Sunday, September 28, 2014

There ought to be clowns, redux

"The Mime in Me" by that genius, "Tabitha"  Part of Cookie's
collection of bad art. 

So I was going through some old papers today at the house, and I came across this pile from my former life as a consultant for a statewide trade association in Ohio.  I left in 2005 because the leader was turning into a bunker mentality, and it was hurting a lot of good people as they were shown the door and summarily fired.  I got out on my own terms.

ANYWAY, in that pile I found all this "stuff" on his big plan to corral the Human Resources market in our field in Ohio.  His idea was to use this program to stuff F.O.P. (Friends of "Pete") into leadership roles in the BIG powerful member organization.

To do this, they hired a consultant who would sell a program that was basically an Executive Search and Policy manuals.   The person who they hired had no experience in our field, but she seemed very nice.  For the purposes of posting, we'll call her Amy, which really isn't her name.  Seriously.

So Amy moves into her (real) office over the weekend and on the following Monday she invites us into the office for a little house warming and my coworkers and I walk in to find two bookcases, not holding books, but dolls.  Not just any dolls, either.

They were clown dolls.

Thats right, the HR expert filled her office with her collection of very expensive, very valuable, yet still kitschy clown dolls.

To say that we were shocked is an understatement, as we all got a good case of the creeps.

Successories, I would have expected.  Not clown dolls.

The conversation kinda went like this:

Me: "That is quite a collection of..."

Co-worker 1: "CLOWN DOLLS."

Amy chortles and says: "I have always loved clowns and I thought they would cheer up the office."

Co-worker 2: "Well thanks for letting me have a look, but I gotta get back to my desk...."

Me: "Been collecting them for long?"

Amy: "My grandpa made me that one on the top shelf when I was little, and the collection has grown."

Me: "It's good to be surrounded by the things you love.  It's nice."

Co-Worker 1: "I have worked with clowns before, but this is a first."

Amy: "Yeah, thats why I love them."

And love them she did. Eventually the collection grew to include a couple of those white clown masks, that some people would hang on their walls in the 1980s.

Funny thing is that about a year into her job she asks me to go to lunch, and after we are seated, tells me that she doesn't feel like part of the "team".

Amy: "I just feel isolated back there.  I love being out on the floor with the rest of you, but I feel like there is something keeping others from finding me accessible."

Me: "Amy, did it ever cross your mind that there could be something that is keeping people from feeling at ease in your office?"

Amy: "Well I know that some people are uneasy around human resources people."

Me: "I don't think its you."

Amy: "Well thats good to know."

Me: "It's your clown collection."

Amy looked stunned.  "But clowns are such happy people," she countered.

So we talked and the following Monday, the clowns were gone.  A month later, so was Amy.  She wasn't happy in her job, and I think she dismayed and disillusioned with co-workers that couldn't love clowns as she did.  Truth be told, she went back to work for her former employer, International Amalgamated.

The boss decided not to replace her.  Instead they went a different direction and hired a firm to do the work for us.

Finding that paper folder today made me wonder what ever became of Amy, and then I threw it out.  I already have enough clowns, like "Pete" in my past.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Don't even think about taking my Jawa.

Kevin the Wonder Mutt was bedding down last night.  Got up, went in the hall, got his stuffed Jawa, trotted back to his bed, decided all was well in his world and plopped himself down for the night.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

That delicate balance

Tonight Cookie has to walk that delicate balance between forced enthusiasm and a charitable event.  A workplace group that the Husband belongs to is hosting an event at a one of the better, actually that should be trendy-toney-artful, restaurants in Baltimore.

The group is all men, all gay, and thats good, but they are the husband's workmates at International Amalgamated Inc., and they will all be talking shop.  Delightful.  But I am not in much of a good mood for it.

Still, this is the life of a spouse - supporting your husband as you would want him to support you.

As a personal rule, I never drink at work events.  Not even a pre dinner cocktail.  Nope. I have seen too many people at work events do stupid things or say stupid things.  I will ask for a club soda and lime and force a smile and fake my interest.

So there I will be, pets, hidden behind my invisible Kabuki mask, going through the motions while a dish filled with food will be presented for my meal not so much for my enjoyment as it is formality sake.  Yeah.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is he, or is he not dead? UPDATED

Now I know what you thinking.  No, this isn't about my father in law, so you can unclench your hand from your pearls.

I received a Facebook message last night from someone I know back home.  His stepfather, who is really his father - thats another story from a small town that I will tell at a later time - went to the Little School Reunion and heard that my Uncle Demon had died.

You read that right, Demon.

So this man came home and told his stepson - who is really his son - that he had heard that "I heard that Cookie's Uncle Demon died."  So my friend sends me this message.

He wrote "I thought you would know, but then again, I know that you two aren't speaking.  Can you get back to me on this?"

Sooooo, I did what anyone on my mother's side would do - I messaged my third cousin and her first cousin, because Demon's children are their first cousins, on their mother's side, and none of use really communicate with them.  Got that.  Demon is my uncle on my mother's side and their mother's are related to Demon's wife, Aunt Crabby, so we share first cousins.  Actually the woman who is my third cousin is a third cousin to her first cousins, but thats a story for another time. Understand?

So I get this message back that says "Oh, no!"  That came from the first cousin.

My third cousins who is also their first cousin writes back and says "Wouldn't they have called us?"

Her first cousin who is no cousin of mine, answers back that "They are still on metered phone service," which means my cheapskate uncle Demon pays $9.95 per month and .25 for each outbound call, so everyone has to call him, because he's too cheap to place an outbound call.

I asked him, my uncle that is, after my aunt (she married him and into my family, if she was already family and married him that would a story for a different time) cracked her head open on the icy stoop because she had nothing to grab onto, because he's too cheap to put up a railing, when she slipped reaching for the paper one February morning, "you must have used the phone to call 911."

"But that was a free call," says he.

So my third cousin who is also the other first cousin's first cousin says "Maybe we could email them."

And you can't email him because he's too cheap to buy a computer.  "Does Demon have a computer," asks the other first cousin who is my third cousin.  "He don't," (you read that right - she speaks the native tongue of the people back home, which includes the ever popular "he got" et. al.) have one.  Too cheap.  Says he can use the one at the library for free."

So much for that idea.

Anyhow if you want something from him, you have to call him.  And he's such a sourpuss, none of us want to call him, so the phone doesn't ring that often.  And he's angry that he has to pay for a private line, since party lines went the way of the dodo.

Why is (or "was" - we don't know yet if "he is" or "he isn't") he a sourpuss?  Well, that's a story for another time.

So this morning, not seeing anything in the paper, or on the funeral parlor web sites, we all assumed that Uncle Demon is still among the living, for now, until we hear otherwise, we guess.

So I called my friend from high school, Clem, who now goes by Clement, if he had heard anything.  "Well the shades are drawn at his house like they always are."  Thanks Clem for solving that riddle.  None of think that sunlight has been in that house since "the Sputnick" went into orbit.

Yeah, my Aunt and Uncle are the types that place "the" in front of words that do not require it.  To hear them tell it so and so "got the cancer."  The problem with this, besides being wrong is it confuses people.  My mother once asked my aunt if said aunt had asked her son "WB" to pick up another five pound bag of sugar for the cookies they were making.

"You know, WB got the sugar," says my aunt.

"You mean he has it already?" says my mother.

"Doctor said that lots of young people are getting the sugar because they are overweight.  He don't have to take the insulin, yet."

See what I mean?

But back to our uncle, who either is or is not dead, the Demon is so cheap that he probably instruct our Aunt to bury him in the back yard.  So if the police show up, because the neighs saw something like an 80+ year old woman digging a grave for her husband, or see her dragging his body outside, then it will make the newspaper for free.

But that'll be a story for another time.

UPDATE - We are, for now, assuming that the uncle is still living since none of us have heard otherwise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Summons to Boston

Where has Cookie been you may be, or not, asking since it has been a bit of time since the last post.

Well, last week we were summoned to Boston.  And it has been a life affirming and draining week plus.

Last week, were told that my beloved father in law had chosen to receive hospice care.  At 93, his body, well worn with medical woes, was just worn out.  Without going into the actual diagnosis, lets just say that there were internal issues from which even the healthiest of people couldn't survive.

I asked the Husband if we needed to go up there and he said, in typical practical New England fashion that it would be best for them to get him settled at home with hospice than to add to the confusion.  And according to his sister, he was resting as comfortably as he could.  We would go up when the dust settled, as it were.

The next day we kicked around the house, we ate dinner and that evening while working on unending genealogy projects, the husband came up, and with the greatest certainty and authority and announced that Dad had taken a turn for the worse. We were flying to Boston first thing in the morning.  OK.  That was easy.

We rounded up the dogs, packed one suitcase with clothes, the other with our suits, and left the next morning.  The dogs were dropped off at the Ritz to share a room, have different sittings for dinner, and have play time with their friends and then we encountered traffic like no one could have imagined.  BWI is on the other end of town and there is no easy way to get there.  It's only a half hour drive, but an hour into this my heart sank, certain that this was going to be a sign of things to come.

Thank God I am wrong a great deal of time.  I would make a lousy medium.

The minute we hit the airport everything clicked - ticket, TSA, the gate was close, and thankfully the plane was delayed in getting there.  We waited ten minutes and we were off.  Seamless flight, our bags were the first on the carousel, the right rental car was waiting and no traffic in the Ted Williams Tunnel or on the Mass Pike.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:30 and he looked very bad.  He had lost consciousness the night before and his heart rate and respiration were irregular.  My sister in law was sitting by the bed.  She told us that Mom had been there and said her goodbyes.  Brother in Law (BiL) #3 had just left with her to take her home, and even though her health issues present problems, she was in the minute and understood that the end was near.

His medical team of Dr. Li and Dr. Le (Dr. Li was a young woman, and Dr. Le an even younger male) came in to speak with us and explain everything.  "What we are part of is something very rare and special.  Seldom does a patient received a diagnosis, tell us that they wish to end life, and undertake it upon themselves as your father has done.  Most get a diagnosis, and days or weeks go by before they pass.  But he was very certain that he did not want to continue given the prognosis."

The hospital brought us coffee and muffins, and we sat a short while.  BiL#2 and his husband showed up to see Dad at a quarter of two, and he had his time to say good bye.  I noticed that Dad's head had moved backwards some, but everyone else thought that I just saw him jaw flex. His IV bags were going to changed and monitors gave their indication that the bags were running dry.  The nurse came in, turned off that alarm and went to retrieve two more bags of IV food and fluids.

At 2PM we were feeling hungry and wondering if the cafeteria was open, when I looked at Dad and before my eyes, his color went from pale to yellow.  I said so to my husband.  He looked at the respiratory and heart rates.  Both numbers were greyed out.  The nurse came in and went right back out and came back in with Dr. Li.

Dr. Li explained that she believed that Husband's father had passed, and peacefully.  She explained what she need to do next, which was a prolonger listening for a heartbeat, and the checking of pulse.  She called his death at 2PM.

This is the second person that I have been with when they have died.  It's an honor to be there.  And it was so like my father in law, henceforth known as dad.  Though sometimes befuddled by age, he was a very kind man, a gentle soul, and always the gentleman.  He was a very dry sense of humor, and a brilliant man who accomplished so very much - some of his accomplishments are things that you know about, may use, or have friends or family members may use.

While I was the most task driven person there, it's only since we've arrived back home that the magnitude of this event has reared its head.  Intellectually, I know Dad is gone.  But there is in my mind this image of him standing in the kitchen of his home, arms wide stretched and ready for a hug, that I cannot let go of.  That is how I choose to remember him.  I will miss my father in law more as my father than an inlaw.

And this is going to take some time to get over.