Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas past, fiascos, foibles and fun

published Dec. 25, 2014

The first year our oldest daughter understood the concept of Santa, I tagged every one of her gifts from him. He did, after all climb down our chimney, avoid the woodstove, (no fire that night), and place all the gifts under the tree. After our daughter opened all her presents she asked why WE didn’t get her anything for Christmas. I don’t remember what I answered but it took me until the fourth of July to pay off the credit card bill.

One year we purchased a beautiful handmade Victorian dollhouse for the girls. We stored the house, next door, at my mother-in-laws. After our Christmas Eve party, when the kids were all snug in their beds, we carried the doll house across the yard and driveway to our house. On the way my husband dropped his end. We’ve never had to assemble bikes or other toys late on Christmas Eve, never had to make a last minute dash for something critical. But that night, though my husband said he’d fix the doll house, elves named Makita, Black & Decker and Dewalt were not near as helpful as my little make-up kit tweezers and a bottle of Elmer’s School Glue. I was not only sticking shingles back on the roof at 2am, I was reattaching the entire roof and interior walls.

Then there was the year I got the brilliant idea to wrap one daughter’s presents in red wrapping paper and the other daughter’s gifts in green. This eliminated having to write dozens of ‘to and from’ gift tags and did away with the whole ‘from Santa’ dilemma. Problem was that just before dawn on Christmas morning, and prior to my first cup of coffee, I forgot who was red and who was green. Add to that, that I had run out of my ‘clever’ paper, and had to throw in a few random Santa and snowmen designs, I was in trouble. I opened one of the gifts, could not remember who the gift was for, so I guessed. We were about six gifts in before I figured out the assigned colors. I had to explain that Santa got confused, forgot the tags and they could trade gifts if they wanted to. They kept what they had already opened and scrambled under the tree to gather their own color.

Then there was the year we bought a sixteen foot Christmas tree for the foyer. We could barely get it in the front door. Like the Griswold’s tree in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, once we cut the strings, it was “stand back everyone,” as the branches sprung. (No squirrels though.) We had to decorate the top of the tree from the upstairs hallway.  

Shortly after we were married, the year of the Gypsy Moth Infestation had us with half a Christmas tree. We called it our ‘wall tree’ because the back half was eaten away and fit perfectly flat against the living room wall. Excellent for our small apartment and it was free.

One Christmas our stove died. We used a neighbors. Thank God she wasn’t cooking for an army like we were. Then there was the year my husband had to pick his father up from a hospital, an hour away, to bring him home for the day. It was 12 degrees below zero outside and I left the car low on gas. No stations were open because of the holiday. They arrived home on fumes, the few left in the tank, and the many exhibited by my husband’s demeanor.

This year the gas tank is full, no big tree, no color coded gifts, no bug infested half-balsam and no every-gift is from Santa. This year it is modest envelopes for the big kids and way-too-many unbreakable, multi-colored wrapped boxes for the baby. If something gets broken, who cares, she’ll probably play with the paper and boxes more than the toys anyway. Enough said.

 

 

 

Friday, December 19, 2014

To retire or not to retire: I think I'll stay at work instead


 
When I was a kid I walked ten miles to school in sub-zero temperatures, in knee deep snow and a dress. That’s actually not true but it sounds good, like something my grandmother might have said, except that her school would have had one room with a privy out back. We were privileged, we had big yellow buses that had heaters and radios. The heaters never worked but the radios blasted Beatle’s tunes.

School didn’t start until after Labor Day back then. Up until Columbus Day I liked school, did my homework and studied for quizzes. I even liked my teachers. By Halloween I was done. Homework became that thing I forgot to do the night before, studying was an evil time-eater and my teachers…the only ones I liked were Mr. Zlucky, Zerby and Smith. Sounds like a law firm for Politians gone astray.
 
At this point in my life, as an employed member of society, I have reached my Columbus Day, I’ve flown past Halloween, which means I’m done. Done with working, being employed, dealing with time clocks, packed lunches and public restrooms; I want to retire. But like school back then, I can’t quit. I had to go to school, I have to go to work.

I’m not only stuck between a rock and an economic hard-place, I’m stuck between what I want to do, have to do, and do what’s best for me, both physically and mentally. Economically, until we downsize, (next spring I swear), I have to work for home heating oil, electricity and a place big enough for a full size Christmas tree. Physically my job provides the daily exercise I need to stay heathy, and mentally the interaction with all the Zlucky’s, Zerby’s and Smiths of the world keep me sharp. 

Punching a time-clock provides me with the structure I need or I’d sleep until The View, although it’s not the same since Barbara left. Now there’s an example of someone who kept working past retirement age, whatever age that is. Barbara Walters is eighty-five. I’m certainly not that old, and if I make it that far, I hope I have been retired for a long time.

My mother-in-law, proof that angels walk this earth, retired from full-time work in the insurance industry, to part-time, at 80. She finally retired to help out at church, read the newspaper every day and walk her mean little dog. She’d get up at 3 am every morning and go to bed right after Oprah and the five o’clock local news. Without structure her days and nights almost flip-flopped. When she passed away at ninety-three, she was sharp right up until shortly before she made it to that big actuarial table in the sky.
 
My father was forced into retirement because of health. He dealt with a serious condition, got well, and was vigorous and enjoyed more than twenty-five years at home with my mother who hated retirement. She needed to assign purpose to her days, and unlike my father, planning and preparing dinner wasn’t enough.

When I retire I don’t want to lay around all day and do nothing, I do that now on my days off. I’d like to simply slow down. I think the rat race could do with one less rat. I’d like to write more, spend more time with my granddaughter and I’d like to take the time to, as we used to say in the sixties, smell the roses, before they’ve gone by.

Yup, I’ll retire someday. Probably when hell freezes over which means I’ll have to walk there in knee deep snow but I won’t be wearing a dress. I’ll have on my skinny jeans and Uggs. Enough said.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Toasting Mom and Dad

Published December 01. 2014

Publication: The Times  

This year, on the day we give thanks, I will be reminded of my first Thanksgiving without my mother and father, who passed away eight years ago. They were married 62 years and how they died - dad first and mom seven months later - isn't as important as that they did die, leaving me on the doorstep of the future as an adult orphan.

The holiday that year wasn't sad, we didn't mope around missing them, we actually had fun, and in a small way included them in our Thanksgiving festivities. Some families visit the graves of their dear departed loved ones on holidays, and even decorate the sites, but we couldn't do that because we didn't bury mom and dad, we put them in the freezer.

In our family, Mom was the controller, dad the comedian. My mother's unfiltered comments like, "…those pants DO make you look fat," to my father's, "…nice pants, we're out of Smirnoff," made them, as a couple, a great balance of salty and sweet.


After my father died, a friend said, "If you didn't like Bob Munn, you didn't like anybody because he was the nicest guy to have a vodka on the rocks with." My mother's honesty left her friendless, but her generosity had her bed surrounded by thanks.


My folks did not want to be buried, they wanted to be cremated. Actually, that's not quite true, my mother wanted to be cremated, my father wanted to be planted. (He was a gardener.) At the age of 5 he had been in a horrific car fire so it was no wonder he did not want to be "ashed," as he called it. My mother, sympathetic to his memory, but practical, decided on cremation because toward the end of their lives, he wanted what she wanted and cremation was cheaper.


Their ashes came in two little black cardboard containers the size of a five pound bag of sugar, weighed about the same too. The presence of the little black boxes in my home didn't upset me, but where to store them became a puzzlement. Where do you display the ashes of the departed? I wasn't about to buy a couple of matching urns at Target, spoon them in and display them with my rooster plate collection, or among my husband's assortment of beer steins. So, we lovingly placed them in the old Kenmore freezer in the basement. (My parents were loyal Sear's customers.)


It wasn't like they were stacked next to the frozen peas and burger on sale from BJ's; the freezer hadn't worked in years. My husband had a woodshop in the basement and every once in a while I'd ask him how Mom and Dad were doing and he'd share how he'd talk to my father while glue dried. (And I thought he only talked to himself.) He never did mention if dad talked back.


When we had Thanksgiving at our house that year the family gathered around the table, and as is the custom, (which the kids dislike as much as turnips), we each recited what we were thankful for. My sister-in-law raised her glass of wine, to toast and make mention of, the dear departed souls who were unable to join us. When she mentioned my parents' names, I interrupted.
"Oh, but they are here."
My husband cleared his throat and looked at me. "You're not bringing them to the table are you?" Some seated at the kids table, (grown kids with kids of their own), looked mortified. They knew where Nana and Pop were, as did my sister-in-law.
"Let's take the toast to them," she said.

We all rose from our seats, grabbed our glasses and preceded down the cellar stairs into the basement. Some of the group had no idea what was going on but as is the fashion in our family, they followed because the majority led. There we were at the base of the stairs staring at the freezer.
I pulled open the door. On the wire shelves the two small black boxes rested as the only contents of the Kenmore crypt. Sighs of final understanding rose above the members of the crowd who initially had no idea why we had gathered with our glasses of wine in the cellar.
"To Mom and Dad," I said.
"To Nana and Pop," one of my daughters said.
"To Bob and Dot Munn," my sister-in-law added as we tipped our glasses.
"Okay," I said, "our Thanksgiving meal is getting cold and the dogs are alone upstairs with all the food; it's time to eat."


As the crowd stumbled back up the stairs, Chris, our 'always' late arriving nephew was coming down the stairs.
"What's going on?" He said.
"We just toasted my mother and father, they're in the freezer." We paraded past him on the way back up.
"This family will find any excuse to make a toast," he said.


Even without Mom's gravy and Dad's stuffing we had a great belt-busting meal that year. They would have really enjoyed the traditional sustenance and fun family chaos of the day.


The following spring we took Mom and Dad for one last boat ride out to Bell 8 in Long Island Sound, just off the mouth of the Connecticut River. As an exclamation point to their final interment, I christened the waters with a bottle of Smirnoff. My father would have loved that. And my mother? She would have loved it too. The few really important things they always agreed on, gravy, stuffing and Vodka. Enough said
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Parents help with fixer upper

         
There is only one thing more daunting than buying an as-is fixer-upper that you have two weeks to make livable, and that's when your kid buys one.
My daughter and son-in-law purchased their first home. It has potential, a lot of potential, but due to circumstances, they were unable to close on the deal until two weeks before their apartment lease ran out half-a-state away. The house is less than five miles from ours, and because my husband pounds nails for a living, and I have a steady hand with a paint brush, the idea of being able to move in soon seemed possible.
If Tom Hanks could survive on "… it'll only take two weeks," promise in "The Money Pit"; if HGTV real estate experts, builders and designers can do it; if "Extreme Home Makeover" and "This Old House" can build a dream home out of a mid-century dog house; why couldn't we update a split level built the year the Beatles met Ed Sullivan?
The house has been vacant for quite some time. Setting aside that it needed substantial updating and repair it was easy to see that at one time it had been loved. It's heartwarming when new buyers take on the dream of previous owners and make it their own. And it's hard work, confusing and frustrating for a young couple who have never attempted such a project before.
Considering the logistics of the young buyers, and their abilities, (they can wield a paint-roller, drive a U-Haul and rack leaves), getting the house ready for habitation pretty much fell on us. Actually it fell on my husband, the man with the loud tools and enough friends to rescue our kids from the folly of not enough time.
I'm the painter with a one and a half inch sash-brush permanently grafted to my right hand. Every wall, ceiling, window mullion and trim piece had to be painted. The picture window in the living room has 54 panes of glass with accompanying mullions and trim that had to be sanded, primed in one, and painted in two coats. That window took me almost an entire day and I still need to do the final coat.

Cutting in wall colors, at the ceiling and along the baseboard with a steady hand, doesn't seem like a big deal, unless you wear bifocals, have bad knees and a full-time job. Fitting in my home make-over skills between shifts at work, and granddaughter babysitting, would leave even those half my age exhausted.
We're pushing hard to get the house ready because, until they move in, they are living with us. We've eaten enough pizza and fast food to feed a lifetime of acid reflux. When I crave green leaves, lean meat and a banana I know I've eaten too much 'to-go' and need a real home cooked meal; like a roasted chicken from Big Y.
Right now my own house is so lived in, it looks like a battalion billets were here. With a little one, who is on-all-fours-mobile, safety is primary. Water bowls and dog hair tumbleweeds make lousy snacks.
I'm happy for the kids and thrilled they will be living nearby. It is fun watching them learn where the shut off valves are and that living with clean, is as important as living with new. It's also nice that instead of us, someone else gets to suffer home owner angst and write the checks.
Welcome to the world of fluctuating home heating oil prices, utility bills that read like a Scrabble board, and doing it all yourself, even when you don't know what you're doing. You are your own tenant, enjoy.
Enough Said.

See what the oldsters in the back row have to say

Published October 23. 2014 4:00AM

Publication: The Times

I first noticed it at my nieces 25th birthday party. I even made a comment to my sister-in-law sitting next to me. And then again about a month later while attending a wedding shower for the daughter of a longtime friend, I noticed it again. There I was, sitting in the back row of the group, not among the young or even middle-aged, but in the mezzanine of matriarchs. Let's be clear, this was not assigned seating, I chose my place among the oldsters.

It's hard when the reality of time thumps you on the head with the reminder that you have become a member of a group that well-mannered youngsters give up their seats for. I wasn't the oldest in attendance at the party, that was a sweet lady up front so she could see and hear what was going on.

A few weeks ago on the local news, the anchor mentioned that an elderly (one year younger than me) woman was in an accident and passed away. My condolences to the family but what age constitutes elderly? I'm not middle-aged, the oldest person on earth has not lived to what that would make me, so what am I? A whisker away from full retirement, am I post middle-age, pre-elderly or almost-olderly?

Hey, all you up front youngsters, if you were wondering, (and I know you were not), what the women in the back, who politely drank punch and ordered decaf with cake were talking about, let me tell you.

While you were celebrating by saving ribbons and slicing the half-sheet covered in butter-cream frosting, we were talking about you. About what a joy you were when you were little, about whether you gave your parents gray hair, or about how smart, beautiful and noble you have become. And it's not just you we were discussing.

At family events we look lovingly at all the kids who have grown up, some having kids of their own. When they were little, who knew which hellions would turn out to be cops, farmers, teachers or doctors or which perfect child would drop out, for a life of dead-end jobs, while continuing to live in the childhood bedroom they refuse to leave.

Some of the athletic ones have become couch potatoes. The ones once most in need of a make-over, because of video games and soda with sugar, have become health nuts. One kid, I am most in awe of, went from being a substance-abuse horror show, every parent has nightmares about, to graduating college, being married with children and living a squeaky clean life while pulling down a job with a six figure salary.

Of course when examining the outcomes of the younger set it is with trepidation we examine and put into perspective, our own humble beginnings - for about 30 seconds. Looking back at my own indiscretions does nothing but feed the regret of, if I knew then what I know now, I would have had a heck of a lot more fun then.

I like being a member of the experienced set because that means I can enjoy myself and not worry about all the stuff young people have to worry about these days like, global warming, student loans, apps and whether my iPhone is charged. All I have to worry about is whether I can figure out how to program my GPS so I can find my way back home. I'll take another slice of cake and another cup of coffee, decaf please. Enough said.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Smallest plants produce the sweetest fruit

Though blurry, he was perfect
Way back in the beginning of the summer my daughter and her husband gave us two tomato plants. They started the little guys from seeds, and mixed up the labels on the flats, so though green and healthy, beefsteak, plum or cherry, we weren't sure what kind of tomato plants they were.
We decided to plant our garden of two in a couple of five gallon buckets on our deck. I watered, gave them names, (Tom and Tommy), snipped the suckers and waited. Tom did well but Tommy was having issues.
My daughter and son-in-law are organic gardeners so I figured perhaps Tommy was in need of something a bit more robust beyond the natural fertilizer provided by their friend's cows. My daughter was disappointed that I went to the dark side of fertilizing, I used a product produced in a lab instead of on a farm. It worked for Tom, his branches filled out and little yellow flowers foretold of a harvest. Tommy on the other hand displayed little change.
I became convinced that though his stems were thin, they seemed strong. Tommy was indeed the runt of the litter. We could have delegated the little guy to the compost pile but because I had committed to his care, I was not going to give up on him, yet.

Tom began to produce dozens of little green pear shaped marbles. Tommy rallied with one yellow blossom. Every time I looked at the smaller of the two plants my heart went out to him. There was something the poor guy needed which we were not giving him and I was at a loss as to what it was. Both plants were watered at the same time, both were fed the same food, they got the same amount of sun and yet the results were so different. It reminded me of how two children with the same parents can turn out so differently.
Because it was obvious that Tommy was struggling we decided that perhaps what he needed was companionship with the seedlings from his nursery. My daughter and son-in-law planted him and his one yellow bloom next to their other tomato plants in the garden adjacent to the house.
As the summer progressed Tom flourished on the deck. He produced lots of little pear shaped tomatoes that were a delicious delight in our summer salads. The garden outside produced so many different kinds of tomatoes that our little Tommy, tucked into a far corner, just sort of slipped my mind. One afternoon I noticed that his one blossom had become a light green, perfectly round tomato a little bigger than a ping pong ball. I wanted to cheer. His stems were still so slim it was a wonder that they just didn't droop and drop their one and only progeny.
My son-in-law went to the garden to pick the last of the ripe tomatoes. Once he finished, he presented me with Tommy's one and only tomato. It looked so perfect, it didn't look real.
That our poor little runt of a plant could produce something so beautiful kind of took my breath away. I had almost given up on him and yet, he came through. On my windowsill, above the kitchen sink, I placed Tommy's perfect little tomato and took a picture of it. I figured if that plant worked so hard to produce one small tomato then I could at least honor the effort by documenting it. Two days later, with a little sadness and a bit of joy I sliced that tomato. It was the best tasting ever and I mean that. Tommy, you did a great job. Thanks. Enough said.

YOU CAN REACH CAROLYNN PIANTA AT CPIANTA@COMCAST.NET

Thursday, August 28, 2014

As much as things change they also remain the same



At work recently a coworker and I started to reminisce. She is younger than I am so I was surprised when we had so many local memories in common.
 
The saying, "The more things change the more they stay the same," is apt I think. Surroundings may shift but the core of our lives remains the same. And because the seasons reinvent our world four times a year, maybe that's why living with change is a lot of what southern New Englanders are about.

Here in eastern Connecticut, because we balance between two of the East Coast's biggest cities, our urban, suburban and rural identities blend like fog off the Sound dissolves into sunshine. I was born here, moved away, returned and have stayed for almost 46 years. I have watched changes take place that are gradual, jarring and in some instances just plain unexplainable.

As a kid I remember traveling from New Jersey to Connecticut before Interstate 95 was completed. In my 20s, because of my job, I drove from Montville to Hartford before Route 11 was even considered. Every day I sped up Route 85 to Colchester and hopped on Route 2 all the way to capital city to work at the biggest department store in the state, G. Fox & Co. What an awesome store that was.

The New London Shopping Center, when it was an indoor mall with The Outlet Co. at one end and Two Guys at the other, was a big deal for us along the shoreline. I watched the Gold Star Memorial Bridge being built and my kids watched as the Baldwin Bridge over the Connecticut River was constructed.

I remember Mohegan Park before the dam broke. The zoo, the upper lake with the huge metal slide, and men washing and polishing their cars in the shade under the trees by the lower lake. It was a time when this little girl, at 10, could follow the path through the woods alone and swim all day at the lake with a dollar for a hot dog, ice cream and a soda, and walk safely back to my Nana's house on Mohegan Park Road. I'd dress up her little Chihuahua, Chi Chi, and push him in a carriage down Seventh Street to Mr. Big's in Greenville or Franklin's 5 and 10 in Norwich center.

We'd go to the drive-in on Route 32 or the one in Waterford near where Stop & Shop is now. When I was older my cousin and I often went surfing at East Beach and Misquamicut in Westerly. Always Misquamicut for real waves. Are the bumper cars still there?

Salem was just four corners with a gas station and a mom and pop convenience store. Flanders was another four corners enclave with a huge old house where the big drug store is now and the Ford garage where another big drug store is now. It was exciting when New London became pedestrian and then a relief when it was changed back. Mystic without Olde Mistick Village is a memory as is the Thames River and the woods further north, without casinos.

Sometimes the changes are gradual and sometimes they are jarring, leaving downtowns and families scarred by big interests. What went on in New London when families had to leave and what remains is sad, very, very sad. Sometimes progress is a four letter word.

One of my greatest joys was seeing the Crystal Mall completed. It gave me a place to stroller my newborn when it was cold outside. I'd walk the mall like it was a town center, feed my baby a bottle and then head home for naps for both of us. Now, that baby, almost 30, and I and her baby, do the same. Our surroundings may change but we really don't. We do the same exact thing only generations later. Enough said.
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

A YouTube worthy moment you will never get to see



 
You know those trending segments on the news, the ones where the anchors share computer videos that go viral, like grooms splitting their pants, little kids singing in the car and dogs doing backflips over Frisbees? I was witness to one of those moments recently. Unfortunately all cameras were focused slightly to the left of the mishap or you'd be claiming you saw it too, on YouTube.

Our six month old granddaughter was baptized at the beautiful First Congregational Church in Deep River. It is the quintessential New England small town church, rimming a green which has horseshoe pits for summer evening leagues, and just down the street from the local baseball field. I'm not a member of that church but I've cried at many a wedding, and wept at funerals from those pews. I spoke from the pulpit once, in honor of great man.

That church, and its minister, the Rev. Timothy Haut, is as much a part of our family as any man or woman of God can be who weds your children, baptizes their babies and eulogizes your family and friends. The tableau standing before the gathering of the faithful was perfect. Pastor Haut, (in his long white robe), the mom, (my oldest daughter), the godmother, (my youngest daughter), the godfather, (a family friend), and little Sydney (our granddaughter), resting on the arm and shoulder of her dad, (our son-in-law).

Haut spoke, we used our phones for pictures, the baby was smiling and happy and not a fret was heard. Even when the water was dripped on her forehead, Sydney smiled. The congregation and guests emitted an "awe" in celebration of the wonderful moment.

The minister, as he often does during baptisms, took the baby gently in his arms and walked down the aisle to present her to the faithful - this was after she had removed his lapel microphone, twice, and proceeded to use it as a teething toy. Baby sounds filled the church. The congregation laughed, the minister chuckled. It was sweet but not quite YouTube worthy.

Once back to the altar he handed the baby to her mother, who replaced the mike with a favorite teething-toy, a soft giraffe made for tender gums. Sydney dropped the toy. My daughter looked to her sister to retrieve the little giraffe from the floor.

My youngest daughter, brilliant, beautiful and well over six feet tall in her new four inch high-heeled beige patient leather peep-toe platforms, is a prime example of someone who can trip over a piece of paper and spill the contents of an empty glass.

As she attempted to pivot and bend to reach the toy she forgot about the steep step behind the rail, it caught the edge of her high heel and in a Lucy and Ethel moment of flailing arms and legs, she toppled to the floor, out of sight, behind the velvet draped altar rail. The minister glanced her way, then back to the baby and continued his sermon without a moment's pause. A collective gasp rose above the crowd.

"Did she faint?" the old lady behind me asked.

Every kid-klutzy moment, of which I was aware, came to mind. I put my hand to my face as if clutching my jaw would stop my laughter.

My daughter's arm rose from behind the altar rail, then her head, and in a loud whisper she waved the giraffe and said, "I'm all right." The church bubbled with laughter.

Behind us, the aunts, uncles and especially the cousins were hunched over trying to contain themselves. Having observed my daughter's antics over the years it came as no surprise that if someone were to take a header during a church ritual, of which she was a part, it would be my youngest.

Nope you won't be replaying that little scene on YouTube, which I am sure would have gone viral but thank God, I said later, she wasn't holding the baby. Thank God indeed. Enough said.

 
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Friday, July 25, 2014

One last yard sale and $42 in an old purse

 
Yard sale, two four-letter words spelled 'never-again.'

A couple of months ago our family ventured into the upper wastelands of our abode to organize, dispose of and prepare for sale, the detritus of our attic. It became an exercise in the futility of setting a price on that which is deemed worthless to one, and a prize at a quarter, to someone else. It also became an act of historic proportions to get my kids to go through the substance of their youth. I didn't threaten to fill a dumpster with what was left from their childhoods, I just said I'd keep all the money. They showed up.

Thirty years ago, after my last yard sale, I swore I'd never again put forth so much effort for so little monetary return. But the kids wanted to make a few bucks and I wanted out from under all our stuff.
After the cleaning and sneezing, ticketing and sorting, after calling the neighbors to warn of (I hoped) lots of traffic, after borrowing tables, making signs, hanging signs, posting on Craig's list and telling every single friend and family member not to come (I was selling some of their old gifts) we were ready for our own personal black Friday on Saturday.

We hauled our stuff to the end of our 1,000-foot driveway in the woods at 6 a.m., set up by 7 a.m., and hoped for the best. My oldest daughter was unable to be there because of a previous commitment, so we had to track her sales along with ours.

The first to show up - a swarm of mosquitoes. I made a mad dash back to the house for repellent. And then the dealers came. I used to sell antiques and imagined some of my items showing up on Antiques Roadshow, but I figured if a stranger made a financial windfall because I was uninformed, good for them.

The first customer was a classic I had been warned about by friends. For her $5 item she handed over a $100 dollar bill. Shop early with big bills and yard-salers usually let the items go for free, so as not to deplete their shoebox full of change. I was prepared. The only items I planned on giving away free would be the leftovers donated the following Monday.

During the course of the day folks came and went (even connected with some old antique-buddies) and negotiations for lower prices continued. One middle-aged father showed up with his young daughter, she was about 10. The little girl shopped and the father sat down and played one of the two guitars we had for sale. It was nice. He was friendly. They left with a tiny purple stapler and a small, well-used purse which had belonged to the daughter who was unable to help that day.

Within minutes the father and daughter returned, the little girl had found $42 in my daughter's purse. We were astounded, not only by the find, but because they actually returned with the money. I gave the little girl a $10 reward and after they left I felt guilty that I didn't let her keep the entire amount. I quickly checked the rest of the purses and found a nice pair of earrings. The balance of the found-money went toward our dinner of pizzas and salad that night.

Regarding the effort put forth, my kids did okay. As for me, I used my windfall to buy a new laptop, on which I am typing these very words. But I still wish I had given the little girl all the money she had found. Enough said.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

They ran, we sat in the shade (original title)


They ran a race, we sat in the shade


My husband and I traveled the Rt 8 northwest-passage, to the seven mile long Litchfield Hills Road Race. We weren’t running, but we were going to to sit in the shade, eat cheese burgers, fries, and watch 2000 runners dash around town in 85 degree heat. Our youngest and her husband were participants.

Litchfield is a, “you-can’t-get-there-from-here,” town, an enclave of the rich, famous and influential, with a welcoming atmosphere somewhere between Meryl Streep and Agway.

The town center is quaint. We joined the throngs on the beautiful green and pitched ourselves right at the start line. The cannon went off, the race started, we suffered in the shade while enjoying the beautiful afternoon. While the race progressed, the most physically taxing thing this inferior did was stand in the sun for fifteen minutes while anticipating when my daughter and son-in-law would cross the finish line. I cheered and snapped pictures as they finished the race. It was hot, I was sunburned and exhausted. Watching other people deplete their energy by maxing out their physical prowess makes me feel like a failure; I napped in the car on the way home.

That afternoon reminded me of when I lived in an apartment on the Post Road near the starting line of the East Lyme marathon in the early 80’s. All our friends and family gathered at our tiny apartment prior to the start of the race. They had to arrive early in the morning because the roads were closed. We’d stand on the lawn and cheer the start. Then we’d have a huge brunch and bulk up on bacon, sausage, home-fries and eggs. Add to that, half the sweets from Flanders Bakery and you can imagine how difficult it was to waddle over to the finish line at East Lyme High School as the runners came in.

We made a celebration of the event for several years until we moved.

The first time I made it over to the high school to watch the runners finish I was inspired, not to run of course, that idea is laughable, but to commit to something which stretches my physical boundaries. (More than thirty years later I’m still looking for that commitment.)

The top runners with the best times were elite athletes to be respected because of what they put their bodies and minds through on a daily basis, as dedication to sport. But it was the other runners, the ones with actual running times which did not matter as much as just finishing the race did, which I was in awe of. The pudgier runners, older runners, weekend runners who looked like they rode a desk all week long, those were the ones I cheered, clapped and cried for.  How do runners do it, how do they find the strength and tenacity to run so far and not give up? I would have dropped out or dropped dead. I can drive 26 miles, (not on a bike but in a car), as long I take a snack and stop to stretch my legs at the mall.

The Litchfield Hills Road race isn’t as long as East Lyme used to be. It isn’t as huge as the New York Marathon or as famous as Boston’s, but considering the number of runners from around the world, and the up and down aspects of the course, plus the heat, it might as well have been. My daughter and son-law-finished the race; their times were respectable. Will they run again next year? They say yes. Will I watch, eat burgers and take pictures, absolutely. But next year I’ll wear a hat. Standing in the sun for a quarter of an hour is tough, but I did it. Enough said.
            Carolynn’s latest exercise plan is to watch TV sitting up instead of lying down.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Quiche or gas, what makes you real (original title)



What makes you real ?
 
On the way to Wal-Mart last Sunday, the gas-light came on in my car so I pulled into the local gas station where the price of 87-octane is only slightly lower than the cost of a pint of AB - negative.

Even though I was driving, my husband offered to pump.

Years ago I remember the book, “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” and its feminist counterpart, “Real Women Don’t Pump Gas. I’ve never been one of those women who go all female at a gas station; it’s my car, I can fill the tank. But if my husband offers to pump, in the rain, or snow or gloom of night, I let him feel needed. Even though the weather was beautiful that day I figured I’m driving, he can pump if he wants to.

As we pulled up to one of the wallet-drainers I realized that all the other pumps were occupied by motorcycles with drivers filling tanks the size of my purse. It wasn’t a mean looking cadre of Marlon Brando type wild ones; they looked like a bunch of young guys out for some wind in their hair on a beautiful spring afternoon.

Before my husband opened his door I said “I’ll pump,” and I jumped out.

As I was standing there draining my bank account, the engines on the fancy two wheelers revved and the pack of young men pulled away. When I got back in the car I figured I should explain to my husband why, at that moment, pumping my own gas was so important.

I didn’t want a group of strangers see my husband pump gas for me. I did not want to be considered by anyone, even people I would never see again, as one of those women who won’t ‘fill-er-up’ on my own. For folks who need assistance, that’s one thing, but as long as I’m capable, I’ll do it, especially if someone else is watching. This was of course assuming someone actually noticed the gray haired matron hopping out of her car so energetically, to expertly operate the gas pump.

My husband and I laughed about my need to prove independence amidst a group of men young enough to be my grandsons. That’s when I thought about a few women I know who, though physically capable, refuse to pump gas. Their marriages ended in divorce. I wondered if there was some sort of correlation between female dependence, a couple’s perception of self-reliance, and how long a marriage lasts.

I didn’t marry until I was past thirty, so even though I’ve been married more than half my life, I’m used to not being helpless. My husband cooks, because he likes to and I cook when I have to. I don’t carry in all the groceries but I am the one who puts them away. I don’t always clean the snow off my car but when I do I clean off my husband’s pick-up too. I don’t mow the lawn, I weed, I don’t plow, I vacuum. I know how to check the oil in my car and fill the window washer reservoir with fluid. I’ve never had to, but I can change a tire, because I can read (I know where the manual is), and if the battery dies I know how to dial AAA.  So, as long as I’m wearing my glasses and have a cell phone, regarding my vehicle, I’m pretty self-sufficient.

I’m a real woman who pumps gas and after thirty-four years of marriage, I’ve never seen my husband eat quiche. What’s that make him? Enough said.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A grandmother's Mother's Day (oridinal title)

A grandma celebrates Mother's Day

Published May 08. 2014 4:00AM   Updated May 08. 2014 11:18AM
 
They were right, all those mothers of children, who have children, when they said, being a grandmother is different. That's why this Mother's Day has taken on a deeper and more expanded meaning. I am a grandmother.
Since the first time I held our new little grand-girl in my arms a connection sparked which simply seared my soul. At first I found it hard to explain why the depth of feeling was so immeasurable. She was just a baby, someone else's baby at that, with a wobbly head and an early personality consisting only of the basics: eat, sleep and poop. But my feelings were different, very different. That her mother was my baby may have stretched the bond, but it is no less strong, and is in fact unbreakable.
I thought this special connection was because I don't have to deal with the day to day new-mom-dilemma of feeding schedules, diapers and sleeplessness; I can simply love her and hand her back. But it's more than that.
As a young mother I got caught up in the enormity of the task which required that I raise my children to be loving and capable human beings and good citizens of the world. My interactions with my daughters always seemed to have a learning agenda or one of consequences and boundaries. Sometimes it was all love, and silliness, and fun, and sometimes there were moments, many times actually, which grayed my hair and overfilled my cup. I can honestly say that on the face of this earth, there are no two children who were more wanted. But what I felt for them is not the same as what I feel for my granddaughter. One love is not greater than the other, they are just profoundly different.
I take care of my granddaughter one day a week. I would love to spend more time with her but I work a full time job. And maybe that's it; my time with her is want-to, not have-to time. Just past three months old, when she looks into my eyes, I know, she - sees - me. When she smiles in response to my smile, or my voice, there is no greater pleasure. I am a voracious word-saver of all things emotional and yet I do not remember acknowledging the eye to eye, heart to heart, connection when my kids were little. Bench marks, like the first solid food, words, haircuts and steps were written in their books. I'm thinking that because I am older, and wiser, and see our relationship as shorter, than what fits in a whole lifetime, maybe that's why my moments with her are so deeply felt.
She is an angel, this little one who has stolen my heart. She is the new baby fragrance of hope. On a planet so crowded with calamity and fear, to see this little one approach it with such curiosity gives me faith that our world will be a better place because she is in it. New babies do that, they give us another chance to get it right.
Her parents are good people, who come from a long line of good people. The tasks of life ahead for her will be great and yet, those eyes looking toward the future and that tiny little heart will, with each wink and beat, change the world. After all, at not yet four months old and she has already changed ours.
As mothers, my daughter and I can share the sentiments of her first Mother's Day; I get to chant the grandmother's mantra, "paybacks." And, about those paybacks, enough said.

CAROLYNN CHANGES DIAPERS ON WEDNESDAYS; YOU CAN REACH HER AT CP.ENOUGHSAID@AOL.COM.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Men and their machines (original title)

Mowing the lawn

Published 04/03/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 03/31/2014 04:59 PM

What is it with men and their tractors?
My husband has a familiar yellow-seated green tractor he bought well over 20 years ago. That tractor has mowed, cut, mulched and plowed so many times, it's like another member of the family. He brings it inside when it gets really cold - we have a walk-out basement.
Years ago when my husband started fertilizing our front lawn, we had the greenest, lushest and fastest growing turf on the street. It looked like the Augusta National Fairway at the Masters. I was convinced the man was out of his mind. He had to mow twice as often. You are making more work for yourself, I told him.
The kids were little, so each time he mowed I had to make sure they stayed out of daddy's way while he drove that tractor around the yard, hour after hour. One time I decided I'd drive it; I figured that getting checked out on it was a good thing in case there was an emergency. Like if the car broke down and I had to drive to the mailbox.
I got on the tractor, fired it up and began to NASCAR around the front lawn. Enveloped in a cacophony of engine noise and machine vibration I found doing lawn-ovals comforting. No one could come near me and as long as I concentrated on where I was going, to the exclusion of all others, like a husband and two daughters waving their arms and shouting, no one could get my attention. I suddenly realized why he wanted to cut the lawn so often; it was his 'loud' quiet time.
Not long after we got the tractor it became my husband's bright idea to pull down a dead branch from a very tall tree in the front yard. It was too high to chain saw, so he threw a rope over the branch and tied it to the back of the tractor. The branch almost snapped off but the leverage was all wrong so he had to drive the tractor to set up a different angle. Our safety measures ... the kids were inside the house standing at the storm door and watching. I got to walk behind the tractor and hold up the rope so it wouldn't tangle as he drove to the other side of a large spruce which was in the way. As my husband drove, with me carrying the limp rope behind, I fell; the rope wrapped around my thigh. With me out of sight behind the Rockefeller Plaza size spruce, he was driving up hill, towing me by my thigh. When the girls saw me being dragged they started to laugh. I got mad. Suppose the rope had wrapped around my neck; my husband wouldn't have had to listen to me recall how stupid we were, even now, 20 years later.
Last fall my husband decided it was time to have the green machine taken in for repair. It was spitting and sputtering like an old man with a pack-a-day habit.
After a week in the shop, the lawn took over. After two weeks my husband became morose, thinking it might be time to replace his beloved little workhorse. But alas, his tractor came home again. One month, and over a grand later, the green machine was purring like a kitten and running like a Deere. It got me to thinking: I've been around longer than that tractor. If I got a month off, and my husband spent a thousand dollars on me, maybe I'd do the same. Enough said.

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Bookmark and ShareCAROLYNN DOES NOT RUN LIKE A DEERE, SHE WALKS A LOT AND FAST. YOU CAN REACH HER AT CP.ENOUGHSAID@AOL.COM.

Hardy nutmeggers on slippery slopes (original title)

Hardy Nutmeggers on slippery slopes

Published 03/13/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 03/10/2014 04:48 PM

New Englanders are hardy folk, even southern Nutmeggers here in Connecticut. We pride ourselves in being able to weather whatever Mother Nature throws at us. To paraphrase the familiar motto, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, can prevent us from the swift completion of our deed, we can always make it to the mall.
I don't know about the "gloom of night" thing - my husband and I doze during final Jeopardy - but from Gloria to Sandy my daughters and I could make it to a store during a deluge for a Snicker's and box of Q-Tips, if need be.
Because the recent weather went from a simple New England winter to that Arctic Vortex thing, my daughter's four walls became a bit confining; new babies have a tendency to stifle outside risk when the wind chill reaches minus-too-damn-cold. So she and I decided to attempt a special kind of foolishness, shopping with a one month old. Actually the shopping wasn't the foolish part, getting to the mall was. But it was a perfect day to stroller a four-week-old up and down the indoor Main Street of the Crystal Mall.
I should have known that making it to the end of our 1,000-foot ice glazed driveway would be a challenge. I should have known that attempting to drive up the incline at the end, in anything other than a Snow Cat, like the one driven by Scatman Crothers in The Shining, might leave us spinning our Goodyears.
We packed my daughter's car. The stroller, which transforms from a baby transporter to a mid-size SUV, filled the trunk. Inside with us, and baby in a car seat, were so many diaper bags and colorful totes filled with baby accoutrements, it looked like a Vera Bradley Trunk Show.
My daughter decided to drive; I sat in back with the baby. I should have told her to build forward momentum at the up-hill end of the driveway and under no circumstances brake, unless of course there was traffic, which was unlikely because we live on a dead end country road. I should have told her that if, because of deer, turkeys or the neighbor's dog, she had to brake, we'd never make the climb. She would have politely told me there was no steering wheel or pedals for a driver in the backseat.
The Zamboni smooth driveway was clear, no traffic on the road, and yet just before we reached asphalt, my ever cautious daughter decided to slow down. Our forward momentum became a perfect slow motion slide backwards. Never in danger, the snow banks acted like bumpers at a bowling alley for preschoolers. We came to a halt half-way down the hill in fits of laughter. As the self-described more accomplished winter driver, I took over the wheel. Within 30 seconds we were against a snowbank going nowhere. I tried several times to back us down and my daughter even offered to push. I figured that was not a good idea for a lactating new mother.
I called my husband who was on his way home. My other son-in-law was with him. The young guy pushed and rocked until the car straightened out. The old guy sat in his truck to keep warm. Once my son-in-law got behind the wheel and achieved forward momentum, the car made it to the top. I stood on the road to stop traffic. There was no traffic. I was useless.
We got to the mall, walked off a little winter and drove back in a downpour. The ride down the slippery slope to home was uneventful. Enough said.
print this articleBookmark and ShareEMAIL CAROLYNN PIANTA AT CPIANTA@COMCAST.NET.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Facebook, the great connector (original title)

Reunited after 40 years: Facebook, the great connector

Published 02/27/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 02/25/2014 01:05 PM

When my kids were in college they talked about a new social network called Facebook. They were enamored by it. To me it seemed kind of intrusive and a bit hedonistic. I thought Facebook would be a lot like an early marriage-infatuation, passion and maybe even a little obsession. And that eventually it would go the way of Myspace and recalling what's-his-name on the marriage license. But it didn't wither, it didn't die, it didn't dissolve into an online memory, it got bigger. It got so big, that the private little college system of communication expanded exponentially.

I don't think that in the beginning the kids ever thought that 10 years later they'd be Facebooking their parents and liking it. I certainly know my kids didn't think that.

My husband hates Facebook. Like other folks strapped to landlines and envelopes he thinks Facebook is like a 12-year-old jimmying the lock on his big sister's diary: What's in there is stupid, of no interest and who cares anyway? I have friends who think that going on Facebook is akin to listening at their kid's bedroom door for conversations about everything they are trying to hide from their parents.
"It's their world and I want no part of it," they say. I understand that because I used to think that way but not anymore.

A few years back, one daughter was mortified because I considered joining Facebook and the other daughter thought the whole idea was great, so I did what I had to do and signed up. I felt like a senior citizen sitting in the front row of a Pink concert. I was intimidated by the youthful process, didn't understand what was going on and felt totally out of place. I dropped out and went back to my homepage where I was comfortable looking up my daily horoscope. Fast-forward a couple of years, I got a new laptop, made the papers and gained enough courage and a little information and went back on Facebook, this time with the blessing of both my kids. Our Facebook worlds have mingled somewhat but I'm still so clueless that I'm very careful when making comments, liking and friending.

Early last year I did a search for a friend I knew 40 years ago. She was an amazing singer and I was a songwriter. We were sister-close and lost touch when I opened a small manufacturing company and she moved back to the Midwest. Her name is not unusual so searches prior to Facebook were fruitless. My friend is a few years older than me so I thought even though there's no way both of us would have the nerve to join a social network started by toddlers and run by teenagers, I'd give it a try. It took a year until I saw her name pop up in my Facebook inbox.

We messaged each other a few times but catching up became an on-the-fly sort of thing. So I called.
We talked as if there had been no 40 years between us. It was wonderful.

The Facebook connection taught me that even though we may travel different paths, the one we once shared is sustainable. Though my friend and I have lived very different lives we share a time when youth and all its promises of dreams fulfilled was real. She may never win a Grammy and I may never win a Pulitzer but years ago when we talked about such things nothing was beyond our grasp. Though now the probability wanes, the possibility does not. I found a long-ago friend. I never thought the possibility of that would happen and because of Facebook it did. Enough said.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Babies are all about change and not just as in diapers (original title)

Babies are all about change 

Published 02/13/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 02/10/2014 01:06 PM

I am wandering the house fluffing pillows that don't need fluffing and straightening a stack of magazines which looks like a perfect block in the center of the coffee table. I emptied the dishwasher and stacked it full again. I'm fidgeting. I'm doing the non-important stuff because the really important life-changing future-affirming stuff is going on right now in a hospital - my daughter is in labor. I feel as if I am waiting for a houseful of guests to arrive. Everything is set, everything is in perfect order - all we need is for the birthday girl to be born.

My husband and I will be first-time grandparents and we are over the moon in love with a little girl not yet here. Everyone tells me how magical grandchildren are and I can't wait for the enchantment to begin.
I worry about my daughter and her husband and the newest member of our family traveling the path of birth. It can be rough but oh so sweet. What they are going through takes me back to my own birthing experiences. They say women forget what it is we go through when we give birth. I don't think so. Women have a way of putting things like getting married, giving birth and passing a watermelon in perspective, the reward far outweighs the effort.

What amazing things will this little girl see in her lifetime? I wonder how far into the future she will take our DNA? Looking forward to the mystery of expectation is what babies are all about. They are about change, too, not just as in diapers, but as in life. They get you to step outside of yourself.
I am hoping that the relationship I will have with this little nugget as she grows up will not be diluted by the challenges of my age. The reality of me being born during the late '40s of the last century has me realizing that there is a lot about this little girl's life I will miss. I will love her as my grandparents loved me, unconditionally, unrestrained by mom and dad rules, and with a heart filled to overflowing with adoration, simply because she exists.

I wish a lot for this little one not yet born. I wish her health, humor and prosperity. I wish her love, tons and tons of love. I want her to be strong against all forces which may choose to limit her dreams, and that includes her parents who may think they know what's best for her and me, a person still struggling with what's best for myself. This little girl has no limits, the world and time awaits her.

Sydney Francis Murphy was born about 10:26 p.m. on Jan. 17, weighing 9 pounds, 1½ ounces. She and mom are OK, just a few speed bumps. My daughter was, and continues to be amazing, my son-in-law is the model-dad of the baby-unit and little Syd is the most beautiful baby ever. Really she is, and I'm not just saying that because she is my granddaughter.

I cannot even describe the thoughts that flooded my mind when I saw my daughter's daughter for the first time. That moment connected me to all the women in my family who came before us, all the women who did exactly what I did. I looked into the tiny eyes of a newborn and saw the broad spectrum of a future I will never see and felt joy, because I know she will. Her parents gave her life, we gave her a past on which to build that life. Welcome home baby, welcome home. No way would this ever be, enough said.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Comedy night; the joke was on us (orignal title)

Oh the embarrassment when comedian makes you his target

Published 01/30/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 01/28/2014 12:43 PM

My husband and I are not dynamic people. We don't frequent bars, although when we were younger, we closed a few. Now we barely make it through "Antiques Roadshow." So it was a pretty big deal when our neighbors gave us four tickets to comedy night at The Kate in Old Saybrook.
Over the years we have been to a few comedy nights and have enjoyed the laughs, although I always feel sorry for the poor schmoes who sit down front. We invited two of our closest friends to accompany us, a husband and wife we've known for years. We decided to make a night of it. We dined at a local restaurant and because we had some time to kill we drove around for a while; if we had been younger we would have spent the time in the bar but we wanted to stay awake.
Once we arrived at the theater, and were seated by the usher, I became a bit concerned. At The Kate, on comedy night, tables are arranged in the area directly in front of the stage. We were seated front and center. I could reach out and touch the stage.
"We're going to be targets you know," I said to our group. My husband looked a little nervous. I started to mentally list comedic comebacks.
It has always been a dream of mine (and one of my greatest fears) to do a 10-minute stand-up routine. I love to tell jokes. To get a laugh is to have a nice day. So as we were sitting there waiting for the show to begin I got ready. I prepared what I'd say if the comedian made mention of anything directly related to me.
The stage was almost entirely rimmed by senior citizens. Except for an old guy a table away I was the most mature looking. Have at me I thought when the funny man walked out. I'm ready with my zingers.
The comedian, Shaun Donnelly, was hysterical. After sizing up the front line, he went right for the table next to us. The old guy was no match for funny-man and we laughed at his duress; Donnelly's eyes swept across the rest of us. Pick me, pick me, I wanted to shout, I'm ready, I'll have your audience on their knees. Our eyes met, he zeroed in on ... my husband.
The man I have been married to for almost 34 years has two distinct traits: he hates to be the center of attention and he hates to be the center of attention. When Donnelly began to discuss, (how do I say this delicately), my husband's unmentionables, I almost fell off my chair.
The wife of the couple with us joined in a back and forth with the comedian regarding my husband and his anatomy. I was as mute as a laughing hyena with a sore throat. Donnelly expounded on the fact that the wife joining in the discussion was not my husband's. I had tears running down my cheeks. Just as I was ready to burst forth with exclamations that would have brought the house down, Donnelly was off to another table and another set of victims. Oh, he came back to us, and our eyes met again, but he never picked on me. I think he could tell I would have overshadowed his comedic talent or I look like his mother. He was really quite funny and I never got my chance.
Bookmark and Shareprint this articleDisappointed, sure, but I was relieved actually because when I think of what it takes to stand up there, in front of all those people and make them laugh - just thinking about it gives me a Metamucil moment. Enough said.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Old hard drive, like photos of forgotten faces (original title)

Old hard drive is like photos of forgotten faces

Published 01/16/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 01/16/2014 11:29 PM
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A few days before Christmas, my youngest daughter and her husband took over our guest bedroom. Not to sleep in, as in we're staying for the holiday, but to assemble something. I heard them up there, building they said, something for you and dad.
The room was full of wedding leftovers from a year ago, and everything else we were too lazy to heft to the attic. Building anything in that room would be like trying to put together a picnic table in a microcar (they don't have back seats.) Intrigued, I left them to their task and did not peek.
Christmas morning the guestroom was the first gift all the kids wanted us to open. Taped to the door was a big red bow. When I opened that door what I saw was the stuff of my dreams. My daughter and son-in-law had built us an office.
With a double desk down the center of the room no longer would my writing projects be piled on the kitchen table and my husband's paperwork, (he is self employed), cover the big dining room table. We wouldn't have to balance plates in front of the TV in the living room with Diane Sawyer anymore. Like a real family we could eat at the kitchen table and watch her.
For one day the office was beautiful, clean, organized and artistically decorated. A week later, it looked lived in. It took me that long to cull through my things and make my half of the room my writing place. And when the last of what had been stored there went to the landfill, I realized what a step forward that special room is.
There had been an old computer in there, which I decided I would not designate to another corner of another room or up under the eaves in the attic. It was going to the town's transfer station. I wanted to retain the hard drive though, not because there was anything compromising on it, I wanted to hold close the bits and bytes of us as a family as we had traveled the beginnings of our digital path during the last century.
Saving the hard drive was like saving a box of brittle and faded photos of forgotten faces you never look at, but you know the moment was once important enough to snap a picture of it. That's what the hard drive was like for me, a snapshot of thoughts, ideas and dreams I will never research again but want to still hold on to. When I took it out of the housing the date on it said 1996. That was our second desk-top computer, I haven't a clue where the first one is, probably in the attic with the 8 Track and VCR.
I am amazed that I felt such affection for the heart of a gray Hewlett-Packard dust collector I haven't turned on in more than five years. I was one of those people who thought the personal home computer was an evil device out to empty your wallet and twist your mind. Now I consider my laptop an invaluable tool with science fiction-like qualities of communication and research. And it looks so nice in the office the kids built us.
print this articleBookmark and ShareFor me having an office is no different than a crafter having a workroom, an artist having a studio or a wood worker having a shop in the basement or garage. My office is organized, peaceful and beautiful. Did I mention half of it is my husbands? Let's not tell him. Enough said.