of dirt, then Hugh covered the hole, replaced the small square of turf that he had removed prior to digging the hole, and viola! No one outside of the family will be the wiser.

I think this small ceremony helped to settle any nerves that Mom is experiencing about the move; it was her final obligation to both Roper and his Master. I'm glad we were able to participate.

On the topics of burials; Hugh and Mom also buried our old statue of Saint Joseph in the backyard of the house in Mayberry. Hugh and I originally purchased the statue back in 1998, when we were selling our house in Mount Pilot. In keeping with the Catholic tradition, we had the statue blessed by our Parish priest, buried it, said a prayer, and trusted in St. Joseph to help us sell the house. We had an offer within days.

You may think it's just a silly superstition, but I have faith that it will work for Mom, too. Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

How Do You Downsize Fifty Years of Life?

One precious memory at a time, that's how. Speaking of precious...this lady right here...

...spent the better part of two days parting with her prized possessions and, to her credit, she shed not one single tear while doing it.

It was hard; she was asked to make decision after decision on the fly, with little to no time for mental debate. Items leftover from her childhood, gifts from family and friends who have since passed, things that she has used for decades; everything was up for grabs and she handled it with grace. I may have been slightly less than graceful in my own actions at the sale, so I was shamed by her graciousness.

It's not surprising, given her personality, that in addition to keeping an eagle eye on the cash box, she also held court with the many, many admirers who came to say good bye and to wish her well: old friends of hers, Stampede committee members who served with Dad, Dad's best friend of sixty-some years, Mom's besties aka: The Ladies Who Lunch, neighbors from decades ago, fellow Catholics who attended the same parish as her for all these years, even old classmates of mine and my sisters; the list goes on and on.

Of course, my sisters were also on hand for what we I now think of as The Purge. We all took turns manning the cash box, organizing the tables, rummaging through closets in search of more items to add to the sale, and reminiscing over certain items. 

Sister Midge and Sister Barbie

One such item was what we lovingly refer to as "The Mouse House".

This shadowbox was made by my Aunt Debbie back in the 70's. It has hung on the wall in the laundry room forever, and, has provided the inspiration for hundreds of stories in my head.

Each room of the house held characters that I naturally assigned to family members: Grandma and Grandpa rocked peacefully in chairs next to the fireplace...

...Dad toiled away in his office, Mom stirred a bowl of something delicious in the kitchen as I dragged a beloved teddy bear down the stairs...  

...meanwhile, on the third floor, my older sister was faking an illness so she could play hooky from school and my younger sister was napping in her crib.

The attic was a mystery to me; we didn't have one, so, in my story, it was haunted. Naturally, my mental picture of the ghost was similar to that of the "ghost" that the Brady girls rigged up to scare the boys out of the attic as payback in that one episode...


Anyhoodle, parting with the Mouse House was a tough call, but we did it.

Mom had a similarly difficult time parting with this old elephant cookie jar. It originally belonged to my grandmother and dated back to, I'm guessing, the 1930's. 

While being less difficult to part with, this hat from our old swim team did bring back some fond memories.

And this sombrero brought to mind one of the many politically incorrect Halloween costumes that my Mom dressed me in...

Cultural appropriation, anyone?

When we plugged my Dad's old 8 Track player in, we were heartbroken to discover that it  didn't work anymore; it went to the junkyard along with an ancient 8mm film projector that likewise failed to function.

It should be noted that Hugh, the Man-Cub, and Shanti spent countless hours cleaning out the garage, where the Cub scored on rusty old tools and Shanti just considered it a win that no one ended end up with Tetanus. Yet.

By the end of the weekend, we had managed to clear out the majority of the items that Mom had set aside for the sale, which, was quite the accomplishment when you consider how much stuff she and Dad had managed to squirrel away in the fifty-two years that they have owned the house. I have to imagine that Dad was really proud of Mom for being as strong as she was throughout the whole ordeal. Change is so hard.

When all was said and done, we had a small pile of unsold items that we hauled to the curb and marked as "free". The pile was mostly gone by Sunday morning.

We packed up the majority of the items remaining in the house, with the exception of the dishes, appliances, etc., that Mom will be using. Next week, Hugh and I will drive back over to Mayberry to help Mom pack up those items and to supervise the moving company as they load the truck. Hugh has a meeting in Denver that he will leave for on Friday once the loading is done, then, I will drive Mom's car back to Petticoat Junction, where she will stay the night with me. Bright and early Saturday morning, we will meet the movers at the new house in Hooterville and the unpacking will commence.

It's all coming together.

Although I'm dreading the final sight of the house in my rearview mirror, I am excited for what the future will hold for Mom and I'm looking forward to having her closer to us.


Monday, September 12, 2022

Back to Our Boots...Again

A week has gone by and I am just getting around to writing another post, due, mainly, to the fact that I have been busy as hell due to the annual Barn Dance fundraiser for Not So New Job.

Months of planning culminated in a great even Friday night, but, by the time I dragged ass home; I was tired, achy, and DONE. I wish I could say that I got some fabulous photos of the event, but, alas, I did not. I was too busy giving speeches, serving food to over 200 people, and evading the Sheriff, but, we'll get to that in a minute.

The day started off with set-up, which was actually pretty well coordinated this year. My main duties involved flower arranging, table decorating, appetizer prep, signage, check-in set-up, and volunteer coordination. So, you know, not a lot (sarcasm; it's what's for breakfast).

I did manage to get a few pictures of our awesome volunteer saloon girls, as well as a few action shots of the Sheriff arresting some guests, though.

As I mentioned earlier; I was on the run from law enforcement, myself. Hugh had purchased a warrant for my arrest (warrants were a new feature of the event this year; my idea, and, a smart one, judging by the amount of money we raised selling them) and I was determined not to end up begging bail from behind wooden bars.

Sadly, the long arm of the law did eventually catch up with me. 

Lucky for me, I was prepared with a Get Out of Jail Free card that Hugh was not expecting, so I never did see the inside of a cell.

In between duties, I found a little time to dance, as well as to give a speech, thanking my staff (who were, and are, amazing), Board of Directors, our volunteers, and all of the generous donors, who helped us to raise over fifty grand.

While I didn't have time to bid on any of the silent auction items, Hugh did me a solid by winning a party package that I had my eye on. We also made it home with a leftover bottle of wine and several containers of BBQ. That almost made up for the sore feet, aching back, and splitting headache.


Anyhoodle, the completion of this fundraiser brings the 2022 event season to an end. Thanks to the concert, golf tournament, and this dance; we managed to raise just over one hundred grand for the continued operations of our organization. That's not too shabby, if I do say so, myself.

And, I do.

Now, my feet have nine months to recover before we roll back into event-mode; let's hope for a full recovery.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

A Weekend in Venice...Las Vegas Style

When Hugh asked me what I wanted to do for our 29th anniversary, I gave it a lot of thought. Even with the long Labor Day weekend, we wouldn't have time to travel terribly far; I needed to be back early enough on Monday to get my work done at the hardware store.

So, after a bit of research, we settled on Vegas. Am I a huge Vegas fan? No, no I am not. However, I am a big fan of nice hotels and good food, so the decision to book a suite at The Venetian was a sound one.

The Venetian is a small-scale replica of Venice, complete with St. Mark's Square, the legendary canal, and other well-known landmarks. The hotel is the only one in Vegas that features all suites, which is a nice touch. It also features a slew of shops, shows, restaurants, and other attractions, including, of course, a huge casino.

We weren't in town to gamble, however. Instead, we spent our time lounging by the pool (The Venetian has nine), eating our weight in great food, window shopping, and attending the hotel's signature show, The Atomic Saloon.

It was all very relaxing, entertaining, and fun.

The only time we left the property was to visit the Mob Museum downtown and to stroll through the Fashion Show Mall, where we hit up all the usual stores, including Victoria's Secret, Under Armour, and Sephora.

I took a ton of pictures and I've grouped them together by category, in case you are interested in yet another vacation slide show, courtesy of Great Aunt Erma. If not, feel free to hit the X in the right hand corner up there; I won't be offended.

If you're sticking around, here we go...

The hotel, including our room and the view from it, and the canal that features gondola rides on actual gondolas, with gondoliers who actually sing. No shit. 

The food! OMG, the food! This includes the amazing room service breakfast that we had, a ginormous Strawberry Shortcake Crazyshake that we had at Black Tap, and the surprise dessert that the staff at Matteo's served us at dinner one night.


The pool:

The Atomic Saloon Show, which was hysterical! And, raunchy as hell, FYI.

The Mob Museum, which was recommended to us by one of my Forensic Interviewers and which we enjoyed, immensely. We opted to do two-out-of-the-three additional experiences at the museum, including the Distillery tour and the Crime Lab experience. I recommend both, but would warn you that the moonshine sampling at the distillery is rough. Unless you like your alcohol to bitch-slap you. Spoiler: I do not.

 All in all, it was a great way to celebrate 29 years of marriage, and, I made it home in plenty of time to get my work done. Always a bonus. I guess.