Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Of Checks and Dignity ...

OK, so it has now been 4 months since the flood adjuster came to evaluate the damage to our house from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, and so far ... no check.

Wait, that isn't entirely true.  We did get an advance and a loan from the credit union, with which we were able to purchase a furnace.  Now we have an installation bill hanging over us (underlined and highlighted in blue this month, to serve as a delightful reminder that my credit score is plummeting with each overdue bill). 

I call the insurance agency a couple times a week, and I stop by whenever I go to Sidney for the mail.  They can only tell me that there has been some movement, and that checks are beginning to be issued (I hate the grammar of that sentence, but I tried it a couple other ways, and they turned out equally yucky if not worse) Sorry for the digression ...

This evening I emailed my assemblyman to complain about the insurance company and the unfairness of the whole situation.  I figure I've kicked this donkey everywhere else, now I'm going to kick it in the ass (no offense intended to Assemblyman Lopez) to see if it moves.


The part that bothers me the most about this situation is not the fact that we aren't back in our home.  It isn't that I'm afraid the house won't be repaired, or even the amount of time it is taking.  

What bothers me is that, every time someone makes a point of telling me what I should be doing, or that I'm not doing enough, or that So-And-So got HIS check 2 months ago ... I feel a little "less." Less of a husband and father, less competent, less courageous, less ... just "less." 

I probably shouldn't feel that way, because I know what I have been doing to remedy the situation.  I'm trying REAL hard to be brave and to not bother others with my misfortune,  you know, go about my business and leave the rest to God. 

... Later!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nana's Noodles

I decided to write down some memories from my childhood before I forget them.  I want a record of the events that happened during my life, so that my children will be able to piece together a history of their old man and his somewhat eclectic past.

This story is about my grandmother on my father's side.

Nana made noodles.  Egg noodles, to be precise.  She would announce, seemingly to the entire world, that she would be making noodles this week.  Then she would be incommunicado until the project was completed.

I remember walking into her house one time in the midst of "noodle week."  Her dining room table, kitchen table, coffee table, kitchen counters, and several folding game tables were covered with linen towels, top with noodles that were dusted with flour, in various stages of the drying process.  Nana was busy in the kitchen, placing noodles in paper lunch bags, then folding the top of the bags and stapling them closed.  On each bag she used a black crayon to write the person's name and the number of bags that person was to receive.

She sold each bag of noodles for half a dollar.  Of course, our noodles were free, as were those for her close friends.  She made a fabulous egg noodle - not too thick, not too thin - and we knew, without a doubt, that Mom would be making her signature beef noodle soup with Nana's homemade noodles.

I never really thought about the fact that Nana would sell her noodles by the bagful.  As a kid, I figured that she just loved to make noodles.  It wasn't until later that I realized that she was selling them to earn extra cash for things like, oh, Christmas presents, birthday presents, a new stove? 

You see, the endowment my grandfather left her was enough to keep her well into her retirement years.  But Nana lived far longer than that, longer than the money in her annuities.  She was resourceful and strong, and knew how to make ends meet, even into her 80's.  She never wanted to depend on anyone for her financial upkeep, and never wanted to be indebted to anyone.  She was a cool old lady.

They were great noodles.


Friday, January 6, 2012

My Hero: April 28, 1930 - January 6, 2011

My hero went to Heaven one year ago today.  It seems like it was just yesterday in some ways, and like a distant memory in others.  For those of you who knew my father, you know what an honest, kind, gentle man he was.  You also know his highly evolved, warped sense of humor. He was the best Dad ever. 

For those of you who didn’t know him very well or not at all, here is a small glimpse of the man ….

  • He knew which restaurants had broccoli soup on any given day, and he knew how much it cost.
  • Dunkin donuts - A glazed donut and a cup of coffee.  Every morning.  And a dozen assorted for the family on Sunday morning.
  • “Horse Shit.”  It was his favorite thing to say when he disagreed with someone.
  • He loved Victoria’s butter creams (milk chocolate, not dark), and those little bags of cheese waffles.  He kept a secret stash of them in his desk drawer at the office. 
  • When in doubt, “throw a tarp over it.”
  • He cleaned the kitchen whenever he was upset.
  • He shopped for groceries every day.  Alone.  He once told me it helped him clear his head.
  • He took Taffy (our Collie-Irish Setter mix) for a walk every night.  After Taffy died, he still went for the same walk, almost every night.
  • He loved canned peaches and spaghettios.
  • Wednesday was auction day, come hell or high water.
  • He didn’t have it easy in the business world.  Because of some decisions that were made before he inherited the business, Dad spent a lot of energy and cash making good on those decisions while other insurance agents were raking in wads of money.  In the 12 years that I worked for him, I saw first-hand the way a misguided decision could affect future generations.  Enough said.
  • Many days he was so busy with his paperwork that he would forget to inhale his cigarette. There it was (Camel- no filter), hanging from his lip with at least two inches of ash on the end of it.
  • He made sure the family vehicles were full of gas, and that they were parked in the most convenient spot, according to the times everyone had to leave the house in the morning.
  • He could take a sheet of plywood and a can of pink paint, and turn it into the cutest play oven you’ve ever seen.
  • He had a highly evolved (and somewhat twisted) sense of humor, and could make anyone feel good, just by being near him.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  He was the most generous, kind, gentle man I ever knew.  It is my deep desire to live up to his example, and to impart his legacy of kindness and generosity to my children. 

I miss you, Dad.  Save a place for me.  See you later!!