Sunday, February 7, 2016

Appliance redo redux



Now that the saga of the stove is behind us, Cookie and Husband have been shopping for a dishwasher to replace the 30 year old Kitchen Aid model that doesn't wash dishes so much as it rinses them.

Built in a time when Phosphates did the dirty work of cleaning plates, its cycles are terribly short.  A regular cycle washes the dishes and rinses them in 15 minutes and then dries them for another 15 minutes while producing enough noise that you can hear it all over the house.

The problem is, without the phosphates to eat the dried on food off, the plates get wet and covered in detergents, and then rinsed too quickly to get things cleaned.  And new dishwashers can take up to 120 minutes to run their cycles in a far more energy and water efficient fashion than the old, out of date model in our kitchen.

So like the stove, we have been looking and looking.   And we made a decision that dishwasher was not something we wanted to skimp on.  The more you spend, the more you really do get.

We looked at American brands (Kitchen Aid, GE Monogram, GE Cafe, Viking, Frigidaire Professional, Maytag, Jenn Air, etc.) and we looked at foreign made including DCS, Asko, Bosch,  LG, Samsung, etc.

We looked at drawer models and full size.  We looked at settings, features, racks, and we looked at repair issues, warranties and we spent a surprising amount of time on handles.

Yes, handles.

We honed our list, down to Kitchen Aid verses Kitchen Aid.   Thats right, we discarded nearly every brand for a variety of reasons.  Bosch and Asko because they don't offer heated dry settings, Viking because they license their name to another manufacturer, Samsung because their repair and parts departments have bad track records, etc.

One by one they fell by the way side until we kept coming back to Kitchen Aid (which is a Whirlpool built product, but far better than Whirlpool), but which Kitchen Aid was a struggle.

Kitchen Aid has a new wash arm system that looks like the old amusement park "Scrambler" ride.  We liked that.  It had the third rack for utensils, we were in different about that.  And the racks just worked better.

The icing on the cake is that it has not one, but two dry settings - heated dry or "Pro Dry" which uses less heat and a vent fan.

However, Cookie, in a weak moment fell in love with the newest feature that no one needs: A door with a window and a light inside the dishwasher.

Yup. You read that correctly.

Fortunately, my husband was keeping a clear vision of what we wanted and needed and pulled me away from the siren sound of gadgetry.

I didn't go quietly, though.  I kept repeating what the real estate agent said about home improvements, which is to keep them "sexy" to raise your home value so when you do decide to sell it, you get the max for your investment.  And the windowed dishwasher wasn't that much more.

However, in the end we went with what we needed to go with, and we got one heck of a deal by bundling points, credit card points, coupons, and the President's Day sale.  So in addition to the dishwasher, on sale, we got free install, free haul away, free five years Kitchen Aid extended warranty and we still paid less than if we would have paid cash.

So, good Lord willing, Wednesday we get an install.   I'd post a picture of it, but it looks like a sheet of stainless steel.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cookie, post Snotorious B.I.G.


Let us say that Cookie and Husband have weathered the storm, our sanity intact.

For the most part.

We knew it was coming well over a week ago when the Husband returned home from his job at National Amalgamatics and Stove Works (NASW, for short) and the NASW one staff meteorologist, Mort, evidently made an appearance in the Hamster Wheel division and in a coy way hinted that "come the weekend a ruler won't do you any good - you'll need a yard stick."  Then he took a donut from the coffee counter and left.

Husband texted me this, and I hit the grocery store, laying in staples, snacks and chocolate.

On Thursday, old Morty breezed in and announced that the snow would start at three PM the next day, and that when it was done, minus the drift, that we could expect 21-27 inches in our area, but that the official total at the airport would be 30".

This meteorologist is never wrong.

So I hit the store again.

By this time panic in Baltimore had set in.  People were buying things just to buy them.  Baltimore grocery stores emptied out of Campbell's Tomato Soup, Capers and soda crackers.  Wine stores also reported brisk sales.  Bread? Not on your lifetime for the next six days.

The look on these mothers faces, while they stood in line at the Giant food, was clearly panic.  It wasn't the snow, or lack of power that scared them. Nor were they even pondering the loss of heat.

No. These were women terrified of two things.  The first was running out of wine.  The second was being trapped in their too small house with their children.   I guess the wine numbs the senses, making children more tolerable.  But how do you keep kids today entertained for days?

My big fear was losing power.

However, the new house performed well enough.  No leaks in the roof during the storm, so far, no weeping basement.  And the power stayed on.

The only mishap happened on Saturday during a lull in the storm.

The husband, brave, strong and handy decided that even though the wind was blowing, that we needed to clear off the front stoop, and shovel six inches off the forty foot walk that connects us to the street.  So, out he went, dressed for the Iditarod and shovel shovel shovelled away.

I went into the kitchen to figure out how to cook a pork roast that was supposed to be a pork loin when the house began to shake and a very loud train sound enveloped the atmosphere.  I should point out that there are no trains anywhere around us.  As I looked through the kitchen to dining room windows there was nothing but WHITE for a brief moment.

Then silence.

Our house has a steep pitched slate roof.  And slate roofs when they are wet are slippery.  So they install these things called "snow stops" on the roof to keep the snow pack from releasing and hurting someone on the ground.  When the snow pack becomes too heavy, no snow stop is going to halt a "release".

And release is what the roof did.  So imagine a few hundred square feet of snow, two feet thick falls on a considerably smaller footprint.  When the powder settles you have four feet of compacted snow in a small area running in a mound the length of the house.

And you have my husband, luckily out of the avalanche's way, standing thirty feet out from the house that he just dug through.  Now to get back to the house, he has ten times the work ahead of him moving hundreds of pounds of snow to get back in.

My husband was agog.  He had not gone outside planning to become Sisyphus, but Susyphus he was, for that moment.

The next day and the next, we dug out - hours of time spent driving a shovel into the warming snow and then hauling it to a place where it was safe to drop it.

The condition of the city on the other hand is not to be believed.   You see, Baltimore is notorious for panicking when it snows, yet it's city government, normally clueless when it comes to dealing with snow as an impotent as Noel Coward in a room full of writhing, nubile, Spanish Fly hopped up 18 year old female virgins demanding to be serviced.

How driven to hysterics are the good people of Baltimore when even the mere mention of the word snow creeps into the forecast?  They close the close schools on speculation of snowfall.  Thats right.  It doesn't have to snow, but they'll close the schools just in case it does snow.

As of tomorrow, we will be at one week since SnOMG hit and they are still operating out of a command center.  And the roads are at one lane, and the intersections are at pure right angles.  That lane your driving in?  It could disappear at any moment into a pile of snow that got dumped in the middle of the street.

Come Wednesday, February 3rd when the temperature climbs to a January Thaw-like 64 degrees, trust me, the elected officials and bureaucrats will be slapping each other on the back, congratulating one and another for making those snow clogged streets their bitch.

How clueless are the people about how to deal with this?  The local paper has a city columnist who opines about problems in his column.  He lives around the corner.  He's been through these storms before.  So what was his column the other day, bitching about the city that is never prepared for these types of events when they know it happens.  He wraps up his column about his neighbor who lived through the dual storms that dropped a whopping 36+" on the city in 2010 and being a smart man, went out and bought a monster snowblower, saying at least this guy was a smart man, why couldn't the city have learned its lessons?

So Sunday, I see this same Columnist grumbling - why?  Because he can hear snow blowers around him, but none of his neighbors have offered to help him out.  And of course, he doesn't have a snow blower because "it wouldn't get much of a workout, so why spend the money?"

See the irony.

See the mentality.

They are not questions.  They are a point to be made.

It isn't the snow that these folks need to fear.

It's their own selves.


Monday, January 25, 2016

If you've got it...


...FLAUNT IT!

Just look at the way that this young lady is making those pigtails her bitches.  Bitch on the left and bitch on the right - work it honey.  Do not fuck with her because she will cut you, motherfuckers.  She is NOTORIOUS PIGTAILS, B.I.G., snap!

Speaking of working it, Cookie plans to blog about the miserable winter experience that we have all endured - SNOTORIOUS B.I.G.

But honestly, with the hubby underfoot - he goes back to work tomorrow - blogging has been low on my list of priorities.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A big old mess of updates

Our recently installed spaceship light over the kitchen island


What has Cookie been up to...well, let's see...

HOME, HOME ON THE RANGE?  Not quite yet.  Tomorrow, we get the plumber's estimate tomorrow to bring a gas line into the kitchen for the new range.  And it's going to be astounding.  But you know, when you are dealing with something that could blow your house from Kingdom come, you really don't want to cut corners.   After we have that scheduled, THEN we buy the range.

ON THE MOTHER IN LAW FRONT: Latest news is that Mom has an healthy appetite and is eating well.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that we are on needles and pins with regard to her family.  We are trying a different direction to contacting the next family group.  Fingers crossed.  We aren't looking forward to a an Earl Hamner homecoming, we'd just like to to talk with some of these cousins.

ON THE EMPLOYMENT FRONT: Looks like I may be going back to work at the Beef House / Strip Club.  The manager that I worked for is now the former manager.  And like all of the munchkins coming out after Dorothy rid Oz of the Wicked Witch of the East, some of my coworkers are planning on reapplying.

LIGHTS!  WE HAVE LIGHTS!  On the homefront since we have sold Tudor Cottage, we now have money to take down the old ugly lights that cam with the new house and put up some vintage lights that we bought and set aside for such a time when we could afford to get them rewired and installed.  Well they are up and they are SPECTACULAR!


And of course we cannot leave you without a gratuitous Star Wars mention.   

Of course, this was back when Luke Skywalker was going through his Toni Tennille phase...


Do they even have Corn Flakes on Tatooine?  Or corn for that matter? 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

We're going shopping....



Well, the house proceeds check clears tomorrow through its Reg CC holding period, and that means the Cookie's have been shopping for a new stove.

The current electric range, dubbed "Spectra" by its maker, GE, but more commonly referred to as "Satan's Stove" by the two of us has officially worn out its welcome mat, and hopefully be gone by February first.

Why is it Satan's Stove?  Using it is really is a crap shoot.  So much so that I am afraid to try a brisket.  When an over makes you afraid to make something that is your signature dish, it's a bad thing.  Set it at 350 and it's all over the place like a driver in Paris.  340, up to 425, levels off at 375, and if you adjust the temperature down you have to use an analog dial with a digital read out.  I wouldn't trust it with a meat loaf.

It's so bad that we thought about donating it, but think it would be safer on a trash heap.

So we have been appliance shopping, and it has been a brain numbing experience.  All these model numbers.

And you know, Cookie wants to buy locally, because I believe in supporting local companies.  Call me old fashioned, but that's what I do.

But we have shopped all the stores, large and small, because Cookie wants what he wants.

It's been a good eight years since I bought a new range, and the manufacturers are fewer, the quality is flimsier, and the prices higher.

And there is no more Magic Chef, which was TOPS in gas ranges.  Now everything is Viking this, commercial that, high end, stainless (or black stainless) or worse, the dreaded "Value lines".

"What about this this one over here," I said admiring it's lines, it's finish and control panel.

"Well, it is one of our best selling value lines, and great for the person who doesn't cook.  But frankly, the motherboards tend to fail and our service department manager drinks because the shipment come from Korea and the part can be here in 48 hours, or six weeks.  Look it up online.  Lots of angry owners."

So I asked Salesman why they sold it.

"People buy them because the interior is a pretty French blue, and when they work, they work just fine.  It's really popular with people who have to do a quickie update to sell a house."

And after a while, all the stoves start looking the same.

We are scolded for using the incorrect terminology.



At different store the sales "associate" ("unlike sales persons, we don't work on commission...") felt the need to correct me and scold me on my use of terminology.

"Now don't confuse a stove with a range," said she.

"A stove is a stand alone unit with both a cooktop and an oven.  A range is mounted on top of your counter top," she said with a tone of voice that scraped at the the very marrow of my bones.

"Well, where we're from, a stove and a range are the same thing, a cooktop is what is installed on your counter..." I made the mistake of saying.

"Then you are never going to find what you want because you are using the incorrect terminology."

And with that she lost me as a customer and we left.

At the next to last store we made it through the gauntlet of other shoppers and and screaming children to the section where they held the things that you cook food with heat and Reggie decided that we were his customers.

Looking at a unit that we both liked I asked: How much.  This was a mistake.

"Normally it's three thousands dollars, but it's on sale through the 21st for $2,100, tax and delivery not included on the HG37XSESSVPP90Q."

I point to one exactly like it sitting next to it and ask why the price is under two-grand.

As Reggie rattled off the model numbers, my brain began to hurt,
 and my mind buzzed with letters and numbers and figures.



"Well that model is a HG37YSESSVPP90Q, and it has stainless steel oven racks instead of the 'SmipliClean' racks that come with the HG37XSESSVPP90Q.  Now if you were interested in the wok stand, you can get that and the better racks on the HG37XSESSSVPP91Q, and with that you get the choice of the commercial style handles or last years Sculptura handles," says the sales person.

And which are the better racks?

"Well that depends on how you use your oven."

Silly me!

I am shown the the HG37XSESSWPP90Q, the HG37XSESSXPP91Q, and the HG37XSSESVPP90Q, which is not the same as the HG37XSESSXPP91R, according to the salesperson who lowers his voice as if to say something disparaging and out comes "which was last years big seller.  I have one at my Springfield store but it's missing the meat thermometer."

"Well we can't have that," says the husband, "can we."

Reggie missed that bit of sarcastic irony as it went sailing over his head.

"Now this one," says the sales clerk bring something up on a giant touch screen as large as most people's TV sets, "combines all of the features I showed you on the HG37XSESSVPP90Q and the HG37XSESSWPP90Q, the HG37XSESSXPP91QRC, which we don't have on the floor but comes with a phone app so you can start your over if you are leaving the office."

Huh?

"The good news is the HG37XSESSXPP91QRC is only $3,250, plus $65 delivery fee which we rebate back to you after the range is delivered and you record the model number. and your 6.5% sales tax."

The sound of his voice has been replaced with an odd buzzing sound in my mind.  My brian was flatlining.

"And they all have the sabbath feature."

I blink.  Now I hear crickets. Just crickets.

By the time it was 4pm yesterday my head was about to explode

Anyhow, we found a "slide in range that gives us two ovens - one in the warming drawer oven (it will cook up to 425 degrees), five burners (cause when Cookie cooks, Cookie cooks) and is stainless.  And the controls in front where the Husband likes them.

And its Gas.

And it's on sale.

So now I have to see if I can get local appliance guy to drop the price to what the other local chain is willing to part with at.

And if I can get him to throw in a dishwasher, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

One man's trash...


We are speechless.

But we are quite sure that his mother must be very proud of him.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The party's over...

2015, like this party, started out well, but quickly became
a rotten year for the world. 


Well folks, what started in great promise really turned out to be, overall, a mighty shitty year.

Paris terrorism,  Santa Barbara terrorism.  The Baltimore Riots.  ISUL/Daesh.  This biblical flooding in Texas and the midwest.  Donald Trump running of President.

Jesus Effing Christ, what a miserable year.

Well, let's hope that 2016 is better and kinder and more prosperous for us all.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The deed is done. Literally.



The ink has dried.

The keys have been exchanged.

The deed is done.

The gas, electric, alarm and insurance cancellations are done.

And now it is in the new owners hands.

Tudor cottage finally has new owners.  We closed this afternoon.

Nice young couple.  Both the husband I can not be happier.

Owning a second home is not all it's cracked up to be.  I know it wasn't that type of second home.

But what a bother.

Worry about break ins.  Worry about thefts.  And then that was that second yard to cut, trim and weed.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I went to the old house and scrubbed every last inch of floor, cabinetry and woodwork.  Their realtor even said that this was the first time he had walked in for a preclosing inspection where the house was immaculate.  It's all about good karma.  

So for continued good Karma we are throwing the new owners a cocktail party next month.

Thank the goddess that they are nice and not assholes.  And thank the goddess they bought the house as is, and without contingencies.

Yippee, indeed!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Now to return the gifts that weren't a big hit...




I thought this leopard print cat suit would make Norma look and feel like Ann Margaret...




...but in reality, Norma felt it wasn't working for him.



I thought that Jason would find this useful, but he said that it was a bit too French for job.




I found these bookends for MJ, but alas, they were too tall for her shelves.




I found this delightful thing for Muscato, but he pointed out that he didn't have the slightest inclination to learn how to kiss any girl.


Oh well, better luck next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ghosts of Christmas Gifts Past


Cutting edge TV and VCR Center



Workout Equipment



Cassette Player with Remote



Music and LP's


A visit from Norma, MJ and Jason

Monday, December 21, 2015

Worlds worst souvenir: The radioactive dime



Janet thought it would be interesting. But Harry just put in his and kept it as a charm.  Years later, they never figure out how Harry became sterile.  Or why his testicles dropped out of his pants...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Karma is going to come down hard on me...



At the December 19, 2015 meeting of Schadenfreudian's Anonymous, I take to the stage.

My name is Cookie (Hello, Cookie) and I have had impure thoughts.

(Crowd buzzes, nodding their heads, trying not to look at their phones...)

You see, last Tuesday, the news reports came out that someone who my childlike self feels is evil, landed himself in a whole lot of trouble.

(The room quiets.  A couple people try and repress their smiles.  They know my secret shame...)

And I, well, I found myself struggling to think kind thoughts of this person.  I didn't want to stoop to an unkind level.  I am trying to be a better person.  I am trying - like Oprah tells people - to attract good energy around me, so that people will come to me and include me in positive, life affirming activities.

(You can hear a pin a drop, and then Norma Desmond stands up and says...)

"For crying out loud - that putz Martin Shkreli had it coming Cookie!"
(The room erupts, and sheds it's pious facade.)

This is how it plays out in my head.  I am trying to be good.  But it is such a struggle.

I am sure that there is something, even a molecule of his brain that can be redeemed in Martin Shkreli.  OK, half a molecule.  Maybe an atom.

But at the same time I am so enjoying watching this humanperson, being, prick get what's coming to him.

And the worst part about it is that I want him to suffer.  Really.  I mean suffer.  I mean suffer like he caused others to suffer.  I don't want any harm to come to him besides being locked up for life.

Nothing a good dry assfucking couldn't cure.  But not with my dick; no effing way.  Because anyone who ass fucks Martin Shkreli has a ruined dick.  Think about it.  Who wants to be dicked sister with Martin Shkreli?

And those aren't nice thoughts towards others - especially at Christmastime!

But look at what he did - and it has nothing to do with that drug price increase.

This son of a Albanian bitch not only ripped off investors in his two investment schemes, but then he took a fairly sound company and began stealing from it to pad his wallet and pay people off, in that order.

In other words, he was running a Ponzi scheme.  Not on the scale of Bernie Madoff, mind you.

But what makes this so vile is that he's behaving as if he's Leona Helmsley incarnate.

I just want to smack his face.  You know?

But at least Leona made sure that your linens were clean and the hotel food was "good".

So yes, I am a Schadenfreudian's Anonymous member who has failed.

So now I am trying to think good thoughts.  Nothing but good thoughts, about everyone and everything.  But I am really struggling...


Thursday, December 17, 2015

This is what 46 looked like, in 1962.



In 1962, the makers of geritol ran this ad featuring 46 year old women.

All of these women were born in 1916.  Thats right.  1916.  The year before the U.S. entered WWI.

Can you find the three women in this ad that take Geritol and are young and vibrant?  Can you find the three women who don't?  And can you chose the "career gal"?  (And I think one of these women loves her grandchildren almost as she loves her Johnny Walker black.  Almost.)

Read between the lines of the copy and there is a clear message - some of these women look their age, some look young for their age, but some women look sixty.

The average age expectancy of women in the United States in 1962 was 73.5 years.  Today, that average age is up to 81, however the U.S. has dropped in overall rankings, behind countries such as France, Germany, Japan and England, but also behind Slovinia, Nahru (A nation that currancy backed by the worth of bird droppings, its biggest export), Lebanon and Estonia.  

We have even dropped behind Andorra.  That's right ANDORRA.  A country where they let non violent offenders out of jail each Friday, if they promise to come back on Monday.  Do you even know where Andorra is?

I'll tell you where it is*.

It's IN FRONT OF the U.S. in life expectancy, that's where it is!

I post this, because the woman in the gold turtleneck and vest reminds me of my mother at 46.  She never took Geritol.

Mom's secret?

A pack of Vantage cigarettes a day and diet of BLT's and black coffee.

What's your secret?



*Andorra is the smallest nation state in Europe, in the mountains between France and Spain.  It's so tiny that Napoleon wouldn't invade it because he thought it was cute.  Don't believe me?  Look it up.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

MIL Update!



So, if you have been following the efforts to find and connect with my Mother In Law's birth family, you know that we've had great successes and a disappointing setback.

Well last week we flew to New England to see her and share with her what we have found.

The best way to explain her current state is that she used to be bright, sharp and sunny - a 100 watt light bulb with lots of energy.  We are now down to 15 watts, and it flickers - the wires are fragile.

Her mind is thinking, but the connections between it and her ability to speak isn't great and mostly we get one word answers.

MIL cannot walk, and uses a wheelchair to get a around.  She is sharpest in the morning, but confused at night.  She sleeps a great deal.  But her care givers get her up each day, dressed in her own clothes, and she goes to excercise (raising her arms up and wiggling her feet) and sing a longs, and watches movies with the other residents in the assisted living unit.  Still, she is in palliative care - easing discomforts, not trying to cure them.

So we sat down with her last Wednesday and showed her what we found.  She remembers she was adopted.  She remembers how wonderful her adoptive parents were.  She remembered wanting to find her birth parents.  And her face lit up when we told her what we had found for her.

And she took the charts in her hands and studied them.  Her mind was working; she was taking it in.  We explained the charts - which we simplified for her.  She studied them.  We said the names and she repeated them.

So I asked her if this made her sad, or happy.

She thought about it it looking at the pages, and cocked her head and said, with great force and "vigga"...

"HAPPY!"

So evidently we accomplished what we set out to do.

It doesn't seem like we hear of too many successes in the world where children are given up for adoption, and then are raised by parents who adore them, and never think about them in terms less than a biological child.

But we know that chosen children are more often than naught, loved by their parents who raise them, and are more often than naught missed by their birth parents.

MIL was one of the lucky few though, that got to lead a most remarkable life - more remarkable than most children - adopted or otherwise.  And she appreciated that life.

And that makes me HAPPY for her, and very glad to be a part of it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Be Very Afraid, Better Homes and Gardens 1958 Christmas SpectacularSpectacular



Cookie is now 53 years old, and through my life I have lived through shocking moments, and I have seen shocking things.   I know, I know - hard to believe, but true.  Yes, I have seen things that one should not need to see - so few things "shock" me today.

Actually, I take that back.  I am still shocked and repulsed by people who support Donald Trump.  There you have it.

So imagine my surprise when this arrived in the mail after I won an eBay auction.  I had not bid on it, but the seller got confused and I ended up with it.

It is shear Christmas Porn.  Page after page of lurid color images.  Each page more SHOCKING than the next.  And people think that things were better in the good old days?  Think again...

Lets look at that cover, shall we?

The evil humpty dumpty - with long legs that would easily get him off that wall, if he just tried.  The fruit cake sitting on sharp metal points.  Bags filled with God knows what on the tree.

Inside, the editors invite you think "outside of the box" and try an "Oriental" style Christmas theme.



And how do we know it was inspired by the east?  Because nothing says Tokyo than Pink Tulle glued to driftwood, right?





And we also know that this is ORIENTAL because of the cunning ORIENTAL man hiding presents for his neighbor's caucasian wife.  (Hint: I don't believe that Asian Americans like being called "oriental".)

And what this?


Nothing says ORIENTAL Christmas like a tree made out of Golden Rod, eh?

Meanwhile, on the east coast....




Inside we find the Mame Dennis Burnside home on Beekman Place.  Evidently things are lean as Nora and Ito have resulted to making a Star Burst Pinata, and cheap ribbony gee gaws on the wall.  It's all very sad...Tasteful, but sad...This is an example of basic decoration for people who don't like the fuss and bother that BHG intends on unleashing in the pages to come.





What the flock!

This looks like a festive tree.  I actually love the colors and the decorations.  Something quite different than the usual theme trees of today.  And where does one get those fabulous 50s decorations?  You make them.  The magazine gives you step by step instructions.  Well, actually, not you, this is job for your...




Looks like it's time to get your kiddies sweat shop up and running!  And what adorable moppets don't love crafts?  And crafts for eight to ten hours?  Too much fun!!!  Plenty of sugary Christmas cookie will help keep them hopped up and cranking out those ornaments till the whole flocking tree is covered.

Now according to the text, you are going to need wooden clothespins, wooden picnic spoons and forks (wooden?), tin can lids, embroidery hoops - wait a minute.  Tin can lids?


YES!

Razor sharp tin can lids!   And other sharp pointy things painted with lead based paint, and plenty of small beads - the perfect size for choking on!  Did I mention the sharp pointy skewers that can take out an eye faster than you can call 911?  And that glue?  Made from Mr. Ed's hooves.




So while the kids are pinching one and other with those clothespins, Mom will be sitting down with a scotch and her scrap bag to create toys that the kids really can throw at each other.  See, it's easy - see?  Not quite sure what up with that stoner dog puppet - damn hippies.


And what about Dad?  Where is he with all this mirth making being made?



Well I'll tell you where he is - He's in the Rumpus Room basement, damnit, with his man friends, war buddies, the type of friends that you kill for, and have when the North Korean's are on the march. 

Being manly and making a manly meal, it's not a snack.  No, BHG calls this a STAG FEED.  

BOOYAH!  

And while Dad is carving his meat in a manly fashion, his buddy Maury is getting some pocket pool time in, and their friend Dick - well, he's leaning in.  Why?  BECAUSE, men need to be manly, that's why!

Let's take a look at that holiday man food will ya:



Just look at that god damned delicious chow for this manly STAG FEED!  Manly cheese - a whole wedge of it - slices are for pussies.  And mustards - because only sissies and kids like ketchup.  Big Manly crackers.  Flat Bread is a pussy term.  Men eat crackers - and they love big six inch crackers - and larger too!  And we've BEEF because men crave red meat. {Snarl} And for bread - there is the most manly bread known to MANKIND - dry rye bread, with plenty of seeds and lots of it.  On the stove?  A big pot of beans.  Why beans?  Because it's a manly dish.  And the Indian Club style grinders?  Because real men GRIND their salt and pepper.  Shaking from shakers is for Commies, and women.  



And speaking of plastered, Baby Jesus certainly looks plastered.  And HEY!  Just in case you are one of those idiots who has forgotten what this season is REALLY about - it's about a plaster likeness of the baby Jesus, swaddled in a golden doily and placed upon a pink glittery piece of scrap fabric.  And oh, Come let us adorn him with glittery silvery ornaments and lights, because THAT there, bub is the REASON FOR THE SEASON.

GOT IT?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bad Hanukkah Presents




As a public service announcement, Cookie would like to remind people that Hanukkah - The Jewish Festival of Light - is not NOT the Jew's version of Christmas.  That it falls in December is part an parcel of history.   But we are not celebrating the birth of a savior.  We are celebrating the miracle of light - that a tiny amount of oil that should have lasted half a night lasted for a week, plus.

THAT SAID, Cookie would ALSO like to remind the Jews that Hanukkah is NOT Christmas.  It is not a week of unbridled greed.  Yes, if you are lucky - you get a small trinket.  I know that there are a lot of you who think of a Lexus as a trinket, but it is not.  It's a luxury car.  A diamond ring is not a trinket.  It's a bauble.

So what is a trinket?  Think Cracker Jack prize without having to eat the damned Cracker Jack.

And if you are of certain age, like Cookie, you remember when you were lucky at all to get anything for Hanukkah.  Maybe a dollar from Bubbe.

Being from a mixed marriage, this is why I coveted Christmas with my mother's family - there is was all about PRESENTS and yummy food.

But in Shaker Heights, you got a grilled cheese, you lit a candle in honor of the oil, and then you maybe got a trinket.  Or a dollar from my grandmother.  Maybe a matchbox car from my father. Magic markers from my mother.

The extended family would use the holiday as an excuse to commit a drive by giftings.  If non Jewish kids get Santa, Jewish kids get elderly relatives that dart in and out with something small.

Included in this, my extended uncle and aunt Sid and Florence Amder - two of the nicest, kindest people ever.  Uncle Sid's brother was married to my father's sister.  They had no children of there own, but they always had something for the small kids.  Sid and Florence never forgot a holiday, or a hug or a compliment, but they gave the worst trinkets ever.  Included in the gifts given:

1965 - A roll of Cryst-O-Mint Life Savers
1966 - Toe Nail Clippers
1967 - Flashlight, without the batteries
1968 - Pot holders
1969 - Room thermometer

1970, however was a turning point in the gift giving.  The night that Sid and Florence arrived, my Cousin Joyce and her two children Chip and Petey were over, dining on grilled cheese with me.

Evidently, at eight years old, Sid and Florence decided that I had aged out the Hanukkah gift giving tradition.  I was in second grade, and no one told me this.  So imagine my sadness - everybody else got something, but I was left with nothing except a Revlon lipstick print on my cheek - at seeing the trinkets that they had brought to our house for my cousins children (who were closer in age to me than their parents), but none for me.

I admit it, I cried.  I didn't have a tantrum, it was a silent tear thing.  I was eight, and over the hill.  And Florence's "But you're a big boy now," did nothing to make my situation any less painful.  It was like being forgotten.

So Sid, God love him, ran out to the car opened the glove box and grabbed something.   He comes back into the house and stuffs the owner's manual to the old beat up Oldsmobile that they were driving.

Evidently Sid, sensing my confusion, fumbled for some words.

"Like your Aunt Florence said, you're a big boy, and you'll be a driver in about eight or nine years, and you like cars, so this is something really important for your future as a motorist...." and he kept rambling.

Honestly, my tears dried up.  The book was cool, with pictures, and I loved cars.  FINALLY, a present I could embrace.  So I gave them both a big hug.

And I was the envy of the younger children - my Cousin Chip, a year younger than me, made a grab for the manual, and I kicked in the nuts.  That manual was mine and he was not got cover it in snot and sticky fingers.  MINE!

After that Sid and Florence gave me auto brochures every year until I went to Junior High School.  And when they bought a new Oldsmobile, they came and took me for a ride.

Sid and Florence died years ago - everyone in my generation has retired to Florida or are going to Florida, and I have no idea what ever happened to the manual.

But the lesson learned from that is sometimes, the best present isn't practical.  It's just something grabbed and given.  A trinket.  You know?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Style Court: The women of Parma, Ohio V. Mrs. Martha Smith Standish of Shaker Heights, Ohio



Parma women love brassy style.  You cannot live on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio, and have enough imitation leopard print.  "Impossible. It cannot be done,  I want to take all of these home, right off the rack," says Mona Grabinski.  Notice how Mona's car coat is a good four inches shorter than her Sears best polyester skirt. "When you walk into the union hall with your man, you want to turn some heads.  It's good to know that every man his his eyes on you.  And it reminds my husband Dom that I could have the pick of any of these men, ca-peesh?"

Now compare that to the measured fashion approach my Martha Smith Standish:


Notice how the silk jacket, part of a suit from Peck and Peck, is properly fitted.  The cut is fashionable, but not flashy.  The blouse from Halle's is crisp - smartly pressed.  Likewise, the single strand of pearls from Cowell and Hubbard demonstrate restrained good taste.  Her hair, by Joey and Tano, befits a woman of her maturity and stature in the community.

According to Mrs. Smith Standish, each day she performs an important ritual before venturing out.  "Before leaving the house I stop at the mirror beside the door, and remove one article of jewelry. One never wants to be showy and exhibit poor taste.  I say your wardrobe should be appropriate for the Christmas season; never aspire to remind people of just the tinsel on the tree."

Words to live by, Mrs. Smith Standish.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

My name is Cookie and I am a genealogy junkie...



Yes, it's true.

It is 9:15 on a quiet Saturday night at Cookie Manor and here I sit.

I am beating my head against the Ancestry.com web site while my husband has his weekly affair with Doctor Who.

The problem is, we have reached the end of the internets as it applies to Mom's birth family.   I have exhausted all of the online databases for her birth family.  Seriously.

New York, as I have said before, is HUGE state, with a massive population, and according to itself, the center of the universe.  HOWEVER, one place where it fails in a Mississippian fashion is its online records and newspapers.

New York is as bad as Albania when it comes to accessing online records.

You see, New York isn't one state - its two.  It is the five boroughs that make up greater New York City, and then everything else.  And very little of it is online, searchable, with content.

For example, if you are looking for an Ohio death certificate, 1908 to 1953, they are ALL online, for free through family search.  And that is ALL 88 counties.

New York? Pish.  Send away for $25 for a death certificate from 1914 and PROVE to US that you are a relative.

Looking for a California Newspaper?  They are online through a variety of resources, subscription and free services.  

New York?  You can access the Times. And a couple here and a couple over here.  But not the Statewide press archives like Ohio.

Even Indiana - notoriously terrible in its records access, has more daily newspapers online that freaking New York.  EVEN OK-freakin-LA-HO-MA has more pages online that are searchable than New York.

But New York? Feh.  It's a backwater when it comes to online records, newspapers and directories.

A close friend of Cookie's who is a "certified" genealogist thinks all of this is going to change in the next five years.

"People expect records to be searchable online, and their public records aren't.  And someone is going to sue the state for not having open records and New York is going to have to comply,"  Says my friend Nancyman.

Anyhow, I have to step away from the computer.  Its becoming madness.

Speaking of Madness, because we had such a horrible reaction from MIL birth nephew, niece and their kin, we have asked our adoption search Guru, Angela, to intercede with the other sisters family - sorta like a Yenta - on our behalf.

We are hoping that someone who's resume includes professional status can get a foot in the door instead of the way it was slammed in our faces before.

So I am going to get some chocolate chip mint ice cream from Baskin & Robbins - the only chocolate chip mint ice cream there is that I will eat and go break up my husband and Doctor Who.

Why?

Because, Mr. Smarty pants, that's why.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Taking a break, and then to work...



Well, it's the weekend.

Yay.

I had to get away from this family project because between the monster head cold that nature gave me for my 53rd birthday has lasted for twelve days, and as a result, the house had gotten away from me and my house keeping machinations.

And frankly my head is spinning from Strouse's.

So I put away the bed linens from our guests at Thanksgiving and worked at cleaning up the guest bedding on the third floor.

Taking a quick break, I signed onto Amazon Vine and scored a brand new foam and gel mattress for the guest room for FREE.  Read it and weep.  FREE.

Then I did 12 days worth of laundry (Six loads), stripped the beds, flipped our bed and cleaned the bathroom floors.

I folded the laundry and hauled it up to the second and third floors and put it away.

I went to the store, bought fresh bed and a wood chisel, because tomorrow we need to chise some  wood to repair a door.

I also washed out the humidifier pans that live under the lid of our radiator covers.  These are galvanized shallow pans that your pour water into and radiators heats the water, which releases the water vapor so everything in your home becomes less shocking.

And can you believe after all of that, while I was getting my hair cut, the woman cutting my hair had the nerve to say "Good, now that you are done you can come to my house and clean."

I am sitting there thinking "Bitch, after all of that, and its 12:30, why in the name of Sweet Lord Jesus, would I want to do that?"  But because she had very sharp pointy scissors, I thought it was better just to smile.

Then I came home and patched the concrete walk to the front door. ALL of this because when the husband comes home, I want him to have a nice place to land.

And yes, I have turned into my mother.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Theater of the Absurd Thrives in New York State Government



We all know what a cluster governmental bureaucracy can be, and we are living that nightmare as I type.

You see, we are now searching for the date of death for my mother in law's (henceforth, Roz) mother.  If you will recall from the other day, we did find her birth parents names, but were quickly cast aside by the surviving member of her elder birth sister's family.

Now, as if this entire thing could get more tedious, we are dealing with the Byzantine world of New York State Government.  More specifically, its state run mental hospitals.  Apparently, Birth Mother, Bella Strouse was institutionalized for a mental illness, most likely postpartum depression, and most likely misdiagnosed as something far worse.  In 1925 many lower income women who could not function following the birth of a babe were shipped off to state run hospitals where they were soothed with salts of thorazine.  Most lived out their lives abandoned by their families by what what we now call, affectionately, "baby blues".

We know she was there in 1925.  And we know she was at Utica State Hospital in 1930 because it shows on the U.S. Census.  And we know that she was Marcy State Hospital because that shows on the 1940 census.  (Utica State was the state hospital in New York for the *insane* for decades.  Marcy, just down the road from Utica was built later.  Both hospitals have been replaced with the Mohawk Valley facility.)

So it is most likely that Bella died in a state run hospital.  They should know.  But they do not.  In fact:

  • The State of New York Department of Health does not know.
  • The State of New York Department of Mental Health does not know.
  • The State of New York Office of Mental Hygiene does not know.  In fact, the State employee I spoke with had never heard of Utica State Hospital, or Marcy State Hospital.  Interesting.
  • The Onieda County Health Department does not keep death certificates for the county, for that you have to go to the town clerk.  
  • The town clerk over here is charging us $82 to look in a 30 year window.
  • The town clerk in another municipality bent over backwards to help us over the phone.  I owe her a metaphoric gift basket. 
  • The Governor's office wants everything in writing before it will figure this mess out, but an employee said have you looked at this woman named Bella in a Kings County cemetery?  "Oh, you are right, this Bella was Jewish and you said your family member was Catholic."
THEN there was my discussion with state archives, and this where Charles Ludlam would have scripted the conversation which went like this:

Me: We are trying to determine if there is anyway for to access Bella's records to see when she was discharged or died.

Them: I'm sorry, but I can't discuss anyone in a state run institution because their rights are protected by HIPPA.


Me: Actually, HIPPA protects the privacy of living people, and this woman is dead.

Them: Where did they die?

Me: That is why I am calling you.  I understand that I need to submit a letter, but before I do that, do you have the records and can you access them?


Them: I'm sorry, but I can't discuss confidential patient information without her written consent.

Me: If she were alive she would be 131 years old, and that is unlikely, or we have a real Christmas miracle on our hands.  And if she is dead, then she can't complete the forms.

Them: Let me send you the paperwork for the patient to fill out.  And you can't fill it for them.  They must fill it out themselves...


Me: Aardvark 

Them: Come again?

Me: Nevermind {click}

I have long been suspect that New York is simply too large a state to function on its own.  

After today, I know that for fact.

Monday, November 30, 2015

We lost the battle, but we won the war.


How could anyone not love her?


Well, where does one begin?

At the beginning, I suppose.

My mother in law, whom I love very much, for a variety of reasons, is nearing the end of her life.   The family is working with hospice, as her mind and body begins its wind down.  We lost my father in law about 14 months ago, now it's her time for her farewell performance.

Nothing is imminent, it's just the doctor has said that given her age, that if she has another internal bleeding episode that it would be easier on her if we just to let nature take its course.  At 92, she is simply tired.

Faced with this, the husband and I started working doubly hard on trying to find her birth parents.  It's been a decades process that never really yielded anything.  All her adoption agency would give her when she was well was "non-identifying" information, which was all accurate, but impossible to prove.

Last spring, after watch Dr. Henry Gates use a genetic genealogist by the name of Cece Moore, I thought, now there's something that we've never done before.  So I contacted Ms. Moore, and she was delighted to help us.  Since her plate was full, she handed us over to another able professional named Angela, and together we marched forward, until all of us got distracted with the things in our lives.

Then this past fall, we really pushed forward.  Finally, with MIL's DNA providing us nothing but ancient overseas matches, we tried another route.

Go back to the source of our frustrations.

We decided to contact the adoption agency.

MIL was adopted in New York, and New York laws on adoptions were, for years, byzantine at best and pure gothic at its worst.

In 1989, MIL started playing this "ask me a question and I'll tell you no lies" routine that led nowhere but the "non-identification" information which contained things like "Your father was a protestant; your mother a Catholic."  And "Your mother was raised in a convent for six years of her life."

What are you supposed to do when an agency is bound by rules and laws that can only tell you "On the day that you were born, the sun came up in the east, and set in the west"?  You give up after exhausting what you think are the logical steps that take you nowhere.

This time, given her advanced age, the agency got a legal opinion that enough time had passed, and they kindly provided us with information.

We then came upon a letter written by MIL to the agency in 1991 in which she expressed her displeasure with the whole "snatch this pebble from my hand" routine and in it, it said that she would like to meet her siblings, if they could be found. The letter was a whole lot nicer than I would have been, still, you could sense her annoyance between the lines causing the words and meanings to vibrate with sarcasm.

Apparently, MIL's birth parents were married, and following the birth of third child, the birth mother went into a deep cycle postpartum depression.  This lifted with her fourth pregnancy, which was MIL, but she crashed again and was institutionalized, possibly for the rest of her life.  She could no longer function or care for the other three children, what good was she, thought her husband who was making .87 hour as a tool and die maker.  So we knew they were out there.  What we didn't know where they ended up.

Well, apparently, two of them ended up with the birth father.  Son and second daughter ended up with the father and were living with them by 1940.  But we couldn't much on them, so we focused on the eldest daughter, "Agatha".  She had married a man with a unique last name, so running those lines came easily.  We found that woman's son on Ancestry, and his descendents through Facebook.  They were all in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

We contacted them and we waited.

And one of them bit at it and answered back.  We said that we did want anything, we weren't there to sell anything, and we wanted no personal information, but we did want to share the MIL adoption with them.   We laid all the cards out of the table, but we did not provide anything in writing in documents.   Those we would share if we got to meet them.  We would even pay for the DNA test to prove it.

They said they would mull it over the holiday.  And we waited.

Finally on Saturday afternoon we received a tersely worded statement that that went something like this: "Since this was something never discussed in the family, we chose not to believe it or get involved." and "We would appreciate never hearing from you again."

Wow.

That hurt.

Now granted, this family line has a lot of "stuff" going on in it that is outside the norm.  And yes, 90 years had gone past since the adoption.  But that was really a kick in pants.

So I responded, and said that I felt we were owed something from them.  And that something was we got to tell them that our door was always open to them should they change their minds.  But I also slipped in there that whether or not they chose to embrace this wonderful woman, it still didn't change the fact that she was "Agatha's" sister.  And there was nothing that they could do or say to the contrary.  They could either come around, or not, but that was their decision, not ours. I wished them well.

Away from it - we have no idea what  "Agatha" knew or didn't know.  She would have been nine when the MIL was removed from the family home.  Maybe her father told her he had put her up for adoption.  Maybe the hurt was so bad that she was never mentioned again, like a death.  Maybe  "Agatha" was so put off by her father's actions that she blamed him.  There is even the possibility that   "Agatha" was a totally unpleasant person.

We'll never know until  "Agatha's" people decide to man up, and reach out.  

They may think they won the battle by telling us to go away, but we won the war.

And how did we win the war?  Well, for starters, we have had my Mother-in-Law, a woman of such great compassion that had these people come knocking at the door, she would have taken them in, no questions asked.  And we have each other, though there is always room at the family table for more.   But we have the truth, and can give it to my mother in law.  She gets to know that her biological father did indeed do the best thing for her, which was putting her up for adoption, through which she was chosen and loved every moment of her adoptive parents lives, totally, and without question - she was their daughter.

So last week was a week of great celebration, and crushing defeat.  Now we push on to find the heirs of the other two siblings, and the final resting places of MIL's birth parents.

So yeah, we are a very lucky family.  And now I get to love her all the more.




Thursday, November 26, 2015

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...


Dinah is cooking someone we knew...

As for the Cookie and the Husband, we're having a nice, quiet meal of real turkey here at the house.  Then we are going to nap.  Because that's what the Pilgrims did.

Hows about you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Well if Blobby can do it...

Blobby has committed typeface to blog-o-space and delved deep into the world of the Meme of "Your First Time."  You know the drill, standard questions. baring your soul, seeing reads it.

So here goes nothing:

My earliest memory 
My mother getting me ready for bed and delivering me a dose of Petrogalar, which was kept the in linen closet on a top shelf.  What is Petrogalar?  Better yet, what was it?  Well, Petrogalar (or Cascara Petrogalar as it sometime was sold) was a children's laxative and stomach soother in the vein of mineral oil and malox.  It came in a relatively elegant deco bottle, clear glass, tall with a wide mouth and a light blue label.  I remember the label because I recall the lowercase "g" was one of those that used a circle for the tail.  Anyway, I was a horribly collicy baby and had horrible stomach problems as an infant, toddler, child, teen, adult. And I never minded taking a spoonful, until my mother started buying in a brown bottle, and I refused it.  I think it was a different brand.  But I hated the taste of it when it came from that different bottle.  
First airline flight 
We flew on American Airlines from California to Ohio after driving a Lincoln Continental out to my uncle who lived in Bel Air.  Why?  Because cars were cheaper in Ohio in 1968. 
First time ‘doing it” 
This is a tricky one.  I used to do what most boys do - which is look and compare, with a bit of mutual play when I was very young.  But none of knew what were doing, or that something great could "come" from it.  It was just hey, you have what I have.  

And then there was my father, who loved me in the most inappropriate way possible. It was sex for me, it was sacrificing yourself in hopes of being loved. 

The first time doing it as "sex" is a much more, shall we say, dangerous thing.  It involved me, learning from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex - which was not a glowing way for an 11 year old to learn about sex between men, but it gave me a very exciting image - that those holes in partitions, in the bathrooms that my parents told me to never go into alone, were for sex with another guy.  So my first foray in the ecstatic feelings of arousal and another male's parts happened in the mens toilet at the long gone May's on the Heights in the west basement when I was in fifth grade, so 1973ish.  The other party could have been my father's age.  

This is not how anyone should learn about sex.  And thankfully, we live in a time now when kids - whenever they identify those feelings - have books that they can read and a hopefully find a more accepting support system then I had in 1973.  Hopefully, this helps to keep children out of the hands of adults who took advantage of us.  Do I hold any hard feelings towards that man?  No.  But it shouldn't have happened.  And I wish I had common sense enough understand how dangerous it was for me. 
First surgery
My gall bladder removal.  

First car
A 1973 Ford LTD Brougham four door sedan.  Green.  I hated that car. 
First death of someone close
This is a hard one - because we lived with death in our house.  My father's first wife - the mother of my brothers died when the brothers were children, but after my mother married my father.  So she, and her death, were always with us.  We also lived with the death, nine years before I was born of my mother's beloved youngest sister.  There were reminders of her everywhere but her name was never spoken out loud in front of my grandparents, who never recovered from the shock and loss of losing a child to a brain tumor at 21.  I had an uncle, Bob, who would stop by my grandparents home on the holidays.  Harriet Ann and Bob were highschool sweethearts, newly wed, when she died suddenly.  But my mother always would snap that Bob wasn't my uncle because Harriet had died before I was born, ergo, she was not my Aunt.  From this I learned that everyone grieves in a different way.  I also learned not to say "I'm sorry" when someone dies.  It's only applicable if you kill someone, which I haven't done.  Instead, you let the survivor speak, or remain silent, you hold their hand if they need that. You do for them that which needs doing.  And you call on them after all the mourner have left because that is the loneliest moment in their loss. 

So even as a small child, I learned that death happens, and it takes people from you, and that you will never see them again.  So when my father's father died when I was seven, I took it in stride, and understood all that it implied. 
First drink
Probably a sip of apricot brandy when I was child.  It was my grandmother's cure all for a sore throat.  
First regret
First?  Probably being caught in a lie when I was child and being punished for the dishonesty.   As an adult, I have many.  Maybe I'll learn from them one day.
First time rolling down grass hills
During my childhood in Shaker Heights, most likely.  Our house on Sherrington Road had a hill in the front yard.  
First pet 
A dog - a boston terrier - named Gypsy.  Much beloved.  My mother gave him away early one morning when I was five and asleep and we were moving.  She claimed he ran away and only toward the end of her life admitted that she had taken away from me the one being I loved more than anything.  I never let take care of any of the dogs I have owned.  Sorry, but you don't take away a child's dog. 
First time you knew you were different
Oh lordy!  What kind of different?

I was a child raised in a lax Jewish house.  I was never like my cousins who were all older.  I wasn't like my mothers family, who were all Methodists and people of simple means.  I had learning disabilities, so I was different from all my school mates.  And I liked to play with dolls, so I was different than other boys.

So I have known I was different, and have never been the same, until I came out of the closet.  A first step towards being normal on January 21, 1983. 
First presidential election
"1984.  I voted for Mondale.  Well, not true. I voted against Reagan." ~ Blobby.  And blobby said it best.  

First time you felt you were an adult
The night of January 21, 1983, when I came out.  When you take responsibility for yourself, then you are an adult.

First opera
La bohème.  My second Opera?  That is still waiting to happen. 
First time out of the country
Canada, although someone said that it really doesn't count because it's attached. 
First job
I carried the Cleveland Press.  In Fifth grade.  Gawd, I hated doing that in winter.
First time you ate rats at Tewkesbury
You got me.  First time eating a cock in Cleveland, see above.  

First kiss
I kissed a girl named "Clare" at summer camp and remembered that there was nothing.  The first I kissed a guy - actually a man who used his tongue when I was a teenager, now THAT was something. 

First realization of the axiom “life is not fair”
I was so burdened by a child's wishes that the Hell I was trapped in our life would go away and it never did - that was when I learned that life was not fair . 

First disgraceful behavior
I would say taking myself to places where men lurked, and like what they did to me as a child is pretty disgraceful.  That said, yeah, that would be it.