Monday, June 30, 2014

Those good old fashioned days

It looks bigger when you're 6,
and it's the 60's.
Lately I've been posting images of places in my memory of my yout' on FB as cover images or 'my' picture.  Why?  Simply put - it's gotten to the point in life where there are a whole lot more memories in the rearview mirror than might be made through the windshield, and I want to honor some of them by going through the heroic measures of posting a crappy picture on FB, with no explanation.


This started with an old-timey cover picture of the beach at the lake where my folks took us for vacation several summers when we lived in NY. Scott's Oquaga Lake House, was awesome and the best place ever, as far as my lil' self was concerned.  There was a kids' camp so Mom and Dad could go do adult things during the day like waterski and canoodle, there was a 'Show Boat' that would putter around the lake at night with the on-board band (!) playing Your Favorite Tunes from the 30's and 40's to which you could sing and were encouraged to do so, there were shows on the main hall stage with singers and dancers and occasionally the Scott family putting their best feet forward (they owned the resort where we stayed).  There was plenty of sun n' fun, even if a child might be laid low with swimmer's ear and be in Big Pain for part of the trip.  Good memories, there.  I recommend that sort of vacation for folks with younger kids, and hope all-inclusive places like that do still exist.

In 1976, or right about the time
I started band camping there.
Today sees the advent of a new cover pic, this time of another resort (how tres snobby!) at which our high school used to hold band camp and which is now an Episcopalian retreat - Orkney Springs.  When we were going there to learn about all things 8-to-the-5 and ankle-to-knee, much of the grand old building (behind the cabins in this pic) was in serious disrepair, and if memory serves had 'condemned' signs on doors leading to the extra-scary bits.  Very exciting.  Also exciting was getting smashed in the face with a shaving cream-loaded pie plate my freshman year by a Rather Handsome junior (so mature!), which was, I suppose, the entirety of the hazing we were forced to undergo (ignore the hours and hours of ankle-to-knee, that was conditioning!).  We slept in terrible unairconditioned cottages (^) on rickety metal-frame beds, we ate together, marched together, learned show music together, and then at night because we were young and our director was certifiable from the heat, we practiced concert music together to prepare for the week-ending sit-down concert that was normally very well attended by family, friends, and townies alike.  More great memories.

All this was so long ago, those memories are almost all in black and white.  :)

It's my intent to chronicle this kind of stuff, because there is the potential for so much more to come, so much good to look back on, and so much that I KNOW I've forgotten or didn't fully appreciate at the time or remembered wrongly and need the help of people who lived it with me so I get it right.  Some I can't even provide pictures of, because how can I present a photo of me and Jeannie screaming our heads off in my car pretending to be Frank Langella's new vampire victim while riding to....McDonald's?  Or dancing with Libby in the driveway to our undoubtedly grand vocal rendition of the Cantina Bar theme song from Star Wars (at 14 years old, this was waaay crazy fun)?  Or hanging out behind Dingledine Residence Hall with the suitemates at the first breath of Spring, in our bikinis, slathered with baby oil, hoping to catch some rays and a glimpse of the varsity baseball team on their way to the practice field?  Making out with a boy in the basement of the not-yet-completed new library on campus?  Lots of stuff to unpack and examine, a real narcissistic pursuit that I'm undertaking for the good of the Younger Generations who can't remember a time of leaded gas, leisure suits, and land lines.

So, this blog may turn into a memoir.  Please feel free to chide me if it gets too boring.  Or hey, send me a random picture and I'll invent a memory to go with it - because creativity ain't nothin' unless you use it to confuse and bamboozle!

Until then, Tiff out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An admirable man

Father’s Day has come and gone once more, and while my own Dad has been gone over 22 years now, I still take some time to reflect and thank him for the positive impact he had on my life and the lives of so many others.

It’s a tremendous shame that he never met most of his grandchildren, and in fact passed away only a few months after his older grandchild was born.  He didn’t get to know the other 3 grandsons and two granddaughters, which is a huge loss for them because I know he would have significantly enriched their lives.  When a hardworking, funny inventive, kind, smart, talented, humble, loving man is in the lives of children, it’s such a bonus for them.

Yes, all these years later, I miss him.

Fortunately for me, the Biffster is also such a man, for which I am truly genuinely grateful.  Day after day he demonstrates humor, integrity, intelligence, perseverance, and patience that’s sometimes beyond fathom (I can be rather a jerk and/or irresponsible from time to time, for example).  He is generous with his time and talents, a natural leader, adventurous and energetic, open to change.  Life with him is amazing and rich, full, joyous, and rewarding.

It’s good to have that kind of person around in life, the big bonus for me is being married to one. 

It's therefore not hard to see why I wish my Dad could have met him in life, certainly there would have been a strong bond between men of such worth and wit.  Ah well, something to look forward to in the next life, right?


Once again, I will be travelling north this next weekend with The Admirable Man to do some more work on Oldfriend’s kitchen reno.  There are boxes of cabinets aplenty in her dining room that need to be 1) emptied, then 2) the contents hung on the walls or attached otherwise to nonmoving surfaces.  Exciting stuff, and more exciting because in general the cabinet install means the messiest work is officially in the rear-view mirror with the road to a sparkly new kitchen wide open with no traffic ahead.  We shall make it so, and continue the transformation of her home into the space of her dream (to the extent possible given the size of her bank account!).


And in case you might be wondering, people still don’t know how to modulate their voices in the workplace.  Holy cats – try yelling louder about your new study designs/ interpersonal greetings/ meeting plans/ baby’s bowel habits, maybe the people on the next floor up want to hear too!

Time to slap on the headphones and pretend to be in training, it would appear.  Either that or sequester myself in some small meeting room tucked away in the windowless center of the building until such time as it’s seemly to escape to the confines of a van that’s been parked in a blacktop parking lots in the 95F-degree heat for 8+ hours.  Mmmm, lip sweat, here I come!

Tiff out.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Head to head and home alone

As previously mentioned, we’ve attended a couple of top-notch comedy shows in the past couple of weeks.  Both were fantastic in their own way, but because the styles of Eddie Izzard and Mike Birbiglia are so different there’s really no way to compare them.  Eddie Izzard is big on history and imaginative storytelling, Mike Birbiglia is big on self-deprecating real-life humor and snappy jokes.  On the LOL scale, Mike wins, on the broad sweep and chicken jokes, Eddie gets it.  Bottom line: I’m pleased with the money we spent on each show and am happy to have gone.  Makes me wonder what great talent is out there struggling to ‘make it’ as there two guys have.  Surely there’s a gem waiting to be found on the local scene, right?

Now I need Kathleen Madigan to come to town.  That would be a serious comedy trifecta!


The MB show was on Saturday, which was also my birthday.  I had felt a little guilty about not getting tickets for the Things to come along with, but as it turns out they each had their own social things to do that night so it all worked out.  Thing 1 was hanging out with his HS buddy down Cary way, Thing 2 hung out with his group of friends locally.  It was a fabulous coincidence, really, and we were back in town right about on time to get the younger kiddo (movie/game night normally wraps up at about 11 p.m.).  Way better than just leaving them at home to stare at the small screens and irradiate their retinas (even more).


Along those lines, A Famous Blogger recently asked his readership if it’s reasonable to leave two teen fellows aged 18 and 16 at home by themselves for a few days while the ‘rents go out of town.  The general consensus was 'NO WAY, ARE YOU CRAZY?,'  but I was not in that majority.  To be honest, 3 years ago I would have been riding that train, but now I’m not at all convinced that it’s a dangerous idea.  A LOT can happen with teenagers in a short period of time, and I’ve seen our guys mature so much in the last 2-3 years that I would have minimal hesitation leaving them alone for a weekend.  OK, so that MAY be because the Things are pretty well adjusted and have been in minimal to no trouble, ever, so it’s easier to think “it's possible” than if they’d been hellions since birth.  We could probably throw some pizza money on the table and leave on a Friday reasonably sure they’ll still be alive on Sunday.

Some of my attitude is helped by what my ex-SIL did with her kids last fall when her Mom passed away and she and her husband both went to SC to attend to “things,” that I thought was pretty bold.  She just up and left the kids at home.  Boom, done.  Nobody there to stare over their shoulders, and, shock and surprise, nobody was seriously injured.  At the time they were 18 and 14, so any trepidation I might have at leaving kids of 18 and 17 isn’t really warranted.  Gotta trust they won’t catch a sudden case of Moron and will generally make the right decisions.

I’ll let you know how it goes if I ever decide to take that rash step.  ;)


Oh, and in completely unrelated new that's designed to make you happy for me, not only was there shrimp salad (Woot!) on the salad bar here at work today, but they’re also giving away free peach and/or cherry cobbler in the cafĂ© downstairs.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to come on-site instead of staying at home, hunched over the laptop, staring into the middle distance between trips to the refrigerator.

Best wishes for a day of shrimp salad and free desserts to all of you – Tiff out.