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Remember when I said I would be glad to fuck this man? At the time I said that, I even said I’d go so far as to marry him. Well, that was before I found out that Bill just quit drinking. Sorry, but given my family history, the last thing I need is a drunk man for a husband (or a drunk woman for a wife, for that matter, though the “Dad connection” is much greater with a man).

If you’ve just now shown up for the first time, welcome and a little backstory: my dad died a year ago and he was an alcoholic all my life, though a dry drunk for the last dozen years of his. I imbibe a bit but am very conscious not to overdo. I’ve always lived with the fear of developing a dependency (other than the nicotine addiction). I lived with the fear of becoming mentally ill, too, but that’s another post…

So, Bill, I’m in for a weekend (even a long one) but not a lifetime, Hon. Too risky.

Below is one of the reasons I’d fuck the man.

Here is where you can listen to and buy it.

These Cold Fingers

Gina left town with the first snow of the year
He drove her to the airport in his Ford
And he tried to propose as he ordered one more beer
but the PA drowned out his words and it was time for her to board.

So he walked her to the gate
He took his hat off as he kissed her
He needed one more drink to take the chill out of his soul
He said a quick goodbye then spent two hours in the bar
Finally paid his tab and kept a dollar for the toll

Everything slips through these cold fingers
Like trying to hold water, trying to hold sand
Close your eyes and make a wish a listen to the
One more round, bartender, pour a double if you

It’s four o’clock and the sun’s gone down the drain
It’s still late winter but they say it’s early spring
Louis reads the gas pumps, Rossi counts the oils
But me I’m done so punch the clock and see you in the morning

There’s nothing back at home that ain’t gone greasy from the stove
I never laughed so hard as when that typewriter broke
Think I’ll stop along the river road for a half pint and some beer
Well everything would be ok if those old dreams would disappear

Everything slips through these cold fingers
Like trying to hold water, trying to hold sand
Close your eyes and make a wish a listen to the
One more round, bartender, pour a double if you

The dog can’t move no more, surprised he made it till the spring
His pain won’t go away and the pills don’t do a thing
You’ve known that old hound longer than you’ve known any of your friends
And no matter how you let him down he’d always take you back again

So it’s one tall glass of whiskey, one last drink for old times’ sake
The dog just lays in bed and watches every move you make
Wrap him up in his blanket, hold him once more close to you
Lead him out behind the barn with a borrowed .22

Everything slips through these cold fingers
Like trying to hold water, trying to hold sand
Close your eyes and make a wish a listen to the
One more round, bartender, pour a double if you

Bill Morrissey‘s These Cold Fingers, released on Standing Eight in 1989 on Philo Records. Available now on Rounder Records.

The raw emotion in that song, the heart-rending sorrow. Anyone with the ability to tap into that much pain in the world and keep on moving is a person of interest. Mind you, I had no idea he was speaking from personal experience about the booze. I assumed it was metaphor. Though from the raspy voice, I probably should have suspected…

Congrats on the sobriety, Bill! May it stay with you always!


This is a smattering of the stuff I’ve been dealing with over the winter; hence, my hibernation. I doubt I’ll be back much soon, though I do have a draft about what I’ve been up to.

You know, therapy’s got to end eventually, doesn’t it? It does. Doesn’t it?

Posted on an anonymous, private journal of mine, which I’m using as a therapy journal.

  • My garden is now my self, and my child.

All the diligence I put in to cultivating Michael to be a man of integrity, sincerity, hope is paying off now. He is a fabulous man and a fabulous father. He seems to have my instinct for how to nurture his son while fostering his intellect and his ultimate independence.

I really was very adept at encouraging Michael to be all he can, learn as much as he’s able, investigate as much as he desires. I also taught him, as best as I was able, to respect others, to be open to the world around him. I tried to encourage him to be open to his feelings; he denied any desire at the time but I see how open he is in his relationship with Jen and with his son.

I really did a good job nurturing and cultivating my fledgling to become a real man, a good man. Mostly I listened to my heart telling me all the things I wished I’d received as a child…unconditional love and acceptance, encouragement of my unusual bents, interests and proclivities, exposure to many different things and experiences in the world, being there and (mostly) paying attention to him.

Now he’s done. Not only have I gotten him through college, seen him married and a father, I now see him as a man considering and planning a future with his family. His emotional separation is complete. I have done a good job; no, I have created a masterpiece.

His honesty in our talk following the birthday party. The way he opens his eyes to the 600-pound gorilla, just like his mama, and deals effectively with it, unlike his mama, historically. He’s self-assured enough to be vulnerable, to assert what he wants or needs, to work on an issue pro-actively. What a man!

So, I wash my hands of that task. Except for getting him interested in politics (which might be more successful after he’s done grad school) there’s nothing more to be done there. Now, on to the next project.

  • My garden.

I’m communing with the earth this spring. I’m listening to her and taking instruction about what she needs here, how I can help there. I’m now talking about putting in a drainage system which will create a (sometimes) water feature through my terraced cut flower and rock gardens. That diversion would meet up with the primary diversion below the ivy-covered stump then trickle down along the half-buried drainage pipe that is (now, thanks to my efforts) carrying the water from the downspout to the creek.

I’m dreaming big and wild this year and the work will be backbreaking but when I’m done, there will be an environment that could be beautifully tended by another special soul or allowed to be swallowed back into nature with lovely surprises springing up in unexpected places at unexpected times.

Gnome Glen, Rock Garden (terraced), Cut-flower Garden, Perennial Bed, Annual Beds, screened seating area, vegetable garden, Wind Chime Tree, creek bank recovery project, creating a self-sustaining wildlife-friendly habitat.

Dad’s Black Willow.

  • Dad. Lisa. Death. Grief.

So, Lisa, who was my salvation, was cut off in the prime of her life and just prior to the start of my own. Lisa the Savior. Lisa, my Out!

I paid my dues…over and over again. I danced the dance like a marionette! Just who did I do the dance for, though? Yes, it was Mom and Dad’s dance, their song, but which was the one I must support?

The weakling. Dad.

  • Dad’s dead now.

The one I was allied with, the one with whose care I was charged. That one is dead.

The one that was my responsibility is dead.

The other? Is it my duty to save my mother? My brother? Or should the allies continue to dance the dance they choose.

I listen to my own drummer. I dance to my own music. I cannot dance that way any more.

I now dance much more in tune with my child’s music. Well, not his actual music, mind you, but emotionally…you know. Metaphor.

  • My Garden-Redux

Now I am allowing that incredible capacity I have for nurturing to flow where it will right now and all flow is toward the garden! (Well, there’s a little stuff going on inside too but that’s for another time.)

I speak with the garden, with the water that runs through it, with the perennials I or others before me have planted, encouraging them. I listen to the creek and the earth and the trees and plants as they tell me what they need then I provide it.

I believe I am turning into a serious gardener.

And it’s the yummiest thing I’ve felt yet!

I think I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a woman who gardens. Either tends veggie patches or designs and builds wonderful habitats and stunning masses of natural beauty. I’d love to do any of this professionally but will content myself with being a nurse while I develop into a Master Gardener. Once I retire, all bets are off! I could be an entrepreneur…South Jersey native plant nursery lady. It’s about time!

Something to think about.

Of course, I could adapt that to being the Rochester-area native plant nursery lady if my grandson is growing up in the Syracuse vicinity.

Okay, is the lesson you’ve been waiting for…the one about knowing I don’t have to save the world, I only have to do what I can to make it a better place and I already do that? Oh that happened months ago.

Let’s move back to sex, shall we?

And hypnosis.

; )

So, there’s been a lot on my mind and a lot I’ve been dealing with as well as planning out my fabulous garden and doing random acts of gardening kindness in my community.

I’m getting to know some of the neighbors a bit better. : )

All in all, life is very good this spring.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

That’s what I used to read to my sister every night when she was little, and to my son when he was small. That and Clement Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before ChristmasEvery Christmas Eve.

I miss my sister this Christmas.  And I miss my dad; oh, how I miss Dad.

I have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law and a spectacularly bright and adorable grandboy.  I have my mom and brother, as always, the reliable ones, the constants.  I have love in my life and more coming in, I can just feel it.

But I miss the old times and the lost loved ones and feel selfish.  I decorate my home with relics from a long ago past, a secret childhood I never had and always had.

I raise my glass ( lovely, simple Australian Merlot) and toast the birth of Christ, the love in my life and those I love and those…newly and long…gone from my life.  But never gone from my heart.

Happy Christmas to all and, on earth peace, good will toward humanity.

Well, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my mother’s house yesterday. When you have a nurse in the family, you get used to accepting alternative holidays…Christmas on the 26th, Thanksgiving on the fourth Saturday in November. I’d been imagining all manner of horrors, this being the first major holiday we’d be celebrating since Dad died. In some ways, the weekend lived up to those expectations. It was very hard to be at my parents’ house. In other ways, the pain of Dad’s abscence was almost completely ameliorated by this:

Seven and a half months, came to Jersey with one tooth (lower right) and had a second one (lower left) coming through by the ride back to Pittsburgh. A much more pleasant disposition than his father deserves. From what her mother has said, better disoposed than his mother deserves, too. Sits up, tries to stand and is creeping…just like his dad, who never crawled. Brendan is so efficient and quick in his creep I wonder if he, like his father, might choose never to crawl proper but creep himself along until her learns to walk. He is a truly wonderful baby and I wish I could see him more often. About once a week ought to do.

And I didn’t feel the need to run away but spent a few hours after Mike and Jen left helping Mom access and organize her Christmas things and erecting their spiral “trees” on the front lawn. Came home with a sack full of goodies, too. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, crab dip, olives. Yum! At least two meals at work this week. I do so love taking leftovers to work.

Something must have suited me about the weekend because, for the first time in months, I actually felt like doing something when I got home instead of simply vegging in front of the computer. I swept the steps and walkway, filled the bird feeders, let Sadie have a little run.

I decided I’d make some Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars. That meant I needed eggs. I searched the web for substitutions for eggs in recipes, none of which I had ready at hand (corn starch? potato starch? egg whites? Why the fuck do you need egg whites to create an egg substitute??? Sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?). I made out to go the the Acme to pick up eggs and other needed supplies then decided at the last minute to go to the Wawa across the street instead.

I feel like a kid in a candy store when I start feeling a little better, you know. The smallest, simplest things bring me so much joy. Just feeling like cleaning out the refrigerator and taking the trash out fills me with pleasure. I did both of those when I got home, even wiping the shelves in the fridge. But, though I felt better enough to get out to the store, I couldn’t quite make myself face the Acme. So I went to the Wawa and spent $14.00 for milk, potato chips, peanut butter (no name), half a pound of American cheese and a dozen eggs.

I felt as if I was doing something I shouldn’t as I walked around the store with my bounty. I felt decadent, like a spendthrift. I am a child of children of the Depression. Money is not to be wasted. Things are not to be thrown away if we might possibly have a use for them, now or in a distant future. My dad’s basement offers testimony to that ethic. The difference tonight was this…I didn’t care.

It’s my money and I can do with it as I choose. It really didn’t bother me to be spending $2.99 for a bag of rippled chips just because I want to have french onion dip during the game and I was too lazy, tired and indifferent to brave the Acme.

So, I made my pan of cookie bars, adding peanut butter as per one of the package suggestions. Too bad I found out too late that I didn’t have enough butter. Take it from me now that I’ve sampled one of the bars I’d planned on treating my co-workers with on a Monday…Crisco and oil do not make up for a stick of Land o’ Lakes. Oh well. They’re tasty enough. It’s just the floury texture and Sahara-esque dryness that’s the issue. Fortunately for me, I love milk and now have a full gallon plus. I guess I’ll be eating dry chocolate chunk cookie bars as my after work snack all week.

Washing clothes now while the Eagles play. So far they look pretty good, making their way down the field. Too bad Indianapolis scored on their first possession so the Birds are playing to a 7 point deficit. And now David Akers, one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, miss a three-pointer to the left because of a high snap. Damn.

It’s a good thing I’m feeling better or an evening alone with the Eagles on tv might be enough to push me into the dark abyss.

Baker’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

Oven at 375 degrees Farenheit

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened (trust me on this one)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package (12 oz.) Baker’s Semisweet Chocolate Chunks

3/4 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Variation: leave out nuts, add 1 cup peanut butter

Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl; set aside. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts (or peanut butter).

Spread dough in a greased, foil-lined 15x10x1 inch baking sheet and bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown. (Makes 3 dozen) Or spread into a 9×13 inch baking pan and bake for 20-22 minutes. (Easily cut into 21 pieces. They’re softer this way.) Cool in pan. Cut while chocolate still warm. Enjoy. Great with cold milk.

Update: by the time I got done this post, the Eagles were down 21-0 with 8 minutes to play in the second quarter. On national television yet. I think it’s time for a glass of wine.

I drove over to Jersey today to visit my mom. I fixed her computer again…the second time I’ve had to replace the wireless card…and watched the Eagles’ football game with her. The “Birds” won, routing the Redskins 27 to 3. I have to wonder if Washington would do better if they changed their name. It’s either bad karma for continuing to usurp and make caricatures of Native American icons and ideas or RFK Stadium was built on some sacred burial ground. Some Great Spirit somewhere seems to be perpetually pissed at the Redskins.

It was a good day to spend with Mom. It was rainy and gloomy so even what little I’ve ever felt as the bosom of mother’s love was some comfort. To her credit, she tries. She just has no idea the damage done in my formative years and beyond and is clueless as to how to bridge the gap. I’m still trying to figure out if I want to or if I just feel obligated to reach out out of guilt. Ahhh, therapy.

It was raining cats and dogs on the ride home, making for a white-knuckle drive up I-95, thankfully only a few miles from the bridge. I’m safely ensconced in my living room, Smithwick’s at hand. Sadie is snoozing now after sulking mightily because I would not share my meat-on-a-stick with her. When she can pay her way, she can have all the Chinese she wants.

My mom happened to mention that tomorrow is the anniversary of my sister’s death. I heard her but was in the process of trying to fix the computer so I didn’t immediately reply and, when I thought of it again, I chose not to go there. I don’t know if I avoided it for me, for her or out of spite. For so many years I wanted to talk about the impact Lisa’s death had on us and for years the subject was taboo.

I decided to gas up in Jersey because gas is always about $.20 a gallon cheaper there than in PA. Since it was pouring, I decided not to make the trip into the little “downtown” I grew up in but headed north to Glassboro, which would shorten my route home after my fill-up. It wasn’t until I made the turn onto Route 322 that I realized my route would take me directly past the spot where my sister was hit by that car. It was a weird feeling to drive by there, 22 years minus 5 hours from the time a 20 year-old swerved 6-10 feet to the right and struck my sister from behind then sped off, leaving the scene, leaving my sister lying there with her blood clotting in her throat.

I don’t think I still know fully how I feel about all this. I’m obviously still angry…angry at Kamela, angry at the fact that she knew she’d struck my sister and chose to drive home, angry that there was no death by auto charge or reckless driving charge, angry that there was never an apology, barely an acknowledgment. Sometimes I ponder how different my life would have been if Lisa had never been hit. I think I would trust much more. I think I would let people in more and have more friends. I should have more friends.

I should have been an aunt.

I should still have my sister.

But life is funny that way and we take what’s given to us most of the time because, most of the time, we have no choice. What would I give up to have my 41 year-old sister, married, with kids, hopefully happy, living a few towns away or in the next state? I don’t know. I feel selfish to even consider that because there’s not much that I’d care to let go. Then again, if Lisa were still here, I have the feeling there would be a whole lot more in my life today.

So, I think I’ll hoist another beer and drown my sorrows in my father’s poison of choice. Here’s to life, whatever it give us and whatever we make of it.

Here’s to my sister, who had so short a shot at this world.

Here’s to my dad, who I will miss terribly this holiday season.

And here’s to my grandson, who has his mother’s and father’s (and my father’s, my sister’s) brown eyes.

Before that she bitched about: