Wednesday, December 13, 2017

As we grow older...




Yesterday was Cookie's day at the dermatologist.

I had had my semi-annual poke and prod at the doctors, last week when I asked my doctor about a spot on my forehead.  With all the skin cancer warnings that have been flying about for years, I had noted a spot on my face where the skin text was different.  They tell you in the public missives that any skin that is oddly discolored, will not heal, bleeds, has an irregular shape, etc., should be examined. 

Like colon/rectal cancer, if caught early, skin cancer can be excised and cured.  Just like everyone seems to be on an anti anxiety or anti depressant drugs, everyone seems to know someone has had a little something removed, or have had Mohs surgery, or in rare cases, someone who has died from skin cancer.

So I told the doctor and I pointed at the spot on my forehead.

My doctor, a perfectly preserved man who is my age, and looks decades younger than I, is from deep, deep south and speaks in a drawl and is very good at what he does would need to look at it first, and then it would nothing or something, a something meaning that a dermatologist would examine it.

He looks, then squints and then says "I need to step out and get something."

He comes back with a small tube and says "I am about to invade your space." 

Instead of my forehead, he dives for a spot half way between my left nostril and my radial socket bone like a clumsy kiss is to be expected from a drunk.

He puts the tube up to his eye and my face and says "I saw this from across the room and I would like Dr. Soandso to look at it."

At what?  What about the forehead?

He's not concerned about the forehead, though Dr. Soandso can look at that, but that spot on your face...

He points, and I see a small round divet surrounded by a border of skin, like a crater. 

"That?"

Yes.  "That."

"You know Cookie, as we grow older...and being that the skin is the largest organ that we have, which comes as a surprise to most men...but I'm not a dermatologist, and THAT spot concerns me."

My heart sinks a bit.  He pats me on the shoulder telling me that everything will be OK, be that an extra set of eyes is a good thing.

So I go upstairs to the skin doctor, and am told that "Doctor doesn't have anything until spring.  What Does your doctor want looked at?"

I point to my face.  "That."

"What?  Oh, THAT. Let me check the PA's schedule.  I can get you in next Tuesday."

She assures me that I am not to worry but that the PA will take a closer look.  "If its nothing, its nothing.  If its something, then she can get the doctor."

I leave with a mountain of paper to complete and am told to come back in five days.

Five days I come page, am seated in the beautiful office, offered a Nespresso, to which I reply "no thank you, I had two this morning." I explain we have a Nespresso machine and was so nervous and sleepy that I need to wake up and cause my nerves to be even more on edge. The nurse laughs.

As I sit there, I notice two things.  First, the Christmas music being played at the level just barely loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough to be forced upon you is a series of holiday classics interspersed with heavy organ compensations, that are almost dirge-like. 

The second thing I notice is the smell. 

The room, which is very nice bordering on beautiful - and thankfully has no TV - smells like unwashed bodies, and decay.  In walks a teenage boy with his father, the boys face looks like Disney's animated version of the moon.  Acne and pimples, and it looks painful, like he's been stung by wasps.  When he walks by I am almost knocked out by the odor of rank adolescence.  The poor kid is clean and well dressed, and from his coat, I know that he's a Gilman student.  But he is the midst of a puberty battle within so terrible, that you want to give money to a foundation to find a cure. 

My mind wanders.  God, I hated acne.  But who loves it.  I think about my school pictures, my face looking like a cheese pizza. If there was the Foundation for Explosive Acne, they would need to run commercials at Christmas time to raise money like every other childhood non-profit is doing.

I imagine that one of the commercials would feature this teenage boy and a voice like Sarah McLachlan saying in pained tones "Won't. You. Give. So Kyle can have a pimple free prom?" 

In another commercial, a gravel voiced Robert Duvall would say "A grandfather should never have to watch his granddaughter miss out on what should be the greatest night of her last year in middle school because of the stigma of blackheads, nodule and pustule acne." The visual is of the school orchestra giving its triumphant spring concert, and in the eighth grade section of brass, there is an empty chair, with a lone piccolo on the seat. 

And of course, adults would have to be included.  A third commercial features adults who say things like "I have enlarged pours, because no one told me the lasting affects of popping a cystic acne pimple."  A woman, red welts on her face who says "This shouldn't be happening to me, I am 32 for God's sake."  A woman in her early fifties "Menopausal acne is so misunderstood." 

I am finally escorted back to the PA's offices by a very nice nurse who takes my vitals, asks what I am in to see the PA about.  I point. "This."

"That?" she asks.  "I see, well the PA will have a good look - our patients love her.

My blood pressure is taken - its a we bit high.  My nerves are tightening.  I am alone.  Thinking, this is nothing or something horrible.

The clock ticks and I hear a wee knock on the door, and it opens.  The PA is a very small woman, of Asian heritage and she walks in carefully, almost apologetically, my paper work clutched to her chest.

"Well HELLO!" she enthusiastically says, smiling ear to ear.  We review my information, she types everything in on her tablet.

"What am I looking for?" she asks.   I point.  She shakes her head.  She hands me a mirror.  I point.

"That."

"That?"

"That."

She gets out her scope and she flies in, like a chimney swift, and out again.

"That?  NOTHING! Old acne scar." She smiles.  "And on the forehead?"

I nod, she swoops in and away.

"Flat wart.  Let me see you hands."  I, of course hand them to her.

"Oh, dark spots.  As we grow older...."  I get the speech.  But she starts looking at my fingers.  A sly smile comes over face.  "Just as I thought.  You have the flat wart, here too."

Where?

"There."

That?

"That."

Its a small dot residing on the swirl of my finger, that reminds me of the storm that exists on the swirls of Jupiter that NASA tots out and says "This storm on the face of Jupiter is larger than the planet we live on."

I am relieved, beyond words.  Cancer, no matter how small strikes a fear into soul.  I almost begin to cry, my eyes welling up a bit.

She explains that sometimes, "warts, like mice, are seldom alone."  I have had warts in the past, usually on the bottoms of my feet, and a podiatrist scoops them out, slaps a band aid on them and sends me packing.

"I burn them off," she explains, slathering a numbing gel on the two spots.  While we wait for the lidocaine to work, she tells me that she wants to do a body check in February, and will make sure that "the dead warts are gone. and make sure the rest of you are in good shape."

She draws a large cylinder, like a blow torch from a cupboard, keys the lock.  I have never had this done before and she explains that a small jet of liquidized nitrogen will come out through a microscope tube and "burn it away."

But before she does it she tells me to go home and take two Tylenol. 

"Because its going hurt?" I ask.

"Some people, it hurts.  But this going to give you one hell of a headache when I treat the forehead spot."

She wasn't kidding either. The spots themselves felt a sting, but when I walked out the door, I have one of the worst headaches of my life.  I am also relieved beyond all words.  Hearing the word "Wart" was like a Christmas present.  And, I think to myself, they really need to take your blood pressure after they deliver the good news.

The husband was relieved, too.  But only to a point.  After 21 years together, he knows me all too well. 

"You made an appointment for me, didn't you." 

"It's good insurance," I say.  "Besides, the skin in the body's largest organ. And as we grow older..."

Growing older isn't easy.  But its better to alternative to not growing older, warts and all.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Santa and his rocket ship



Long before Carter Osterhouse's parents even considered that they would meet, marry and have a child that would become a grade "C" celebrity on DIY type TV Shows devoted to Christmas decorations rivaling the Las Vegas Strip, this display in Marion, Ohio was everything in the world to the children of that city, and even spending the holidays with their grandparents who lived in that city.

In those days, Christmas lights were large C7 bulbs, that got hot, and blew fuses, or worse, didn't work because one or more of the bulbs had gone bad.  A string on this bush, a string on that bush, some over here, or not at all.

In Shaker Heights we were Jewish, 24/7, except for school hours, when the teachers decorated and teased us with stories where good giels and boys were rewarded with gifts and perfected happiness.  But if you were Jewish, it stands to reason that you are not going to celebrate the birth of someone who is going to take away three forths of your dues paying members at the temple and claim to be the Messiah. 

That meant: No Christmas trees.  No Christmas music.  Nothing.  We did get Hanukkah, but lighting a candle each day and possibly getting a gift a night was nothing like what Jean Shepherd called the "unbridled avarice" of Christmas morning.  One night an extended family member Syd and his wife Florence stopped by the house during Hanukah and passed out flash lights to my cousin's children (I was eight, and she was like 30) but they had none for me.  So Syd told me that I was too old for Hanukah presents.  I cried.  I'll cry again when someone takes away my car keys and says I am too old and blind to drive, too.  But that was like a knife.  So Florence whispered something in his ear and Syd realizing what he did ran out to the car and pulled the first thing out of the glove box - the car's manual.

HERE!  He handed me the manual to his ancient car.  I was instantly smitten with it.  Pictures, instructions on how to shift and clutch.  Best present ever. BUT Hanukah was a dangerous proposition, still because it was all spread out.  Everyday was a crap shoot.

Meanwhile, my cousins on my mother's side, who were not spoiled like I was, at least got presents on Christmas morning.  All I got was a bowl of Cream of Wheat, no friends to play with and nothing on TV but Sermonette.

THAT changed with my parents first divorce when I was but wee Cookie.  That was when my mother would scoop me up and over the river and down I-71 we would travel to my grandparents house for a week of shopping, presents, unending food and the feeling of safety lacking for me in Shaker.

My mother's people come from a long line of Methodist Episcopal's (They were the evangelicals in that faith until the civil war, then they were the Northern branch of the faith until the 1940s) and Baptists.  While the family respected God and the heavens above, and Sunday was viewed as a day of rest, I can't ever remember my grandparents going to church for anything but a wedding, the occasional baptism or the all too frequent funeral.  So Midnight Services was replaced by a big meal, one present, and a game or six of an old pinochle variation called "Horse" for the adults.  I would watch and get tired, my Aunt Mrytle (a shirt-tail Aunt) would watch folks play the game and let me lie down on the couch and rest my head on her lap and I would conk out.

Christmas morning was as it should have been. Tons of presents and toys.  Anything to shut Cookie up. Amen.

Cleveland had Christmas lights.  Better still, it had NELA Park, the GE labs in East Cleveland that in those days went bonkers with enough lights that they could have been seen in space IF anyone was up in space in those days.

But they didn't have this display.  And this display was everything to generations of children and adults.  It wasn't the biggest or the brightest.  But it was the BEST thing ever.

The two men behind it was obviously geniuses, both electro-magnetically and creatively, and the there was nothing like it at any place in Central Ohio in the 1960s and the 1970s.

The set up went like this.  Take a basic national homes ranch house, build a long-range TV antenna structure at the garage end (Marion is 50 miles from the nearest TV station, and in those days there was no cable) and then string a wire from the front door to the top of the tower. They needed three plastic Santa's - one on top of the gable over the front door, and one at the based of the twenty-five foot tower.  Then they needed one crescent moon, and three rocket ships.  The rocket ships were mounted to the wire and connected to the electric.

In the basement was the control panel with the motors and switches to control the contraption with a simple 1-on 1-off, 2-on 2-off, etc. serial.  When 6 switched off, the cycle ran without flipping a switch for a bit more time than the one/off cycles, and then the cycle repeated.  This went on for hours.  And it made it look like Santa popped out of the chimney, hopped in his rocket, which flew into space, landed on the moon, and then he appeared again at the base of the tower like he took an elevator down.  One of the granddaughters said that while the family was upstairs they could hear the relays and motors turning and clicking.

Yes, one had to surrender the idea that Santa used a sleigh and suspend disbelief that he had a rocket ship.  But it was glorious.  We would pull up in the car - it was a few blocks from my grandparents - and I would press my nose to the window and watch it and watch it and keep watching it until my mother got tired and we drove off.

But WOW!

The downer came when we went back to Shaker, and I tried to tell people about it and they thought I was lying.  They also thought that I lied about the pneumatic tubes and capsule systems that the department stores, Frank Brother's and Uhler's in Marion, used instead of cash registers.   I would have liked for them to believe me - that Christmas light Santa flew a rocket ship over a house on Sefner Ave, or that while shopping my grandmothers money was sent some place with a sales receipt though a vacuum tube,  only to be returned to the correct counter with the exact change.

After we moved to Marion full time, the lights, the rocket, the star still drew us out in wonder - even in high school.  Even those of who were clueless how to create anything like this knew it was possible.  One night my best friend and I were headed back to my house when we parked in front of the house and got out of the car to marvel at the display.  There was a sidewalk bench advertising the mom and pop dry cleaners around the corner, and one of the high school stoners was sitting their, high as a kite, with his "special lady", a skinny girl best known for getting sent home from school for wearing halter tops.

"HOLA, and seasonal greetings, gentlemen!" he called out.

We walked over and he offered us his joint - being the straight arrow teens that we were - for fear of anyone finding that we were gay (Hell, I had no clue my best was queer back then) we thanked him, but passed.

"Suit yourself, but me and Angie were taking in the sites. This shit over here," he motioned at the display - "is wild.  I call it Kamikaze Santa.  Dude pops out of the chimney steals the rocket and blows it the fuck up on the moon as goes all Robinson Caruso.  Maybe the kids laced his milk and cookies with hash."

Angie chimed in with "Isn't he," pointing at Stony, "so  Awesome?  I love the way he can see it straight, and in the abstract."

The idea that Santa would steal a rocket is blasphemy.  Part of my five year old self emerged.  Santa would never steal anything, let alone a sleigh.  And even if he did steal the rocket, he'd bring it back, because Santa doesn't take things, he gives things to good boys and girls.  And besides, the moon is made of cheese.

Well, what about the Santa at the bottom of the TV Antenna? If Santa went and blew himself and the rocket up, how do you explain that he's there?

Stony looked at it and continued to look at it and looked some more until five or six cycles had passed and then said "I need one more toke over the line sweet Jesus, to figure that out."

That was Stony then.  Today he and Angie have grandchildren and he likes President Trump.  Pot will destroy your brains people.  That shit will fuck you up like it did Stony.

Fuckin' aye! Molly Hatchet and all.

Now that I am much older, I miss those days and wish I had paid closer attention to the people around me and the neatness that was my life.  No other kid got to experience a life like mine, and see and live in two different places that were so different from each other.

It was a charmed childhood in Shaker, but nothing could compare with the simpler times in that old Ohio town at Christmastime.  Even with Santa flying a rocket to the moon and back.

Monday, December 4, 2017

From Dinette Set to Jet Set



Really now.  Who thought this was a good idea?  Anyone?  And at $18.95 in 1967 money?  Based on inflation, that is - and are you sitting down - a whooping $144.25 in 2017 money!


Not even the models look convinced it's worth it. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

My husband and I are in love...



...with our exterminator, Dennis. And Jack.  And Raysheen.  Or Rayray as he likes us to call him.

Oh, where to begin?

Let's start with Baltimore.  We live in a city built on a swamp.  We never had bugs in Ohio. But as someone said to me years ago "When you build a city on a swamp in the mid Atlantic, its bound to happen."

Our problem was two-fold: ants, and these mother fucking spider crickets. Have you ever seen a spider cricket?  Never saw them before we cam here, and Jesus, those mother fuckers scare the shit out me the first time I laid eyes on on one.  Literally I screamed.  That scared the shit out of the sogs, but think looks like a cross between a daddy long legs and cock roach.  And when you squash them they god SPLAT!

"You've never seen a spider cricket," said a coworker.  "First time I saw one wet myself.  Those mother fuckers are fast son's of bitches. Shit.  And they are all fucked up.  God's insect answer to a platypus."

In any event, we had problems.  Most 90 year old houses do have problems. 

Maybe it is that the people before us, who were peace loving, never angry Quakers, and they knew about the bugs, but never did anything to combat any problem they had in the house. You know how they abhor violence.   If a light switch went, they left it for fear of hurting the wiring.  Evidently "friendly persuasion" and reason don't work on broken light switches, cracked plumbing lines or on insect infestations.  They just put up with it all.

It quickly became apparent that everything from Bay leaves, to talc, to borax, to hedge apples, and every other natural way of getting rid of the bugs short of buying an aardvark wasn't working.

What we needed were chemicals.  We tried Raid and Tero, but no luck.  Clearly we needed to step up our game before it became an "issue".

So we shopped around, found a company both highly rated and affordable and they seemed nice enough, and the service visit did help.  We thought once and done was it.

Wrong.  At Christmas, the ants were back, swarming on the counter like a wave.  So we called the guy again, and out comes his brother - a smallish, round man who looked like Danny DeVito, who was just as nice as the first guy, who laid down more chemicals and sure enough, the ants went away.

In the spring, the problem raised its ugly head again, so we called, and instead of the owner, they sent out "Kyle".

Unlike the owner, Kyle was more like Zeus.

And reader, Cookie couldn't speak. 

Tall, ravishingly handsome, polite, helpful, and the owner of a body that could barely be contained by his shirt, or his pants.  I don't know how the zipper on his fly could withstand the pressure that his package was putting on it.

Kyle treated the problem and as he drove away I breathlessly called the husband, because we keep nothing from one and other.

After fifteen minutes of me raving about Kyle awakening something in me - the horny housewife who yearns for an affair with the cabana boy -  long dormant, the husband injected a "Really?  He made you feel like Shelley Winter's in the Chapman Report?"

Yup.

The following fall, here came those little six legged mother fuckers and I called for the exterminator and this time, there was no Kyle.

Instead, they sent me Rowkeyse, who said - after I nearly slaughtered it because I was drooling - "Nah, my mamma gave me that name.  Everyone calls me Key."  Key explained that Kyle was on his honeymoon so he was picking up his houses.  Key was six foot six inches of delicious man, with lips that would have put Englebert Humperdinck to shame.  And the man had hands that were an accurate portend - I hoped of what was in his pants.

"You see," Key started to explain, "An the cold weather blah blah blah..."

My eyes were transfixed by his body.   I wondered about his nipples.  Were the smallish and taut, or were broad, stretched by his magnificent pecs, or fleshy and...

"blah blah blah trying to find shelter."

Uh, huh.

Again, I let him do what I needed done to the house (no, not me) and when he came to me and said, "let's go in the dining room so I can show you something," I almost closed the curtains.  Good thing I didn't.

Instead he laid out the bills for the last three calls and said his boss "wanted me to show these to you.  Each time we're here, you are paying "X+1".  Well, two times "X" is enough for an annual contract, and blah, blah, blah...."

I was transfixed by his beauty, his presence.  This was a man who would be a firm, but gentle lover.  I was his, if only in my mind, and this is a top who would have tumbled for Key.  I was sunk.  So I did the only thing I could do: I yielded to his logic.

And in fact, had we signed the contract, we would have saved the $99 house call fee.  Duh.

"...blah, blah, and we would come out four times a year instead of the tree, plus any emergency calls in between are covered."

That dark chocolate god wanted to sell me a contract, and this savvy consumer who normally throws people out of the house for less said "Where do I sign?"

I mean, yes, from a money standpoint, it made sense.  But four guaranteed visits from Kyle, or Key, even if it was only in the professional sense was well worth it to brighten my humdrum days.

My husband was a bit less thrilled, until I showed him the numbers and their promise that they would be here at the drop of a pin.

"Of course, you know, now they send the ugly exterminators."

I stopped fantasizing and came down to earth.  It sounded like something I would fall for.  And what a business model.  Send in the gods with the killer good looks and the award winning personalities, get the contract signed, then send in the employees with "summer teeth and B.O.  How diabolically brilliant.

Thankfully, over the last seven visits, Kyle, Key and a host of their coworkers have only gotten better.

There was Billy, a sun tanned man in his late thirties from Southern Virginia, salt and pepper hair, the bluest eyes and deepest dimples.   "I think you have a paper wasp nest that could be a problem should that limb come down," was what he said, but what I heard was angels singing.

There was Rasheen, who Billy sent to take care of the wasp nest.  "Make sure your windows are closed for the next couple days just in case someone comes looking for their home."  Uh-huh. He had a million dollar chest with nipples I could latch onto, and a mega watt personality and smile.

And then is Jerry, late twenty something, ginger with freckles and shoulders and the most perfect ass I have ever seen.  Jerry is asstastic.  And he has a personalty that is so sweet, and eyes so green that he could tell me the house is about to crumble termites and I wouldn't care.

"I normally work in Howard County," he said the last time, "but I love coming here. You guys and the people next door and the woman across the street are just the nicest people."

So I asked Joannie who lives across the street what she thought of Jerry.

"You know, I hate the name Jerry, but on him, it's good. Even if he were named Nestor, he'd make it the sexiest name in the world.   He's like that guy in the Diet Coke commercial," she said.  "I work from home when Jerry is scheduled.  That way, when he's spreading that stuff to kill the vermin outside, I can have him all to myself in my mind."

Billie, who lives on our other side is a commercial artist who works from home as well.  She does illustrations for romance novels.

"I could make Jerry a star like Fabio. But when I am done with him he'd end up opening grocery stores, maybe get asked to appear on Dancing with The Stars.  Or worse, a bit part on a Lifetime movie."  She sipped some ice coffee and swirled around her mouth like a fine wine.  "I couldn't ruin him like that.  I hope his girlfriend is sweet and lovable and they they make lots of babies.  So the world will be a better place."

Then she added "I want to hate her, whoever she is. But I couldn't do that to Jerry."

Today we had Dennis.  Dennis, an Irish lad with a killer accent and the perfect narrow waist to broad shoulder ratio that puts every other man to shame.  Dennis, I told my husband is the man I would marry if I weren't married.  And as it happened, the husband was home today working in the yard.  To date, he had never seen any of these guys.  Today, he got an eye full of Dennis.

He got so smitten with Dennis that he turned off the core aeration machine, which we rented by the hour, to walk over and chat about bugs and vermin.

"Dennis told me," my husband said, "That there is an outbreak of rats over in , but that he'd make sure we were taken care of.  We talked about Ireland.  His people are from County Roscommon, like my people."  

As the husband went back out to his big honking yard machine there was a swagger in his step.

Its good to share interests with your mate.  Even if its oogling at the hired men.  Yup, neither of us can't wait to see some ants come this spring.






Sunday, November 26, 2017

Weight training at home...


... - Quietly.

Sounds awfully sneaky, sneaky, right?

As in Patricia Neil as "Livvie Walton" in the original broadcast movie of the Waltons movie "The Homecoming" asking "What'ya doing behind locked doors, John Boy?"

As in you mother wondering why you guys got so quiet in the basement. 

Yes, lifting weights at home - Quietly.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Jock Check



A posting on Facebook, leading to an article in The Atlantic on locker rooms and the culture of "manliness" brought back a whole bunch of childhood memories this morning, and not one of them good.

Normally, I push my bad Shaker Heights memories back - way back, and then I lock them down, deep down, and throw the key away.  We know now that while an unhealthy way of dealing with trauma, almost everyone does it because its a brains way of moving on.

For my fathers parents, the horror of escaping Russia before World War I was locked up and filed away.  For their grandson, it was the American version something just as traumatic, junior high gym.

First of all, we didn't have teachers in gym.  We had physical education coaches.  The problem with this nomenclature was that it was assumed that by seventh grade, you knew all the basics of every sport.  The coaches didn't seem like they wanted to teach us how football was played, the just want refine our skills.  So if you had zero understanding of how football worked (as a couple of us were), you were SOL.  (If you were a seventh grade girl in the early 1970s in Shaker, SOL meant "so out of luck."  If you were were a 13 year old boy, yes, it was shit out of luck and if you were me, it just meant "fuck me," in the ironic sense.)

Second of all, the "Coaches" were not bad people.  Let me say that again: the coaches were not bad people.  In fact if they were teaching in a Shaker School, they had to be qualified and well liked by their peers.  Shaker didn't hire second run personnel.  Even Blanche Brown, my sixth grade teacher was an outstanding teacher.  She was Evil, and no grass grows on her grave, but she was no slouch if you fit the mold of what one of her students should be.  If you were outside that mold, you were fucked. 

But the coaches they had back then were MEN, damn it, and that was the era that we lived in.  They were there to instruct you, not mollycoddle you. 

The unease didn't start until a friend from high school on Facebook brought up the topic and mentioned the practice in boys gym of the "jock check".

At the Junior High I attended, we had a first rate athletic complex in its own wing.  There was a girls gym was closest to the classrooms. The last building, at the end of the bus dock, was boys gym. A first rate natatorium, complete with guest bleachers split the difference.

On my first day of gym at the junior high, we were brought into the gym and told that in addition for changing into our gym uniforms (which in those days we short blue shorts, white tee shorts, whit gym socks and tennis shoes to be used only in gym) that we were also to be wearing jock straps.   The coach who made this announcement, while pacing up and down the single file lines that we were sitting in ("Indian style") made the announcement, followed by the statement "For some of you that will mean a rubber band and half a peanut shell."

This was the first minute that I felt totally unsafe and scared shitless.  Why?

First of all I had gone through early puberty.  How early? Started when I was 10, which was fourth grade, pimples in fifth and by sixth grade I was the boy with the lowest baritone voice in music music class, which delighted Mrs. Hamm, but brought even more unwanted attention down on me.   And then there was my dick and balls, which on a 30 year man would have been a gift.  But on a gawky gangley 13 year old made me feel like a freak.

Secondly, once we had said jock straps, we were all given twice weekly jock checks.  Whats a jock check?  It varied from school to school, but at our school it meant during roll, as the coach walked down the row, when he got to you, you had to reach your thumb up your shorts leg, hook it around the leg strap and pull on it and SNAP it.  It was degrading.  And twice each week I hated class, a little more, and I hate the coach even more so.  I don't know of anyone who enjoyed it.

Finally, there was the mandatory shower.  Teen boys stink.  I may have been over the puberty hurdle, but the two hundred other boys in Junior high weren't.  So the showers were just another hygiene thing they had to teach us.  So it was a quick in and out.

And this reader, is how I developed a hatred for sports locker rooms.   Combine all this with bad body image issues, and you get a recipe for a Cookie freak out.

But what The Atlantic magazine article gets at is, how did the locker room (baths excepted) become the place where men are at their manliness?   Where straight boys learn to be men?  By walking around the Y locker room with a towel over your shoulder?  Gross.  Dude, their are kids in there.  Wrap it up, OK?

What I really don't get is why do really old straight men love hanging out in sports locker rooms?  What is the deal with their love of the lounge?  They're not gay, but somehow, this is the only place that they can be at ease, surrounded by younger, and fitter men.  I just don't get it?

I mean if nothing else of the selfie era, we know that straight, gay and bi men LOVE posing for selfies in the sports locker room.  But the straight male dance of superiority in locker rooms has an erotic edge to it.  Like bull elephants, trying to out flex, out pose and out impress one and other, the whole thing becomes comic when a scrawny little guy walks in with the biggest dick in the world.  And at that point, everyone in the room knows that their muscles no longer matter.  Their perfect tans mean nothing.

The little insecure guy with the porn dick just won the show and tell.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Things I am thankful for


Happy Rooms.  You know it's happy because it says it's says it's happy.




Truth.





Children honoring their mother's with their own art.





Meat.





That I could be a puppeteer and I could amaze my friends that I had become a puppeteer, but that we live in a country with freedoms, and I choose not to be a "puppet", or it's "teer."

and, of course:




Carleen Fredricks.  Because she kicks ass when she takes the stage.  You wanna go up against Carleen?  She will kick you into next week, but humming beautiful music.


What are each of you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cookie's Must Have Colors for Spring 2018

Hot on the heals of PANTONE's must have fashion colors, Cookie releases his set of colors with finely crafted, evocative names:



So who among you is going show us what you spring fashion colors are?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Well, Thank God the Minotaur Showed Up



Just a brief check in.

This weekend we have/are hosted/hosted back to back night get together's at Cookie Manor.

Last night it was the Husband's event - Cocktails with the Captain.  This where we invite all the people who live in the Husband's block captain area to our house for a get together.

Tonight is my turn and we are hosting a brief get together of my former co-workers from the Beef House Strip Club.

So we have been grocery shopping for two days in a row.  Our problem is that we have a very limited amount of space in the Frigidaire.  So we can't prepare much in advance.

So we figured if we do back to back events, then we can clean the house ONCE, unpack the serving ware ONCE and then we can put everything back together in order ONCE.

I have to tell you, Cookie is DYING, as in tired.  It'll all come together.

And tomorrow, I sleep in. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PANTONE introduces us to the color least likely to thrill anyone.

PANTONE has presumptuously named it's in colors for New York's Spring Fashion Week 2018, and again, we must ask "And...?"

Really?  That's the best you could come up with?

The color GIANT has been doing this for a while and every year their choices get more and more pathetic, and in equal parts needy.

Its like that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda drones on and on about a color and what it did and how it got used and how it was copied and copied until it became passe. 

A couple of years ago PANTONE announced that a shade of Emerald Green was the "IT" color of the year!

Fat chance.

Wear too much Emerald anything and you look like a Leprechaun.  In fact, anyone who would wear that shade would be horribly out of place on any day but March 17th.  And even then, Emerald has never enjoyed as much popularity as it did when the Great and Powerful Oz made it so.

Now, PANTONE has released its colors for spring, and like always there is a red, a blue, some pastels, a color that looks like Easter grass, and then something caught Cookie's eye.

And I let out a Nathan Lane chirp of a laugh.

They have called a color "ALMOST MAUVE" (Pantone 12-2103).  As if Mauve, the color that terrorized the 1980s isn't bad enough. 

Now, intentionally, really, on purpose, another color aspires to be like it, but can't bring itself to become it?

Can you imagine if Norman Lear had dreamed up a sitcom about a mealy suburban housewife, simpering, unable to make up her mind, afraid to offend and called it "Mauve"?  The theme song would go "And almost Mauve, and almost Mauve..."



Even Bea Arthur would be offended.  MAUDE was VIVID.  Almost Mauve? Milquetoast.  Actually, milquetoast would have been a better name.

I mean we are talking about Mauve.  God Damn Mauve.  The color of my father's last wife's bedroom, MAUVE.

If a color could have a smell, Mauve would be the color that says "smells like grandma". 

But "Almost Mauve"?  "Could smells like grandma."

Come on PANTONE, you pay people hundreds of thousands - nay, MILLIONS Of dollars and the can come up with is "Almost Mauve"?  I call BULLSHIT!

Even "Boaty McBoat Blush Face" would have been better name for the color. 

Runner up for the other silliest name?  The color that is the same color as the old Crayola "Flesh" color that PANTONE called "Blooming Dahlia".  And trust me, the tubers are angry about that farce, as well.

See the rest at PANTONE.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Check Out how to Check Out




Cookie sometimes get nostalgic for the good old days and the things that made life better.  Like when the check out employees would check you out and pay attention to their jobs instead of discussing their private lives with the person on the other register next to them. 

Cookie enjoys full service.  In all things.  I give it when I work it, retail that is.  It shows that your are professional, and it tells the customer they matter.

And the customer doesn't want to hereabouts what a douche nozzle "Gary" is, or whether or not someone named Tyrone is down with the plans for tomorrow night. 

No, I live in a world where Tyrone is either Tyrone Power, or Lady Tyrone of Carolina's, not Tyrone DuBois (DUE-boys) is full of shee-it.

Unfortunately, none of the checkers that work in even the stuffiest groceries in Baltimore have any poise.  They are all just surly.

In the film above, we meet three past International Checker of the Year award winners, an honor awarded by the Super Market Institute. 

And no, I am not kidding.



Ruth Bussey, (no, not Ruth Buzzy) a Cashier at B&B Stores, Tampa, International Checker of the Year for 1964 at the convention held at McCormick Place in Chicago. Pat Hilton, of Alpha Beta stores in California, and Rose Scalavino of Star Markets, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the 1962 and 1963 title holders respectively, also appear.  Each sets a fine example for the new girl on the block, "Miss Jones" who aspires to the glory and glamour of holding the title, International Checker of the Year.

In Cookie's mind, contestants would be judged on their appearance, customer service skills, fingering technique in keying prices, and whether or not they faced the bills in their cash drawers. All would do these tasks in their uniforms and smocks, all freshly pressed and starched.   Bagging, of course would be judged.  As would weighing and shopper's loyalty card scanning.   Problem solving, and keeping their scanning windows would also be judged. 

But that got me started thinking about the evening gown competition.  Surly there would have to be one, I mean this was 1964.  So there would need to be a formal attire walk on the runway.  Would their sash's have their names, or the name of their store emblazoned on it?  Would they glide or clump along the runway into the adoring crowd?

And for the swimsuit portion, would they be required to wear stilettos, or their crepe rubber work wedgies?

What about those questions?  I wonder how Pat Hilton answered her random question, asked by the tuxedo'd host, on what it means to be a checker. 

"Mrs. Hilton, who would you like to check out through your line, and how could that make the world a better place for less fortunate people?"

And then, the host would pick the winner, bestowing her an adding machine, and her "Tillie" award.

Mrs. Bussey got a trip to Hawaii. The runners up get a trip to Hollywood....Florida.

What about screen tests?  Endorsements?  Did they attend high school events to inspire the next generation of checker outters?

It all seems so dead end. Here's your prize, best of luck, mmmmm bye.

If you actually watch the video, and you should, pay attention to the middle aged woman who is cashing a check and causing Miss Jones all manner of consternation.  The actress is none other than Fran Ryan, a veteran of TV and Movies.  Ms. Ryan usually played crusty but lovable types, upper crust ladies who are the foil for comediennes and the like.  Like Reta Shaw and Elvia Allman, if you grew up in the 1950s through the 1970s, you knew the face, but never knew the name.   

I know that they still have bagging championships, but since the advent of just scanning an item, I think that International Checker of the Year is a valid contest, but it would, I think, inspire today's Cashiers to focus on their job and customers instead of whether or not "Donwell is nasty man." or we just wanted our stuff in "paper or plastic."

Friday, October 27, 2017

Something uplifting



I have posted this picture before.

It's my Aunt Nan in the cockpit of her plane that she flew, sponsored by Eaglerock Dealers during the summer at Euclid Beach Park in the late twenties and early thirties.  It's a Curtice biplane.  One just like it hangs in the terminal of SeaTac Airport.   For a dollar, two adults would squeeze into the cockpit and she'd fly them up and then out over Lake Erie, and then back down.  For two dollars, she'd loop d'loop the plane.

By the time I was born, the family had crushed her spirits time and time again, and confined her to the role of the dottering old spinster aunt. 

It was better to stay at home, never grow, never reach for the stars because you were sure to fall. Stay home where its safe.

Nan had one one more shot at glory.  She lived in California during the War and debriefed female test pilots for the navy and army air corps as the planes came off the assembly lines and were put through their paces.

"I used to ask them if the plane fought them, if they felt a shimmy in their bottoms and needed a second going over.  Most of the women said the planes felt like they wanted more throttle, wanted to climb higher, bank and dive.  But the jobs were to get them up make sure the controls worked and bring them back down."

"Oh, how I wished I could taken one of them our for a run and see what the plane could really do.  But I had a desk job at the airfield, not a seat in the cockpit."

But then after the war, she was guilted into returning to Ohio and guilted into becoming my grandparents caregiver.

She could be at times the most frustrating woman on earth but she loved all of her nieces and nephews with great passion and verve.

On the night before we buried my father, my very proper aunt, who was also my very frail aunt demonstrated not only a backbone of steel, but a mastery of Yiddish played at the exact correct moment, like a sabre through the heart of Satan.

In the Rabbi's library, there was raucous battle for my father's funeral to be accurate, and after the other side hurled insults about my mother, Nan looked at the Widow and her three family members (who had no right to be there), and simply growled "guy kokken offen yam."

The room fell silent.

Mic drop, time.

In the car going back to drop off Nan at her apartment in the assisted living facility, I asked, "Did I hear what I thought I heard?"

Nan just looked at me and smiled and put her fingers up to her mouth as if to insert a key and turn the lock on her lips.

My middle brother said "Cookie, our aunt told the Black Widow of Beechmont (Country Club) to 'go shit in the ocean.'"

I looked at Nan, and she shrugged her shoulders and said "I should have held my tongue, but she attacked your mother.  That wasn't nice, but never do what I just did.  You see, Cookie, an old woman can get away with stuff like that when someone else hurts her nephews.  But you would have gotten a poke in the eye.  They weren't going take a swing at me."

Well, shit.

How about that.

Stick a fork in and see if I am done.

The woman who no one thought could stand up for herself stood up for her family.

Well played, Nan.

The next day was a blur, but as the funeral professional was getting ready to leave for the cemetery. I was sent inside to find Nan, who had wandered off.

I found her at the side of my father's casket, her hand gliding across the surface, while he purse dangled from her bad arm, the one polio tried to claim.  Lopsided and frail, she just seemed in a trance.  The funeral home employees waiting to wheel the bronze monster to the hearse gave her some space.

"You know, I held him right after her was born,' her face traced her hand as it moved across the lid of the coffin.  "I had just turned 14.  Your Aunt Mim was holding your uncle because he was the older baby by five minutes, and she was the eldest sister.  The doctor was taking care of your grandma and grandpa - no one ever mentioned there were twins.  I held your father.  Oh, he was a handful.  Always fighting to get out of my arms and into the world.  Now this."

I took my aunt's arm and we walked silently towards the hearse, and then to the limo that was taking us to the cemetery.

The next few days were chaotic, exhausting and confusing as we heard of what had been going on behind the scenes with the Widow.  After that, all we focused on was trying to get back part of what was owed us from the widow of the man that fought everyone.

That happened in 1996.  By 1998, Nan was gone.

Nineteen years later I wish she could know how stupefied I was by what came out of her mouth, how brilliantly played it was, and how grateful I was for her but how much I hated that we had grown apart because of that man who was my father.

She may have been a dottering old woman by the time I was old enough to know her, but she still had a bit of spunk left in her when said what she said.

I wish I could have known her when she was young and saw nothing but endless possibilities.  I was glad to know her at all.

Love the people around you because one day you may be the one left behind.  And you'll only have your memories left to cloak you from the cold cruel world.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Justice

I will not shed a tear over her death, instead I will think kind thoughts to people who loved her.

I will not keep a child, from their parent, as she did.

I will not insult a parent to their child's face, as she did.

I will not coax a feeble minded man in to robbing his sister's bank account, as she did.

I will not flaunt my sexuality toward a man whose child is present, as she did.

I will not call anyone's mother a bitch in front of a Rabbi, as she did.

I will not give away items that do not belong to me to spite other people, as she did.

I will not alienate someone who has a right to be present, as she did.

I will not harass, demean or otherwise tell someone that they will die of AIDS as a way of cursing someone, as she did.

I will not tear my husband from his home to live in a place that he does not want to live, as she did.

I will not deny family members the right to observe a milestone, as she did.

I will not lie to others, as she did.

I will not stoop to her level in my life, in any way, as she did.

I will not force a dying man to change his will, as she did.

I will not harass a previous spouse over death benefits owed and earned, the way she did.

I will not rob anyone of their father's legacy, as she did.

I will not let my sick husband die surrounded by strangers because "I needed a day of pampering," as she did.

I will not take a jab at her memory*.

I will, however, forgive her for these sins against my father, myself, my brothers, his grandchildren because she could never forgive anyone for any slight that offended her, and that would make her nuts. 

But I will never forget.

Now, she has what she deserved all along, nothing.

And that is justice.


*yet



Sunday, October 22, 2017

We need Druid-B-Gone


Oh dread.  The Druids have returned.  Now we'll never get them out of the trees.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The confessions of fake Melania.

Damn!  Whey did I let the have moleskin on my nose show?


OK, holding things back has never been my strong suit - meaning you never want to be trapped in an  elevator that is perilously stuck between floors with me -  but I have a confession that needs to be made.

I am Fake Melania. 

Yes, that is I, Cookie, in the right side picture.  Every one is talking about it.  Or they were, yesterday.  Fame is fleeting, no?

Preposterous you say?

You have never seen my legs, but they really very nice.

And I am toe walker, meaning there is no heel high enough to conquer me or make me tip over.  Not even stripper heels.

How do I do it?

And in the right light, my goatee shaved and my pouting lips, coated with Radiant Rose Dawn Mystique lipstick, a pair of sun glasses from a designer whose name - if you can't tell by the shape - would be obvious if you ran in the circles that Melania runs in, along with a wig and a ordinary satin lined top coat, I become Melania.

Why do I do it?

Because I believe that a girl in trouble is a temporary thing.  That's why.  And Melania is the type of be-atch who has her underlings give and give and give some more until there is nothing left to give, then she makes them give to their very marrow, leaving them soulless, desiccated shells of their former selves.

Melania and I are like that.

So, Melania and I were getting our weekly sea weed wraps - they used to be monthly, but as she said "Cookie, neither of us is nubile anymore," so now we have to go weekly.  Anyhow, so we are all bound up like villains in a Wonder Woman comic book and I asked how Washington was treating my Mel.

"Eet eze horrible here.  I shvitz and get wet with the glistening sweats from the humids weather," she said.  "It makes me feel dirty in not a Melania kind of way."

And I said "Stop it," half jokingly, half not, because I really hate "the humids weather" crack because it makes her sound so provincial, and "I asked how things were going with her and the Most Powerful Man in the world?"

"Putin never calls me anymore.  It upsets the Donald."

So I asked how things were going with her husband and her, in that tiny White House, and I noticed that one of eye cucumber slices wiggled as she gave me the stink eye.

"Eff this facial masque weren't hardening and soaking up all the impurities een my skin I would give you such a look."

So I kinda turned my head to side and said "What up, buttercup?"

So Melania goes into this story about how she is always getting pawed by him in front people, you know as to say "Look what I can get away with" but when they are alone he sits in the corner making these lists of people who have wronged him so he knows who to exact his revenge upon.

"Or for fun, John Kelly will pitch pennies at him and watch him scurry about the blue room.  It's rather fun, actually."

"Well that sounds dreadful," say I.  And indeed the mud mask was hardening, causing mine to crack every time I said something.

Just then Olga and Simone came in to remove the masque, give us out facial massages and facial admonishments ("Cookie, never down!  Always up!") and eventually the wraps were cut off and Melania and I found ourselves in our white cotton robes at the spa's Herbs Body Shop (the name of the tea room) for herbal teas and non-gluten (which means non-glutton to me, because Cookie loves his gluten) cakes and we continued our conversation.

In a nutshell, Melania hates being First Lady ("I get the sick every time I hear 'Flotus' - it sounds like intestinal gas.") and she really really hates that Donald is President.

"This is not journey I signed up for.  I can love a fat, rich man, that I will outlive.  I did not think this would have ever happened.  Where can I sunbathe topless now?  My bra's are made of Kevlar."

I assure her "None of us thought it possible, either."  I would put my hand on her, but touching Melania, now that she is First Lady, is a Federal Offense.  So the best that I do is give her that "there, there," look.

So I asked her "Hey, lady: what a win would look like for Melania?"

Melania cocked her head ever so slightly to the side and said, "Well, since Robert Goulet is dead, an affair with him is out.  OK, then; I just want some sleep.  Restful sleep.  Every night the Donald gives me this thing he calls a Dutch Oven.  It is not something from Netherlands but it comes from his nethe-regions.  OK, heez ass.  And it has nothing to do with cooking, but everything with brewing.  It's digusting."

I give her that "I know, darlin' " look.  "Bless his tiny, congested heart."

"Could be worse.  Look what he did to Marla Maples.  One word: 'Tiffany'," I reminded her.

We laugh.

"Don't you think that Eric (Trump) looks like Nosferatu?  Yeah, my step son looks like Nosferatu.  How the fuck did that and all of this happen?" she laughed.

We laugh again.

So we hatched this plan, with some help from Kellyanne Conway.  Why Kellyanne?  Well the bitch has TERRIBLE skin issues.  She's like snake, always shedding her outer covering and she has found that the HDTV make up that the networks use is like the perfect concealer.

"Kellyanne's fresh layer of skin after she slithers out of the old layer is translucent until it dries - like all cicadas, so the thick HDTV foundation makes he at least look less like an alien from Uranus.  Don't tell her I said that, or I will cut cut a bitch," Melania said, half jokingly.

So with wig, trench coat, those big honking sunglasses and some stripper heels, I become fake Melania for a couple hours while she grabs some Zzzzzz's in the White House bunkers.

We've been doing it since June.  I play Melania with a headache, and the President keeps his distance.  If it involves Air Force One travel, I have the secretary of the treasury give the Donald a coloring book and some fresh crayons.  Donald will only color with fresh crayons. 

And it was working until that BITCH Kellyanne rats me out the National Enquirer!  How do I know this?  Because that's what Kellyanne does.  She squeals to the Enquirer, or worse, Tomi Lahern.

"She is such a C U Next Tuesday," said Elaine Chou over drinks one night at the Prince George County Hooters.  Elaine loves Hooters.  "Mitch would love to join us, but he can't, because everyone would want to know why he can't get a bill passed in Senate. I could tell them why.  For the same reason he can't get it up in the bedroom."

"I loathe Kellyanne," Elaine confided.  "Did you know she has the hotsies for Mikey Pence?  She can't get near him because Mrs. Pence (she has no first name, you know, but she'll answer to "Mother") always has a can of moth spray handy.  Kellyanne HATES moth spray.  File that in your mental Rolodex for later."

Let me tell you, Elaine was right. Some O-Cedar moth proofing keeps Kellyanne at bay better than a voodoo curse.

But Elaine, as it turns out, also makes a great duplicate Melania.  I showed her the costume and she had to try it on. Elaine's a bit short, so she needs platform shoes to pull it off.

When Melania saw her in the get up she said "Bitch! I hate you you look so fine."  Because of this, I can get a day off from Melania's day off if Elaine is free. 

But lets get this clear - I AM fake Melania.  Elaine is just moonlighting.  Get's her away from having to go to Kentucky and drinking moonshine.

So I asked Elaine what Mitch thought about this.

"Yurtle is too busy playing with that nasty ass outtie bellybutton to notice," she said while we were doing shots of Ouzo at the RNC Club. 

We were having a swell time - until Tomi Lahern came into the bar and we had to duck out through the backdoor of the joint.

Elaine HATES Tomi. 

"You know, I am not one for bad things to happen to people, but I bet we could ship that skank off to North Korea and get Kim Un to get her the F off our backs.  He'd feed to a pack of wild dogs.  Wouldn't that be some awesome shit?"

"Why don't you invite her to Kentucky and leave her in a hollow?" I ask.

"Me, Mitch and Tomi in a private jet to Kentucky to drop off the trash.  As if Hatfield's and McCoy's don't already have enough problems."

All I can say is thank GOD the President can't read. Otherwise he'd know what I am up to, and Elaine would have to go back to wearing that electrified chastity belt Mitch likes her to wear.  And nobody wants that.  Not Me, not Elaine and certainly not Melania.

"Oh, for fucks sake, the Donald would be livid.  And I need my beauty rests," said Melania.  You know, she's really in her mid fifties.  But by not smiling she keeps the wrinkles at bay.

Don't worry America, we got this covered.  And just in case, Ivanka Trump always has Donald's shock collar.

Yeah, we got this covered.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tough act to follow


Imagine, she could have been in the Pantheon of the Greats had it not been for the four guys from Liverpool.

NOTE: The name Shapiro is one that has two distinct camps. 

1) In one camp, the one I grew up in the Jewish Community in Shaker Heights and Beachwood, Ohio, the name is pronounced "SHAW-peer-oh".

2) In the other camp, aka, the Philadelphia School, the name is "sha-PIE-row"

Just so you, know, the people in Philly are WRONG.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Politics: The Cheif of Staff's Press Conference today



Did you ever think that you would live long enough to see the day when the Chief of Staff, with any president would need to holder a press conference to show that there was at least one adult in control of themselves in the White House?

Did you ever think that there would be a day when any Chief of Staff would need to come out and explain that the President has meetings in groups, rather than one on ones, so that the President can make an informed decision, rather than being swayed by one person or another?

Did you ever think that only one person in the White House has any level of credibility?

If you voted for Trump, this is what it has come to.  Not a White House of competency, but a White House with a single adult who has the courage to speak with an bit of common sense.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Don't be like Ann

This Ann has problems in the kitchen.  She is not an email or
comment SPAMMER.  But Ann Martin who sent me the SPAM
comments? 
She is a SPAMMER.  But she can also probably make better guac.


So I noticed today that this blog started getting SPAM posts today from overseas.  The posts had nothing to do with the post content, they were just bullshit phishing scams.

One of these bullshit comments was from "Ann Martin", a resident of Bangalore, who writes:

"Yes, I very much see that your Windows computer is publishing content to your very entertaining product site with malicious code that indicates that a repair must be done to save your work.  *CLICK HERE* to grant me access for fixing of this problem and your worries will be gone..."

FUCK YOU, "Ann Martin", who if she is Bangalore, got there because "that of her translation submission led her to such a place where she can send emails with which to copulate up other's computers for financial profit in USD."

My first inclination was to just zap the bull shit comment from the actual blog page UNTIL I remembered that Blogger has a comments link on your dashboard.  Choosing that brings up all your comments in the blog and you can not only mark the offending BS as SPAM but it reports it to Google so they can zap the offending party.

That's what they say.

And unlike "Ann Martin", their sentences are at least written by a human, not a translation program.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Summons to Ohio

Cookie is back in Ohio for a couple days and not for a happy occasion.  There are two goodbye's that need to be said.  One in which I bid farewell to one of the best people to ever marry into my father's family, and one in is implied because Glioblastoma has been diagnosed.

The cousin, who I will call "Mel" was indeed a wonderful woman.  She was the type of people who was accomplished in her own right, but also had the poise and the intelligence to connect with everyone she met.  She was an accomplished business woman, mother and wife. 

When a cousin gets married, unless you are exceedingly close to them, you think "I hope they are happy," or "Why would they marry that person?"  But when Cousin married Mel, there was a feeling that he had not only chosen well, but that we were going to be a better family for it. Cousin had really married "up".

And we were all made better by her being in the family.

Mel and I would work on my father's family genealogy and together hit our heads against the wall, as we found one lead to nothing after nothing.  Our Aunt who tried to tried to create a "dream" heritage, replete with taking Yiddish names and Americanizing them, leaving us precious little, and the precious little she left was cloaked in mysteries and cryptic messages.

Together, Mel and I could work them and figure out which ones had merit and which ones did not.  We could also share a sarcastic moment, in which we would roll our eyes in unison, much to Cousin's amusement.

I will miss her. 

Then there is our friend Mike who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma.  Last year in October, I attended the funeral of my late co worker Becky who died of this aggressive form of brain cancer.  And having it as a diagnosis is a death sentence.

So this will most likely be the last time that we see our friend, former bowling partner and good friend.  This is not defeatism, but it is taking a sobering stance.  Glioblastoma is horrible way to go.  With Becky, her final days were spent in excruciating pain waiting for her body to yield.  I am not going to go through the details.  But this is something that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

We knew Mike through the "friends" that sent me a nasty text message a couple years ago telling me that that wanted nothing more to do with me.  For years, we watched "Person" pull this stunt on people, and we never did anything to tell him we saw what he was doing.   So when it happened to Mike first, then me, Mike and I had even more in common. 

So my hope is that "Person" comes to comes to his senses and finds the compassion and strength that he owes Mike.  Given their joint history (they all attended Findlay University together and were in the same frat) I know that "Person's" husband will be Mike's side, but "Person" needs to man up and be there as well.

I don't want to believe that this is happening to Mike, and we'll stay in contact as best as we can from afar. 

This truly the worst part of the move to Maryland - leaving your friends behind. 

Goodbye's are never easy.

So it is back to Maryland tomorrow. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus: Fixer Upper



Cookie is either doing a dance, or on his knees in celebration: Fixer Upper's fifth season is its last.  Fin. Adios. Gone. Won't you come home Bill Bailey out-of-here vamoose. As in no more, after this season.

Now Cookie only wishes the best for the hosts - Chip and Jojo.  But thank God almighty we'll be free at last from the ship lap, the wacky metal letters and 12 episodes a day of HGTV's biggest blandfest.

I wish them well - but they are not going away.  Just the show.  No, according to their twitter feed  they want some Chip and Joanna time of their own.  And they are working on stuff  for Target - that's all I am saying.  Thank God its not Wal Mart.

AND because of HGTV being an "Evergreen" network, chock loaded with content that never goes stale, I am sure were are in for reruns for a while.

So there is hope for plaster walls, again!

This might even be a reason for sex with my husband tonight!

Here's the link: https://twitter.com/chippergaines/status/912695506832207872

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I did the space needle, and then I almost collapsed



So after leaving Bainbridge, it was time for Husband's end of the trip.  Husband's get to win, too, folks.

We stayed at the Seattle Hilton, because with a Hilton you can expect things to be a certain way.  Just so you know - the Seattle Hilton is old, and it is strange.

The hotel was built in 1969 atop a multi story parking tower "giving guests a commanding view of downtown Seattle including the iconic Space Needle..." said the newspaper in the "T" floor hall way.  That's "T" for "Top.  And the "T" Floor is where the Hilton Club floor lounge is.

Well, the Seattle skyline has changed and from our view on the 26 floor all we could see were the white hoops in the picture above, but every direction was blocked by buildings taller than the Hilton.  So much for commanding views.

The bathroom was Microtel sized, and the TV was liquid crystal.  And there was so much furniture jammed into the room that you crab walked around everything.

We met friends for dinner in a Vietnamese cafe - a first for Cookie, and I ate unfamiliar foods.  When someone mentioned a spring roll, I could get into that.  What I wasn't prepared for was that they don't fry their spring roll's like Cheap Chinese does, around the corner from our house.  So what you get is rice paper that is translucent - like a thin layer of flesh.  I ate it.  But it gave me the cold willies.  Still, I ate it.

SO the next morning we get up and head down to the Hilton's restaurant - because they all have one, right? - "Red Trees" and what we find is something that looks like you'd find in a Best Western, but not the best Best Western, or even the second best Best Western.  The room was very small, and striped down to its simplest form, giving to all the charm of a table area you would find in a airport food court.  The buffet was pure economy hotel food.  We chewed our way through that, then left for the Space Needle.

Now Cookie has an unreasonable fear of heights.  But the Husband wanted to go up, so I went too.  I stayed in side, got my sea legs and then ventured outside where I held onto the inner wall.  When you're in a place like this, you are surrounded by two types of people.  There are the people who think its neat, and then there are the people, like me, who are making the best of a very bad situation.

And we acrophobic's stick together.   Oh, Hell yes.

As I worked my way around the obersvation deck - knowing that only a few wires and a rickety railing stood between certain death and myself, I encountered many people doing as I was doing - clinging to the wall.  This presented certain challenges akin to modern dance, because we were not all going the same direction or speed.   In one instance a woman bravly stepped about two feet from the wall to let me pass, then rushed back to claim her space.  In another, a man and I did something where I left my hand on the wall and he crawled under my outstretched arm.  He said thank you, and I could help but notice that he was sweating up a storm.

"My wife loves coming up here when we visit our son, and if she's happy, I can get through this.  Right?"

"Spouses get to win sometimes," was my reply.

After a half hour, my husband said "Let me take your picture."

Holding the wall?

"No, stand with your back to the railing and I'll take a quick picture!"

Spouses get to win.  So I carefully, with one hand on the building stuck a leg out, and let go of the building and then got a death grip on the railing.  I smiled, a painful smile, and then jumped back to the building and inside.

I got in the down elevator corral and rode down to the gift shop, which is larger than the observation deck.  The husband joined me and we shopped for souvenirs to take home.

As we left, he said do you want to get something to eat, and I said yes and we went to the closest place near there - the armory.

And that's when I kind of lost it.

I was either out of adrenaline from risking my life on the top of that Space Needle - which I was sure was going to fall the minute I stepped foot on it - or I was hypoglycemic, or both, but I got very confused and upset and I couldn't make a decision.  I also got a bit paranoid - as if all of Seattle was judging me.  I almost started to cry.  According to the husband words were coming out of my mouth that made no sense at all.

That was when the husband sat me down, told me to stay there and got us both some food.    About a hour later, I felt better - not great - but well enough to take the monorail back to towards the hotel.

I told him to leave me there while he went exploring and I crashed on the bed.  I remember him coming back into the room, once, then twice, the second time with a cup of coffee and he woke me up.

He asked me if the nap was good - a silly question, because all naps are good - but I said that I seemed stuck in the twlight sleep.  "You know, resting not sleeping?"

No, he assured me.  "You were out cold."

He told me about his exploits and explorations.  He had seen people who were very trendy, people who looked like they were trekking through the street like they were on a hike in the hills and tried on some shoes at Nordstrom's mothership store.

I did feel better after the nap.  And dinner was consumed and it was the best tasting food I had had in a long time, even though it was not a terribly posh place.

We went out to dinner and turned in early so we could get up early so we could get the Hell out of dodge.  And into the Delta Club for some food.  And yes, they had their uber yummy roasted Red Pepper and Gouda soup.  So I was very happy.

All of our flights were wonderful and the cabin crews were magnificent.  And yes - we LOVE TSA's pre-screening procedure.  I have never been so happy to keep my shoes on in my life.

So the filing of the pictures begins tomorrow, and the encoding begins.

But Cookie is not doing any tall buildings for a while.  A long, while.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Into and out of Seattle



So, where was Cookie last week?

On another madcap caprice - this time to Bainbridge Island, and Seattle, Washington.

Having never been there, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Growing up it was "Here Come the Brides", then it became "Sleepless in Seattle" and then it morphed into Seattle and then simply "Grunge".

I can tell you this - the second best part of the trip was hanging out in the Delta Sky Lounge's in Detroit, Seattle and Minneapolis/St. Paul before and in between flights.

The best part?  Family.

The purpose of the trip was to go and meet the grandchildren of my first cousin, three times removed, the great Banker.  Bo and Peep and Peep's husband, Bob.  We'd never met, but they said - come for a visit, we have some stuff for you.  So we went. We scheduled a couple days with them, and then a couple days in Seattle.

 From the airport, its about two hours by car, via Tacoma.  Otherwise, you take the ferry, which takes about half hour of travel but on a Friday afternoon, about an hour and a half to line up and wait for a ship that will carry your car.

My first impression of Bainbridge Island was that its a wee bit like Cabot Cove, without Jessica Fletcher, and without the highest murder rate in the state.  Charming, woody, lodgelike, with scrumptious views of boats and Puget Sound.  I loved it.

It isn't often that you get so amazingly lucky as we did.  Sometimes in genealogy trips, you end up with American Gothic where the conversations are nothing more than "Ay-up" and "Don't see what you find in all of this."

But this trip - we had a totally wonderful experience!

All three were delightful, wonderful people.  Generous to a fault.  And they had a puppy.  Peep and Bob had a house and Bo decided to retire, they invited her along.  So she built a lovely cabin on their land.  We were given a guest house room.

We ate, we laughed and I learned a great deal about their mother, who was - in her own right - an amazing person of kindness and accomplishment.

On the second day they invited us to the basement of Bo's house where boxes and boxes of family "stuff" were located.  I found pictures of my 4th great grandparents I never dreamed existed.  Every box yielded something amazing - jaw dropping - in fact.

And they were never once they types to say "Mine, Mine Mine!"  It was always there to share.  And my heart was filled - and long time readers know that this is an uncommon thing for Cookie to admit - with pure love and joy that cannot be built into words.

I opened one box and I was stunned silent.  Marriage licenses for ancestors from the 1820s and the 1830s.  I looked up and Bob said "Something good?"  My husband replied "He's either having a stroke or so overwhelmed that there are no words to express how excited he is."

And that was the truth.

We had originally planned to leave on Sunday, but spent an extra night cleaning up for them when they were at a charity event.  Monday morning was spent packing up boxes that were shipping home to us filled with pictures from the 1850s to the 1940s.  We were simply dumbstruck at their kindness!

To say I was exhausted at that point was an understatement.

But we said our goodbyes and headed to the ferry where the car and the of us were taken back into Seattle for two nights.

More on that in the next post.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chip and Joanna Gaines: What Formulatic Fuckery Is This.

This Fuckery Will Run It's Course.


So in the last post I detailed our upcoming addition to the house.  And the things we will not have in the addition.

But we also touched on the subject of HGTV's dreadfully unimaginative "Fixer Upper" staring the Gaines', Chip and Joanna.

Now, I am going to say this up front.  A former blogger tells us that they have met said Chip and Joanna and that they are as warm in person as they are on TV.  So I have no doubt that they are decent people.

They also "show well" in the dog and pony show that is HGTV, which should really be renamed since there is no more gardening to be found on the network.

In fact HGTV is now nothing more than Buy 'N Sell Real Estate TV, because in addition to some decorating, its mostly all programming about people looking for their "Forever Home" in United States, or selling their old home to buy a "Forever Home" in Canada.

Into this mix come the Chip and JoJo, who get people to buy houses and remodel them in Waco, Texas.  And they have been good for Waco - because it is no longer the site of the Branch Dividian Tragedy, but now its a place to visit "Magnolia", their enterprise.

So here is Cookie's beef with the show:  Every. Week. Its. The. Same. Damned. Thing.

And every week it looks the same damned thing.

Now we all know that everything in the decorating world has a limited life span.  No style is forever.  Bean bag chairwere in and they are out.  Polished chintz?  The same.  Mission Style furniture?  For as much as I love it, the lodge look is out.

But right the hottest things in home decorating are also the ugliest things in a very long time.  Everything is either "inner city" West Elm industrial, or down home and "country" industrial.

Into this walks the Gaines'.  And every episode is the same because they all contain:

1) Harvest Table.
2) Bare metal ceiling lights and pendents that feature very bright bare light bulbs - or - bare light bulbs in clear glass shades.
3) Exposed brick that was never meant to be exposed.
4) Wacky mixed up discarded commercial letters on the few walls that they don't rip out that spell "HOME" and/or "FAMILY" just so you know where you are and what you are.
5) Painted furniture that needs to be stripped, or perfectly beautiful wood furniture that needs chalk painting so it looks old and distressed.

Now let's see - what could I have left out?  Could it be the mid century modern ranch houses that are remade in to Texas farm houses?  Could it be the the 1970s french provincial ranch houses made into Spanish haciendas?  Could it be the turn of the 20th century formal colonials that are turned into informal colonials?

Well, there are those, but I am thinking of something else.  Something that is shabby and chic.

You know what it is?

All that FUCKING ship-lap.

Now for those of living under a rock, ship-lap is a board of wood.  Now back in the good old days, in better houses, the walls were covered in lath (narrow strips of wood with gaps) and plaster applied over the lath in layers to build up a finished interior wall.  In "less formal" houses, they would use these boards to cover the wall.  It wasn't a material with bragging rights.

But thanks to this show, fucking ship lap is everywhere, so we all get to live like crackers and trash. This is the show that made the ship-lap industry BOOM.

To me it's fugly and a fire hazard.

But to some people, it is squeal inducing pure hillbillies in a haunted house marvelous.

And every week its the same damn thing.  It's become a show where women binge drink when they hear ship-lap.  It is the same old same old.

So Joanna, if you are reading this - you are becoming as predictive as the trains that run on schedule in a country with a dictatorship.

Girl, you need to stop being afraid of color.  Add in a high quality antique - the antique industry will thank you*.  Add in some funk.  And how about not tearing down ever interior room because one day all these young families are going to find themselves with surly, moody, stanky teenagers and the parents are either going to want a room for the kids to trash, or a place for the parents to go and hide from the kids.

Seriously Jojo, your relaxed look is becoming too structured for a your own good, and as cliche as a composite ribbon that reads "Live, Laugh, Love" at WalMart.

To grow your brand, you need to broaden your appeal.


*Hell, even Harriet Craig had a real antique in her cold humorless house.