Rules of the Road

bus in the rearview mirror

Driving north on Washington Avenue in my hometown yesterday I heard, before I saw, the fire trucks headed my way.  As the line of cars ahead of me began to slow and move to the right the first truck came around the corner, screaming sirens, lights flashing and here comes someone alongside me on the left trying to pass.  The fire truck had to swerve a bit and hit its horn, if you thought the siren was loud this horn made it perfectly clear he should get the hell out of the way.  I don’t know what came over me, perhaps it was the thoughts of my Father on this anniversary of losing him nine years ago, perhaps it was the stupidity of this jackass but I couldn’t help launch into a blistering tirade on the rules of the road.  From the confines of my car I wanted to know who the hell this stupid bastard (a favorite expression of my father’s for use in cases just like this) thought he was putting these people, who were volunteering to race into a burning building, in danger.   As I started my tirade the next truck came toward us and this guy must have caught on and jumped in front of me and slowed down a bit.  On I went with my tirade, making it perfectly clear that under no circumstance should you ever put these people in danger and that you should summon up all the respect you can for the people doing this job for no pay both on and off the road. I was pretty animated. The man in the car ahead of me thought he understood why I was carrying on and offered that I go ahead of him.  I assured him he could go and it had nothing to do with him cutting in front of me.  I would rather he be in front of me.  My father always pointed out that people like him, before we had any understanding of Karma, were accidents waiting to happen and it would be best if you could see them when they made their last wrong move. Then you could react and avoid being caught up in their bullshit (he was a fan of that word too).

These were my Father’s words but certainly not at this decibel (ever) or with this ferocity (ever).  When teaching me to yield to emergency vehicles he simply stated that he never wanted to hear that I got pulled over for not doing so.  There was no drama, just the facts of a small town where you might get pulled over, you might not get a ticket, but your family would surely hear about it at some point. Probably at the bar over a beer shared after work one day. Life in a small town for a daughter, of a Father that everyone knew, that was a bit “high-spirited” could be a little precarious.  He knew what he was up against.

These were just the unwritten rules of his road.  They were written somewhere I’m sure but for me they were his.  My Father drove for our local dry cleaner for 40 something years and when he had spare time he went for a ride.  He loved to drive.  When he could no longer drive, I had the unfortunate business of taking his beloved license from him; he loved to be taken for a ride.  He knew all our local roads and he taught us any number of unwritten rules, like always know several ways to get home, pull as far to whichever side you are turning so the guy behind you can get around you, always use your signal, and never use your horn.  If you can yield to a delivery man you’ll make his life easier.  To this day I let the “working people” go ahead of me.  Never be the last person through the one lane anything, hang back let the other side go. Be that person that enjoys the road and leave the hysterics to the other guy.

I’m sure the unwritten rules he gave me were different from the ones he gave my sister.  I remember him getting in the car with me for the first time and saying where should we go.  It wasn’t like he didn’t know I had already been driving for several years.  Someone always had a car and I learned what I could from them.  I could do a mean jack rabbit with my friend Paul’s 62 Falcon with the shift on the column…but I digress.  My sister always talks about some double line rule that will always take you home.  I never had that particular discussion with my Father, we each had hand tailored discussions based on our personalities and our age difference.

I get my love of driving from him, I drive wherever I can and these days he would be over the moon to see what I’m driving.  I know like I know I can get home from anywhere and made it my business to put the girls in the car and explore my new neighborhood as soon as I could.

I’m glad he wasn’t around to see the advent of texting while driving, or putting makeup on while driving or the ever present road rage.  He used to drive during the day and be surrounded by “housewives and money hungry salesmen”.

He used to say that the best he could hope for on a busy day is that the school bus would be in the rearview mirror.  Yeah, that’s still true for me too. And yeah, his driving lessons, his driving legacy are secure, how often I wish others knew and followed them. Miss you.





English translation from Italian, lunacy.  So apparently I wasn’t the only one believing that this was a bad moon but is there really any such thing?  Does the full moon really have the mystical power to induce lunacy?  Does the state of “moonstruck” trigger erratic behavior, increase drunkenness, traffic accidents, homicides (ok I stopped short of homicide) and arrests (no bail money was needed this time)?   Why else would police departments, emergency rooms and suicide hot lines add personnel to cope with the “heightened incidents”?

Believe it or not the jury is still out on the validity of lunacy, originally referring to insanity of an intermittent kind attributed to changes of the moon.  There are, of course, several theories; the most widely held has to do with the effect of the full moon on water.  Miami psychiatrist, Arnold Lieber, “the full moon’s supposed effects on behavior arise from its influence on water. The human body, after all, is about 80 percent water, so perhaps the moon works its mischievous magic by somehow disrupting the alignment of water molecules in the nervous system.”  Not many in the scientific community are buying it, seems the gravitational effects of the moon are tiny tiny tiny. And the water that is affected by the moon is open water, and the effects are the same for the new moon, which we can’t even see.


More and more studies are not endorsing the lunacy theories of the ages.  More and more studies are pointing toward….urban legend.  Hollywood has helped with the legend part of it, nothing short of a full moon will do as the music rises and the scream is imminent.  Please.

One of the more interesting theories was raised by Charles L. Raison, Emory University. He seemed to think that the effect may have been genuine at one time; before the advent of outdoor lighting the bright light of the full moon deprived people who were living outside of sleep.  Ok, I have never lived outside but I can assure you no amount of black out blinds, drapes can prevent the full moon from seeping into my bedroom at night.  This theory I can work with.

Whatever your beliefs the full moon does…something.  I’m not sure what but I know like I know that the end of last week brought me to a table in a little dive bar with four other women who, unprovoked (except that they read my post last week) sat down hard and said this was a bad moon.

Each had a story of crazy customers, spouses, children and they were sticking to it.  That said, I can’t think of a better way to end a full moon week than with these women.  The laugher and stories just kept coming.  Our only similarity is that we work in the same business, we are each  very different people but together we made an otherwise difficult week manageable.  I hadn’t laughed all week and here I hadn’t stopped.

One of these wonderful women caught my eye and said, you did this.  You got us here.  What a wonderful compliment.  There was a moment just after that when I felt as if I was out of body, the background noise faded away and as I looked around the table at these women, who each had their own life rant going on, I knew (like I knew) that this week was truly done.  I believe they knew it to.  It’s no wonder we vow to do this each month, so no one gets hurt including each of us.


Full Moon Rant

2013-12-18 Good Morning from Stowe Lane (2)

“The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendor to all those willing to look up.” ― Irina Serban 


I seem to be living on the corner of “What do you think?” and “What do you want to hear?”  It’s a pretty damn busy street when venting and excuses make their way into the same conversation over and over and over again and you no longer know how to respond.  Should you ask, are you venting or do you want me to respond? Or should you just assume the person is venting and shut your mouth, wait for the what do you think at the big exhale or the end of the email that says, “Your thoughts?”  So do you want my thoughts or is that just a way of getting me to bite.  Because I’ll bite…



God knows I can spew off a good rant given the right circumstances and most people find it amusing but they know when I get to the end of it it’s over, it’s out of my system and I can move along to the things that give me strength, balance, and dare I say it, joy.  But there are others who can spew the same rant over and over and over, are you sensing a theme here?  What’s the sense of ranting, venting, bitching, whatever your favorite term for it, if it brings you no relief.  If you don’t come to any conclusions at the end of it, if you don’t see a plan or even an inkling of a plan what good is going over it again.  If you’re going to get something out of your system then get it the hell out.  My guess is if you’re living the definition of insanity then you’re not really venting but asking for an opinion.  Or another opinion since you’ve probably been given opinions (your thoughts?) before.  Or you like the sound of your own voice lamenting your situation.  Or you’re making excuses that are probably fueled by fear the destroyer of all things creative and confidence driven. excuse


I especially love the part that says I don’t understand.  Ok, maybe I don’t but it’s not like I’ve been living alongside the enchanted forest for my whole life.  Most of my life I was stuck in a job that was extremely high stress, mostly brought on by my setting martyr precedence I later realized I didn’t want to live with at the same time himself was losing
his mind and collecting ATM receipts for 200.00 at a time on a daily basis.  Yeah I think I know a thing or two about high level stress and what we do to ourselves under the guise of fear and the unknown.  So stamp your feet if you want… all you want, but know that you have to actually do something to make it stop.

I know I’m that person that wants to fix everything and everybody and it takes an enormous amount of effort for me to hold back so forgive me that and just say it out loud: I’m venting, you just need to listen.  I’m good with that it helps me.  But don’t tell me your just venting and then set an expectation to it, I get confused.  You can’t have it both ways…you can’t live on the corner of “I’m going to piss and moan again about the same thing” and “Oh yeah I’m not going to do anything about it and get mad at you when you remind me of a few things I might try (again)”  What????

So for all you little darlings (and you do know who you all are) that had varying degrees of shit fits this week I’m blaming it on the moon.  It’s full and it seems to me it’s getting fuller all the time and hardly waning…ever.  I’m begging you to make up your mind.  You’ve put me in that position of wise woman and then you slap me for pointing out the obvious, really?  I’m breaking my own precedent, I no long want to live in a perpetual full moon, I am not that wise woman I am simply going to follow your lead.  I know like I know that the only corner I want to live on is Stowe Lane and Enchanted Forest. Whew, I feel much better.


Time Passages

“I avoid looking at the clock, fearing the slow passing of time that will only seem slower if I watch its progress.” Michelle Zink

Except for today, of course.  I know you think this is going to be my annual “I want my hour back” rant but not so much this year.  I have to say there were a few very profound happenings this week that seemed to wake (yeah I know) my ass up.

First and foremost my dear friend Paul sent a wonderful email (after attending a school presentation by his daughter Greta) entitled The Secret of Time:

Today the 4th grade classes at Race Brook School presented their research and enactments of famous people in history.  Our Greta was Betsy Ross, and aside from the great job she did on her research and memorizing her speech, she personified the most famous flag maker from Philadelphia perfectly.  She even answered questions about Betsy in first person, and was very proud by how impressed everyone was with the flag that she had sewn on her very own “real” sewing machine that she got for Christmas.

 Greta As Bestsy Ross

Most of all she tested Dad’s ability to keep smiling and not succumb to the urge to burst into tears.  There’s a very fine line between being happy to be alive, and becoming overwhelmed by the realization of riches that have been bestowed upon us, and just how precious each day is.

Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.  James Taylor

Somehow Paul always has something happening with his family in March.  It’s a time I walk softly and carefully and sensitively lest I fall on my knees from missing my Father.  He’s gone nine years already. Already? See what I mean about the passage of time.  Anyway, each March my friend Paul elaborates on something that he is doing to cement his legacy to his family.  More so, I see him creating “father’s daughters” and I couldn’t be happier.  For them and for him.  It gives me strength to watch a Father bring everlasting memories to the children in his life.  I remain in awe of him.  And I appreciate his sharing me right through the end of March.


To add to the family theme I was honored to attend my dear friend Cookie’s grandchild’s baby shower.  Baby Cook.  So, of course, I did what I do in all matters Cookie, I hid behind the camera for fear of becoming a whimpering nut to capture the day and regret that he was not a physical part of it.  It was beautiful, she is beautiful, they will carry on the family name in some way (the baby’s sex is a surprise!) with notions of Cookie in the back of their minds.  This is the most validating indication of the passage of time, it’s natural and beautiful and fulfilling for legacies both past and present.

Later Muriel and I actually howled telling stories of when they were all kids and how her Father’s memory lives on and on and on.  Ironically it was a story of a family tree.  Truth, my friends, remains stranger (and a helluva lot funnier) than fiction.

So this morning I awoke missing an hour.  I walked the girls, made my coffee and treated myself kindly.  I didn’t piss and moan once about losing my hour.  Nicely my sister (who has lived with the rant far longer than anyone) brought me a wonderful gift of lox for my Sunday bagel and it was a delicious treat.  I’ll never get this particular hour back, but I must say after this very long, very cold, very snowy winter I am thrilled to be writing this with sun still shining and Spring on the way.


No, I won’t get this hour back but I will get an hour back.  What a gift to look forward to:

Time does not pass, it continues”   Marty Rubin







Five Hours Later…

DSC_3279Hospitality is about…the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to the ordinary events of life…Dorothy Kelley Patterson

I am so blessed to have friends scattered throughout my “territory”.  Whenever I travel for business there is no better way to shake off the day than to be welcomed home to somewhere where a friend lives.  It starts with the smell of something amazing on the stove, a hug, an “I love you”, a glass of wine and a seat at the table.

When the catching up begins all the usual conversation ensues, the talk of work, their former work, the talk of fond memories of former colleagues, of grudges still held, the usual gossip and the grapevine’s latest rumors.  All of which are just a prelude to the amazing thing on the stove finally coming to the table.


My friend George is becoming quite the chef, not cook, chef.  He is developing a honed love of the process, the curiosity and palate required to cook with abandon.  He hasn’t moved off the recipe book yet but he is ever so close.  I’m pretty sure his specialty will become comfort food.  He speaks those words as if they were a gift to him from above.  From what I can see, smell and taste he is but a moment away from being a dedicated resource for my future questions on the matter.

The menu was simple on the surface, braised beef short ribs, creamy mashed potatoes, and steamed green beans.  Beneath the surface was the complexity of seasoning, the brown of the fond and the hours required to bring perfection.  It was an amazing meal which led us on to the subject of our favorite meal ever.  You won’t be surprised to know that I have a list…just sayin.


My favorite meal ever was a fresh pork roast, butchered that morning on a farm in Ohio.  I was the guest of a business client I was visiting several decades ago, their kindness in my being far from home wasn’t just touching but so genuine.  I truly believe they had a part in developing my joy and willingness to open my home and cook for anyone who walks in the door.

The pork roast was accompanied by roasted carrots and potatoes pulled from the ground that same morning and cooked in the roasting pan with the pork.  That’s it.  I could not stop eating.  It was the most delicious meal I have ever had to this day and I’m sure they are still talking about the city girl that acted as if she had never eaten before.  At that moment I realized I really hadn’t ever eaten before, certainly not food like that.

As my friends shared their favorite meals I came to realize it isn’t just about the food.  Each of our stories had a story.  The meals were delicious certainly but it also had much to do with the company, the circumstances, the locations, the feelings that went along with the meal like a very special sauce.  I’m sure if anyone of us had the opportunity to smell that meal again we would be flooded with the nostalgia of those moments, not just that meal itself.

And so I’m adding George’s now famous beef short ribs, mashed potatoes and green beans, served with a wonderful Malbec (similar to the one used in the sauce) to my list of favorite meals.  In addition to the wonderful comfort it brought it was shared with friends I love, in a warm and eclectic home that has been collected over time, at what I hope is the end of an extremely long and very frigid winter.  

“Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.”             Charles Pierre Monselet