Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Everyday Zebra Spots

Still she is just too busy to bother with having photos taken, but here are a couple of snaps I got of her.  She is getting bigger everyday.  Bigger and smarter and badder. Nobody is surprised at this right??

Monday, February 21, 2011


Duck with a wig?? Afro duck?  Toupee?? Actually it's called a Crested Duck.  Silly looking huh?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Persnickity Pup....

If we go to the dog park Buffy will not drink out of the communal water bowls.  I wonder why??

Thursday, February 10, 2011


4:20am and I get a text.  "Oma has passed. Have a good day."

Oma.  The German name for grandmother. My maternal grandmother.

I wont drag it out for you and make you feel empathy for me in this situation.  Not a tear was shed, nor will there be.  Her body was taken to a teaching hospital to be used for 'whatever'.  There will be no services, no toasts, no tears, no remembrances or gatherings.  There is not one person left to mourn her passing.

I will however, spend a little time writing about how someone actually got to be such an alone woman.  I guess I'm putting this to bed for myself as well.  I'll finally have to accept that I will not be getting what I want in all this.  I'll share a couple of photos I have of her.  I got those photos a couple years back and was quite tickled to have a piece of the puzzle, but I never got the stories. (Her husband had a thing for photography and I have quite a few mildly risque shots of her in these pin-up style shots)  I really wanted her words though, but now that will never happen.  Everyone has a different version of events that transpired.  In most situations one person is not lying over the other--perhaps memories are just clouded by what part we play. I really wanted her version, her reality and her truths. But life got busy and I never seemed to make the time to spend with her, to actively pursue her truth.

Since I was 10 years old (and possibly beforehand), I was told stories about my grandmother which painted a picture of a terribly wicked witch.  Who was I to question those stories then??
As the most recent decade has gone however, I started to question the stories.  Do I believe she was abusive?? Yes.  Do I believe she was materialistic and shallow?? Yes.  However, I have repeatedly wondered how she got there.  What was her past?? Why did she do what she did? And some of the stories where she is portrayed as being the person in the wrong--I think now she likely wasn't.

I think I understand her more than anyone else in my family does.  She was a child at some point but it seems she didn't make it out of her teen years without being irrevocably damaged. She was a very beautiful and elegant woman and came to America during the time of the Kennedy's and their Camelot.  How magical that must have all seemed to a girl from the European countryside in the era of  World War II.   Too bad her real life wasn't picture perfect like the 50's were meant to be.  I suspect most of her ogre tendencies arose because of the unrealistic expectations she had for herself and her family.

There were years of pain and hurt. But as the years went the family always seemed to come back to her like a moth to the flame.  It would always end negatively and nothing ever resolved.  She was intelligent, more so than a lot of people I know from that era...I just don't understand why she never put an end to the constant cycle.  History repeating itself in so many ways.  Nobody would ever get satisfaction. I wonder if she was so terribly ashamed of the story that she kept it in perpetual hiding. If she couldn't make peace in the family why did she keep letting them come back??  I never could muster the courage to ask her, I wonder if anyone really did. So she never spoke and everyone left one by one. Each one looking for a family connection and not knowing how to make that happen together or apart.

So, if history repeats itself and everyone has their own truth, what part do I play??  I suspect I know.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

From my hotel window....

Pittsburgh.  Probably not the ideal time of year to visit.  It's a steel town.  It's hard and it's cold but it has a lot of old architecture and the people could be described as 'characters'.  With this Superbowl thing going on I guess it exacerbates their personalities and my sister describes the state as being "ate up with their sport".  I just don't know if this is a city where I want to let my youngest attend college.  It's a city..a big confusing maze of steel and bridges.  Will she be lost in all this bigness??  

As always the camera came with me.  I was ready to explore a new city and hoping to find some new interesting things to look at, but we were in town for bigger things and the camera sat quiet for the majority of the trip.  What I will show you are a series of images I took from the hotel window while I was decompressing from every stress this trip had wrought.

Our first morning in Pittsburgh we crossed one of the rivers to a unique college campus.  A college campus which spreads vertically more than horizontally.  Fewer than a dozen buildings but they all appear to be 15 to 20 stories high.  We finally luck out into a garage parking space and make our way to admissions.  We arrive about a half hour early and are greeted by security.  Tom noted that the security personnel were not the 200 pound armed marines that he would have assigned to overseeing the safety of his daughter, but later in the day did begrudgingly admit that security seemed adequate.

Since we did arrive early we were directed to a student cafe for some coffee.  The halls were not busy at this time and it appears most students were either in class or more than likely as teens go they were probably still bunked out asleep and hadn't quite crawled out of bed.

We did however pass several giggling squealing kids dressed in shorts and legwarmers, cut off shirts,tights and other random odd pieces of clothing.  They all were greeting each other and appeared to have a lot to discuss. Dancers. Well, this does make sense since this happens to be a very large arts school heavy in theatre, dance and communications.  Up to this point Lauren had been pretty subdued and quiet--too cool to really show much enthusiasm and I'm sure already contemplating how embarrassing we (her parents) were going to make this day for her.  However, upon seeing these students I did notice her eyes light up slightly and the corner of her mouth kick up a notch.  Oh, almost a smile--not a mocking one, but a happy one....that makes sense as well.  Although Lauren does not participate in any of the arts, she is however a huge fan of anything artistic.  She loves dancers and actors and painters and singers.  She can discuss it all and understands a wide array of topics associated---she is an avid spectator.  Her father and I were less impressed at this point, mentally wondering what this small liberal arts school was really going to offer our science and math jock.

Then the school tour takes place.  This really would have been a time for the camera as there were quite a few artistic shots.  As I mentioned before the architecture is old world and full of grandeur, and very Harry Potterish.  The library is a converted bank and is full of marble and brass carvings.  The stairways are so ornate and one of the study areas is the old bank vault room with the massive door of the vault still intact.  Most of the buildings are from the 1800's.  I amazingly did abstain from going tourist mode with the camera as our tour was moving along quite fast. (apparently our student tour guide was cutting it close to class time).
I honestly will say it was beautiful, but not overly impressed.  I come from a historic town so this would not be enough to sway me into offering my youngest into this environment.

Next we visit with admissions once again and discuss the Intelligence Program.  This is why we are here after all.  Only a handful of non military schools offer a true Intelligence degree.  Most offer a variance on criminal justice or homeland security but it truly is not what Lauren has been wanting.  At this point I suspect Tom is won over.  The CIA adjunct is discussed, the intern programs with the various intelligence departments and the curriculum which includes such tasty items such as domestic and international terrorism, Arabic, World War II, Ethics of Spying, as well as interrogation techniques.  We discuss graduation rates and this is when I discover there are less than 100 students in her program. That means every professor she is in contact with will know her face and know her name and she will be accountable. Hmmmm, that may have gotten the mom's seal of approval.

At this point we move on to visiting with the softball coach and some of the softball girls.  We go to lunch and learn more about that program.  I like her.  She is a mom.  She looks a bit like Jennifer Lancaster and it takes me everything not to spew out that fact during lunch.  Ms. Lancaster (my favorite author ever) has a tendency to throw around the F-Bomb and I didn't know how coach would react to that connection I'd mentally made.  I secretly hoped she had a sense of humor and would have been flattered at the reference.

Lauren went to practice with the girls and we were summarily dismissed after (practice was less than stellar on Lauren's part).  Lauren then went with the girls after practice and stayed the night in the dorms.  The next day I called her around noon and it was quite obvious I had just woken her.  I was immediately were these girls going to get ready, go eat breakfast and be at practice by one??  I asked Lauren what had happened to them the night before.  I'm still not exactly sure but it apparently involved HoHo's and Swiss Rolls.  Somehow the girls managed and we went to watch her second practice/tryout.

Let me interrupt myself here and point out that this part of the process really sucks.  In a matter of a couple of hours it's decided if your kid is 'good enough'.  Lauren states later she wasn't stressed and had a lot of fun playing with the girls.  I on the other hand fell out into seizures repeatedly and Tom was a litany of negativity with every misstep that was made.  Thank goodness we were watching from a balcony and could neither be seen or heard by any of the girls or staff.

In the end Lauren was offered a position and she accepted before Tom and I could even blink.  Our trip to Pittsburgh ended with a trip to the school book store for a Point Park University Sweatshirt and Tshirt.  Something that would be soft and keep her warm against the hard steel of this city.