So Close and Yet So Far

parrotWe were so excited. After seven long years, we were doing it. We were finally going back to Key West for the Parrot Head convention.  We used to go every year, but that was B.C. (Before Children.) I used to go even Before Husband. I’ve been six times and my husband had gone three times.

The convention, called “Meeting of the Minds,” is a four-day music fest for Jimmy Buffett fans – the hard-core ones that join the Parrot Head Clubs. It’s one big-long party, and for most, it’s like a family reunion. We’d meet people from all over the country and every year we’d reconnect in Key West. We’d see friends who’d moved away from our home clubs, make new friends and broaden our Parrot Head family.

Jimmy Buffett’s band, The Coral Reefers, plays every year, and Jimmy himself shows up about every other year. The year we met, my future husband came down to the convention but he decided on it last minute so he couldn’t officially register. Jimmy came that year, the same day as my husband, and without convention credentials my husband couldn’t get into the concert. I didn’t want him to feel bad, so we spent Jimmy’s concert sitting in a bar by ourselves while the rest of the island saw the show. read more

Mom, Me and the Market

I’ve been thinking about my mom. I lost her in October 2009. Technically I lost her eight years before, when she slipped completely into her Alzheimer’s world, but anyway, she’s on my mind. I haven’t written that much about her in this space, so I thought I would let you get to know her. 

 cart

To my mother, grocery shopping was serious business. Sometimes I would lie on her bed as she fell asleep she would roll over and say, “Ground beef. Lettuce. Mustard.”

Every week we’d go to Waldbaum’s, Grand Union and the A& P because each one possessed a unique quality that was unequaled at the other. Once my mother discovered coupons, the need for specificity grew. Now I know that coupons didn’t come out in my lifetime but they were new to my mom, and Waldbaum’s would have double coupons on Wednesdays — we’d always go there for the best coupon deals. We once had a coupon for $1.25 for free coffee, and they doubled it so they actually paid us to take it. I think we saved 13 dollars that day. Our excitement over the deal inseminated the bargain shopper in me.

Since she was somewhat of an expert, Mom taught me the golden rules of shopping. Buy only name brands. Del Monte tomatoes and canned vegetables, Bird’s Eye frozen vegetables, Ore Ida frozen potatoes, Dairylea milk, Dannon flavored yogurt and Colombo plain yogurt. Never buy pre-chopped meat. Instead, pick out a nice sirloin and have the butcher chop it up. Grated cheese: Pick out a nice Pecorino Romano or Parmesan from the deli and have them grate it for you. I don’t know about then but I bought some grated Pecorino Romano from the deli recently and it was $11 for a quarter pound. Good thing my family had money. read more

Doggone

dogI know I’m gonna get a lot of hate mail (or at least hate comments) but I’ll just spit it out. We gave the puppy away. We had to.

We had so many reasons. The biggest one was that the puppy kept attacking the kids. Yes, the puppy was playing. Yes, we could have trained it out of her. But the problem was not the puppy, it was our daughter. The trainer told us to stand still when the puppy started biting and say “Off!” when she bit our bodies or our clothes. We told our son what to do maybe three times. When he started doing it, the puppy lost interest and left him alone.

We told our daughter what to do maybe three hundred times. She simply would not do it. Instead she’d jump around or run away, which encouraged the dog to play, chase her and bite again. When the puppy did bite, my daughter would kick her to get her off of her leg. We told our daughter that she’d hurt the puppy and the puppy would turn against her, but she kept doing it. Sometimes she’d whack the dog on the nose to get her back for biting. Again, we told her to stop. We told her the dog wouldn’t like her. And eventually it happened. My daughter would do something to the puppy and the puppy would fight back. And still, our daughter wouldn’t stop. read more

Dog Tired

Bad dayI thought we could handle it. I thought it was time. I thought it would be fun, and cute, and therapeutic. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

My daughter’s been asking for a dog since she learned to talk.  She loves dogs. Every time we see someone walking a dog, she asks if she can pet it. Every time she sees a picture of a dog, she goes on and on about how cute it is. Every time she thinks about a dog, she asks when we’ll get one. And we’re dog people, so naturally we planned to get a dog.

We waited for the kids to get old enough. My daughter’s almost seven and my son’s almost four, so we figured they were ready. We made a plan. We would get a doggie door. We would build a fence. I’d done the due diligence. I was ready. We were ready.

I started to look for rescue dogs to adopt. I looked for a poodle mix that was medium-sized. We wanted a smart dog who didn’t shed and would be good with the kids. I would have loved a small dog but we have huge hawks in our backyard and they’ll attack any animal smaller than twenty pounds. It’s true. I looked it up. read more

Something About Mary

heart of gold

I apologize for the late post. I went to New York for a funeral. Pleas read on. 

The first time I met Mary, she was moving into the house next door to mine. She was tall, Italian and had short black hair, curled and coiffed so it never moved.  Her seven-year-old daughter, Beth, asked me if I wanted to have a picnic on the front lawn. I was nine and wary of hanging out with younger kids, but she was so nice and she was right next door, so I said yes. Beth and I laid a blanket out on the tall grass that grew above the septic tank. We could hear her mom and dad, but mostly her mom, directing the movers as they emptied their truck. Mary was  multitasking, taking care of Beth’s baby sister while she got the house in order.

read more