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Posts tagged ‘Dad’

Share the road, motherfuckers!

Of all the kinds of asshole there are in the world, I have decided that the worst kind are the fucking crazy kind.

Tonight my dad and I had just set off for a bike ride, enjoying the unseasonably cool July weather. The local trail system goes right past his neighborhood, so we jumped on and headed off, riding through a nearby park ready to cruise toward downtown. We had to cross a major road, but they have done a pretty decent job trying to make the crossing as safe as possible. The light was red when we got there. We waited for the walk signal, and then set off in the crosswalk. Unfortunately, the jackwagon in the monster truck also waiting at the light decided not to yield the right of way, and came alarmingly close to running me down in his impatience to turn the corner. I shouted and stopped; he stopped. When I realized it was safe to cross, I started up again. As he turned behind us, he yelled at us. The car behind him yelled at us also. When the driver of the truck yelled “fuck you” at us, my dad yelled it back. We had the right of way, asshole.

What happened next was truly frightening. Mr. Crazy Asshole drove across a four-lane road, off the road, across the grass, to cut us off on the trail, where he got out of his truck and approached my dad (who was ahead of me) yelling profanities. Are you fucking kidding me? I don’t remember what he called my dad…an old fucker, maybe? So, yeah, nice job respecting your elders (or just other humans). He definitely called me a fucking cunt. That’s an unspeakable word in my world, so to casually toss that off at a stranger, I’m thinking you have some issues. And perhaps the most insane part was one of the things he screamed at us was that it had been a mistake and what did we want him to do about it now? Um…how about not go completely insane and threaten us? At some point he decided he’d accomplished whatever he set out to do and got back in his truck and drove off.

I’ve had people yell at me on my bike before, but never anything like this. I just don’t understand why people get so angry at the mere presence of bicycles. We weren’t even riding IN the road, just wanted to cross it to ride on the goddamn trail. And unbelievably, when we were riding home and crossing at that same intersection, the oncoming turning car did yield the right of way (thank you, person!) and the car behind her leaned on the horn. What. The. Actual. Fuck. Fortunately everything in between was uneventful and fun.

I told some friends about it when I got home and one shared that she carries pepper spray when she rides. That’s really not my style, but neither is getting verbally assaulted by nutbags.

And I will say this: adrenaline makes me pedal fast.

Share-Road-Sign-K-4296

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My dad defies the mold

Happy Father’s Day!

What a swell day. 🙂 I just spent the afternoon with my dad, which isn’t particularly unusual for us, but it was Father’s Day and it was just the two of us and it was lovely.

Even though Father’s Day isn’t for my dad. Or rather, my dad doesn’t fit the dad stereotypes.

I thought about taking him out for brunch at a newish place near me, but I read their menu for today and it was very meat-oriented. Dads love bacon! And meat! With meat! And bacon! Except my dad quit eating meat when I was about four. So instead I made a caramel French toast that he loves, and it yields lots of leftovers, so he can enjoy it for a few more days. Yum!

Perusing ads and Hallmark stores, Father’s Day seems to be about meat and beer and tools and golf and sports and grilling (meat). And maybe neckties and wristwatches. Oh, and cigars. And shaving. (WTF? Who is giving her dad shaving paraphernalia for a present??)

I did manage to find a Father’s Day card that talked about memories of puking on road trips, and that definitely speaks to my relationship with my dad. He has a favorite story to tell about my getting carsick on a road trip home from Canada, in the rain, right before we approached customs. And another version on an airplane. Good times. 🙂

I realized earlier this week that I didn’t have a gift for him – yikes! What to do? None of the above would do for my pops. I mentioned the veggie lifestyle. No tobacco either. He has a beard. He works from home, sans neckties. He doesn’t play golf. Doesn’t really like beer. (He also has an annoying habit of just buying things he wants, although I mostly have him broken of doing things like that around holidays.) I would have to go Father’s Day rogue.

Fortunately, I tidied up my desk Friday afternoon and found, buried in a pile of crap, a page I had torn out of a magazine, reminding me of something I knew would be perfect: a memoir in cartoons by the longtime cartoon editor of The New Yorker. Not only would he love it (and he did), it too seemed representative of our relationship. We have a long history of my dad loving New Yorker cartoons and me not getting them. (Sometimes I get them. Sometimes they’re funny. But sometimes, seriously, what the fuck?)

After brunch and presents we went bike shopping, which morphed into bike clean up and repairing. Us, fix bikes? Don’t be ridiculous! I know dads are supposed to fix things, but my dad taught me the value of having an expert address the situation, whatever that situation may be. Dad gave me the phone number of whom to call when my tree died and needed to be removed, and when the bats became too big a problem and had to be eliminated. And today we packed up our bikes and carted them to the bike shop to get them tuned up, and some tweaks made. We’re a little late in the game this year, but we’ve been busy, and better late than never. Plenty of good riding days ahead of us this summer.

All in all, a pretty good day. I’ve always enjoyed my dad’s company, but since his heart attack last fall I tend to cherish it even more, even though I don’t use words like “cherish”, and today was no exception. I have a number of good friends who have lost their fathers already, and I appreciate how lucky I am that he’s still here.

Happy Father’s Day to all, and to all a good night! Or something like that. 🙂 Hope your day was as nice as ours!

Ooh, and because the recipe is so good and so easy, here’s that, too. It’s one of those perfect recipes you prepare the night before and just throw in the oven to bake in the morning.

Caramel French Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (although I only had dark on hand and it was just as tasty)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 6 Tbls. light corn syrup
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half (except I don’t use half & half for anything so I buy a pint and make up the remaining half cup with milk)
  • 1 Tbls. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 slices french bread – 1 1/2″ thick slices (But I end up using more like 15)
  • 3 Tbls. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

In saucepan combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat. Stir until mixture comes to a boil. pour syrup into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Arrange bread slices on top of syrup. Mix together eggs, half and half, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Mix 3 Tbls. sugar with cinnamon. Sprinkle over bread. Melt 1/4 cup butter and drizzle on top. Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Eat. Say “yum!”. 🙂

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Dad

Dad and I went to see Crosby, Stills and Nash the other night at the Embassy. I got tickets for his birthday; he’s been a big fan forever, and a little of it rubbed off on me – I like the greatest hits album in my collection. And, you know, it seemed like it would be fun. How can you not enjoy some good, live music?

Lately (and by “lately” I mean for the last five or ten years), going to concerts has made me feel old. (Drunken hipsters annoy me.) (So do drunken other people, and not-drunken hipsters. But I digress.) This concert, pretty much the opposite: I was the youngest person for miles. Or at least rows. I know some of my contemporaries were there, but we were definitely in the minority.

And you know what’s awesome? Older people sit down at concerts. Maybe because they’re tired or standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but I think it’s because they’re more experienced and they’ve learned that standing at concerts is just plain stupid. Honestly, most of us can see better when we’re sitting.

This doesn’t mean it was some staid, subdued affair. To the contrary, people were rocking out. Just, politely, from a seated position, leaping to their feet to whoop and holler their appreciation after every song, then wisely sitting down to enjoy the next number. They were into it, man. It’s always great to see something here that is a) sold out and b) full of enthusiasm.

And the fellas on stage – they aren’t spring chickens, obviously. Crosby & Nash are 72. Stills is 69. Um, hi. That’s impressive. Even more so when I tell you that they played for about three hours. No opening act (perfect!) just them, killing it, with a short intermission (yay, pee break!).

And don’t worry, everybody stood up for Suite: Judy Blue Eyes for the encore, singing along joyfully. They definitely knew how to bring it home.

Of course, musing about the generational differences in concert-going also leads me to some universal truths:

  • There will always be two (probably drunk) chicks off to the side of the stage or in the aisle, dancing, even when the song isn’t remotely danceable.
  • Likewise, there will be some person near the front waving at the band. Stop it. They can’t see you. They don’t know you. Just stop.
  • The line for the bathroom will be stupidly long. At least this time the men’s line was at least as long as the women’s. Yay, equality! 😀
  • Someone in your vicinity will be doing something annoying. This week I had two. The man next to me was the LOUDEST snapper in the world. I seriously could not possibly snap my fingers that loudly, and he was doing it for hours. Stop it, Dad! Oops, just kidding, it was the man on my other side. Oh, and he was just a tiny bit offbeat. GAH. Also, the woman across the aisle was screwing around with her phone the entire time. Texting, taking pictures, texting, answering at least three phone calls, texting, taking pictures – oh my god, just stop already!

Which brings us to tonight’s public service announcement. Anytime you hold your phone up above the heads of the people in front of you to take a picture (or, god forbid, record some craptastic video – who are you kidding?), you are interfering with the experience of the people behind you. Your pictures are probably going to suck anyway. And there’s no need to take so many of them. And as the person behind all of you, seeing lots of phones sticking up at any given moment is obnoxious. I was watching security; they were trying their damndest to get you to stop, but they couldn’t keep up. And this is something we think is a problem with kids, but clearly we older people are just as culpable. Be in the moment. Be in the moment. BE IN THE MOMENT!

Geez, it’s hard to imagine that I feel old when I go to concerts! Get off my lawn, you stupid kids!

Anyway, I feel like I took kind of an accidental hiatus in my concert-going a few years ago, and I’m glad to be back in circulation. I’ve had the opportunity to see some good stuff the last year or two. Here’s hoping I can keep that streak going.

Rock on, my friends.

2013, you were all right

A year ago it seemed that the idea of a “blessings jar” was circulating all over Facebook. It’s simple enough. Write down the special moments in your life as they occur, put them in a jar, and review them at the end of the year. I’m not really good at resolutions, goals, and the like, but this was something I could get on board with. Of course, I didn’t have a jar handy so I used a vase (which was a present from my dad and created by my artist friend Kristi Jo Beber, so it was already all kinds of good stuff) but for the purpose of this post we’ll just keep calling it a jar. (Aside: Kristy Jo’s stuff makes great gifts. Keep that in mind that for next Christmas or anything between now and then!)  I didn’t always remember to tend to the jar, but by the end of the year it was full.  I wrote on post-it notes and scraps of paper. I scribbled just a few words and once wrote a page & a half about a particularly interesting day. Many of the notes had happy faces and/or hearts drawn on them, because I use emoticons even when jotting messages to myself apparently.  Most of the time I remembered to date them, but not always. And because I was doing it my way, I put other things in, too. Concert tickets. Notes from friends. A fortune from a cookie. An envelope that made me laugh. A series of postcards from my friend Greg. And then last week on New Year’s Day I sat down and read through everything.

Here’s the summary version: I’m a very fortunate person.

I appreciated little things. I appreciated big things. I reconnected with people from the past. I made new friends. I put aside old hurts. I paid off some debts AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, bitchez! I reveled in my family. I took trips. I was reminded of a moment when I was able to use the blessings jar to make myself find a positive spin in a situation that was making me cranky. The overriding theme was contentment, and how can you beat that? Reading through them reminded me of small moments that would have been long forgotten and made me laugh a second time over funnies and sillies.

And because I took my own liberties with the game, next to the vase was a bowl. And in the bowl I put all the birthday cards I received, and more recently all the holiday cards that came in the mail. And I reread all of those too.

Now I’m going to take all of the scraps of paper and notes and cards and package them neatly in some sort of cute container and label it “2013”. Because the vase already has the first piece of paper for 2014 in it. I hope I do this for every year from now until the end of Wonkaternity. (I’ve decided 2014 is going to be a banner year for making up my own words for the wonktionary. Earlier I coined “napportunity”; I intend to seize every napportunity that crosses my path this year!)

I won’t share all the paper scraps with you, because some are too personal and some would bore you and there are really quite a lot, but here are a sampling for the reading.

  • 3/18: The world has the Mondays, but I feel awesome. 🙂
  • 1/17: I had both blueberries AND grapes on my Rice Chex this morning.
  • 3/6: Awesome snow day! Shoveled like a badass. Made a snow Ruby with Dan. Lots o’ fun!
  • 2/13: I tried something new – tap lessons – and I loved it!
  • May: I went on a fun, relaxing vacation with some of my favorite people AND I was happy to come home. 🙂
  • 8/10: Mourtney’s b-day at the lake was a super fun day.
  • August: I can afford to have the work done to bat-proof the house. (This was the one where I was trying super hard to see the positive in the boatload of cash I dropped to prevent any more good bat stories for y’all. Oh, and the rabies.)
  • 6/8-9: Super fun weekend in A2 with Klondike and the Laheys. 🙂
  • First weekend in June: I felt a satisfaction with doing everything I wanted to do with my weekend. And the new purple curtains made me feel happy every time I walked into the living room. I love my house! 🙂
  • 9/7-8: Such a wonderful weekend in Ann Arbor! All day Saturday bumming around w/Caryn, victory over ND, and ton of fun and excitement at the game! Sunday morning w/Brannie, then loading up on food goodies before coming home. Top down all weekend. Happy heart! J
  • I can take advantage of being self-employed to go for a bike ride in the middle of a Tuesday with my dad. 🙂
  • 9/23: 1:09 cake  [IT WORKED!!!] (Did I tell you that story??)
  • 7/23: Ruby finally healed from her incision! 🙂
  • 10/31: A WHOLE BUNCH OF PUMPKINS appeared on my porch! 🙂 Someone stole mine & now I have LOTS! And tap was canceled (kind of) so I’ll be home for Halloweenie!!!! 🙂  (two happy faces on one piece of paper)
  • I love my green sheets! 🙂
  • The day I wrote the long missive, I’d been to a funeral then out for lunch with my dad and grandma. One of the highlights was Grandma telling Dad and me that she had used up a pen, and when we asked what kind she said, “A pencil.” Which caused us to laugh and laugh, and if you’ve ever experienced my grandma laughing uncontrollably, you know it’s noteworthy. And also something a restaurant might not appreciate. And lest you be concerned about her answer, it’s a pen that looks like a pencil; she hasn’t lost her mind. 😉
  • And then there was this one, the most important one of. (Dad, I’ll stop talking about it soon, I promise.) dad survivedI draw a sucky heart, but you get the idea. And the little words surrounding it, which you probably can’t read, are the people who made it possible and helped us greatly: Doctors, Nurses, Friends, Family, Rachel, the Huffs.

 

Happy New Year, my friends! I look forward to your help filling my blessings jar!

 

Christmas Cards and Serious Stuff

It’s that time of year again when the mail is fun. Usually it’s junk and bills and solicitations for charitable donations (possibly with cute address labels). But for a few weeks as the year ends, holiday cards (and I’m going to say holiday instead of Christmas because some friends very deliberately send me Chanukah or non-Christmas-specific cards) bring cheer & sometimes glitter. I love seeing my friends’ kids get older, love seeing the cute pictures chosen to include, and it’s lovely to know someone was thinking about you, even if only for long enough to address an envelope. 🙂

Historically I have sent my fair share of cards. I like doing my part to spread joy and sparkle, and selfishly, I find you receive more cards in return if you send them out. Although I do try not to get hung up on things like, “Oh my god, I got a card from Mary Beth, but I didn’t sent one to Mary Beth, maybe now I should send one to Mary Beth!” It’s not about taking inventory.

This year, however, I’m not sending any. I ran out of time. I suppose technically I still have time but I have resigned myself that it’s not going to happen without a lot of stress and hand cramping, and I don’t really need that.

So consider this my Christmas card to you. If you’re reading this, that pretty much guarantees that I appreciate you!

I have just written and deleted about seven different versions of a sentence trying to articulate how fortunate I am to have so many friends who mean more and more to me as every year passes. Which is funny, because this segues nicely into the other thing I wanted to talk about, and I thought it was going to be a big jumbled mess, but now maybe it won’t be.

In addition to the usual pictures of cats and lists of 23 things you should do to be a more human human and pithy stati (make no mistake, I love Facebook, in spite of what that sounds like) my news feed is filled on a regular basis with people urging you to hug your loved ones and tell them that they are, in fact, loved. A recurring theme in our world seems to be not telling the people you love how much they mean to you until it’s too late. My family is a perfect example. We all love each other very much, but we don’t actually say the words very often.  So I was thinking I would like to write blog posts to each of my parents, sharing the things that are special about my relationships with them and saying the things I want to say while I still have the opportunity. I kicked the idea around a little but didn’t actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, to be more accurate).

And then, four weeks ago today, my dad called and said, “I just Googled symptoms of heart attack and I think I might be having one.” I thought he was kidding, because that’s how he is. I thought he was going to follow it up with a crack about a political article he’d read or some other silly line. He wasn’t kidding. And in the car* on the way to the hospital, he said something that sounded like, “If I don’t get a chance to say this later” and I told him to shut up. And then I spent two hours while he was in the cath lab sitting in the waiting room** kicking myself that my last words to my dad might be “shut up”.

Thankfully, those weren’t my last words and Dad is doing amazingly well. But I definitely have to write the blog posts now. It may take me a little while, because I’m super emotional about it still and I have to be in the right frame of mind to allow myself to get all weepy, but they’re coming.

And also, this is why I’ve been too busy to blog and haven’t had time to send Christmas cards and have just been generally discombobulated. For two weeks all that existed was Dad and work and sleep.  And now I’m catching up with life. My annual staycation is next week, and I could not be more ready.

Merry Christmas, friends. Happy Holidays. Thanks for reading, thanks for being a friend, thanks for being you.

________________________________________________________

Footnotes…

* Life Lesson #1: Call 911. Call 911. Call 911. Do not drive to the hospital yourself. It was a bonehead move and fortunately everything worked out ok for us, but it was a HUGE MISTAKE. If you ever find yourself in this situation, please learn from my mistake. An ambulance clears traffic. An ambulance can run red lights. An ambulance driver is not emotionally invested and his/her hands probably aren’t shaking while driving. An ambulance comes with a spare person to provide medical care in transit. CALL 911.

** Life Lesson #1 2: Have someone come sit with you. It’s not selfish or silly or an imposition. Have someone come sit with you. Call me; I will come sit with you. It’s nice to have company even if you don’t want to talk. And also, if none of your people come, the chaplain won’t leave and that is awkward and weird. I know this because I was stupid and didn’t have anyone come, but fortunately my uncle knew better and he came (and brought my grandma) and so did my friend Kristin. K also fed my dad’s dog and took my house keys and went home and fed my dog and brought my keys back to the hospital. She’s a rock star. And also, I need to give more people spare keys to my house.

(Life lesson #3….learn to count. Sheesh.)

Aside

My dad lies.

I thought I shared this story with you a while ago. Apparently I did not.   Klondike & I took a day trip somewhere, and I asked my dad to come by and feed the pack and let them out. (Klondike brings his two dogs up when he comes.) This conversation took place the next day…..after Dad’s report that all the dogs behaved nicely and ate their food immediately upon being presented with it.

————————————————————————————————

Me: You are so busted. Did you bring over cottage cheese (to stir into the kibble) when you came to feed the dogs?

Dad: No.

Me: Ohhhh, hahahahaahahaha! We found a spoon in the dish drainer and neither one of us had used it for anything so I thought maybe that was where it came from, and that that was how you got all the dogs to eat right away. Hahahahahaha!

(pause)

Dad: Tuna

Me: What?

Dad: I didn’t use cottage cheese. I used tuna.

Me: Um.

Dad: I had some tuna I didn’t like so I stirred a little bit into the dogs’ food and they all ate as soon as I put the bowls down.

 
Oh, my dad. He thinks he’s so funny.

Sometimes I do, too. 😉

The pack

The pack

Sadly, I get it now.

I didn’t get it.

The way my grandmother spoke of Pearl Harbor Day, or my dad about JFK being assassinated. That was history. And it was sad history, and important history, but it didn’t have a profound, moving impact on me like it did on them. (I actually think it kind of annoyed my grandmother that kids didn’t understand what a big deal Pearl Harbor Day was.) I didn’t get it. How lucky I was, and I didn’t realize it.

For a while, it seemed as though the “where were you when _____?” moment for my generation was going to be the Challenger explosion. Not quite the same thing. Sad and scary and impactful on the space program, but it was an accident, not an attack on democracy.

And then everything changed.

September 11, 2001.

I get it now.

How you can remember with such clarity and detail exactly where you were, what you were doing, what happened next, even someone like me who is memory-challenged.  How eleven years later you can see pictures of a beautiful blue sky, filled with confusing images of towering, smoking buildings, and start to cry. How we feel compelled to share our stories of watching it unfold.  I get it now.

We grieve, each of us in our own ways, but we remember together.

And we dream of a day when there once again is a generation who doesn’t get it, doesn’t know what it’s like to have a life-altering moment when THE WORLD is turned upside down – not your own personal world, but the entire world. And we never forget.

Peace.