Enough Said

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

There's a child in all of us

Published December 04. 2015 9:56AM
A few years ago I bought my nephew, the youngest member of the family at the time, a grabber-toy. It was an impulse buy of a two foot long, red and black plastic toy with a handle at one end and big silver pincers at the other. Squeeze the handle and the pincers open and close. It was like one of those picker-upper sticks senior citizens use to retrieve medication bottles that fall on the floor or cans of prune juice from the top shelf.
My nephew loved the toy, but got very upset because he couldn’t play with it, the adults took it over. Grown men fought over who got to retrieve cans of beer from the cooler without getting their hands wet. Sneaking appetizers off a plate from three feet away became quite a scene as did pinching bottoms. Finally my nephew got to play with his toy just as dinner was served. He had to set it aside until we were finished.
I always suspected, but that afternoon proved, that no matter how old we become, the child in us always remains.
I have found that when buying toys for my granddaughter I tend to lean towards the ones I know I will enjoy playing with, right along with her. A train set for little ones seems to be a favorite of ours. When I babysit at my house, it’s the bag of tracks, trains and station pieces she chooses. We set it up on the coffee table and take turns pushing the small engine around the figure-eight tracks and under the small bridge. Sydney sets up the signs and operates the gates. We both supply the choo-choo sound effects. The trick of the train adventure is keeping the characters, a little boy and girl, away from the dog, a miniature dachshund with an affinity for dropped snacks and baby toys. My floor stays clean but the poor little plastic kids already have chew marks.
This year, with this sweet little toddler in our midst, the lament to experience a train ride with Mr. and Mrs. Santa rose above the small crowd of young adults in our immediate family.

“Let’s get real,” I said to my two daughters and their husbands, “Sydney is not even two. She hasn’t a clue who Santa is.”
“But we do,” my youngest daughter, (the Auntie), said.
That’s when the child in all of us, stuck its head out of adulthood, smiled, jumped up and down and said “please, please, please can we go?”
When our daughters were Santa-age we took them to see the man in red, and his very patient wife, on a train full of little ones screaming for the big guy’s attention. Funny thing is that none of us really remember the outing. We know we went, but the kids either fell asleep or my husband and I experienced cocoa and kids overload and blocked out the event.
This year will be different, we all have cell phones with cameras to document the momentous occasion. Because I’m the grandmother I can sit back and take in the pleasure of watching the kids without having to actually act like a parent. I get to experience the excitement and the wonderment of what it’s like to believe that if you dream it, and whisper it, the special man in red can make that dream come true. And that’s just for the adults on the train, the kids, well, they already know who fulfills their wants and dreams; it’s the driver of the big brown truck who leaves boxes on the front steps.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Wine, water and walking

Published October 16. 2015 4:32

At the end of September I returned from a 10-day vacation in Italy a few pounds lighter than the day I left. It’s a mystery to me because I ate what everybody else ate and just as late. Try sleeping peacefully after a thanksgiving-like huge Italian meal every night. Wine at every meal, two bottles of water on every table, gas or no gas, (aka fizzy or flat), and 10 days of non-stop travel. From the Swiss Alps to Venice, Florence, Rome and the Vatican, we hoofed many miles a day. I’m thinking that the wine, water and walking was my secret weapon. Actually, it was probably the water and walking because I not a fan of wine.

My husband and I don’t travel much, (Lake George five years ago), so flying over the pond to Europe was a big deal. Because I was told Italians don’t hang out in blue jeans and t-shirts like we do, I bought a whole new travel wardrobe. It now fills my closet as a reserve for job interviews, weddings and funerals.

The last time I saw so many cigarette smokers, cigarettes cost 50 cents a pack. In Italy you can turn your lungs black for 10 times that now. Like here, you’re not allowed to light-up in restaurants, so running a gauntlet of outside smelly smokers is the norm. Unlike here, your dog, (not only a service dog but your pet), may accompany you to dinner in restaurants. The ones we saw were always well behaved, not so with some children, but that’s another story.

We started out in the north of Italy. The breathtaking mountainous vistas and villages looked exactly like every WWII movie I’ve ever watched. On the train to Switzerland the scenes were so spectacular that even though we weren’t in Austria, I half-expected to see a young Julie Andrews break out in “the hills are alive with music.”

I cannot express how beautiful Turano and the Italian Alps are. As a microclimate protected from the harshness of the high regions by the mountains, the valley was lush with palm trees and an autumn harvest of every fruit imaginable, plus miles and miles of vineyards clinging to the mountains on steep slopes almost to the tree line. My husband’s grandparents were from that area. No wonder their gardens, grapes and wine making here became family tradition.

To elaborate on the jaw-dropping scenic sights, or the magnificent artistic and architectural monuments to Italian creativity, would only serve as redundancy in regards to travel brochures. Visually Italy is indeed everything everyone says it is, spectacular, beautiful and very old with a modern mix far ahead of many.

The only serious negative I can come up is the life threatening, aggressive and absolutely maddening way Italians drive. Two-way city streets are as narrow as a driveway. Even though cars are tiny, trucks and buses are not. Put a bunch of buzzed-by-expresso Italians behind the wheels of a Fiat, throw in a couple of full-size tour buses, a handful of delivery trucks, half a dozen insane scooter-drivers, (who make the white line their lane), toss in the six of us in a nine person van with a GPS which assumed Rome, N.Y., was Rome, Italy, and you have a mix that would curl every insurance agent’s hair. It had me whimpering in the back seat.

Maneuvering the narrow mountain roads wasn’t that bad, it was worse. Imagine driving down from the summit of Mt. Washington in two-way heavy traffic at 60 mph, with scooters whizzing by, and you get a sense of how lucky I felt to be alive when I sat down to a late night dinner every night.

Italy is spectacular, we loved it. And I have the memories and wardrobe to prove it.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

From an old piece of brass, an echo across the generations

 Published August 27. 2015 12:27PM
My mother was the kind of woman who bought what she needed, and only what she wanted, if it was practical or a new pair of shoes. As her birthday approached I was at odds about what to buy her, I wanted something different, something with meaning and heart. That’s why, when I saw an old Boy Scout bugle at an antique group shop, I knew that was the perfect gift.

My mother played the bugle in the Norwich Free Academy Marching Band. After she graduated from NFA in 1939 she joined the Navy as one of the first 500 WAVES. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). She was proud of serving during WWII and often talked about playing the bugle for her country.

My mom and dad met during that war. They were introduced at a beach party in Virginia, and 18 days later they were married. Their story was legend in our family, as one of trust, understanding, lots of love and over 62 years together.

For decades they lived on the second floor above a store, in a big turn of the century house they owned on the Post Road in eastern Connecticut. Surrounded by wonderful neighbors, and a few apartments behind their property, they were a well-known fixture in town.
The day I decided to give mom her gift, my dad was working in his garden. I called him inside to share the moment, but mom was so excited to unwrap it, she didn’t wait.

My mother smiled when she opened the box. As she ran her hand over the unpolished brass surface I knew she loved it. Immediately she walked out onto the second floor back deck, and after over 50 years of not playing, touched the bugle to her lips and played “Reveille.” Red faced, and eyes popping, I thought she was going to drop on the spot. It was a rusty rendition but it was hearty. I knew my mother as a classical and contemporary pianist so to see her as an old lady puffing her cheeks and pumping her lungs was hysterical. When finished, she panted to catch her breath. Cheers and applause resounded from behind the trees blocking the view of the apartments behind their house. I yelled “thank you” and several loud “you’re welcomes” came back. We laughed so hard my mother ran to the bathroom or she would have pee’d her pants.

After things quieted down, and back on the deck, my mother raised the bugle to her lips, stood straight and slowly started to play Taps. This time the notes were clear, both in tone, and intent. Below us, in his gardening jeans, work shirt and dirty boots, my father stood at attention, looking up at us and listening. Dress whites and spit polished shoes would not have done his show of respect more justice.

Like an echo across a generation I saw my parents as they were during the last war the world fought. Young, proud and in love with freedom. Tears streamed down my mother’s cheeks as she drew the last note long and let it fade. My father saluted, wiped his eyes, did an about face and crisply marched across the lawn to his wood shop out back.
“He’s going out there for a nip,” my mom said.
The neighborhood had gone quiet. “Day is done.”

You can reach Carolynn at cp.enoughsaid@aol.com . She tried to play the bugle once. That was enough.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Memorable baby movie moments (original title)

Watching movies with young ones creates ‘baby’ movie moments
When it comes to watching movies my daughters and I mentally catalog those we consider required watching for females. It’s not a sexist thing, males enjoy the movies too, but we think it’s important to recognize when entertainment sends a message to girls that females are smart, strong, we’re heroes, saviors and we can have it all; we just can’t have it all at the same time.
One of the best movies to watch, for anyone who thinks they know what they want in life, and have forged a serious path toward it, is Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. Released in ‘87, it was very successful and spawned a TV show. The movie I’ve seen many times, TV show, not once.
The movie is about a high-powered woman, Diane Keaton, on a fast track to financial success within the power-brokers of a huge New York City consulting firm. She is known as the “Tiger Lady,” a take-no-prisoners member of management when it comes to making and closing deals. Due to a family tragedy Keaton’s executive type-A personally, accepts, make changes and flourishes as an accidental mother; she inherits her cousin’s 1-year-old daughter. This isn’t a movie review, it’s about how this movie, and a simple circumstance in life initiated an unforgettable moment for me — times two.
My oldest daughter was four when I slipped a video tape of Baby Boom into our late ‘80s VCR for the first time. My youngest, at not quite 2, was napping. The movie fit my mother/career and parenting philosophy, perfectly. My daughter loved it too. When the movie ended, and as the credits rolled, my 4-year-old climbed onto the coffee table, launched into my arms and we danced around the living room to the wonderful Burt Bacharach music. I cried then, because those deep emotional and connective moments with children are rare. That little girl, who held onto to me so tightly as we danced is now 30, with a little girl of her own. Where has the time gone and why are those special moments so few? Back then life for us, as a young couple with two little girls, was very hectic. For families now, moments like that whiz by barely noticed.
A couple of weeks ago, while I was babysitting my granddaughter Sydney, “Baby Boom” was on TV. I switched it on not even thinking that a 16-month-old would want, or have the attention span, to watch it. I just wanted the sound of it in the background because I was a bit weary of Curious George. That Sydney cuddled next to me for the entire movie, identifying and mentioning each time Elizabeth, the “baby” was in a scene, was astounding.
When the movie ended Sydney wrapped her arms around my neck, hugged hard and we danced around the living room, very much like I did with her mother, over 25 years before. It was a connective moment passed from one generation to the next, this empty nester felt beyond privileged to experience with the littlest member of our family. Yes, I cried again. How could I not.
Now when Sydney comes over, and even at home, she points at the TV and says “baby.” We watch “Baby Boom” often. Sometimes Syd lasts through the whole movie and sometimes only the “baby” scenes. But each time, that little sprite and I dance to the magical movie music because there’s less time to let wiz by. Soon the world will reach out and Sydney will be off to forging her own future, maybe as a high powered woman seeking financial success, maybe not. She’ll have to accept change and I believe she’ll flourish, (in a small part), because of some very special movie moments she shared with her Nana.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What if hippies had cell phones

Published June 29. 2015 2:59PM
When I think of how today’s society relies on technology, I shudder. My mind floods with the what-if-consequences of technological failure. How would we communicate, conduct business, build things, get tested and receive medical results and stay nationalistically safe in a world of horrifying threats?
How would we survive without our computers, tablets, Kindles, cell phones and those fancy-schmancy watches that actually tell time too? Today’s youth has been raised on the ease of communication, and social networking, and mammoth amounts of information available in seconds. We’re just now learning the consequences, both pro and con, regarding social media and its misinformation. When it’s good, it’s really, really good and when it’s bad, it’s like your best friend, told her best friend, you stole a pack of your mother’s cigarettes, and an hour later you’re trending as the youngest felon incarcerated in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
This whole good and bad media thing got me to thinking, what if we had all this technological, Facebook, Twitter and whatever communication when I was a teenager. That was the ‘60s, the hippie generation, a time when we rose up against the system, made a lot of noise, and demonstrated for the kind of change, which at the time, made about as much sense as banging our heads against the Berlin Wall. Change did happen and then somewhere along the line we became the establishment. How proud are we of that?
But, what if in 1963, when the March on Washington was being organized, we had Facebook. When 200,000 showed up then, it was a very big deal. With Facebook, the amount of demonstrators would have emptied out half the states east of the Mississippi and the rest of the country would have been circling over Reagan airport, when it was Washington National and Reagan was "The Gipper."
Think of how Facebook would have impacted Woodstock, when 400,000 hippies, listened to music, danced in the mud and got high on Max’s 600 acre dairy farm on a rainy weekend in ‘69. And that was by word of mouth. With social media, it would have been over a million.

The availability of cell phone videos is just beginning to affect how we witness and broadcast events as innocuous as cute kittens stuck up a tree or as serious as Robert Burns’ “Man’s inhumanity to man.” Vietnam brought the first images of war to our TVs during dinner and dessert. I know now, what it would have looked like then, if technology had been available to the kids who didn’t flee to Canada. Maybe the war would have ended sooner and there’d be less than 58,000 names on the wall in Washington.
Imagine cell phone videos of Birmingham in ‘63, Selma in ‘65, or Kent State in 1970. When I think of what we would have seen on that searing day in Dallas, November 1963 my mind wretches. The Zapruder film was horrific enough.
To chronicle history is a good thing, I guess. To become a part of something greater than ourselves, via a device allowing us inside the lives of those we admire, is quite admirable.
I would have worn out You Tube after The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan’s really big show in ’64 and I would have followed the Twitter account of the Beach Boys after they appeared in ‘65. Heck I probably would have followed Ed Sullivan on Facebook.
We conducted business, went to school, graduated from school, got jobs, married and had kids with only a princess phone, a portable radio and three channels on TV. We didn’t need all that technological stuff then but now, it’s as necessary as pen, paper and a handshake.
Carolynn’s Princess phone is broken. You can reach her at cp.enoughsaid@aol.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Keystrokes and pen-strokes

I love my little laptop, I love how quickly I can pay bills, communicate and keep up with family, friends, news and research. Computers and instant communication has changed our world, and there is not much I can add to that statement, other than how sad the ease of writing, by way of keystrokes, has replaced pen-strokes.
I love longhand writing because there is something wonderful about the aesthetics of well written cursive. I recently learned that many states, including Connecticut, do not require schools to teach writing and reading of cursive anymore. It is a sad commentary on what society deems as important, (a keyboard and screen), and that which is no longer necessary, (a pen and pencil).
Recently I bought a pair of shoes in a store where I used the tip of my finger to sign for my purchase on a tiny hand held computer screen. I could barely read my name, my identifier. It didn’t matter that I had spent hours and hours of my childhood learning to write cursive as beautifully as I could. Does it matter now that today’s children are not taught to write the way their parents and grandparents were taught to write? In our quick world of accuracy and instant communication children are trained to write and think fast by tapping.
My mother and father had beautiful penmanship. When I read the old letters they had written to each other while separated by WWII, I am amazed by the artistic look of each line. In 125 letters there are few misspellings and only one cross-out. Each line, well composed before expressed, was edited by heart and soul, not by spell check and backspace.

As a young girl sitting across the kitchen table from my father, as I did my arithmetic homework, and he paid bills, I disliked what I was doing just as much as he disliked his task. Sometimes when my homework was done, and he had addressed his last envelope, I’d be drawing and he’d be writing a letter. As I struggled to get just the right image, I’d watch as he effortlessly created a message esthetically impressive and emotionally perfect.
Watching his fountain pen race across the page I marveled at how each intricate swirl and line not only created a beautiful picture to look at, but that the drawings, each in their own perfect row created words like love, longing and loss. He always addressed our birthday cards and gift tags; his font was one of pride in making the most of paper, pen and sentiment. Though sometimes difficult to read because it was so elaborate, my father’s writing looked like black lace on a white tablecloth.
My mother’s penmanship, the ‘Palmer Method’ she called it, also a series of lovely lines, was easier to read and more practical looking. She was the list maker for groceries and to-dos. Hers was the hand which wrote the teachers our sick notes and penned notations on the calendar for school events. For Hallmark, my father’s writing would have been the cover of the card, my mother’s, the inside message.
My parents taught me that neat penmanship was as important as an ironed blouse and pressed seams in a pair of slacks.
“If it is a first impression, why not make a good one,” they’d say, “and if it’s not, your words should be at least well groomed.”
If public schools have dress codes, and require civilized conduct, then why not take the time, like many Catholic schools still do, to teach children to present well-groomed handwriting. What does it say about educated adults who can’t write and read cursive? It says that education failed them.
No pen and paper needed, you can contact Carolynn at CP.enoughsaid@aol.com

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Four decades later, still standing and not as crazy

Published April 08. 2015 6:14PM
He was standing, looking at frames lined up on an end cap, a friend I had not seen in over 40 years. He looked older, but healthy and well kept. I was at the end of my workday, so I knew I looked like I had been tumble dried with a hay bale. First thought, you’re in a hurry to get home, say nothing, walk by. Second thought, who knows if you will ever see him again, take the time to say hi. I said hi.
Because aging four decades separated our interactions I introduced myself, using my maiden name (Munn) as a middle name, just in case he didn’t recognize me. (I’ve lost almost a hundred pounds since then, too). Why would he know me, I thought, I looked like my grandmother and he had never met her.

Only a few seconds of who-the-hell-is-this showed on his face and there it was, recognition and 40 years melted away. As we talked it was nice, and a little sad.

For the first few minutes we updated each other on our personal lives, he’s still a well-known local artist and I’m still, well, me. Our children are the age we were when we first met. I knew him as a hard drinking unknown painter, with a passion for boats and trains and having a good time. He knew me as a store owner, who worked and played too much. We were shop owners at the Black Swan Marina, (Between the Bridges now), during the mid to late 1970s. He had an artist’s studio and gallery overlooking the Connecticut River. I sold marine supplies and nautical gifts in the big store on the road-side.

Back then owning a business along the shoreline which caters to the Connecticut boating community was hard. That part hasn’t changed, gearing up each spring for a season that lasts only a few months is economically difficult and for the under-capitalized, near impossible.

As my artist friend and I began to reminisce we fell into the abyss that long lost friends almost always tumble into, discussing the people we knew who have passed away. I’ve learned that our impact on humanity is tenuous. He has one daughter, I have two, he’s a painter, I’m a writer. Those are our breadcrumbs through the forest of life.

We began to talk about our mutual friends (the living ones) and how they tuned out. Some were successful and some have let their lives melt away in a wasteful example of ignored opportunity.
It’s strange, that when you are young, some of the people you are closest too, end up being the exact opposite of someone you would want to even acknowledge as knowing once you mature. Maybe it’s because the common youthful endeavor of having fun clouds judgment. Though my artist friend and I were known for traveling in a crowd that had a good time, we were serious too. We had to be serious because we owned businesses. We had rent to pay plus reputations and commercial viability to maintain.

It was great to catch up and wonderful to know he’s still painting and maintaining his passion for trains. And that he is still married to a wonderful woman who is a beyond talented artist and teacher, illustrates his appetite for the straight and narrow. Forty years ago if you asked me if we’d still be around and successful four decades later, I probably would have laughed and ordered another round.
I’m glad I stopped and talked and reminisced. It was nice and yes, it was sad, but it was heartening too. Steve the artist and Carolynn the writer, still standing and not quite as crazy after all these years.


Monday, March 23, 2015

All winter we look forward to hearing Pop’s peepers

Published, March 18, 2015


This time of year my dad, Robert Munn Sr., one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, loved seed catalogs. He’d be leafing through pages and pages of colorful advertisements to find just the right vegetables and flowers for his yard. From first planting, until the final turning of the soil in the fall, his garden was his life.

My father always wanted to be a farmer. As a little girl I remember Sunday rides to view country homes with farmland for my parents to buy. Until retirement, his job required a lot of travel and ultimately defeated the farm-dream. But standing amidst his tomato, cucumber and pepper plants, set back from the busy Post Road in East Lyme, he was like any other farmer dreaming of a lush harvest.

As the short days of winter began to lengthen, but were still wrapped in cold, he’d talk about the first sign of spring, and what lay under the soil, like a little kid talks about what will be  left under a decorated tree. As the last frost of winter would begin to soften the soil he’d begin to watch and listen for nature’s messages that winter was almost over and spring would soon be upon us. He believed those messages were first shown in the heady fragrance of damp soil and the sound of spring peepers.

Peepers, are little frogs that inhabit moist woodlands and wetlands in the eastern United States and Canada. In parts of Canada they are known as “tinkletoes” and “pink-winks” and on Martha’s Vineyard they are sometimes called “pinkletinks”.  Once the ground thaws these little amphibians begin peeping at night, just to let all of us know that planting season is almost here. My dad used to spout the old wives-tale that after hearing the peepers’ song, there would be three more frosts before you could begin planting.

One of the least competitive men I have known, my dad loved to be the first to hear the peepers each year. But because our driveway abutted wetlands we almost always beat him to the first peep. I’d call, hold the phone up, and though separated by miles we’d celebrate the arrival of spring.

It became so newsworthy in our family that I began to mark the calendar when one of us heard the first sounds. In January, when I’d switch to a new calendar I would hardly note family birthday dates but I did keep track the peeper’s first peep. It was always in March.

One year while switching calendars I threw away the old one before I made note of all the peeper dates. I cried and never told my dad I had accidentally trashed the family’s fifteen year peeper record.

My dad has been gone almost ten years now, but every year I get a call from my daughters, or I make one, when pop’s peepers first begin to sing. It not only reminds us that spring is indeed upon us and warm weather follows but it’s a tribute to my father, the gardener, who gently lived by the sounds and sights of nature like the farmer he had always wanted to be.

This year our family will be particularly attentive when the ground begins to thaw, and the trees begin to tip with buds, because the cold has been so intense and relentless. I can’t help but think of the little frozen frogs held captive underground in the nard-packed wetlands. They are just waiting for the ground to soften so they can scrim out of the mud and make a racket about spring. When they do, I hope to make the first call to my daughters and tell them that pop’s peepers are shouting and spring is finally here.


Karma Rules


More than a few years back my husband and I were watching a news report about an armored car door swinging open while speeding down the interstate. Cash was cascading out the back, spilling tens of thousands of dollars onto the highway. Drivers were stopping, grabbing handfuls of money and racing off. Very little was recovered. So I asked my husband, "If a bundle of hundreds landed near your car, would you stop and grab it?"

"No," he said.

"Suppose a few hundreds stuck to your windshield? When you cleared the glass would you take the money?"


"Let's imagine $20 from the truck flies in your window landing on the seat next to you. No one saw it. You're car's on empty, and so is your wallet, your cupboards are bare, the fridge is empty, you're out of dog food and your pup is hungry. Would you keep the $20?"



"Because the money doesn't belong to me," he said.

My husband is better than me. I probably would have kept the $20, pumped a few gallons and shared a burger with my dog.

Recently I received a check in the mail that was double the amount owed to me. For an instant I considered depositing it. But I thought otherwise. Not because I'm a decent person like my husband and not because I knew they'd eventually figure out their mistake and I'd have to pay it back. Age and experience has taught me the importance of seriously considering the ethical consequences, (which once permeated my 20s like patchouli and pot-smoke), of the behavioral and belief system based on Karma. I truly believe ill-gotten and unearned gains eventually become a windfall clouded by negativity.

About a month ago in Rochester, N.H., a woman returned over $2,500 which had been handed to her in a Burger King bag. She discovered the money on her way home from the restaurant. Though she considered keeping the money, it was religious ethics, (she's a Jehovah's Witness), which swayed her to return the restaurant deposit.

Taxi drivers in Las Vegas have returned, numerous times, hundreds of thousands of dollars left in their vehicles by winners. One driver in Newark, N.J. turned in a Stradivarius violin. His reward, a concert for 100 fellow drivers by the musician who misplaced the instrument which was worth $4 million.

In New York City, a young medical student/taxi driver drove 50 miles out onto Long Island to return over $21,000 in cash, and jewelry worth thousands more, to an elderly woman from Italy who left her handbag in his cab. The driver, from Bangladesh, did not accept a reward because he said his mother was his inspiration. She taught him to be honest and work hard.

In New Paltz, N.Y., three roommates bought a couch for $20 at a thrift center. It didn't take long for the kids to discover that the lumpy couch contained bubble wrapped bundles of cash, $40,000 in all. It was an old woman's entire life savings, stashed in the couch by her husband. Because the woman often slept on the couch her children donated it and bought her a new bed. Though the college students, and recent graduate, certainly could have used the money, their thinking mirrored my husband's almost exactly, "… it's their money, we didn't earn it."

So I asked myself, would I have kept any of that found-money even if I knew, no one would know? Actually I would not. I'd give it all back, and not because of religious beliefs or parental teachings, I'd return it because someone else's loss is too high a price to pay for my prosperity. But, would I accept a reward? Hell yes. I'd fill my tank and feed my dog steak. Enough said.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January means a new start

Published January 21. 2015 4:00AM
Because this past holiday season was the first celebrated by our granddaughter, and the first for all of us celebrating it with her, I am thinking a lot about the firsts of life. Like first day of school, first car, job, first home and heartbreak.
My first school, on Pearl Street in Norwich, was a huge imposing building to me when I was little. I drove by about 20 years ago, (it was a Head Start Center then, I think), and I was amazed by how small and bleak it looked. My first teacher, Mrs. Homes, was exactly like Miss Shields, Ralphie's teacher, in the holiday classic "The Christmas Story." (Which our family has always actually called the BB Gun Story).
My first bike was a blue Schwinn and my first car was a 'hot' red '65 Plymouth Barracuda I used to street race. I always won. That was back when I was blond and stupid. I'm not blond anymore.
My very first boyfriend was named Barry. We were in third-grade together in Soprano-country, Elizabeth, N.J. My first real boyfriend was a less-than-perfect compulsive liar named Ray. And I know he was a compulsive liar because, at the time, I worked for an insurance company and peeked in his file. It contained doctor's recommendations. That wasn't why I broke up with him. He was also a jerk.
My first husband, (and first true love), is still my husband. He's not a liar or a jerk. He's a nice, hard-working guy, as honest as the day is long. I'm not quite sure what that cliché' means but it does apply to the man I eloped with three and a half decades ago.
When I applied for and got my first job I was excited but also felt like a failure. I had to go to work because I flunked my first semester at college. Working in the men's haberdashery department of a discount department store was not what I considered my dream-career choice, but it did get me the money I needed for a first, second chance, at a second semester of As and Bs.
Our first baby, now has a first baby of her own. Having a grandchild is the pudding on top of the frosting, on top of the cake. As the first grandchild she's the one showered with all the extra affection and attention we didn't have time to lavish when in the midst of raising her mother and her aunt.
Apart from the happy firsts there are the difficult ones too, the one's which break your will and your heart. The first hospital stay, death in the family and first passing of someone younger than yourself. The first time you don't get your dream job, or lose it, get laid off from it or fired from it. The first time the partner of your dreams doesn't show up or doesn't call.
The first time you look mortality in the eye, you realize that when first and final are in the same sentence, there is an end to all of this. Maybe, just maybe when that happens, it's the first time you get a second, or a third chance, to get the rest of your life right.
January creates a new first for each of us every year. Resolutions be damned, we get to reinvent who we are every time the ball falls. But wait, as they say in the 'as seen on TV ads', there's more. Every single month thereafter provides us with a new first, a new day one, a new start. Like we said in the '60s, "today is the first day of the rest of your life." If ever a cliché gives our paths meaning, that one does. Enough said.

Stressed and depressed for New Years

There's something about this time of year I find very stressing and it has nothing to do with the fear of maxing out my credit card. It has, at times, even had me demoralized, depressed and begging for my bed. No, it's not that it's dark by 4 p.m. It's the tradition of celebrating out with the old and in with the new when I'd rather be asleep. It's New Year's Eve Parties, the bane of the fuddy-duddy.

We had a New Year's Eve party once, about 30 years ago. It was before children, before DUI checkpoints, before Dick Clark got old and passed away still looking young. I miss Dick Clark Rockin' in the New Year, like I missed Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians when I was a kid and my parents were 10 years younger than I am now.

The problem with New Year's Eve parties when you are older, is that they start late and last long. You don't eat dinner until almost ten and if the champagne doesn't knock you out then the heartburn will. I can stay up beyond midnight easily, if I don't switch to decaf at noon, but my husband, he barely makes the last segment of MASH on ME TV which ends at 8.

The one year I remember best is the millennium flip. Some folks were convinced that 1999, as it slid into 2000, was going to upend every electronic device with a clock in it and usher in the end of the world as we know it. Computers were going to go haywire, experts said, crashing in a maelstrom of lost data. I was kind of hoping for that part - especially where banks were involved - mortgage, what mortgage? I don't think I have a mortgage with you guys, prove it.

Folks were hoarding food, gold and toilet paper. Some even fled to the wilds of the back woods to hide out from the chaos of the Millennium-Armageddon they believed the yearend would cause. Somehow, building latrines, chopping wood and beating your dirty laundry against rocks on the shore of an icy river does not sound like a New Year's Eve party I'd want to attend. Although roasting marshmallows over a campfire while the ball falls sounded like fun.
I watched most of the world's celebrations that year on TV. All day long they played and replayed the festivities from one side of the globe to the other. I remember thinking how amazing it was that we were able to watch yesterday's festivities half a world away today, and that over there it was already tomorrow. And this was before Facebook, where we can share tomorrow, what happened yesterday, today.
One year in particular was monumental to us. As the end of 1986 approached my husband and I were at an impasse. We had an important decision to make and we weren't sure if we should leave it to the almighty, or speed things along. Our second daughter was due and my obstetrician told us that he could schedule a C-section or induce labor, depending on which year's taxes we wanted to claim our newest deduction. We decided on letting nature take its course. Rachel was born on Jan. 2.

This year I think we'll be sticking close to home, although we've been saying that since we didn't need a babysitter. If a last minute invitation comes in I'm telling my husband he can decide whether we go or not -he's the one that can't stay awake. Maybe this year we'll just let nature take its course. Enough said.