Friday, March 22, 2013

First Time Camping with the Cakes

 “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight, do you think I’ll be warm enough? Are we safe      from animals here?” her questions are coming non-stop; I’m not answering her while I put the tent up.

“Open me a beer, honey.” That’s my new answer for everything when I’m camping; she walked over to the cooler and got me a cold one.

We’ve driven to this spot south and above Ouray. We’re going to camp at tree line in the Yankee Basin. I’m puffing pretty hard above 10,000 feet; she and the dog are too. We’ve found a nice spot next to a creek; the previous users of this site left a nice cache of firewood.

My lovely wife hands me a beer, she looks great in her red fleece jacket, “What are we having for dinner?”

I take a pull of my beer, “I was thinking we’d have burgers and beans, sliced tomatoes, sound okay?”

“I don’t want a bun with mine.” She sniffs.

“Fine with me, no bun for you my dear.”

“How are you going to cook them?” she asked.

“I’m going to light that wood on fire and cook the burgers over the flames.” I said.

She looked at the wood and then at me and says, “Oh.”

“You told me you’ve been camping before, Honey”

“I went to camp every summer, not camping per say.” She said taking a superior tone.

“Ah, I see. Let me guess, you slept in cabins, ate in a dining hall and ran around all day doing planned activities.”

Continuing with her superior tone, “That’s right, I learned archery, swimming, crafts and I learned how to paddle a canoe.”

“They never taught you how to build a campfire?”

“No, someone built them for us, we’d just show up when it was dark and the fire was already going.” She looked off in the distance up the basin, “It isn’t going to snow is it?”

“What? Why would it snow, it’s almost July.”

“I was just wondering, because there is so much snow up above us.” She was shading her eyes and looking at the snow.

“Sugar Pie, that snow is left over from the winter, it’s not going to snow tonight, it can’t, it won’t be cold enough to snow.”

“We told ghost stories around the campfire, Indian stories as well.” She smiled at the memory, I think.

“Should I tell you a ghost story tonight? Maybe I’ll tell you a few tales about the murderous Arapahos who used to hang around these mountains.”

She looked at me and said with another dazzling smile, “I’d like that.”

“What if I scared the pants off you?”

“I’d like that too.” She turned, wiggled her ass at me and walked over to the truck and brought back our folding chairs, the miserable kind that come in a carry sack.

Cakes and I weren’t camping as much as we were “Glamping”. We had and aluminum table, those horrible folding chairs, a big REI tent equipped with a double thickness queen sized air bed. We had our own sleeping bags and a double sleeping bag, lanterns, pillows, buckets, basins and rugs for the floor of the tent. Of course, we had our mountain bikes, two bags of shit for the dog. We had a new 4 wheel drive we stuffed it all in. We had bags for camping clothes, bags for hotel clothes and clothing bags for dress up clothes. The dog even had his own sleeping pad, he didn’t like it, he slept in-between us on the air bed. We had two coolers, one for food the other for drinks. We had wine, vodka, whiskey and beer. Plus we have a big bag of snacks for us and one for the dog.

I opened the first aid kit and handed my wife two Tylenol, I said, “Take these before you get an altitude headache.”

“I won’t get a headache. I never get headaches.” She sniffed again.

“You will up here in the thin air, trust me on this.”

She shrugged her shoulders and took the Tylenol one at a time, each followed by multiple sips of my beer, she grimaced. I’ve never seen anyone who hated to take a pill more than she does. I take that back, the dog hates it more than she does. Maybe I should hold her jaws open and toss the pill in like I do with the dog, then hold her mouth closed and stroke her throat?

“I won’t get a headache, you know.” She stuck her tongue out at me.

“I know you won’t, you just took two Tylenol to head it off, see now we’re both right. Why don’t you and your buddy get some dead fall for the fire, start with stuff the size of your fingers and work your way up to branches the size of your thigh.”

She looked at the wood we have and said, “How much do we need?”

“Plenty if it snows tonight.” 

“You said it wouldn’t snow.” She replied with a note of alarm.

“The dog will love it, so will you, look in the car I think I brought a shovel, just in case. Remember, Sugar, I memorized Major Robert Roger’s Ranger’s Rules, the first rule is, “Don’t Forget Nothin” .

“What was the second?” Cakes asked.

“Keep your musket as clean as a whistle”

My wife laughed, “Did you bring a musket?”

“It’s under the backseat along with the powder, ball and patches. I have a scoured hatchet, too.”

“You’re kidding, right?” She said.

“I forget.”

“What are we going to do if it snows?” She's back to the snow scenario again.

“Stay in bed and keep warm and dry, how’s that sound?”

“I like it, as long as I’m warm.” She and the dog walked off to collect firewood.

I finished the tent, blew up the air bed and things organized when she got back with a bundle of wood. They were both short of breath. The three of us walked back and got more. When we got back to camp I poured her a cup of Cabernet. She watched as I built our fire.

“Wow, look at the mountains, they’ve turned gold, Honey.” She said sounding amazed and happy as she stared at the San Juans.

“It’s called Alpenglow, sweetheart.”

She smiled, “What a perfect name.”

We had a nice dinner, a warm fire. The Cakes was tired, I tucked her in bed at 9:45. She didn’t show her face until after 8 the next morning. All her worrying about not being able to sleep was a waste of time. On the other hand, the dog kept me awake most of the night and I had a headache when I finally woke up at 4:45. When I got up he snuggled up and slept with his "Mom" until 8.

That was the first night of the Cake’s wilderness experience, the next day she got a taste of 4 wheelin in the mountains. She was horrified!

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Chronicle, "The Devil Woman"

Boston in the mid 90's. St Patrick's Day is on a Friday and believe me that's a good thing, no hang over at work, no hours of story telling by the coffee pot the next day. The only productivity lost is because everyone leaves the office early.

The New England Broadcasters Association throws a big party every St. Patrick's Day, at one time it was probably the best in the country, today it's still fun but its slid downhill, way downhill.

I met my date at 3:30 at Ciao Bella on Newbury Street, we had a quick drink and head to the NEBA party, as I mentioned it's not what it used to be and this year it's being held at Dick's Last Resort in the basement of the Prudential Tower*. Not a place anyone associates with the Irish. My date isn't in broadcasting or media, she's a corporate attorney, successful, beautiful and she's a lesbian. I've known her since we lived in the same building in the Back Bay, H is my pal, my friend and an all around good person and she's fun to hang out with. Her partner is at a conference in Chicago.

H and I walk into Dick's, it's packed. I see Tommy, Billy, Kevvy holding down a table in the middle of the room, I get in front of H and push my way to the table. It's just after 4 and they are all pretty much fucked up. I make introductions and order drinks. I ask Tommy how long he's been here, he says, "Since I got off the air. Jesus he gets off at 9am. He's shitfaced. Kevvy's drinking vodka, not a good sign and Billy is drinking vodka martinis. H has a scotch and water, hmm, she's a wine drinker. I order a Guinness. The 5 of us drink and chat for an hour or so, friends drop by the table. We order some food, shrimp, oysters, clams and pulled pork sliders.

Billy, now better than three martinis into the evening gets philosophical, he holds up his glass and says,

“A well made Martini, correctly chilled and nicely served, has been more often my true friend than any two-legged creature"

Tommy, whose eyes are looking more and more like Marty Feldman's, says nothing in response, Kevvy says "No shit man, I agree and women are the worst!" At that, H rolls her eyes, I tap Billy's glass as H finishes her 2nd scotch. H whispers in my ear, "Your pal Kevin obviously doesn't have much luck with women, does he?"  I answer, "Zero, unless he can find a woman who can out drink him he's destined to be alone." Kevin looks at us and says, "How come you always have a nice date, Bob and I'm always alone?" H looks at him with a dazzling smile, "Probably because you say stupid shit like that among a host of other things, Kevin." Fortified with vodka Kevin starts to say something and then thinks better of it. H reaches across the table, pats Kevin's hand and tells him, "Good boy, just be quiet for awhile." In the meantime Billy has wandered off, Tom is having a drunken conversation with a saleswoman from the competition and H and I switch into observation mode.

Billy comes back with a couple of women, the three of them squeeze in around the table, sitting in chairs Billy snatched from other tables. One of them is a woman I dated for awhile last year, she is staring daggers at me. H sensing the hostility decides to throw a grenade the woman's way, she wraps her arm in mine, kisses me on the cheek and whispers, "Watch this." Still holding on to my arm, she leans her head on my shoulder and says, "Bob and I had such a wonderful time in Key West, didn't we, honey?" My old girlfriend glared at her, then said to me with a forced smile, "How long have you two been together?" H smiles and says, "Off and on for what Baby? Two or three years?" The woman looks at me and says, "I knew it, you lying prick." She and her friend picked up their drinks and left the table. Billy looks around wondering what the fuck just happened, Kevin wisely keeps his mouth shut and Tom is now necking with the saleswoman. H orders a round and smiles a self satisfied smile.

The band is playing rock and blues for St. Patrick's Day, when they play "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?" H insists we get up and dance. On the way to the dance floor, I laugh at the implication of the song's title. H says, "Let's make a spectacle of ourselves." and that we do. By now the entire staff is wondering who H is and they are dropping by in twos and threes to check out my date..H is playing the part of devoted, madly in love girlfriend. One woman I know says, "You guys are just perfect together." H looks at her and says "I know." When she leaves H says, "I'm setting you up with an incredible story of heartbreak and loss." She smiles her brilliant smile.

I leave for the men's room, while I'm taking a leak, a guy I barely know says, "Where the hell did you find her, she is just a killer, you're a lucky bastard." When I get back to the table, H is in a deep conversation with Kevin, as I sit down I hear her say, "Kevin, don't you think its time to stop being a fucking Irish Catholic Mama's boy? If you promise to act like a man tonight I'll find you a nice woman to talk to and if you behave yourself maybe she won't run off the minute you open your mouth, got it?" Kevin just nodded. I asked H what was going on. She smiled and said, "I'm just getting little Kevin straightened out." She kissed my cheek then patted it and she was off to find Kevin a woman. She was back in no time.

"Look what I found, two lost, little girls at the bar." H makes introductions, seats them on each side of Kevin, sits back down next to me and explains the girls are sisters, the older one works at channel 7 and the younger just graduated from Syracuse and moved to Boston. They are in their 20's, a little mousy and wide-eyed. Kevin starts to say something and H interrupts him and gives them a glowing report on Kevin's engineering prowess. Kevin is hammered, the two girls are buzzed enough so maybe they won't notice. One of the girls asks H, how long we've been married? Holy shit, now we're married, I thought we just started dating. H tells them 20 years, it works I guess because we are old enough to be their parents. The next question is do we have any kids, H says two, twins, "Sheila and Sean, juniors at Boston Latin, brilliant kids and great hockey players." The sisters nod with great admiration at H and I. Kevin is sitting there with a shit eaten grin on his face and since he promised H to keep his mouth shut, he isn't saying a word. The band is playing another set and H suggests we get up and dance, the girls look at each other and H says, Kevin can dance with both of you, it'll be fun. Kevin dances like a piece of shit, so this should be interesting. It turns out the sisters dance as bad as Kevin does, they have a great time. I tell H during a slow song that's this is the longest I've ever heard Kev go with out saying something stupid since I met him. She says look at them, I do and the three of them are stumbling around the dance floor locked in each others arms, Kevin is in heaven and the sisters seem to be as well.

When the set ends, we all head back to the table, more drinks are ordered, I order soda water, I've had enough Guinness to float one of the those leather Irish boats. H is hitting the scotch, she's hammered but you can't tell unless you know her, Kev is drinking but is quiet, the sisters are slammed. I figure someone in our crew should be able to handle the navigation. Tom stops kissing his account executive long enough to say, let's get the hell out of here and go to an Irish bar. Everyone agrees and now I have to arrange transportation. There's 7 of us and if Bill comes back that's 8, 2 cabs minimum.
Tommy wants to go to the Kells in Brighton and we do.

The Kells is hot, noisy and everyone in the bar has a sheen of sweat...the music is a cross of Irish, punk and rock and roll. Billy is back with us and he's grinning like an idiot, by far the oldest guy in the room, he's got a "Kiss me I'm Irish" button on his jacket, nobody has taken him up on the offer. My "wife" and I are dancing and singing along with the band. Kevin and the sisters are so drunk by this point, none of the three can communicate. The girls kiss Kevin on each cheek and laugh like they are crazy and they are. We stay at the Kells for an hour and cab it back to the Back Bay. We decide to have a nightcap at the Capital Grill, when the valet opens the cab door, Kevin gets out, falls on his ass taking out one of the sisters, the other thinks its so funny she jumps on top of them. Billy, H and I pretend we don't know them.

When we get inside and order a round, I asked H if she was planning on driving home to Weston, her response, "Hell no I'm staying with my husband, tonight." Whatever that means. She starts talking to people sitting at the bar, I help Bill to a stool, he's close to paralysis. I yell in his ear, 'You can't drive home to Andover, you dumbshit, you need to get a room." Billy Boy just nods in the affirmative. The bartender's brother works at the Eliot and he secures Bill a room. I tell Bill and he says "Cool." I told him to call his wife, he takes out his cell, drops it and it slides under the bar rail. He spends the next 5 minutes hoping nobody steps on it before he can find it.

I catch up with H, I ask her if she knows what happened to Tom and the AE. She cocks an eyebrow and says, "I'd bet they are fucking on a dumpster behind the Kells." I agree. She introduces me to the her new friends at the bar as her husband and the father of the wonderful twins, Sean and Sheila. The woman beams at me and the guy checks out H's ass. The couple are visiting Boston from Minneapolis and are truly Minnesota nice. I decide to start drinking again since I'm only three blocks from home. I switch to the same scotch as H is drinking, as I finish the first one I notice that Kevin and the sisters are sitting at the end of the bar, I should say Kevin is sitting, the girls are standing with their arms draped around Kevvy. The asshole is in heaven. H has her arm around my waist and continues to chat with the nice couple, their last name is Brunsberg. Their kids play hockey, too, just like Sheila and Sean. Another drink and I'll start worrying about the kid's grades and wondering where the hell they are tonight.

The bar closes at 1, the lights go up and we stumble into the street, we all hug goodbye, Bill trucks off to the Eliot which is just around the corner. Kevin is trying to hail a cab, apparently he's going to Jamaica Plain with the sisters. As Kevin stumbles around in the street attempting to get a cab to stop. the sister are having a conversation. I tell H we should leave and she says, "No let's see how this turns out." The girls are getting heated with each other, we can't hear what they're saying but fingers are being pointed, the younger one screams, "Marianne you are such a c*nt! Marianne screams back at her sister, I'm a c*nt? No way, you're the c*nt in the family, Margaret, not me!"

H smiles takes my arm and says, "Let's go home, Honey, my work is done."

*Now located at Quncy Market, if you really want to go!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Doggie Adoption Games

After our good, old boy Jager passed on to his doggie reward, the Cakes and I were going to take some time off from being dog people. We were good with that even if I still talk to him when I get home in my stupid dog voice and his ashes are on the table next to the Cake's side of the bed!

Out of the blue, our friend John in Florida comes up with a dog adoption. Of course we've already fallen in love with the big, strong and handsome German Shepherd from looking at pictures, watching video and reading John's long and detailed e-mails about the dog. The deal is done except there are a few details beyond the normal hassles of transportation, vet checks and papers and, and and.

The owner was in the position of having to choose between his wife in New York City and his dog and house in Florida has chosen the wife and is moving back. When we heard this we were excited as Jager used to get when I'd offer him a bite of my steak. However, the owner told John that what he'd like to do is keep the dog with him until he sells his house. Florida is the worst real estate market in the country, this could take years. The dog is 20 months old, by the time the house sells he'll have a gray muzzle. This is one of those "awww shit moments". That was yesterday, today there is a glimmer of hope. John thinks he can talk the guy into giving him up now, because its in the dog's best interest and it is, let's hope the retired cop agrees. We'll see.

Meanwhile John gets a rather cryptic e-mail from a woman in Boston who had John raise her German Shepherd for his first 12 months. She and her husband have been gloriously happy with the dog. She teaches at Northeastern University and she takes the dog to work, the dog has even been to black tie parties. The woman says the dog is a lab in a GSD costume. All of a sudden she has decided that the dog would be better off with a family with another dog and did he have any ideas.John doesn't have a clue what's going on, but she is calling him tonight and hopefully she'll explain.Cakes and I know this dog and he is a superb what?

This is nuts, I've had 3 GSDs, I couldn't have given any of them up. Now there's two of them being given up by people who are long time, experienced GSD owners. Neither of them are people who get a dog and realize they are a life changer and a lot of work and decide to hell with it I don't want to deal with it.I don't get it, but on the other hand we may end getting one of them or both.

I used to tell the Cakes when I brushed Jager that I could build a litter of pups out the hair that came off him. I can't imagine having two, but then again, we miss those doggie kisses, screw the dog hair.

Friday, March 8, 2013

That Job is Child's Play

I was the first of my friends to learn how to drive. As soon as my legs were long enough to reach the pedals, I was driving on Grandpa's farm. I think I was 9 years old. I thought it was the greatest thing to ever happen and all my friends were jealous as hell. What I didn't know was I was being taught to drive so I could actually work on the farm. I started working the next year. While my friends were at the swimming pool, playing ball, at a matinee or hanging around Widman's Candy store. I was mowing ditches, cleaning, granaries or hauling wheat, barley and flax in a big old farm truck. It was always hot, dirty work and I have memories of shoveling grain with a huge grain scoop and crying, the tears making tracks down my dirty face.

My dad was an asshole, we were the last family to get a power mower. Why? Because the old man said he didn't need one, he had me. I'd struggle through our 1/2 acre of thick, heavy grass, pissed and angry.

I was running boats at our lake cabin when I was 7 or 8 years old in exchange for the maritime activity I had to do the yard work, maintain the dock and the beach. My other grandfather insisted on perfection, I had to deliver or I had to relinquish my captaincy.

I worked as a busboy, you think all busboys do is pick up the dishes and wipe the tables? Think again, I cleaned the back kitchen, trimmed meat, made hamburger, mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables and made salads. I was also the caterer, I hauled tables, chairs, crates of dishes and silverware. Did the set up and then brought the food and helped serve it. When it was over, I hauled all of the shit back to the restaurant, cleaned it and put it away. I also did janitorial work, to this day I can run a buffer with the best of them.

Hauling grain in a big truck as a child opened the door to hauling farm implements on a huge flatbed truck, which lead to taking the bus to Saginaw Michigan and picking up specialty trucks and delivering them. Imagine a 17 year old driving a big truck with another one piggy-backed on the back, from Saginaw to Grand Forks. I pocketed the expense money and slept in the truck, bought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and fed myself on the road. It was a trip of 867 miles each way. I left Saginaw at noon, slept for a few hours alongside Highway 2 and was home the next morning.

I used to pick up one way rentals for National Car Rental when I was in high school. When school was out in the afternoon, I'd pick up the paperwork, take the expense money and hitchhike to where ever the car was located. My record? Left Grand Forks at 3pm, hitchhiked to Minot, picked up the car and arrived home in time to meet my girlfriend at a school dance at a quarter to ten. A 420 mile round trip in 6 hours and 45 minutes including dropping the car off, changing my clothes at home after a quick shower. At the Kegs later that night a pal of mine said, "Didn't see you after school, where were you?" I just looked at my girlfriend and smiled. Interesting isn't it, at 16 I wasn't old enough to rent a car, but I could pick them up and drive them hundreds of miles.

A friend of the old man owned a farm implement dealership, one summer I used to drive down to a rail siding and pick up swathers, balers, plows, combine pickups, combines and tractors. I'd haul them back to the dealership and assemble them. All that play with erector sets came in handy. I think I could still put together a New Holland self propelled baler or a Case combine with a Melroe pick up to this day.

I pretty much hated all those jobs when I was a kid, but looking back on them, I learned a lot about the nature of work, met every kind of person imaginable and achieved a level of self reliance today's kids don't get a shot at.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Advice for Geo

My friend George Johns writes blog post after blog post about "trying to understand women". As his long time friend, I need to intervene and say stop it!

 Geo, it's like our friend Doctor Craig once said, the only way things get better is to stop the behavior that prevents things from getting better. Georgie, I've been reading your posts about this quest of yours and let me tell you, you're getting bullshitted by the girls. (they love it, man)

Sometimes, it's better to stop asking questions of them. particularly since most of them lie to you when they answer, Actually they aren't liars, they are just playing with you. I'd guess they are either telling you what they think you want to hear or are trying to wreck your head. Don't ask anymore, just listen.

The Cakes and I have been together for 15 years, do I understand her? Not really. Do I think I ever will? Nope. Do I care? Not at all. I'll give you an example, before we go to bed at night, she always reminds me of things I need to do, or things we need to take of care together. Every night. She aways ends with a piece of advice or a question. Always, why does she do it? I don't know and after fighting it for years I just stopped, I listen, give her a kiss and open a book. I'd drive myself crazy if I tried to analyze her. If it makes her sleep better, cool with me.

Cakes was a football cheerleader all four years in high school and knows nothing about the game, zero. I'd be watching a game (usually the Pats) and she'd ask me a question about what was going on. In the beginning, I'd say shit like "you were a cheer leader and you don't know the difference between offense and defense or what an extra point is?" After years of this, she finally said, "I had my back to the field during the game, how was I to know what was going on?" Great answer. She was into cheering, not football. I get it. She was a cheerleader not a god damned player or a fan.

Here's a few truths I've learned from the days when I was single:

Most guys behave badly around women, a few women like it, the vast majority hate it.

Guys who "hit" on women are total losers. Most women hate it and know it for what it is.

What women really hate is a player. They hate players even if they are a player themselves. If guys who are players are bad, female players are always worse. What ever they say to you, they hate players, especially their peers who are players.

Everybody hates a liar, male or female.

Sex is not a mystery, women like it as much as men do. They just don't have the old sailor's attitude of "any port in a storm". I think it was Mark Hubbard who said "men are microwaves, women are ovens." Excellent advice.

Yes, the younger generation is different in attitude and behavior.

One last thing:

You comment from time to time about how I used to MARKET myself. Sorry, you took a tossed off line to heart. I learned if I was out with my friends and just sat quietly at the bar, chatting with the guy next to me or with the bartender, if I was approached by a woman or if she came and stood next to me to order a drink or started a conversation with me, she was interested in getting to know me. It worked okay for me, I probably batted .300 in those days, same attitude worked at conferences, meetings or gatherings at friend's houses. No pressure, if we liked each other, it was good, if not, no big deal.

One of the great moments of my life happened when I wasn't even thinking about women or marketing. I was standing at the bar with three life long friends of mine. A gorgeous woman was dancing with another woman, she plucked a rose out of the glass on a table, danced over and handed it to me and blew me a kiss. It was a great moment on many levels but it was a real ass kicker because it happened in front of my old friends. I talked to her after the song ended, she was beautiful but a total jerk, a female player of the highest order, but it was a movie moment for me.

I asked Jan once if I had walked over and hit on her the night we met would she have responded to me. She said, "probably not."....I'm glad I didn't because that was the last time I ever "Marketed" myself.

Good luck on your life long quest. Just take the answers you get with a huge grain of salt, old buddy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

E-mail conversation

I broke my spare contact lens this morning. I only wear one because after my cornea transplant, the graft has to be "flattened" or I have hellacious astigmatism. Jan was worried I'd have a problem driving to the office.

From Jan:

Did you make it okay?

From me:

Other than rolling the car at the intersection of TO Blvd and Westlake, yes.

From Jan:


From me:

I didn't see the old lady and her walker in the crosswalk and had to swerve to miss her, apparently I was going too fast and tipped the Jeep over in the intersection. Without my lens I have no idea how fast I was going because I can't read the speedometer without it.

From Jan:

You're kidding me, right?

From me:

Absolutely not, I was lucky I got out before the Shell Oil tanker truck hit the Jeep and everything burst into flames.

From Jan:

I don't believe you

From me:

Oh yeah, step out on the patio you can see the smoke from the tanker fire, it's still burning.

From Jan:

You lie.

From me:

Not me, it all happened an hour ago. I told the cops the old lady ran out in front of me and I had no choice but to avoid her, good thing she's only a little shaken up or they might have questioned me longer and in more detail. Good thing I'm quick witted, huh? I already called the insurance company and got a rental. The agent said we should have a new Jeep by the end of the week. Do you want another black one? BTW, that homeless guy that stands on the corner stole her walker so my story made sense to the cops.

From Jan:

You're crazy.

From me:

Maybe so, but I'm lucky.

From Jan:

Pack sand, you jerk.

From me:

See you at 6 or so, Luv you.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Nancy Hall

Jan and I have been talking about her Mom, Nancy.

I said, "She certainly taught you to make your bed the minute after you roll out in the morning." (If I get up to take a pee in the middle of the night, when I come back to bed my side is made!) Jan agreed, but added, "The best thing she taught me was to pay my bills on time." Now that is a valuable lesson to teach a kid. Nancy was making sure Jan's Dad was staying on top of the household bills the day before she died, she was relentless and so is her daughter.

Over the years I've spent with Jan, she was always making gentle cracks about her Mom. Things like, "she sent me to kindergarten early so she wouldn't have to deal with me." or "Mom and Mike were close because of the music gene they shared." Nancy taught Mike piano before he started school. For a long time, Jan would say, 'I'm going to call my Dad" or "I need to go home and see Dad."...

I get it, having two girls and by observing how they've related to my ex-wife over the years, their relationships changed as age and time moved on.

Nancy's mother was born in England and Nancy, like Jan, felt a real connection to Britain. About 10 years ago, Nancy and Jan went to England together. They saw all the sights in London, a city that Jan knows well. They traveled by train to Windsor, had tea every afternoon and shared a delightful room in a B and B in Hyde Park. For better than a week they spent 24 hours a day together. They talked and they talked and they talked. Like magic, that week changed their relationship. After that it was "I need to call my Mom." or "I talked to Mom today." "Read this e-mail Mom sent." or "Mom says hi to her favorite son-in-law." That trip forged new bonds between Jan and her mother and they were strong and loving. It was a wonderful thing for them both to experience and share between the two of them. If her Dad and I had been along, the magic wouldn't have happened, he and I would have spoiled it for them. Nancy realized Jan is a strong, intelligent woman and Jan saw that her Mom wasn't just a business woman who spent her spare time playing the piano...what a wonderful gift they gave each other, themselves.

We are all going to miss her, her Dad Larry will be lost for awhile, but Mike is there for him. I'll take care of Nancy's daughter, because I'm the "favorite son-in-law". Of course, Nancy only had one, but I'll take the title.

Wonderful woman, a great loss for us all.

Jan smiled yesterday when we talked about this:

Jan and her brother Mike are almost 'Irish Twins" barely a year apart, when they were babies, Nancy dressed them alike, so people always asked her if  they were twins. Now that Mike is bald they don't look so much alike anymore. Maybe if they dressed about matching snowsuits again?

We are planning to say "Goodbye" to Nancy when her beloved flowers are blooming in Batavia.