Leaving the home

Calm and open to petting

There was this big ol’ cat hanging out in the lobby of the facility my grandmother is located. This fella was the bright spot of the visit.

My grandmother has stumped the doctors, but the prognosis is not good.

Now begins the difficult conversations.

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Shopgirl

This entry is not a movie review

I went with my mom and brother to see Shopgirl the other night.

We had the theater to ourselves.

The movie didn’t get in the way of spacing off and thinking up better dialog.

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Spices

Dean & Deluca have the best packaging

I had a bowl of chili over at my mom’s house late this evening. Always a highlight having home cookin.

She’s getting ready for a kitchen remodel in November and the TV is almost always tuned to HGTV. All these shows where they do everything in a just a few days, can be intimidating I suppose, but I haven’t seen the show where they have good (plain) taste.

Related tangent: As much as I’m a sucker for the last 15 minutes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I’m getting a little bit tired of the “themes” they vomit all over the kids’ rooms.

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My mom, the florist

Creating an arrangement

After a tasty meal of corn on the cob, bar-b-que chicken, broccoli, and baked potato at my mom’s, I went up to check my weight on the scale in the bathroom. Not something I normally do, but since my pants fell off earlier, I was concerned I might be losing too much weight.

I’m the same. I think I just need to do laundry more often to keep that tight fit.

As we caught up on things, I remarked how nice the flowers in her bathroom looked. And as I made motion to leave and tend to chores, she slipped outside and filled up a vase to take along.

My car had the best aroma driving back from the laundromat, earthy smells—not at all perfumey. Totally covered up the heavy odor of detergent and dryer sheets leaking through the trunk.

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Northside parade

The Ladies Auxiliary Lawnchair Brigade

So this year’s Independence Day Parade in Northside seemed a bit light on the wacky side and a bit heavy on the politicians, but overall—thoroughly enjoyable.

We didn’t wave as much or clap as hard for the Republicans. Though I admit there’s a certain tiresome antic about wrapping folks into these two political camps. With Sandra Day O’Connor stepping down, I think the label I’m drawn to most is “moderate.”

The real fun wasn’t on the street though, but over at my mom’s place.

She and my brother, with a little help from family and friends, have turned a non-descript house along the parade route into a slice of paradise. Thriving garden out back and lots of interesting bits lining the walls and surfaces inside. Holidays mean themes and that means the place was fit for a magazine spread on Americana.

Quite a spread of vittles catered to every taste and I’ve got a plate in the fridge for a midnight snack.

My grandmother’s birthday

And the building across the parking lot from the Olive Garden

I gave her a tattered book from my shelves, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I gave her some flowers too, but they paled in comparison to the lovely Hawaiian bunch from my brother. I should’ve taken a photo of those.

We ate at Olive Garden and I still have some Tour of Italy leftovers in my fridge.

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A funeral

My uncle died on Saturday

He was 59.

Like his brother, my dad, his shortened life was another product of Cancer. He lived many of the past years with a portable oxygen set-up — alert, participating in the lives of his wife, children and grandchildren.

I sense he was a kind man, but that knowledge is limited to interaction at family gatherings. I don’t go back as often as I should, holidays usually, where we meet up at my aunt’s house and eat, marvel at the youngest and laugh.

We gathered back at the church of my youth for some fellowship time, the scene was familiar as was the spread. Disposable trays instead of Tupperware featuring several versions of baked beans and deviled eggs, sandwiches and casseroles. A wall of desserts.

After catch-up conversations, my remaining uncles mused on life expectancy. There were no bets placed but eyes tend to look less dark when there’s a smile.

There’s a picture in my mind from the day. As we gathered around the tent at the graveyard, I stood off to one side which lent a straight view of Mike’s wife and her three daughters. All in black, staring at the coffin, shivering from the cold, eyes reddened. Guns fired and taps began to play as veterans folded up a flag and presented it to his wife.

The loss seemed permanent upon this transaction.

Too soon. In general, and from the last time.

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The holiday, bulleted

Two buck Chuck is $3.50 in Ohio

THE NOT SO GOOD
• The roads in Cincinnati are still horrible with snow
• A car flipped just feet from me on the highway last night
• My pipes froze
• First Christmas without Dad
• Never enough time to put everything together

THE GOOD
• My nephew had a son, Matthew Robert Alexander, last week
• My brother works at Trader Joes and is diggin it (and we’re digging his discount)
• The pipes thawed (and now water is constantly running)
• Christmas got most of the family together for a potluck meal
• Gifts were simple, and if not edible, useful.
• The turkey turned out pretty good

PhotosI took some photos.

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Warm

Extra long sleeves

If you ever met my mom, you’d be immediately jealous that she wasn’t your mom because she’s that neat. Okay, I’ll admit, there’s other great moms out there, but this one’s mine.

Case in point: reaching back to high school, I would complain to her that there weren’t good flannel shirts anymore. Coupled with our shoestring budget and my growth spurt(s), she decided to make a few.

We went to the store and picked out fabrics, then she went to town—crafting a handful of button-down shirts that fit me perfectly. You would not be able to discern they were homemade. She even ordered little “GLASS” tags for inside the collar. Subsequently, these tags would also be sewn into my underwear before I went to college.

Some folks would be shamed by this. I was not.

Just last week I picked up winter clothing at her house from storage. Over ten years old and they still fit with the arms reaching past my wrists and tails reaching beyond the waist. They’ve worn better too, much better than other shirts I own, dating back to my late teens.

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Thanksgiving

Cardinal

A delicious day.

A drive to Louisville with my mom, brother and grandma to my Aunt’s place for a mid-afternoon Thanksgiving meal.

My cousins were in town on that side of the family and it was good to see them all. Spiffy dressers each one of them. I felt bad I’ve yet to get a proper haircut. My shirt stained. Couldn’t find any “nice” pants. Oh well.

My greeting to my Aunt April included a disclaimer about the stain, just to get it out in the open. She said she probably would have never seen it had I not mentioned it.

One of these days I’ll surprise everyone and be presentable.

I’m not sure the relation of my cousin’s kids… niece-in-law? step-nephew? Naw. I’m not sure. Anyways, they toted their I Spy book to everyone throughout the day and I think they now know the difference between a soul patch and a beard.

We went out to the barn to see my Uncle’s pride and joy. I should’ve gotten more details about his horse, as she’s a beaut. It’s the law in Kentucky that you must have at least one if you have a barn.

The day turned out to be brisk, with great light peeking from the dull gray skies as the afternoon wore on. Lots of humor and good vibes saturated the day.

The food was tasty and I’ve one loosened button on the waistband of my (not very nice) pants to prove it.

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