The Day My Mother Died

When your nerves and senses are raw and when your mind is frazzled, you often (well at least I do) fall back to traumatic moments in your life. I did that tonight. As I was driving home a memory struck me, struck me upside the head like a baseball bat. I cried then and I'm crying now.

I don't remember all the details of that day, except that it was summer, which for me meant I wasn't at work. I was in the habit of visiting my parents daily although I received flak for my frequent excursions out of my own house to do so. My mother was sitting in her chair, feeling cold and miserable as she had for some time. My father was puttering around the house as usual. I hung out a short while, said my goodbyes, and headed out.

that evening, I believe our plan had been to go to a Jack n Jill party. But early in the evening I got a call from my cousin telling me that my mother had had a heart attack and was at the hospital. Arriving there I found her in the ER hooked up to all sorts of machines--but the staff was very reassuring, or at least I thought they were, and I prayed that all would be well. My mom had survived. We could get through this.

After a long vigil, the nurses convinced us to take a break and come back in the morning. I remember going out to my parent's house, my house, and finding some hot dogs still simmering on the stove. There were the detritus of the emergency crew--wrappers and such to whatever they were using to help my mom survive. I cleaned up and went home for some sleep.

In the morning I went back to the hospital. Any questions were met with  the optimistic, "we're hoping for the best," type responses. But I know now that the nurses and everyone else knew that there was no hope, there had never been any hope. I don't blame the nurses for the false hope they offered and I know their tears were as real as ours.

A couple of times, while we were there, we heard calls of code...I don't even know the fucking code at this point--was it code red? or code blue? or whatever the heart failure code is and one of the nurses said at that point that the call was for Jean. Finally, after this happened a couple of times, I remember the doctor coming and saying that they could keep on trying but that it was probably for the best that they not. We understood then what he was saying and agreed. And then the final call came in and we all sat there, mute, in tears.

And a couple days later, my brothers and I were having a drink after our mother's wake. We were in a local bar and the son of my mother's doctor, a classmate of mine, happened to be there. He came up to me and sympathetically said all that could be said:

"Life sucks."

And then he moved on. What more could be be said?

March 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

London Girl

For the past week or so I've had the Pogue's song "London Girl" stuck in my head. It has been especially popping up in moments of happiness (which have been on the increase as of late) and moments of exhilaration. For example, today I was walking across campus feeling all happy and suddenly found myself singing the song. Didn't even realize I had started doing it. Luckily no one was around. And just yesterday as I was correcting some papers while students did their writing I started to hum it. A student laughed at me. But that's okay. I get a lot of that.

But I first noticed it last week at the Snowy Owl Resort (formerly Brodie--yes, where people named Kelly skiied for free on St. Patrick's Day) where I was snow tubing. First of all, if like me you haven't been to many ski-type resorts you're probably not used to cute signs everywhere that say things like: Snow tubing involves risks and dangers. These may include but are not limited to collisions that are man made or natural, within lanes or other areas of snow tubing. Injury or death may result. And to top that off, I had to sign a waiver that said essentially that if I died it wasn't their damned fault. I'm the frickin idiot who went snow tubing.

So, you can see where I was ready for anything. On my first run down the hill, as I was picking up more and more speed than I had anticipated (ahh, that's why they made me sign the waiver!) and as I was going down the hill backwards wondering if a small child had wandered across my path (ahh, that's why they had their parents sign a waiver too!!), suddenly the song burst into my head louder than bombs. This could be our final dance. This could be our very last chance... and yet it all felt so good. The sun in my eyes, the spray of the snow. The 80% chance I would survive. Great stuff.

February 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Out of the Blue

"Hey dad, " Packy says to me just now out of the blue. I'm thinking of a new band name."

"What is it, Packy?"

"The Atomic Sombreros!"

February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

"Little Crisises"

Well, yesterday Packy and I had lunch together. And of course, since it was Packy's choice, it HAD to be Taco Bell. Ok, ok, I'll admit that Taco Bell is one of my first choices too.

As always, the conversations were priceless ('What would I love more than anything if there weren't tacos to love?' 'I'm going to get a job at Taco Bell so that I can eat there everyday.' and so many more). And here was one particularly Packiesque observation:

Packy: Three and four years olds don't know how easy they got it. I mean, their biggest decision in life is 'What ball do I want to play with?' They only have little crisises to deal deal with.

I just love the wisdom of Packy. I wish I only had 'little crisises' to deal with myself, but at least I'm doing my best to get better at managing them. So, anyway, here's to you Packy! May all your crises be little ones.

February 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Recipe for You

Well, this is my chicken with pear sauce recipe. I think you will get some insight into how I think when you read this....and, yes, you'll probably be a bit frightened.

Chicken w/ a Pear Sauce (with Rice and Brussel Sprouts)


chicken (thighs or breasts w/ bone)

2-3 pears


olive oil


beef broth

red wine


salt n peppah


veggie (usually brussels sprouts for me)

let's see... In a sauce pan, put in a can of beef broth and an equal amount of red wine. Set at simmer or a little higher. This will give it a chance to start reducing while you're prepping. Every once in a while, it's a good idea to stir this and to scrape any residue off of the sides of the pan. Though it can come to a slow boil, it shouldn't boil too much and does well at a heavy simmer.

Put on the water for the rice (3 cups), but at this point just put it on somewhere between low and simmer. (if it starts to boil before you get to the rice step, be sure to turn it down so that it doesn't start to evaporate).

I usually set up the veggie steamer at this point, though I don't turn it on yet...

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees

Dredge the chicken in flour, set aside.

Peel and chop up the pears into small pieces.

Chop a shallot or two (if small) as finely as possible.

Put some olive oil (not too too much) in the frying pan and heat up fairly hot. Put the chicken in and fry for a minute or two or three on each side.

If the rice is far from boiling at this point, kick up the heat.

Remove the chicken from the frying pan (and lower the heat on the pan) and put into the oven pan. Put in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Using the wooden spoon, stir the roux in the frying pan, try to scrape up any bits of chicken stuck to the pan. Season with some salt and pepper. Adjust the heat to a moderate level and then saute the shallots for a minute or so. Add the pears and saute those for a few minutes. The more saute-ing the better.

At the 22 minute point, put in the rice and do the rice thang. Also, start heating the water for the veggie. Turn off the wine/broth pan.

When the pears have softened a bit (the more the better) turn up the heat and add the wine/broth sauce. If it has reduced too much, add a bit more wine. Stir regularly.

Be sure to get the veggie steamer up to boiling by the 10 minute point. At the 10 minute point (for sprouts) put the veggie on.

Check the chicken occasionally to see what it's up to.

Add a little honey to the sauce.

At the 4 or 5 minute point, take the chicken out of the oven and add to the sauce. Try to avoid adding any of the grease in your pan to the sauce. Everything should finish up at the same time.

******** And that's it. If you try to make this recipe and find I'm missing a step or three, please let me know.

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, I'm 43 now. Time to look back and assess my life... ... Maybe I'll wait until after my birthday. I want to enjoy the day. UPDATE: I just got a Happy Birthday email from Pepsi! Now I'm happy!!

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Puppy Dog

Well, it hasn't been TOO long since I last posted. And, to be honest, I'm only posting now because last night I realized that I'm paying good money for this little blog and I had better start getting a little use out of it.

So, dear reader, here's a brief anecdote:

One night I was hanging out with Dee and Packy. It was getting near bedtime and Packy and I had just finished playing a Monkey Ball race (I won, boo-yah!). So I told Packy it was time to go to bed.

"Dad, can we play a game of chess?"

"Sorry, Packy, maybe next time. It's bed time."

"Aww, dad, we never have a chance to play chess and I know you love playing it." And then he gave me the biggest, saddestg look in the world.

"Okay Packy, we can play one quick game."

Smiling, Packy says: "Thanks, dad. I can't believe the puppy dog eyes worked."

And, that's all I have for you today. I probably have forgotten five or six even cuter anecdotes, but they're not coming to me at the moment...

See you next month.

February 3, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Well, yesterday here at school we had, as we often do, military recruiters doing their usual thing at a table in the hall: giving out pens and book covers and in doing such hoping to draw in a few potential soldiers. I didn't notice which branch they were from, but we get all of them at one point or another. But today, we had peace recruiters at the table. They seem to recruit the same way as the military--pens, gifts, literature--but what they do is explain to students how the military recruiters lie to students in order to make a life as cannon-fodder seem fun and profitable. Go peace recruiters!

December 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Good Morning Message

From a piece of student writing:

free write sucks I hate doin it. Reading sucks I hate doin that. Getting up early sucks I really hate doin that. Rain sucks it puts me to sleep but it is better than snow because I hate shoveling and I hate the cold. When it is cold my feet and hands freeze.

November 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Whine and Cheese

Well, I don't have much to write about so I'll write about what I'm eating right now.

First off, I have the loveliest cheese that, perhaps, I've ever had: a Castelrosso. And the description in that link doesn't do it justice. Depending upon which part of the cheese you are eating it's anywhere from a delicate parmesian to a tangy bleu. It's like one of those "three cheese in one" cheese balls from the kiosk at the Mall at Christmastime--except it's absolutely nothing like THAT at all. I (HEART) Castelrosso.

Next up, I'm sampling some of the Chevre I picked up at Trader Joes. Any place that can serve up a half pound of goat cheese for $3.50 is good in my books. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm thinking it would go nicely with smoked salmon.

And I'm also eating some tasty Sopressata. If you know me you know I love the sausage like no other. Those Europeans and their sausages. How do they do it?

Oh, I'm eating all these with some fancy bread from Whole Foods and a glass of red wine. Mmmmmm a perfect dinner. Which isn't to say that last night's dinner wasn't a perfect dinner too: Pasta Bagna Cauda. Oh yeah, all oily and salty (and, if you know me you know that's a good thing) and filled with garlicky goodness. After this weekend I'm going to have to start eating salads or something.

Just kidding of course.

November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)