Monday, December 22, 2014

Grandma Little's Rhubarb Pie (written by guest blogger Greg Little)

Today I am handing over the blog to my dad.  He originally wrote this for a co-worker who asked him to share his rhubarb pie recipe.  Enjoy

Grandma Little's Rhubarb Pie
Before you set about to make this pie, it is only fitting that you have an appreciation for the chef who created this masterpiece.  Grandma Little’s birth name is Julia Hunter and she was born in Sunderland, England in 1892.  Having one sister and twelve brothers was instrumental in the development of her strong will and persevering attitude.  On October 25, 1923 she boarded the Red Star Line ocean liner Belgenland in Southampton, England and nine days later she and her 5 year old son William arrived at Ellis Island, USA.  Six months earlier her husband Percival “Harry” sailed to America to find a better life for his family.  A better life indeed, but the sweetness of this new land was short lived for Harry.  He passed away twenty years after his arrival due to health problems.  Julia and William arrived with a suitcase and one large shipping crate, the total sum of all their belongings in the new world.  Fortunately this recipe is one of the things that made the trip.  As you mix the ingredients for this pie take a few moments to reflect on how they exemplify her life (our lives):

Rhubarb:  Bitterness and heartbreak, but so rewarding when mixed with the other ingredients

Sugar:  The sweetness of all good things in life

Flour and Salt:  The staples of life that provide consistency and stability

Eggs:  A sign of rebirth and starting anew, and the glue that keeps everything together

Put them all together and you have one remarkable woman AND a mouthwatering pie

INGREDIENTS for an 8” or 9” pie pan

3 Heaping cups of rhubarb (cut the stalks into ¾’ pieces)

1 ½ Cups sugar

3 Tablespoons flour

¼ Teaspoonful salt

3 Beaten eggs (save some to brush on the top of the pie)

For a 10” pie use 5 tablespoons flour, 2 ¼ cups sugar, 4 eggs, 5 cups rhubarb, and ¼ teaspoon salt

Mix the sugar, flour and salt together and pour it over the cut rhubarb.  Pour the well beaten eggs over the rhubarb mixture and mix well.  (Don’t put the filling into the crust until the top crust is rolled and ready to use.  Keep the bottom crust in the refrigerator until ready to use) Preheat the oven to 4250.  Bake the pie at 4250 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 3750 for 40 minutes or until done.  Test to see if done by putting a fork in a hole in the center of the top crust.  If the rhubarb is soft the pie is done.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Funeral at the Bowling Alley

So a few posts ago I wrote about the laundromat and how it was always a critical part of the summer visit with Grandma.  Another fine establishment where we went, not once, but twice during the week was the bowling alley.  If you knew Maddie you know that you would never use the word "athletic" to describe her.  I don't think I can recall a single memory of her telling me that she played a sport, unless you consider "submarine watching" at Lakeview Park a sport.  She was never in a rush to do anything and the only time I actually saw her walk fast was when she spotted a piece of Heisey at an antique show.  But the woman loved to bowl.  Bowling was definitely her kind of sport.  She got to sit and smoke when it wasn't her turn and only had to stand up when it was her turn.  She was actually really good.  She was in at least two leagues.  On one of the mornings she would run into my other grandfather, Jim Gallagher.  I think he may have been in at least two leagues as well.  Anyway, when I would visit I would get to and sit and watch Grandma and the other little old ladies bowl.  I am not really sure how they convinced me this was fun.  I didn't get to play.  Sometimes if I was lucky they I would get to keep score.  This was way before automatic scoring so it was a good way to brush up on those math skills.  But for some reason I liked it.  Bowling Alley's really don't smell good, but that mixture of smoke, feet, the oil they use to polish the lanes, the disinfectant that they spray in the shoes all mixed up in that stale air always brings a smile to my face.  It was a bittersweet day when smoking got banned inside.  Good for my lungs, but the smell will never be the same.  Grandma bowled at Rebman's.  Right up from the Croatian Club on Oberlin Ave.  From what I can remember you went in and there were two sides of lanes.  We always went to the right.  I don't know what was on the left side, but it seemed very secretive.   Maybe there wasn't even bowling on the left, it was probably the bar.  Who knows?  After her stroke Grandma had to quit bowling.  I actually took her up to Rebman's a couple of times during her old league's time to visit her friends.  You could tell she was missed and she really enjoyed seeing everyone.  She kept saying she was trying to get better to be able to bowl again, but it never happened.

When she died she had already moved into the nursing home and there was no family homestead to host the funeral reception.  Many of the funeral homes in Lorain had reception rooms which would have been perfect, but they had all made Grandma mad at one point or another so she made her plans at one in Elyria that didn't.  I asked my mom where we were going to host the reception and she said Rebman's.  Apparently they had remodeled and now had a "party room".  I freaked out.  You can't have a funeral at a bowling alley, but then I remembered how much Grandma liked going there and I couldn't think of a better place.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The O Ring

When I was in high school I had to live through all sorts of humiliation.  I know so did everyone else in the world, but I am pretty sure I am one of few teenagers who had to carry a hemorrhoid pillow around high school.   Even more embarrassing was why.  I had to have surgery to remove a pilonidal cyst on my tailbone.  The typical patient for this surgery is an overweight extremely hairy old man, not a 16 year old girl.  But, in true Little fashion I faced it the only way I knew how.  Head on and try and find some humor in it.  The first surgery was really painful and I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. It was Thanksgiving.  I really didn't have the stomach for the hospital turkey, but my family brought me corn fritters.  I got released on Saturday.  Grandma and Grandpa Little were in town so Mom and Grandma came to pick me up from the hospital.  We didn't go home though.  It was Thanksgiving weekend and there was shopping to be done.  Walking wasn't really a problem, just sitting, so Mom and Grandma just had me lay down in the back seat.  Nothing was going to keep Maddie Little from shopping. They just popped some lortabs in me and away we went.  I got to rest a little on Sunday but Monday it was time for school.  The worst thing about the pillow is it was covered in brown fabric.  I didn't even want to think about why they would choose that color.  But, I had to go to school and I couldn't stand up all day so the pillow had to come with me.  My friends knew what was going on, but I had to keep explaining why I was carrying a brown pillow around school.  Depending on my mood my response would be either "I had surgery on my back" or " I just had surgery to make me a perfect a*****e".  I held my head high, put my pillow in its special bag and carried it like a badge of honor.  Booties weren't the thing in the '80's.  They didn't come into style until the '90's with Sir Mix A lot.  Too bad.  I could have told people my butt was so important it just had to be protected.  J-lo stole my story.  After everyone got used to the pillow it became a joke to steal it and hide it so I couldn't sit.  Ha ha real funny.   It was funny however when a friend, R*****, and I decided to photocopy our bottoms.  Let's just say my scar would make it impossible to deny that I had been the one sitting on the copier.  The worst moment came at our 25th Reunion when somebody came up and asked if I still had to carry my pillow around.  Really!!!  That is how I am remembered!!!  Unfortunately the first surgery didn't work so I had to have another, and another , and another.  I got to carry my pillow to UT as well.  They finally got it under control and so long as I don't do sit ups I am ok. ( no problem there). 

You may not be surprised that this post doesn't have a picture.  All I can say I thank goodness I grew up before social media.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Laundromat



When I would go and spend a week with Grandma we always spent one morning at the Laundromat.  It was always the same Laundromat. The one on Oberlin Ave next to Drug Mart. I think all laundromats look and smell the same.  The yellowish fluorescent lighting from the aged yellowed light covers.  The plastic chairs on the metal base all in a row.  The folding tables.  The rollie baskets. The lady sitting outside smoking while her clothes are on spin.  When I see that lady I remember my grandmother.  Going to the laundromat meant she had nothing to do but sit and smoke.  She really enjoyed that.  A lot of people dread the laundromat. I really don't so long as it is clean.  There is something to be said about getting all the laundry done in a couple of hours.  It is an all weekend event at my house and God forbid I fall behind.   I am not sure why it took so long for my grandparents to get a washer and dryer. My theory is my grandmother didn't want one.  If there was a washer and dryer in the house she would have to do laundry.  She wasn't much for cleaning.  Or Cooking.  Or really anything domestic really.  Not having the option to do laundry meant she would not have to think about it.  She would also have to walk up and down the stairs instead of just sitting and smoking.  But they finally did get a washer and dryer.  It was down in the basement to the right of the stairs.  There was a utility sink and an ironing board.  There was also this %#*^+ thing that came up out of the floor .  It was like a stainless metal handle on the floor.  In the middle of the #%~€{< floor.  Who the hell puts something like that in the middle of the floor.  That thing is probably the reason I never became a famous foot model. I broke no less than four toes on it. Weeks at Grandma's just weren't the same without the laundromat, but not to fear, we still had the bowling alley.  That is a story for another day.

Today I took Caroline to the laundromat. Our bedspread is just too big for our extra large washer. She had a ball.  She kept staring into the machine saying "our blanket is going around'.  She would hold her hands against the dryer just like I still do to feel the heat.  She spread her coloring books and markers out on the row of chairs.  She jumped on the different colored linoleum squares.  I watched her and laughed just like I am sure my grandmother watched me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Year I Got a Hairpiece

My excuse- it's the early '80's, everybody was doing it.  The problem- my hair.  I have a lot of hair.  I have a lot of really fine straight hair that refuses to hold a style.  As a child my hair was always in the way.  It took forever to wash and dry.  And the worst part was I think my mom dreamed of a little curly haired daughter so I would have to sleep on the dreaded pink sponge rollers.  I hated the sponge rollers more than anything in the entire world.  I don't know what was worse, waking up with a sore head or waking up and everything was slightly damp because the hair didn't dry all the way.  Slightly damp hair meant sitting under the hair dryer.  Yes the one like you see in beauty shops.  I devised a plan to get rid of sponge rollers forever.  The Dorothy Hamill.  It was the answer to all my problems.  I was like 8 or 9 so I really didn't care that I looked like a boy.  NO MORE SPONGE ROLLERS!!!  Unfortunately my new found freedom presented a new problem.  A very big problem.  The Nutcracker.

I was a student at Nan Klinger's School of Ballet.  Nan Klinger wasn't just a dance instructor.  She was completely hardcore.  She founded the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet and some of its dancers even went on to the NYC Ballet.  We knew this because she told us this every class.  Ballet was not something to be taken lightly.  It was a lifestyle, not an after school activity.  If Nan saw you out in public she would pat you on the butt to make sure you were holding those cheeks in tight.  Clench those cheeks, shoulders back, head held high.  ALWAYS.  Your hands should always be in position, slightly bent cupped inward.  I don't know if this is why, but my fingers are permanently bent in this position.  It always seemed odd to me that our ballet school that was so great was in the basement of some building.  It also seemed odd to me that Nan could teach an entire class without having to ash her cigarette.  Smoking kept her thin I suppose.  Anyway, I had been in ballet long enough and I had mastered my basic techniques so I was going to get to be a Party Girl in the Nutcracker at the Akron Civic Theatre.  Every little girl's dream.  I was so excited.  And then I went to class with my new haircut.  Nan was not impressed.  She took one look at me and I was out.  She probably would have kicked me out of the class, but I am sure we were prompt payers.  I was devastated.  Nan Klinger may have owned the ballet world in Summit County but she was no match for Kate (Kathy then) Little.  My mom is not someone who lets things stand in the way for what she (or her daughter) wants.  You can say the words Kate Little in some circles and things just happen.  Even if she isn't there.  Anyway, mom was not going to let a bad adorable, trendy haircut get in the way of my stage debut.  She took some of the hair that had been ripped off by the sponge rollers that were now not being used and had a wigmaker match a hairpiece.  I had the most beautiful ringlets and I didn't have to be tortured all night to get them.  My dream came true.  I danced in the Nutcracker for about 30 seconds and got to come out for the bows.  Next step if I kept up the hard work would be an angel.  But alas, I grew weary of ballet and moved on to other activities. Nan Klinger survived without me.  

Thanks mom for not letting anything stand in my way.

Preparing for the big night with help from Graham and Ness

Friday, November 21, 2014

Soccer




I am really not an athletic person. I am a competitive person, but I am not really good at sports.  I am not sure why.  Maybe it is genetic.  My great-grandfather was a professional runner in England, like the Chariot's of Fire guy, but it didn't get passed down to me.  Maybe it is because I didn't start sports early enough.  I did gymnastics for a year when I was 4 and ballet for a few years.  My first introduction to group sports was softball.  We practiced at Oak Park on 12th Street in Cuyahoga Falls.  I don't remember much except that we were really bad.  I am sure it had nothing to do with our coach who came to practice in her bedroom slippers and pretty much just stood there with a whistle and clipboard.  In 4th grade I joined the soccer team.  I was actually halfway decent. Who knew? The thing about girls soccer in the early 80's was if you weren't afraid of the ball and were even slightly aggressive you were already heads above the others.  I played through the 7th grade and then decided my calling was to be a cheerleader.  Not sure who I was kidding.  While I had the loud part down, my acrobatic skills were less than desirable   And even more detrimental to my career was my hair.  No matter how many perms I got my straight slick hair would not achieve the height that was needed to look like one of the team.  No offense to my cheerleader friends but ya'll have to admit the cheer squad did have the biggest hair in the school.  But, being at the small Christian school they didn't have too many options so I made the squad for one season.  Didn't last long though.  A girl who could actually do a cartwheel knocked me out the next year.  I had a decision to make.  Should I go back to soccer, or give up my athletic career.  I made my decision based on a very important thing.  Boys.  Soccer definitely had the boys that I found hot.  Soccer players had "Bono' mullets not "The Boz' mullets that the football players had.  In the 80's you really didn't have a no mullet option you know. So soccer it was.  And it was a good decision.  I had quite a few more years in me and when I moved to Tennessee soccer helped me develop some really good friendships. A couple of us girls even made a statement by trying out for the boys team at Tennessee High because they didn't have a girls team. Didn't make the team, but they did get another girls sport the next year.  Unfortunately it was softball. Thank goodness the coach actually wore shoes.

I don't think kids today get the same experience out of sports that most of us did.  Kids can join a sports team at age 4.  They can move to competitive "traveling" teams when they are like 6.  They practice 5 or 6 times a week.  Some kids love this and I think that is fine, but I think a lot of kids get left behind and by the time middle school comes around the competition is just too great so they don't get to play.  I am pretty sure I wouldn't make the team if I was a kid now.  I just wasn't that committed.

 I cherish my soccer memories and my soccer friends.  Some of these players were actually really good and I think some still play today.  The rest of us were just in it for the fun, and fun it definitely was.


And here is the gymnastics picture.  I love that my white underpants are hanging out of my leotard.  What do you bet they make thongs for 4 year olds now so that doesn't happen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Emma

My mother is a wonderful decorator.  Her house rivals anything you would see in Southern Living or House Beautiful.  She considers every detail and is incredibly creative.  She sees things that other people miss.  She can walk into a thrift shop and turn $15 into something that you would find for sale in Pottery Barn for $150.  Her gardens are amazing too.  It doesn't hurt that my dad is an perfectionist in his renovations either.  My parents have always been able to buy a house that most people would pass on and turn it into a showcase in a few short years.  They always sell their houses in an amazingly short amount of time.  I think the average is about 3 days.  Why am I telling you all this? Two reasons.  One is that I just want to brag.  The other is because I think it is really cool that my mother is one of the few people that I know that can take something incredibly tacky and make it seem like it is completely normal.  Take Emma the Goose.  Emma was my mother's concrete goose that she picked up at some garden shop.  I don't know that whoever cast the concrete goose ever intended it to be dressed up, but somebody decided that these statues needed clothes.  It was actually quite popular in Ohio to have a dressed up goose, but that trend didn't quite make it down to Tennessee so it seemed just a little weird to my high school friends.  Emma had all sorts of outfits for every holiday and occasion.  You can see the bee above.  Here is the Valentine outfit.
She had a Santa outfit of course and a St. Patrick's outfit.  Most of the outfit's were made by Grandma Gallagher.  I think it became a game on how ridiculous the outfit could be.  Unfortunately for Emma she did not have a winter coat.
(yes this is Tennessee, not Ohio)

I am a little surprised that she didn't get to come inside when it got too cold outside.  A friend of mine from high school, John, was in love with Emma.  We all thought it was a little weird, but John was like that.  When Mom and Dad moved from the Bellebrook house my mom decided that Emma did not have a good place to live at the new condo so she gave Emma and all her outfits to John.  John was delighted.  I am pretty sure Rebecca did not have as much love for Emma and might have said a few choice words under her breath when she had to go and change the goose's outfit.  Not really sure what happened to Emma.  She may have gotten "lost" when the Byers moved to Texas.  They never speak of it and we don't ask.  

Not sure why my mom loved Emma so much.  Maybe it was because Emma is a reminder to not take things so seriously and to do what you like even if it seems a little tacky. 

Now what lesson do you think the sheep taught us?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Brother from Another Mother


No my dad didn't have an illegitimate child, but imagine my surprise when my parents called me at UT and said "Meghan, we have some news for you.  You have a new brother".  The first thought through my head was wow that must have been some party last night because I woke up in bizzaro world.  Then I thought how in the world did this happen.  First of all my parents could not possibly have had sex.  That was just too much to imagine and I just now even had a hard time writing it. Second, we all knew my mom had ensured that she would have no more children after Graham was born.  Not saying Graham was what made her make that decision but...  ahem.  Luckily before my mind could wander anymore they clarified.  They were taking in an exchange student from Norway.  His name was Christer Jenssen and he was the same age as Graham.  I of course went into princess mode screaming he better not get my room!!!!  They assured me that he would be sharing a room with Graham and we made plans for me to meet my new brother.  When I first met him I was amazed how well he spoke English.  I could read a little Spanish and French, but my verbal skills were very lacking in foreign language department.  He seemed like a really nice guy and he fit in really well with the family.  Because I was at college I didn't get to spend that much time with him, but the nice thing about having someone from far away come live with you for a while is that you get to show them all the things that you love to do and it makes you appreciate your own life.  One of my favorite memories of Christer is the time when we went to Ohio for Christmas.  We decided to take him to downtown Cleveland to Public Square and Tower City.  Tower City had just opened and was much nicer than it is now.  There was an ice skating rink in Public Square and I loved to skate.  I thought I was a pretty good skater too.  We paid our admission fee and skated up.  I glided out onto the ice thinking I would impress Christer with my skating skills.  He didn't notice because he zoomed past me and I think he did a double axel with a twist.  He maneuvered around the rink like a pro.  I think he had me figured out because he just laughed at me as he spun around.  I screamed- "This is not fair, you probably ice skate to school in Norway".  

The thing I admired most about Christer was how he would listen.  I know this may come as a surprise to many of you but sometimes, not often, I open my mouth and speak before I think. Christer was quiet, but when he spoke it meant something.  

Thank goodness for Facebook.  I get to see pictures of him and his perfectly adorable children. I can't read most of what he writes because my Norwegian is even worse than my French, but I can still see his personality in the pictures and all the smiley faces in the comments on his posts.  I am glad I got an extra brother for a year and I hope we get to meet in person again.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kevin and Deanna's Wedding

19 years ago I was honored to be a part of one of the best weddings I have ever been to.  Kevin is my cousin on my mom's side- the Gallagher's.  He is about 7 months older than me and his whole life I was forced upon him.  He wanted nothing more than for me to just leave him alone, but I would have none of it.  I would nag him to play with me until he finally just gave in.  At family weddings he would be forced to dance with me so our families could get the "oh they're such cute little kids" wedding picture.  I think he eventually just gave up and decided to like me.  It was just easier.  His high school sweetheart was DeAnna Barrella, some really cute Italian girl from the other side of town.  I loved (love) DeAnna.  Mostly because she is just a great person but partly because she made Kevin be nice to me.  When they broke up I was just devastated, but alas they reunited and Kevin made the best decision of his life and asked her to marry him.  I was asked to be a bridesmaid.  It was my first time.  Kevin of course had to remind me that I wasn't really a "maid" but more of a "matron".  Thanks cuz.  The wedding was beautiful and DeAnna was stunning.  I think I miss the over the top styles of the '80's and early '90's.  I have always thought that big hair and big poofy shoulders make your butt look smaller, and as a classic "pear" this is always a goal of mine.  The priest at the wedding might have hit the vino a little early because nobody could really understand what he was saying, but his personality just added to the whole scene.  Wedding finishes, pictures at the church, pictures at Oberlin College and then off to the reception!!!  Woo Hoo!!!  For my friends in the south, you have never lived until you go to a northern wedding.  Southern weddings are very pretty, very gentile, and can be very fun but the North has you beat on most counts.  Our family is Irish.  Very, Very Irish.  DeAnna's family is Italian.  Very, Very Italian.  The spirits were flowing the minute you walked in the door (except Father ???, he had started earlier remember)  I have no idea what we ate, I just know that it was not cabbage rolls.  Kevin forbid cabbage rolls because we had them at every single family function and he hated them.  We ate and we drank,  And we drank and we ate.  Kevin considered me one of the groomsmen so he expected me to do the shots when they did.  Wow. We danced and danced.  The Chicken Dance, The Electric Slide, Brickhouse and of course polkas.  Cleveland is the home of Frankie Yankovic- the King of Polka and dad of Weird Al. If you are from Cleveland you know how to polka.  Then the Italian's came out in their really nice suits and danced the tarantella (?).  This Irish girl couldn't do that, but unfortunately I think I tried (yikes).   Then it came time for the bridal dance.  The Bride and Groom go to the dance floor and people stand in line to dance with them.  You pay to dance so the couple will have some cash on their honeymoon, but you get a shot of liquor for your cash.  My last real memory of the wedding is one of the uncles holding the money bag asking if I would like a shot of schnapps or of whiskey.  I thought he said to have both, so I did.  I am told we stayed for a few more hours, but who knows.  I paid for that wedding for days.  I couldn't even eat my chicken paprikash the next day but it was totally worth it.  Their wedding was one of those events that people use as a marker in family history- Before/After Kevin and Deanna's wedding.  They really are a good match and I am very happy for them.

Weddings now are so pinterest perfect with every detail planned.  I long for the days when it was ok to have your reception at the Knights of Columbus so long as there was a keg and a good DJ.  Put some flowers on the table to dress the place up.  It isn't what matters anyway.  There are whole businesses devoted to the perfect wedding.  It starts with the perfect proposal, then the perfect announcement, then the perfect save the date card.  Tens of thousands of dollars are spent to ensure that the toothpicks are just the correct shade of rose to coordinate with the flowers flown in from the Netherlands.  I have even heard of weddings where the couple request that the guests wear certain colors so the pictures will look better.  Really????  I wish these people could have been at Kevin and Deanna's wedding and experienced a truly exceptional day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pimp Granddaddy

Like most people who grew up in the depression my grandparents were frugal.  They lived for the first years of their marriage in a duplex with my great-grandparents.  Now don't get me wrong, when I say frugal I do not mean cheap.  They definitely enjoyed having "things", but they knew that fun things came after everything else was paid for and there was money in the bank, or hidden under the stairs, for a rainy day.  My grandmother loved to tell the story of her Dodge Charger and her Corvette with the airbrushed butterfly on the hood. The Corvette got them involved with the Corvette club which I probably can't write about because I am trying to keep this blog rating PG-13 or under.  I will just post this picture of a Corvette club party.  Yep, that is my grandparents.
Need I say more

But this story isn't about those cars, this story is about the Cadillac.  I have mentioned before that my grandfather had poor health and was an early patient of open heart surgery.  People generally didn't live long after they had their chests cracked open in those days and I truly believe that knowing that he may not have long to live changed the way my grandfather lived the last 15 years or so of his life. Posted on his bathroom mirror was a note that said 3 things I want to do before I die.  I am not sure if this is exact, but it was something like this.
1. A few years of good living
2. See all the grandkids graduate from high school (when he wrote this Ashleigh hadn't been born yet)
3. One more nice car

He got the few years.  Graham was close to graduation.  Only one more thing to go, so he showed up one day with a pimped out white Cadillac with red velvet interior.  We were all kind of shocked. It was so white.  It was so red inside.  It was so "un-Grandpa", but you could tell that he really loved it.  We teased him and asked if he had practiced his "South Lorain Lean". (A common driving position in which the driver holds the wheel with his left hand while leaning to his right toward the passenger seat, usually bobbing his head or bumpin' with the beat. It's a pretty badass way to drive. Copied from Urban Dictionary- known in many places as the gangsta lean.  Snoop Dog never made it to South Lorain or he would have given it the correct name the "South Lorain Lean")  He was so proud driving it and would take the long way to get everywhere.  (oh wait, nevermind, he did that in all his cars).  My grandmother loved it too.  She didn't drive it until after he died.  He probably wouldn't have made it as long if she did.  I couldn't find a picture of Grandpa with it, but found this one of Grandma and me.

I know some people would say my grandfather's wish of this car was materialistic and that the money could have been spent better elsewhere, but that is what he wanted and if his desire for this car kept him around a little longer I think it was a really good thing to want.  


Friday, October 3, 2014

The Perm


Many of you have heard of the legend, but few have actually seen it.  Greg Little's perm circa 1977 or 1978.  I had memories of it from childhood, but I wasn't sure if it was real or if I was just mixing up my life with an episode of Welcome Back Kotter.  Alas, while rummaging through the family pictures I found the proof and here it is.  Legend has it that he had so much hair and it was so curl resistant that it had to be permed twice.  While he was/is always very nicely dressed and has a nice classic style we aren't quite sure what made him go to the trendy "jewfro" around this time.  I am glad that I can finally validate this memory, but Dad all I can say is what were you thinking?   Oh wait... looks like I followed in his footsteps not once, but twice in my life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How to Mail a Letter

My family is filled with Type A personalities.  There is a Way to do everything.  It doesn't matter if you get something done, it has to be done the correct way.  My father is Mr. Process.  This is a really good trait to have when you are a Pharmacist.  Wouldn't want those drugs made the wrong way you know.  He is meticulous when it comes to home improvement.  I swear that Zillow could use the marketing term- "House Remodeled by Greg Little' and it would increase the value by 10%.  His craftsmanship is amazing.   I appreciate his attention to detail, and find that I have inherited some of it, but I definitely fall short.  It drives him crazy when my brother and I don't do things the Way it should be done.  I am not allowed to make pancakes at his house.  I do not start my stirring gently with a fork in the middle of the batter slowly moving outward to make sure each and every grain of flour is blended at it is perfectly smooth.  I throw the hand mixer in there and always end up with some un-blended mix on the bottom.  Now, I have to say that his pancakes are generally better than mine, but mine are good enough.  (Good enough is not a term in Greg Little's vocabulary as you can imagine).

I am very lucky that my father has taught me how to do many things.  My first memory of one of these lessons was brought to mind the other day while Caroline was watching the Bubble Guppies.  (Bubble, Bubble, Bubble, Bubble, Guppies. Bubble, Bubble, Bubble, Bubble, Bubble Guppies.  You have to sing the song every time you say it)  One of the creatures was trying to mail himself to his friends house.  The whole episode was about mail and how a letter or package gets mailed.  I am glad Dad wasn't watching because they of course got it wrong.  I know because when I was about 5 or 6 I was shown the right way to mail a letter.  This is how it went.

Scene- Two story colonial house in the suburbs.  Tree lined street.  Little girl playing sweetly because she is an angel child that never did anything wrong.  Scene opens with father coming into the room

Greg: Daughter, grab your jacket.  We are going on a walk and I am going to teach you a very important life lesson today.

Megan (pre-"h"): Ok Daddy

Greg:  Daughter, mailing a letter is like life.  If you are doing it right you will succeed.  Do it the wrong way and who knows where you will end up.

Megan: Ok Daddy

Greg:  First you make sure the letter is addressed properly with a return address and the stamp placed perfectly square in the corner.

Megan: Ok Daddy

Greg: Next you walk to the mailbox.  In our neighborhood there is one on 17th street and one on 15th street.  They have pickups at different times so do your research to make sure you are going to the right mailbox where the letter will be picked up the fastest.

Megan: Ok Daddy

Greg:  Now we are here at the mailbox.  First you pull down the handle and check what time the pickup will occur.  You should usually have this memorized from previous visits, but sometimes the government does crazy things just to mess things up. (he says the same thing about Obamacare).  Once you have your time established, carefully lay the letter flat on the tray and close the lid.  Reopen the lid to ensure that the letter made it into the chute.  If the OCD is kicking in especially bad you can do that a couple of times.  Oh wait, he didn't say that it is just what I do.

Megan: Ok Daddy.  Can I have a cookie now?

Greg; Ok.  Sigh (as if he wasn't sure I was listening)

I was listening.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The day my brother saved my life????


Today is my 42nd Birthday and I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my favorite brother Graham.  Or at least that is how he tells the story.  First, the backstory.  I was at UT and was having LOTS of fun.  Let's just say that I was rarely making it to bed before 2 or 3.  I was waiting tables and after our shift we would go out and spend all that cash.  I was still making it to class and holding down an acceptable GPA, but needless to say I was burning the candle at both ends.  I woke up early one Saturday morning after a few short hours of sleep and headed to Bristol because the Sphar's were coming to visit and I hadn't seen Sarah in quite some time.  When I got home Graham and I were hanging out in the family room downstairs when we heard my parents announce that the Sphar's had arrived.  We headed up the stairs to meet them.  This is where is goes fuzzy.  Graham says I was in front of him and kind of "fell" backwards and he caught me.  (I can' t help thinking if maybe he pushed????)  Anyway, somehow I ended up hitting my head on the top stair. After I hit I started to walk across the kitchen but didn't make it because I fell to the floor and had a grand mal seizure.  Yep- pissed myself and everything.  All this right as the Sphar's come walking to the door.  Welcome to the Little's, so good to see you, come on in and wait for the ambulance with us.  I can only imagine what everyone was going through.  I honestly only remember coming too, seeing sparkly lights  and hearing voices. (I think those voices were telling me to get my s*** together and slow down).  I know my parents must have been out of their minds, but they knew to keep things lighthearted so Graham and I wouldn't be scared. In true Little fashion we were all cracking jokes by the time the ambulance got there.  I had all the tests to see what had happened.  CAT Scan, MRI, EKG, and EEG.  Everything came back negative.  The sleep deprived EEG was no fun.  I had to stay up all night.  I was used to staying up all night, but at a party, not at the hospital.  Thank you Sarah and Rachel for keeping me company all night.  It was determined that I just fainted.  No real reason, just exhausted.  When I fainted I hit my head and got a concussion which caused the seizure.  I do forgive you Graham for pushing me.  I do thank you for saving my life Graham and letting me celebrate this birthday today.  

I do have to say there was one good thing that came out of all this.  When I went back to waiting tables with my black eye people felt really sorry for me and I made some killer tips.  Here is a picture of my shiner.  After we found out I was going to be ok we had some fun making up stories of how it happened. 
 I need this caption to read, fainted and hit her head, NOT dating an NFL player.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Aunts

I have been thinking a lot about Aunt's this week.  Will's Aunt Uneva passed away last week and the funeral was Sunday.  I haven't known Uneva very long, but I could tell from the first time that I met her that she was a wonderful person and someone whom I would have liked to be my Aunt.  I am lucky.  I got some really good Aunt's.  First we need to get one thing clear, when I say Aunt I say it like the little crawly worker insect, not the other way that honestly I can't even think of a word that rhymes with it.  I have been in the South for over 25 years and I still can't get used to how Aunt is said here.

Now to my Aunts.  I could go on for pages on each of these remarkable women, but I am going to try and keep it brief.  I will start with my mom's sisters.

The first born (notice I did not say oldest- do I get brownie points for that?) is Bonnie. Christian name Margaret, I think, but the Church wouldn't let you baptize a Bonnie, so she got named after her mother.  I never have figured out why the Church cares what your name is, pretty sure God doesn't, but I digress.  Bonnie is one of the most amazing cooks I have ever met.  I remember her selling her cookies at Christmas and it was great because so many of the relatives bought them.  We got to eat them wherever we went.  The woman has been in charge of more than one community cookbook and I still use them. For my friends whom I have cooked for- she is responsible for Cream Puff Cake, Sour Cream Cookies, and Bourbon Slush.  She also bought Kraft Chicken Noodle Dinner and my mom would never buy it.  I have vivid memories eating this in her kitchen.  Weird, I know, but it makes me feel good just thinking about it.  

I get confused if Mary or Sue came next.  I didn't really know Sue because she passed away when I was young.  There is something about Mary.  No really there is.  Mary was like Pinterest before the internet.  One of the craftiest people that I know.  She can sew, she can cook, she can arrange flowers, she can do it all.  My kids have tents, sleeping bags, blankets and clothes that were lovingly made by her. I have very rarely heard Mary say a bad word about anybody or anything.  I think my favorite thing about Mary is her voice.  She should be a narrator of children's book.  I swear if she read me a book it would lull me to sleep with a smile on my face.

The youngest (notice I said youngest- do I get brownie points for that?) sister is Fran.  Fran is closer to my age and her kids are closer to Liam's age.  Frances Ann Gallager is her full name.  Imagine the snickers when my grandmother put her initials FAG on a bag.  Grandma didn't get it, but it has been the butt of many jokes.  Really I think Grandma should have just marketed the FAG BAG.  I would think they would have sold very well in some areas of the country. Fran is one of the coolest motorcycle mamas that I know.  She isn't like so many women that buy the fancy Harley Clothes and ride on the back of bike.  She can actually fix a bike.  I am pretty sure that she could fix just about anything.

My dad didn't have any sisters but he did have an Aunt that was like an extra grandmother to me.  Her name was Muriel, but she was called Minnow from the time my uncle was a baby and couldn't say Muriel.  Everybody called her Minnow.  Her CB handle was "The Little Fish".  She did not have any kids so Graham, Ness, Jason, Ashleigh and I became her surrogates.  I think she worked early in her marriage, but not during my lifetime.  For somebody who didn't work she had quite the routine though.  Breakfast at Bob's Big Boy which sometimes turned into lunch because the waitresses at Bob's became like family to her.  I am pretty sure she never cooked a dinner my entire life.  She always ate out.  She was always going to Kmart and always running around.  Really not doing anything, but always in a hurry.  We would tell her that a party would start at 2 when it didn't start until 4 because the woman was always late. She had a heart of gold, but she was the person at the party that you didn't want to get stuck by because she could have an hour long conversation about the most mundane things.  She was forever cutting out news articles and giving them to us.  Now I wish that I kept some of these, but at the time I was like "what in the world?"  The picture above is of her at my grandmother's house.  Don't get excited, the cake was one of those square frozen Pepperidge Farm  cakes.  You didn't think Grandma baked a cake did you????  Minnow was always the last to get the joke and when she did she would yell "oh for crying out loud" or if it was a particularly bad one "you are a horse's ass".  She was obsessed with our teeth and would grab our chins and look in our mouth's and say "you better be brushing those choppers".  I would like to send a message to her in heaven - I had no cavities at my last checkup. And yes I go for a cleaning two times a year.  I would go more Minnow but the insurance won't pay for it.  Yes I know that I only get one set of teeth.  Yes, I know how important a good smile is.  Yes, I will make sure the kids brush their teeth.  No I didn't know that the waitress at Bob Heaven's just got a new cat.  Yes, Fluffy is a cute name...

 I don't have a sister so my kids don't get "blood related" aunts.  I am really lucky to have two amazing Sister In Laws, Hye and Rachel,  that I am proud to call my kids Aunts. They are like sisters without all the sibling rivalry.  I get to be an Aunt to some pretty amazing kids too.  I am not crafty like Aunt Mary and I think we would all bust out laughing to think of me fixing a motorcycle like Aunt Fran.  I will probably never be as good of a cook as Aunt Bonnie (although I can make some mean Kraft Dinner).  I hope one day these kids feel as much love for me as I feel for my Aunts


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Molly the Kitten Killing Dog (Graham made me do it Mom)

This may look like a picture of a happy family with their beloved pet.  It's not.  This is a picture of a happy family with a dog named Molly that really only liked my mom, sometimes my dad if my mom wasn't around. Let me say first that I am not a dog hater.  I am pretty sure that Graham and I begged to get Molly.  She was born in the house next door on 25th street.  Mom assisted at the birth. She was so cute and cuddly and we couldn't wait for her to be old enough to come live at our house.  I am sure that once the newness wore off Graham and I did not want the responsibility of a dog.  We totally lost interest in her so her care fell on my mom.  What we didn't know is that cocker spaniels tend to get very attached to one person and just seem neurotic to everybody else.  Around this same time I found a stray ginger kitten that I was able to keep.  I named her Lucy.  Lucy wasn't really the smartest cat, but she was sweet and I loved her. Even better, she would actually use the litter box and didn't scratch the furniture so she didn't have to go live at the "cat farm" like some of my other kittens.  - There is another story here, but let's just say if things became undesirable at our house they just disappeared.  Cats went to the "cat farm" and dad's old clothes that he refused to throw away got picked up by the "bag lady".   Graham went to "camp" ( just kidding Graham you weren't really undesirable most of the time).

Anyway, when we moved to Tennessee Molly and Lucy went with us.  When we crossed the Mason Dixon line hormones started kicking in.  First it was Graham, the fresh meat at Vance Middle School, and then it was Lucy.  She had always been an inside cat in Ohio, but the fresh mountain air and big yard allowed her to be an outdoor cat in Tennessee.  She was the new hot thing in Bellebrook and soon she was pregnant.  Not a planned pregnancy, but we were excited none the less.  She had a litter of 4 or 5 kittens.  My friends and I watched them grow to be cute little furballs.  One day we were sitting around and decided to name the kittens.  The only name I remember was J**** S***** ( name blacked out to protect the stupid)  We named this particular boy kitten after this particularly obnoxious meathead at school.  He had the mullet with spiky on top, shaved on the sides and long in the back  ( is this a Mullhawk?).

This fine specimen would stand in the main hallway at Tennessee High with his obnoxious friends bullying me and all my friends.  I saw him knock kids into lockers and I think I would throw up a little in my mouth every time I saw him.  One day he knocked into me and I sarcastically said back to him "Excuse you!!!!"  He walked a few steps away, probably more than a few because it would take him a while to come up with a comeback.  He yelled back" YO MEG... SUCK B***" Need I say more.  What a perfect name for the kitten that bullied his siblings, pushing them out of the way and walking all over them.  

One evening we were cleaning up after dinner. The kittens were wandering around and Molly was spastic because there was food around.  J**** S***** ventured a little too close to the food dish and the fierce animal attacked.   She had him in her mouth and wouldn't let go.  Needless to say I lost it.  Who knew a smelly black cocker could have such a taste for blood.  She whipped him all around and dropped him on the kitchen floor to flop back and forth until he died.  I didn't know what to think.  Was this divine intervention getting back at J**** S***** for being such a bully?  Or was it the dog who hated me killing one of my kittens that I loved to show me who was boss?  I know, I know, it was just a dog acting naturally protecting it's food source.  Whatever!!!!  I never could fully forgive Molly.  Even when she grew tumors all over her body and looked like a cocker with elephant-its.  Even when the tumors  in her ears would get infections that smelled so bad you couldn't be in the same room with her.  Even when my parents nursed her back from kidney shutdown with peanut butter crackers. Ok- maybe I did forgive her when they finally put her to sleep.  But I only did it when I saw how much my mom loved that lumpy, smelly kitten killer.  When Molly died she took a little piece of my mom with her.  Mom swore she'd never get another cocker, but a few years later came Lady, another black cocker.   She was neurotic of course, but never did hit the level of crazy that Molly did.  Now my parents have Max, a multi colored cocker mix who is probably one of the greatest dogs I have ever met.  He completes their family and if you call their house you will get the message that Greg, Kate and Max are not in.  

You may ask whatever happened to mullet man?  I see him from time to time in his police cruiser.  His son and my son were briefly friends (awkward) but luckily I only had to speak with his mom to arrange sleepovers. Hopefully he won't figure out that I named a martyred kitten after him, pull me over for speeding and say Yo Meg... Here's your ticket.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Mommy and Daddy are Getting Married

Most kids born in the early 70's did not get to attend their parents wedding.  Sure, some kids got to go to a wedding of one of their parents remarrying after divorce, but I am talking going to your biological parents wedding.  I did.  Well, sort of.  So my parents got married in 1969- the summer of love.  They moved to Columbus for my dad to attend Pharmacy school at Ohio State.  He graduated in 1972.  I attended the graduation ceremony in my mother's womb and arrived on the scene a few months later.  About 2-1/2 years later my brother was born. After a few moves we had settled into a nice neighborhood on 16th Street in Cuyahoga Falls.  I don't remember much about our time there because I was so young, but I do remember my parents telling me that they were getting divorced when I was 6 or 7.  I didn't really know what that meant so I don't think it really upset me that much.  If it did I don't remember.  I don't remember any drama.  I don't remember any fighting.  I really only remember 3 things.  1.  My dad made my brother and I bunk beds to sleep in when we went to his house.  2.  My dad let us get the good cereal when we went to stay- Count Chocula or Lucky Charms usually.  3.  One time we were supposed to go to Geauga Lake with him when we were at his house.  He told us we had to stop and pick up a surprise before we left.  We were really anxious to get there so we really just wanted him to hurry up, but what a surprise when he pulled in to our duplex where we lived with mom.  Mom was going with us- that was our surprise. Shortly after Mom and Dad were back together.  I honestly cannot even tell you how long they were apart, but I don't think it was even a year.  They weren't divorced long enough for Graham or I to blame any of our personality flaws on the divorce.  We have to come up with other excuses for those.  The funniest part is the day they got remarried at the courthouse I was in 2nd Grade at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School.  I turned in a note that I needed to leave early for an appointment.  The nun asked me what the appointment was.  I said "my mommy and daddy are getting married today".  Sister said with a bit of shock- "O- you mean your mommy or daddy is getting remarried today?"  I said "no- my real mommy and daddy".  I think she said " Reeeaaaalllly????"  I was really excited because I got a pretty dress and got to carry a bouquet.  I didn't have many older girl relatives so I had never been a flower girl.  All our family and friends came for a party. I love weddings and parties.  I was really lucky to get to go to my parents wedding.

I don't know why they got divorced and honestly I don't really care.  I imagine they were going through what all people go through several times in their life. Wondering why you are where you are, wondering if you made the right decisions and trying to figure out if you are on the right path.  Sometimes we think we know the answers and make a change.  Sometimes that change is for the better.  Sometimes it is not.  I think it takes some really brave loving people to know that they made a mistake, admit it to each other and everyone else and go back and fix it.  I am really glad they did.   
Me in utero

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sarah Makes Me Smile

I honestly don't remember it because I was 4 and she was 3, but this is how I imagine it.  A cute little 3 year old strawberry blond girl named Sarah is playing quietly in her yard.  A cute little 4 year old brunette girl named Megan (pre H)  sees her down the street and decides she looks like much more fun to play with than her little brother so she goes up to her and asks "Do you want to be my friend?"  The little blond girl has impeccable manners and is always very polite so she says ok.  The lifelong friendship begins.  Sarah (always had an H) has been my friend since before I can remember and I have so many memories that they just all get jumbled up together.  When you are a kid you are really at the mercy of your parents on who your friends are.  If your parents don't get along with their parents the friendship is essentially doomed.  Luckily our parents got along great so we got to spend so much time together.  I remember going to the Sphar's for dinner and Sarah and I pretending to be asleep so my parents would just leave me there to spend the night.  I am pretty sure they weren't fooled, but I did get to spend the night often.  We would play dolls in her room.  I had a Jenny doll with brown hair.  She had a Mandy doll with blond hair of course.  We would play Barbies in her basement.  We would also do anything we could to torture Graham or get him in trouble.  We would go to Cedar Point and Sea World together.  We would ride our bikes all over the place.  Sarah was with me for a pivotal moment in my childhood.  A moment that a girl really needs a true friend by her side. The moment she receives her first Michael Jackson album.  Off the Wall.  You need a friend with you to truly admire those glow in the dark socks.  Mrs. Sphar- Kay as I am supposed to call her now but still have a hard time doing- made me a nightgown.  It was pink and the words "I Love Teddy" were all over the fabric.  She made a matching nightgown for my Jenny doll and a shirt for Theodore, my teddy bear. I found mine the other day at my mom's and Theodore has never taken his off.

As we grew older our interests went in different ways so we didn't spend as much time together but I can say that I always had a true friend in Sarah.  I don't think I was always a good friend to Sarah- middle and high school drama.  The fact that she still considers me a friend is testament to what a great person she is.  I guess what I am saying is that generally my memories of my childhood are happy, and I owe some of that happiness to Sarah.  Our parents were and still are very good friends.  My mom always says "the kind of friends that you just pick up where you left off even if you don't see each other for a few years.

Sarah is getting married in a few days.  I haven't met her fiance, but I have been assured that he is wonderful man.  Her wedding is in Ireland so I will not be attending, but I am planning on going to the stateside reception in October.  So- to Ivan I say- you've got a wonderful woman there but I suspect you already know that.  I am sure she will give you as many happy memories that she gave me.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Asheville- aka The Perfect Place

The older that Grandma got the more, how shall I say this, the bitchier the grumpier she got. As I am growing older and my body is not acting the same- hurts more, doesn't work as well, seems to be gravitating downward- I understand why people get grumpier in old age.  Especially those who were very full of life and fiercely independent.  It had to suck for my grandmother to not be able to walk normally or not use an arm that was debilitated from a stroke.  It had to suck to rely on others to do things for you that you could do before.  Let's just say she sometimes went way a little too far.  When I was pregnant with Liam and she was seeing me for the first time she said "You're Fat".  It was sometimes hard to take her in public because you never knew what she was going to say.  I remember taking her to the Museum of Art in Cleveland and as I pushed her past the more modern art work she would say in her best stage whisper- "This is crap" or just "Shit".  One time at breakfast at a restaurant with my uncle she sent her pancakes back to the kitchen (quite dramatically) because the pancakes weren't round.  Who would dare serve her this shit.  Sons of bitches.  Even though we all complained about it to each other we just came to expect it and we all just dealt with it because she was our Grandmother/Mother.  She would remind us from time to time that she wiped all of our asses when we were babies you know.

Once a year for three consecutive years I got to see a different side of Grandma.  After Grandpa died Grandma went on a Frank Lloyd Wright kick.  EVERYTHING was in the style of or a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright.  She had read about the Grove Park Inn and how it was decorated in the Arts & Craft style which was popular during Mr. Wright's time.  She also read that F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed there while Zelda was spending time in the nearby sanitarium.  She asked me if I wanted to go stay there with her and of course I said yes.  She was staying with m
y parents for the winter and insisted that her Cadillac be brought down to chauffeur her around.   So I picked her up and I drove the Caddy over the mountain to Asheville.  I am pretty sure as we crossed the peak at Sam's Gap the skies opened, a rainbow and the sun appeared and there was a beautiful AAAAAHHHHHH that came down from the clouds.  Instantly everything was perfect.  I could have been gray and raining and she would have said the weather was perfect.  We pulled up to the hotel.  We had called ahead from home (before cell phones) to let them know we would need a wheelchair.  I swear to God they must have calculated how long it would take us to get there because there stood the bellman with her wheelchair waiting.  They rolled her to the desk so we could check in.  The bellman took our bags up and she instructed the other bellman to take her "TO THE BAR!"  She ordered her Johnnie Walker Red and just took everything in.  We had dinner at the hotel.  I thought it was actually pretty bad, but Grandma couldn't quit talking about how wonderful it was.  I just went with it.  Not gonna ruin a good thing. She loved everything about the hotel.  We went to all the floors and looked at all the pictures.  We frequented the lobby(bar).  She insisted that I go swimming ( I really don't like to swim that much) but once again, just went with it.  The next couple of days we went downtown to the antique shops and Biltmore Village.  She was a delight.  The shopkeepers and restaurateurs loved her.  How wonderful it was that she got to take her granddaughter on a trip like this.  What a sweet little old lady she was.  And she really was.  I don't remember for sure, but I don't think she said Shit once.  When she asked me if I wanted to go again the next year of course I said yes.  And you know what- It was perfect again. I think for Grandma when we went to Asheville for a few short days she was able to remember what it was to be young again and that let her forget some of her troubles.  I am pretty sure that her corner of heaven is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style with a gorgeous lobby with big stone fireplaces and plenty of Johnnie Walker Red.

Here are some pictures of one of our trips.  Grandma was a horrible photographer and her 110 Camera did not help, but I don't care.  I think they are perfect.  Pictures are the backside of the inn, some of the Arts and Craft furniture in our room, Grandma on the GPI veranda with her JWR, and a picture she took of me in the bar.  (Yes I had a perm- no comments please)





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grove is Coming Up

When I was a kid we would often visit the cemetery.  The cemetery near my house was very pretty and had a pond where we would ride our bikes and feed the ducks.  We would bring paper and crayons and do rubbings and  then we would go across the street to Babb Run park and get into all sorts of trouble.  We would swing on vines and climb on rocks in the water all by ourselves.  Today you would probably go to jail if you let your kids run around like we did, but this story is not about that cemetery. 

In Lorain there are two cemeteries across the street from each other.  I am not sure, but I think one is for Catholics and one is for everybody else.  Almost everyone from my family who has passed is buried in one of these two cemeteries.  When I was a kid if we were out for a drive on that side of town we would cruise through and say hi to all the relatives.  I hadn't met most of them, but a visit would mean I would get a story about them.  My mom's family was all Catholic so they were buried on one side of the street.  My paternal grandmother's family was Catholic so they were all over there with them.  My paternal grandfather was not Catholic.  Not a big deal in today's world, but such a big deal then that my grandparents had to elope.  This also meant they were buried on the other side of the street.  Where they were going to be buried was a REALLY big deal to my grandmother.  My grandfather bought their plots for their 40th wedding anniversary.  (On the 41st anniversary he told my grandmother he wasn't getting her a present because she didn't use what he got her the previous year.)  The plots were carefully chosen so they would be up on a slight hill (or at least a hill by Northeast Ohio standards).  The plan was for them to be buried so they could each look at their parents and other family members during their eternal rest.  Grandma would have to look a little further, but since she had the cataract surgery she would be able to see them.    

 I think Grandpa could have cared less about where he was buried.  He always said he wished he was Jewish.  He wanted to be in the ground within 24 hours and not be embalmed.  He didn't want the ceremony and the wake.  He was in poor health for many years so I think he had come to terms with his mortality.  But sometimes things don't happen the way that you want.  My grandfather died a few hours after arriving at our house in Tennessee.  Being 3 states away from your final resting place causes some logistical issues.  You can't cross state lines unless you are embalmed and being that far away meant the 24 hours was out of the question as well.  We finally got him to Ohio and because things weren't going as planned anyway we went ahead and had the funeral ceremony.  At the cemetery Grandma kept saying this is the wrong grave and everybody just thought she suffering from grief, but she wouldn't let it go.  She would have someone take her to the cemetery and would say I know this is the wrong grave.  She finally found the paperwork and a few phone calls later found out that the cemetery had double sold the plots to my grandparents and to Mr. and Mrs. Grove.  When the error was discovered she announced victoriously "GROVE IS COMING UP!!!" and the scary thing is she was serious.  She paid for those carefully selected plots and by god she was going to have them.  After much negotiation and reasoning my dad and uncle were able to convince her to take the settlement and let poor Mr. Grove rest in peace.   

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Road Trip

The day after tomorrow I am making the trip. The trip I have made so many times I have lost count.  Bristol TN/VA to Lorain, Ohio.  We moved from Cuyahoga Falls in January of 1988.  It is now 2014. 26 years, probably 4 trips a year on average, yep. Over 100 times.  People always say oh it must be a nice drive through the mountains. Or 7-1/2 hours, that is really not too long.  Those people haven't done the same drive for 7-1/2 hours over 100 times.   In high school I had exactly enough Smiths on cassette to listen to my Walkman the whole way.   Now my playlist is a little more varied, but still has Morrissey serenading me. I have had many road trip companions over the years.  My family of course.  My high school friends to go to concerts in Cleveland.  Rachel and I to see INXS at Blossom.  I will never forget stopping at Biscuit World in the middle of the night with my dad, Sharon, Priscilla and Shannon to go see the Rolling Stones.  My kids, my husband, my grandmothers.  Sure each trip was/is different but generally different is not a good thing.  There was the time the van broke down in Sharon, WV.  There were multiple traffic jams due to construction, accidents or holiday traffic.  I have done the trip in one day and in two days.  Sometimes the two days were planned.   One of my favorites is when Will and I left work to drive part way for our Christmas together with my family.  We had just gotten engaged and sat up in the hotel talking about how we would tell my parents and the boys and planning our future.  Sometimes the two days were not planned.  Christmas blizzard forcing us to stop in nowhere southern Ohio.  There are a few things that are always the same though.  We drive for about an hour on I-81 to get to I-77. On 77 you go through 2 tunnels , 3 toll booths, 2 big bridges and "the football bridge".  Then you get to the Turnpike and you are almost there.   We all look for these landmarks to gage the time.  I will hear somebody from the backseat yell was that second or third tollbooth.   I can tell you which restaurants are at all the exits.  Want Bob Evans?  Stop at Macorkle Ave in Charleston, WV ( approx 3 hours from home) or Ripley or Parkersburg. The one in Marietta is really not that good.  Make sure you  have everything you need before you leave Marietta because it is the deadlands until you get to Cambridge.   Knock on wood I haven't had too many speeding tickets and we have always arrived safely.  I am expecting this week's trip to be uneventful as well.  The trip has gotten much easier since they put DVD players in cars.  And right now all three kids love Frozen so if you see a Toyota Sienna driving up 77 on Thursday with the lady driving singing Do You Want to Build a Snowman at the top of her lungs it is just me.  Honk and wave!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Antique Shows

I am not sure when my grandmother starting selling antiques, but it was before I was born.  As you can see from the picture I was a member of her support staff from an early age.  Grandma didn't have a shop.  She would go to Antique Shows and would also do estate sales.  Doing a show with Grandma was an adventure.  First she would determine which inventory she thought she could move at the particular show.  She knew she wouldn't be able to get as much money for certain types of glass in certain areas and she also knew what would move best at the show where she was going .  Next, the van would get loaded with the boxes.  The boxes were old poultry boxes.  They were wax covered cardboard.  I didn't realize until I was much older that the boxes actually used to have frozen chickens in them.  Gross.  To make it even better all the glass was wrapped in blue adult diapers.  They were blue plastic on one side and many had been used so many times that the filling balled up in between the layers.  Once again, I did not know these "wraps" had another purpose besides keeping my grandmothers glass safe.  When I found out what they were I was completely freaked out.  First of all the fact that an adult would have to wear a diaper blew my adolescent mind and second that I had handled so many of them.  The boxes were unloaded onto a display that my grandfather developed and built.  The display had three shelves and was covered in alternating blue and white fabric.  The official colors of Heisey Glass.  You couldn't just put things on the shelves, there was an order.  Grandma knew what needed to be where and next to what to catch a potential buyers eye.  Everything had more than one price.  The price that was on it, the price she would sell it to you if you haggled a little with her and the price she would sell it to a dealer.  I can still here Grandma haggling with somebody and saying, well you know I am a dealer.  What is your dealer price?

Working the show was really not very exciting for a kid.  Most of these shows were in high school gymnasiums or convention centers.  We would hit the snack bar and walk around and look at the other antiques.  Grandma was pretty picky about the booths where we could shop.  We would often slowly walk by and hear her mumble "Crap".  We couldn't go in there.  We would walk past another booth and hear her mumble "Asshole".  That guy didn't offer dealer discounts so we couldn't go in there.  Then we would come across one of her buddies and we would be stuck in there forever just shooting the breeze and maybe buying something that she would wrap up, take home, inventory and try and sell at the next show.  In our booth, we were allowed to help wrap purchases.  To this day it pains me to see somebody wrap up something the wrong way.  You had to maximize your diaper and get as much into it as possible. ( I followed this same principle with my children by the way).  Once we reached an age that we could calculate sales tax we were allowed to write the receipts and take the money.  I would sit at the money box and have peoples tickets written up with tax calculated before they could even change their mind.  There were no returns accepted.  I have to say that I think my grandmother was a fair business woman.  I don't think she tried to get more than her glass was really worth.  I honestly don't know if she actually made any money selling glass or not.  I have heard it said that she showed a "loss" every year after she took out her "expenses".  Yes- Johnnie Walker Red was an expense.

At the end of the show Grandma would let me pick out a piece of glass to add to my collection. I still display those little pieces of glass with pride.  They are my first paycheck!







Friday, August 8, 2014

All Skate

People that did not grow up in the '80's cannot possibly imagine the importance of the roller skating rink and the impact that it had on my childhood.  I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  Not really famous for much except Rex Humbard, but all in all a nice place to live.  We were really lucky, we had access to two roller skating rinks.  Skate 8, the family friendly small rink on State Route  8 and the infinitely cooler Rocky's which I think was in Akron somewhere.  My family frequented Skate 8. Especially on Wednesday nights. Family Night.  We would load up the family in the station, rent our skates and roll around for hours.  Shoot the duck, backwards skate and everyone's favorite, the Limbo.  We would gaze in awe at the girls who had their own skates with the Pom Poms on them.  We would take a break to play a video game and watch our parents skate when they turned down the lights for the couple skate.  I was in pre-adolescent heaven with my feathered hair and Calvin Kleins with my comb in my back pocket.  I got my first bra on a Wednesday.  I know this because I was so excited that I got to wear it to skate that night.  I just knew some hot boy would ask me to a couple skate that night because of my bra.  Didn't happen, but a girl could dream right?  After I got my bra  and I was so mature Skate 8 just didn't seem as cool.  All the cool kids were going to Rocky's.  I heard they even had a light up disco floor.  I begged to go but mom had heard it could get wild.  Mom finally said it was ok to go on a Saturday afternoon.  I was so excited.  I walked in the door.  The music was so loud you could hardly hear yourself think.    I am pretty sure that Pac Man Fever was playing.  The bottom floor was all video games and when you walked up the stairs the dance floor was to the left.  It was much darker at Rocky's and the disco lights were amazing.  Everyone's jeans were much tighter than at Skate 8 and were Jordache.  No Calvin's here.  Couple skates here weren't the holding hands skating slow that I was used to, they were the type that one person skated forward and pushed the other backwards.  Some couples even mastered the heavy petting make out session on wheels technique.  My virgin eyes.  We would practice our dancing during the week so we could show our moves on the dance floor.  There was a dance called The Walk that if you didn't know you just were not cool.  We heard it was even better on a Friday or Saturday night, but alas I was denied by my (I thought) overprotective parents .  Didn't they know I could handle it.  I was wearing a bra for God's sake.  (Thank you by the way Mom And Dad).

I don't know if skating lost it coolness or if we just outgrew it but it seems like we just quit going.  One day we wanted to go every Saturday and then the next we wouldn't be caught dead there.  Maybe it was when our hair got so big that we took up to much room on the dance floor.  Maybe it was when we quit putting our combs in our back pockets.  Like you could run a comb through all that hairspray.  Maybe it was when we actually got the boobs to fill those bras and we weren't comfortable moving too much for fear somebody would notice.  Whenever it was it was a a rite of passage into the scary world of preteen-ness and our world would never be the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It better be a girl

My grandmother did not have one of those filters that most people have that prevent them from saying exactly what is on their mind.  (My mother taught me the value of "how nice" at an early age and I will forever be grateful for that). Even though Grandma would tell you exactly how she felt it didn't mean that you couldn't change her mind.  Of course she would never admit that her mind was changed and she would insist that she really agreed you from the beginning.

I will never forget the day that I told her I was expecting my first child.  I called her up and said Grandma, guess what?  I am pregnant.  She was very quiet for a minute and then said, " I am not sure how I feel about this". Now granted I was in no place financially to have a child, but I wasn't quite prepared for that reaction. I said oh well you better get used to the idea.  A couple of days later she calls and says that she has decided that she is ok with me being pregnant, but IT BETTER BE A GIRL!!!!  She even bought girl things to make sure that it would happen.  Soooo, a few months later I call her up after the ultrasound and say "guess what Grandma.  It is going to be a boy'.  Response- "I am not sure how I feel about this' and a couple of weeks of silence.  I might have softened her up a little when I told her that her great-grandson was going to be named after Grandpa.  Instead of William we were giving him the Irish nickname of Liam, but his middle name would be Hunter just like Grandpa.  You'd have thought she wanted a boy from the start.  She was so proud.   She would point to my belly and say that is my great-grandson.  He is named after my husband.  She went on a buying spree like none other.  I think at one point she had bought over 50 stuffed animals from catalogs .  And this was before he was born.

While I was pregnant she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her chemo regimen did not allow her to come down for his birth, but I knew she was with me.  She called almost every other day to talk to my baby.  We would put the phone to his ear and he would coo into the phone for her.  It was like he knew how much he meant to her and wanted to let her know he knew.  When I was finally able to take Liam to meet her she took him in her arms and cried.  I had never seen this kind of reaction from her.  Those two were like soul mates.  Liam knew when to crawl up in her lap and cuddle.  He knew when to give her one of those baby smiles that melts your heart.  One of my favorite memories was the two of them in the backseat of the car cackling while she did this little piggy on his toes.  When he was older she would call and he would jabber on the phone to her.  He hadn't even said his first word yet and the two of them would have a five minute conversation.  He didn't do that for anybody but her.  When she came to Bristol to the nursing home he would play in her room.  He wasn't one bit scared of the nursing home or the fact that she was really not looking well.  He really loved her and I think he brought her joy during her final days.  I don't think Liam was old enough to remember her, but I do think he is a better kid because he had her.  I always tell him how much she loved him even though he was supposed to be a girl. I guess it is proof that sometimes what we think we want really isn't what we are supposed to have.