Thursday, November 26, 2015

Liam vs. The Sprouts

Man v Food
I really love Thanksgiving. It isn't as stressful as Christmas. It is all about being with family and friends and I have some really good memories that came from this holiday. If Thanksgiving is at my parents it is always a full blown affair.  Now that we all live far apart even more so.  Graham and I generally try to make it to Mom and Dad's every other year for Thanksgiving and the alternate years for Christmas. While we are there we try and cram in as much family time as possible. And in our family, family time means big dinners.  We generally have so many people that we cannot all fit at one table.  Generally in situations like these people fight to not have to sit at the kid's table, but once all of us kids grew up we now get upset if we have to sit with the grown ups. This was the case a few years ago.  We were having a huge dinner and I was at the grown up table. Now don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful time.  I got to sit with my lovely godmother whom I rarely get to see.  I always enjoy  dining with my aunt's and uncle's too.  But something was going on in the other room and I couldn't figure out what it was and it was killing me.  Lily and Owen had their own table and the disturbance was not coming from them. The commotion was from the next table over where my brother, and his wife Hye, Vanessa, Jason and his wife Jess, and Liam were sitting.  At the time Liam was an extremely picky eater.  I wasn't there but I sure the conversation went something like this. One of the "adults" asks Liam why there is only mashed potatoes and turkey on his plate. He says something like that is all he wanted.  Then they gang up on him and tell him he should try new things.  Then they start in on the "We never had a choice when we were kids.  Our parents would make us eat things we didn't like."  Liam wasn't budging until somebody, probably Ness, says "I bet he'd eat Brussel sprouts if somebody paid him". Graham threw down the gauntlet. $20. Somebody else up'd the ante to $30. He had to eat 20 bites. Jess had prepared some lovely roasted sprouts which were cut in half.  There was much cheering and chanting and he ate them all. When I found out later what had happened I was pretty proud of Liam.  Getting my brother to cough up cash like that is next to impossible.  I like to tell myself that he learned a valuable life lesson that day.  Sure my cousins and and brother were feeding the sense of entitlement that kids have theses days.  Won't do anything unless something is in it for them.  But really what Liam learned was if you get just the right amount of wine and beer in my family you can make them do anything.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Image result for vintage cb radiosImage result for vintage cb radios

Breaker Breaker this is Nutmeg calling for the Silver Fox.  You got your ears on Silver Fox?  How about the Heisey lady?  Good.  Yes, this is Nutmeg heading up the turnpike with The Medicine Man, Rag Doll and the Little Cracker.  We just passed a Smokey.  Hope he catches that Fighter Pilot that is about to cause a pileup.  Need us to stop and get some bread for dinner to go with the spaghetti.  Copy that.  Catch you in a few.  10-4

Until I went to college I assumed that all families communicated via CB's.  Not sure why I didn't put it together that most people didn't have the CB sitting on the counter in the kitchen or have them mounted in their cars, but I didn't think we were different than anybody else.  In my Food Science class at UT my lab partner assured me that we were not the norm.  I think we were using nutmeg as a spice when I told him that was my handle.  He couldn't wait to hear more so I told him the families names.  I ran into him this weekend and he still couldn't let it go.    

Grandpa- Silver Fox
Uncle Kyle- Gray Fox
Grandma- Heisey Lady
Minnow (known only to those who didn't really know her as Muriel)- The Little Fish 
Dad- The Medicine Man.  I mean he was a Pharmacist right
Mom- The Rag Doll
Graham- The Little Cracker.  

We would talk to each other on the one hour trip to and from Lorain.  Telling each other our "20" and when we think we would arrive.  We would listen to it to see how traffic was and to try and avoid the speed traps.  When we were at Grandma's the CB on the counter was also a scanner so we would listen to that for fun or to find out what the sirens were for.  

I think we were just ahead of our time really.  It was before cell phones so it was a good way to communicate on the road.  But even better you got to socialize with people you didn't really know. Mostly truckers which might explain my potty mouth.  You never saw their faces but for a few brief moments you interacted with somebody and listened to what they had to say.  If you didn't like it, you turned the channel.  Sometimes people shared too much and sometimes they told lies.  I think I just discovered that the CB was really the first Social Media.  

Well, I need to take a 10-200 and get another 100 Mile Coffee so I am signing off.  10-4

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Dad and Value

I am a Pricing Manager.  Most people don't have a clue what that means.  Sometimes I don't either, but basically my job is to set the prices for the products that my company makes.  I spend most of my time buried in data in spreadsheets.  I am one of those geeks that gets really excited when I learn how to do a new function in excel.  When I am not geeking out on my computer I am trying to educate everyone about value.  We all know from business school that people are willing to pay more for a product.  Sometimes that value is real and sometimes it is perceived.  Last week I had the opportunity to give a presentation at our Annual Sales Meeting. While I was giving my presentation it hit me that I had really been training for this job my whole life because I was Greg Little's daughter.  It is not an easy task to get Greg Little to part with a dollar.  I am not going to say that my dad is cheap, but my mom used to say that he was such a tight ass that if you put a piece of coal between his butt cheeks it would turn into a diamond.  I remember one time driving to Click on State Road to get light bulbs.  We walked around that whole store and dad was convinced that their prices were too high so we got back in the car and drove a few miles down the road to Gold Circle.  We saved a nickel on the light bulbs.  He was so proud.  Dad spent the beginning of his career in Pharmacy as a Director of Pharmacy but it was a natural fit when he moved into  Materials Management and Procurement.   I would have hated to been one of those guys calling on him.  Now, I have to say that Dad is always looking for a deal but he doesn't mind to pay a little more for something he feels has good quality and will last a while.  He has worn the same style of Sperry Topsiders for over 20 years.  He gets a new pair about every couple of years and the old pair becomes the weekend shoe for working around the house and yard.  You can tell how old the shoes are by the different colors of paint that are splattered on them.  (My mom likes my dad to remodel so they paint a lot.)  He has a Tilley hat that he loves mostly because it comes with a lifetime warranty.  Don't get me started on the beer.  I have a hard time seeing the value in an $8 bottle of beer.  When he buys something, he is going to buy something that lasts because he will keep it and use it forever.  A good thing when it comes to tools, a bad thing when it comes to polyester leisure suits that he would still wear today if my mom wasn't there to stop him.  So anyway, I learned from an early age that if I wanted Dad to buy something I would have to sell him on the value and that was not an easy sell.  I found out I was in good company when I was in college and had to have surgery.  I think it was surgery #3 so I knew what to expect but this time was a little different.  I knew many of the doctor's in town because Mom and Dad both worked with them and I got passed around as a babysitter through the Bristol Anesthesia Group so I knew them very well.  Dr. Smith was going to be the lucky one to put me under this time and I think he left me awake just a little longer than usual so he could make a point.  He looked down at me with his mask on and held up a vial of medicine.  He said "See this drug Meghan?  This is the drug that your dad says is too expensive.  This is the drug that will help you feel better and when you wake up you won't feel hungover.  So when you wake up and don't feel as bad as you did the last time you make sure you tell your dad".  Pretty sure that Dr. Smith would have been a really good salesman and pretty sure that Dad reevaluated his position on the value of that med.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Eighteen years ago I was miserable.  A doctor told me (mistakenly) that I would most likely have problems getting pregnant so I should start my family in my twenties and not wait.  He told me it could take years to get pregnant.  I was very career oriented and I knew that you were "supposed" to have a family, but I don't think I had that longing that some women have to have a baby.   Well, I decided to just let nature take it course and maybe in a few years I would be a mom.  Ten months later here I was.  It was three days before my due date.  I was hot, I was contracting, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sleep and I was scared out of my mind.  I knew that once this baby came out my life would change forever and no longer be my own, but at that point I didn't care.  My friends would go walking with me in the evenings with the hope of bringing on labor but nothing was working. Then Will Campbell called.  Uncle Will, as we affectionally call him, was going to make this baby come out one way or another.  He called and said "we are walking at Steele's Creek today Meg".  We walked what felt like 10 miles and then went back to his house for lunch.  I drank a half gallon of kool-aid (the Campbell's always had kool-aid) and he made Country Style Steak and Gravy.  That did it.  Labor came a few hours later and with the help of friends and family after pushing for two hours I was a mom.

I'd like to say that I was the best mom in the world, but I don't think I was.  I suffered from post-partum depression but nobody really talked about it then so I suffered in silence.  I think motherhood is harder for control freaks.  I was the one who was always in control, but not now.  I did ok when people were around, but when it was just the two of us I didn't know what to do with him.  With the help of a pacifier and a swing we eventually got into a groove. My friend Diane calls the early stages of infancy the pupa stage and I think this is spot on.  I did much better once Liam actually started to do and notice things.

I think looking back over the years what amazes me most is not how much Liam has changed, but how much he has stayed the same.  The first time my friend Torie saw Liam she commented that he was an old soul and I agree.  Even when he was a toddler he acted like a forty year old man.  He would stand and raise his arm with his index finger extended and proclamate his thoughts.  When he was cast as the Mayor of Munchkin Land in the Wizard of Oz we felt it was a typecast.  He has always been headstrong.  A trait that I admire, but is difficult to deal with as a parent.  The toddler years were a little rough at times, and I think I would just like to forget most of his transition through puberty.

School was always interesting.  At his first parent/teacher conference in preschool the teachers sat us down and told us how bright he was and felt he was very intelligent, but they expressed their concerns about the fact that Liam did not like to color.  Hmmm- at his conference last year the English teacher told me how bright he was and expressed her concern at how he didn't like to do his homework.  Somehow we have made it through and unless something drastic happens he will be graduating with an advanced diploma in the spring.  He is even considering a career in teaching, which I think is a testament to all of his teachers over the years.

I could go on and on with stories as all parents can, but instead I would like to use this time to thank all of you who have helped form Liam into the young man that he is today.  To my husband- Thank you for stepping in and teaching Liam how to be a good responsible man.  To my parents- saying Thank You for everything isn't enough, but Thank You.   To any of you who have babysat, carpooled or supervised sleepovers- Thanks.  To any of you who have listened to me vent when things were out of control- Thank you.  To anyone who has shared wine with me- Thank you.   To his teachers- Thank You.

But most of all- Thank You Liam.  I know I was not always the perfect parent, but I hope you won't have to pay for too many years of therapy to fix what I did wrong.  You taught me how to put someone else's needs before my own.  You taught me how to have unconditional love.  You taught me how to control the things you can, but to just let go of the things you can't.  You taught me how to be a mom and that is the best thing in the world.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Here we are.  The 1983/1984 Kickball Champions of Chapel Hill Christian School.  We were the 6th graders.  The 6th graders were always the champions, but we were almost the first class in history to be champions not once, not twice, but three times.  Almost.  We almost beat the 6th graders when we were in 4th grade.  We almost beat the 6th graders when we were in 5th grade.  It came down to the final inning both years, but alas, the 6th graders always win.

Playing kickball was an integral part of my childhood.  Not only was it the most important thing in the world at CHCS, but on my block as well.  I was the Queen of kickball.  Mostly because I was the only girl.  We lived on a block where our parents kicked us out of our houses in the morning and except for a brief lunch we weren't allowed to come in until the street lights came on.  We very rarely went inside each others house.  We found all sorts of things to do- ride bikes, play games, ignore Graham, torture Graham, get Graham in trouble, etc., but my favorite was kickball.  Home base was a crack in the road.  First base was the corner of my driveway.  Second Base was another crack in the road.  Third base was the Vandeveer's driveway corner.  We picked teams and would play for hours.  Time Outs were when a car came and we had to get out of the street.  I never was very good in the field.  I really can't catch a ball which is why I gravitated to playing soccer.  I could kick fairly well and wasn't afraid to steal a base.  I honestly have no idea how we decided the game was over and I don't even remember winning or losing.  I just remember playing.  Eventually we all outgrew playing on the street.  Somebody would hit 7th grade and they just wouldn't come out as much and eventually would just quit coming.  Even though we all lived on the same block we went to different schools.  We started hanging out with out our school friends and doing school activities more.  I think I knew we had grown up when one of my friends started to think one of the neighbors was "hot".  (You guys can guess who it was- I'm not telling).  I never thought about the boys in the neighborhood like that and knowing my friends did made it completely awkward.

I got to relive my kickball days this past weekend at one of my favorite people in the whole world's milestone birthday party.  I have to say that adult kickball might be more fun than kickball in the street.  We didn't have to listen for our parents to call.  We didn't have to watch for cars. And let's just say the beverages were much more fun than water.  Although I did find it was even harder to catch a ball with a wine glass in my hand.   I finally found a home for the glass.  Too bad it was under the electric fence.  I had a minor surgical procedure a few weeks ago and couldn't quite give 100% (that is my excuse and I am sticking too it).   My team gave me the nickname of Post Op.  I am thinking of having it put on the back of a t-shirt.  I have to say though that my body does not like kickball as much as it did in 6th grade.  Maybe I will just need to play some more to get my game back.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I'm Sorry Lou Holtz

The news reported the other day that Lou Holtz's house was heavily damaged by fire from a possible lightning strike.  Let's just say that my family knows better.  I am not sure what Mr. Holtz ever did to Maddie Little, but it must have been really, really horrible.  I am pretty sure the two never met, and I don't think she ever even saw him from afar, but I can't think of anyone who could make her blood pressure rise more.  Poor Jason caught the brunt of her anger on Saturday's.  Jason would be at home watching a football game and the phone would ring.  He would answer and Grandma would be on the line screaming "did you see what that son of a ***** just did.  What an a******e.  I can't stand that man" and then she would hang up.  Jason didn't even get to respond.  On a good day he would get one call.  The more the cameras showed Lou, the more phone calls Jason got.  We aren't really sure why she just didn't turn the channel. I guess for her it was like a train wreck.  Horrible to watch, but just can't keep looking.  Sometimes for fun we would just say his name to see the reaction.  Sometimes it was subtle.  A simple "hmph", roll of the eyes, and she would try and ignore us, but most of the time we got the list of expletives that she used to describe him.  The one I never understood was when she used to yell at the tv saying "Look at him.  He looks like a woman". The SOB is a woman".  Grandma was kind of a feminist in her own way so that one just didn't make sense.  When he left Notre Dame it only got worse.  Thank God she never got to see him as an analyst. I think it would have sent her over the edge.

Me personally, I could care less about Lou Holtz. Seems like he was a pretty good coach and inspired many players.  I mean, it's not like he is that a*****e Lane Kiffin, right.

So, Mr. Holtz, on behalf of the Little family we apologize for what our Grandma Little did to your house.  I am sure you noticed that there was an increase in thunderstorms around you since she passed.  I am sure she had been aiming for you since she got up there.  She didn't have very good aim, but she must have met some angel who is a USC fan who helped her finally hit her mark.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Chronic Lyricosis

I love to sing.  I am not a great singer.  I am not horrible singer, I can hold a tune, but I am not solo material.  But I don't care.  I love to sing.  I subscribe to the theory that even if you don't sound great, you will sound better if you sing louder and scrunch your face up with head slightly cocked to one side.  If a fan is blowing your hair a little even better.  I have a problem though.  I really could care less about what the words are in a song.  Oh sure, there are some lyrics that I totally "get" and really like, but it is the music that I really are about.  My friend Sharon used to tease me because many of my favorite songs are filled with woo hoo's, uh huh's and heyyyyyyyyy.  ( and I said heyyyyyyyyy heyyyy heyyyyy. What's going on).   If a song goes from low notes to high or high to low a lot, oh yeah!!!!  If a song has some screaming that can only be sung with a microphone held right up your mouth while leaning in to said microphone on a stand (picture any song by Whitesnake) OMG.  When I was in college Karaoke came to Tennessee.  We went to our normal bar and instead of a band there was this microphone and a screen and they were trying to get people to come up on stage and sing.  This was way before people started taking this seriously.  Nobody was going and they started to offer prizes to get people up there.  My friends looked at me and said we will buy your beer for the rest of the night if you get up there and sing "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar" one of the few songs I know all the words to, because, well, I Am Woman.  I of course said yes and promptly went to the stage.  I nailed it.  Well, not really , but the beer made it feel like I did.  I may not have been on key, but it definitely broke trump and the stage was filled from that point on all night.  The nice(?) thing about Karaoke at that time is they gave you a tape of your song when you left.   So you would always have that memory.  Ha. Well, my mom was coming to town the next day to take me shopping. We had a great day and she was dropping me off at my BFF's apartment in Lake Court and what should be blaring from somebody's stereo - my performance.  My mother, who knew the Helen Reddy song was my anthem said "Meghan, is that you?" I didn't have to answer.

I still love Karaoke.  I am always slightly annoyed by (jealous of) those people that actually sound good.  Some of best memories are with Karaoke songs

Family Tradition
Your're So Vain
Fat Bottom Girls
and of course the song that brought "the law". - The Time Warp

I am afraid I passed on my singing style to my children, but I think they may actually have some hope.  Owen was listening to Uptown Funk the other day and told me in his most serious voice " Mom, this is the song that cured my chronic lyricosis."  I was so so proud.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The bird that changed everything

When I first moved to Tennessee there were so many things that were different.  People spoke differently.  People dressed differently.  People ate differently.  People were just different.  Not good or bad, just different.  People were definitely more polite.  Everyone acknowledges you when you pass them on the street.  Young people address you as Ma'am ( not sure how I feel about this one now)  In general, people just seem friendlier.  This is all really great, but when you first get here it takes awhile to acclimate and lose some of your how shall we say it... brashness.  I admit it, I am a bit dramatic at times and tend to fly off the handle.  Now in my defense, I may rant and rave, but after I get it all out I can be reasoned with.  I am lacking in the impulse control department and God forgot to put one of those filters that helps you keep your mouth shut in me.  I have improved over the years (no comments please) but I was pretty much just full of myself when I was 16.  I had just started driving to school.  Driving my mom's Dodge Aries because I hadn't mastered the stick shift in my Omni yet.  I pull into the parking lot and did the classic pull through the parking space.  Problem was I didn't see the car coming at the same time.  We both slammed on our brakes.  No impact, no damage, but I did what every good driver from Northeast Ohio would have done in that situation.  I flipped the other driver the bird.  If I had been in Ohio I am sure that the other driver would have returned my salute, laughed it off and been on her way, but I was not aware yet that the bird has much more impact here in the South.  Nice people just don't flip the bird here.  Especially nice young ladies.  The other driver did not appreciate my telling her that she was #1 so she promptly jumped out of her car. I have to break here to tell you that the other thing that I had not really learned about the South yet was how to handle the species "Redneck".  These Rednecks were different than any other species I had encountered.  They generally were not very cerebral, and tended to be very physical.  While now I have come to appreciate this species, and even call a few friends, at this time I was way out of my league.   I don't remember much about what happened because she was in my face so fast I couldn't even think.  And to make matters worse this poor girl was cross-eyed.  It is one thing to have somebody in your face screaming they are going to kick your ass, but it was really hard to know which direction I should be looking to face her off.  I kept looking over my shoulder to see who she was looking at.  Didn't help matters.  I remember her saying something about teaching a "preppy" girl a lesson and me spouting something about you don't want to mess with me.  We were in a standoff.  But wait, who do I see walking up the stairs that could save the day- John Byers.  I thought surely my friend who was such a nice young man would come and help me.  But alas, John said "Hey Meg" and promptly ran into the school.  Apparently this cross-eyed redneck girl was to be avoided at all costs.  I tell myself that John chose his future career in law enforcement because he felt so guilty about leaving me there to fend for myself.  He swears he didn't know what was going on- whatever.

I would like to say that the story ended there, but it didn't.  Redneck Crazy Eyes and her entourage made a game of chasing me around the school all week.  I thought it couldn't get any worse, but the enforcer of this group was a huge huge woman.  Not a girl, an Amazon woman.  I am pretty sure she was about 6'2 and at least 250.  I am pretty sure she was a 19 year old Freshman. She could have squashed me.  She took the lead in bullying.  They were everywhere I went (except my classes of course.  does that sound snotty- sorry)  Finally I was at my breaking point.  I just wanted it over.  I saw Amazon down the hall coming at me.  I grabbed a hold of the boys arm next to me and said "Todd- whatever you do don't leave me."  Todd, was a good friend, but even he wasn't going to stand up to this bunch.  He let go.  She pushed me up against the locker.  I said "you have been chasing me around for a week, if you are going to hit me, hit me now."  She pulled her arm back ready to strike and in comes Randall Jones.  Vice Principal extraordinaire.   He grabbed us both and dragged us to the office.  Now that I was safe I spouted off- "if I get kicked out of the National Honor Society for this I am coming after you B*****"  I showed her.  I got off with a warning and instructions to let a teacher know if I was getting bothered again.  I think Amazon ended up in ISS.  (note to my kids- getting good grades and having your teachers like you does help in situations like these)

I would like to say that the whole incident taught me to keep my mouth shut, but I think we all know that it didn't.

I don't know what ever came of Redneck Crazy Eyes and Amazon Woman.  I hope that they don't remember incident and have gone on to do great things.  For my safety and/or their anonymity if they have reinvented themselves- if you know their names, just keep them to yourselves.

Friday, March 13, 2015

I can't believe it has been 40 years and yes he drank his milk

40 years ago tomorrow I had to learn to share.  I had to realize that I was not the center of the universe.  Yes, I admit it.  I was not happy about it.  And it took me a long time to realize that it was a good thing.  Having a brother was a good thing.  No, he was not put on this earth to annoy me.  His mouth breathing and the fact that he seemed to always fall into shit and end up smelling like roses had nothing to do with me.  And once I realized that, I was able to actually admit to having a sibling.  And not only did I finally admit it I found that I actually kind of like him.  Ok, don't tell anybody but I love the guy.  Graham Alan Little.  My baby brother.  My 6'4 thorn in my side that I can give hell, but if anybody else does they better watch out.  Once, I almost had to prove it.  When I moved to Tennessee, the wonderful Bristol, TN school system decided that the PE classes that I took in Cuyahoga Falls could not possibly be worthy of full credit so I had to take PE as a senior.  The only senior in the class.  All freshman.  And to make matters worse, my ?!|€~*#^~€ brother was in my class.  How embarrassing.  Really.  He hadn't had his growth spurt  yet so he was about 5'2 and weighed about 100lbs.  He was puny and he was annoying.  I really wasn't the only one who thought so.  Some unnamed redneck thought so too.  We were in PE class.  I was on the gym floor and Graham was on the stage.  I heard a little shuffle and the "circle" was starting to form around some kids getting ready to fight.  I usually didn't pay attention to this kind of thing ( except when it was it was me about to get whooped, but that is another story), but I caught a glimpse of the contenders.  Holy S*** it was Graham.  I was about to run up and try and save the day but the room was getting quiet.  All I could hear was Redneck saying "I am going to kick your ass". I waited to hear the crunch of Graham's nose, but instead I heard my brother's voice.  "Before you kick my ass I need to tell you something". Not so bright Redneck looked confused.  Not sure what to do.  Graham says " I'm drinking milk, and when my outside grows up to be as big as my inside I am going to turn around and kick your ass!"  Dumbfounded Redneck didn't know what to do so he paused.  Paused long enough for Ms. Pinkston to get there and save the day.
Well Graham, your outside did finally grow up and your inside did too.

Happy Birthday to my favorite brother.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Grandma and Patricia Neal

Grandma and Patricia Neal at the Troutdale Dining Room.  Either this was taken before dinner or Patricia is an amazing actress.  Hmmmm..

It is Queen of Hearts time here in Bristol.  For those of you not blessed to live in the "Good Place to Live" Queen of Hearts is a fundraiser for the American Heart Association.  Each year girls from each local high school compete to raise the most money for the AHA.   The girls have campaign managers and teams of friends that help them.  For the months during the competition I am sure these girls do nothing else but run fundraisers.  We aren't talking about bake sales.  They have pageants, concerts, 5K's and just about anything else you can think of to raise money.  They have raised millions of dollars over the years for this good cause.  I am pretty sure this is the 50th anniversary of the fundraiser.  These girls really need to be applauded for all of their hard work.  At the end of the campaigns they have a big gala and the girl that raised the most money is crowned the Queen of Hearts. If there is anything that we love here in Bristol it is Galas.

My mom got involved with the event because her friend Deborah was in charge of it for many years. Deborah is a bulldog.  Deborah can get things done and when you put Kate on her team the sky's the limit.  When my mom was involved the AHA would contract with celebrities to come and be the honored guests at the gala.  The celebrities usually had some connection to someone affected by heart disease.  I forget the year (Deborah help me out), but the guest of honor was to be Academy and Tony Award Winning Actress Patricia Neal.  How cool is that.  The woman was married to Roald Dahl, had an affair with Gary Cooper and was the epitome of classic Hollywood and she was coming to Bristol.  Even more exciting was the fact that she was coming to town a day early and was going to have an intimate dinner with a select few at the Troutdale.  My parents were invited and because my grandmother was "wintering" with them she was invited as well.  The Troutdale is a local favorite.  It is in an old house that has private and semi private dining areas. Perfect place for dinner with a screen legend.  Everyone was enjoying their dinner and enthralled by Ms. Neal.  She was telling her stories of Hollywood.  She was an advocate of the American Heart Association, not just because they were picking up her bill, but because she understood first hand how difficult recovering from a stroke could be.  She understood that the AHA dedicates it's funds to research and education.  I am sure dinner was delightful and everyone was having an evening they would never forget.

I am sure my parents wish the story ended here, but alas Grandma had to make it even more memorable.  Grandma may not have been the Queen of Hearts, but she was the Queen of Stage Whispering.  I can picture it.  Patricia takes a bite of her delightful dessert.  Grandma leans in and says "you know" (this is your first clue that things are about to get bad by the way).  "When I had MY stroke, the American Heart Association didn't give me a GD bit of help.  The only people that helped me were the Easter Seals so I quit giving my money to those bastards and now all my money goes to the Easter Seals".   Everyone at table looks uncomfortably at their plates. Dad takes deep breath in, hold, hold, hold, deep breath out. He then states, you'll have to excuse my mother she isn't quite the same since her stroke.  But we all know that the stroke had nothing to do with it.

Friday, February 6, 2015


I am really not a big drinker (anymore). I will give those of you that are lying on the floor laughing a chance to catch your breath.    .......  Kid #3 at 40 really made me put sleep as a priority and in my Middle Ages alcohol really messes with my sleep.  I do love cocktails though and certain cocktails conjur up certain memories that usually make me smile.

Shirley Temple ( does that count?)- memory is Tangiers in Akron.  The place looked like a mosque.  We would go there for special occasions.  Once I went as my dad's date for a work function to see a hypnotist.  I felt so grown up with my cocktail.

Fuzzy Navel- the drink from the family Christmas party and trips with Grandma to the Heisy Convention in Newark.  Ohio, not NJ

Sun Country Wine Coolers-  because I know my mom will read this I won't elaborate.  I will just say High school.  I will also say that this is the worst drink when you see it again.  Yuck.  And Mom, that statue of limitations ran out a few years ago.

Milwaukee's Best-  I know not a cocktail, but how can you leave this coming of age beer out of this convo.  Hell Hole. That is all I am saying.

Ron Rico Rum-  making no comments, but Rachel Bowell that is for you.  Really you can mix rum with anything and it is good.  In Puerto Rico a few weeks ago I rediscovered my love for rum.

Cosmopolitan's-  the drink we drank to look sophisticated

PGA Punch- aka Hooch. Best memory, or non memory.  Halloween 1990.  I went as Axl Rose.  We had the same hair and I can sing a wicked Sweet Child o Mine.  Just ask anybody.  So I go to a Phi Delt house party and run into Slash in one of the rooms with orange punch.  This was before Karaoke, but whoever Slash was and I stayed by the punch belting out every song that came on the stereo all night.  I woke up the next morning and freaked out because my right hand was all orange.  Took me a while to figure out it was from dipping in the punch.

Southern Comfort-  went down just a little too easy. Mix with sprite and call it a cotton candy.  I got Grandma hooked on these for a while.

Speaking of Grandma- Johnnie Walker Red

Bourbon Slush-  the Drink of choice for Kentucky Derby Parties.  They are exceptionally good with overpriced simple syrup from the Troutdale.  Right Mike Vetter.

JagerBomb-  not commenting. 

Wine- I like wine.  I really like good wine, but I am way too lazy to learn about wine.  No room in my head for all that stuff.  Luckily I have many friends who can pick out wine and even more luckily I have many friends who like to share.  My best friends know good wines, but are not wine snobs and will happily drink the Yellow Tail that you put out at a party.  Can't be too picky you know.  My kind of people know it isn't about how good the wine tastes, but how much fun you are having with those who are sharing it.

Sometime in the 90's I moved to vodka tonics.  Still my favorite and I just finished one made with a local vodka from St Louis from Rachel.  It was so good it spurred a blogpost.  Excuse the typos and grammar issues.  Remember I don't drink much anymore.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Holiday Traditions

(I think this is 1994 and Grandma bought everyone, except Graham, these annoying snoring bears.  I am glad this did not become a tradition)

I got back a few days ago from a week in Ohio with the family. When you say a week with the family it sounds like a long time, but it flew by.  Christmas is filled with traditions for all families and I love them all.  There are the traditions that have been around since before I can remember, like having Potato Broth on Christmas Eve.  Potato Broth was one of Grandma's five meals.  The ingredients are simple.  Meat, Potatoes, Beef Broth, and Onions.  Pepper and salt to taste.  When Grandpa took over the cooking the onions doubled.  I remember my Uncle Joe coming by on Christmas Eve to get his plastic container filled with the soup.  We would always have brown bread or marble rye with it and open butter got passed around the table all night.

Some traditions stay for awhile and then go away.  Like Fuzzy Navels.  There was a couple of years that was the drink of choice at Christmas.  Everybody got too sophisticated for that so now we have specially chosen wine or craft beer.  Secretly I miss the fuzzy navels.

Some traditions morph.  Graham and I always had a box carefully labeled of all of our Christmas ornaments that we made or we received as gifts.  We would each put our ornaments on the tree. Graham was devastated when one year his beloved "Dough Bear" that he had made from salt dough in preschool was missing.  We told him that it went to live on the dough bear farm and it kept him quiet for a few years until he realized what the term "farm" meant in our house.  ( For example, Dad's leisure suit went to the leisure suit farm)  One year we were given our boxes of ornaments.  Tradition morph.  Now my kids put up ornaments on our tree that are older than they are.

It is funny, I think the younger you are the less you need to consider something a tradition.  Owen, Liam and Caroline helped me make some Christmas candy the last couple of years.  Liam has a real knack for melting chocolate and dipping Buckeyes.  Owen is great at unwrapping rolos and setting them on pretzels.  At this point Caroline is really good at making us laugh and keeping us entertained. We have done this for three years and they both made the comment that they "always" do it and that it is a tradition.

My mom has an extensive collection of Byers Carolers.  So many I don't think she even puts them all out every year.  They are beautifully arranged around the house.  Carefully placed in groups to "sing" us carols.  Graham and I always make a beeline for the little boy on the snowball to turn him on his head.  It used to make mom mad and she would turn him upright, but I think she finally gave up.  A few years ago Will and I came across a George H. Bush doll in an antique store and as a joke gave it to my dad as a Christmas present.  Sometime in the evening dad snuck away and mixed him in with the Carolers.  Funny thing is he fit right in.  This year Hilary joking the Carolers.  The feelings toward Hilary in general are mixed, but the reaction to Hilary as a Caroler was unanimously good.  George is now placed with his hand in the Salvation Army pot.

I wish some traditions would go away, like Graham and Dad debating over politics ( hint, hint), but overall I love our traditions.  The new, the old and the ones we have yet to make.