Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"I remember Mama"

                                                                                                                                                                My beautiful mother was born on June 3, 1924.  
If she had lived, Mom would have celebrated her 88th birthday this Sunday.  
She died in October of 2009 from complications of Diabetes and kidney failure.  
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her presence in my life. She left a void that will never be filled.
 Oh, how I wish I could hold her hands in mine once again.

My mom and dad during their dating years (1940's)  
Their good friends the Yiedi's are the couple in the middle of photo- don't they all look like glamorous movie stars?!

Here's to you, Mom.  
Thank you for being the best mother ten kids could ever have had!

We were truly blessed.

You raised us up to become the successful independent adults that we are today... yet you never stopped "mothering" us.

Your love lives on in our hearts and will never fade with time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday May 13th is Mother's Day.
It is also my dog Madison's tenth birthday.
Pardon my language, but I consider myself to be a bona fide surrogate bitch!
By definition, I am referring to a "female dog" rather than a "malicious, unpleasant, selfish person".
In terms of Motherhood, I have not actually given birth to any human babies.
But  I am the proud mother of  7 canine kids.
Yes, I have raised a virtual litter of puppies over the years!
With those credentials, I qualify as the "bitch" that I am today!

Unlike human offspring, dogs are fiercely loyal, forever grateful and eternally optimistic. They give their love and affection unconditionally.

From the time I graduated from Nursing school (1971) to present day, I have fostered an uninterrupted succession of dogs in my life.

I used the money from my graduation faculty award to purchase my first pet-
an Old English Sheepdog named Oliver Luv.
The movie Oliver won best picture that year and was a favorite of mine.
He looked just like the star of Disney's The Shaggy Dog ...and I loved him with all my heart and soul

I had fantasized for years about owning my very own dog.
So deep was my want and need that I used to walk around town dragging a piece of rope, pretending there was an actual dog at the end of it.

During church services, I would daydream about God sending me a Lassie look alike.
I would imagine the dog floating down from Heaven in a parachute, right on the alter, with a note from the Lord granting me His divine intervention and permission. Who could argue with God?
I also used to ride my bike while using just a rope to hold on, pretending it was a horse. But that is another story, one filled with injuries and regret.  Don't try this at home, kids!  Definitely not recommended for the faint of heart.

My second dog was another sheepdog named Spring Olivia.
At the time, I was living in Rocky River with my brothers on a property with two shared cottages.  I will never forget my prestigious address: 555 Yacht club drive!
It was rather like a commune with "guests" coming and going through a virtual revolving door.
I swear to this day that Danny and a long lost girlfriend (gogo dancer) took up residence under the pool table!  They decorated with colorful sheets to give it a private yet  gypsy like ambiance. He denies this, but will admit to sleeping on the floor of a closet.  Either way, it was indeed a unique and creative living arrangement.
I would return home from work many a night to find dozens of  visitors in various stages of  "recreation" lying about  the yard, with my dogs loose among them.  I often wondered if the dogs enjoyed the same "refreshments" as they did.  Spring never was quite the same!
I moved out in 1974 and had to leave Spring behind, as the apartment I rented only allowed one pet.
After several months of "weekend visitation", I felt sorry for her and took her home for good.
The apartment complex never caught on.  They even complimented me on how conscientious I was walking my supposed "only dog" so frequently!

I lost Oliver in 1982 and switched from sheepdogs to Shih Tzu,  a delightful, long lived toy breed with noble Chinese ancestry.
I bought a couple and named them Sherlock and Molly.
To this day, I have no idea why I choose English names for dogs that originated in China. (Better to have named them Yin and Yang)
They were soon married and later produced two fine litters.
Does that make me a "Grand bitch"?

We celebrated with lavish annual birthday parties- open invitations sent   to both humans and pets alike.  Strictly BYOB (bring your own bone)

After raising four dogs with virtually no detectable skills or talents,  Ouzo entered my life.
She was a Black Labrador Retriever and smart as a whip!  She was top of her class in obedience training and was my first pet that could walk at my side without a leash.
Because she did not require the constant care and attention to grooming as the others, Ouzo could accompany me to the Portage Lakes parks and walk the trails. True to her name and breed, she would retrieve anything and everything from tennis balls to Frisbees.

Ouzo was a true athlete- she loved to swim and would do countless tricks in endless repetition simply to be rewarded with a "treat"!

Next came a Golden Retriever Mad Max.  That about says it all.
I adopted him when he was 1 1/2 years old and I take no responsibility for his early upbringing.
My favorite "Max" story was the day my neighbors knocked on my front door and complained,  "Your dog took my glove and he won't give it back!"
He was incorrigible, testy, possessive and would bark incessantly whenever I turned on a video recorder.
I won't get into specifics, but let's just say he had a bad habit concerning lingerie.  He had serious pica and could swallow anything from a lambswool toy to a raw chicken breast in one gulp.
He was quite the character and we laughed hard and often at his silly antics.

And that brings us to Madison's Chocolate Moose,  named after the street I grew up on and my favorite desert. 
At ten years old, Maddie is Diabetic, partially blind and deaf,  but she remains sweet natured and well loved.
I know she is not my last and that wherever I go in life, there will always be a dog at my side.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Happy Birthday to you... and you!!"

My sister Lois Ann was born on May 12, 1959.
Twenty four years later to the day, she delivered her first child-
     Renee Elizabeth.
They share not only a birthday but a single heart.
Back in 1983, Mother's Day fell just a few days later.  What a double Blessing!

 Closer then many mothers and daughters, they have a bond which is stronger than mere geographical chance. (Lois lives in North Canton and Renee is down south in North Carolina!)
A love between a mother and daughter is special.

"A mother's love for her child is like
nothing else in the world. It knows no
law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes
down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
                                       ~ Agatha Christie

A Taurus born May 12 is symbolized by the bull and has boundless energy.
No truer words have ever been spoken.  Lois can run circles around Mr. Clean!!

They share their birthday with celebrities such as Florence Nightingale (1820) and Yogi Berra (1925)
Yogi the athlete, not the bear!

"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared."   
So Happy Birthday to you Lois... and Renee!!

While we were born sisters, we grew up to be friends.  Thank you for being my sister and friend.

A final quote:

"What sets sisters apart from brothers and also from  friends is a very intimate meshing of heart, soul and the mystical cords of memory.  - Carol Saline 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo- or the fifth of May - commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla.
It is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico but in the United States it has evolved into a festival of Mexican culture, heritage and pride.
We celebrate all things Mexican, from mariachi bands to sombreros and margaritas!
But in our family, May 5th (1956) is simply the day my brother Stephen Alan was born.

In 1994, I flew down to Cancun with brothers Jan and Danny to help Stephen celebrate his 38th birthday.
I took along my friend Theresa to help even the odds!
I am sure she will never forget Jan sleeping out on our balcony (30 some floors up)  to spare himself the price of a hotel room - or as he explained, to enjoy the view of the sunrise over the water.  Right, Jan!
Highlights of our trip included Jet skiing into the Mexican jungles, swimming in the Caribbean sea, and excursions to the Mayan ruins of  Chichen-itza    
During our visit to this ancient site,  Danny and Jan  explored their most famous landmark, the Pyramid of Kukulcan  (El Castillo) - the vestiges of a fascinating civilization of times past.
In photo below, that is me videotaping while the boys climbed the narrow, crumbling steps to the top for a spectacular though dangerous view.  
In 2006, they prohibited any further climbing on the ruins.

Stephen and I, meanwhile, had found a little rest area to hide from the scorching sun.  I think I was in the throws of a heatstroke and while pouring $10 bottles of water over my head, Stephen's small plastic chair  suddenly collapsed before my eyes!

All four legs splayed out to the sides and he landed smack on the cement!  I was too shocked to react, but out of nowhere came two tiny Mexican women to the rescue.  

They  managed to lift Stephen off the ground (he outweighed them at least 3 to one) and then fetched him another chair.... actually  "a chair on top of a chair" - for extra support. 

When I saw the surprised look on Stephen's face and the shocked expressions on theirs,  

I laughed til I was almost sick!

We also enjoyed a cross country road trip to Xcaret- an eco archaeological park resort that featured horseback riding, swimming with dolphins and snorkeling in underground rivers. 
There were pristine beaches with coral reefs and lagoons and  plenty of colorful costumes, folklore and dancing... not to mention delicious Mexican cuisine.  
The drive was a bit treacherous in a windy, open jeep with Danny at the wheel, but we managed to survive with just a missing tire iron.  (someone stole it from under our seat and we were out $100!!)

I am sure this is one birthday that will always stand out in Stephen's memory as well.

 Stephen and his beloved dog King
   Chef Stephen standing in front of his home
              (Seibring, Florida)

Uncle Stephen ...

known as "Precious"
was always his Mommy's favorite     

Happy Birthday, Stephen!!