55 Ledgewood Rd.
West Hartford, CT 06107
Phone: 860 794-0773
State of CT License:
YOU CAN WRITE! (Adults)
Are your kids so cute you're inundated with funny stories? Have you always wanted to write but have never really tried? Or have you lost touch with your creative side? For 75 minutes a week, treat yourself and your writing to a little TLC. Write a little/write a lot. Write poetry, write personal essays, write a book!
Wendy Pierman-Mitzel Award winning writer will be teaching this class.
The program is being held on Tuesdays, October 1, 8, 22, 29 from 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. at the Kent Memorial Library Gallery. The fee is $40.00 for residents and $45.00 for non-residents. The registration deadline is Tuesday, September 24 and/or when the program is full.
REAL AND RANDOM IS SPONSORED BY:
By Cami Beiter 11/18/13
It just laid there. No movement.
Because of past circumstances, I knew it was a matter of time before tragedy would strike,
but still there was an element of surprise.
The neighborhood cock was now flaccid, limp, in the middle of the road.
I received the call early Sunday morning.
“Hey Cami, I just got off the phone with one of my friends...she drove by your house...thinks one of your chickens got hit by a car...doesn’t look good.”
I ran out in my sweats, hair in a broken clip and feet in ugly house shoes. I eagerly scanned the street, searching for remnants of my fowl friend. Was it one of the hens? I hoped it wasn’t my rooster. My eyes quickly targeted a white mound of mass. About 100 feet from my front door, there appeared to be a large lump of white feathers. I took a deep sigh.
I didn’t immediately investigate. Instead, I turned toward the garage. Such tasks require the aid of shovels and bags and these I grabbed and turned back toward the bird.
As I started to approach him, his head popped up. He began chatting and chirping at me, as if he had no idea he was glued to the pavement.
“Crap...poor bastard’s still alive.”
I can handle just about anything: snakes, mice, spiders. I no longer have sympathy for half eaten birds and suffering squirrels left about the yard by our mouser cat. But mercy-killing a rooster required an expert.
I ran into the house and screamed, “George! You need to kill the rooster! He’s across the street. Hit by a car. He’s still alive. I can’t do it. He looks so pathetic. Hurry!” I hear him protest moan from the bed. I’m sure most men would prefer having their coffee, read the NY Times and take in a decent dose of NPR before having to kill a chicken.
He got up, put on his slippers and headed to the garage in search of his favorite pair of gloves. We both stood over the flapping fowl, like two kids unsure what to tell mom about the broken china platter. George has, and always will be, skittish with chickens. What I was asking of him was far beyond his job description.
I could see George was apprehensive. Perhaps this was not my expert.
“I’ll go see if Chris is home.” I shouted as I ran next door.
Our neighbor, Chris, would gladly step up to the plate, especially since our rooster had been responsible for a few moments of lost slumber. Cock-a-doodle-doo’s at 5 a.m. aren’t particularly appreciated amongst even the most loving of neighbors.
I rang the doorbell. No answer. I rang it again. Nothing. George and I were on our own.
As I ran back, I see George squatting down, trying to put the rooster out of his misery. His arms were extended, like trying to ring out a large wet towel without getting soaked. At that moment I paused and nervously giggled. I stood there watching my husband from afar, desperately trying to kill the rooster. He was unshaven, bed head hair. He wore his beloved Suffield Lacrosse hoody, slippers and nasty old Sears gloves.
What was equally as entertaining were the facial expressions of passing drivers. Nothing like seeing a 40-something man, killing a rooster on South Main Street, while heading to church on a Sunday morning.
For me and that poor rooster, George was our hero that morning. A man who will do the dirty work. Now that’s love.
Strangely it enters only one ear, the other goes deaf.
I close my eyes and I am in the rain forest.
A dense mat of leaves dampens the sound at my feet where circles of tone and tangible vibrations now radiate from me.
They grow as they rise, expanding into the towering tree canopy, awakening the leaves with their reverberations and making the sunlight flicker.
Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend
Cami Beiter 11/04/13
I had this friend. She was loyal. Dependable. Fun. We were closely attached for nearly fourteen years. Where ever I went, she went. She rarely complained, was tough, never whined about hard work...an all-weather kind of gal.
She had four wheels, a rusted license plate frame and a rainbow of bumper stickers ranging from Howard Stern to the U.S. Naval Academy. She had a small rusted hole on the drivers side where our sons, “accidentally” shot her with a BB gun. She took the wound like a champ. But she could only sustain so much.
Last week our 1999 Honda Odyssey minivan bit the dust. Dead. As a result, there’s been a bit of separation anxiety. Like anything treasured, we tend to appreciate and miss something once it’s gone; not to mention, the availability of a car for our 17-year-old driver.
Think of an old favorite car you’ve owned. Each broken switch, stain, scratch and bumper sticker carries a memory. When we first bought the van, our lives with three children (all under the age of 4), it literally eased the load for strollers, numerous car seats, suitcases, the dog and a grandparent or two. I remember finding old bottles with sour milk stuck between the seats...Goldfish snacks crunched like sand, mixed in the carpet. Sticky fingerprints were forever plastered on back windows, petrified french fries and raisins littered the floor. My brother used to refer to my van as “The Womb.” A perfect metaphor considering it carried all three children.
The question now is what to do with her. The cost of repair is more than she’s worth. And considering her odometer read more than 190,000 miles, my mechanic gently nudged: “Cami, it’s time to cut the apron strings.”
Do we donate and take the tax write off? Sell her to someone for parts or repair? For nearly a week, I’ve been avoiding the much needed conversation with my husband. It’s like determining what to do with old Aunt Bessie...She’s lost her mind but no one has the heart to condemn her, steal her independence. At least not yet.
Learning to get along without my trusted friend has been an adjustment. Unfortunately, ignoring the obvious is often in my nature. Her absence has become a felt inconvenience. Our teenager has been using the regular car to get to and from work. If another sibling needs to be picked up or dropped off, our recreational vehicle only seats one passenger...not a practical mode of transportation.
The next step is replacement. Car buying is like tackling your taxes or visiting the proctologist. Unpleasant. We often walk out questioning if the lengthy, extra probing was really necessary.
While it’s time to move on, it’s hard letting the old girl go. She was our Golden Retriever of automobiles, dependable and patient. To her I say: “Thank you old friend” and know that we have years ahead of sharing memories of the forgotten sour milk bottles, the BB holes, New England winter boot slush and the everyday unpleasantries three kids threw in her path.
I’ve always been a sucker for the eccentric...the odd, different.
I’m intrigued by individuals who don’t fit the mold whether it’s the drag queen in Provincetown (P-Town), the ornery old man who refuses to pick up after his dog or the outspoken neighborhood crazy with hairy earlobes and wiry eyebrows.
It’s these type of people who I enjoy talking to, getting to know, individuals unlike ourselves. These type of people all have something in common...the willingness and courage to be different from the general population. They stand out, draw attention, unaware and carefree their unique personality is attractive.
The only thing predictable about such people, is the assurance of doing or saying the unexpected.
I never grow tired of my favorite tree whisperer, Tarzan. He’s anomalous, independent, a free thinker, crazy, yet very kind. Living in Connecticut, tree maintenance is a constant menu item. He’s done a tremendous amount of work for us, saving dwellings, patios and other species of arbor while promoting new growth.
His methods are unconventional, dangerous, risky. He’s missing quite a few teeth so interpreting his rants becomes a required skill. He climbs trees with spikes and spurs, suspended by ropes and buckles. His chainsaw dangles by a securely knotted rope to his utility belt. The higher he climbs, the more maneuvering he does. Actions are repetitive, familiar and confidant. He throws ropes over limbs, ties, pulls...repeats. His work is an art, a trade like no other. His chainsaw cuts branches like a hot knife through butter...the falling limbs crash and thump where predicted.
Spectators slow their walking pace to gaze up at the man 70 feet in the air screaming profanities. F-Bombs fall like the dead branches...broken, fractured, almost too many to count. Lines of cars drive by with illuminated brake lights.
“Hey Tarzan! You have an audience!” I screamed.
“Ya! Let’s hope it ain’t the cops, sweetheart!” he responded.
“Tarzan, you look so natural up there!” I said.
He yelled back, “Yeah! If taxes keep going up, I’ll just live in the trees...like the Keebler Elves. You know...all those midgets that make cookies?”
I sat on the porch steps, straining my neck watching the entertainment, listening to the conversations he has with himself...verbal problem solving?
“This is the tree from Hell. It makes me feel old, like when I had that 23-year old girlfriend.”
“Man, I’m gonna have to come down for a cigarette break or somethin’.”
“I’m losin’ my drawers. I’m losin’ my drawers. Shit, I’m losin’ my drawers.”
“Damn it! The jewels are takin’ a beating!”
He sings songs from decades past...freedom rock genre normally. I’m drawn to his natural human behavior and no social boundaries. He says what’s on his mind, does what he likes and laughs at inappropriate comments. And while his methods are unconventional, his heart is big. I’ve grown to know (and appreciate) him over the years. He has a generous nature and eagerness to help others.
While he was up in our 300 year-old Beech tree, I asked him to align the screws that suspended the ropes for a home made swing. It never swung quite right, but we ignored the flaw because of the height. Instead of easily doing what I asked, he crawled down, opened the back of his truck and pulled out a thick, elastic-type rope. He grabbed a ladder from the garage, still wearing his utility belt, sunglasses on his head and lit cigarette in his mouth. He removed the swing, draped another rope, tied a few nautical knots and created a fabulously new tree swing...the kind that bounces and swings as high as the branches. He didn’t think twice about sacrificing his own, expensive rope to make me happy.
“Sometimes when I’m at a customers house and a kid starts cryin’ ‘cause I’m trimming down their favorite tree, I’ll put a cool rope swing in to make them feel better. Works every time!” he shared.
What I admire about Tarzan is not only the natural ability with his trade, but his generous nature and kindred spirit. He’s never politically correct... instead inappropriate with most comments. He has a questionable past, a rough exterior and spiky manner. Yet, I envy his ability to ignore the breeches of etiquette and continue doing what he loves. Tarzan is an eccentric, but then again, most memorable artists are.
You see, it’s been suggested by some that my imaginary television show on Food Network should be titled the “Messy Chef.”
In the course of making a meal, I really do get my hands dirty. And the counter dirty. And the floor. Sometimes the dog.
Convinced that I needn’t move the homework waiting to be checked on the counter, I will inadvertently, most certainly, spill chicken broth or tomato sauce and color the edge of the Spanish translation worksheet. I will tell myself I knew that was coming, but can spin it as proof to the teacher that I do feed the children despite their skinny frames.
For reasons I can’t explain, I can’t be bothered to shut a cupboard door or overstuffed drawer once I’ve opened one to retrieve much needed ingredients. I cannot put something away once I’ve used it. Is it rebellion that forces me to leave butter on the counter, lid off and sweating in the heat?
More likely it is the many pots I have going on the stove. Sometimes those pots inhabit the cold burner while the other one glows red until I acknowledge its presence and give it something to do.
Could it be that I am lured by the potato chips that sit amongst the chaos? I’ll just have a handful of the crunchy, salty distractions while I dice, slice and stir thrice.
But how many handfuls have I had while I daydream out the window thinking of the perfect paver with which to make a patio right over there?
Out out damn chips, I chastise my will power and caste aside the bag instead of moving it to the pantry. Have I no time to walk two feet to the corner? I can work around it.
I can easily forget where I put the kitchen towel and just as easily get out another and another. Not wanting to dirty the spoonrest, I will instead find a spot on the counter on which to pool the grease or gravy.
Stains dot the stove from the pot that boiled over during my silly dance interlude just steps away with my daughter.
Like my mother I’ve been known to leave the garlic bread in the oven, or the corn in the microwave only to discover it and roll my eyes after a meal has been eaten and the children flee the table.
Once we are ready for the "next course" of the day, it’s a quick retrieval of plates, cups, dirty napkins and leftovers to the counter. Saved food goes in the fridge but the rest will languish where it sits.
There are soccer cleats and water bottles and children to get into the car and games and practices and carpools that await our arrival.
Backing out of the drive I catch a glimpse of the kitchen through the front window. Illuminated by the lights I forgot to turn off are the four cabinets that remain open and the kitchen counter filled with the remains of the day.
All I can do is laugh at myself and appreciate a job well done.
Benefits to Small Town Livin'
They know your car, your shopping habits, what kind of dog you have and the mischief your children always seem to find. They inquire about the mass of cars parked in front of your house (a gathering they surprisingly knew nothing about), speedy drivers on quiet streets and fallen branches on main thoroughfares. They complain about lines at the postoffice, inadequate handicap accessibility to the local library and the suspected “hoarder” houses in town.
But there’s nothing like a mini-accident to prove that small-town small-talk has its benefits.
My 15-year-old son, Landon, took a gnarly spill on his bike last week. Since everything in town is so accessible, he naturally rides his bike, walks or skateboards to chosen destinations. He has an after school job at a local elementary school. After finishing his shift, he hopped on his bike to come home. In order to avoid a car, he braked too quickly...causing him to flip over the handlebars - or “ass over tea kettle” - as my husband refers to it.
Within seconds, people passing by pulled over and stopped to check on Landon. A mother pulled over her mini van. A teenage boy driving a truck also stopped, offering a t-shirt to dab the bloody, lacerated chin. An off-duty police officer also pulled over. He stayed with Landon until my husband showed up.
I’m sure in any town, most strangers would pull over to help a hurt child. But it was after Landon’s spill, I began to realize how tight knit our community really is.
I received phone calls, emails and text messages from friends and neighbors inquiring about Landon. News certainly traveled fast! I appreciated the concern and genuine empathy for Landon.
Nothing accelerates the adrenaline like getting a text message from your son, briefly describing the spill on the bike: “Dad and I are on our way to the hospital” and “Don’t worry.”
I didn’t know what scared me more, Landon’s open chin or George filling out the packets of insurance paperwork and medical history reports.
When accidents happen with our children, we want to be there to lift them up, brush off the dirt and send them on their way. But when I can’t, it’s a comfort knowing residents of my town are there to help kids who fall “ass over tea kettle.”
are many benefits to using Facebook, but like anything, it comes with a price tag. I truly enjoy reading most of my Facebook "Friend" updates. Some are hilariously frank and inspiring, while others are downright inane. I often shake my head with confusion, while questioning their mentality and sense of judgment. Enduring the random posts of individuals we haven’t socialized with in three decades (or acquaintances from previous and current relocations), feels redundant. I've discovered most fractured Facebook “Friends” fall into a variety of genres.
Women my age posting drunk shots. It was great fun in our twenties, but pathetic in our forties.
The Jesus posts. I won’t go there, but we all have at least one bible beater in our Friends menu.
The complainer. They rant and rave about everything from their adult children to their employer. Added bonus features include misspelled words and bad grammar.
The gamer. These are the people that continuously (and often obsessively) play online video games. I don't need to know all the updates, how many virtual farm animals you have, or your highest score. Where do they find the time? I already live on a funny farm, so the less I see, the better.
There’s always a few political posts that raise a few hairs. Some are spot on while others are completely inaccurate. Limiting one’s information to a singular news source is pretty ignorant.
A personal favorite are the individuals that take glamour shots of themselves in the bathroom mirror. This is the ultimate in lameness. Is vanity level so elevated that the quest to capture the perfect pose (and post it) is an original way of attracting desirables? At least fix the wadded up bath towels and remove the personal hygiene products before snapping the pic.
The reposted, “READ THIS LADIES!” “If someone tries to pull you over that’s not a cop,” message. Normally it’s people of my parents generation, so I’m a bit more sympathetic.
The wedding albums are always nice, but after a couple years, move on to a different subject. You may still be in the honeymoon phase, but your victims have moved on.
The first time parents posting their toddlers digestive void during potty training. Some information is more appreciated with close friends and family...on the telephone.
The vacation photos are great, but the 20 other sunset pictures look exactly the same.
The animal and pet posts are awesome. Recognizing kids for their achievements and milestones is admired. Bringing awareness to injustices in the world is courageous. Funny human behavior stories are identifiable and brave...even the food pictures are cool. Facebook has a wondrous way of connecting. I just wish it wasn't so much of a soap box for the super freaks.
God Help Me, I Have A Teenage Driver
Honestly, I never thought this day would come. For years, I brushed the reality aside that one day my children would be driving. How can this be? He used to play with Power Rangers, Pokemon and Thomas The Tank Engine. He ran around the yard with a plastic light saber pretending to be Darth Vader. He’d try and squeeze out of his car seat when trains passed.
”Chaa, Chaa, Chaa, CHOO, CHOO!”
Since when did he grow up before my eyes? Start shaving? Is he really at eye level with my husband, George?
He’s a late bloomer, a little naive to life's expectancies, but aren’t they all? Maybe he knows more than he leads on? Maybe I’m the naive one. I still look at him as if I know what’s best. Last weekend we went for a family bike ride. I was the last rider in line, barking orders to watch where they’re going, slow down, at least one hand on the handle bar, etc. Before each cross walk, I reminded them to stop before crossing.
“I can’t believe you just told a 17-year old to stop before crossing the street,” says George.
Holy crap. He’s right. Our son is no longer a six year old with a sense of immortality, but a 17 year old that struts by overstuffed kitchen garbage. As parents, we hope our children exercise good judgement, while using common sense. Maybe the reason I consistently remind them of the obvious is because of the countless times they don’t exercise it. I can’t let go, at least not yet.
I feel like I’m on a seesaw with a heavy partner. I want to freely give the independence, but I can’t help but seeing the sticky baby face...excited for choo-choo trains and ice cream.
Crawling to walking, baby food to solids, walkers to tricycles, two-wheelers to cars. Again, how did this happen without me recognizing it? Graciously, George has been the driving guinea pig. And while our son is diligent and committed with his driving school, there’s still the fear of letting go. And while our son turns the key, I’m hiding in the family room...scared to watch him drive down the driveway.
When situations like this come up, I compare it with my early experiences of driving. My parents didn’t seem so freaked out by the reality of it...more like relieved. No more carpools with squealing teenage girls, drop offs to Friday night football games, social gatherings, practices or work.
Today, the driving rules and regulations are different, changed, more strict. After passing my driving test, I was allowed to drive on the highway, pack the car with teenage passengers and had no legal driving curfew. At 16, the State of California allowed me to drive under the same umbrella of regulations as my parents.
Driving schools? Drivers ed was offered in high school and on weekends you drove with anyone brave enough to take you. At 13, I learned to drive an old Chevy truck, 3-on-the-tree, on a dusty country road. There was no risk of an accident, only a burned out clutch and fragrant over-worked brakes. A time when manual transmissions were standard and automatics were for grandmothers.
Maybe when we look back, we honestly believed we knew what we were doing, what was best for us. We seemed to understand and sympathize with our parents realization that they were merely spectators in our lives. Or maybe they were better at coveting that reality...letting us go to experience the fender benders, blown transmissions and the flat tires of life.
God help me, I have a teenage driver.
Everybody is a friend.
New England is notorious for the quick cold shoulder. I’m not sure why. Maybe because in all these small towns if you acknowledge everyone you know you will never get through the grocery store in under an hour.
But in the consignment store, suddenly everyone is a friend.
During a recent visit to Top Drawer in Granby I helped a woman pick out a dress. I directed a child to the book section. I chatted with another about dramatic daughters.
Another woman and I checked out the shoes together.
This has never happened to me in Nordstrom.
So, in need of a topic for this week’s Wendy Wednesday I began to look around with an anthropological eye.
Mothers with kids kept an eye on each others’ teetering toddlers. In the close quarters of the old farmhouse turned used clothing shop it wasn’t necessary to keep little Susi close. Instead, a questioning “Where are you?” is met with a “She’s over here” from another consignment store client. No irritation or annoyance.
Women unsure of a size or a good price asked aloud for opinions. And others answered.
“What does anybody think of this?”
“That? That’s cute. Here’s a purple one over here. Try this.”
Just a little community of people rummaging through racks of gently used jeans in the hopes of finding a great score.
Hand-me-downs and stores like thrift shops helped make it possible to keep four growing kids dressed for the past 14 years. I started early - looking through baby sleepers at the nearby shop during my lunch breaks when I found out I was pregnant with twins.
According to The Association of Resale Professionals, reasons for consignment have changed over the years. In the status conscious 1980’s it was a need to constantly revamp wardrobes that had women dropping off clothes for extra cash. In the 1990’s, a new attitude of ecology and recycling provided the incentive. And today, recession worries have families both earning extra cash and shopping for a bargain.
Thriftiness is no longer a bad thing. It’s smart shopping. It’s culturally acceptable. There’s even a popular song about it! (see below but watch out for the explicit lyrics:)
So if you haven’t given consignment store shopping a try, give it a whirl. You could snag a huge score with a great item. You might even make a friend. If only until you walk out the door.
I’m alone in the woods.
Well, not really.
I’m almost alone in the woods.
With my dog.
My friend Carol and her dog.
We’re chicks with dogs.
Alone in the woods.
There’s the man mowing the grass
somewhere on the mountain.
I hear the buzzing of blades
slicing through green carpet
somewhere out on the mountain.
I’m alone with my thoughts
of time gone by
of future waiting
of opportunities missed
and possibilities ahead
somewhere past the mountain.
Maybe it’s the country music
in the background
or wind through tall trees,
rustling and restless,
that makes melancholy moments.
The body needs rest
for the mind to unwind
and make space
for what lies ahead
out of the woods
down the mountain.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
You know you’re getting older when the thrill of late night escapades are clouded by the responsibilities of parenthood. You purposely avoid the Sunday morning hangover and the triumphant badge of sore feet from dancing all night in uncomfortable shoes. The party’s over...kind of.
As the years pass, the entertainment and stimulus level has jumped the spectrum to something less toxic and worthwhile. As much as I hate to admit, I find humor in watching the interaction of our eight chickens. It’s embarrassing to admit how times have changed.
Forget the raging keg party with a live band, or the progressive pub crawl downtown...the Beiter’s have some kick ass chickens! What’s even more pathetic is the never ending recruitment of friends. I usually bribe with the temptation of wine, cocktails or beer with the hopes they will join me. After one sitting, they too discover and appreciate the simple entertainment of fowl etiquette. I’ve had neighbors randomly pop over because of the rumored A-list venue. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.
Unbeknownst to us, we’ve come to realize there are two roosters in the clutch. This wasn’t supposed to happen. After adhering to the sensitivity of neighbors, we originally decided against it. Not too many neighbors are keen to compromised slumber with a heavy dose of cock-a-doodle-dooing. Since the chickens are in their adolescent phase, the roosters crow with inconsistent shrieks and stretched necks. It’s like listening to a teenage boy’s changing voice...moments of prepubescent vocals patched with the occasional manly tone. What to tell my neighbors? That I now have tone deaf, egotistical, hens in drag?
If I’m home, I’ll let them out, giving them the freedom to roam in the back field. They’ve since discovered grass, shaded trees, the back patio and even the driveway. They run around chasing moths, scratching soil, pecking at anything edible and unfamiliar. Occasionally, I’ll see their heads pop out of the hydrangea bushes or even the wood pile. Our cat, Mac, is no longer interested in the chicken shenanigans. They occasionally charge him, not out of defense, but more social curiosity. When our black lab, Tuff, ventures off to relieve himself, they follow. He’s not particularly thrilled having an audience of eight chickens while in search of privacy.
Like humans, animal behavior is often humorous, unpredictable, and at times, down right disgusting. Random piles of chicken droppings are left throughout the yard and patio. Tuff will often spend the afternoon licking them up. When I scold him, he gives me an apologetic look...as if it’s a habit he can’t break. He’s picky with particular dog foods, yet prefers the taste of chicken poop. I don’t get it.
Watching the chickens in their element is calming. You find yourself laughing out loud with their idiot hierarchy behavior. Within a few minutes, the trials and tribulations of outside distractions are put on the back burner...left for another time.
So, if your yearning for old-school entertainment, a glass of liquid courage or witness Tuff and his “fowl” taste buds, I’d be more than happy to oblige.
I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
Today, an old friend asked a favor. One of my oldest childhood friends, Romy, asked me to write something for her, an assignment for an independent project. Before I finished reading her request, I immediately knew the answers to the required three questions.
And although the unspoken, anonymous or random acts of kindness we do to nourish and maintain that friendship are often accepted, giving the gift of words to another is forever imprinted.
I’m certain you have an old letter from a lost love, a tattered hand written note on personal stationary from a deceased loved one, a lined sheet of paper with crayon lettering...a cherished gift from a child. It’s something we can pull out, anytime. When times are low or an unquenchable yearning for a connection, it provides a temporary reminder of that person, of a past, the things they remember. It immediately yanks us back to that initial moment. I don’t care how sappy it sounds, everyone loves a kind reminder in words...slipped into a mailbox decades prior.
But before I answer the questions, I feel it necessary to provide a little background. Upon meeting at Walter Colton Middle School, I don’t think either of us would have predicted our friendship lasting 30+ years. When I think of our teenage mischief, I can’t help but reminisce of our lunch breaks in high school...how we jumped into her boxy, white Volvo, raced to the Bagel Bakery on Lighthouse Ave., then quickly ordered onion bagels with herb cream cheese (washed down with a Hanson’s Mandarine Lime beverage). We’d cram the bagels down our throats, laughing and driving while returning to school before 5th period. Windows were open, wind fragrant of salty air...all while the latest 80’s hits muffled on 102.5 FM, K-D-O-N. When Romy was driving, she was adamant about being punctual for class...begging for a hall pass or making excuses to unsuspecting administrators was not an option for Romy. She was never late. Ever.
When college acceptance letters arrived, she went south while I went north. New friends were made, yet Romy’s ambitions, along with our friendship, never faded. Unlike most undergraduates, she knew exactly where she was going, had a plan, many goals. I remember talking to her about internships. And while most of our friends had internships back home, she branched out to Los Angeles...far from the comforts of familiarity, home cooked meals and the security of our parents. She was the bravest 19 year old I knew.
What do you see as my “gift to the world” or my greatest strength?
I would say Romy’s strength is her ability to persevere and overcome obstacles. She’s an intelligent businesswoman, an ideal role model for any woman aspiring to follow their instinct, take a chance while making a difference. She’s proven that a mother no longer steps out of the board room after the delivery room. This is both a gift and a strength. Even as a young girl, she was confidant, driven, determined, extremely focused. As a teenager, often our friends (myself included) didn’t take things seriously...our studies, an important assignment, even harsh discipline and consequences shoveled out by parents. Yet Romy was always focused, often voicing disappointment with those lacking the drive to succeed, especially when she knew of their talent and potential. With her passion, she motivated others to continue working hard, while staying the course. People would see her determination and WANT what came so naturally to her.
How have I impacted your life in a positive way?
You know you have a genuine friendship when there’s no fear with honesty. When your deepest ambitions are whispered and shared with one another, trust is eminent. Romy and I were fortunate enough to have these qualities in our friendship...the type of relationship invited by a select few with no fear of vulnerability, your imperfections, failures and even regrets. With all the mistakes, there’s no judgment. Even today, she continues to ask about my own ambitions as a writer, “What have you done to make that happen?” or “What’s stopping you?” “How often are you writing?” She’s not afraid to ask the tough questions. She follows up, gives a nudge, freely speaks the words of encouragement needed to extinguish any doubt. She’s a reminder to me that anything is possible, keep going. Over the years, I’ve seen many road blocks attempted to divert her path. Yet she hurdles them, learns a thing or two, takes the detour and goes on.
What or where do you see me in five years?
I see Romy continuing on with her successful Psi Bands journey. I see her continuing to lead by example. I see her inspiring other female entrepreneurs, while tirelessly being a supportive wife to Michael and champion mother to Cole and Nathan. I see her tirelessly inspire and push her friends to tackle their calling.
Romy values loyalty, ooze’s leadership while confidently strutting in stiletto's. I knew Romy when she wore acid washed jeans and white Reebok high-tops. I knew Romy when she screamed through her mouthguard on the hockey field, “Get the ball!” I knew Romy when she met her husband. I knew Romy when she gave birth to her children. I knew Romy when she experimented with an idea for a business venture. I knew Romy when Psi Bands was in its infancy. And like these written words, she is forever a part of my life. And maybe one day, she’ll pull out this letter and remember how influential and how much good she has radiated. And not just for me, but for women all over the world.
Romy began a successful business, Psi Bands, a decorative, drug free wrist band developed for the relief of nausea.
“I discovered the positive effects of using acupressure wrist bands to alleviate my nausea after experiencing numerous months of terrible morning sickness during my two pregnancies. Dissatisfied with existing products on the market that I felt were drab and uncomfortable, I hatched the idea for Psi Bands, an FDA-cleared product that is both fashionable and functional for others who suffer from nausea.”
Psi Bands Momprenuer
She, along with her product, have been featured on television, magazines, publications such as “O”, Self, Fit Pregnancy, Entrepreneur, The Jeff Probost Show, QVC, Rachel Ray and Good Morning America...to name a few.
Just like Uncle Albert in Mary Poppin’s, I love to laugh.
During my daughter’s recent Fifth Grade choir and band concert, I couldn’t help myself.
Up there on the risers were more than one hundred tweeners singing their precious little hearts out. Watching the group as a whole is beautiful. Focusing in like an old ViewMaster viewfinder is even better.
Some appeared purely petrified. Others focused hard on hitting the right notes. A chosen few exuded pure professionalism. And others, well, they simply felt the music and the moment swaying, bopping, clapping and toe-tapping.
One little boy I know, who is a daily breath of pure joy on any regular day, was singing out loud and loving the moment. His pure joy was like an electric current spreading out among the audience. I couldn’t contain my giggle and it morphed into full out appreciative laughter. It was one of those moments in time that seem to say it all - life is good. And it filled me up.
Next to him was my daughter, and apparently his joy filled her up, too. She was torn between singing and laughing. I could see her turn to watch him and then bubble up in between breaks in the lyrics. His joy infectious joy had found her and she joined in the example of loving life and letting it show.
I love that about her. We share the same laugh - a high-pitched uncontrolled giggle. Back in high school, my friends called it the “machine gun laugh.” It bursts out and goes on and on until it runs out. That same little boy, from the concert, will ask us to giggle together because he finds it so funny.
I love to laugh. It’s the best abdominal exercise. The best anti-depressant. The best way to express how much I love humanity. I find ways to bust a gut whenever I can. Comedy clubs are a regular part of my entertainment. Laughing with my boyfriend, check. A quick click on a laughing baby video - done. Dancing and tickle fighting with my daughter until we get to the “hee hee hee hoo hoo ha’s” for sure.
What’s better than a good laugh with a girlfriend that brings tears to your eyes? The kind where you almost drive off the road you are laughing so hard and can barely breathe?
Laughing can get you in trouble. Like the time my cousin Julie and I caught the church giggles during mass. I recall someone reading the name “Norm So-and-So” during the blessings and then I’m pretty sure Julie said “Normie” and from then on all bets were off. My Aunt Jean growled at us to knock it off, but I’m pretty sure she was giggling on the inside alongside with us. I’m not sure what caused it, but laughter also caused my Head Angel wings to shake during the Nativity Scene during Christmas Mass.
It appears I’m always full of laughter, even in a slightly inappropriate place. But I’d rather that be the case than the other way around. I’ve learned not to feel ashamed that I laugh from joy at the everyday workings of life.
As my 10-year-old daughter said once:
“Laughter is the one language that sounds the same everywhere.”
Side effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed back ache, abnormal vision, flushing or muscle ache. Yet, what grabs your attention is the, “To avoid long term injury, seek immediate medical attention for an erection lasting longer than four hours”.
Injury? Four hours? Imagine the pain and embarrassment of showing up in an emergency room with your “johnson” standing at attention after 240 long minutes. Oh...what men will endure. Forget childbirth and menopause...the dude’s penis won’t rest!
The ads all have the same genre....an older, manicured couple...at home dancing together in the kitchen, having a romantic dinner, staring at each other across a crowded social gathering, wife doing domestic duties while husband walks in after playing baseball. (Judging by the cleanliness of his uniform, it wasn’t that strenuous of a game). Instead of keeping his eye on the ball, he had to suddenly go home and nail his wife. There’s the couple doing cannon balls off a wooden dock, landing in slow motion while hitting the glistening lake water...like the graceful, non-argumentative, sex crazed teenagers they once were.
It’s like G rated porn with a budget, yet it’s shown on national television for all to enjoy. He looks at her with desire, spewing his musk scent and showing off the talents of his newly administered pharmaceutical cocktail. The background music of bass guitar and easy drum taps set the mood. I’m blinded by the white teeth and nauseating ooze of being exposed to this parental-type mating ritual.
I remember as a kid seeing Tampax commercials on television. I had no idea what they were selling. It could have been a shampoo ad and I wouldn’t have known the difference. Both products portrayed women in tennis outfits, hair bouncing while raving about “comfort.” It was a guessing game, yet I knew there was something inappropriate about asking my mother about moisture and feminine protection.
There’s no reality in these ads. And why are the women always so responsive? Do these ads really think because he’s in the mood for some lovin’, that she is too? The message: She’s been deprived far too long because of his erectile dysfunction. She should be happy he’s ditching the baseball game to spontaneously come home and twist the sheets. This magic pill will prompt women to put the magazine down while tucking the battery operated pleasure devises back to the goody drawer. Please.
After 30+ years of marriage, women are thinking of enjoying a Cobb Salad and wine with friends, not taking care of their husband’s four hour boner.
Who’s got time for that?
The Heartless, "Haveaheart" Trap
My mother has an on going epidemic of curious skunks on her property. Nature’s critters never give up when it comes to raiding the horses feed. Even with sealed, air tight containers in the barn, they still manage to find a way to dine on sweetened dried corn and oats. Near the garage, the dogs water bowl is another attraction. They even sneak a few figs from her fig tree. With all the fruit and root invasions, the tree never gives up...destined to continue growing in an old, oak wine barrel.
The “Havaheart” trap humanely traps any type of small wild animal, allowing you to relocate and release varmints in another location...unless you’re a skunk living on my mother’s mountain. In her case, trying to relocate an angry skunk, without getting sprayed, isn’t necessary. Finding ways to eliminate the scented creature...is.
Living in Carmel Valley, has it’s luxuries...an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, golden hills and rows upon rows of vineyards. World class wine, glorious hiking trails and anonymous retreats have transformed this small piece of heaven into a check list for wine enthusiasts. Yet, deep in the valley, characters resembling those of Steinbeck’s genre still inhabit the area. Horses and cattle graze on wild grasses while swishing their tales...warding off pestering insects. The only traffic you hear are the rapid fluttering of hummingbirds or the changing gears of a distant truck. Living so close to nature, also brings uninvited guests. Mountain lions, coyotes, rattlesnakes and skunks...to name a few.
Since my mother is so deep in the valley, animal rescue services won’t make the trip for a trapped skunk, possum, raccoon or rattlesnake. Most residents fend for themselves with the aid of neighbors and fellow valley residents. It's actually the preferred method...some folks don't take kindly to unfamiliar faces, especially those in uniform.
The first and only time an attempt was made to relocate an angry, trapped skunk, was a complete failure. It involved the spraying and (disinfecting) of her two dogs and a grown man. Use your imagination. The second time a skunk was trapped, the disinfecting routine was destined not to be repeated. My mother quickly draped an old comforter over the trap. She looked around, not knowing exactly what to do.
My mother tied a rope to the trap, jumped in her row boat, rowing and dragging the trap until the threat of being sprayed and bitten were no longer. She waited a few minutes in the tranquil outdoors. She gazed at the confused fish surfacing to the top, thought about the overgrown lily pads that needed attention, fixated and daydreamed at the blue sky. She rowed back to the edge, hopped out and began pulling in the heavy mass of an expired Pepe Le Pew.
I don’t know what was funnier, the matter-of-fact tone of her story-telling or imagining this grandmother of 5, rowing a boat she found at a garage sale while a furious skunk fragrantly sprayed my old comforter from 7th grade.
“Um Mom....What did you do with the carcass?” I asked.
“Oh, we buried it in one of those awful squirrel holes in the pasture. It must be rotting...buzzards are flying around. Boy, those squirrels are mad!”
Carmel Valley...a place with luxurious habits and a twist of old school, dirty-boot country living...and a grandmother of 5 that loads hay, drowns skunks from a row boat and drives a Mercedes SUV.
I am so fortunate to stay home during the summer with my four kids. I love having them around. I adore having extra kids over. When the pool is full of soggy, laughing children it’s a good day.
I relish the relinquishing of the 6:20 morning wake-up. Sleeping in comes naturally to my brood. Lazy mornings and late breakfasts are luxuries I cherish during summer months.
My 14-year-old twins and their 12-year-old brother would be more than happy to spend 12 hours on the Xbox or computer (which they built with their own money) playing video games or watching videos of others playing video games. (Yup, I don’t get it either.)
As my son Max, 14, says: “Why would anyone want to leave a perfectly good house?”
Still, I can’t do this for more than about a week.
Truth be told, it’s not them begging for stuff to do all summer. It’s me who can’t stay home all day doing nothing. I am not a home-body nature. I have to get out of the house by noon or else I feel cooped up and start whining that everyone’s on a screen and“nobody ever wants to do anything!”
There is so much to do out in this great big world! Museums to tour, cuisines to try, hikes to take, friends to visit, new experiences to add, towns to explore, plays to see! When I think about it my heart near explodes with the anticipation of possibility! They may be out of school but there’s a lot of learning still to do!
So this need to escape combined with my own need to continue educating and expanding the kids’ horizons makes for weeks of research and logistical planning. All my kids have different interests. Theater for the daughter, baseball another, soccer for this twin, tennis for that one. Toss in a few days of those crazy Mom field trips to Boston or New York. Add to it the June 21 school release date and divorced parent schedule of separate but equal vacations and it’s nearly booked before the first summertime watermelon is devoured to the rind.
I know maybe I need to slow it down. My mother has always said I move too fast. (Which is a funny joke for other’s in my family who call me the ‘cheetah’ with sarcasm.)
So, I’ll try to relax and let the kids just be.
Because in writing this column it’s abundantly clear that it’s not my kids driving the crazy bus. It’s me! So enjoy the down days kiddos, moms got the keys and the engine’s running!
Hey lady!...With the little furry dog,on a leash, tied around your waist, in the mall...
Just when I thought I’d seen everything, this sight raised eyebrows...making me question the mentality of some people. We weren’t in a park, on a sidewalk, a wooded trail or the beach. We were in the mall. Considering I was in West Hartford, and by the woman’s attire, I don’t think she was accustomed to being told, “No, you can’t bring your little yipper dog into Nordstrom.” There was no overcoat identifying the pint size canine as a seeing eye dog or mental health aid. Not only did this woman walk about with a tethered mammal, a cloud of entitlement seemed to hover.
Naturally my first thought was, “What if the dog decides to squeeze out a perfectly proportioned scented gift?” What would the woman do? She didn’t appear to be the type to pick up after her dog. Maybe she’d walk away...hoping no one would notice.
I walked a few paces behind, watching her window shop with her anxious and panting puff of white hair. The dog was all over the place, but restricted by the length of the leash looped to her belt. It was as if the dog were pulling her every which way, tugging her in directions the dog seemed fit. A bit ingenious I might ad...hands free shopping.
She reminded me of an eccentric character from a Dickens novel or maybe the neurotic family member we all laugh with on holidays. Her hair was bleached beyond repair, eyebrows penciled in to the point of artistic accomplishment and pant suit whiter than billowy clouds on a summer day. Her red lipstick bled beyond her lips, like a circus clown.
I didn’t appear to be alone in my thoughts. Others would walk, pass the woman, stop and glance again. She grasped the attention of fellow shoppers and didn’t seem to mind, know or care.
People watching is an art. It’s an entertaining way to observe human nature at its finest while learning what people are actually capable of doing. It’s the anonymous spurts of actions that make me laugh...the kind of stuff people do when no one is watching (or think no one is watching). Sights such as someone picking their nose at a red light, pulling out wedged underwear in the grocery aisle, tripping on a step or slamming a car door in a parking lot.
At the rate I’m going, it’s quite possible I’ll be that eccentric lady in the mall, with a dog tethered to my belt, looking like a clown with my bleeding red lips.