I was born. I suffered.
I suffered some more, and hopefully,
I won't die a painful death.
This is my life.

Ein glückliches neues Jahr!

As the horrific memories of the past year have been stored in the brain and hopefully are being killed by alcohol as I write this, I bid you a happy new year. Any growing glimmer of hope for a better upcoming year will surely be doused by self-loathing and mind-numbing paper pushing. I have no new year's resolutions because I don't believe in organized thought.

Please post your mediocre new year's resolutions as a comment to this post, so that I may live vicariously through your hellish normality.

The Old Woman and the Christmas cookies

Eat me
As it is Christmastime, I thought that I should tell the story of The Old Woman's Christmas cookies. The Old Woman was once a great baker, believe it or not. In the fall and summertime, she made her famous cinnamon rolls and apple pie. But, The Old Woman's greatest baking achievement was her Christmas cookies.

Now, the cookies that she made weren't the mediocre flat sugar cookies with a Hershey's kiss squished in the middle that you poor slugs are used to. The Old Woman's cookies were all hand made from scratch. She made a few different types every year.

The following list outlines The Old Woman's cookie repertoire:

Anisette cookies. (As pictured above). These Italian cookies are a vanilla and anisette flavored delicacy. Anisette gets its flavor from anise, a liquor, that tastes like licorice. On paper, they actually sound gross right? Well they are awesome! So, shut it!

Chocolate whiskey cookies. These were not my favorite and could be a tad dry. The Old Woman would put vanilla or chocolate frosting on these cookies. Even though they had whiskey in them, it wasn't overpowering and you couldn't light them on fire.

Fig-bars. Ok, these cookies required some help from The Old Man and a meat grinder.  Yes, we actually had a meat grinder. Surprisingly enough, the meat grinder was stored in the kitchen cabinet in its original box! This is strange because most appliances, silverware, dishes, pots and pans etc. at The Estate had a nasty habit of disappearing. The fig bar concoction was made with figs, walnuts, and raisins. The Old Woman would  mash the ingredients together and The Old Man ground them to a pulp with the hand-cranked meat grinder. Then, The Old Woman wrapped the anisette cookie dough around the figgy filling.

Speaking of The Old Man, on the outside, he hated Christmas. The Old Woman would spend millions of dollars each Christmas on presents and he couldn't stand it. But inevitably, his mood would change on Christmas Eve. He would go out and buy the neighbors Hickory Farms gift boxes or the infamous Friendly's Ice Cream Christmas log and make his rounds delivering them.

Anyway, after The Old Woman took her cookies out of the oven, she would spread out on Reynolds foil on every counter top and table we had.  Then the fun part came. When the cookies cooled, she let us frost them with her bitchin' icing. Every Christmas she would make a ton of cookies and freeze them. Most were saved, to be eaten on Xmas day for my sister's beloved annual bash.

I haven't had my mother's cookies for many years now. As I make my way back home this year for Christmas, I can only hope that someone, (Lori), in the family will carry on this faded tradition and mix up a batch. No fig cookies please.

Happy Birthday to The Old Man

Happy Birthday to The Old Man!

For this special occasion, I will relay a short but sweet story that I heard from my brother, let's call him Craig.

Back when Craig was in high school, on cold winter days, he would be eating breakfast and waiting to go to class, The Old Man would get up and make it to our one bathroom to shave. The Old Man has this shaving kit with a ivory white shaving cream brush. After he slathered on the Barbasol with the brush and shaved off the stubble, he'd splash on some Old Spice and make his way over to his sock drawer. Now his sock drawer was really a catch-all wood cabinet thing that we called "the bar." The Old Man kept all sorts of things in the various drawers of the bar, socks were just the icing. 

It was pretty dark outside and The Old Man would usually just have the little light on  in the ceiling over the bar. Now The Old Man had about 57 different pairs of black socks in the bar. And they all were different shades. His socks were all about three feet long and were the thick fuzzy type. So The Old Man would stand there at the bar and try to pick out matching black socks for his day at work. He would pick out two socks and hold them up to the dim light and squint to gage what color they were. Most of the time he would mutter something under his breath or swear to the air. Craig and I have theorized that The Old Woman, while doing the laundry, would find a matching pair of The Old Man's socks and throw one of them out in the garbage just to spite him.

Eventually, he would either find a match or one close enough as to not have anyone at the plant to notice. All was right with the world. And that is the great story of The Old Man's morning sock matching ritual.

Happy birthday dad! I love you.

The Old Woman and the Christmas tree

The Old Woman loved Christmas. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving was xmas decorating day. She had her own Christmas store upstairs in the closet, affectionately known as The Camping Room. She had lights, center pieces, candles, garland, bows, light-up ceramic houses, bulbs, floo-flounders and tong-tinklers. The Old Woman had everything in plastic bags. She hauled them downstairs and the xmas magic commenced. In the early years, The Old Woman used the "normal-type" decorations. Meaning, silver tinsel and glass bulbs. Actual colored lights adorned the tree. I'll qualify this statement by giving a run down of The Old Woman's eclectic decorating style later. She would get this glossy crazed look in her eyes when she was in the middle of her frenzied decking of the halls. For many years we had a real Christmas tree. Those were the good years, and we used the normal tree trimmings. Probably in the late 70s or so, The Old Woman bought a fancy fake xmas tree, and that's when the craziness started.

The first middle finger to the norm was the getting rid of colored lights on the tree. Apparently, at the flower shop, Mr. John's, ugh, where The Old Woman purchased all of her xmas decorations, white lights were all the rage. Where they were the rage I have no idea. Anywho, white lights are still used on the tree to this day.

Plastic Apples! Eric, did you just say apples? Damn fucking straight. I can't even imagine what the moron was thinking when he came up with this idea. Plastic apples to hang on Christmas tree? Really? But I hope he is paying for it now. These red apples, probably modeled after Red Delicious, were the bane of our holiday season. We begged The Old Woman to let us put our old classic glass bulbs on the tree. She would have none of it.

The Bows. Yes folks, bows! These bows were hand made by friggin Mr. John himself for The Old Lady. They were mainly red or burgundy and had wire tie-wraps on them to hold them to the tree branches. I hated the bows. And guess what? We had no star on the top of the tree. We had a giant bow. It was hideous. Every year, The Old Woman bagged up her bows and had the flower shop straighten and iron them to get ready for the season. The Old Woman would usually decorate the tree and decide that she didn't like the way it looked and she would tear off all the bows, apples, and white lights. This was a painful exercise in futility, because to the rest of us, it always looked the same.

Baby's Breath: Hurl
Baby's Breath. Ok I don't really know how to describe this horrible little dried flower called Baby's Breath or why someone would ever put it on a Christmas tree. All I know is that it actually smelled like a baby's breath, after he spit-up.

The Old Woman also had the rest of the house decorated to the hilt. Lighted ceramic villages lined the coffee tables and the top of the TV. She put fake snow on them and lit them at night. Every other inch of the house had various red and green center pieces.

I was always in charge of decorating the outside of the estate. We had a multitude of nasty bushes and trees that I would slather with COLORED lights. Ha. The Old Woman didn't really care about how the outside was decorated.

At least in the past, The Old Woman followed the normal ebb and flow of the holidays. For example, she would wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the xmas tree. Lately, as in the past ten years or so, she has begun putting up the tree around Halloween. You should see the confused look on the trick or treater's faces when they come to the door. The Old Woman's behavior is hovering to the depths of dressing up your fourteen cats in skirts and lederhosen and then sharing their food with them.

But, I guess the having the xmas tree up practically all year around gives her some weird sort of happiness. I think that The Old Woman relives the old days of when the house was filled with kids and grandkids. Having the Christmas tree up takes her back a little.

So there you have it. Please people, for shit sakes, use tinsel and garland and glass bulbs on your trees. Apples are meant to be eaten and not hanging off a plastic tree branch.

If I can find a picture of any variation of The Old Woman's Christmas tree, I'll add it to this post.

Divorce: Like battling your way through Russia, only to freeze to death in Stalingrad

I think that everyone should experience the searing blitzkrieg of a divorce. The old adage is true. You know, whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Well, unless your spouse hires a hit man. Now I'm not telling you to just get a divorce for the hell of it. That would be silly. But, if you are a big fan of drinking heavily, sleepless nights and giving all your money to cheesy divorce lawyers, the D-word is for you. So, live a little and suffer through it like you're in the middle of a cold Russian winter. The Red army is bearing down on you. You may make it to that last fucking transport plane out of despair. It's ok if you stay stranded. It's a good and noble death.