Monday, December 31, 2012

A Snowstorm, Just For Me

You heard about this snowstorm, right?

It poured down snow on Saturday, inches and inches, in just a couple of hours.

I mean, the rest of Connecticut has gotten feet of snow so far this season, but here in New London, well, it just doesn't ever snow . . . 

. . . until it does.

And when you finally get a storm like this? Well, I suggest you get yourself a Mistah, because the results are quite spectacular.

Mistah went for a Walk in the Woods . . . 

. . . and he brought me back the most precious present a man can give his woman . . .

. . . that's right . . .

. . . a snow-covered path through the woods, just for me . . .

. . . and snow-covered boughs, just for me . . .

. . .  skeletons of trees through the snow, just for me . . .

. . .  and mountain laurel, Connecticut's own state flower, covered in snow, just for me . . .

. . . Isn't it just wonderful? A gigantic snow-covered landscape . . .

Just for me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

uncle merv gets merry

It's hard to get a post together when I'm not working! Having a break from regular and immediate computer access is a very good thing, though, and I've been enjoying these long, lovely vacation days. It's been all kinds of merry up in here, and in classic Jacquie fashion I've managed to capture just the barest smattering of moments with which to create archival memoirs. First, we had a party! The halls were decked, buddy boy. It went from this

 to this

in no time flat.

Then there were a few days of hangover shopping before we had Christmas!

We went from this

 to this

 to this

 to this

in no time flat.

And all the other days in between and since have been filled with movies and snacks and sunshine and friends and fun. Why would I have photos of any of that on a day when I'm so short on words? Pshaw. We're taking a road trip next week, and we all know what that means.

Stay tuned for Uncle Merv's Vacation Album!

Merry, Happy days continued....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Check out this ride

December is not only the month of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Kwanza, and the winter solstice. No. It is also the month when many of my friends have birthdays.

I realize that they have always had the same birthdays, they didn't move them to December, just this year, but for some reason it hit me, just this year, how many people I know are born in December. I suppose those late February/early March nights get pretty long....

Central PA's birthday is coming up, in fact. And two of my close friends here in San Diego have the same birth date, although not in the same year. One of those friends, Donna, turned the big 5-0 this year.

Donna is one of the most positive people I've ever met. There is always a smile on her face and a kind word on her lips. She is always looking on the bright side and seeking for more in life. So you know that her friends wanted her to have a memorable celebration.

We gathered at someone's home, as per usual, laden with gifts and bottles of wine and appetizers, but what Donna didn't know was that there was a limo ride in store for her, and the rest of us.

And this was not your run-of-the-mill limo, no, it was a 1977 Checker Limo, or at least I think that's what he said. A funky old car with lots of personality.

When the driver/owner arrived and knocked on the door, well, Donna flushed a deep pink. Uh huh, for an awful moment she thought the uniformed man, complete with jaunty cap on his head, was a stripper! Ha ha. The relief she must have felt when she was assured that he was not a stripper, but driver.

And photographer. He took many a photo, some solicited by us, some not. He was a mighty fine guide and driver - he must have done this before.

Here is our parting shot. (Donna is in the deep blue shirt, next to me.)

Here we are en route.

And here we are at our first stop - Kate Sessions Park. Great ocean views from up here.

Same spot, but the sun is a setting, the sky electric.

We then rose higher, to Mt Soledad, to check out the view and sky from that vantage point. Next, in the day's last light, we cruised down some high, twisty streets in La Jolla that none of us had ever been on before; there were little arched bridges, and houses perched out over the cliffs. (I mean they were sitting out on beams! Crazy mo-fos to live there I tell you!) It was a feast for the eyes -- gorgeous homes with amazing views.

Still riding that visual high, we headed for a drink at the Hotel La Jolla, which I would highly recommend. The 11th floor bar is definitely worth the elevator ride. In fact, Shellie, loved the bathroom up there so much, she wanted to live there.

Things may or may not have begun to get blury.

Some deserved promo for our limo and driver.

Getting ready to head back to PB.

But not without stopping at some gym in Bird Rock to hassle Shellie's husband. Yes, we marched on in and got him to come out and check out our ride. Then we doubled back and hit the horn for him. And this horn was not your typical horn, no. It's a whoot-whoo cat-call horn. I think they liked it.

And here, the parting shot. (Why oh why am I in the front?!)
Happy belated, Donna! Hope you had fun, and continue to all year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

The fabulous meal.....

The starry sky..... 

I believe they call this "Holding Court".....

Oh, the lovely lovelies......

Brought it on.....
Happy Boxing Day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

bring it on
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bring It On.....

Bring it on.......

Merry Christmas Eve, everybody!

Friday, December 21, 2012


My Girl Jennie and I saw a couple of preternaturally talented guitarists at the Garde Theater last night.

The were awesome, and it was a lovely crowd although we *did * get yelled at for *talking* during the  performance.

We got shushed because I whispered to Jennie, "I feel like I should do an interpretive dance."

I did; I wanted to get up there and show them all I've got..... Well, all I had, back in 1972......

Oh, yes, I was quite the choreographer of dance -- interpretive and otherwise -- back in the day, with my sisters growing up on 26 Bettswood Road.

Oh, we were good. We were awesome. We danced Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" like no one ever has before.

My sisters were little. That's why they obeyed me; they didn't know any  better. They were 6 and 7 and 8.

I know.

This week I've been thinking so much about the kids who died, of course, we all have. But I've also been thinking about their siblings.

Can you imagine?

I can't. I mean, I try to, but as the choreographer and director and all-around king of the world of my younger sisters -- until they were onto me and stopped listening to me -- I think about losing any one of them and the thought is, to underestimate it wildly, heartbreaking.

But I also know kids -- people -- are resilient -- and we have to move forward. What choice do we have? Even though our dance will be awful without the 6-year-old's sincere, specific, badass moves (unless she's bored or hungry or distracted and flits away, excusing herself from the proceedings, because she does not appreciate the awesomeness of the moment. And by awesomeness of the "moment" I mean awesomeness of the "choreographer").

So, I'm moving forward not in the sense that for one second I'm forgetting any of those 6- and 7- years olds. I'm moving forward only in that I'm thinking about their siblings, older and younger, who are still living their lives -- because they're alive -- and, oh I don't know. How do we continue? I don't know.

We just do, and we devote ourselves to their siblings, and our siblings, and the little 6-and 7-year old tiny tots who should be here, and aren't.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

are you in?

I am not ready to move on. I can not sit with this. I can't write about party plans and Christmas shopping and vacation plans. I certainly can't vent any frustration about my kids' tardiness or the stunningly contradictory communications I've had with their teachers this week. It matters, I know it matters. But not really.

I still don't know what to do. But here is this:

I know the truth: if you do good, you feel good. It’s the most selfish thing you can do. Right now, this country wants to heal. I think the only thing comforting in the face of a tragedy like this is to do something good with it if you can. Be a part of that wave.  ~ Ann Curry
These words inspired a movement for each of us to commit 26 Acts of Kindness to honor the innocent children and teachers lost at Sandy Hook  Are you in?

  Laughter through tears = Cee Lo's outfit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lockdown revisited

Like almost all Americans, including my co-bloggers who have both posted about this week, I am saddened, and shocked, and baffled, and at times overwhelmed by the events that occurred on Friday in Newtown, CT.

I re-read the post below this morning, and find that it is still quite pertinent, even though written pre-Sandy Hook. This was originally posted on October 23, 2008, and the comments are also included.


by Beth

Something interesting happened on Tuesday. My child’s school’s campus was put on lockdown. For about an hour and fifteen minutes all the students and teachers were locked in their classrooms with the lights off and the shades closed. The students, at least in my child’s classroom, remained under their tables (four to a table) and were told to be quiet.

The police searched each and every classroom, with weapons drawn, as well as the perimeter of the campus. Two police helicopters searched from above. The media showed up, en masse. (Surprise!) They found nothing.

My co-blogger Jacquie was the first one to alert me to the lockdown situation, as she works nearby and heard the helicopters overhead announcing that they were looking for a white male. Because she works on a college campus, public safety was able to let her know that the nearby elementary school was on lockdown.

My response to her email was: “Yikes! I think they just practiced the lockdown drill last week. Good time, if there is such a thing.”

I was not overly concerned.

Almost right away Jacquie sent another email with a link to a local news blog saying the lockdown had been lifted.

It was when reading this information that I began to realize that perhaps there was some reason for concern. A man with a gun on the corner outside her school? Um, that could end badly. Really badly.

From the information I’ve since received from the school, via an automated call by the vice principal after the lockdown was lifted Tuesday and a long email with more details about the incident Wednesday morning, it sounds as though both the police and school officials did an excellent job. It sounds like every precaution was taken.

I don’t think my child was really ever in any danger. But it turns out I’ll never really know.

According to SDPD Detective Gary Hassen, the lockdown was called because the police received a call from someone in the area who said that they saw a man with short dark hair and a gun in his hand about a block from the school shortly before 10 a.m. They acted on this information, as they should have.

“The one piece that I don't understand is...what happens next? …So...what happens tomorrow? Did they find the guy, or did they figure out that the call was a hoax, or...what?” implored one school parent on the PTO listserve. And she has a point. If there was a mad gunman yesterday, who's to say that he won’t come back again?

But here’s the thing. You can’t live life that way. It’s too short. Everyday you open yourself up to the possibility of something terrible happening. Every time you pull out of your driveway, step off the curb, get the flu, or eat that spinach salad. And sometimes terrible things do happen. But what are you going to do? Live in fear? All the time?

Yes, yes, Bush would commend you for it; but instead of listening to that jackass and his cronies, we’d do better to view the world from the eyes of a child.

Here’s how my daughter reacted to Tuesday’s lockdown.

When I asked her if anything special happened when I picked her up (because it was not what she was focused on when I picked her up), she thought really hard for a moment and said.

A: “Oh, something that wasn’t planned?”

Me: “Yeah, something unplanned that happened today.”

A: “You mean the tornado?”

Me: “There wasn’t a tornado, was there?

A: “I mean the earthquake.”

Me: “Was there an earthquake?”

A: “I mean the fire or whatever made us miss PE.”

Me: “Yeah, that. What was that?”

A: “All I know is that we were walking out for PE and a lady came running at us going like this (as she waves both her hands back and forth over her head) telling us to get back in our classroom.”

Me: “So you missed PE and had to stay in your classroom?”

A: “Yeah under our tables.”

Me: “Under your tables??? The whole time???” (I did not know that.)

A: “Yeah, and we hadda be quiet too. For like two hours.”

Me: “Wow. What was that like?”

A: “Boring, but at least we got outta work.”

Me: “Good thing no one had to go to the bathroom.”

A: “They did.”

Me: “They had to hold it, huh?”

A: “No, Tommy and Keith (not their real names) went in a cup. And Keith’s cup overflowed.” (We then went off on a short tangent about how this is one area where boys have the advantage, but that’s a story for another day.)

Me: “Wow. Did anything else happen? Did you see the police?”

A: "Yeah. They came in our room with their guns.”

Me: “Their guns were out?” (I did not know that either.)

A: “Yeah and they told us to be calm and stay quiet and that everything was okay.”

Me: “Huh. Anything else?”

A: “I kept hitting my head on the bottom of the table. Oh, and we gotta go to lunch right after. No morning reading work at all.”

So there you have it. Something unplanned happened at school that day. It was a tornado that involved missing PE, sitting in the dark under a table, seeing the police with their guns, hearing classmates pee in a cup, and the bumping of heads. But lunch followed immediately after and there was no morning literacy block. All in all not that bad.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope it never happens again. We all know it only takes one crazy with a gun to change a whole lot of lives. But life is a crap shoot. And when else are you going to get to pee in a cup in class?

at 8:51 AM 11 comments:
Me, You, or Ellie said...
I love that girl.
But I hate bad guys who wave guns near elementary schools.

Nancy said...
I remember the sick-twisted feeling in my stomach when that happened at my daughters high school.
Cops, helicopters, the line up of ambulances. LINE UP!
A suicidal kid with a gun.
No one was hurt, not even him.
Glad your child's school responded the way it did.

NucMEd is Hot said...
I want to view life with your daughters eyes.
Being grown up stinks.
Glad everyhting was OK

Heinous said...
Wow, it's good that they respond that way. It's sad that there's a need to though.

Me, You, or Ellie said...
Wow! Lockdown! Sorry, I don't mean to make light of it, I just really really love to say Lockdown. And I love you having to pull the story out of your girl. You'd think that guns and a "lady" waving her arms madly over her head and public urination would have been right there in the front of her mind.

Slick said...
Sometimes it's best to be clueless of all the details, isn't it?

Aunt Becky said...
Wow. Just wow. I like the way you handled it. You're a non-alarmist like me.

Kathi D said...
It is an interesting life, isn't it?
When I was in first and second grade, we had air raid drills. The window shades were all pulled so the room was dark, we all got under our desks, an air raid siren sounded, and then someone walked by outside (I guess this is how they did it?) shining a big red light outside as if there was an explosion.
I don't remember this with any fear, just as something we did. When I think about it now, it seems hilarious to think that we were hiding under our desks to escape a nuclear bomb outside the window. But then, nothing.
Kids are great. We need to learn from them.

Me, You, or Ellie said...
I love that girl too, and don’t like bad guys with guns either. Not one bit. And as an adult living in a violent nation, it’s easy to get that sick-twisted feeling in your stomach when there is even the potential for violence. Especially if it involves your kids.
But if you take a second to view the world through a child’s eyes, to just experience what is actually happening, instead of projecting about what could happen, there’s often no need to panic.
Sometimes it is best to be clueless of the details, but maybe what’s really best in some situations is to be clueless to the fear. Nothing bad happened Tuesday. Certain things were out of the ordinary, sure, but they weren’t necessarily bad or negative for the students.
I don’t think children are alarmists by nature, and I sure as hell don’t want to be one.
And, Ellie, I’m with you. I love to say lockdown too.

Kat said...
Kids amazingly take everything in stride. Glad nothing bad happened and that she didn't really realize that something bad could have happened.

Kelley said...
Eyes of a child.
And the school should be commended for the fact that the kids did not panic.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


How do we process this? How do we begin to process this?

I don't know.

I keep reading about it, I keep listening to the radio, and I just don't know where to start.

There are so many powerful pieces that have been circulating around the internet . . .

The New Yorker piece . . .

When will we Americans realize that our society is an unacceptably violent one, that this is how the rest of the world sees us, and that much of that violence is associated with guns? Will it be the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Where is our threshold for self-awareness?

The Anarchist Soccer Mom piece . . .

...these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

and The Onion piece, which offers no solution to any problem, just hits a nerve and articulates a feeling . . .

“I…” said Tom Miller, 27, after reading an article about the tragedy online. “I just…” 

 “…” he added.

I wish I knew what to say. I wish I had a solution. But as Jacquie said, Now we live in a world where something like this can happen. And as Beth said, There are so, so many things that are broken.

I keep reading, I keep thinking, I keep pacing.

I keep processing . . .

Monday, December 17, 2012


On Friday afternoon, one of the teachers at my kids' school posted the following message on our community facebook page: 
"FYI - I would lay down my life for your children."

It had been such an emotional day, it was hard to hold it together at work in the midst of planning contingency rain plans for the Christmas party that afternoon, it was hard to let the excitement of the kids at my school permeate the deep, dark funk that had enshrouded me. It was hard to keep the tears at bay. It was hard to swallow around that lump of ..... what? How can we characterize a reaction to something that has no place in our reality? It was just there. Solid and sordid and awful and wrong. Just there, as the news reports came and the mistakes were corrected and the faces of the victims took away the last shred of incredulity and forced us all to accept that this world of ours is forever changed. Now we live in a world where something like this can happen. 

I don't want to be comforted by the knowledge that a teacher would sacrifice herself for my kids. I don't want to tell myself that she would never be called to such horrific action. I don't want to feel better about this. 

I know that I have to comfort my kids, I know I have to find something to say that will allow them to carry on with optimism and hope for the future that they will create. And so it goes. By saying comforting things, I begin to feel comforted.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” - Mr. Rogers

And so the boulder begins to break down. The weight begins to lift. The air I breathe becomes less toxic.

But I'm cheating. I'm not watching the news. I'm not looking at their faces. I'm not listening to their stories.

I don't know what to do.

Sandy Hook School Support Fund

Newtown Youth and Family Services

Newtown Parent Connection

How to Help Families Affected by Newton School Shootings

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fiction Friday: Dance, Exciment, Wind

My oldest daughter had to complete 18 poems for a class project a few weeks ago; below are 3 of my favorites. (I don't know if poems are actually 'fiction,' but I wouldn't classify them as non-fiction, so hey, they qualify.)

Spin, leap, turn
Leap, turn dizzy,
Turn, dizzy, fall
Dizzy, fall, learn
Fall, learn, try
Learn, try, dance

Excitement is surprising fun
It tastes like raw cinnamon
It smells like a fire
It reminds me of the fireworks on the 4th of July
It sounds like laughter at a birthday party
And feels like you have something in your stomach

Wind is soft like a cold blanket
It sounds like the howl of a wolf
It answers the call
Of the rain
To warn people of the freezing night

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cheers and Love

Here's what happens when my biggest* sister visits . . .

*she's the eldest, and we call her Biggest, but she may actually be my littlest sister. I don't know; it's a tight race. Ask them; I am not in the running.

Anyway . . .

. . . we toast!

Of course we do. Cheers!

And then we* build a fire. It's Sunday afterall.

*That's the royal we; I never have anything to do with the building thereof, only the basking therein.

And then we realize the conditions are perfect for a photo shoot . . .

. . . we have a Dowd . . .

. . . we have a Mistah Schleckah . . .

. . . we have a biggest/littlest . . .

. . . and we have a deck.

And we have me!

Oh, yes, and we have champagne. It's an early December day, after all . . .

. . . why wouldn't we have champagne and be outside with some of our favorite peeps in the world?

And you know what else we do a lot of, when my biggest/littlest sister visits?

Well, we do a lot of this:

Cheers and Love, peeps. Cheers and Love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Gay Friend Jonnie

At a recent holiday gathering, my gay friend Jonnie voiced his chagrin that I have never blogged about him. I reminded him that I once offered to write a Mexican soap opera and cast him as Juannie the cabana boy, but that did not appease. He wanted a post about the real him, and indicated that he would only be satisfied when/if he were to open the blog and find the words "My Gay Friend Jonnie." So although Jonnie has never published a comment nor given me any tangible indication that he even reads the blog, I knew he'd soon get his wish. Because really, who could resist? 

As the post started to write itself in my head, I reflected on my friendship with Jonnie and all the other beautiful people in our shared social circle. I remembered a funny quote about having gay male friends, but I could not remember if that quote had been penned by Tina Fey or Jenny Lawson, and I had a hard time putting hands on my copies of either book. I figured out that Bossypants is on my kindle, so it couldn't have been that one because the quote had been in a book-book. I knew with certainty that the quote in question was from a book-book because I remembered having taken a photo of the passage when I read it.

Guess who has my copy of the book-book?

My Gay Friend Jonnie

The same you-know-who that I'd texted the photo of that quote to that day. I found it in my phone:

reprinted with permission from The Bloggess, cuz we're tight.      Larson, Jenny. Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir).New York: Penguin Group. 2012 

It's true. It is great to have fun, gay male friends, especially if they rock both assless chaps and acid-washed vests. In one outfit. Like Jonnie.

Jonnie is one of the whippersnappers I met through the gym. After working out together every day for a really long time, we became facebook friends. One day on facebook I was bitching about the lack of candy in my house, and Jonnie offered to bring me some the very next morning. 

This is the day I fell in love with My Gay Friend Jonnie. (Hi Amanda!)

He made those, like from sugary ingredients with no shortcuts. Plus they had booze. He's a pastry chef, you see. He makes crazy delicious things that don't even seem real, like cupcakes with candied bacon and candy crusted rum balls. At his party the other night, he tried to tell me how easy it was to make his boozy balls, and he used at least three disqualifying words in the first sentence alone.

He's gay and he's adorable and he bakes, but don't box My Gay Friend Jonnie into any stereotypes. 

Nobody puts Jonnie in a box!

Don't be fooled by the silly though, the inner Jonnie is a badass thug

So yeah, he is easy on the eyes, he is sweet and silly, he brings chocolate in an emergency, and he's a badass. What could he and I possibly have in common? 

The other night as we laughed and talked and screamed in fury at potential casting outrages that threaten the integrity of future broadway to big screen musical adaptations, I started to write a post in my head about My Gay Friend Jonnie, and my merry little band of misfits from the gym. Jenny is right, it is great to have fun, gay male friends. You should go get some. Mine are all young and well dressed, they smell good and they have six pack abs.  I may not be young, I might be sporting yoga pants and a pony tail... but I'm drinking a six pack, and that totally counts.

photo credit to the famously talented Bree, who proves that you don't have to be a pretty gay boy to be fabulous