Thursday, December 31, 2009

an unexpected gift

Seeing the new year in with my father...worth more to me than anyone will ever know.

stupid monkeys

Quite literally zero hours of sleep tonight. Brain monkeys keep eeping and jumping about, keeping the annoyingly unreliable sleep pixie from visiting. It's about 5am now...I keep hoping she'll get over her fear of primates and come by. Crossing fingers...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


''The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your is the light that guides your way.''

--Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

[found in, of all places, an article by Doc Jensen about "LOST"]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Just spent the evening working with Dad on his playlist of songs he wants to be played at his funeral when the time comes. Very hard, very emotional for both of us, but I wouldn't have traded it for the's another memory I'm going to carry with me for a very long time, of a very personal and meaningful time I shared with my father.

Thank you, da.

back to it

The 'day of rest' didn't quite turn out that way...stuff came up to get done, things people needed to get out of the house while they could, visitors coming over, and an annoying inability to nap [sleep has been eluding me lately...go fig]. But it worked out, and Dad was able to cross some things off his list, which is good.

Today is more 'crossing off'...heading "into town" to get some things mailed out, run random errands, and [with luck] eat at one of Dad's favorite burger/fries places [hello, Tom's...we shall see if your burgers and fries can compare with your ever-so-delicious handmade candies]. There was some pretty good snow and wind all day yesterday, so it will be interesting to see how the roads are...they are pretty good at keeping them clear around here, but when you've lost your snow-driving skills after many years in California, even a little bit keeps you on your toes. My guess is I will get re-acclimated to driving in winter weather just about the time all the storms stop and things clear up...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

a day of rest

Nothing that absolutely has to get done today, no solid plans, everything Dad wants to get done has to wait until the business week starts up again. It's been pretty constant activity since I got here, so I think we are both looking forward to a day of vegging and napping and just chilling before it all starts up again.

<a hand quietly reaches around and hangs a "do not disturb" sign on the doorknob; the person that hand belongs to climbs back into a still-warm bed to try to get a bit more sleep>

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Dad is making his tacos. Om noms.

Friday, December 25, 2009

more memories being made

The quiet world, just after a snowstorm.

That awesome moment when you are driving and stop quickly...and a huge sheet of snow from the roof of the car comes slooshing down onto the windshield.

Going to the movies with Dad.

Showing him a few tricks for managing butter-drenched popcorn [see, sometimes an old dog can learn new tricks, and sometimes a young[er] pup can teach <grin>].

Catching up with relatives I haven't seen in a while.

Christmas eve with family, food, and quiet conversation. And no drama...a wonderful gift in itself.

Santa showing up after all, with something for me to wish and dream on.

The sound of wind howling and whistling outside, while I'm warm and cozy under blankets.

Hanging out with my nephews and getting away from things for a bit [thanks, guys].

The best present of all: time with my dad.

one to remember

Happy Christmas everyone...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

on grief and greed and human nature

Even though may I understand some of the reasons behind it, some bits of human nature still frustrate and confuse me. When my grandmother died, I was only about twelve years old...but I saw what grief does to people and relationships, and how greed caused more heartache, and it really hit me on a very deep level. I've carried that with me since.

As she was coping with the fact that she was dying, the one thing my mother didn't want was a replay of the drama that happened when her mother died...and yet it happened. People being called vultures, some folks keeping track of who was getting what, others who felt they had more of a right to determine what went to whom.

It made me sad, very sad for my Mom...she would have hated to see it.

And now it's happening again. My father is having a blast, doing good with the money he and Mom worked so hard for all their lives...he is taking care of the people who meant a lot to my mother and to him, giving things away, working with people to help them get closer to their dreams, trying to bring some smiles to their faces and pass on some of the good fortune he spent a lifetime with Mom creating. He's making himself happy, and making my mother happy in memoriam. And for some reason, it's not enough for some people.

I've been thinking about it a lot. There seem to be four different stages of responses to the kind of philanthropy Dad and Mom were doing [and Dad is currently doing] as they planned for their deaths:

* "I'd like..." - these are the folks who, when my parents were giving things away, said "I would like to have", and then they would name some piece of furniture, some basket, some bit of jewelry, something that had special meaning to them or evoked memories for them.

* "I need..." - these people said "well, if you are really sure, I could use". Then they mentioned things like a heater, a television, a bedroom set. Practical items, things that they truly needed or were already planning to get on their own.

* "I want..." - this is where the fine line starts. Once the first two types of asking were done, it started turning into "well, if it hasn't been given away yet, I want". Not a need, no real connection to the item, just "this would be cool to have". Not necessarily a bad thing, and it still makes Dad happy to give things to people who will appreciate them [and I freely admit that I have quite a collection of knives and bags and lights from him to ship home], but it doesn't take much for it to devolve into greed just because something is there to be had. Which segues into the last type...

* "I want, so they can't have" - I'm seeing people take things just so that others don't have them, even if they have no need or even room for them. They don't think someone else has a right to something, or they are being just plain greedy, as if it were a free-for-all. So they grab and take and pile on and pile up and walk away with stuff just because it was there.
And on a slightly selfish note, here is where I end up totally screwing myself: I only ask for what I would like, and what I think I deserve. I did it during my divorce...legally, I was entitled to a full half of all of our assets [including our house]; instead, I only asked for a portion. And the same with Mom and Dad: I wanted them to spend their money on themselves and they way they wanted; after all, they were the ones that worked so hard for it. I didn't feel that I deserved or was entitled to any of it. If I needed something, I worked my ass off to get it: my car, my house, my motorcycle, my vacation to Disneyland, basically my life. It never occurred to me to expect them to provide any of that for me. Anything that I'm getting from Mom and Dad is an unexpected bonus, something I honestly have a hard time accepting, but am very grateful for and will make good use of.

Let me be clear: I have absolutely no problem with how Dad is handling things. Truthfully, I applaud him for it. And you know what? He's having a fricking blast doing it. It's fun to watch the joy he is getting by giving things away. I just wish people could be a little nicer to each other during all of's not worth burning bridges about. In the end, the rest is all just's the emotions, the memories, the people who count.

Luckily, some people see it for what it is, and are enjoying it and are grateful and kind and love him for doing it. Those are the ones I am trying to focus on...because that, too, is human nature. Good, bad, kind, self-focused, altruistic, loving, remote, greedy, giving. There is a song in my collection, by the band Nomad, which has some lyrics I try to live by:

"Keep your face to the sunshine, and you will not see the shadows."

Sometimes it's not easy to avoid the drama...but damn it, for my Dad's sake, and for my own, it's what I'm going to do. And if it means I get less, or don't get as much as others do, it doesn't matter...because I have this time with my Dad, I have my friendships with my parents [which I especially treasure], and I have a lifetime of what Mom and Dad taught me. I hope others are able to avoid the shadows, and see that side of all of this as well.

I love them, and they loved me. That's ultimately all that matters.

refrigerator wisdom

From a magnetic notepad on my parent's fridge:

"Take time from doing to enjoy being."

Friday, December 18, 2009

random neuron firings

It's funny the memories that pop up:

Dad twirling me up in the rope tire swing, then letting go and watching as I spun back down and giggled like crazy...then jumping back quickly as I threw up on his feet.

Mom's spaghetti, Dad's goulash.

Riding in the car with Grandma, listening to her eight-track of "Hit the Road, Jack".

Dad chasing the armadillo.

Dad catching the armadillo.

Christmases in lots of places, with two constants: Mom and Dad making us wait while they finished their coffee [sheer torture, trust me], and Dad's awesome pocket knife that could open any package.

Driving Mom's Jetta around the block from the garage, and not stalling it once [never got out of first, but still...].

Moving into the house in Trinway, and the various stages it went through over the years.

Mom and Dad, cuddling in the recliner, giggling over some private joke.

And new ones being made now, and which will inspire a 'gosh, I remember when' blog post years from now:

Dad being there at the airport...with bells on.

Dad fixing bacon and eggs, and the bacon being just right...crispy on the ends, less in the middle.

Being shown cool lights and knives and tools and bags, and getting to pick from a large selection.

Realizing even more things that I have in common with Dad.

That's what it's all about: the memories, the experiences, the sharing. So thank you, da, for sharing time with me...

Friday, December 04, 2009

quote from a friend

From Dorothy Thompson: "Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow."

[thank you, Tony...]

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

leave of absence

Taking some time to head to Ohio and be with my Dad...taking a leave of absence from work so I can be there as long as I need.

Miss you, da...see you soon.