Posts Tagged ‘iDad’

Lily Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaraunt

I have been looking for my very own Cheers bar. The kind where everyone knows your name. (Although Brother K reminds me that none of the regulars in Cheers were female. How sexist!) I think I might have finally found it at Lily Mac’s on Murphy Street in Sunnyvale.

I have visited three times. The first time, I was there to write Goodbye and Goodnight, Uncle George. I had three Guinness—one for me, one for Uncle George, and one for Dad. Sorry, but I couldn’t bear to drink Dad and George’s drink of choice—Budweiser.

That night I also sampled the cuisine. We had a bit of a mixup, as I had asked Fiona for Steak Bites and Fries, but she had entered Shepherd’s Pie. A totally reasonable mistake. And it was fixed immediately and without hassle. And I have to say, the steak bites with the pesto dipping sauce were fabulous!

I returned a week later, again on a Monday night, to see if I still liked the place when I wasn’t typing madly on my computer before the battery died. Sure enough, I love the way that they have decorated, although I will agree with others that the acoustics are a bit echoey for my taste, it is still a great looking pub. They do need to add coat hooks under the bar though. I had only gone in for a pint, but stayed almost til closing after two pints and a shot of Irish whiskey.

On my third visit, tonight, I brought a couple friends. Michael, the bartender from the second visit recognized me by name. Tonight, I had the Pear and Arugula Salad, although the arugula had been replaced by salted spinach. It included a strong blue cheese, and I have to admit, it was the best salad I have eaten in a while. I devoured it. And I think it didn’t stray too much from my new year’s resolution, although the two Guinness certainly did. Good news is that I should be able to burn it off by running two miles in the morning.

So when you get a chance, stop by Lily Mac’s. Maybe if enough people tell them I sent them, then I can earn some free pints or something. ;-)

Goodbye and Goodnight, Uncle George

As an adult, I find it curious what triggers the memories of my inner child. I was reminded of two of these triggers today: cigars and chainsaws.

Uncle George was not my uncle as defined by my family tree. But he was an uncle in every other sense of the word. Growing up, I don’t recall many of my parents friends. Most had very little impact on me, except for one couple, George and Ruth. They were Flatlanders, hailing from the state of New Jersey, and wielding thick Jersey accents. Sparkles recalls Uncle George’s accent and how the number 33 sounded like a gruff “turty tree” George perpetually smoked cigars, which seemed exotic in a world of Marlboro and Camel cigarettes. His voice, husky and thick from the smoke, made him seem scary to small children, but we all knew him as gentle and kind.

But what I remember of Uncle George the most is the sound of chainsaws, waking us up in time for church on Sunday mornings in the summer. I don’t know when it started, and I don’t know when it ended, but for the entirety of my childhood memory, every Sunday, Dad and Uncle George would fill up the chainsaws with gas, grab a case of Budweiser, and head out into the woods with the Jitterbug. For those of you unfamiliar with a Jitterbug, it is a big-ass, old, rundown truck, bigger than a pickup truck, but smaller than an eighteen wheeler. Ours was this green monster with a wooden flat bed in the back. Dad and George would toss in the chainsaws and beer and head out into the three hundred acre woods in search of trees to cut for firewood.

They would start in the spring after the snow melted, and finish up in fall sometime before the frost. The sounds of the chainsaws on Sunday morning through the open windows were hard to sleep through. And by the time we started running the fireplace in the late fall, we had about fifteen cord of wood stacked up under the tree.

I remember helping sometimes. I’m not certain, but if my memory of the story is correct, Uncle George was witness to my first word. Dad would take me with them into the field while they were splitting wood. Whenever Dad missed the log with the ax, he would say, “Shit.” Me, as bright as I was, took in the situation. And when I was ready, and Dad missed with the ax, I said my first word. “Shit.”

I hear it was funny until I was in church, during a very quiet part of the service. I dropped my book over the pew and said, “Shit.”

I didn’t swear again until I was eighteen.

I helped again as I was older. I don’t remember ever being taught how to use an ax or chainsaw, but my job was stacking. I remember hating to stack wood. As a teenager, I would dread hearing the Jitterbug come back out of the woods full of trees because it meant time for us kids to work. We knew it was a necessity, but like any kid, we didn’t want to participate.

I know that Uncle George must have taken a portion of their cut back to his house. He too had a large house and many children. But I don’t recall ever seeing his black truck full of wood. I do remember, however, using his truck with the carpenter boxes on the side, as a horse trailer.

For a while, I borrowed a pony from a family down the street. Their kids had grown up and gone away, and the pony was just hanging out in the field, so Dad made arrangements for me to borrow it for a few years. So yes, when I asked for a pony, I got one. I was as spoiled as my parents could afford to allow.

To transport the pony the three miles to our house, Dad and Uncle George used a couple 2x4s and loaded the pony into the back of Uncle George’s nicely painted black truck. I can still see the image of my pony in a pickup truck.

After their kids had left the house, my parents sold George and Ruth a parcel of land where they built a little cabin in the woods. Just one bedroom, a bathroom and an integrated kitchen/living room. Easy to heat during the harsh Maine winters, and beautifully constructed by George and his sons. And Meine Schwester. At that time, Uncle George referred to her as Punky Brewster. We always complained that she never helped with anything. But Uncle George knew better. He let her help build the cabin by nailing down floorboards.

A picturesque cabin in the woods. Made with love. The summer they were building it, my friends and Brother K and I would sneak out and meet there to play strip Trivial Pursuit. No one knew how to play poker and we never got further than bathing suits. Brother K was Tom Sawyer, sneaking out his bedroom window and climbing down the back tree. I was Huck Finn, going down the stairs, picking up the snacks Mom had left for us as I walked out the front door. I remember one night, walking home from their cabin through the woods and seeing my first meteorite streak down the dark trail. This is where George the Carpenter would retire. This is what made George and Ruth better Mainers than I would ever be.

Uncle George was an integral part of our lives. Through good and bad. Again, I don’t know the details, but I know that he was there the day tragedy struck and I learned the lesson about operating heavy machinery while drinking. Uncle George’s truck flew down the driveway as if it was defying gravity and friction. It was a few hours before we found out that Dad was in the hospital. Meine Schwester recalls seeing Uncle George’s torn up thigh. The only detail I recall is that my father’s hand had been cut by a chainsaw. Dad’s tendons were cut in the last two fingers of his left hand. This wouldn’t have been as tragic if Dad wasn’t left handed.

Dad used to play guitar better than anyone else I knew. Of course, I probably thought that because he was my father, but he was incredible at picking and created pure magic in the air with his twelve string. Dad and George would play and sing, and no matter how bad things seemed, we always had music. It is what kept us all together. Dad’s injury wouldn’t have seemed so tragic, except that he does everything left handed except play guitar.

That was the day the music died.

I don’t blame anyone. I don’t know what happened. I don’t even know what year that was. But I feel like it was a turning point for my parents. Eventually, my senior year, they divorced. I wasn’t upset. They weren’t in love. I was excited that they were moving on with their lives and they could stop being miserable. I went off to college, Dad moved away. My family moved out of the big house and into a smaller house that didn’t require fifteen cord of wood to heat. My pony moved back to his home. I was busy learning about differential equations and stress/strain curves of materials. The sounds of chainsaws and guitars, and the smell of cigars faded into my memories.

Until today, when I learned that Uncle George had passed away. I hadn’t known he was ill. I hadn’t heard much about him for the past few years. I read the obituary and saw that his kids had all grown and married and have families of their own. I don’t know how long he lived in that little cabin in the woods. I don’t know if he still played guitar and smoked cigars and forced trees into works of art. But I do know that he made a difference in my life. And I never took the opportunity to tell him.

Cousin C’s Surprise 40th Birthday Party

The whole reason for going to New England for Thanksgiving was for this party. How could I miss an opportunity to get together with iDad’s side of the family? It was well worth the trip.

These aren’t my best photos, but there are a lot of them. You can find the full set on My Gallery, but here are the teasers.

Cousin C was surprised—mostly that his boys could keep a secret this big!

There was a good bit of dancing done by all. I have the blisters to prove it!

In addition to dancing, there might have been some drinking and some goofing around. Especially by my siblings and myself. If you get to the end of the full album, you can find the photos where Sister-In-Law T tried to convince me that I could lick my elbow or touch my elbows behind my back. I’m still convinced I can do it.

Just one word says it all. “Gov-nah!”

And apologies to Aunt K who wanted to stay up and party into the wee hours of the morning. As I explained, most of my adventures happen before midnight. Otherwise I turn into a pumpkin. ;-)

Visit with iDad and P

Stopped by southern Maine to visit with the other parental units. Spent some time hanging out with iDad and P catching up on current events, making fun of Fox News and CNN, watching the Bachelorette finale, and viewing a bit of the Red Sox game. Overall, a nice wind-down to my overly long weekend trip.

They were not expecting me to take these photos, as you can tell…

Nun-sense

The NYTimes had an article the other day about U.S. Nuns Facing Vatican Scrutiny. It seems that the nuns in this country have been playing fast and loose with the rules. Not wearing habits. Living outside the convent. And God forbid, doing good deeds in the communities while spreading God’s word.

On the Apostolic Visitation website, these visitations seem completely harmless. The Catholic Church is looking into the “‘quality of the life’ of women religious in the United States.”

But the NYTimes has found a few nuns who feel that this visit is not so genuine. Looking at the FAQ sheet, question 10 explains that the outcome of the visit is a confidential report to be given to the Prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life. So the women in the study may or may not ever know what information is actually gathered and reported back about how they live.

Question 7 notes that “Various institutes will be visited. Communities of cloistered, contemplative nuns will not be visited.” This sent up a red flag for some nuns who, according to the NYTimes article, “Surmise that the Vatican and even some American bishops are trying to shift them back into living in convents, wearing habits or at least identifiable religious garb, ordering their schedules around daily prayers and working primarily in Roman Catholic institutions, like schools and hospitals.”

I found this quote from the NYTimes article to be most interesting:

“They think of us as an ecclesiastical work force,” said Sister Sandra M. Schneiders, professor emerita of New Testament and spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, in California. “Whereas we are religious, we’re living the life of total dedication to Christ, and out of that flows a profound concern for the good of all humanity. So our vision of our lives, and their vision of us as a work force, are just not on the same planet.”

And this passage in the article gives me hope that the women who have taken these vows are not doing so by completely relinquishing their rights as women:

A few nuns have also been active in organizations that advocate changes in the church like ordaining women and married men as priests.

These are changes I could see making a huge difference. Although it might still not be enough to get me to come back to the Church. There are other issues where we disagree.

Below, I have re-written a previous post about Me versus Religion to give you an idea of why this article bothered me as much as it does.

I am a recovering Catholic, like being a recovering alcoholic—-you are never not one. I spent 18 years being brainwashed, and another 17 years trying to determine what is right and what is wrong from what I was led to believe.

At age 16, when my family, my friends, the Girl Scouts, and my teachers were all telling me that as a woman, I could do anything I wanted (iDad did recommend that I not try pissing on a campfire), the Catholic Church, through Catechism classes and preparing to be confirmed, was telling me that as a woman I am not equal.

One day during Confirmation Class, someone asked, “Why can’t women be priests?”

The priest barely hesitated when he replied in his heavily accented English, “Because women can’t keep secrets.”

I do not blame my priest for not having a good reason. He had led a difficult life, but the Catholic Church had rescued him. He had escaped Vietnam on a boat and was taken in by Canada where he learned English from Sesame Street. He later moved to the United States where the Catholic Diocese in their infinite wisdom, placed him in the center of Maine.

My hometown had culture if you think that different economic levels of white people is culture. The only people of color were five adopted children with white parents. As a kid, I secretly thought that my black and Vietnamese friends would grow up to be white. This was confirmed when a friend of mine, who lived with his two white aunts (it took me until college to realize that they weren’t related, but were probably lesbians) admitted that when he was five, he thought that he was black because he drank too much chocolate milk.

So my Vietnamese priest was put into a town that lacked exposure to other races. His accent was thick, but I enjoyed the challenge of understanding him, which was easy since all the readings seem to repeat from year to year and after 16 years of hearing the same words, I knew what to expect. His accent though, was a barrier for the elderly with hearing difficulties and the closed-minded people. They stopped coming to church, exclaiming in their Downeast accents—with their slow drawl, harsh sarcasm, and insurgence of “ayuh” ending sentences—that they couldn’t understand him. His Latin, however, was excellent, and he sometimes helped me with my homework.

The next to leave the Church were the liberals. The priest who had preceded him was a flamboyant man who let women loose upon the alter and made us all hold hands while saying the Lord’s Prayer. It took a while before the congregation was comfortable with holding hands across family units and sometimes across the aisles, but once the tradition was established it was hard to break. So when the new priest came in and God went back to his fire and brimstone ways and women were removed from the alter, the liberals left in droves, including my Meme, who’d I’d always known as a fixture in the Rectory.

It made sense then, that in Confirmation Class, when we were being told that the Catholic Church is the “one, right, true religion,” that we would question the presence of women on the alter. I conflicted with the Church in many respects. I couldn’t understand why they were so against homosexuality when it was obvious that many of the priests were in the closet themselves. I didn’t understand how they could be against both contraceptives and abortion when they themselves acknowledge that evil exists. How are women supposed to protect themselves? This was another indication that in the eyes of the Catholic Church women are not equal and have no rights over their own bodies. We aren’t even allowed to stop the Devil from impregnating us.

But the thing that really pushed me over the top was realizing that our previous priests had all been playing fast and loose with the rules by allowing women on the alter. Now we had a priest who followed the rules direct from the Vatican. And the rules are that there are no alter girls. No women on the alter at all.

This is when I realized that the Catholic Church believes that a penis is a microphone to God. As a woman, I can not be a priest, a bishop, or the Pope. I must speak through a penis if I want to talk to God. Sure, I can talk to him myself, but for confession, I must speak into the penisphone. And confession is the most important thing because that is why women can’t be priests—they can’t keep secrets.

Obviously, that is true, since I am telling this to all of you.

Star Trek

Okay, okay, so I went to see the movie tonight. Growing up, we would all watch it with iDad. Reruns of the original. I used to love it. Even watched Next Generation.

But then I went to college. And that is where I met the fanatics. The people who were obsessed. Knew all the trivia. Had costumes.

It was a huge turnoff. So I stopped watching.

The movie tonight brought me back to my youth. When Star Trek was fun. I laughed at all the references. I enjoyed the cast. I felt a twinge of fear when I saw the guy in the red uniform. I appreciated the twists in relationships and history.

I loved this movie.

Big Brother

Or Walt Disney? I know it is old news, but I hadn’t been to Disney World since eight months before 9/11. Seems on that date, the park was evacuated as it is a high risk target. Afterwards, Disney World installed biometric scanners in conjunction with their ticket scanners. The scanners take a couple points and record a geometric number, not an actual scan of the fingerprint. The original scanner took two fingers, but the new scanners only take one for expediency.

The reason they give for needing scanners is to cut down on fraud and ticket resales. But I had to wonder if I could trust them with my fingerprint. Of course, I’m not worried about my own fingerprint because I’ve never done anything wrong, but it seems kind of Orwellian.

But I think what bothered me most was that I started wondering how it might be used to secretly catch criminals. I’d alert authorities that the criminal was in the park, track them, and then have them arrested some time after they left the park.

That reminds me, when I was there, some kid pointed at some guy and said to his father, “Dad, isn’t that the guy from America’s Most Wanted?”

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