Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day...

I once was in scrapbook journal swap that had the topic "My Favorite Holiday". Most people chose Christmas or Thanksgiving but I chose Memorial Day. I have happy memories of this holiday from when I was a child. When I was in elementary and then junior high school I was a girl scout. Every Memorial Day we would march in our village parade. That was pretty cool! What I enjoyed even more were the visits we made to the cemeteries in Brooklyn and Queens.

On my dad's side of the family his father served in the WWI. My dad served in WWII in the Navy. The story goes that he went to my grandmother and said "You might as well sign to give your permission for me to enlist because I'm just going forge it if you don't" My grandmother signed her permission. My dad was a tall lanky kid and was several months shy of the legal limit when he enlisted. My dad was also the man of the house as his father (my grandfather died when my dad was 12 or 13). My grandmother was a fairly independent woman for her time. For years she worked in the central Post Office in Manhattan to support herself and my dad. A working woman way before it was in vogue.

She belonged to the VFW Auxiliary and was very patriotic. Every Memorial Day weekend my dad would drive out to Freeport to pick her up and then drive into the Lutheran cemetery in the city. I loved to go along! We would drive into Queens and stop at one of the many florist shops outside the cemeteries and pick up a few arrangements or wreaths and then go in and place them. (From what I can remember the Catholic, Jewish and Lutheran cemeteries were all butted up to each other and covered a huge area.) My dad always brought his clippers, a few yard tools some cleaning stuff to straighten up the grave sites. We also made sure we brought small American flags.

I loved going to the cemetery I would roam around while my dad tended the grave site. This cemetery didn't look like today's cemeteries with their flat grave markers and flat land with very few trees. These cemeteries were built on rolling hills with parkways (highways) bisecting them with twisty narrow roads in and out. Family plots were often marked with two foot high wrought iron fences and gates. There were elaborate headstones and mausoleums. Everything was very crowded together. We'd pay our respects, place our flags and wreathes and leave.

We'd always see a veteran outside the cemetery or on a street corner in the area selling crepe paper poppies for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). In my house it was next to a sin not to buy a poppy or two or three, which we did every year. My grandmother would play "God Bless America" on the piano or the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and sing - my grandmother could not sing...I was taught to respect the flag and my country and the soldiers who had fought and died for our freedoms.

On the more fun side of our trip we also managed to find a street vendor near the cemetery selling large soft pretzels - three for a quarter! What a deal! These pretzels were warm to hot with salt and incredibly soft and delicious, just the best, ahh, what memories.

For me Memorial Day isn't just about the hot dogs, hamburgers and picnics. Nor is it about the parades. It's about remembering what and who came before us. Not only the soldiers but the families that supported them and remembered them in their hearts and in their actions. The sacrifices these past generations made for us to be able to live in this glorious country today. Freedom is never free and to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom is the least we can do. Remembering them and showing the next generation that their deaths were not in vain is our duty to them today and every day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm every woman...

From the sexist commercials of the seventies - "He thinks he'll keep her", to the anthem of the 90's - "I'm every woman!" women have been trying to redefine themselves since before we had to fight for the vote to getting the "pill".

Well, I'm here to say, "I'm every woman!" - Just not all at once, at the same time to the same people. Frankly, I'm over 50 and am tired of it and it's just starting for me! Could I have not planned my life any better or is it worse, I don't know.

I'm an end of the line baby boomer who missed out on all the rebellion stuff - which was good as I'm as about as rebellious as a piece of over done toast - put a fork in me, I'm done...

I was pathetic during the disco daze - can't dance to save my life! Have no clue as to what is proper or improper bar etiquette - don't really drink.

I had to wait to see Sex in the City until it came on in edited re-runs on TBS, plus I'm closer to Samantha's age than Carrie's and NO ONE would mistake my panda bear mind set for that of Samantha's cougar personality.

I'm either a day late or a dollar short, or both... so back to this woman thing.

My household consists of me, my DH - Norman, my DD - Alexa, my MIL - Joyce and Abby, The Puppy. I'm also a member of the sandwich generation. Although my DH and I are closer in age to retirement. We have his 78 yr. old mother living with us and our 13 year old DD - Alexa across the hall. I need a full time referee from the NFL just for those two alone. Since we were all having such a good time we decided to get a dog! Perfect compliment.

Norman and I wanted one because we missed our last dog who passed away suddenly, Alexa wanted one for the cuteness factor, "I'm not picking up any poop!" can still be heard in our house a year later... Joyce didn't want a dog at all - at least nothing she had to deal with (she hated our previous dog).

Now the Puppy looks at me as pack leader. She will obey me... most of the time and while I baby her I also realize she is a dog. I'm still Mommy to her. During the day she will follow me around, sit in my lap and is for the most part agreeable and obedient. We get along very well. I close doors, don't leave food, clothes, tissues, knee highs, pens, highlighters, baseball cards, underwear and other assorted human dog treats out where she can get them. I've dog proofed the area she is allowed in in the house.

To create peace with the other humans in the house and for the duration of the Puppy's first year, she was restricted to our kitchen, family room and sometimes to the Florida room. This weekend the DH and I decided - ENOUGH! Family get ready - here comes Abby! we took down almost all the gates and cleaned up in the other common areas and everyone was instructed to do the same OR close your door! Simple enough, right...WRONG!

MIL doesn't want her scratching at her door (she can't take the pathetic sound) and she doesn't want the dog she loves (yes, she does, whole other post and story) in her room because there is too much for her (Abby) to get into so MIL will just wait until Abby is "trained not to eat her things..."

Alexa has a room like, well, you know, you've seen it. Just go down a few posts. So she wants the dog to come in but to leave all her stuff alone. This will never happen and Alexa will never clean her room so I periodically will hear a scream for "MOM! Abby's in my room and won't leave my things alone!" Did she think I put her there? It's an idea, but Alexa's shriek is much worse than Puppy's bite.

DH - you'd think I'd have a partner, a like thinking, dog proofing, sympathetic hubby - NOT !! He expects Abby to be Lassie, or Rin Tin Tin or at least every well behaved dog that walks besides it's human behaving perfectly in all those dog food commercials. What was I thinking? This man leaves pens, highlighters, papers, sports magazines all over the house - shoes, socks - don't get me started on the socks!

So I can either be a mother, wife, DIL to my human family and deal with them or I can be Mommy to the Puppy and deal with her - NOT BOTH - at least not at the same time! Abby was fine all day long, we went for a ride in the car this morning, got a biscuit at the bank and a bagel chip at Bagel Jay's - yum! We did a little laundry, ran around the house, she barked at the traffic walking and driving past the front door. We played Frisbee in the backyard, she told me when she had to go out. She had a little lap time while Mom watched 'Young and the Restless' - overall a very good day.

Then the two legged family came home and all hope was lost. She got into MIL's room and scarfed down a chocolate bar - I know BAD, very BAD! Alexa just stood there and yelled to us describing what she was doing in her perfect local reporter style, while doing NOTHING!! MIL threw in her 2 cents on what we were doing wrong (with Alexa too, for good measure). DH's presence just incited the dog to jump up and run around even more. he made dinner (YES) while ignoring all bad behavior, shaking his head at HIS mother's comments and walking away as soon as possible and who was left to clean up and in the middle - ME!

So I promptly ran upstairs, sat down at the computer and wrote this. Can you tell!!!!!! I'll never be every woman - and frankly, in this house, it would kill me first!