A friend of my mother gave me a couple of bottles of alcohol and this Grand Old Parr was among them. The bottle looks old, but Naomi is a heavy smoker so the bottle may also be yellowed from that. If anyone knows anything about the brand I’d be happy to hear from you. Any old memories or an idea of it’s worth. It is a full bottle and the NY tax seal is unbroken. It is marked as a Quart and newer bottles are marked as Liters, so it could be an older bottle. Thanks for any comment.
My 1st email to email@example.com
I went to my local Sprint store to complain, once again, about the 3rd phone line I was pressured into buying. I received a phone call in March 2008 from a Sprint rep located, I assume because of the heavy accent, in India. After quite a while on the phone he convinced me to get a third line. 631-41X-XXXX. I already had 631-38X-XXXX and 38X-XXXX. I basically took the extra line because this guy would not let me off the phone. I was told that I could cancel at any time if I was not happy with the phone. When I called to cancel I was told it was too late. Maybe I misunderstood? That is possible since the guy I spoke to had a heavy accent. I figured, “Oh well, they got me.” I called off & on to complain but never got any satisfaction. In November I was speaking to my son’s future mother-in-law & she said the same thing happened to her. That started me getting angry about the whole thing again. I called & the rep added 1000 text messages to my son’s phone number, I guess to shut me up. Then I went on line and noticed I’ve been paying for Vision I never ordered since May of 2008. I asked the rep to remove the charges & she said I could only dispute up to 60 days. She took off 2 months of charges. Now I’m more unhappy than ever. My 631-38X-XXXX phone expires 3/10/09. I’ll let the contract die a natural death. Next my son’s number expires 631-38X-XXXX, that, too will die a natural death. Lastly, the phone I never wanted, never used and just absolutely hate 631-41X-XXXX will finally expire & I will be finished with Sprint for the rest of my natural born days. Except to tell anyone who will listen never to get Sprint as a carrier as the service is terrible and the company uses under-handed tactics to trick people into getting phones they do not want. So, Dan, your employee told me you were the last stop in the complaint department and this is probably a too-familiar story. Do you have a solution? Thank you in advance for any you can give. I am blind copying everybody I know. And if I get some satisfaction, I will copy them with your solution also.
Thank you for taking the time to write. We’ll be looking through all the ideas and feedback we receive.
This will, of course, take some time. I appreciate your patience until
we can get you a response. A representative from my office will be
contacting you in about a week.
In the meantime, I encourage you to visit www.sprint.com to learn more
about the significant savings available to individuals and families
through Sprint’s Simply Everything and Sprint’s Everything Family plans.
Or, through our Ready Now program, make an appointment with a store
representative to learn more about how to use your device.
Once again, from all of us at Sprint, thank you. Dan Hesse CEO
So they call me from an unidentified line:
I apologize for any inconvenience your may have experienced. I would like to speak with you regarding your billing concerns. I did attempt to contact you on (631)38x-xxxx, but was unable to reach you. Please respond indicating the best time to call. You may also contact me on (757)223-3761. Sincerely,Melaine H.(757)223-3761 Sprint
So they call me from an unidentified line again:
Thank you for returning my call. I did attempt to contact you this morning on both (xxx)xxx-xxxx and (xxx)xxx-xxxx, but received your voicemail. Please respond indicating the best time to contact you. I can also be reached on (757)223-3761.
Per our conversation today, you did indicate that you did not request to add the data service to phone number (xxx)xxx-xxxx. I understand that you are requesting additional credit for this service as well as the cancellation of (xxx)xxx-xxxx with no penalty. I am currently reviewing your account and will follow up with you once a resolution is reached.
Please contact me on (757)223-3761 if you have any questions.
End result? I did finally speak to her…..She was NOT helpful, and basically said, “tough luck.” I still have the phone-no credit given, except for a Vision Pack they snuck in a year ago. They gave me 3 months worth of credit for that.
After my brother’s birthday lunch me, my sister-in-law, my mother and my partner took a ride to an Asian grocery store my sister-in-law wanted us to see. Afterwards, we decided to take the long way home, as usual, since we like to explore CT’s back roads, and it was a beautiful day. I was in CT from Long Island, where I live.
I was driving, heading down Route 165 and had just crested a hill. A young man was in the road, waving me around what looked like a motorcycle part. I slowed. Took in the scene. A few parts were strewn across my path. Time stopped. A hush fell. The man waving me through looked as if he was in shock. His waving was haphazard, as if he wasn’t sure what he should be telling us to do.
A black jacket was oddly hanging from high in a tree. How did it get there? How could it have gotten so high up there? I looked at other branches, nothing else hanging from the limbs. I look into the waving guys face. It seems he is going to approach the car but he is frozen to the spot he’s standing in, making sure no one runs over the cycle parts. His body turns slightly towards the side of the road. My sister-in-law sobs in the back seat. My mother says, “Oh no”.
A woman jogger with a Nano strapped to her arm stands to the left, shock etched on her face. A deafening silence permeates the air. “Cathedral-like quiet”, I think. So quiet. A hush. Time stretched to slow-motion as reality reveals itself to me. I see a young man, face down. Body broken, so damaged. My mind tells me he cannot be alive. I know this intellectually. My heart says, “Maybe. Maybe he is so hurt he’s unconscience.”
My heart says, “Pray.” I pray; Please God, let him live. Stay with him. Please. I can see he is young. My son just turned 24 and I do not want to face what this boy’s family will have to face, so, please God, help him. Save him. Stay with him until the police and medics come. Just help him to breathe until help arrives. I send my prayer to God, and his family. I know there is nothing I can do. The young man waving me on…his eyes are telling me, “Just go!”, and I do as the Trooper arrives. My eyes meet the joggers eyes. I see in her eyes the boy is not alive.
Later, at night, trying to close my eyes and not replay the scene over and over. Knowing in my heart he could not have lived. Praying that God comfort his family. Wondering what they are doing at this moment. Sending my prayer of comfort to them, and to the man who stood guard over the boy. Thanking his guardian for being with him as he left on another journey, on another winding road, on a sunny, peaceful day with Jesus as his guide. March 7, 2009.
Kenneth Troy, 23 years old. God Bless and keep you always.
Early morning on a late spring day, on the side of a well-traveled road in West Virginia.
Pouring rain, thunder, lightening. Drenched, soaking wet, cold-no matter, the show was great.
BANG & BLAME
If you could see yourself now, baby
Its not my fault
You used to be so in control
Youre going to roll right over this one
Just roll me over, let me go
Youre laying blame
Take this as no, no, no
You bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Blame, blame, blame
You bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Its not my thing so let it go.
If you could see yourself now baby,
The tables have turned
The whole world hinges on your swings
Your secret life of indiscreet discretions
Id turn the screw and leave the screen,
Dont point your finger,
You know thats not my thing
You came to bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Blame, blame, blame
You bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Its not my thing so let it go.
Youve got a little worry,
I know it all too well,
Ive got your number,
But so does every kiss-and-tell
Who dares to cross your threshold,
Or happens on your way,
Stop laying blame.
You know thats not my thing.
You know thats not my thing,
You came to bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Blame, blame, blame
You bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Its not my thing so let it go.
You bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Blame, blame, blame
You bang, bang, bang, bang and bang,
Its not my thing so let it go.
You kiss on me, tug on me, rub on me, jump on me,
You bang on me, beat on me, hit on me, let go on me,
You let go on me.
What is it that I remember when I think of Hank? I think everyone who knows him well would agree with me on this. It was his calm demeanor, his quiet intelligence and his sense of humor. He was the kind of person that would make you laugh at the absurdity of life’s situations. That is what I will truly miss about him. He could make me laugh when I was having a bad day. He always cheered me up when he knew I was in the middle of a bad day.
Hank’s death was sudden. I remember when I heard the news I simply could not believe it. Hank was too young but it occurred to me that Hank lived his life wonderfully. The proof was in the way people reacted to his untimely death. It was as if a pall had settled over everyone. He was well-loved, well-respected and I think about the many things he did on earth, as a friend and I’m sure he’ll do much more in heaven. I will forever be grateful to have known Hank. I will forever be grateful that Hank was there at the right place and at the right time to figuratively save my life and sanity. I will forever be grateful for spending a number of years of my life with a friend like him. All the memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered. He will forever live in my heart… In all our hearts, I believe.
Hank is in heaven now and I am here reflecting on what I knew of him and his life. This is not the time to grieve his death but it’s a time to celebrate his life. I think back and remember how Hank touched my life, and the people around him. How he made me laugh and how good Hank was as a person.
The tears I am shedding is for the loss of a friend, and they are tears for his sons, whom he loved with all his heart. There was always a look of great pride in his eyes when he spoke of their accomplishments and of their trials and tribulations growing up. He often told me that they were not alike, but that each of them brought a different outlook and perspective on life and that it was amazing how two such different children could be born in the same household. And I know he felt blessed to have two son’s who were on the verge of becoming fine adults. If there is one thing I want to convey about Hank it is this: He was a great person and he loved his son’s dearly. I will forever miss Hank, but I know in the right time, I will meet him again. Thank you, Hank for giving me the privilege of being your friend. So, Hank, very special man, lovely man, fantastic man, your friend bids you farewell this afternoon.
In the strange and hollow day since you died I find it helps me to remember the times I shared with you, the things we had already done and enjoyed, and to be eternally grateful for your friendship.
Esotericwombat writes in his blog that he talks to strangers. Me too, all the time. I must have something in my face that attracts people to talk to me, or me to them. I don’t know why. This is not a post about talking to strangers, though. This is about a friend who became a stranger. For whatever reason, his post made me think of Donna, a girl I knew in the early 80’s. Or maybe what brought on the memory was listening to “Angie”, which was also posted there.
I was living in Sayville, NY at the time in a small apartment complex down on the bay. The cool thing was that there was a boat yard there used by a sailing club. I would fall asleep at night listening to the wind cut through the ropes on the sailboats. They made a singing sound that would lull me to sleep. The Sayville Ferry was next to the sailboat yard and I would watch the coming and goings of the day-trippers in the summer. I worked right next door at a little hole in the wall takeout fish market, The Clamdigger. I just had to step out of my place, walk down the driveway and viola!, I was at work. Life was good.
Donna moved into the apartment next to mine. It was a studio. She was an out of work gym teacher doing her time at Estee Lauder until she could find a real job, at the schools. We hit it off right away. She was a tiny thing, very bouncy and active as I imagine a gym teacher would be. I lived with my boyfriend, and future husband and future, future ex-husband, Bob; she was on her own. We would hang out in the front yard which fronted the bay, all for $125 a month, waterfront. I had a one bedroom so she probably paid $75-$80.
We hung out for a few months. There was not a thing wrong with her, I swear. I met her mom and step-dad. They gave no hint that anything was wrong or that anything ever was. One day she tells me she’s met a guy, Tom. Tom Kennedy. She met him at Estee Lauder. A few weeks later we meet him. He was cool, normal. Shortly after that Donna tells me that Tom is engaged to be married, but that he wants to break it off and be with Donna. The only thing is he’s not sure how to do it because he’s supposed to be getting married in two months or so. Things reach a critical stage-the wedding is imminent. He has to do something. He’s been staying at Donna’s house for weeks, off and on and he needs to tell this girl, who is Hispanic, by the way, that he is not going to marry her.
Donna stops by after work and tells me that Tom is going to the girl’s house that very day and he’s going to tell her grandmother, who she was raised by, that he can’t marry her granddaughter. Donna is pacing and worried because Tom is afraid of the grandmother because she practices Santoria. Santoria is a syncretic religion that combines elements of African and Catholic beliefs. I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about then. Later I did some research and found out about the practice. But at the time I just figured Tom was scared because he was ditching the girl days before their wedding.
Tom doesn’t show up that Friday night or Saturday either. It was a long weekend with Donna. When he does finally come back on Sunday he is visibly shaken. He has a huge leather-bound white bible with him and he tells us he has to read it to protect himself. At this point my boyfriend, Bob, goes to watch sports on T.V. I stay in the studio apartment with Tom and Donna. Tom proceeds to tell us the story after Donna pulls out the sleep-sofa and they both get in it, with the Bible on their laps. I sit in the kitchen chair I’ve pulled up.
Tom says he went to the girls house. She’s there. The Grandmother is there. The Grandmother is not happy with him and his current disappearing act. He’s told the girl he can’t marry her. That he’s found someone else. That it has nothing to do with her. It’s just the way it is. She cries. He is summoned to the Grandmother’s bedroom where she sits in bed with a white, leather-bound bible and a black-face doll. She tells him he is cursed for what he has done to her grandchild. He tells her he is sorry. She hands him the bible and tells him the answer is in the bible and dismisses him. She tells him to never darken their door again and reminds him he is cursed.
While Tom is telling us what happened he’s thumbing through the pages of the Bible. When he’s done I tell them this is bullshit. The curse will only work if he believes in it. Otherwise, ditch the thought, the girlfriend and her grandmother. Get on with his life with Donna. The old woman is crazy. He says he’s scared and they need to read the bible to get the answer to the curse. I leave them to their on devices and go home. I tell Bob but he wants me to be quiet so he can watch his sports show.
Over the next few days Tom and Donna read the bible. They don’t go to work. Tom is convinced something terrible is going to happen to him. Maybe he’ll get in a car accident. Maybe someone the Grandmother knows will maim or kill him for what he’s done to his former fiance. I’m getting annoyed with them. When I knock on the door they open it, peering out from a small crack in the door as if I’m an agent sent from Hell. When Tom goes to the store I talk to Donna trying to convince her the grandmother is getting the better of them because here they sit, like scared children, shivering every time the phone rings or there is a knock on the door. She is truly convinced Tom is cursed.
This incident leads Donna into the depths of despair. Their love is doomed. Forever cursed. She tells me Tom is a Kennedy, but I know that. No, she says, a REAL Kennedy, a Massachusetts Kennedy. And we all know THEY are cursed. Come on, I say. Tom is a Kennedy? Yes, and he has a twin brother. The Tom that just left for the store is not her Tom. It is his evil twin brother. He is keeping Tom away from her. The Tom who came back that day was not her Tom. It was his brother. The Grandmother kept her Tom and sent this Tom in his stead. And now she is pregnant, but who is the father? Tom or his brother? Pregnant? Yes. With John Lennon’s child. John has been dead for months. This is now the summer. She tells me she’s having twins. A boy and a girl. She knows this because the nails on her right hand are long; this means it’s a girl. The nails on her left hand are short; this means one of them is a boy. I tell her that John is dead. She smiles and says she knows. He came from the clouds and impregnated her. Yoko is jealous. Tom comes home from the store. I ask him if he is a Massachusetts Kennedy. He smiles and makes the crazy sign when Donna isn’t looking. I go back to my place. Tell Bob the story. He says to stay away from them both. They’re smoking too much pot.
A few days later they’ve packed up and moved. I don’t know where. I go to Donna’s mother’s house. She tells me she’s afraid of Tom. That Tom has Donna in some house over in Ronkonkoma. They’re living in the basement. Tom is back working at Estee Lauder. Donna isn’t working and is going to be a stay-at-home mom. Donna’s mother is frantic. Her daughter is talking nonsense about Tom not being Tom. She gives me their address. I go there. Go around the house to the entrance of the basement. No Tom. But Donna is in there. The door is locked from the outside. I look in the window. No furniture. No nothing but a sleeping bag and a white bible which is on the kitchen counter. I get Donna’s attention. She comes to the door but can’t open it. I force the door. Walk in. Donna tells me Tom’s brother is holding her captive. That there is no food in the house. That she is hungry.
Donna tells me that Tom’s brother is going to be very mad at me. I have kidnapped the mother of John Lennon’s children who he is going to make a lot of money on. I tell her to get in the car. I bring her to her mother’s house. Within hours she is in the Central Islip Psychiatric facility. Over the next week I visit her. She is malnourished. Not pregnant and missing the “real” Tom. The other Tom couldn’t be Tom because Tom would never do to her what the bad Tom did. Donna’s mother tells me the doctor diagnosed her as manic-depressive. She seems a little better to me, but she keeps missing Tom. She insists that he’s looking for her and she hopes that when he finds her that he is the good Tom.
I go to visit her after I leave work, on the 6th or 7th day of her stay at CI, as it was known then. Donna is gone. I call her mother from the pay phone. Her mother tells me Tom found Donna. He took her out of the hospital. He has that right because he’s her husband. They married just weeks before.
I never see her or him again. Her mother moved to Florida about a year later. We lost touch. I can’t remember her last name. Or Donna’s. Odd. One day it will come to me. Where is she? What happened to her? Was Tom Kennedy his real name? Did he have a twin brother? Was he a real Kennedy? Was there a fiance? A Grandmother? We’re they cursed?
I always said that if Bob Seger ever played again I’d like to see him. As I posted previously I’ve questioned some of my younger musical taste. A few weeks ago I was searching through my album collection and wondered what the hell I was thinking as I scanned past a Flock of Seagulls album. And as I said then, there must have been some kind of mandatory number of albums to pick when I joined, but never intended to pay for, the Colombia Record Club. If I liked them way back then I’ll never admit to it. A friend of mine at work said Seger was playing to promote his new CD and burned me a copy. It’s pretty good. Sounds like classic Seger. A little older, maybe a little wiser, like the rest of us, hopefully. My work friend, who for the life of me I can’t remember his name, is going to see him at the Garden on Thursday. I have a friend at Mohegan Sun so I figured I’d give it a try and asked for two tickets. I tried to get a room at Mohegan, but they were sold out. Tried at Foxwoods, too, to no avail. Maybe I was on to something big, this Seger show. No rooms? I had to stay at the Residence Inn in Mystic and it’s gone non-smoking, which was a drag, no pun intended. I should have brought the can of Lysol but the warning, in BIG letters, scared me from even trying. “Smoke Recovery Charges: $250. Not worth it. I froze my ass off in the Jeep out in the parking lot. No more Marriott for this dame.
We had pretty good seats. I snuck my digital in. Not easy with the pat-down upon entering and, once the show started, Security hoisting people out who were taking pictures with their camera phones. My girlfriend was freaking when I asked her to hand me the camera and I was kind of, too, but I really wanted some pictures. So Seger was great. He put on a fantastic show. Came out for two encores. I thought the arena was going to collaspe with the screaming and pounding meant to show him all 10,000 of us wanted him back up there on stage. Played a good mix of old and new stuff. I can die happy-he played Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. He also played: Against the Wind, Betty Lou’s Getting Out Tonight, Horizontal Bop, Turn the Page, Rock N Roll Never Forgets, Night Moves, Main Street, Sunspot Baby, Hollywood Nights, Old Time Rock N Roll, We’ve Got Tonight, Katmandu, C’est La Vie (and it sounded great), and five or six from the new CD. The only one I missed, that he didn’t play, was Shame on the Moon.
Now catch this low-tech show on the video: Bob holding the mike with one hand while he plays the keyboard with the other. Then the host, at the end, says, “Groovy”! But damn, he sure was easy on the eyes-and still is.
Out in the woods stood a nice little Fir-tree. The place he had was a very good one; the sun shone on him; as to fresh air, there was enough of that, and round him grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as firs. But the little Fir wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.
He did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care for the little cottage children that ran about and prattled when they were in the woods looking for wild strawberries. The children often came with a whole pitcher full of berries, or a long row of them threaded on a straw, and sat down near the young tree and said, “Oh,
how pretty he is! what a nice little fir!” But this was what the Tree could not bear to hear.
At the end of a year he had shot up a good deal, and after another year he was another long bit taller; for with fir-trees one can always tell by the shoots how many years old they are.
“Oh, were I but such a high tree as the others are!” sighed he. “Then I should be able to spread out my branches, and with the tops to look into the wide world! Then would the birds build nests among my branches; and when there was a breeze, I could bend with as much stateliness as the others!”
Neither the sunbeams, nor the birds, nor the red clouds, which morning and evening sailed above them, gave the little Tree any pleasure.
In winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a hare would often come leaping along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that made him so angry! But two winters were past, and in the third the tree was so large that the hare was obliged to go round it. “To grow and grow, to get older and be tall,” thought the Tree “that, after all, is the most delightful thing in the world!”
In autumn the wood cutters always came and felled some of the largest trees. This happened every year; and the young Fir tree, that had now grown to a very comely size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent
great trees fell to the earth with noise and cracking, the branches were lopped off, and the trees looked long and bare; they were hardly to be recognized; and then they were laid in carts, and the horses dragged them out of the woods.
Where did they go to? What became of them?
In spring, when the Swallows and the Storks came, the Tree asked them, “Don’t you know where they have been taken? Have you not met them anywhere?”
The Swallows did not know anything about it; but the Stork looked musing, nodded his head, and said: “Yes, I think I know; I met many ships as I was flying hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent masts, and I venture to assert that it was they that smelt so of fir. I may congratulate you, for they lifted themselves on high most majestically!”
“Oh, were I but old enough to fly across the sea! But how does the sea look in reality? What is it like?”
“That would take a long time to explain,” said the Stork, and with these words off he went.
“Rejoice in thy growth!” said the Sunbeams, “rejoice in thy vigorous growth, and in the fresh life that moves within thee!”
And the Wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears over him; but the Fir understood it not.
When Christmas came, quite young trees were cut down; trees which often were not even as large or of the same age as this Fir tree, who could never rest, but always wanted to be off. These young trees, and they were always the finest looking, retained their branches; they were laid on carts, and the horses drew them out of the woods.
“Where are they going to?” asked the Fir. “They are not taller than I; there was one indeed that was considerably shorter; and why do they retain all their branches? Whither are they taken?”
“We know! we know!” chirped the Sparrows. “We have peeped in at the windows in the town below! We know whither they are taken! The greatest splendour and the greatest magnificence one can imagine await them. We
peeped through the windows, and saw them planted in the middle of the warm room, and ornamented with the most splendid things, with gilded apples, with gingerbread, with toys, and many hundred lights!”
“And then?” asked the Fir tree, trembling in every bough. “And then? What happens then?”
“We did not see anything more: it was incomparably beautiful.”
“I would fain know if I am destined for so glorious a career,” cried the Tree, rejoicing. “That is still better than to cross the sea! What a longing do I suffer! Were Christmas but come! I am now tall, and my branches spread like the others that were carried off last year! Oh, were I but already on the cart. Were I in the warm room with all the splendour and magnificence! Yes; then something better, something still grander, will surely follow, or wherefore should they thus ornament me? Something better, something still grander, must follow, but what? Oh,
how I long, how I suffer! I do not know myself what is the matter with me!”
“Rejoice in our presence!” said the Air and the Sunlight; “rejoice in thy own fresh youth!”
But the Tree did not rejoice at all; he grew and grew, and was green both winter and summer. People that saw him said, “What a fine tree!” and toward Christmas he was one of the first that was cut down. The axe struck deep into the very pith; the tree fell to the earth with a sigh: he felt a pang, it was like a swoon; he could not think of happiness, for he was sorrowful at being separated from his home, from the place where he had sprung up. He knew well that he should never see his dear old comrades, the little bushes and flowers around him, any more;
perhaps not even the birds! The departure was not at all agreeable.
The Tree only came to himself when he was unloaded in a courtyard with the other trees, and heard a man say, “That one is splendid! we don’t want the others.” Then two servants came in rich livery and carried the
Fir tree into a large and splendid drawing-room. Portraits were hanging on the walls, and near the white porcelain stove stood two large Chinese vases with lions on the covers. There, too, were large easy chairs, silken sofas, large tables full of picture-books, and full of toys worth hundreds and hundreds of crowns, at least the children said so. And the Fir tree was stuck upright in a cask that was filled with sand: but no one could see that it was a cask, for green cloth was hung all around it, and it stood on a large gaily coloured carpet. Oh, how the Tree quivered! What was to happen? The servants, as well as the young ladies, decorated it. On one branch there hung little nets cut out of coloured paper, and each net was filled with sugar-plums; and among the other boughs gilded apples and walnuts were suspended, looking as though they had grown there, and little blue and white
tapers were placed among the leaves. Dolls that looked for all the world like men, the Tree had never beheld such before, were seen among the foliage, and at the very top a large star of gold tinsel was fixed. It was really splendid, beyond description splendid.
“This evening!” said they all; “how it will shine this evening!”
“Oh,” thought the Tree, “if the evening were but come! If the tapers were but lighted! And then I wonder what will happen! Perhaps the other trees from the forest will come to look at me! Perhaps the sparrows will beat against the window-panes! I wonder if I shall take root here, and winter and summer stand covered with ornaments!”
He knew very much about the matter! but he was so impatient that for sheer longing he got a pain in his back, and this with trees is the same thing as a headache with us.
The candles were now lighted. What brightness! What splendour! The Tree trembled so in every bough that one of the tapers set fire to the foliage. It blazed up splendidly.
“Help! Help!” cried the young ladies, and they quickly put out the fire.
Now the Tree did not even dare tremble. What a state he was in! He was so uneasy lest he should lose something of his splendour, that he was quite bewildered amidst the glare and brightness; when suddenly both folding-doors opened, and a troop of children rushed in as if they would upset the Tree. The older persons followed quietly; the little ones stood quite still. But it was only for a moment; then they shouted so that the whole place re-echoed with their rejoicing; they danced round the tree, and one present after the other was pulled off.
“What are they about?” thought the Tree. “What is to happen now?” And the lights burned down to the very branches, and as they burned down they were put out, one after the other, and then the children had permission to plunder the tree. So they fell upon it with such violence that all its branches cracked; if it had not been fixed firmly in the cask, it would certainly have tumbled down.
The children danced about with their beautiful playthings: no one looked at the Tree except the old nurse, who peeped between the branches; but it was only to see if there was a fig or an apple left that had been forgotten.
“A story! a story!” cried the children, drawing a little fat man toward the tree. He seated himself under it, and said: “Now we are in the shade, and the Tree can listen, too. But I shall tell only one story. Now which will you have: that about Ivedy-Avedy, or about Klumpy-Dumpy who tumbled downstairs, and yet after all came to the throne and married the princess?”
“Ivedy-Avedy!” cried some; “Klumpy-Dumpy” cried the others. There was such a bawling and screaming, the Fir-tree alone was silent, and he thought to himself, “Am I not to bawl with the rest? Am I to do nothing whatever?” for he was one of the company, and had done what he had to do.
And the man told about Klumpy-Dumpy that tumbled down, who notwithstanding came to the throne, and at last married the princess. And the children clapped their hands, and cried out, “Oh, go on! Do go on!” They wanted to hear about Ivedy-Avedy, too, but the little man only told them about Klumpy-Dumpy. The Fir tree stood quite still and absorbed in thought; the birds in the woods had never related the like of this. “Klumpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet he married the princess! Yes! Yes! that’s the way of the world!” thought the Fir-tree, and believed it all, because the man who told the story was so good-looking. “Well, well! who knows, perhaps I may fall downstairs, too, and get a princess as wife!” And he looked forward with joy to the morrow, when he hoped to be decked out again with lights, playthings, fruits, and tinsel.
“I won’t tremble to-morrow,” thought the Fir-tree. “I will enjoy to the full all my splendour. To-morrow I shall hear again the story of Klumpy-Dumpy, and perhaps that of Ivedy-Avedy, too.” And the whole night the Tree stood still and in deep thought.
In the morning the servant and the housemaid came in.
“Now, then, the splendour will begin again,” thought the Fir. But they dragged him out of the room, and up the stairs into the loft; and here in a dark corner, where no daylight could enter, they left him. “What’s the meaning of this?” thought the Tree. “What am I to do here? What shall I hear now, I wonder?” And he leaned against the wall, lost in reverie. Time enough had he, too, for his reflections; for days and nights passed on, and nobody came up; and when at last somebody did come, it was only to put some great trunks in a corner out of the way. There stood the Tree quite hidden; it seemed as if he had been entirely forgotten.
“‘Tis now winter out of doors!” thought the Tree. “The earth is hard and covered with snow; men cannot plant me now, and therefore I have been put up here under shelter till the springtime comes! How thoughtful that is! How kind man is, after all! If it only were not so dark here, and so terribly lonely! Not even a hare. And out in the
woods it was so pleasant, when the snow was on the ground, and the hare leaped by; yes–even when he jumped over me; but I did not like it then. It is really terribly lonely here!”
“Squeak! squeak!” said a little Mouse at the same moment, peeping out of his hole. And then another little one came. They sniffed about the Fir-tree, and rustled among the branches.
“It is dreadfully cold,” said the Mouse. “But for that, it would be delightful here, old Fir, wouldn’t it?”
“I am by no means old,” said the Fir-tree. “There’s many a one considerably older than I am.”
“Where do you come from,” asked the Mice; “and what can you do?” They were so extremely curious. “Tell us about the most beautiful spot on the earth. Have you never been there? Were you never in the larder, where cheeses lie on the shelves, and hams hang from above; where one dances about on tallow-candles; that place where one enters lean, and comes out again fat and portly?”
“I know no such place,” said the Tree, “but I know the woods, where the sun shines, and where the little birds sing.” And then he told all about his youth; and the little Mice had never heard the like before; and they listened and said:
“Well, to be sure! How much you have seen! How happy you must have been!”
“I?” said the Fir-tree, thinking over what he had himself related. “Yes, in reality those were happy times.” And then he told about Christmas Eve, when he was decked out with cakes and candles.
“Oh,” said the little Mice, “how fortunate you have been, old Fir-tree!”
“I am by no means old,” said he. “I came from the woods this winter; I am in my prime, and am only rather short for my age.”
“What delightful stories you know!” said the Mice: and the next night they came with four other little Mice, who were to hear what the tree recounted; and the more he related, the more plainly he remembered all himself; and it appeared as if those times had really been happy times. “But they may still come, they may still come. Klumpy-Dumpy fell downstairs and yet he got a princess,” and he thought at the moment of a nice little Birch-tree growing out in the woods; to the Fir, that would be a real charming princess.
“Who is Klumpy-Dumpy?” asked the Mice. So then the Fir-tree told the whole fairy tale, for he could remember every single word of it; and the little Mice jumped for joy up to the very top of the Tree. Next night two more Mice came, and on Sunday two Rats, even; but they said the stories were not interesting, which vexed the little Mice; and they, too, now began to think them not so very amusing either.
“Do you know only one story?” asked the Rats.
“Only that one,” answered the Tree. “I heard it on my happiest evening; but I did not know how happy I was.”
“It is a very stupid story. Don’t you know one about bacon and tallow candles? Can you tell any larder stories?”
“No,” said the Tree.
“Then good-bye,” said the Rats; and they went home.
At last the little Mice stayed away also; and the Tree sighed: “After all, it was very pleasant when the sleek little Mice sat around me and listened to what I told them. Now that too is over. But I will take good care to enjoy myself when I am brought out again.”
But when was that to be? Why, one morning there came a quantity of people and set to work in the loft. The trunks were moved, the Tree was pulled out and thrown, rather hard, it is true, down on the floor, but a man drew him toward the stairs, where the daylight shone.
“Now a merry life will begin again,” thought the Tree. He felt the fresh air, the first sunbeam, and now he was out in the courtyard. All passed so quickly, there was so much going on around him, that the Tree quite forgot to look to himself. The court adjoined a garden, and all was in flower; the roses hung so fresh and odorous over the balustrade, the lindens were in blossom, the Swallows flew by, and said, “Quirre-vit! my husband is come!” but it was not the Fir-tree that they meant.
“Now, then, I shall really enjoy life,” said he, exultingly, and spread out his branches; but, alas! they were all withered and yellow. It was in a corner that he lay, among weeds and nettles. The golden star of tinsel was still on the top of the Tree, and glittered in the sunshine.
In the courtyard some of the merry children were playing who had danced at Christmas round the Fir-tree, and were so glad at the sight of him. One of the youngest ran and tore off the golden star.
“Only look what is still on the ugly old Christmas tree!” said he, trampling on the branches, so that they all cracked beneath his feet. And the Tree beheld all the beauty of the flowers, and the freshness in the garden; he beheld himself, and wished he had remained in his dark corner in the loft; he thought of his first youth in the woods, of the merry Christmas Eve, and of the little Mice who had listened with so much pleasure to the story of Klumpy-Dumpy.
“‘Tis over, ’tis past!” said the poor Tree. “Had I but rejoiced when I had reason to do so! But now ’tis past, ’tis past!”
And the gardener’s boy chopped the Tree into small pieces; there was a whole heap lying there. The wood flamed up splendidly under the large brewing copper, and it sighed so deeply! Each sigh was like a shot.
The boys played about in the court, and the youngest wore the gold star on his breast which the Tree had had on the happiest evening of his life. However, that was over now–the Tree gone, the story at an end. All, all was over; every tale must end at last.
I was a kid, living at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico when I became aware of the space program. I decided I was in love with Astronaut John Glenn, and wanted to travel with him into space. Each day after school I would get my paper and pencil and go sit in front of the big blue post office box a few blocks away from my house and write him letters. Sometimes I brought my 5 year-old sister with me. The letters basically said the same thing: “Dear John Glenn, I love you and want to travel in space with you. I saw you on T.V. and I am not afraid to go in a spaceship to explore the galaxy. We can get married and travel together. Please write back to me and let me know when you will come and get me. My sister can’t go, she is too young. I live at 134 Lemay Street.”
I would then fold the letter, (sans envelope and stamp) and put it in the mail box. I would hide to watch the postman pick up the mail, (remember, it’s a Federal CRIME to touch mail or mail boxes that are not yours) to ensure my letter went on it’s way. I waited. In fact, I’m still waiting.
When my brother Bobby was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987 it was a no-questions-asked death sentence. He had been living in Philadelphia with a guy I had never met. He had a beautiful, high-tech apartment. I went to visit him there once after he moved from Ocean City, NJ. Shortly after that my sister told me that Bobby’s friend had died of a heart attack. He was young and I don’t even remember his name. My brother was very upset but his story kept changing about how his friend died. First it was a heart attack, then he didn’t know. It was somewhat confusing, and at one point I thought that maybe it was AIDS but my mother pooh-poohed that idea. He lived in Philly for a short time after that then he moved back to New York. He seemed to have gotten over his loss and was living with a friend in Lindenhurst. His friend was a VP at Met Life in Manhattan, and would later die of AIDS, also. My brother was having trouble with his teeth and I made an appointment for him with my dentist. Bobby had white dots all over his mouth and his teeth hurt. I went with him to the appointment and the doctor stepped out of the office to speak to me. He asked me if I knew what a compromised immune system meant. I thought about it and then answered, “yes”. He advised me to take my brother for an HIV test. He wrote Bobby a perscription for thrush and we left the office. Shortly after that he went to Stony Brook Hospital and had a blood test. The results came back positive. Bobby had AIDS. It was June 1987. By August 1988 he was dead. One of the countless millions killed in the AIDS epidemic. There is no cure. Today is World AIDS Day. Protect yourself. It’s still out there.
I got my mother into politics when she was about 60 years old. She’s 71 now. The first time she voted was when Bill Clinton was running for president. She’s been a die-hard Democrat ever since and no one can say a bad word about Mr. Clinton as she defends him to the hilt. That being said, yesterday she called me at work to tell me the exciting news:
“Ronald Dumbell resigned! We won, we won!”
I really had to laugh because it was an astute observation and she didn’t even know it.
My good friend, Maria, died on October 25th, of cancer. When she was younger, she lost a kidney. Then, a few years later, she developed breast cancer. She won both those battles. About two years ago she noticed that a large birthmark above her temple had changed. She went to the doctor and had it biopsed. It was cancerous. They removed it. It spread; the doctor operated. She was on a course of interferon that made her very sick and the Maria I knew went away. Being on interferon was difficult, to put it mildly. She was tired all the time and it made her sick. She took it for ten months. Afterwards. she returned to being Maria again. Just like that she was back in the swing of life and I was glad to have her back. So was her family. After a few months the cancer came back. They operated again, going further down the side of her face and into her neck. We hoped that was it. It wasn’t. After a PET scan she was told that the cancer had spread. With other treatments there was only a 10% chance of beating it. Maria made the decision to stop fighting. She planned her funeral with her daughters by her side. The whole family went to Aruba-all 17 brothers, sisters, daughters, nephew, grandchild. She was never happier than being on the beach. It’s where she felt close to heaven. The sand, the sun, the surf. That was perfection to Maria. So, my friend, I will miss you. You were one classy girl. Enjoy the sand, the sun and the surf and one day we’ll meet again and enjoy a day at the beach together. God Bless and keep you close.
I took my mother to the cemetery this morning. We went to visit Bobby’s grave. My mother has always been a big fan of cemeteries. Not just any cemetery, of course, but the ones where our loved ones remains are buried. As a kid I always thought it was weird but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to like them also. I can’t tell you how many pictures we have of us four kids in front of various headstones. And the grandkids, too. I always tried not to step on the person I loved and I was careful not to step on other people’s loved ones, either. We used to visit my father’s grave site, at the military cemetery, but it’s been years since we’ve been there. There’s no personality at Pinelawn. And it was just too sad to think of my father there, deep in the ground, far away from where is mother and now his son is buried. My mother went through a period there when she wanted to have him moved. If I had the money I would do it for her but I think it’s very expensive. She has made it known that she does not want to be buried next to my father. About ten years ago she gave me a card for my birthday. In the card was the deed to a cemetery plot. Two, in fact. One for her and one for me. I was outraged. Was she trying to jinx me? Did she think I was in imminent danger of dying and if so, did she think I wanted to spend eternity right next to her? Eventually I got over it. Not for nothing, but I would always be assured of a resting place just down the road, so to speak, from my brother, Bobby, my grandmother, and of course, right next to mom.
Today, though, dawned gray and windy. My mother came by at about 10:30 this morning and we headed out. On the way we stopped at a new bodega she found and she had some chicken and rice and I had a meat pie. She likes to eat early. Dinner can be no later than 5 p.m. After we ate we headed to Port Jeff. She’s very happy with the new caretaker. The old one wasn’t too swift on the uptake. He didn’t keep the grounds up to her standards, although he did plant a burning bush (no pun intended, I hope) at “our” site so she would know where she was being buried. I commented that she really wouldn’t have to know at that point and we both laughed. I put some gloves on so I could clear the remains of the poison ivy from my grandmother’s grave. The caretaker had cleaned it up nicely. Then I poured a gallon of vinegar where the roots were. My mother read somewhere that vinegar kills poison ivy. I wondered if it was going to kill the azalea also…We set some flowers at Bobby’s grave then headed back to the car, taking one flower out so she could put it on her friend, Chris’ grave. Me and Mom are several hundred feet from Bobby and Grandma. There are nice rolling hills and little winding roads. Chris is buried about 50 feet from where me and Mom will be and Mom is happy because they can “visit”. Now you know why I thought all this grave stuff was weird when I was young. We’re in a newer section and after Mom put a carnation by Chris’ headstone we decided to explore a little. We read all the interesting headstones. Ones whose birthdays were close to our dates of birth, or who had nice artwork on the tombstone. There were alot of young kids in their 20′s who recently died, Mom commenting on all the nice flowers and knicknacks and how sad it all was. Mom says all the young kids died riding motorcycles. I don’t think so but she’s convinced.
Then a young guy with maybe his grandmother pulled ahead and parked his truck. They got out. The old woman was wearing a babushka and a long black dress with black tie-up shoes, like old women do. She set some flowers in front of a tombstone me and mom were admiring just a few moments earlier and started to cry loudly. We walked back to the car, leaving them to their grief and pondering ours.
That’s where I’m heading today for a week of vacation bliss. The house is ocean-front with a built-in pool. I went to Borders, bought three books. Basically all true-crime. Nothing like a little murder, mayhem, blood and finally, justice, I hope. There’s almost nothing as good as relaxing in the sun and sand with a book. P eople ask me why I read non-fiction crime. It’s not the terror, although I like to know what happened. It’s not the gore, although it’s facinating what people do to each other. It’s not the horror, although sometime I feel like what is written is actually happening to me. It’s the solving of the crime. How science, technology or just good, old-fashioned foot-work puts the fucking bastard who did it behind bars. It’s all about justice.
I met my friend, Maria, about five years ago, through my best friend, Maureen. Maria is Maureen's sister-in-law. They belong to a big Italian family and they've taken me in as their own. Maria is a fun-loving person and I've enjoyed her friendship as well as the many outings we've gone on.
Maria's health was never the best. Many years ago she lost a kidney to cancer, and some years after that, she lost a breast to cancer. About two years ago a large birthmark above her temple, in her hairline, started to change. She went to the doctor and it was removed because it was cancerous. She was treated and it seemed she was getting better. Not too much later she was told it had spread to her lymph nodes. She was put on a course of interferon. It made her very sick, but she stuck with it for over nine months. It was a trying time for Maria and her family. It appeared that she had lost the will to live. She kept on but I missed the old Maria.
Each time the doctors told her more bad news she proclaimed that this was the last; no more treatments. But eventually she would comply and a few months ago the doctors opened her up and removed lymph nodes going down the side of her face. It left a big scar, but she is still beautiful. She suffered mini-strokes, but she is a still beautiful person. She lost her hair, but she is still beautiful. Her hair grew back and she was happy. Hair is so important to women.
We went back to going out to dinner and to see the latest movies. She is a movie bug. Things Maureen didn't want to see, me and Maria saw. Things that were too violent or creepy, me and Maria saw. All the while, the cancer kept creeping back. Insidious. Her brother, Mike, Maureen's husband, brought Maria to her doctor appointments. Their sister-in-law is a renowned oncologist and consulted with Maria's oncologist about her treatments. Her two daughters helped as they could. Mike is retired so he has more time. Gina has a small son and works, as does her daughter, Elizabeth.
The other night I invited them to my house for dinner. Maria didn't come. I thought it odd because she loves my rice and beans, but Maureen said she had gone for some tests and was tired. I packed her up a plate and sent it home with Mike and Maureen. (They live in a two-family house.) I thought it odd that I didn't hear from her as I had whenever I sent her food, but pushed the bad thoughts out of my mind. Maybe she was still tired. Maybe she didn't get a chance to eat them yet….When I picked Maureen up today she said that Maria enjoyed the food. I was happy about that but told Maureen that I let my imagination run away with me thinking maybe Maria had gotten bad news. Maureen told me that the tests Maria took on Monday were actually a PET scan. "Oh", I said, and we talked a little about what the tests would reveal. Hopefully, nothing.
This afternoon Maureen came to my desk. She was upset. I asked her what was wrong and she said she didn't know. That worried me. Maureen is a worrier, but she keeps it to herself. So when she said she was worried, I knew that I should be worried, too. Elizabeth, Maria's eldest daughter, had called looking for her mother. When she couldn't locate Maria, she called Maureen. Maria had not told the girls of the latest tests, to spare them worry so Maureen just said she was sure Maria would show up soon, that maybe she was with Uncle Mike. But I didn't know any of this yet. We took a walk outside and she told me that she called her husband's cell phone and Maureen said that she knew by the tone of Mike's voice that something was not right. We talked about the possibly of the test not turning out with a good result, but I said that maybe she was just reading into things (because she is a worrier). But Maureen is very sensitive and picks up things intuitively about the people she cares about. We went back into work and finished out the day. Maureen said she would call me if anything was wrong.
After I dropped her off at home, I went to CVS to pick up my BP prescription. When I got home there was no reassuring message on my answering machine, so I waited for the call I didn't want to get and that Maureen didn't want to place.
Maureen called at about 6 PM. Andrew, Gina's husband, was bringing the girls over. Maria has to tell her daughters that there is no hope. They will be devastated. Mike and Maureen are devastated. I am devasted. Maria, I will pray every day for you. And your family. If I feel like I was hit with a ton of bricks, how could they possibly feel? I wish I could just drive over there and hug them all and make it better.
But I can't. So I'll just scream this silent scream that is in my head.
I bought a new piece of furniture for the living room: A buffet that's really for a dining room that fits perfectly in the small space I have for a TV in the living room. It's java brown and has two sliding doors that I can store my TV equipment and DVD's in and I think it's just adorable. I picked it up at The Door Store, a neat little place in Manhasset. And that brings me to this tale. While I was organizing I came upon a VHS tape my mother gave me a few years ago. She had taken what was left of the 8mm movies she and my father had made over the years and had them transferred to VHS format. I had never watched it because I didn't want to see things that would upset me, make me mad, or make me sad. Yesterday I decided to look at it. Maybe, but just maybe, I might not dive down into that spot of burning rage I carry in fifty compartments in my heart, primary among them how my mother turned from being a "mommy" into being "mommy dearest" after daddy died when I was ten years old, in 1966. Just seeing the BDD (before Dad died) mom could possibly set me off on the usual tirade I go into when I think about all we (my siblings, Carmen, Michael and Bobby) lost and how my mother turned into a partying, absent, mean and abusive bitch. So I went into this with a little trepidation. The guy who did the conversion used some tender, longing-type music as the score so I was ready to hit rage mode quickly. As I watched I felt a great sense of longing for those lost, happy, simple times. There were little snippets of us dressed up for Easter, my sixth birthday party, us kids playing on the beach, Carmen as a happy-go-lucky child smiling and acting silly, Michael under the Christmas tree playing with the PanAm plane he got from Santa, my father filming my mother right after she brought Bobby home from the hospital, Bobby's first steps, Dad kissing Bobby, my mother holding the baby so tenderly. And something happened that I don't understand. Some of the rage melted away. I realized what we all lost, including my mom. She didn't want him to die and she didn't want to be left with four kids under the age of ten, with no marketable skills to speak of and not a penny in the bank at age twenty-nine, not having worked for ten years. So I now understand emotionally, not just intellectually what his death, at the age of thirty-seven may have done to her, and it's a little bit easier to be nicer to my seventy-year old Mom.
I hate to do laundry. I'm going on vacation on Thursday, to the Smokey Mountains, and figured wow!, it's Tuesday already and I better get my ass in gear and wash some clothes because I'm not going to a nudist colony I'm just going to TN. I get everything ready, (like there's so much to do), dump the clothes in a laundry basket, bring the basket downstairs, load the clothes in the washer, and BINGO-no laundry soap. I hate going back out once I'm in the house so I call my mother and tell her to tell my 21 year old son to bring detergent home after he has dinner with her. Of course, he was the last one to wash clothes and God forbid he says he used the last of it because…..I MIGHT ask him to buy some…a fate worse than death. I guess I'll go iron (my next favorite thing) what I do have that's clean…It will be a short task.