Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Plant Whisperer

My older sister, the brain surgeon, is also a big time green thumb. Bordering on fanatical. Seriously.

Long ago while she was still single, I once had to foliage sit. (I am telling you, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to) Inside her adorable 2 bedroom condo were at least 30 plants. The first day I arrived to water the plants I found intricate instructions on umbrage care. If she had the time to give me each plant’s botanical history, I am sure I would have been well versed.

Thankfully I was able to keep the plants alive and thriving for her return. It was actually more difficult caring for those plants than it was caring for my infant niece, her spawn. Who knew being an aunt to plants was going to scar me?

Four years ago when I moved back to this area, my sister gave me cuttings from 8 of her prized plants. These babies were packaged with much TLC and of course 8 pages of instructions. If I could read and purchase the correct potting soils, mix them to exact specifications, layer the bottom of the pots with stones of the precise size, shape and consistency and water them exactly as instructed, she had no reason to believe these plants would no thrive in my tutelage. Oy, the pressure.

I am proud to report that after 4 years all the offspring are flourishing. I have even had to repot 3 of them and without her knowledge or instruction. Amazing, I know. I used to experience a small amount of anxiety each time she came to visit. Before she could remove her coat or put her purse down, she would be at each pot checking its progress. She thought she was being covert about it but Dexter would have to wait for the perlustration to be complete before she would even pet her furry nephew. I mentioned it to her once and she has tried with all her might to ignore my plants when she enters my abode but then she experiences the anxiety. So I let her have free reign upon entrance so that the rest of her visit will go well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Martini Lady

Best described as a cross between Scarlet O’Hara and a future enrollee of the Betty Ford Rehab Clinic. This woman is certifiable. I sure hope the mold broke after her because even one of her is one too many on the planet.

What’s the old saying? If you want to get to know someone well, either move in with him or her or take a trip with them. I am here to tell you that Martini Lady is a trip without luggage. She had such promise too. Before actually meeting her I had only heard good things.

I got more than my fill on a 3-hour bus ride from Reading PA to NYC. Mindless chatter with the sickeningly sweet pseudo southern charm. Thankfully she was so self medicated that she lost consciousness mid-sentence. We arrived in the Big Apple and hit the ground running. Even HFS’ step mom was able to keep the pace and she had 2 bad knees. Martini Lady must have taken the wrong combination from her mobile pharmacy, known as a purse to the rest of the population. She was stumbling along in a dazed state.

It was annoying. We had an itinerary full of fun things to do; no time for drug induced stupor. Had I known that was the only time she would be quiet, I would have taken over the mobile pharmacy and dispensed the drugs for maximum effect.

Despite Martini Lady, aptly named for her favorite libation the Chocolate Martini, we did have a fun time. A couple of Broadway shows and a trip to the Improv later we were back on the bus heading home. Hey, in case you didn’t know, it is “HUGE” inside the Improv. There is no need to show up too early. Also, it’s a two item minimum not a 2 drink minimum. Get it right Mr. Concierge! Cause if you don’t step mom will correct you. “Good fer you!”

Martini Lady’s life almost came to an end while she had to palpate EVERY item in the souvenir shop. I’ll let HFS expound on those details because I left the store and walked back to the hotel.

I don’t exactly know why this story popped into my brain, but thought I’d share it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Battle of Wills

My parents had a child once every eight years. In essence, each of us grew up missing the typical rivalry that occurs between siblings that are closer in age. By the time my younger sister (YS) came around my parents were pretty relaxed about the stringent rules my elder sister and I had to follow.

My YS was and still is the typical youngest child, extremely spoiled, very self-absorbed. Call it pecking order or nature versus nurture, either way you slice it she is a piece of work. I don’t want to brand all youngest children, this post relates to my YS.

I had the privilege of commuting to college. Truth be told my Father bribed me with a car if I stayed home and commuted. I realize now that it was a mistake on my part another post for another time. While I was a freshman at the University of Maryland YS was in 4th grade. You would think we did not have too much in common. You would further surmise that any of my belongings would not interest her in the least. You’d be extremely wrong.

I began noticing things either missing or moved around in my room. I do have a nosey Father but the items missing or ransacked were not things he would intrude upon. My Mom just would not enter my room because there was nothing in there she needed. That would leave YS. Before I made a fuss about my assets I conducted an experiment. Each morning before I left for classes I would leave a piece of paper wedged in my door. Sure enough each evening when I returned the paper would be missing. Someone had been in my room.

I casually mentioned the intrusion one night at dinner. YS began staring at her plate, dead give away. I turned to my parents and asked them to make it stop. They complaisantly told her to stay out of my room. When I was her age, the punishment for trespassing was detention for a week. I know first hand, I served that punishment several times. I was pretty defiant at her age; maybe a simple statement would do the trick in her case. Wrong again.

Things were not changing, in fact getting worse. We talked about it again at dinner, I was pretty angry about it by then. My Father asked me what I wanted? I reminded him that he was the parent and I the sibling. I told them that I would take matters into my own hands if it did not stop. The punishment that he doled out was detention for a week in her room, which was completely stocked with stereo and television. Amenities I did not have at her age.

After she was paroled it all started again. This time I took care of it. I purchased the items needed to install a small padlock on my bedroom door. Once I was able to secure my room I decided to teach her a lesson. I was not satisfied that she learned anything from her punishment. The Monday following the padlock installation I placed her stereo into my room before heading off to class. At dinner that night we had a long family discussion about how elder siblings should set good examples for the younger ones. I told everyone that I was trying to teach her the consequences of stealing. I went on to say that if her behavior was not corrected by the time she entered any type or roommate situation, she would most likely get beat up.

I love it when I win a debate. I returned her stereo in a week and she did not bother my things again.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Reckless Cyclist

My younger sister (YS) for some reason never got into the normal childhood activities. I have many theories that may explain this but I won’t go into them right now. Trust me, there are thousands of posts dealing with YS. All in good time.

For her 12th birthday, I purchased a 10-speed bike for her. She knew how to ride but was reluctant to do so, lack of confidence if I had to put my finger on it. Part of my responsibility, as an elder sibling, was to help get her confidence on track hence the gift. We grew up in the perfect neighborhood for cycling. So one day I was able to convince her to go riding with a visiting cousin and me. We decided that I would take the lead, followed by my cousin and YS heading up the rear. The neighborhood is built around a 4-mile parkway. Most of the parkway is wide containing no medians, there is one section of the ride which had a grassy median involved which of course made the road a little narrower.

I knew that she would get a little nervous as we approached this section especially since there were a few cars parallel parked in front of their homes in that area. As we embarked the section I turned back to see if all was well with my caravan. My cousin looked very relaxed. My sister on the other hand had white knuckles. The narrow portion of the ride was no longer than maybe 250 yards it shouldn’t have been a problem. Halfway through the narrow zone a car passed us. I heard my sister very nervously announce that a vehicle was approaching and I looked back to see how she was handling it. The car passed her first, then my cousin followed by myself. The driver was very conscientious and drove as far left of us as possible. I was very relieved to see how much room he left us and was silently proud of YS.

As I turned to tell her how proud I was, I found her dangling by her elbow from the side-view mirror of one of the parked cars. Her bike passed me at that exact moment. It was some type of panic reaction on her part. The passing car had cleared us by at least 20 seconds and then she decided to become one with the parked car. I was amazed. I didn’t know she was agile enough to suspend herself by her elbow from a 4-door sedan. Her feet were completely in the air. She was still in that position when I got to her, unbelievable! I pried her off the side-view mirror and made sure she wasn’t injured in any way. Then I looked at the car to make sure it wasn’t damaged. Amazingly, it was not. My cousin brought the bike back to her and she refused to get back on. I understand how unnerved she was but I was always taught to “get back on the horse.” Nope, she was having none of that and we were at least a mile away from home. In an effort of solidarity, we all walked our bikes back home.

That was the first and last time she ever road that bike. She is 33 years old now. The bike still sits in Mom and Dad’s garage. I think I will pass it down to Little Mermaid.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Over Reaction

My Father is a very controlled person. He is not very demonstrative when it comes to anger. He takes the high road and throws a curve known as the guilt trip. Actually he did that mainly for when I misbehaved as a kid, through my teen years and all through college. Every now and then I still might receive the beginning of the “what did we do to deserve this” speech. It’s rare but I am the middle child, placed on the planet to push buttons.

This tale is not an account of my misconduct; rather it is an uncharacteristic portrayal of my Father’s actions. We treasured dinnertime as a family. It was when everyone caught up on each other’s activities. This particular evening it was rather silent as I, a teen in high school at that time, made it through the day without incident. Mom, who is a fabulous cook, made some type of a stew. So we were all enjoying our dinner and casual conversation.

It was during a moment when all that could be heard was the quiet, yet polite, slurping of the stew. We usually ate in the nook off the kitchen, which was carpeted. (That detail of our house never made sense to me but it is important to my story) My Father took his spoon that was at the level of his mouth and dropped it to the table. He then took the bowl of stew, raised it up, turned it over and left it upside down on the table. Stew went everywhere. He pushed his chair away from the table and deliberately left the room.

My Mom did not interrupt her eating pace at all. My younger sister and I were clamoring to get the mess cleaned up as quickly as possible. Once we were able to stop the stew from running further off the table and as soon as my Father was out of earshot, my Mom informed us that he must have found a hair in the stew.

Apparently she has experienced this before. I was in total shock. As I said, I have never seen him react like that ever or since.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Father’s Day 2004 – CANCELLED!!!

Ah family drama, aint it grand? Let me explain.

Last year on Father’s Day eve, my then 8 year old niece – Little Mermaid, had a minor accident while playing basketball and broke 2 fingers on her dominant hand. A few things to keep in mind while reading: Little Mermaid is the only grandchild/niece on my side of the family, her Mom and my Dad are in the medical profession and our family rarely makes plans to eat out together as a group; some of us are too picky, etc.

The news of Little Mermaid’s accident came just as my Mom, older sister and I were being seated at Wolftrap to watch Riverdance. My sister’s cell phone rang and I could clearly hear Little Mermaid wailing in the background, my sister turned very pale while attempting to understand what my panicked B-I-L (Brother-in-law) was trying to relay. He had Mermaid in the car and was so anxious that he could not find the urgent care center that he passes every day 10 times a day. My sister stayed on the phone with him till he found the place and tried to calm both her daughter and husband down. We are at least an hour and a half away. We could have left, but as a trio we decided we would wait to find out the results of x-rays at intermission. B-I-L was sure Mermaid had broken her wrist, Mermaid howled louder and louder each time he mentioned the possibility of the wrist. My Mom had to pop a nitroglycerin pill due to her anxiety.

I doubt anyone of us were able to enjoy the performance. At intermission my sister called to find out the results. Turns out Mermaid only broke 2 fingers, she had some sort of splint on and was to see an Orthopedic surgeon Monday. We were relieved that the news was not as bad as each of us were imagining and watched the remainder of the show. I dropped my Mom and sister at the Metro and told them I’d see them for our Father’s Day Celebration the next day.

Here is my phone conversation with my Dad on the morning of Father’s Day 2004:

Wicked H
: Hi Dad, Happy Father’s Day!!

Dad: Did you hear about Little Mermaid?

Wicked H: I did, she broke 2 fingers. She’s going to be fine. What time are the reservations?

Dad: Father’s Day is cancelled!

Wicked H: For the whole nation? Wow, I should turn on the news. Why?


Wicked H: I did, Dad. She is going to be fine. Just a splint for her fingers.

Dad: (actively upset and trying to hide the fact that he is crying) We are not having it this year. Goodbye!

So, needless to say I did not make the hour and a half trek to visit with my Dad last year because Father’s Day was officially cancelled. Hopefully this year will be much better.

Happy Father’s Day to you Dad and all the Father’s out there!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Joke for the Day

I am uninspired today so I thought I'd pass along this joke. Which, by the way, has me laughing still. Either the joke is great or I have a weird sense of humor. Probably a combination of a + b.


The Boss was in a quandary. He had to get rid of one of his staff. He narrowed it down to one of two people, Debra or Jack. It would be a hard decision to make, as they were both equally qualified and both did excellent work. He finally decided that in the morning, whichever one used the water cooler first would have to go.

Debra came in the next morning, hugely hung-over after partying all night. She went to the cooler to get some water to take an aspirin. The Boss approached her and said: "Debra, I've never done this before, but I have to lay you or Jack off." Debra replied, "Could jack off? I feel like shit."

Monday, June 13, 2005

VIP: Very Important Papers

I am happy to report that project de-clutter is finished. I took advantage of my parents being on vacation. In all fairness, my mom has always wanted us (her 3 daughters) to help her purge things. Until now, I just couldn’t find the motivation. I figured it would be much easier to get rid of things without both parental units being present. What I didn’t know was that my elder sibling unit is just as much a pack rat as my parents. I had to fight tooth and nail for some items to be either tossed or given away.

There are many anecdotes to share from this experience, I decided on the discovery of the VIPs. My parents have been living in this house for 30 years. Being pack rats yields much stuff to sort through. Their garage was semi- organized into a his and hers section. Again, too much to write about. On Dad’s side there were piles upon piles of boxes. None of them labeled except for the one box on the bottom of an amassment of 9 boxes. It took me a good 2 hours to reach the VIP box. I had to go through most of the contents of the boxes for fear of throwing away an important family heirloom. (My elder sisters request) For the record, there were no precious artifacts to be found just lots of junk.

I finally reach the VIP box. Inside of it I found 3 legal sized expanding folders. The contents of the first folder revealed old applications for hospital privileges, items relating to medical licensing, etc. The second folder yielded copies of all his diplomas, DEA licenses, all very important papers. The third folder was much heavier and bound more tightly than the 2 previous. Once I got all the string untied and the rubber bands removed, I was expecting to find deeds to properties or something equally important. What did I find? Twelve mint conditioned Playboy magazines. I kid you not. My Father is saving the entire year of 1978 Playboys. There is not a nick or dog-eared page on any of them. I did not peruse any of them except to see which year they were from and whether or not they were subscribed or purchased.

It looks like he purchased them. My reaction to this discovery was way to go Dad! He is a wonderful husband to his wife of 51 years, a terrific Father - he raised 3 daughters, he is an accomplished Psychiatrist. Most of all he is a man. This did not bother me at all. Both my sisters reacted with “Ew!” I still don’t see anything wrong with this.

After a lengthy discussion, my sisters, 2 brothers-in-law and I decided that the VIPs would remain our little secret. I have placed them back into a sturdier container along with the other VIPs. They are now up on a shelf. My Father will know that the box was opened when he returns, I wonder if he will ask me what I found. My guess is no. I will keep you informed.

VIP = Very Important Playboy Magazines. Now I know. Anyone know what they might be worth?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Pay It Forward

May the fleas of a thousand Camels infest the crotch of the person who screws up your day...
And may their arms be too short to scratch.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

License to Breed

While driving to work today, I heard a very disturbing news story. A woman in Maryland was charged with reckless endangerment of 3 children. She was caught driving her car with 3 children in the TRUNK!!!!

An off duty State Trooper witnessed the children exiting the trunk of her vehicle when she parked in a local grocery store. The Trooper hung around and when the woman returned to her vehicle the 3 children got back into the trunk of the car. The moment she attempted to back out of the parking space he confronted her.

It is of note that this woman drives a school bus for a living. When asked why she allowed the children - ages 3, 9 and an 8 year old neighbor’s child – to ride in the trunk? She responded because they wanted to.

We need licenses to operate a vehicle and to get married. I seriously think we may need licenses to breed.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Dear Lady in the Green Explorer:

I have to say I was quite amazed nay shocked that you were applying mascara while actively navigating traffic at 55 miles per hour. Had we all been at a complete stop I would not have even mentioned the event. What’s more incredible is that you had a jersey wall to your right and an over sized tractor trailer to you left.

So I ask you, how did you manage to end up in the dip of the right shoulder during a point in your trip where you were free and clear of any obstacles? Perhaps your mascara applying skills are at their best when you are endangering more than just your life.
I sure hope the paramedics appreciate your full face of makeup as they tend to your injuries. What a great way to start off a week. Maybe next time you’ll wait until you are NOT actively driving to apply your mascara. Something tells me you may not have learned your lesson.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

There are several advantages to being bilingual. Even more so if that language is not easily recognizable. Any time a relative comes over for a visit we would take them to the major site seeing venues. This particular incident took place at Walt Disney World in the early 80’s.

If you’ve visited Disney World, then you are quite familiar with the lines that snake through to each attraction. The whole system is very organized and efficient. The wait can range from 10 minutes to 90 minutes. While my family and I were patiently waiting and moving through the lines, we were conversing in our native tongue. It usually draws some sort of attention. Typically someone will look over and try to identify the language and then look away. Back then and even today, I am not one to draw attention to myself. So when I noticed someone staring intently, I would turn towards them and tell them that what I was speaking was not, Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic. Of course I was speaking to them in my native tongue. Usually by “its not Greek” the person would turn away.

It became a game for me that day. Some would simply ask what the language was and once their curiosity was satisfied they’d return their attention to the line. This one gentleman would not stop staring. I went on with my prattle and when I was finished he looked me in the eye and said” I know because it’s Turkish.”

Busted!!!! Turns out he was visiting the World of Disney from Germany and he was married to a Turk. Our family befriended him. He later told me that I was very brave about challenging those who would not look away. He asked if I would be as comfortable from that moment on. I told him no. I’ve said before I always learn from my mistakes.

My family recounts this story every chance they get. Trust me!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Protected Zone

The first house my older sister and brother-in-law inhabited had a very obnoxiously loud alarm system. A series of alarms would go off that sounded like tornado warning sirens and then this deep, booming recorded voice would bellow:


It took them a while to get the routine down. I think this particular system had all the latest (for its time - 10 years ago) bells and whistles. Different rooms could be set for different levels of security - it was all very complicated.

In the middle of the night one fateful evening, my sister and BIL, brother-in-law, were rudely awoken by the alarm. It was 3 am. My BIL was still on the police force at the time so he sprung into action. First he had to find his pants - TMI, I know. Then he grabbed his gun and instructed my sister to call 911. My sister lunged for the phone, adrenaline pumping full speed. No dial tone.

Sis: They’ve CUT the phone lines!!!
BIL: Who...what? Call 911!
Sis: I can’t the phone won’t work!
BIL: Jiggle the cord first. (It is of note that my sister had a bad habit of stringing multiple phone cords together back then for perfect phone placement in the room - this sometimes rendered the phone useless)
BIL: Call the police, I am going downstairs.
Sis: (Frantically checking/jiggling all the connections of the multiple extension cords- finally a dial tone- she dials)
Operator: What City and State please?
Sis: WHAT?!?!?! I need the police! (Yes, in her distress she miss-dialed)

In the meantime, my BIL’s colleagues, guns drawn, now surround the house. My BIL apparently forgot to grab his badge so it took everyone a minute to understand who was who.
The story ends well. The house was newly built and that night one of the windows with a loose latch decided to open. Crisis averted.

Do I capitalize on every opportunity to bring this story up - absolutely? Does my sister still use 5 phone extension cords on her phones? Yes, she continued that until the latest gadget, cordless phones were invented.