Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jew food run

As you are reading this, I have just returned from trip to Shaker Heights and I can reveal to you, while I attended the Shaker Heights High School Class of 1981 Reunion, my real purpose in my trip was to make what my friends have come to call a "Jew food" run.

To Corky and Lenny's I went - with my list and a craving for matzo ball soup.  I walk to the counter and the man greets me with a smile.  "You're back.  It's been awhile."  He knows that I'm hooked.

"I have some nice corned beef," they say, enticing me with a grin that stretches ear to ear.  I place the order and tell them that I'm headed to 2 hours south.  "I'll wrap it extra nice for you."  Then comes the bread, the liver, the coconut bars and latkas. 

"What about some nice smoked white fish - it travels well."

I look at the fish and it looks at me.  There isn't a love connection.

You want anything else, they say knowing that I do.  I'm hooked.; we all know it. It's the Kosher Elephant in the livingroom. I look and name a few more items.

"I have some nice creamed herring," the woman says with a cheshire cat smile.  I pass. She shrugs.  The deal is done.

At the cashiers I tell them I am traveling.  The woman with the big Sally Jesse Raphael glasses tells me to be careful.  "Keep the liver cold - it's delicate.  Sniff it when you get home.  If it smells bad, its gone bad."

Driving back to Columbus I traveled the speed limit, but without putzing about, for my hatchback was laden with ice coolers of a corned beef, Jewish rye, latkas and chopped liver.  The further I get from Cleveland I start to feel like myself.

And when I arrived at my garage, will I be honored as a hero? 


My husband will ask "Did you get the coconut bars?  The jumbo macaroons" - he asks.  He is more desirous of the tender angle food cake, smothered in chocolate syrup and rolled in coconut then I am to him, I feel for a second. I answer yes; he smiles; its a mitzvah! 

I am the mensch that I see in my minds eye.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A reunion of sorts

This year I attended the Shaker Heights High School class of 1981 reunion.  This is where I would have graduated from had we not broken free of my father and his grasp and escaped from Shaker Heights.  My main object in going was to have a look see at the men and women who were the boys and girls that were my classmates in elementary school and junior high. 

Leaving Shaker was the right thing to do.  I never fit in because I never understood who I was or how I fit in.  In Marion, I knew instantly who I could be and for the first time in life possibilities ran toward the possible instead of from the inevitable.

So when my step sister (who was my classmate long before we discovered our shared connection through her birth mother and my father) invited me - part of me thought it great, the other part of me wondered what I would find. 

I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect, and that was a good thing to accept.  People were not as I remembered them because we don't stay 14 years old forever - and aren't we glad of that?

But the trip did one thing - it allows me to closed a book written on the winds of what should have been, what could have been if the world was different.  The world is what is - we get one go around, and if we spend it pining for the things that were promised and left unfulfilled, then we miss out on the people and places and events and things that are really important.  I went back a man with love in his heart, a career spent in service in others, a respected man in my true hometown and someone who isn't afraid of what others can do to me. 

Now I get to look forward to my real High School Renion, with people who have been my real friends, in September.

To those who made my evening enjoyable, thank you.  For those who bullied me in school and ignored me tonight, I survived.  And for myself - I did something that few ever get to do: look back and see how lucky I really am.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Something is coming - but is it something good?

Cookie is going on an adventure in time.  Cookie will reveal all in the next couple days.

Bonus Points: Can you find Cookie in this picture?  Cookie's childhood best friend (he too grew up to like guys.)

Bonus Bonus Points: Can you find the most disgusting person to ever be Cookie's classmate?

Finish this sentence: Miss Vermeulen was a cunt because...

Monday, July 25, 2011

My latest crave: Kroywen Art Pottery

My tastes are eclectic, but they're good.  We started collecting art pottery last year - you know Rookwood, et. al.  But it's so expensive.  Then I found this: Kroywen Art Pottery by Sheldon Gants.

Actually my mother found it in the late 1940s.  She had this ceramic cigarette box, iridescent charcol with a vivid splash of sea foam green and ground turquoise glass in the lid.  We could never quite make out the original label, Kro...wen.   Anyhow the husband really liked it and she gave it to him.  "I had an ashtray in dark brown with the beige flare and red crushed glass, but I think that Cookie's father hung onto it."

So one day last Christmas we were looking at it and decided to try to search the label and duh, found out it is KROYWEN, which is NEW YORK spelled backwards. Duh!

Anyway, Kroywen and Sheldon Gants go hand in hand.  It flourished in the late 1940s and then it went away.  The designs are abstract, most have this crazed glass pool in the bottom.  The ashtrays are MASSIVE in size and weight - some of these ashtrays can handle ten or more cigarettes.  Moreover they are relativly inexpensive because smoking is no longer a given in a person's house.  The other pieces - bowls, nut dishes, and cigarette boxes - are much harder to find and pricier.

So when I stumbled across this bowl and thought I was going to plotz.  I adore it.  And it always gets compliments from people who normally don't remark on these types of things.

I hoping to go to the Antique's Roadshow with this in about 15 years and find out that I can retire on it.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eat it: it's your heritage

My "Cousin Joyce" (which was her formal name in my childhood world) was my only female cousin on my father's side of the family, and my Godmother.  Joyce was the second eldest of the cousins on that side of the family and 24 years separated us, so for most of my childhood, Joyce was more like a mother figure than a cousin that you could hang out with.  When I was very young, when I went to Joyce's home, it was to play with my her sons cousins Chip and Brian, who were closest in age to me, not to sit with Cousin Joyce and commiserate about the personality ticks that invaded our family.

After my mother and I escaped from Shaker Heights in 1977 - it was a mass break out that year; lots of people like us got the hell out of Greater Cleveland- my relationship with Joyce started to change.  She became more like a cousin and less mother-like to me.  This meant that when we did visit, I relished my time with her because she was the first person in the family to say "It's not you - it's them; look around!  They're all nuts..." because it was true.

With my father, everyone else in the family was fucking crazy.  This was coming from a man on his umpteenth wife.  "I see you were talking with Joyce," he remarked once.  "Be careful with what she tells you because she doesn't know like she pretends that she knows what she knows.  Got it?"

I got it - she was on to him and he didn't want me to know what she knew because he didn't know exactly what it was that she knew, and that un-nerved him.

All the more reason to trust my Cousin Joyce.

Not only was she my reality check, but she was also a HUGE support when the old man finally died.  Joyce kept the whole thing moving, kept the family focused, and kept me sane.

One of my most cherished memories was about 15 years ago when Neicey and Niecey II flew in from California for a visit.  Let me say this up front - my brother and his wife did an astonishing job raising their daughters.  For everything that went wrong in our household during our childhood, they made good decisions, and the result are two wonderful people who are gracious, smart, funny, loving and fun to be with. Neither is spoiled, each gives willingly without expectations of "whats in it for them."

So this one day, the Neicies and I made plans for lunch at Corky and Lenny's in Pepper Pike.  Corky's is consistently the best of the east side Cleveland deli's because their food is consistently good.  They have not thrown themselves on the sword of culinary experimentation.  If you want a corned beef sandwich, you go there.  If you want an herb encrusted corned Kobe beef sandwich served on artisan rye bread, go someplace else.  This is why we love Corky's - it's a constant in an ever changing world - and they don't get involved in BS.

So the Niecies and I set up a time to meet Cousin Joyce for lunch, and Couisn Joyce brings her daughter.  We all slide into one of the bright apple green booths and start looking over the menu.  Now the Nieces, were just starting their teen years, and starting them in California.  They were also being raised in a spiritual household, but not a Jewish household.  This meant that there was a lot of the food on the menu that people like Joyce, and myself, and her daughter, and everyone else there was more familiar to us than to the girls.

So we order, and I order my chopped liver appetizer (because you cannot get decent chopped liver in Columbus), which comes first  The youngest Niecey, who had never been around chopped liver, did what any 12 year old who hadn't been raised with it would do - she looked at what looks like two scoops of something the same color of shit brown crap and we got a big "YUCK" and a face that gave visual articulation to that Yuck. 

I offered her a taste and she quickly did another "YUCK" and another face that told me that she was not open to the expirience of trying a new food. 

Out of no where came "EAT IT!" as Joyce admonished the youngest Niecey.  "It's your heritage."

In my mind that moment is frozen in time.  Joyce outraged because the idea that someone in the family could be so disconnected from what we grew up loving.

And she was right.  For as wonderful as the Niecey's are, they were 50% Cleveland Jewish, and this is what "we" ate.  Chopped liver in our family was treat - and it still is.  So Joyce took a cracker, smeared on the liver, spinkled it with a pinch of salt, snapped it in half and handed it to both nieces.

"Just eat a bite - if you don't like it then you can say 'yuck'.  But Grandma Cookie didn't carry my mother to America just so you could turn up your nose at good food."

"How could she carry Aunt Mim from the Old Country? I thought they came on a ship," said one of the Niecey's.

"EAT!"  And they did.  And then they asked for more.  So we ordered more.  And that was when the Neicey's became one with the chopped liver.

Joyce died a number of years ago and it makes me sad when I think about how much I wish she were still here.  I no longer have my cousin to laugh with, or share stories with.  I miss talking with her and rolling our eyes as we remembered the craziness that we saw, and sometimes contributed to, in our family.

But, I still have the Niecey's, and more importantly, I still have memory of Cousin Joyce standing up for our right to eat chopped liver in a country where we are free to order more if we like it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The dining room frieze

As part of my self designed grief therapy, I decided on one splurge - a Bradbury &Bradbury wall frieze for the dining room.  So we went with a 26" paper that is called "Land's End".  Now to get rid of those horrid drapes.  And yes, that's a real Maxfield Parrish print and frame from the 1917 Crane Candy Company advertising campaign.  Found it in a OSU campus dumpster 28 years ago.

My analyst weighs in on Casa del Cookie's facelift

I just know that you all have been dying to know what is going on at Casa del Cookie over this vacation of mine. And the answer is simple - we are freshening it up, just like Peenee freshened up Dalazzo d' Peenee after RMan passed away.

We've been sinking a lot of money into the house - and when I say a lot, I mean a lot for us.  I may have been raised in family with money, but remember I was the sheep negro of moi family and I was written out of my father's will. 

Such is life after the death of an asshole.

So we live in a simple 100 year house - nothing fancy and a far cry from the houses in Shaker where I was raised.  How different?  Well, this one doesn't sit on a half acre, doesn't have a living room that is simply for show, a circular driveway and a huge, and hidden, garage? Parrish the thought!  But it suits us, the neighbors are fun and the payments are low, low, low. So we stay.

Still I became concerned about how much money we were spending, so I told my analyst, Dr. Shrink,  at my last appointment and he seemed non-plused.  In fact he said that its not an uncommon thing to do.  It's my subconscious trying to bring an order to my life now that things have been forced into a new order with mother's passing.

The examination of my thoughts and feelings was very thorough

Says the Doctor: "Many people deal with grief in a number of manifestations.  Some people travel to get away from things, others redecorate or even move. Then there are the men who go right out and marry the first piece of tail that comes running when they smell a fresh widower. The one's that deal with their loss by drinking and sleeping around, well,  hopefully,  they get to me before they completely self-destruct and end up having having more sex partners than a bottom in a Treasure Island Media film cast."

"That kind of clean up," says he as he scrunches up his nose and squints while doing Jazz Hands, "gets really messy."

Then he says "Given the complicated dynamics of your relationship with your mother, I would have been very worried if you did nothing after she died - very worried."

How worried, I asked.

"Jesus, Mary: WORRIED! Are you happy now?  Of course you are.  You are hooked on affirmations." he says.  And I paid $110 dollars off of insurance for that?  Anyway, I love Dr. Shrink, and not in anyway that's creepy or would be fodder for a film, because he's usually right.

I mean what could have happened to me if I had pushed all the feelings down - way down, and not reacted to her passing, right?  Things could have got ugly.

I mean how many times do we watch the news and see these stories about SWAT teams surrounding a building and having a stand off that ends poorly for someone?  Afterwords, the neighbors who get interviewed always say something like "He seemed like such a nice person," or the more damning "We didn't see to much of him - he kept to himself."

And truth be told, if I had not reacted, I would have been worried about myself, as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grief delayed

Well, I knew that something would trip me up in the end.

Mother died last November, and here it is summer and I have started having all of these doubts about what kind of son I was and if I tended to her as I should have.

And what has caused me to revisit Kubler-Ross' stage 4?

We've had contractors in and out of  Casa Cookie doing work that has been postponed for years and all this waiting for them to show up has me thinking about life, and the meaning of my life, and whether or not I was there for her as I would hope someone would be there for me.  In the greater scheme of things are beautiful hardwood floors, with a satin finish, going to make the world a more beautiful place?  And if I didn't do everything for her that I could of, will I take care of these floors and keep them fresh looking for years to come?

Was I the son that did for her as she did for me?  Well, was I?

And what has come out of all of this is that while I loved her, I allowed her to run parts of my life as she ran her life and frankly, I find that it's just not an sustainable model for living that I want.

Could I have done more? Probably.  But I was in denial as much as she was.  She just wanted to have conversations that were about anything but death - she wanted to live in her own world.  And that's what I let her do.

So, I have re-evaluated myself and accepted some things about myself and my first take away is that I can't fight the fact that a large portion of my life - the relationship with my mom  - is gone, and it is never coming back. So I have to make changes to my life and allow more people into my circle of trust. 

For starters, I have decided that I am not a outgoing person - that for all the pushing I have put myself through, I am really an introvert - and being an introvert is not a sign of weakness, it just is who I am.  Yes, I need to be around people, and yes, I get lonely.  But I need to be with myself and recharge my batteries, and that is something that by and large gets done when I am on my own.

I have made the appointment to close out the estate, me having discharged every duty, and paid every bill as I should have.  This is making me a bit sad because after this estate is done, she won't be in my life because she won't exist in a tangible way.

So where does this leave me with my Mom?

Well, she's dead and she isn't coming back.  I know it's harsh, but its the truth.  And I still miss her and would love to talk to her, but that isn't going to happen again.   "But'" people will say "you can still talk with her."  As if that is going to happen. Seriously, she not going to avail herself and start chatting with me.  You and I know this.  That's the part of grief that folks don't understand - that it hurts, that it's loss that can never be replaced by anything or anyone.  And they aren't coming back as hard as we wish they would.

So what do I do?  I get on with my life, that's what.  And in the coming months I have to work to remove her energy from my day to day life and work to allow myself to invest my energy into improving the lives of others. 

You are saying to yourself "Cookie? Helping others? Seriously?" because you know that selflessness is a whole new thing to me.   I better see some comments containing words of wisdom from you cunts on this selflessness thing, NOW!

If, after reading all of this you are somewhat confused, truth be told, so am I.

But it's part of the process of healing. 

Love you all for reading this and allowing me to work through it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You put the "G" before the "O"...

...and you just GO girl!

Isn't this the best picture of Mr. Peenee - EVER!? 

I met a photographer who had her stowed away in an envelope.  What's more, he had a picture of her modelling a girdle at the same show.  For as much as I loved that image, I knew I was tempting the fates and decided not to ask for that one.  But she's mighty scrumptious as she is here - a fashion plate of 1967 middle America.

Hope this brings a smile to your face.  And if your day gets you down, just think of her, whoever she may have been.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How I'm going to spend my vacation...

...doesn't involve a beach or fun.  But it looks like it'll involve pain medications.

Well what was going to be a day of being medically poked and prodded went a lot faster than we though because there were two cancellations ahead of me.  So the MRI got done faster than thought and doctors was available to look at the results sooner and the prognosis is surgery, pain meds and a sling.

As the illustration might indicate, I have a torn rotator cuff - and it turns out it is torn worse than I expected, but not as bad as the doctor first believed it to be.

Last year I tore both driving the Studebaker; it didn't have power steering and was a bitch to parallel park.  The right one hurt like a mother, so he treated that one.  The left shoulder bothered me, but not so much, so we decided to leave it be.  So while the right mended on its own, the left arm pulled more of the heavy lifting and I really did it up good.

I can still use my arm, its just if I move it in certain ways it feels like a red hot poker is at work.  Oddly, it isn't lifting that bothers it, but lowering it that hurts the most. 

Surgery is tenativly scheduled for the first week in August, followed by six weeks in a sling, folllowed by another six weeks of limited motion.

Oh, Bother.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Same old garage...

This is our sad little garage. When I bought the house in 1993 it was even sadder looking and I considered tearing it down. The wood was rotten and I was convinced that it was standing up out of habit instead of being structurally sound.  But then the seller's attorney pissed me off at the closing, and we had money sitting in an escrow account to fix a sill, so I decided that they had to do something to fix it - all of it - and keep it standing.  Yeah, I'm that kind of bastard.

Anyway, over the years it been through a lot. it used to lean; we fixed that.  It used to sag; we fixed that.  And it used to bow from too much snow weight.  We fixed that too.  It's been painted twice and while the paint on the house is holding up well, this garage was chipping and peeling like it was no one's business.  In fact the wooden garage door,  that was replaced in the early 1960s with a "ranch style" overhead door, was so bad from the years of neglect from the previous owners that we were patching the patches. 

So we hired this guy that we knew from going out.  He needed the money to fix his car.  He was looking for an odd job to do and would work for cash.  He agreed to paint the garage for "X".  He put in one days work and felt it was too much work.  What we then had was a garage that was half scraped and looking like it was standing on tobacco road.  So...

We opened our wallets and bought a new door for it and had it installed and then we went out yesterday morning before the day got too ungodly hot and painted the front of it.  Doesn't she look gorgeous?

Just for giggles, here's the before and after.

Yeah, I know, same old whore - new clothes, but my hybrid is so excited to have such a nice looking place to spend the night and I think it looks much better - maybe even a bit pretty?

I'm spending the day tomorrow with my orthpedic have rotator cuff fun, so I'll see you all on Tuesday!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grave robbers

Well, mother died last November and my life has been all full of grief and angst. Today, it's all about angst on a shoestring. Tomorrow we'll second guess the grief.

As Executor, and as we wind down the estate, one of my duties was to buy her a tombstone, grave marker, head stone, blah, blah, blah.

My mother hated money spent on the dead. "What a waste of good money!" she would say after we would leave a funeral. "They could have driven themselves to the cemetery and saved all that money on the limo!" and "It isn't like Evangeline knows she's spending eternity in a cheap coffin -and who in the hell will ever see that thing again?"

The good news is I paid for a budget funeral, which would have made her very happy. Cremation, followed by a sensible container, and sensible urn vault (to prevent collapse) and no limos. I did change the funeral home. She wanted to go this other one in town thinking it would be less expensive and instead we went to "Schaffner's" (this funeral home hasn't been called this in many many years - all us old timers, however, remember the family that once owned it) because calling hours were about ME, and I wanted SPLENDOR, not to be stuck in a windowless room waiting for people to arrive.

So during my blog-o-cation I decided to buy her tomb stone from Burke and Haire, my hometown's most trusted name in graves and plots. Nothing fancy - it matches my grandparents, uncles and their wives, great aunt's and their husbands, blah, blah: gray granite, and shaped like a camel back sofa. As I was about to look at the bill, Mrs. Burke said that there would be an additional charge from the Cemetery Association of $250 for a foundation, and then Mr. Haire handed me the contract.

Reader, I tell you when they showed me the bill for said stone I almost needed buried as I nearly died of heart attack.

These are not cheap! A basic stone is expensive!

Why so much? WELL, there are all sorts of middlemen (the quarry, the sandblaster, the finisher, the transport, the installer...) and holy crap I was in shocked. If mother were alive she would be having a kniption: "You paid HOW MUCH? They saw you coming down the pike, mister..."

But what are you going to do? I can't let her get stuck with a stone that is not equal to her position in the family and station in life. Besides, if I went on the cheap for this, people would talk. No one is going to be able to say "Poor woman. Cookie must not have loved her." Hell, no, that ain't going to happen!

So I girded my loins, gritted my teeth and signed on the dotted line and handed them a check. The stone should be in place by the first anniversary of her passing in November as the cemetery only installs foundations twice a year.

There is some more family matainence that I need to do in the plot. When that plan (or is it a plot) comes to fruition, I'll tell you that tale.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Well, that was fun wasn't it?

Well folks, we're back from our vacation from blogging and I hope that I am feeling refreshed.  Funny thing about vacations from blogging - you take them because you simply feel drained - the new ideas are lacking.  And the minute you say you are going to do it, the ideas bubble forth.

"So," you ask yourself, "what could Cookie have done while on Blog Vacation?"

Truthfully, I spent my vacation finishing up my work on Mother's estate, which has been on autopilot for the past couple months.  After we got the auction done, the house went onto the crappy real estate market where it sat until we dropped the price, and our pride, to the point someone poked the house with a stick and bought it.

If you have never been in contract to sell a house in this market, its a lot like trying to have an orgasm when your taking Zoloft.  Try as you might to make it to the orgasm of signing on the dotted line, you just can't grasp that final tier to make it over the hurdle.   And by the time you do make it, you are so not impressed with the results and a cigarette afterwards doesn't make you feel any better about it.

So I have been trying to think good thoughts and stay busy and stay out of trouble.  Now that I have a little bit of money in the bank I am trying to keep my hands off it lest I blow it on crap I don't need off of eBay, like a 1966 Corvair that I have had my eye on.

Hopefully I can drive a stake through this vampire in the next two weeks and close the estate, once and for all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm back this Friday....

Watch for new posts beginning Friday July 15, 2011...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Barbara and I wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

I'm popping in, midway through my blog respite to wish you a Happy Fourth of July as we do it in Cow-lumbus, Ohio - on July 1st.  Actually the city throw this massive fireworks display in Downtown on the Friday before a Holiday if the holiday falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, and they do it because they know that it's a good way to trap the workers downtown and boost the numbers. But people, if you like hanging out with grits, this is the place to be.

Anyhow, I don't involved in that great big sea of unwashed humanity. Hope your holiday weekend is a safe one, and remember it is not a good idea to run about with sparklers in your hands.  You could poke an eye out, or worse.