Daddy’s Girl, a Tribute

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Family, Parenting, Relationships | 6 Comments

Ralph and Cathy, Fair Street (?), Paterson, NJ, 1959 (?)

This is an updated version of a post written for Father’s Day in 2008. Ralphael Benjamin Fischer passed peacefully on April 9, 2014, at age 91, surrounded by his loving family.

I don’t’ really see myself as a “daddy’s girl” but I sure do love my dad, and yes, he spoils me.

In some ways he’s typical of his generation, distant but close. Born in Poland in 1922, he lived through the horrors of WWII, lost his entire family, and amazingly rebuilt a life in France then the U.S. Both he and my mother worked in garment factories in New Jersey, then their own lumber and hardware store in South Central, L.A.; immigrants dedicated to giving their children everything they didn’t have.

In many ways my father Ralphie, as we liked to call him, was special — an unedited, unfiltered, tell-it-like-it is person, with a wicked sense of humor. He spoke his truth and people appreciated it. To say that he was a “character” is an understatement. Read more

England My England

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Family, Travel | 10 Comments

Leave the pomp and circumstance behind, and take a walk on the wild side with Christie

I just returned from my first visit to the UK in five years. Nothing much has changed as far as I could tell. The nation was a bit tired from celebrating Kate and Wills wedding bash, but most seemed to agree it was a superb demonstration of British pomp with a liberal dash of the moderne. The unexpected day off courtesy of more PR conscious royals and a wobbly coalition government cheered the nation; and everyone was appreciative of Beatrice and Eugenie’s efforts to incorporate vaudeville into the day.

Clever Cat, who is about to visit the Sceptered Isles herself, asked if I saw any theatre during my trip. Hah! I visited my family. Now honestly, isn’t a visit with your family the best theatre ticket in town? Comedy, drama, mystery, it’s all there. Not that my family is any different from anyone else’s; a group of people thrown together through biology and desire, well-practiced in their eccentricities.

I spent a glorious few days with my sister in her new Cornish home. I really envy her retired life with all the conveniences and benefits of a social welfare system that is ailing but not yet dead. Baby boomers across the Pond are quietly enjoying their “golden” years trying not to feel too badly that they are probably the last generation to experience these joys. Read more

The Hourglass

Filed Under All Posts, Family, Prudence Baird | 17 Comments

Prudence Baird paints a picture of mother and daughter—in roles rarely revealed

Two figures move as one under a hot January sun across the steaming asphalt of a medical building parking lot. This is the kind of day that brings hordes of winter refugees west following the televised New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

One of the figures is a frail old woman collapsed in a transporter wheelchair—a conveyance with four small wheels, made for transferring from place-to-place those whose self-propelling days are history. The other is a middle-aged stick figure; her veiny hands grasp the heavy rubber handles of the transporter, pushing her load gently in the unseasonably warm mid-morning air.

When the conjoined pair reaches an unwashed silver Volvo, the ambulatory woman expertly backs the transporter into the space alongside the passenger side of the car and stops. The middle aged woman—who, if you haven’t guessed by now, is me—rummages for her keys in a worn black backpack hanging by the handles of the conveyance. Read more

Scrambled Eggs

Filed Under All Posts, Family, Health, Prudence Baird | 13 Comments

Photo by Ana June

For Prudence Baird, dusty eggs, puppy love, and baby crack make a wicked brew with the potential for world peace

When our Irish twins*, born a mere 22 months apart, reached toddlerhood, my husband reports that I got that misty-eyed look that says, “I’ll trade you a month of blow jobs for another baby.” Able to see the writing on the wall (much of it in red ink), my intrepid partner did what most sensible men would do—he rushed out and got himself a vasectomy.

Even so, I hoped and wished for another child. With my breastfeeding years fast receding to the realm of “remember when” and sentimental boo-hoo sessions alone in my room, having a third child became my holy grail, my Turkish delight, my must-see TV.

I refused to pass along cherished baby clothes. I squirreled away cutsie bibs and blankies. Intuitively, I knew that as long as my ovaries were pumping out eggs, there was a chance—even if it meant reattaching my husband’s pipes myself using an emery board and tweezers. Read more

Only When I Laugh

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Family, Parenting, Relationships | 7 Comments

mother_son_golfFor Christie Healey, time spent with relatives is just the ticket.

Many of us have recently spent time with our families over the holidays. Family has taken on a very broad meaning and I am blessed with a wonderful family of choice. But, for now I want to reflect upon those persons in our family that we had no choice of selection. Time spent with the relatives can be revealing, precious, stressful, hilarious, and restorative.

My former father-in-law comes to mind when I think of some of the adjectives I used above. He is an extraordinary person, a man of great persistence in certain areas. He loved golf. No, I mean he really loved golf. Practiced for over 50 years with no noticeable signs of improvement. He would swing a club in the apartment we shared whenever the obsession took over. Chips out of the concrete beam in the living room bear witness to his fervour. After some pleas, he agreed to use the “air” practice swing. One evening he was found lying on the floor in the bedroom. “What happened?” we cried. “I was going for distance,” he responded. Read more

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

Filed Under All Posts, Family, Humor, Prudence Baird | 10 Comments


After 15 years of marriage, and too many misplaced items to count, Prudence Baird insists her husband consider a new approach.

When I say I married a loser, I don’t mean that kind of loser. I’m talking about the kind of loser who loses things. Like keys, hats, sunglasses, cell phones, parking lot tickets, wedding rings—and most of all, wallets.

Like the clueless wife who finds that her husband has a gambling problem only after the repo man takes away the family Volvo, I found out that (let’s call him “Tim”) was a misplacer (nicer word, huh?) after we married. The first time it happened, I had no idea that this was merely Point A in an ever-lengthening trajectory that would arc across the time grid of our marriage.

I was in my home office churning out press releases when I heard the front door slam and heavy, frantic steps on the staircase. I emerged to see a man I didn’t recognize—a red-faced man, his salt-and-pepper askew; a man who hollered in my face: “My wallet is gone!” Read more

Back to School

Filed Under All Posts, Environment, Family, Melissa Howden | 12 Comments

Photo by M.A. Howden

Photo by M.A. Howden

In the waning days of summer, Melissa Howden ponders the markers of time.

I heard on the radio today that here in Northern New Mexico we always know school will be starting when the sunflowers bloom. Sure enough the sunflowers are at their peak, and the school buses just started rolling.

As a child my seasons were pretty much “school” and “summer”. I happened to be a child who liked school, but I also loved summer. Now as an adult who does not have children, thus the markers of the beginning and the end of the school year—my seasons tend to mush together which in some ways I think creates the sensation of time speeding up.

I do find myself longing for more specific touchstones in the year. Recently I visited my niece and nephew. The days of my visit coincided the last days Emily’s summer. As a result I was gifted with some summer nostalgia as we lolled about in the swimming pool eating popsicles, and picked out new tennis shoes for school (in this case we designed high tops online). Emily went back and forth to the neighbors Slip n’ Slide and sleepovers, squeezing one in for each remaining day of the summer. But even as we slept in, and went for mani-pedis, the lazy days of summer were being squeezed out with the start of soccer practice and the posting of her class lists and teacher assignments coming hand-in-hand with the promise of early mornings, car pooling and homework. Read more

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