Thursday, December 31, 2015

The deed is done. Literally.

The ink has dried.

The keys have been exchanged.

The deed is done.

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

And now it is in the new owners hands.

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

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

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

But what a bother.

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

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

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

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

Yippee, indeed!

Friday, December 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well, better luck next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ghosts of Christmas Gifts Past

Cutting edge TV and VCR Center

Workout Equipment

Cassette Player with Remote

Music and LP's

A visit from Norma, MJ and Jason

Monday, December 21, 2015

Worlds worst souvenir: The radioactive dime

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just want to smack his face.  You know?

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

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

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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This is what 46 looked like, in 1962.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'll tell you where it is*.

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

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

Mom's secret?

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

What's your secret?

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

MIL Update!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


So evidently we accomplished what we set out to do.

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Be Very Afraid, Better Homes and Gardens 1958 Christmas SpectacularSpectacular

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

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

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

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

Lets look at that cover, shall we?

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

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

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

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

And what this?

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

Meanwhile, on the east coast....

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

What the flock!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bad Hanukkah Presents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Words to live by, Mrs. Smith Standish.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

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

Yes, it's true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, December 4, 2015

Taking a break, and then to work...

Well, it's the weekend.


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

And frankly my head is spinning from Strouse's.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yes, I have turned into my mother.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Theater of the Absurd Thrives in New York State Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Them: Where did they die?

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

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

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

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

Me: Aardvark 

Them: Come again?

Me: Nevermind {click}

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

After today, I know that for fact.