Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Funerals are for the Families
We buried my uncle at Arlington National Cemetary yesterday with full military honors. He was a veteran of both World War II and Korea. He was a pilot; he built several airplanes; he tried out for the U.S. Olympic fencing team; he was a hypnotist; he was a chiropractor; he was a member of the Confederate Air Force; he held several patents and thought of a lot more inventions that he never got around to patenting. He was a very intelligent, very creative and very charming man. But his legacy was pain and destruction.

Two families, five kids, all of them completely abandoned -- no child support, no phone calls, no birthday cards. We spent the last two days swapping stories, sharing tears and some laughter. As we all weighed in with our memories, some things became more clear. We think we figured out some truths that my uncle tried to hide.

His only daughter was the only child who ever knew her father at all. Although he was gone a lot with the Navy, he did come home occasionally until she was 10, when he left for good. It hurt to watch all the emotions warring within her: pride in his service, sorrow at his death, anger and hurt at the way she was treated, yearning still for what should have been. I know that most of us have some baggage from our childhood, but it seems to me that my cousins got far more than their share.
But here's the part that just fascinated me. It's seemed for a long time that my brother and I must have been raised in parallel universes because we are as different as two people can be. But it turns out that our childhood memories are different, too. Some of that came from different experiences -- for example, he was the only one our grandmother liked, so he did not see her as the mean, selfish woman the rest of us knew -- but it turns out that family members alter the narrative to suit the audience. Something my mother had always told me about my grandfather came as a complete shock to my brother; so much so that he called my mother and asked about it. And she admitted it ... sort of ... in a vague way ... with qualifications ... "well, yes, but ... " I had witnessed, but at age 16 really didn't know how to stop, abominable treatment of one cousin by my grandmother, but he changed the details of the story when he told it to the others so that it was just a pleasant encounter. In fact, I was amazed later in the evening when he admitted to me that his memories of the incident matched mine.
I think I've figured out two things: I don't trust much of what I hear, and always check the facts as best I can. And I overwhelm people with detail when our memories differ -- "you were wearing your Spiderman shirt and we had just rolled down the hill on that big barrel" -- mostly, I realize now, to reassure myself that what I remember is what really happened.
What about your family? Are the stories always the same, or do they change depending on the audience?

posted at 8:49 PM
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Made Me Laugh
Guy At Trade Show: I sure dread tomorrow.

Mitey Mite: Why?

GATS : I have to go to a donkey barbecue.

MM (trying hard to hide disgust): A donkey barbecue?

GATS: Yeah, they're gonna chew my ass.

posted at 9:18 AM
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Did I Really Say That?
I used to work with a woman who was a veritable fountain of malapropisms. Once, to comment on the tendency of people in the office to carry on conversations next to the row of filing cabinets, she said "I've noticed that everyone seems to conjugate right here." My boss and I shared a knowing look, but because this woman never learned to laugh at herself, it was only later that we could wonder aloud if she meant that in the grammatical or the Biblical sense. But my all-time favorite came when she was describing a very fancy wedding shower and the expensive gifts. "She got a huge soup latrine!" By almost choking to death, I managed not to laugh, but it did cross my mind that this had to be one of the world's greatest time savers -- you drink, you go, and just one dish to clean.

This morning, I had a cramp in my foot that I could not work out. After trying a variety of exercises and massage, I started lecturing my foot. [Yes, sadly, I have become one of those crazy old ladies who owns cats and talks to herself.] "What is the matter with you?" I scolded my foot. "Why won't you behave me?"

What was that about not casting the first stone.....?

posted at 1:42 PM
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Monday, October 01, 2007
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Kitchen

From the dining area. This will be a bar when it's done, where people can sit and talk but not get in my way as I'm cooking. (I tend to race around when I get in the groove and people have to be quick on their feet to get out of my way. But I do enjoy the company, so this should work well.)
The window is where the eating area will be. (Is?) You can see I've been experimenting with paint, to be sure I have the color I want. The big open cabinet on the right is for the ovens -- two of them! Convection! With 3 racks apiece! -- and the open cabinet on the bottom left is for the cooktop.

The sink will be under the window, with the diswasher to the right and a drawer for the trash can on the left. The carpenters sent me out to buy the trash can Thursday afternoon, but when I returned with it, they had gone and haven't been seen since. Sort of a snipe hunt for carpenters, I guess. You may notice some triangles stuck on the wall. I want a white tile backsplash with these decorative tiles interspersed. I had to put down a $100 deposit to bring the tiles home, and then they were stuck to the board and not removable. So I stuck the board on my copier, then cut out a bunch of the tile copies and taped them to the wall until I had a good idea of how far apart I want them. The cabinets are going to be white beadboard, except for the two beside the sink, which will have glass doors. The countertop will be a light gray silestone. I have an old butcherblock table that I will use as an island. The carpenter is going to build a new base for it with storage and I'm going to paint the bottom part corflower blue. So with my mustardy yellow walls, white cabinets and blue island, I hope I end up with a country French look. And if not, oh well, blue and yellow just happen to be my two favorite colors.
The stucco guys are here -- I need to go do a little supervision now.

posted at 10:15 AM
Comments (2)

Mitey Mite

Texas, United States

I am older than dirt, but I still feel pretty young & some call me the Energizer Bunny. I share a house with the Professor & 3 cats. Between us we have 5 grown children, all of whom are productive members of society (!), and 10 grandchildren. I have a job I love, a little money for the 1st time in my life, and so many more things I want to do than I will ever have time for.

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