Everyday Maine Angels

Posted by Kathy on Dec 30, 2012 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

It was the day after a major snow storm.  We were meeting family for supper in a downtown Portland restaurant.  There were no handicapped spots (nor any regular parking spots even close to our destination) for my family member who has a disability.  I pulled into the small hotel lot next to the restaurant to ask if we could park there for an hour.  “Really sorry, but it’s only for hotel guests,” the young man said.  “But across the street, you can park there because of the snow storm yesterday.  It should be open to the public.  It was yesterday.”

I drove across the street and pulled into what certainly seemed like a private parking lot, got ourselves into the restaurant, and nervously watched from our table.  As I feared, I soon saw a pick-up truck appear, and a man walking around studying cars in the lot.  I threw on my coat, and headed out.

“I was told it was ok to park here.  Do I need to move my car?”

He had a bit of a gruff edge.  He told me it was not open to the public, asked who had told me it was, and was obviously not happy to pass along the reality of the situation…but as we talked and I told him my situation, I felt a shift in his previously business-like manner.

“It’s OK.  You can stay here.  No problem.  But I think I better talk to the hotel people so they don’t keep sending folks over here.”

I asked if he was sure it would be ok to stay there while we ate across the street.

He assured me that I could stay put, “but don’t tell anyone else.  Special exception,” he added.  Then he looked at the back of my car, pointing to the political bumper sticker.  “Even though you voted for that guy,” he smiled.

“Yeah,” I said, and motioning toward his cap, “But look, we like the same baseball team!”

An hour later, as we were pulling out of the lot, I looked to the right, and there he was, shoveling the edge of the lot and waving good-bye to us.  It was a distance of a hundred feet or so, but I could see his smile.

Sometimes an angel just needs a little nudge to remind him of how good he is.

Thanks, John.  God bless you!



Everyday Maine Angels

Posted by Kathy on Dec 27, 2012 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

THANK YOU to our angel, Michael L., who came to plow our graceful but impossible driveway, got stuck, had to get unstuck, did a tough chore inside the house for us while waiting for his back-up, finished the job with skill extraordinaire, and from somewhere down the road, called to let us know he’d be back tomorrow to do the “finishing touches and I didn’t want to leave without saying good-bye.”  This fellow has helped us in the true spirit of Mainers since the day my family has faced serious illness some time ago.  He is always cheerful, capable, puts up with my fussing, and yes – wears shorts outside in this 30 degree, blizzard weather. 

DSC_0153God bless you, Michael!


Thoughts on Newtown, CT

Posted by Kathy on Dec 18, 2012 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0149Now we see the headlines go a bit deeper into details.  TV shows, news programs, even comedy genre, pay moving tributes to the victims – all the victims, not just those physically taken away from this world, but those left behind.  The news stories slowly recede, the questions still linger, and Facebook posts start, little by little, to pry into the routine and silly stuff of life.  To see if it’s safe to come out yet.

We grieve and continue to try to understand why a horrific tragedy has occurred.  The experts spew theories and the heartsick call for gun control. We wonder why semi-automatic’s are sold and sometimes, we shake our heads, secure in knowing that we are never, ever completely free from evil acts, that there’s no such thing as certain safety.  We have learned from experience to wrap up heartache and move through tasks for survival.  But in the quiet moments, we still feel that awful and now familiar pit of darkness and feel the wetness come to our eyes for children we didn’t know but cry for, just the same.  It does feel like they were all our children.  We cry for their parents and families, for their grandparents who surely wish they could have traded places with those cherished little children, for a community whose normal-ness is a reminder that violence and cruelty can happen on any street, in any building, born in a sick-enough head.  We are scared and we are scarred from this.  The imagination cannot stretch far enough to figure out how, exactly, the victims and loved ones, now including an entire nation and maybe the world, can move through this to do life again.

That becomes our task.  The task of comfort, the task of action, the task of repair.  And it seems incumbent upon us to not let this and other useless, deeply wasteful events pass without pulling out the task of finding life more precious.  We learn that we have just this moment in time.  We hope for more.  Our inner voices tell us to hug more, love more, gripe less – sadly, not quite as easy as it sounds.  Yet in the midst of searching for answers, and finding there may be few, the only one we know is that love is never wasted.

And that answer may have to be good enough.


My New BFF

Posted by Kathy on Oct 18, 2012 in Thoughts from ME

So – Rachel at Cardholder Services calls me.  I must be her new best friend, she calls that often.  But she has such a nice, friendly voice, you know?  And she says that if I don’t want her to call me anymore I just have to press “3.”  Right.  I’ve tried that one before.  She’s like one of those clingy friends who doesn’t really mean it when she says she’ll give you some space, that maybe she did come on too strong when she asked if she could try on your pretty wedding ring.  And borrow your car.  No matter how many times I press “3” I know she won’t listen.

This time I press “1” to speak with a customer care representative to find out how I could “lower my interest rates” on my credit card.  I know.  It’s not nice to mess with the limited mind of the salesperson on the other end who’s just trying to eke out a living.  (Yes!  I’ve been wanting to use the word “eke” ever since I became a crossword puzzle addict.)

“This is Marissa.  Do you have a credit card with a balance of over $3000?” asks a female voice.

“Is this Rachel?” I ask.

“No, this is Marissa.  Rachel is an automated voice,” she says.

“Uh huh.  I want to speak with Rachel,” I say.  I know.  I’ll have to go to confession for this one.  It’s just mean.  Kind of like how mean it is to have someone continually call when you are cooking dinner or otherwise not interested in hearing from Rachel and her friendly credit card offer.

“Can I help you?” she asks.

“Yes,” I answer, and then it happens.


There is a brief pause.

“OK, Ma’m.  I understand and I have removed your number from our list,” she pleasantly says.

And before I can repeat my number so she gets it right, she hangs up.

I take a minute to let my fury settle down, to reassure myself that I have not reached stroke level.  It occurs to me that this time, it’s just possible I could be removed from the list.

Darn.  Marissa sounded really nice.

I wonder what she could’ve saved me in interest rates…


Davy, Davy, Davy

Posted by Kathy on Mar 1, 2012 in Thoughts from ME

Like many people in my age group, I grew up watching The Monkees, and it wasn’t long before my heart pounded for Davy Jones.  It wasn’t that he was so sexy, really.  And he wasn’t my first childhood crush.  That belonged to Richard Beymer, who played Tony in the movie of West Side Story.  Oh, and to my cousin Ned, who, as a teenager, put up with my young-girl flirtations of running around him and trying my best to be annoying.

But as I grew into adulthood and moved out of the comfortable NY suburbs, I continued to get a thrill out of the likeable music this thrown-together band produced, and I watched endless reruns of their TV show with my young daughters.

It was hard not to like Davy.  He was plenty cute, and he always seemed to be having so much fun.  It may have  been mindless fun, but it had value as such.

Nearly a decade ago, The Monkees came to visit and perform in what I have, in adulthood, come to call my home town – Portland, Maine.  Someone I knew just happened to know someone who knew…well, you get the picture.  I ended up with a backstage pass to meet the band after the show.  I was thrilled.  Though I was a dark-haired, aging Mama, I felt like young Marcia Brady in the episode in which she tries to get Davy Jones to come play at her prom.

The show was great, and afterwards, not knowing what to expect, I went backstage.

Shuffling through the crowded area behind the Expo Building stage, I met one or two of the band members, briefly.  Then, I met Davy.  He stood just about my height, maybe slightly taller.  We shook hands, I mumbled something, and he was so kind – genuinely nice, smiling eyes, sincere.  There are some people you meet and you know something important about them almost instantly.  This was one such time.  He seemed totally unaffected.  Sweet, to use a corny term.  I mentioned I was a local writer and that maybe I would write a story about him and this visit.  This was at a time when life was pretty busy and I was just doing an occasional bit of writing.  He grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and wrote something down and handed it to me.

“If you do, send me a copy,” he said.

On the paper was an address, a P.O. box, as I recall.  I was thrilled.  Oh, yeah – and then he kissed me on the cheek.

After that, life moved along as usual.  One thing led to another – a sick parent, an overly busy life as a nurse and a mom, other things that got in the way of doing more than writing a few words of a story that never materialized.  Eventually, in another of my twice yearly mad cleaning frenzies, I tossed the paper out, as I recall.  I had moved on in my writing projects, and I no longer had an inspiration for writing this particular story.  But meeting him never completely left me.

On a recent visit with my stepson and his wife, we reminisced about bands of the past, old TV shows, and in particular, the Brady Bunch.  Davy Jones sprang to my mind and into the conversation.  I wondered – would I ever get to that story?  Was it possible that somewhere, I still had his mailing address?  Youthful thoughts about a crush had long since given way to realizing that Davy Jones was more than a celebrity.  He was a kind, lovely man, one anyone would be happy to have as a friend, with or without his particular, loveable kind of fame.

So today, as I heard he had died at 66, all I could remember was that timeless, smiling guy who had given me and so many others some good, light entertainment.

That, and the faint promise of a prom date.


Happy New Year – and Avoid the Rush

Posted by Kathy on Dec 31, 2011 in Thoughts from ME

Today is Dec. 31st, and I’m thinking.

I normally write a whimsical post – when I get around to writing something at all on my own blog, which was started about 2 years ago when suddenly every writer was blogging.  It turns out I got busy with other writing jobs, so I fell behind in my original promise to myself to do at least a monthly post.

But today, as I reflect with what may be either great wisdom or possibly a half-dazed, not-enough-coffee haze, I realize a few things.

1) Not everything is funny, or even fun.  For example, getting up on New Year’s Eve morning and being greeted my one’s husband is normally a cheery event.  But not when his first words are, “There’s a flood in the downstairs bathroom.”

2) The point of a calendar is to keep track of important appointments.  Finding out, late on a Friday before a long holiday weekend, that there are several very important medical appointments coming up on the very same day in the same time slot, is never a good thing.

3) Nor is the phrase, “Oh, no.  I forgot to________  (other critical, timely things)” coming from any number of family members, including this writer.

4) It is almost a New Year.  I cannot remember what last year’s resolutions were, but I’m damned sure they didn’t happen.  Something very evil inside me keeps saying “Make new ones!  New ones!”  It’s a trick.  I know it is.

5) I must – must – pursue those things which I’ve dreamed about for years.  The conducting class I want to take.  Maybe an Art class.  Tackling my sewing pile with my spiffy sewing machine my husband gave me 2 years ago (or was is 3?) And so on.  Before it’s too late.  Before the time feels convenient.  Before all the dishes get washed or the laundry is done.  Even before we decide if we need to call a plumber for the flood downstairs.

Because if I wait for the floods to stop, for the appointments to get straightened out, for the resolutions to be remembered and to kick in, it will be yet another New Year.

Note to self:  Act now.  Avoid the rush.  Live fully.

Happy New Year!


Notes on 40th High School Reunion:

Posted by Kathy on Nov 29, 2011 in Thoughts from ME

Pre-Reunion preparation (4 weeks before event):  Gear up emotionally by asking husband to attend.  After he agrees, periodically check to see if he wants to change mind.  Tell him about old boyfriends in effort to invoke jealous streak.  Come to terms with fact he has no jealous streak.  Concentrate on weeks-long hair preparation and weight control instead.  Now, am properly geared up for high school mentality.  Consider coloring graying hair.  Remember high school was in 60’s.  Start going without bra.  Cancel hair appointment.  Call for Hilton reservations.  Ignore husband saying rent used VW bus – cheaper, authentic.  F— that.  Need good facilities.

Pre-Reunion preparation (2 weeks before event):  Diet going poorly.  But – less wrinkles if slightly chubby!  Start nail therapy, still trying to repair damage from 12 months earlier from scrubbing mother-in-law’s roasting pan at her house after cooking very own famous pork chops with BBQ sauce.  Note to self: Remember aluminum foil next time feel smug about showing off ability to cook a meal.  Ignore need to please.  Nails always more important than misguided domesticity.

Pre-Reunion preparation (2 days before): Take family out for Thanksgiving dinner due to upcoming road trip to reunion and renewed affirmation to never, ever again being kitchen slave girl.  Begin packing.  Impress husband with uncharacteristic, very light packing.  Make silent vow to stop nagging husband regarding is he sure he wants to go and does he remember about packing socks and dress clothes and…Note to self: Concentrate only on own packing.  Bring comfy skirt with expandable waist and draped long sweater to create illusion apparently just stepped out of Adams family.  Plan to arrive late enough that others are en route to intoxication.

Reunion notes:  Once at reunion, find that must wear glasses to see, ruining look completely, in mentally adolescent brain.  See that many women much younger-looking than self.  Feel short, feel fat, feel happy wore bra after all, enjoy old boyfriends who say never should have broken up.  Now feeling totally 15 again.  Offer pieces of paper napkin as faux earplugs to husband who complains of noise every five minutes after entering banquet hall.  Eat lightly, enjoy friends, allow husband to go to car to sleep, after first hour.  Post-reunion, 1 a.m., back at hotel:   Kiss husband goodnight, promise everything as payback, go to front desk, get directions to vending machines.  Cheese popcorn, Fritos, diet Pepsi.  Remember afterward brought healthy apple from home in tote bag.

Day after reunion:  Go into city, see relatives, report on reunion, eat pizza and pumpkin chiffon pie with real whipped cream at sister’s.  Back at hotel, celebrate good time.  Leftover pizza, cold but still good.  Read book.  Let husband snore without nudging him.

Driving home Monday:  Do not understand why jeans so tight, cutting off circulation and necessitating change of clothes at Starbucks half way home.  Once able to walk again and after buying expensive coffee drinks for self and husband, discuss reunion.  Say old steady boyfriend is still cute in effort to stir small sense of male possessiveness.  Take deep breath after husband agrees old boyfriend very cute.  Resist urge to hurt him, as he is driver and fat, lazy, graying self just wants to finish good book in car and sip Starbucks in peace.

Home:  Give husband hugs, feeling very happy he is mate.  Dream of next reunion.  Note to self:  Have five years to get in shape, order pair of real earplugs, and keep hands out of greasy roasting pans.


Ready To Pounce

Posted by Kathy on Sep 30, 2011 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized







My “boss” Jackie – a real sweetheart – surprised us at work the other day with something she found outside.

Here’s a snapshot of it:

Her comment was that this now-deceased snake apparently died in-process of pouncing.  I thought about that and started to ponder the number of times we humans are ready to pounce.

I do it.  Others do, too.  It’s hard to imagine a world of peace if we can’t manage to un-pounce ourselves.


A few weeks ago, I went to a nearby nature area where there is a good walking path.  My husband, who has not been well, was with me, and we were going to try a brief outing.  My daughter from NY was also with us.  I parked in a Handicapped spot, as we legitimately have a reason and the placard to prove it.  Now here’s the thing:  it’s a small parking lot.  If it’s full, the only alternative is either leaving/going home, or parking close to a mile away and walking to the place where the path begins.  That wouldn’t work for us, due to his medical status.

After we parked, we walked, though slowly, and it went pretty well.  When my husband & I got back to our car, my daughter, who had hustled ahead on her own, was sitting, waiting for us.  She watched me as I approached the car.  She watched me as I looked at a huge note taped onto my driver’s side window.  She watched me as I told my husband, “Wait here” (actually it was more like a snarled “WAIT. HERE.”) & they both watched as I stormed off to have a “chat” with the parking attendant who had left the note which read, in part, that I had parked in a Handicapped spot & that a woman passer-by saw our car and wanted to call the police.  He had asked her to please not do that – that he would leave me a note asking me not to park there again.

So, ready to pounce, as one often gets when under the stress of a family illness, I went to the attendant to explain that we indeed had a Handicapped tag swinging from the rear view mirror in the front of our car, which is where it is supposed to go, that my husband…blah blah blah…well, I gave the attendant (who was a really sweet guy) TMI, including asking him to give the woman who complained about us parking there a couple of choice words from me if he saw her again, which completely cracked him up, obviously he didn’t know Grandma-types could have mouths like sailors.  Are you following this?  We had the darned placard.  It was posted.  We parked.  Someone apparently looked at our license plate and no further & concluded we had parked illegally/unethically/irresponsibly enough that she wanted the police to come!  I wish she had called them.  The police would have walked her over to our placard – well, my fantasies of what they might have said to her were quite vivid.

The nice parking lot guy was so sweet to me, he even ended up by saying next time we came there, he’d let us park next to him, near his booth.  It must have been the crazed look in my eyes.  The poor guy had not realized that some placards are just hung up in the front of cars, and not just imprinted on license plates.

I was steaming mad all day.  Ready to pounce.  I wished I could have confronted the woman who complained.  My rational thinking allowed for some reasonable explanations:  Was she upset about something in her own life?  Did she have a loved one with a Handicapped plate on the car & had more than once been blocked out of doing an activity because there was no place to park?  Was she out to save the world (in her own mind), one car at a time?

It was days – no, weeks – before I could let this go.  I felt affronted, misjudged.  It was out of proportion.  There were occasional times on the road – like the day I got into the wrong lane and for about 1/4 mile, tried to get into the correct lane, blinker on, signaling so I could ultimately get in the right path for the turnpike entrance – to get home, to get groceries, to get, to get, to get…for my husband.  A kind soul finally let me in.  The pain of being helpless when faced with illness in someone you love is overwhelming at times.  And my reaction?  I am ready to pounce.

That is what I thought of when Jackie brought in the dead snake in pounce-pose.  And I took a few breaths, physically and emotionally, and allowed myself to process the pounce, to realize that just maybe the woman who “reported” us was also in pounce mode.  Or maybe not.

But I knew I had to back down.  Had to back down and fight off the pounce mentality – lest it catch me mid-air and kill me, too.


What’s Really Wrong With Some People

Posted by Kathy on Aug 14, 2011 in Thoughts from ME


Are you kidding me?

In the present holiday adaptation of multi-tasking, I sat myself in the comfortable chair in front of the TV, heating pad at back, unaddressed Christmas cards on lap, address book in front of me on tray table, tea beside that (just aching to spill itself on said address book) and the remote remotely close by to distract me from mundane tasks.

I like to find out what’s on the tube before I make a commitment, so I scrolled through the list of shows, saw little that interested me, and moved on down the line – literally and figuratively – to that grouping that strangely calls itself reality shows.  Now look, I’ve laughed and shaken my head at the ones that depict women who all of a sudden find out they’re in labor and didn’t know they were pregnant.  Right.  I’ve watched the Cake shows that draw me in to the greatest problem facing our modern world: can a cake be made to look like a car without falling apart?!?  Scary thought, right?  But I never, ever thought there could be something as ridiculous as “Bridalplasty.”


Yup.  There’s a TV show that is in the form of a contest involving a dozen or so of the most repulsive human beings imaginable who are competing for even one – just gimme one – plastic surgery of their dreams before their big day as the Top Bride.  We’re not talking about correcting a major disfigurement that might interfere with their functioning.  No.  This is about nose jobs, boob jobs, tummy tucks (for the ones who dive into every taste test through the show with complete abandon)…you name it.  And our “hostess” for the show refers with frequency to their plastic surgery “wish list.”  Because – you know – just one is never enough…

I am not kidding.

The competition heats up because the way it works is that show after show, a woman gets dropped from the contest, usually because of some major inherent flaw such as not choosing the correct wine in a wine-off.  Or choosing the wrong dress for their figure type.  Or – not getting into the right clique with the other competitors.  That’s right.  It is possibly the most cut-throat phenomenon I have witnessed since a girl in my 7th grade class beat up another for stealing her boyfriend.   Threw her right down on the pavement in front of a bunch of us shocked “normal” kids.  And 7th grade this is.  Grown women parading as 20-something brides-to-be are about as nasty as they can get in their effort to be a perfect bride and vote out their competitors.   Oh.  So that’s what marriage is about.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against the occasional longed-for cosmetic correction.  But I just think it’s strange to go on a TV show and YES – show off your boob job to your competitors and a national audience – in the precious weeks before the wedding, when there might possibly be a few other things to do.  Such as enjoying the special time with your soon-to-be-mate.  There might even be some who view this as a loving time to spend with a sister, mother, mother-in-law to be, to have lunch with a bridesmaid or a cousin.  To reflect on the meaning of commitment.  Yeah.  That’s a ludicrous thought when there are so many, many ways to mess up other people’s chances to beat them out for the plastic surgery you want.

I’d like to think that maybe they’re just actors playing a part.  And if so, the Oscar goes to Janessa or Janella or whoever the little blonde is who, in the words of another contestant, has formed an “alliance” which ultimately backfires on her.  These are women who are about to marry?  To commit to a life with another human being, likely have children to raise?  Is there a good woman alive who really cares about an extra inch on her chest parts when she’s covered with baby puke?  Or when her child is burning up with fever and she’s waiting for a call back from the pediatrician?  Or when her husband needs medication from the pharmacy, they’re both tired, and it’s 10:00 at night?

The votes aren’t all in yet, but I’m guessing Janessa’s conspiracy plan won’t work and she will be leaving the show before she can get the next plastic surgery on her wish list.  She’s already had the nose job.  But there’s always more…more…more…

I’m not sure what these girls are offered in their wish list choices.

But I figure Janessa’s going to have to skip the choice of getting a real heart.


Plugged In for Dysfunction

Posted by Kathy on Apr 26, 2011 in Thoughts from ME

I admit it.  I am one of those people who resists the new electronics.  I have mastered my computer – kind of – with the help of:

~ several patient strangers halfway around the world (“Look – it’s important for you to know I’m a complete idiot about these things.  Don’t use any big words”), and

~ my husband (“NO, I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP AND NO, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR HOW GREAT YOUR COMPUTER IS COMPARED TO MINE, STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP- OK, yes I would like some help please, Sweetheart.”)

I never want a kindle, a nook, or even a cranny for that matter.  I don’t want a smart phone.  I’ll stick with my bright-enough phone.  That’s about as much as I can tolerate.  And I wish stores and business would not rely so heavily on their electronics.

At least, I felt that way until recently.

Last week, I had a craving for rye bread.  I phoned (OK, yes, I used a cell phone, I never promised you I was an electronics virgin)…I phoned a local café/bakery and asked if they had any rye bread left.  Yes, I was told, but only one loaf and it was the large size.  Their large size loaf is about the size of the Titanic, but I caved in and asked them to hold it for me.  An hour later, I was at one of their many cash registers.  The teen behind the counter greeted me by asking “Do you have a rewards card with us?”  Actually, it was more like “DOYOUHAVEAREWARDSCARDWITHUS?!?!?!”  Huh?  Well, yes, but what’s wrong with a simple hello?  I mean, we’re about to share a moment over my rye bread purchase.  We got past that awkward beginning (which included her asking me again if I had a rewards card and once I produced the damn thing, she slid it four times into the card pad before it registered) and she finally rang up my purchase.

“$3.14,” she said.

I looked at the register.

“No, it has to be more than that.  It’s a large rye.”

She poked more keys on her computer/register.

“$3.14,” was her response.

I told her that was not possible – three times – explaining why each time.  I knew that was the price for the small size.  She insisted it was the price.  She read off what she had keyed in.

I finally paid and left.  The register had won and there was nothing to be done about it except make toast.

Some days later, I needed to return a pair of shoes to a shoe store at our local mall.  I had paid $29.99 for them.  I couldn’t find the slip, but I knew what I paid, the tags were all there, I knew I’d just get a store credit, which would be fine, and shoebox in hand, I went there.

Twenty minutes of conversation later, including a phone call to her store manager, and much arguing from me, the cashier had credited my credit card with the full amount of the purchase.  That all sounds fine, except – I had told her many times –I’d been given a 10% AAA discount when I purchased the shoes.

“I know,” she said, “but I have to credit you the full amount.”

“But I didn’t pay that much,” I insisted.

“My manager said I have to put the whole amount onto your card.”

I couldn’t believe this.

“But you’re giving me more back than I paid!” I could feel my voice rising.  “You’re getting cheated.”  All because of that stupid machine that doesn’t allow for human brain function any more, I thought.

“I know.”

Again, I tried to make sure she understood the concept.  The concept of an error.  In my favor.  Which I didn’t feel good about.  Which she couldn’t do anything about.  Again, she explained to me that this was (electronically) the only way it could work.

I am definitely buying a lottery ticket today.

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