Monday, July 19, 2010

Laughter Through Tears

"Hey, Grampa."

I still talk to him, even though its been 6 years since he passed away.

I usually find myself talking to him when I see a Cardinal in my backyard. Or when I find myself turning the furnace down during the day, even during the coldest of days. Or when I'm at the Credit Union and I decide to withdraw ONLY what I need, not twenty bucks more. Or when I see the surplus of Anti-Freeze that is in our garage...

I talk to his picture and ask him for help...I think of him whenever I'm putting gas in my car, wondering if I had gone a couple of miles down the road, would it have been cheaper?

My Grandfather passed away very unexpectedly 6 years ago. He was getting ready for church, and just like that, he was gone.

I got the call that hot Saturday afternoon, and remember every second about the moments and days that followed.

It was chaotic~my parents were vacationing out west somewhere~My Grandmother and Uncle and Sister and Cousins and I were trying like mad to contact my Mom. Arrangements had to be made. I remember HATING the word "arrangements." Arrangements for the services. Arrangements for the luncheon. Flower arrangements.


I think they are put in place so that people who would normally be falling apart are forced to think somewhat straight and focus on details, so as not to think about the loss.

I remember being at the florist and when the lady asked me what I wanted the ribbon to say, I replied:

"How about...'THIS SUCKS.'

That's what I felt. That is what I wanted on the ribbon.

She looked at me, confused and sad. I felt a little bad for her, but I felt worse for me.

I settled on some lovely message and moved on.

I am writing this with some very special people in mind, and because~

It has been on my mind, since every year at this time, my whole family remembers him.

AND, knowing many of my friends are experiencing loss right now, I wanted to share some funny moments that occurred during my own time of sadness. One of my favorite quotes is from the movie "Steel Magnolias~"

"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion."

Like I mentioned, my Mom and Dad were away when my Grampa, Tony Luciano, passed away. No one saw it coming~and my Sis and Cousins and I were there to make necessary arrangements~

So obviously, we were all exhausted. It's the kind of exhaustion that you can't even really explain. Not really sleepy tired, but more like numb.

And I had a headache that got worse by the second. Stress does it to me every time.

So at one point, I finally found some Tylenol in someones house~my Mom's, Julie's, my Sister's...who knows? But I remember taking 3...or 4?


My sister and I were driving to Augusta to find a dress for my Grammy~for the services.

I was driving...I didn't feel great...and I was feeling so incredibly headache was gone! Thank Goodness!

I suddenly realized that I was getting so sleepy! Like I could not keep my eyes open ANY longer. I said to my sister, "Kate...what is WRONG with me? I am so tired all of a sudden!"

We were both thinking, "it's just all catching up..."

"At least my headache is gone...I finally took some Tylenol..."

She got a strange look on her face..."WHAT Tylenol?"

"It was on the counter..."


"Oh My God! I took, like, FOUR!"

I just about drove off the road. She was laughing...I felt like I had just sucked down 10 Margaritas...

That was one of those moments that we look back on now and laugh...

That afternoon, we FINALLY got in touch with my Mom and Dad, and ARRANGEMENTS were being made to fly them home, and pick them up from the airport.

The closest and quickest flight would only get them to Manchester, New Hampshire. About 3 hours away from us...and there were complications. I can't remember ALL of the complications, but they were there. Complications that complicated every complicated travel plan we came up with. They were with friends. Their cars were in Portland...We needed two vehicles to get to them...Their flight wasn't getting in until midnight...And so on...and so on...

So it was decided that I would drive down to Portland with my wonderful, down-to-earth cousin Bryan. We would pick up the car in Portland, and continue on to Manchester to pick up my parents and their 4 friends(or was it 6)?


Thank goodness for cell phones...Bryan and I actually had a good time talking and catching up, crying together, but laughing together, too. Grampa left us with so much to remember.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for the "Largest-Most-Caffeinated-Whatever" they had to counter the Tylenol PM that left me hungover but still headache-less..

But THAT caused ANOTHER problem...

Oh, yeah.

By the time we reached the state line, I had to PEE.

Not just a little.


Damned coffee.

I called Bryan who was now following me in the other car.

"Bryan. I have GOT to STOP SOMEWHEEEEEEERE!!!!!"

But the highway stretched on forever. And we were on a schedule.

How we didn't get pulled over is beyond me...I guess Grampa had already started looking out for us.

I was sweating bullets by the time we flew through the toll booth in New Hampshire.

There was nothing I could do.

I pulled into the commuter lot, Dukes of Hazard style, with my poor, kind of shy cousin right behind me.

I peed my pants.

I could not have cared less. Bryan is still traumatized to this day.

My two different colored flip-flops were soaked.


Thankfully, there was a blanket or something that I finagled a big diaper out of and went on my way.

That's how I showed up to pick up my parents at the airport.

In a diaper and two wet flip-flops. One blue. One orange. THAT I remember.

It was the best thing that could have happened.

It was funny.

And we all needed to laugh.

Another situation occurring at the very same time was the fact that I had just met Chris. I had only known him for two weeks at the time, but he was right there for me and my family. Through it all. I knew I was going to marry him when I finally broke down and cried, and he just held me and didn't say a word. He took my son and niece for walks around the block when "arrangements" were being made. He held my hand tight in church before I did a reading. I said yes right away when he asked me to marry him soon after~I knew Grampa would approve.

We still miss him. Tony Luciano.

But boy, he left his family with so much!

Wonderful, funny memories. An un-matched work-ethic. An eye for a "bargain." The importance of saving money. Patriotism. Love of Family.

In the days that followed we learned so much about him. About his childhood. About his love of baseball. About the War. His friends. His family. That he saved every pair of shoes he had ever owned and stuffed them in a hall closet. And so, so much more.

We already knew how much he loved us. We know he knew how much we loved him. And still do.

It's easier now to recall. It does get easier.

The beauty of it all is that we, as a family, grew even closer. We got back together with friends and family we hadn't seen in years. We realized how wonderful our friends and community were.

We learned again how important it is to say, "I love you." And show it.

So, if you ever question whether or not to buy in bulk...just do it. Do it because Tony would have.

Especially Anti-Freeze.

Look for the lowest gas prices.

Root for your home team.

Sing "The Star Spangled Banner" with your hand on your heart.

Save your never know.

And laugh when something is funny. It's okay.

Love to you all that are grieving.

And Thanks, Grampa.

Friday, July 16, 2010

SSSSScared Out Of My Shorts


Dignified is not a word that I, or anyone else that knows me, use as an adjective to describe~me. (I know that this is not grammatically correct, but I am still traumatized). Just know that I have no problem sharing some of the details, as humiliating as they may be, because without these said details, I could not paint the entire picture of what life is really like here at Crazy Road. Read on~

This story is NOT for the weak of heart.

RB~you might want to get the 'depends.'

BOY, It's been one hot summer so far, hasn't it? I mean we have been in this heat wave for weeks now!

I'm NOT complaining~But with this heat has come some slightly unwelcome issues. Like the fact that my hair has not responded to product. It's unruly. And I am constantly shiny. Not the pretty, dewy shiny like the babettes in the Victoria's Secret catalogue, either. I'm talking downright sweaty. I know. I paint a gorgeous picture, right?

Also, we are trying unsuccessfully to keep our pool free of the yuckies.

Another issue has been the on-set of some creepy-crawly critters that even I have not seen here at the 'Road.

Yes, we have birds.

Yes, we have those squeeeby ear-pinchy thingers that seem to be everywhere.

And yes, the frogs are back in town.

Hence, the beginning of the actual story.

It happened yesterday.

I went out as usual to check on the status of the pool.

Frogs? Check.

Dog hair clumps? Check.

Any flip-flops or goggles at the bottom? Nope. Check and check.

There was still that NAGGING pile of whatever at the bottom and I decided that I was going after it. Clothes and all.

We have this vaccum-ish device that attaches to a garden hose and literally blows up leaves and stuff from the bottom of pools. It's a pain to set up, but if you really work it, it does the job.

So I hooked up the hose and the net and the handle and got right into the pool.

I got a few net-fulls and called it good.

I got out of the pool, obviously soaked.

So soaked that my shorts were doing that sagging, almost falling off thing that, why I have no idea, is the trend with some guys nowadays. I had to hold them up.

No matter, really. I was heading right in anyway.

I walked over to the "hose house" to crank in the hose. After all, I wouldn't want anyone tripping on it! Sheesh!

As I was cranking the hose, I felt it kind of stop...I couldn't really see it, but I could tell where it was probably caught.

I reached into the opening to jiggle the hose free...I've done it before...

I can barely type right now...

I grabbed the hose and felt something move...

I pulled my arm out along with AAAAAA SNAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKE!!!!!

^%$$ &%&*%

It actually started to COIL up my arm!!!

I started screaming and flinging my arm and jumping around and flung that thing as far as I could fling...not sure how far because I just ran-jumped-sprung-like-tigger-as-fast-as-a-person-who-just-grabbed-a-snake-moves in the WAAAY other direction.


And I jumped right out of my shorts in the process.

I was (and still am) so completely traumatized by this, I can barely write about it without my toes curling up.

I totally lost it.

I don't believe anyone saw me. Thank goodness my kids were in the house engrossed in something loud.

I used to wonder if I could scream. You know? REALLY scream. Like the girls that scream in the Friday the 13th movies? When you try, it just doesn't sound as loud and well, screamy.

Let me tell you~

I can scream.

And run.

I don't know why I ran...I'm sure that snake was probably just as startled as I was...

Thank goodness I got my bearings and realized I had no pants on before I ran all the way around the house.

But even if I hadn't...I really didn't care.

Holy #$%^.

There really is no moral to this story.

Only now you are more aware that snakes are in places where you might not's HOT for goodness sake. Check your hoses with a long stick, or metal rod, or whatever you have lying around.

If you live within a 20 mile radius of 145 Crazy Road...I'm fine. A little shaky. But fine.

So, I'll now add snakes to list of critters that bother me.

If anyone needs a good screamer~have your people call my people.

God Bless Crazy Road.

Now, where's my wine?

Thanks For Reading.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's A Small World, After All...

This may be one of those stories that you need to read, and re-read, and maybe read again.

I HAD to write about this because, although it might not be "HAHA FUNNY," It's something that happens to me more and more often...

When the universe, and the strangeness of it all, rears up and smacks you right in the fanny. Or, wherever you need to be smacked to get the idea...

So here I go...

Last week I had to stop up to my mom's house to pick up some things that I had left the day before...sunscreen, a pan, my flip-flops...items that weren't going to ruin my day if I didn't have them, but I had a quick chance to run over there, so I did. My parents, just in case you didn't know this, live in the same house I grew up in, a couple of blocks away from Crazy Road...

My best friend, Julie(Hi, Jul) still lives next door to them(!)
(She and her family live in the house that SHE grew up in...I's cozy)

Anyway, I darted into my Mom's, grabbed my loot and ran back out...

Julie was standing in her driveway...Naturally, I walked up to say hi. (Even though we talked on the phone earlier...we talk every day...we have since we were little kids...)

She was on the phone, talking with her hubby about buying an air conditioner.

"Okay. Yup. Great. No, go ahead and get the ten...Okay. Okay. Yup. Okay. Love you too..."


So we picked up from our earlier conversation...we had gone to the beach the day before, and still were hashing over the funny moments...


And this is where is got weird.

She had that very confused look on her face.

"Um...I really have no idea...Who is this again? I am? I really...I am standing with SOMEONE who might be able to help you..."

And she handed me the phone...

She still had that look of someone who might have landed in a foreign country with no idea how they got there...or something...


"Hi. This is 'Kim' from 'SoAndSuch Kennel,' I need to reach Jim Smith. There has been a little incident with his dog." (names changed, of course).

Okay. Follow closely...

Jim Smith is my former brother-in-law. Still a great friend of my family...but this lady had not called me, or my sister, or my parents...she called MY friend...ACCIDENTALLY, and I just HAPPENED to be right there!!!!!!!

"This is the number that 'Tina'(Jim' fiance, whom I have not met) left for an emergency number. Do you know how I can reach Jim or Tina?"

"Gosh...I can give you MY sister's number. She will know how to reach them..."

Now, Julie would not have been the right contact, she doesn't even know the whooooolllle call was a very fortunate coincidence.

The dog is fine, by the way.

Then, this past weekend, ANOTHER chance meeting occurred...

A couple of weeks ago, Jodi, one of the owners of Turner Publishing (and my friend) sent me a message to call "Patti." Patti is a friend of Jodi's who wanted to talk about advertising in our papers.

After a bit of phone tag, I finally spoke with Patti, and set up a meeting for next week. Nice.

So this past weekend, I grabbed the opportunity to go out to dinner with a couple of "girls" that I wouldn't ordinarily be able to see outside of work...with a little re-arranging, used to be so easy...I met up with Jodi and Tami for an impromptu dinner.

We were having a great time chatting and laughing when Jodi got a surprised look on her face~

"Hey! It's Patti!

Well, THAT's cool!

Patti walked over, Jodi introduced us...

"Hey! Isn't this something else?!"

"Love when this happens!"

"Oh!" Patti said. "Let me introduce you to my husband...'Eddie~'


Patti continued...

"You might know him by "Frenchie~he used to be on the rad...."

"OH MY GOODNESSSSSS!" I almost jumped off the chair...


Now everyone looked confused. And I MIIIIGHT have been a bit, um, hyper, after having a fantastic margarita...

"You are SUE's nephew!" I said to Eddie.

He looked stunned.

"I am Sue's niece! Uncle Mike is my mom's brother!!!!"(Sue married Mike)

I had always heard about "Frenchie" and his funny stories, but had not "met" him since my Aunt and Uncle's wedding more than 30 years ago.

My Aunt Sue is his Aunt, too, but on her side...Get it? My first cousins Scott and Bryan are HIS first cousins, too, on different sides.

Get it?

AND he's Patti's husband.

I might not care. But I LOVE stuff like this. Like the sandwich incident at the trade show. Like a million other times when you are in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time, and the Universe just lines everything up. And smacks you in the fanny.

It's how I met my husband...I'll get to that sooner or later.

Open your eyes. Listen to people. Talk to strangers.(well, not in dark alleys...or anything). The Universe is always waiting for a good smack.

Thanks For Reading.

Here's A Quickie

"Now that my feet are clean, I can lick 'em!"

Yes. Of course.

That was a quote from one of, and I'm not going to specify which one, my kids. Last night. After showers.


How do I respond to that? Sometimes I am just at a loss for words.

But I had to ask...

"Why do you want to lick your feet?"

"Because it makes (siblings) laugh."

"Oh. You know you really shouldn't lick your feet."

"Why? It's funny!"

"I suppose...but there are other ways to be funny, you know."

"Like what? What could be funnier than licking your own feet?"

Okay. It was Mackenzie. My beautiful, delicate, lovely little baby girl..

Forget it. It's true. That IS funny.

That is all for this one.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 2, 2010

How To Fling Your Froggie

They're back.

I knew it was going to happen sooner than later.

In fact, I am actually relieved. I hate the feelings of anticipation and anxiety, about something I'm not 100% sure will even happen. It's like the saying, "Worry is a wasted emotion." I have been psyching myself up for a few weeks now, but they have not come.

Finally. The froggies are back in the pool. Let the games begin.

So, like every summer so far here at Crazy Road, I, the fearless creature-catcher, am embarking on a 2 month, ongoing, nerve-wracking, heart-pounding, sweaty-handed battle with the Froggie Army.

And I do mean ARMY.

Because there are not just a few slimy slippies darting around...there.are.twenty...five...maybe thirty. And just when I think I have flung the last of 'em high and far over the fence, another shoots out from under a float. And my heart thunders once again. For there is really no rest for a frog-fearer like myself.

My husband asked the other day...why I don't actually SWIM in the pool. I SIT by it...I walk around it...I occasionally stick my feet in...but he's right. I rarely, if ever, swim.

I no longer view the pool as a summer oasis of refreshing fun, but rather a WAR ZONE. A battle-field, if you will.

This morning, although later than in past years, I armed myself with my trusty pool net, and waged what might just be, the trickiest, toughest fight yet.

It was rather cool this morning, I brought my coffee out, Casey excitedly trotting beside me...he knew they were there. He could smell 'em. At least, I think he could...I heard them before I saw them...splishy..little...blurbles...little effers.

I put my coffee down.

I took a deep, shaky breath.

I picked up the net. I did the Sign of the Cross and took my position at the side of the deep-end.

There's one. Two. Five at first count.

I quickly flip the inner-tube. Six!Seven! A-HA! I knew it!

I walk gingerly over to the other side.


Little bastards.

Two more in the skimmer.(My most difficult area to maneuver...I have to force them out against the current so that I can chase them down with the net. I leave that for last).

I form my plan of action. For I have learned not to go forth without a plan. And I am pretty sure they are expecting me.

You know that scene in "The Little Mermaid," when the cartoon froggies are swirling around together, singing?

That is what I believe they are doing, dancing around the bottom of my pool together, ribitting a mocking song about me...

I hate them.

They are certainly not fond of me.

I can hear the faint tune of Phil Collins in the back of my head..."I can hear it coming in the edge of night..." That is my battle hymn.





I re-group.

They've gained strength over the spring. They are ready.



Got him!

I level the net and shot-put him careening over the fence.

Casey barks and gallops across to chase him...he is thrilled!

I watch the little shooter squap away. Casey won't hurt him. He just wants to play a little bit. hee.hee.

This continues for another 1/2 hour. These little suckers are quick!

But I hit my stride and one by one, about 15 ribbiters took the flight of a lifetime.

By the way~this is not done easily by me. I have been terrified of frogs and/or toads(is there really a difference?) my whole life. If you have not read "Frog Days of Summer, please refer. My heart literally pounds harder than ever during these battles, and I sweat and curse and scream at them...I banish my kids to the house, but they appear in the window...noses pressed against the glass...they have no idea what their crazy Viking of a Mama is doing. If you have seen the movie, "How to Train A Dragon," I am like Stoic, the Viking leader, and someday, my children will continue the fight. I want them to learn. For it won't be long before they will wield the very same pool net that I clutch in my hands. Every.Stinkin'.Day.

I wipe the sweat from my brow.

I swill the last of my java.

I head for the dreaded skimmer.

I lift the lid (so nerve-wracking).

Now there are THREE?!?

Jesus. Did they have a froggie baby while I was clearing out the rest?

I have discovered that using one of the kids sand shovels is a quicker way to push them out of the swirling skimmah. It's still not easy. They know their fate. And Frogs Fight To The Finish.

The trick part is shovelling them out while holding onto the pool net.

I can't put it down, for that would waste precious seconds. Skimmer frogs are dis-oriented when they are forced from the confines of the swirl...sort of like when we were kids and hopped off the merry-go-round on the playground.

You have to move quickly and take advantage of them in their state of dizziness.

Two go easily.

Scoop. FLING!
Scoop. FLING!

That leaves ONE.

(The drum-part of the song is playing in my head now).

I let him shoot around for a second while I make one more trip around. I see no more.

I grip the shovel.

I look into the froggie eyes.

I am breathless.

"OUT!" I scream like a ban-shee.

He shoots out.
He tries to floogie down to the bottom.
I adjust the length of the pole.
I swoop him from behind.
IN THE NET!!!!!!!!


Casey is a happy-frog-chasin' dog.

The kids are cheering!

I smile and shake my head. Another good fight. I don't like ya, froggies. But I do respect you.

Sianara Froggers.

See you little crap-weasels tomorrow.


Thanks For Reading.