Category Archives: Holidays

The Irish Good Bye

Recently, my family was at a party and some of the guests left without saying good bye.  My Things snorted and said, “Well, that was an Irish good bye.”  I had never heard the phrase.  While watching the TV series Schitt’s Creek yesterday, one of the characters mentioned  the  “French exit”.  It turns out they are the same thing.  Americans implicate the Irish and the Canadians and Brits finger the French.

Per Urban Dictionary, “the irish [sic] exit refers to the departure from any event without telling any friends, associates or acquaintances that one is leaving. It is almost always the result of being very inebriated/intoxicated.”  Here is a good article on this topic as well as the very millenial form of separation called “ghosting”.

In the case of the above noted party, intoxication was not the reason.
In other news, my DNA per revealed that I am about 29% Irish,  27% British, 33% Scandinavian, and the rest is Western European, including 6% Iberian Peninsula.  There was no German, which was odd because I was always told I was also German.  This later Iberian dollop did not show up in my father’s DNA, so we have to surmise it came from The Radish (sadly, she did not spit in her tube before passing away).  My Aunt SuSu had no Iberian Peninsula in her DNA.  Raftbuddy sent me this interesting article explaining why siblings get such varied DNA.  So, sisters, order your kits and let’s see who is the most Irish and who’s the most Iberian!    The truth will out!
I trust that none of my readers pulled an Irish exit yesterday!  My father, Big Mike, made my mother’s corned beef recipe, key lime pie, and soda bread.  You cannot believe what a fantastic, nourishing feast that was.  The potatoes, sadly, never made it to the party.  The Truth be told, I forgot to bring them.  The cabbage, however, was not missed.
Question for you:  Have you ever pulled an Irish goodbye and if so, what were the circumstances?  TELL THE TRUTH.


Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Holidays, Life, Misunderstandings, Parenting

Never Going Back to Malaysia

As today is St. Patrick’s Day, I reread my posts from the past on this day and truthfully, they were pretty darn good.  I really need not say more except that I have totally forgotten the face of my duende and need to find another one, this time perhaps in the yoga studio.   And I never heard the crazy drunken wedding song because I left the marathon festivities in the early evening.

Since snakes have featured heavily here over the past week, I am sharing  this article/video with you.  It is not for the faint of heart.  I cannot explain this behavior.  Thank you, St. Patrick, for ridding an entire country of them.

Congrats to my Irish sisters – MCVWasHere has run her 20th half marathon and MoodRingMomma has another Dawg in the house!


Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, Misunderstandings, Spanish vocabulary

Truth in Beauty

The New York Times asked the following questions regarding the recent unveiling of President and First Lady Obama’s official portraits in the National Gallery of Arts:

“What did the portraits mean to you, particularly if you are African-American or of African descent? Did their aesthetic remind you of other artwork and what did you think of Mr. Wiley and Ms. Sherald’s approach to bucking tradition? What do you think the artists were trying to convey — and do you think they were successful? Did they capture the Obamas and their legacy accurately?”

Before I give you my answers – and I am interested in hearing yours – here are my own questions to the Beautiful People:  What is the objective of a portrait – to tell the truth or to obscure it?  Is truth a quality you would want to see in your own official portrait?  Who would you select to paint yours?

Here are my answers (I read none of the comments on the NYT article):

  1. terrible question, Reporter Sopan Deb!   Can they only mean something to me if I am African-American or of African descent?  Did the first unartfully phrased question make you think that the journalist has an agenda?  Is he a reliable source as a “cultural editor”?  What if I told you Mr. Deb was arrested at an anti-Trump rally and that the charges were dropped?  Would that change the way you read his questions???
  2. Yes.  The portraits remind me of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.  The flower dog sculpture by Jeff Koons immediately reminded me of President Obama’s portrait.  Mrs. Obama, in my mind, is represented by the structure of the museum itself, the architect of whom is Frank Gehry.
  3. Bucking tradition is great, especially in art.  However, if my portrait were to hang next to Mr. Understanding’s portrait, I would want the portraits to complement each other.  I do not think these achieve accomplish that goal of mine.  For example, Mr. Understanding and I are each individuals in our own right but co-owners of the same team.  If my portrait were hanging next to the First Gentleman, I would like them to pay tribute to our common vision.  To me, this is not reflected in the portraiture.  This is an aesthetic choice made by the President and the First Lady and they most probably have different ideas on the subject.
  4. In the portrait of President Obama, I believe Mr. Wiley was trying to convey a relaxed attitude with some gravitas, as concerns the person.  The hands seem a tad large.  I find it fascinating that they are crossed.  Did he usually sit this way?  Regarding the garden setting, I read that it was used to convey his Hawaiian heritage so I kept looking for a marijuana leaf and a banana slug (that’s a joke).  Why was not a rainbow used,  symbolically?  Regarding Mrs. Obama,  she is reclining slightly away from the viewer, creating some distance.  It might be a modern day nod of the head to Rodin’s The Thinker – Mrs. Obama is quite statuesque.  There is probably a lot of symbolism in the fashion forward dress that I do not understand.   Ms. Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama speaks greater truth to me than the President’s.
  5. I might like my mother-in-law to paint my portrait.  I can think of no other living artist whose portraiture I admire.  Perhaps an unphotoshopped  photo would do?  The truth does matter to me but a dose of artistic license, especially around the jowls, is appreciated too.

Happy Presidents’ Day Weekend!  I am off to see Thing 3!  The posts will be short and I apologize for the lack of photos – I need a kid to help me upload the visuals.  XOXO






Filed under #Art, Folkart, Holidays, Life, People, Traditions, Travel

40 Days of Speaking the Truth (Mine)

Dear Friends of the Blog,

I almost wasn’t sure how to sign on to the blog, it has been so long.  Several of you inquired in the past few weeks if I was going to blog again for Lent.  I was on the fence, I have to admit.  It is quite a discipline and my soul shrank at the thought, which was how I knew I should do it.  And then to come up with a theme!  With rusty writing!  That thought had to marinate for awhile.

Yesterday, when my father handed me an article to read, it was confirmation of this year’s  theme:  TRUTH –  broadly, specifically, and of course, religiously.   This subject may make some of my readers cringe.  I will most likely lose friends and gain foes.  But I will be speaking MY truth IN LOVE, one gleaned from spending a huge chunk of my adult life living in foreign countries and returning to a changed America.  (I will discuss the fear of speaking the truth in subsequent posts – it is dangerous in some countries and unfashionable in others.)

One of the most magnificent ways my parents blessed me was by speaking the truth.  Both parents are/were straight shooters.  They did not lie to me.  If they didn’t have an answer, they would not make one up.  “I don’t know” was/is an acceptable response.   Pollyanna did not make an appearance.  A light dusting of sugar did not sweeten the distasteful.   As grandparents, they were/are pretty tight lipped for the most part and did not opine unless called upon.   This  built TRUST.   Do you see that the first three letters of truth and trust are the same?

Some of my readers did not enjoy such a relationship with their parents and thus have a truth that is foundationally (fundamentally?) different than mine.   I honor and respect that truth; even though it is different than mine, it is equally relevant and especially formative.

This brings me to January 27, 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was the first evening home with my newborn eldest child.  We were sitting at our small kitchen table in the dining room, my parents, Mr. Understanding, and I.  My mother had fixed dinner, naturally.  I had bags of frozen peas strapped to my chest.  When the plates were cleared, my father cleared his throat and said, in relation to the baby’s long fingers, “Well, I hope she doesn’t have Marfan Syndrome.”   Marfan Syndrome, in case you did not know,  is a genetic syndrome, usually inherited, which affects every fiber of one’s being, all the connective tissue;  it can be fatal if not diagnosed early enough.

That flaming arrow of truth struck me in the heart and lodged there for years,  as I asked pediatrician after pediatrician if my daughter had Marfan and was told no, that I was just a crazy first-time mother.    (Thing 1 was inadvertently diagnosed three years later by an opthamologist in Mexico City,  Dr. Luis Washington, shortly after I’d asked her pediatrician again if he thought she had the disorder.)

This is where we get into the weeds, folks.  What if my father kept silent that one time and did not voice his concern?  What if my father was a habitual liar? What if I did not take my father seriously?  Big Mike/Papa Bear was speaking his truth and I had ears to hear.

Raising awareness for The Marfan Foundation used to be the focus of my annual valentine.  Most people who know me now know about it and no longer need to be reminded.   However, as today is Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday, and The Marfan Foundation’s annual day of giving, I am reminding my Beautiful People to check out their website, re/educate themselves, and consider making a small gift.*   As we move into Lent, I am scraping off the calcified crap on my heart.  I removed the arrow a long time ago; a small scar remains as witness to the healing.


*you can also donate via Thing 1’s Facebook page!




Filed under Holidays, Life, Parenting, Religion


On Friday I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Herman Mehling, with members of his family and mine, at the St. Augustine restaurant The Ice Plant.   Unbeknownst to me, it was his 94th birthday.  I have never shared a birthday with a 94 year old before so this was quite special.  I had been wanting to meet him for a long time.

Herman, a.k.a. “The Jesus Man” is the father-in-law of my former Nordstrom Menswear salesman Bruce from Columbus, Ohio.  How, you ask, are you having lunch with your former Nordstrom salesman, his wife, and her father?  That is a story for another day.    Before our “tribulations” he and his wife Judi stayed at our Florida cottage when they visited Herman on several occasions.   During the last few years of my crazy life, Bruce called to check in every few months, even after he left Nordstrom.   Sometimes I could not return his calls as I was in the throes of a crisis; no matter, he did not stop trying.  Now that I am living in the Florida cottage with four animals and a teenager, hosting Bruce and Judi was not an option, so lunch it was.

A few years ago, as a gift for sharing our home, Bruce and Judi gave me one of Herman’s Jesus signs.  This is what the sign looks like up close:




This is what the sign looks like from a distance:




Bruce and Judi, who also visited with my parents and in-laws, also gave each family one of these signs.  It was this sign that greeted me at the dermatologist’s office on Valentine’s Day, the one month anniversary of my mother’s passing.   When my mother died, my youngest sister, MCV asked how she could get her hands on one of those signs.  My parents’ sign sits on a roll top desk by the front door, monitoring the comings and goings of all.  I called Bruce and he personally delivered two (one for each sister) to my snowy back porch in Ohio.  (Polly Positive whisked them inside and I eventually mailed them on).

Back to Herman.  You can watch an interview of him here.

As mentioned in the interview, Herman had several careers:  Police officer in the Bronx, firefighter, sheet metal machinist.  As a police officer, Herman delivered two babies.  It is evident that Herman is good with his hands.  At age 92, Herman developed “the tremors” in his right hand.  This has not stopped him from producing four signs a day, the production of which is a story in itself.

Today, since it is Memorial Day, we honor the part of Herman’s life path that was a sheet metal repairman in the U.S. Navy during World War Two in the Pacific Theater.  Assigned to a repair ship, he and his fellow sailors stayed behind the lines and repaired ships damaged in battle, preparing them to go back in.   One day, as Herman was on the deck of his ship, the small ship next to him exploded, killing all fifty US sailors aboard.  The Navy does not know what caused the explosion:  A mini Japanese submarine, an internal situation, who knows?  A mystery in the line of combat.  Herman did not die in combat but he watched others who did and it those young men on that ship that we honor today.

Bruce, Judi, and Herman brought me two more Jesus signs on Friday.  One is sitting in our  Florida cottage – our original one is either in Arkansas or in storage in Ohio.  The other is being sent to a former policeman in Washington who is suffering from cancer.   I had the temerity to ask for more and they gave me three more from the stash in the trunk of their car.   Even Urban Meyer has one in his home.  I had not yet seen the interview wherein Herman states he would like his children to pass them out to those who attend his funeral.  If that is the case, Herman cannot stop making Jesus signs for a long time.  It will be a big party.  His 95th is already inked in on my calendar.  If you NEED one of Herman’s signs, I will inquire however, as to their availability.  They are not for sale – they are freely given.

In closing, I leave you with the words from verse 2 of hymn 719 in the Book of Common Prayer.  Written by Katherine Lee Bates, O Beautiful for Spacious Skies, the music is set to Materna by Samuel Augustus Ward:

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife

who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!

America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law!”


So today, fly your flag in honor of the fallen, cherish your liberty, enjoy a meal with your family, friend, or stranger, and give thanks that although flawed, America is still beautiful thanks to those who gave their lives for us.







Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Folkart, Friends, Holidays, Life, People, Religion

Smooth Criminal or Just Plain Bad?

Dear Readers,

You have been SO KIND.  THANK YOU.

In today’s politically correct, frequently absurd climate, laughter is the only antidote.  So I pray you will take these family photos in the spirit in which they are offered and just marvel.

Before there was Michael Jackson, there was Sally Calligan.

Here is a photo from our 1971 Christmas card photo shoot:


Compare and contrast with the photo of MJ and Blanket below:


Next we have a classic underage drinking photo.  Note MoodRingMomma enjoying her first (?) sip of Coors:



Finally, we have a photo from the 1979? Arcata Halloween Parade.  An annual event, citizens of Arcata, California  lawfully assembled and flew their freak flags in honor of the pagan holiday.  I present to you my younger sisters, MCV and MoodRingMomma, as dreaded fruit flies.  In the late Seventies and Early Eighties, California experienced a Medfly infestation. Northbound travelers on Highway 101 were stopped at the Oregon border for inspections.  Woe to the one with the banana!  Talk about your stop and fruit frisk!  Today an errant strawberry would be granted in-state tuition but back in the day it was swiftly deported.


What is particularly endangering about this photo?  The homemade costumes complete with shower caps?  The cheery pests?  Or, the open tailgate???

MCV asked me last night, after I texted her the photo, why no one had advocated on her behalf.  Who, exactly, was on duty?  Who was to save her from the weirdness?

My reply:  “This was Humboldt County in the Seventies.  Pretty much no one was on duty.  And in the scheme of things, this was just edgy, not weird.  Certainly not out of place.”

Notice:  I am not in evidence.

I would also like to point out that, with the exception of the beer, all of the ideas were Sally’s.  This, frankly, is just the tip of the ice berg.

So, was The Radish a Smooth Criminal or merely just Bad?  Listen to Michael Jackson and decide for yourself.  Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.













Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, People, Travel

Lorica of St. Patrick


Today my father is 78.25.   He is officially older than my mother.  This is bittersweet.   Tonight we are going to REJOICE!  My mother would be shouting HALLELUJAH (even though it is Lent).  Traditionally, we break all fasts for St. Patrick’s Day, paying homage to the great British/Irish Saint and our family heritage.

You know there will be no cruciferous vegetables on the menu, no traditional stinky cabbage.  I won’t go that far.  My dad is making soda bread and corned beef. Ta da!  Can you believe??? If you don’t know how to make corned beef, click here for Sally’s crazy easy corned beef recipe from 11 (!) years ago!  Slante!  We will be toasting my mother even as we mourn her absence.  A mini Irish wake.  One of my favorite trips with my parents was several years ago for Spring Break in Dublin.

My sister MCV sent me a gift this week, a CD  entitled Inheritance by a singer named Audrey Assad.  In reading the liner notes to Be Thou My Vision, I noticed that it is sung to an Irish tune.  According to some sources, the words of the hymn are attributable to St. Patrick. I researched other Irish melodies in the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal and came across what is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, also known as a lorica.  A lorica was literally a piece of body armor in Roman times; it is also referred to as a chanted prayer of protection.  Both guard the heart.

For your listening pleasure tonight I recommend starting out with Audrey Assad‘s lyrical Be Thou My Vision, moving on to St. Patrick’s Breastplate by Trinity Music and Marty Reardon.  Finish up with Cooley’s Reel and Whiskey in the Jar by The Dubliners before downing your decaf Irish coffee.   When it is time for bed, sing Danny Boy and let the tears flow.  REJOICE.

My little Ireland (Thing 3) arrives tomorrow for Spring Break.  I’ll be invoking St. Patrick to make sure she gets here safely.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, Religion