Wednesday, April 16, 2014


After noting, last week, that I haven't gotten a cold this winter, when I have been surrounded by folks with colds and flu, of course I was hit hard yesterday. My throat hurt so much I swear I could feel strep creeping across the back of it like lava. 

Blessed to have sick days, I took off yesterday afternoon, and stayed in bed most of the next 24 hours--save a quick stint to do Mom's taxes--nothing like putting things off until the last minute.

Sore throat, headache, and upset stomach is now a cough and since snot is gross, I won't tell you about the snot. But the garbage can next to my bed is full to the top with tissues.

I also have a fever. At least, in my mind, I have a fever. My body temperature rarely tags up to 97 degrees, and it is often less than 96. Normally, it is, instead of a normal 98.6 degrees, 96.8 degrees. (My temperature is dyslexic.) Therefore, when I get sick and my temperature spikes to 98-something, I declare myself feverish.

 We are constantly advised to listen to our own bodies, but my insistence that, say, a 99-degree temp closer to a 3-degree spike for me than it is the normal .4-degree fever, falls on deaf ears in the doctor's office. Nurses and doctors have a hard-and-fast rule for what constitutes a fever, and it's downright irritating to hear that I don't have one when I feel so lousy. And hot. 

Irritating for one reason: Everyone knows that a fever is proof that you're sick.

No fever, no sympathy.

Well. Shut it. My temperature is 97.6 degrees right now, which is 2 degrees warmer than it was at 3:00 this afternoon. I am burning up, and if I want to feel sorry for myself, I can.

Poor baby.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Universal Laughter

Last night we attended the 70th birthday of Erica, our son-in-law's mother, in St. Louis. Erica is originally from Germany, and there were 3 family members from her hometown that flew in for the party, to join 40 or so more of us in celebration. There were 2 sisters that knew no English, and 1 nephew, who is fluent in both English and German. (These tidbits crucial later in this story.)

First of all, those 3 sisters spent all day Friday preparing authentic German food for this party. You know, you can find good food in a lot of places. You cook good food, you go out for good food, there is abundant good food, if you want it. But THIS food—this homemade rouladen (thinly cut flank steak, filled with I-don't-even-know-what and then rolled up and baked, and this homemade spaetzle, with nectar-of-the-gods brown gravy ladled over it—THIS good food brought us all to our knees.

An amazing meal, that if I had one wish for you, we could get them together to cook again, and you will be there to taste it.

Clint's daughter Jen made the cake(s) and created beautiful flower arrangements, cleverly placing the bouquets in Oktoberfest steins.

We sang happy birthday, passed cake around, and then retired to the deck on a beautiful night, drinking beer and wine, and gathering into a closer, tighter ring as the guests meandered home. By 11:00 or so, it was just close family left, and story time began. By then we were only about a dozen, and, mentioned earlier, most of us English-speakers only, with 2 speaking German, and 2 capable of acting as interpreters.

Everyone kept up at first, but as one story sparked another, they began coming faster and faster, and our interpreters could not keep up. Margo and Kate began telling a story in German, both of them laughing and screaming so hard that they could't get their breath. Our interpreters also began laughing so hard they couldn't interpret, and what do you think the rest of us did? 

The rest of us laughed along so hard that we had tears falling down our cheeks, that's what we did. We couldn't understand a single word, but the laughter was so contagious, and the realization that we didn't understand what was so funny in the first place...oh lord, we just laughed until our guts ached. It got even funnier when Erica tried to explain it all, but began mixing languages: she began telling the entire story in German again.

Laughter is indeed, universal.

That point was brought home when Erica walked right into the screen door, and then 15 minutes later, I did the same dang thing. Germans and Americans alike think that's pretty dang funny. Boy, it's a shocker when you think you're going through a doorway, but you don't, not at all. I hit that door so hard that my wine splashed out, and was all stuck dripping down the screen to make everyone laugh even harder.

Man, it was beautiful evening. Gathering with friends and family, and so much love surrounding everyone that not even a bit of a language barrier couldn't stop us.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Soapbox: More Troll Updates

Ya'll know I filed a police report against an anonymous blog troll that had been harassing and impersonating me for 6 years. The final complaint was filed by four from this community, and backed up with statements by others, local and nationwide. An investigation turned up a 55-year old man—stranger to us all—that works for the Department of Defense. He was arrested, posted bail and is back at work, I understand. I am told by the local victim's advocate that there will be a lot of stalling in the courtroom, and that this will take a year or even years to close.

Each of the victims was issued a "No Contact Order of Protection." One in our group is pushing for that same protection for his wife and daughters, and having a difficult time getting it. Benjamin Beaupre met in a courtroom today with our troll and his attorney. While this part isn't really about me personally, I am tied to it, and so, very interested in the outcome.

The outcome was not so hot: troll's motion to dismiss was granted, but a new date was set for Beaupre to file amended arguments for the order of protections for his family.

I received a copy of the petition that was filed in court yesterday, and thus, some insight on what may be in store for the rest of us. I am amazed at some of the smoke and mirrors. For instance:

Note here how the terminology skipped from Ben's "Online Blog" in #2, to a "public online chatroom" in #4. It is referred to for most of the rest of the petition as an "online chatroom."

Tomato-tomahto, you might say, but a "personal blog" and "an online chatroom" are two entirely different things. Here's how I see it: Say you take your little old self to a restaurant, and there's a filthy loud-mouthed stranger across the room. That would be the public online chatroom in this case, ok? If you don't want to listen to that filthy guy, they you leave the restaurant.

Moving on with my analogy, let's say you wake up one day, and there's a filthy loud-mouthed stranger in your living room. That—for the sake of explaining the difference here—is your personal blog. It's your living room. You can let him hang out there if you want to, and mouth up the place, or you shut him up with your moderation tool. Yes, this imaginary living room has has a moderation tool, like a trap door, or an ejection seat or something, in which you can push a button and make him leave.

But you don't have to leave your living room. You should never ever have to leave your own living room because there's a filthy loudmouthed stranger in it. Because it's your living room!

So, you're all clear now, on the difference between a "Personal Blog" and a "Public Online Chatroom" now, right?

Now, for the sake of more crazy talk, let's say the stranger never really shows himself in your living room, but instead ties a filthy note to a rock and tosses it through your window every Saturday night for years and years. Filthy, racist, sexist, unnerving notes. And let's say your name is...pick a name..let's say your name is ummmm, "Earring." Ok, and then the nasty notes start flying through the house, but now they are signed "Earring Killer."

Also, in this story, notes on rocks through windows are covered by free speech. So, you have no recourse there, rocks and notes are allowed. Even if they weren't allowed, you never ever know who threw the rock, so what do you expect the police to do? In the end, your choices are to move out of your living room altogether, or to just deal with the weekly rock through the window.

You just deal. You don't have to read the note if you don't want to. You can throw the rock back out the window, or you can just unwrap it and save the note. (Always save the note, by the way).

Anyway, back to reality, and the petition that was filed. (This is real now, that living room stuff was for-pretend, ok?) Here's some more text for you, scanned right out of the petition:

So. Did our troll engage in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, or the safety of a third person? That was what was on the table today. Our troll and his lawyer say "No."


One of the women in this case only filed a report because she wanted him to go away and be done with it. She is frightened, and wants just to be left alone. Another has his mugshot posted on her refrigerator in her home, and in her office at work, "so I remember what he looks like, and everyone around me knows to look out for him." Ben is the hypothetical "Earring" in this story. I sleep with pepper spray on my nightstand, and I have a weird mental "plan of escape" in the event that I hear an intruder in my house.

Why? Because anyone that would spend most of their Saturday nights, and many of their Fridays, and a few weekdays, writing and sending you a constant stream of vitriole of murder and rape and genocide and sex and name calling for six years is unhinged, and yes he fucking has conducted himself in a manner that would cause any "reasonable person" to fear for his or her safety.

But alas, it remains (#10): No one forced Benjamin Beaupre to participate—excuse me, write on his own personal Blog. In fact, there is no evidence that he even tried to stop writing on his own personal blog! (See #10 again.)

Lord help us all. There are 6 more pages of this stuff, and even though it's a matter of public record, I asked Beaupre for his blessing to express myself here. Asked and granted. Today's trial was his, and the outcome his disappointment, but ours also. I watch to see what we'll be up against.

I pray the State's Attorney is watching carefully also, and the Judge understands these online nuances and takes them seriously. Currently listed as "electronic" stalking avenues are "text messages or emails." I realize that it's unlikely there will ever be a law that says you can't leave nasty notes in public forums, but seriously, what this guy has done is not a matter of free speech, as his attorney is claiming. Anonymous bullying and harassment really is a a modern-day note-on-a-rock for today's cowards. It is threatening and terrorizing, and the sooner legal boundaries are established against it, the better.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Stuff, and Great Grandma's Homemade Rolls

It is time for me to clean out my mother's house. I've had an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" agreement with a family tenant: Live here for me while I catch my breath, will you? And now that I can breath again, I've been tending to the stuff.

The Stuff.

There is both very little left to tend to, at the same time an overwhelming amount of Stuff. The stuff-stuff: blankets, pillows, knick-knacks, spatulas, spoons, vases, screwdrivers, funnels, bandaids, lamps, step stools, thumbtacks, Dial soap, board games, dog collars...Oh, my God, the stuff.

I am armed with boxes and Hefty bags, and I am begifting, donating, selling, and tossing.

To be honest, I am such a poor waif when I am there. This is the loneliest, heart-achiest thing I have ever had to do. It is all mine. When I say "mine," I mean, my obligation. I hold the gavel: This goes here, this goes there, you get this, you get that. That is overwhelming in itself, but "this" and "that" really mean nothing to me. I already have, after all, spoons and spatulas.

What does me in and sends me home early most days is that I am the last one standing. 

I grew up here. In this house:
  • I played countless games of cribbage with my father.
  • I danced Henry Mancini's Baby Elephant Dance with my mother, both of us still in our bathrobes.
  • My sister and I played  "Extreme Concentration," in which we would spread the deck from one end of the house to another.
  • I also pulled her hair, and rolled around screaming and fighting with her like I am sure no 2 little boys ever did, and then afterward crawled into her bed during thunderstorms so (ahem) she wouldn't be scared.
To be tending to this stuff without any of those I grew up with is incredibly draining—at least my sister was supposed to be here, for heck sake! The two of us were supposed to be at each other's throats over all of this stuff! We were supposed to cry and have Jerry-Springer-esque arguments, and then make up over all of this crap—it was to be the natural order!

(Fuck cancer.)

Sigh. It is what it is, you know? While my heart breaks, some days, there are others in which I do nothing but laugh and laugh while I am there. I ran over there today in hopes of digging up something to put my own pencils in, and instead got sidetracked with an old recipe box. As I sort through this "stuff," I do have a mental list of what I hope to find, and today, I hit gold:

The Recipe for my Great Grandmother's Homemade Rolls.

When I was a 10-ish years old, I had the wherewithall—or as is probably more the truth, someone prompted me—to ask my Great Grandmother to show me how she made her homemade rolls. She just made them like I would make an omelet or something: Just get up, move around the kitchen, and make the rolls.

(And thus my typesetting career began...)

There it is, word-for-word, how she taught me. Please note:

1. Tater flakes. I'm sure that's exactly how she said it, "add some tater flakes," and

2.  I remember having to insist on measurements: 1/2 a cup is about how many tater flakes we determined, as did we 1-1/2 cups of warm water.

She drew the line at measuring flour—measuring flour was nonsense. Just enough until it is like...pancake dough (?) And then, after the first rise "Make a well in the flour." She had a giant porcelain pan of flour in the pantry:  The goo went in, you kneaded it around until you had what you wanted—be it bread or noodles—and then you lifted it out and the put the flour back into the pantry.

The remaining instructions were par for the course: "A handful" of salt, and a "lump" of walnutlard. Walnutlard? Walnut lard? Is Walnut a brand? Or is there such a thing walnut lard? And how much is a lump? Does it come in lumps, or does one scoop out a lump?!

In the end, we are to put the whole thing in a "greased bucket" til raised.

On the back of the card, it says "Bake until brown."

Seems I am in for a little experimenting. I don't know, for example, what comes between "greased bucket" and "Homemade rolls to die for."

What I do know is that I'm going to find out, and master, and write it all down, and that these are the treasures I will continue to uncover while I sift through the "stuff." As resistant as I am to muck through it all, gnashing my teeth and crying, I am just as often comforted and laughing with those on the other side, and know that they are with me while I work.

These are hard times. These are hard, and lovely, times.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaBloPoMo 30: Oh, No, She Di-int!


Last post tomorrow. I promise.

Because I did have in mind a closing post, but here is what I did today:
  • Up at 8 a.m.
  • Breakfast
  • Deep clean. I mean, deep clean. When is say DEEP clean, I don't mean dusting baseboards. I am talking about getting anal and cleaning the caps on shaving cream lids. 
  • Errands: Drop Stuff at Goodwill
  • Drop Stuff at storage
  • Bring stuff home from storage for the event next weekend
  • ***keep in mind all of this involves lifting, so, skip gym***
  • Tend to this and that for the event next weekend
  • Tend to work stuff
  • Grocery shop
  • On a whim, because I had nothing else to do, did all of the Christmas decorating. Now it's done.
  • Dinner O' Thanksgiving Leftovers
  • Movie du jour
Midnight. Time to blog.

I mean, time to play my mulligan.

This is not like yesterday's post, in which I had nothing to say. I have TONS to say tonight; I just recognize that it will take me until well after 2 a.m. to gather the photos and text, and time is what I do not have.

12:10. Brush teeth, wash face, read Buzzfeed until I'm snoring while I'm still sitting up.

End of day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

NaBloPoMo 29: Rambling for the Sake of Posting

Writer's Block. 

I have it. Or rather, I have exhaustion, right now. I have been in front of a computer for most of the day today, either working or writing, and now that it's time to blog my brain is empty.

I brainstorm ideas on how to get ideas. Go to the photo boxes, pull one out, and write a story or a memory. I try it. I don't remember anything about any of those people, because I am tired.

A thing, I'll look around at my things and write about a thing. I glance around, and see a plume. What do I have to say about a plume? Nothing, that's what.

Cooking! Does posting a recipe count as blogging? What if I tell about how I splash a little pancake batter into the egg mix for french toast? Ugh, I feel too fat to write about food, after yesterday.

Military stories! They're rolling in, I'll tell one of those. Oh, I should save them for the new website.

Free writing then. Go!

Patrick Conroy has a new book out, "The Death of Santini." Must get that. I'm out of eggs. Remember how I used to be an insomniac? No more, I sleep like a rock. I am a lucid dreamer, which can be interesting, but doesn't find me as restful. I have to keep myself it then.  Black Friday: No thank you; I had one errand to run today in which I could see the BF traffic, and was relieved that my travels took me in the opposite direction. 

Enough, enough. Rocksleep beckons, and I'm going to need my rest. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

NaBloPoMo 28: Mama Update

My mother has Alzheimer's. I documented some of our trials in a blog called Lovin' La Mama Loca, a few years ago, but as her condition worsened, I've had a more difficult time writing about it.

I've bristled, over the years, at those that have lamented "it's as if you've already lost her." I hung on to what we had, and tried to embrace every minute of cognition that was left. There was plenty of her left even after she needed help with her checkbook. Even when she couldn't differentiate 1 p.m. from 1 a.m. and called in the wee hours of the morning to ask me where she left her glasses, she was lovely.

When you ask me how she is doing these days, I don't often know what to say. I usually blather something like,  "She is physically fit. She is so sweet. She is still smiley. She is lovely."

That said, my sweet Mama does not know my name, anymore; I can't even remember the last time she addressed me by "Lori," and the word doesn't spark any recognition in her. Nor does "Lee" or "Teri," (my father, and her husband of 40 years, and my sister, who passed away 4 years ago).

Some days I visit her, and she looks right through me. It depends on her schedule. If I catch her napping, she's more disoriented, and will barely speak. She says little else, but "I love you," and "You are beautiful."  Those are her catch phrases to everyone—the staff loves her. I can prompt a giggle by calling her Mickey Mouse, or saying "'tickle tickle tickle," but rarely does she say more.

I took a few videos of her today, with the intention of writing this blog. She was amazingly talkative and almost bowled me over with her statements "I think so," and "it's good." That is a lot of yakking for her, these days.

I have to admit that there are days when I visit her that I feel completely alone. Her affairs are mine alone to deal with—I'd rather be sharing this sorrow with my sister, you know? Most people "don't want to remember her this way." I understand this, and I know that if she did have visitors, she'd have no memory of them when they left her sight.

It it a lot, to miss her so much and yet, to feel so lonely in her presence. Yes, I've reached the point now where it does feel as if I have lost her.

But I still take some comfort, for her: If my mother would have known ahead of time that she were to lose her words, and if she could have had a choice of the two things she would say, over and over, to everyone she met, they would have been:
I love you, and You are beautiful.
Anyone that knows her will verify that these are words that defined her, for her entire life. If you knew her, she loved you and found you beautiful.

I'm so glad she can still tell you that.

It's all she would have wanted to say.