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Taking Care of Business


I know, I know… It’s been SO long since my last post.  Seriously, I’ve not been in the mood and nothing really happening to report on, that is, until now…..

The biggest news is that I FINALLY got hired somewhere after YEARS of searching for one.  This happened last week but I’ve not been called in yet to start working.  This makes me nervous but I don’t think I should be because I’ve filled out all the papers you fill out that very first day.  All the Human Resources stuff.  This was done, and took me almost the whole DAY to do because I was actually reading all this stuff.  The company’s procedures, policies, etc.  Thirteen sections… sheesh!  What I really should’ve done was breeze through it and simply save all the actually documents and then gone through it at my leisure with a cup O java.

I must say that while I’m elated and grateful to have been hired, I can’t help but think that it’s STILL not enough to support my family.  Minimum wage in New Jersey is $7.25/hr.  I will be working part-time so I know that it’s feasible to get another part-time job but to be frank, I’m afraid I won’t be able handle keeping three work schedules, two of mine and DH’s.   Wow.  $7.25/hr.  A far cry from what I’ve made in the past, but I’m grateful.  I’ve been under a LOT of stress for over a year and this somehow makes me feel better.  My worries now are not about getting a job but whether this family can hold it’s head above water…. But… I’ve got a job!

Not sure yet how I will divvy up my weekly, hey or bi-weekly booty but I’m just hoping that it will make a significant difference.  Maybe towards the rent?  Maybe towards a monthly bill?  Maybe start a bank account? Maybe, just maybe I’ll have some left over for a slushie or coffee on Social Skills night?

Whatever happens, all I know is that I feel better.

Green-Eyed Monster


Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster

by michelle w. on August 3, 2013

Write an anonymous letter to someone you’re jealous of.

Wow.  This assignment is pretty much a license to whine all day.  Just for the record, I am not PMS’ing today.   I’m writing my letter to everyone out there who has a job. I’m jealous of all of you.  I never thought I’d say that and up to a couple of months ago I was not missing the work at all. Indeed, I am still loath to re-enter the workforce and giving my life to an employer who would most likely not look at me as a valuable employee.  That is the trend.  The climate has changed so much since I started working.  What the hell happened? It was a world in which employers actually valued their employees, invested in them; and if you worked for a good company, you could expect to spend your entire career there.  

I’m writing this post not because I envy people who have jobs (because I do) but because I’ve listened one too many times to people grumbling about their jobs.  I’ve witnessed one too many times incompetence.  Too many times waiting endlessly in a doctor’s office, listening to office workers happily gabbing, gossiping, complaining and not doing any work. Too many typos in professional documents and most of them coming from school administration offices, lack of professionalism, lack of pride in ones work. Man, the list goes on and on; and I stand here knowing I could do a much better job.  It simply kills me.  I guess that is where my anguish lies.  You got the job… earn your money!

I was brought up with workplace etiquette ingrained in me.  The generation my parents come from appreciated the opportunity to earn money.  My parents taught me to be a good, loyal employee to the company I worked for, to be punctual, to not steal company property and that included everything from office supplies to toilet paper.  It goes without saying I gave more than 100% of my professional efforts to my company.  I was not a clock watcher.  I did not stop work exactly at quitting time.  I did not take even a minute over my lunch time allotment, however short. I stayed until at least my task was completed, even if that meant staying an hour or more, depending what that task was.  Companies today do not value these qualities; or if they do, why do they betray those dedicated and loyal employees?  It’s like they are distancing themselves on purpose to justify not investing in their employees’ future, which essentially is the future of their companies. They pretty much expect a high turnover rate now a days, or more likely they are encouraging it so that they do not have to give pay raises and opt out of providing health benefits.  Oh, and lest I forget age discrimination. This is enough to discourage anyone, let alone myself who is definitely over the age of 50 and my prospects for any type of employment are little to none.  I’ve been looking for a job, any job, since 2008 and I’ve not had even ONE interview.

I’m not going to summarize my situation in detail, but it’s been pretty depressing for me.  My standards have been in a spiraling decline for this past year and still no luck.  I live in a city that discriminates against the English speaker.  I need a local job and my field is customer service, especially in the medical industry.  When my dentist heard this, he basically shook his head and told me to keep trying, but we both know the climate here.  Locally, those jobs would be in a doctor’s or dentist’s office and bilingual skills are required.  Can’t blame them since this is an immigrant city, but I feel a lot of resentment against the discrimination.  Currently, I’m looking for an overnight position to accommodate my husband’s budding teaching career… or hopefully, he will have a teaching career.  This has not proven fruitful as of yet; but I have hope.

To all the objects of my jealousy, DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR JOB~!  Be grateful that you have one.  Be grateful that you have a roof over your head (I know that I am) and whatever food you have in the fridge.  Be grateful that compromising your child’s nutrition for a cheap meal is not on YOUR plate.  Be grateful that your next meal will not be a very big glass of water.  The last time I gained employment, 8 years ago, I pledged to give my church a good part (or maybe all, I forgot) of my first paycheck with that next job.  I felt that my prayers were answered and I handed my pastor a check.  I was so happy… and so life goes on.

Okay… time to put the monster away….

Wow… Uncommon Experience


I am going to separate this post into two topics, a (hopefully) small blurb about my nails and the main portion about my experience today donating platelets.  Both are sort of “uncommon” for me.  So on with my small blurb:

Photo on 2013-06-29 at 21.39

I just willingly cut my nails after vowing to keep them growing until I find a job that necessitated the cutting of them.  So, today I had my apheresis appointment and wanted to write about it and realized that if I wanted to get it done any time soon, I had better cut them down.  I cut off slightly more than 1/4″, as seen in the upper right hand corner of the pic above, and they still stop at a little above the tops of my fingers.  I read a tip about it being easier to file your nails with dark nail polish on them so I gave it a try and it was so EASY.  I need to do more filing but it worked out great.

APHERESIS APPOINTMENT:

So, this appointment was uncommon for me because it was an awful experience.  I don’t want to deter anyone from donating platelets, but I feel that I need to report the bad experiences along with the good ones.  It’s quite a commitment to make and so, for me, that commitment overrides everything else–unless I feel that my care is being neglected during the process.  THAT needs to be addressed and possibly reported for your own good and health.

So let me explain a little bit more about the process and what is happening.  The goal is to draw the whole blood out of your body, it goes through a machine that separates the components being extracted, then the whole blood is returned into your body via, in my case, the same vein.  Today the process was supposed to take 112 minutes but in reality turned into 125 minutes, so a little over Two Hours.  Highly unusual for me and I’ll explain what happened.  As I said, the blood gets returned to my body, through the same vein.  They do have equipment out there that uses two veins, one from each arm.  I’ve been told that the best method for my body is the one vein method.

Anyhoo… Today, I had some pain right from the get go.  The needle felt uncomfortable, and the process was uncomfortable to painful.  I was very concerned, but everything seemed okay.  The machine monitors the pressure of the vein on the “draws” and the “returns” and an alarm will go off if the pressure gets too high OR too low.  Nothing was happening so I hesitated.  When asked, however, how I was doing and how I was feeling, I let them know that I was feeling pain, especially on the return and that had never happened before.  The phlebotomist (I think those are the techs doing this work) came and looked at my setup and the machine and said that everything looked fine, but that she was going to monitor me.  She asked if it was a burning or pinching sensation and I said, “no,” that it was more of a pressure PAIN.  She said that usually any discomfort settles down after a bit and that I should let her know if it didn’t go away.

So a little bit later on, my alarm went off during the return.  My techie came over and adjusted the machine to lessen the pressure.  Well, to make this story a little shorter, she made more adjustments for the “returns” and also for the “draws.”  Now, what this means is that she reset the speed at which my blood was being drawn out of me and the speed at which the blood was being returned into me.  The higher the speed the greater the pressure on your vein.  I hope I made that clear enough.  So when they lower the speed, it will take longer for the whole process and that is how my time got up to two hours.  Think about what would happen to your vein if this pressure was not alleviated.  I didn’t ask, but I’m thinking it could explode?  I don’t know for sure, but what I am sure about is that it would not be a good thing to happen.  I had visions, though, of an exploded vein and that I would have to be rushed to the hospital and not even sure if I would make it there in time for them to save my life…. Yeah, you lay there for two hours and maintain the happy thoughts…  Anyway, I did feel a bit of relief, but the pain lasted all through my time there.  I did feel that I was in good hands, however, and didn’t call it quits.  I managed a triple donation for my two hours and I’m happy about that.  My techie was there with me the whole time, monitoring my vein and touching it to feel it for herself.  I don’t blame her at all… and that is sort of a first for me.  These things happen sometimes and what is crucial, though, is how it’s handled.  One time at another place, a hospital, a phlebotomist screwed up BOTH my arms and I could not donate at all that day and went home with massive black and blues on both my arms.

DSCN3301

At the end of it, I got a bandage that matched my blouse… woo hoo.  But seriously, if you have a bad feeling about how your donation is going don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know.  My techie told me that what probably happened was that the needle was resting on the side of my vein, causing discomfort.  During the process, she adjusted it and, indeed, a lot of the pain dissipated and the alarm stopped going off for the rest of the session.  My only complaint is that adjustment should have been done sooner.  My arm is still out of sorts a good 10 hours or so later.  Aaaah, now I know why.  I have a good black and blue at the sight that is sore.  My badge of honor for a couple of days, I guess; AND I got my cookies and juice.

Oh.  A little something I should say and seriously only found out about a month ago.  When you donate through the Blood Center of New Jersey, you earn credits with every donation and the amount goes according to the number of units donated, like single, double, triple units.  Forget the amount, but I think it’s 100 credits per unit… something like that.  Well, ya want to know how many credits I had accrued before I found out?  15,000 credits.  Yeah, baby~!  For you New Jersey people, if interested in donating anything, this is the link for the Blood Center of New Jersey.  This year is their 66th year in service to the community.

I just want to end this saying that Platelet donation is not for everyone.  It takes real commitment to return to these centers or a hospital time and time again, every two weeks or so to lay there for a minimum of roughly 60 to my new personal high of 2 hours.  The people there always thank profusely for staying as long as I do in the chair.  I am grateful that they are thanking me, but I don’t see it the same way.  I am grateful for being able to do this for several reasons.  I look at it as a way I can do something really important in a world that seems to be pushing me aside in so many ways…. but that is another long story in and of itself.  Right now, I have the time.  I meet the criteria of high iron, high platelet count and pass other little tests and each time the results are different and they can rejectyou if your donation if you don’t meet these standards.  Each time is a little victory for me.  I love being there.  Yeah, I’m a bit off kilter.  I tell everyone that I donate platelets because maybe they might need some or someone they know might find themselves in a dire situation where they need them fast.  I can donate my platelets to anyone… well, I just need to still find out what the process is for that, but the employees are always so helpful that I push it aside knowing I can get the information at any time.

As always, and I don’t always say it, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  Gotta say that I write about various topics.  Some are personal rants and some, like this, are informational.  Out of everything, this blog has basically been kept alive by your response to my Apheresis posts.  I was getting tons of comments on these posts, even old ones and for that I thank you.

Stormy Reflections


I do my best thinking in the dark and under the covers of my bed.  Let me just say that this is not quite the best way of getting thoughts down on paper, or into a laptop, OR for that matter into an iPad WordPress app.  So last night I was laying there and going over the last few days in my mind, more closely, my impatience throughout the whole thing.  I’d like to say that I am embarrassed by a lot of what I’ve posted the last few days, and I am, but hey that’s me and I’m a stickler for letting it all hang out.  Not too many people are close to me and even those that are, might not get me, as a whole.  I figure that letting people see my bad spots as well as my good spots will sort of clue them into who I am….. and WHO exactly IS that?  Well, I’m not going to get into every single piece of dirty laundry (and believe me after this storm, there was a LOT of that, literally and figuratively.)   First and formost, I am a human being.  I am flawed beyond belief, just like the rest of you; but I am willing to admit that and willing to examine my flaws and at least acknowledge them.  I am willing to listen to what people have got to say about me.  A major part of my personality is that when emotional, I can flare up hot and intense, but then the fire goes out as fast as it flared up; and for me it’s like it never happened.  I guess that’s nice for other people to know, but maybe it doesn’t make everything alright.  I’m learning that.

These past few days, I spewed out many a rant and today, after four days of restored power, I can say that some of the things I’ve said about our mayor, Mayor Chris Bollwage, in print (and not) I’ve got to apologize for.  I do not know this man personally or have even followed his political career; but I’ve cussed him out many times these past ten days.  That was wrong, judging him in my ignorance was wrong.  I was in pain on several different levels and forced to deal with that during the storm and in it’s aftermath.  Mentally and emotionally, it was a challenge, and I was not a pretty picture.  My life literally was paralyzed because of the lack of power.  I was glued to the radio, trying to conserve battery power at the same time, just trying to get local information, which never really happened.  I never heard anything about this major New Jersey city, Elizabeth and I thought that very strange.  Our local government was giving out information via the internet (facebook), and folks, without power and a smart phone, I had nothing.  I do not have those mobile capabilities, and I suspect that a lot of the residents of Elizabeth was in the same boat.  It wasn’t until later that we realized the library was open in the down town area, then later, other stores offered their wifi and charging capabilities for free.  I was in constant contact with my neighbor across the street and if it wasn’t for her, I’d have no information at all.  I had only purchased my Tracfone, a phone where you pay for your minutes as you go, a scant week before the storm and thank God that Ed (unsolicited) purchased the triple minute phone, with 1200 minutes already on it.  I had a year to use all this, and well, currently I am down to 635 minutes with 392 service days to use them… that’s like half my minutes used in two weeks and that was just keeping in touch with people and getting info because of the storm.  I’m wondering if I should apply for FEMA…. hmmm.  Just kidding.  I’m wondering though, exactly how much FEMA will be doling out to people and if it will really help them get their homes back.

So I guess, I will say here that I will start following the local government.  I want to know what they are doing for our city.  (Especially, I will be following the Elizabeth Boar of Education.  I know for a fact that they are getting away with a LOT)  I vaguely remember the opening of a public pool and that public walkway that was mentioned; but the sad fact is that I would never bring my kid there because I just don’t feel SAFE here, damnit~!  Well, that’s the number one reason.  I heard about it at the end of the summer so I never went there to check it out, but maybe now in the winter, I’ll pop over there just to check out the physicality of the premises.

Guess I’ll stop here and regroup for a better post.  I’m sure that I’ll keep posting until everything I want to say is out.  So much stuff to talk about.  I think I might not get that opportunity until after the inside noise dies down over here and the little guy is thrown tucked into bed.  He’s my angel, but he’s got more energy than any of us know what to do with.

Who Turned on That LIGHT?


We got our power back last night at approximately 7:36pm, or thereabouts.  It was like Christmas morning and everything just lit UP.  I’m thinking of all the things that need to be done in the house.  Laundry, changing bed sheets, restocking the fridge, cleaning the bathroom again because apparently you can’t aim accurately in the dark or low light.  A brief recap of yesterday’s events…..

A couple of neighbors and I decided to start calling the mayor.  Our landlord also called and our mayor actually called back two but not me.  He must’ve seen what I was writing on his facebook page.  I am certainly not a resident of Whoville.  I’ll call myself a “Venter” and it makes me feel better, or like I’m actually doing something constructive.  Our mayor says that he doesn’t have power, but I can guess that he’s got a generator and plenty of employees to stand in the gas line for him.  I’m not trying to diss the mayor because I really don’t know him.  One thing I don’t like is that he’s not really acknowledging that we have a gang problem in this city and that scares me… a LOT.  He’s been in office for twenty years and recently, he’s not had any competition on election day and that doesn’t feel right to me in a democratic society.  I did attend an opening for a walkway that was just completed in the downtown area and he spoke, but then left for a funeral.  Afterwards, I wanted to get information about the walkway, where it led, etc., but nobody there was approachable by the general public.  I’ve not been walking there yet, but maybe this weekend since it’s supposed to be in the sixties, right after this brutal nor’easter that barreled through here last night.

Anyway, coming back to last night.  After we got home from school, around 4:00pm, we heard that there were workers going to the site we thought was our power problem.  Ooh, good news.  Then, in the early evening our 3 hardwired-t0-the-house smoke alarms started going off and we had to pull the circuit breaker to make them stop.  That was right around the time I started to notice that the houses in back of us looked like they had power.  My heart quickened, but I was thinking that I wanted MY power.  Then I got a call later on from my neighbor who said that another neighbor saw lights way up the street, around the corner, coming on.  Still more good news.  About 7:30pm or so, DH and I were tried to get warm in bed and all of a sudden he said, “Is that the refrigerator?”  I looked up, and praise God, it was on because I left it open while the power was out.  You never seen two middle aged people jump out of bed so fast!  Called my neighbor and woo hoo!, she had power, too.  I turned the thermostat up into the seventies to just try to get it on to warm up the place.  Next thing that came on was the TV as it was on when the power cut out over TEN days before.  DH turned on his computer right away.  So the answer to that most asked question this past two weeks, “What is the first thing you’ll reach for when the power comes on,” is for me, the ceiling light pull string, and for DH it was the computer.

So first, I want to thank Mayor Chris Bollwage for whatever he did to get our power back on.  After all that time, I seriously doubt that it just came on by itself.  What I have to say is that this is, as least, one positive thing I can say that I know about you.  A few people related to me that you had no power, as well.  Please know that I am not a particularly political person and try to avoid politics as much as possible.  I’m just a regular person and have no illusions that the average Joe has a say in government.  If anything, its a very small slight suggestion…. but thank you, for whatever you did, from the bottom of my heart.

Secondly, I have been really impressed by our Governor Chris Christie with how he handled this crisis and is still handling it after Sandy and after this freak nor’easter.  We really needed him this time and he got the job done.  He was the calm in the face of the storm.  Not a lot of people like his no nonsense approach, and nobody likes to have our services cut, but in this time of dire need, he was EXACTLY what we needed.  The gas rationing is working like a dream in my area.  Thank you so much, Gov. Christie~!

Okay.  So, I’ve been trying to write down my thoughts every day of this power outage, and I did actually take some pictures.  I’m going to post what I can in multiple posts.  I lost the second major one and was so upset that I just had to let it go and not even try to remember and rewrite it.  After that there is a lot of anger and venting.  While I’ll let the flavor of that stand, I have to really clean up the curse words.  So, the excerpt below is from the first hour or so after the storm started:

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Frankenstorm Sandy 10/29/2012… 4:37pm

We are basically cut off right now. The power went out early, 10/29/2012, at approximately 3:05pm. It is now 4:37pm and I’m going crazy with my little guy’s urgency that he’s already bored. Sigh. Anyway, we have all the window blinds open to maximize on light. I’m watching and listening to the turbulence outside. I’m watching the trees sway back and forth like two old friends hanging onto each other in a hurricane. Um… yuh. Yes, they are old trees and I’m wondering if they will survive the night and tomorrow. I’m wondering if they fall, whether it will be on my car which is parked right underneath of, and to the side of. Our tree (the other is our neighbors’), is a maple, always the last to show it’s colors in the fall. Right now her colors are still a dark green and she’s fighting to hold onto each and every leaf on her head. Her lowest of arms reaches out in a straight horizontal line, almost all the way to the fence. That arm has within it, the swing that our neighbor’s little girl has used almost since her birth and still uses, almost nine years later. There seems to be a sanctity there, very special memories are held there. I remember watching her on that swing, all throughout, from my window just opposite. It brings a warmth to my heart. I hate to think of losing that tree, but despite all the theatrics, she seems safe at present. HA… I’m envisioning the tree limb right in front of me to come smacking through my window, but there’s really no danger of that right now.

My arm is killing me. I cannot go without talking about it and God knows DH is tired of hearing about it. Beginning of October I got a flu shot at the pharmacy and wouldn’t you know it, he clipped my nerve and now, almost a month later, I’m still in a lot of pain but some days it’s almost fine, like yesterday and the day before. I was thinking that finally when I was ready to go to the doctors about it, it was getting better. I was doing stuff yesterday that I haven’t been able to do in a month and that just refers to range of motion. If I hold my arm into my body, I am fine and there is strength there to do stuff, but if I go to raise it, PAIN. I mean, I can’t bring it around to the back, or even to pull the covers up at night or put on my bra, or pick up my pants, or secure my seat belt. I am going braless, which is pretty cool and you know I don’t need an excuse, really; and when I do need one, DH is happy to help with that. Ugh… I’m trying really hard to not screw up a decent post with my ailments, but as long as I started just want to say that I have been to the doctors, and he is letting it go another week or so and if it doesn’t get better, I will need “testing” to be done.

Just now spent a little time learning more about Open Office. I love this program, but for the longest time I was wondering how or IF I could work in overwrite mode and I just discovered it by accident. Thanks Frankenstorm! Getting darker now and the drake just broke down and gave the boy his nook after said boy skulked about the house in his boredom… a few minutes seems like forever. I simply refuse to hand over my ipad which was only 50% or so charged…. AFTER he played all the charge out of it the first time. As a matter of fact, my laptop is currently at 76% and fading even after I set all the energy saving settings. So instead of sitting here trying to convey my BOREDOM in a witty way tonight, I’ll just come back later or tomorrow. I’m off to each some cheddar cheese and crackers…. yumo!….. 5:31pm

Big gap here. Lost a file in the WordPress app.  Apparently, this app doesn’t automatically save posts on the ipad like Pages does.

Tomorrow:  When I went outside for the first time….

Day Nine Post Sandy


I just want to let everyone know that we, here in Elizabeth, NJ are going on day nine without power or heat.  We are okay and the first thing we did this morning was VOTE, then breakfast at the diner.   Apparently, we are one of the 2,000 or so PSE&G customers who are still in the cold dark.  I’m beside myself, but oddly enough I calm myself down while spinning…. so spin I must!

I’ve been managing to record my thoughts on a day to day basis, or as close to that as possible.  Lost a large post the second day due to my unfamiliarity of the WordPress app for ipad… gah!  Still, though, lots of venting and curse words, so before posting, I’ll have to clean it up a bit.

Gotta be grateful that our only major problem is the power.  It’s been cold, but my bed buddy is keeping me warm.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Sandy.  Irene last year was nothing as compared to this one.  Watchout for this next one coming…

New Jersey~and Back to MY Roots


"Hey" from New JerseyWhile this blog is not New Jersey themed, I do happen to live here, so I’d like to share this NJ blog I found with you. There is a new movie coming out called, you guessed it, “New Jersey: the movie”, and it’s really interesting if you’re want to find out stuff about NJ. The trailer is composed of lots of short cuts, going from one scene to another; but essentially, they are trying to peg where the dividing line is between North and South Jersey. The journey must have been pretty interesting.

Being a transplant from Brooklyn NY, KENSINGTON, to be exact. I am intrigued by the concept of this movie, to say the least, because I am almost totally unaware of New Jersey culture. The extent of my knowledge stems from browsing those “Images of America” books while trying to keep track of Little Drake in one of those big box book stores. I guess the closest bond I’ve ever had to a place would be there, though, I disliked living there. I wanted to live in the “country” and thought New Jersey was where I had to ultimately go, and so, it eventually happened. Sadly, I ended up in Elizabeth, NJ and while I’m not putting it down, it’s still a city and if I had to live in the a city, I would rather it be in Brooklyn. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth is steeped in history, but I really wanted to live in the “country”. We live on a nice dead end street, but outside of my immediate block that “nice” quiet block feel disappears. The sidewalks are narrow, broken and a safety hazard. When LD was first born, I envisioned myself strolling with him in the stroller, getting some exercise, fresh air and UV rays. To my chagrin, I spent my time, much like a mountain climber, trying to navigate the sidewalk, endlessly pausing to lift the stroller over potholes, uplifted slabs of sidewalk and the always disgusting, loads of dog poopie. At every bump I was crossing my fingers that LD would not wake up. Definitely not Littletown, USA. At least a mountain climber can take in gulps of fresh air while spiraling up a mountain peak. Me? I’m just spiraling out of control. What’s so bad about the city, you ask? Two words, “congestion and suffocation”.

Ah, as I write this, I keep trying to get a feel for my own roots. I grew up on Louisa Street in the Kennington section of Brooklyn, that is by Church and McDonald. No, NOT “McDonald’s”, McDonald Avenue. My family had been there since 1964 or there abouts, living in what we called a “railroad” house. It was a two family home, and we were semi connected to another house on one side. The rooms in our first floor apartment were laid out one after the other in a line, and this is probably why it was a railroad house. We had a nice backyard, cemented over. My dad had corn growing in two wooden crates, set on platforms made of two pieces of wood. One year my mom had a watermelon vine growing out of an old refrigerator drawer, with the actual watermelon sitting on the bench of the picnic table and benches my dad made with his own hands out of weather treated wood and pipes (for the frame). It was all connected, benches connected by a pipe frame to the table. Ingenious. Painted brick red. We had… yeah, I say, “had” because after my mom passed away, my father sold the house to renting neighbors, a nice Indian family. He owns a construction company, so I found out that he gutted the place for renovation to accommodate his family, which was just as well because it was basically in it’s original condition.

My dad was great at fixing and renovating himself, but as he got older and my mom got sicker, things were left the way they were, without the yearly fixing up and sprucing up. In those days, you made do with what you had. My dad could make anything. He made our barbecue out of an oil drum from his daytime job. (He worked at Ft. Tilden for the Army. Well, that’s closed now.) He designed and welded the iron frame together himself out of, I believe, a bed frame from a high riser. He cut the drum in half, all the way around, lengthwise, with a blow torch. After it was all done, you could still see the melted metal all along the edge. With that blow torch, he cut out the nooks that would hold the grill in place. The grill was, I believe, old oven racks… but I really do not remember what they were because they looked perfect. He put a shelf into the top half of the thing…. but I think it needed to be empty if he closed the cover. This was one HUGE BBQ. He grilled up steaks, chicken, franks, hamburger, corn, whatever… all at once. But usually, he did the chicken first because it needs to cook longer, but he could make all the chicken at one time. I have great memories of those BBQ’s… and my dad bbq’d outside in any season, in the rain, in the snow. No wonder, my favorite taste is from a CHARCOAL grill. These gas ones do NOT cut it at all, in my eyes… and taste buds.

You know, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank someone tonight. While trolling the net for cool old tyme Kensington photos to better illustrate this post, I came across Kensington (Brooklyn). A treasure trove of stories from growing up in my old neighborhood. Seeing pictures, listening to stories of the old neighborhood, and in my time there, I was transported back. What a trip and looks like there are well over a thousand posts, so I’ll need to get a jump on that. The blog is a private, team blog. Did I get that right? You must be a team member to comment… and I guess, write articles. I’m definitely going to email the link to a family and friends. I’ve really enjoyed Ron Lopez’s stories, too… thanks so much!

I must say that this evening (really started this afternoon) I had the feeling that I did not belong anywhere. I never thought much about a possible bond that I might have with a “place” that I called home. I’ve spent so much of my adulthood, moving around from place to place, too. I never felt as if I belonged anywhere. Even here. I’ve been here since approximately 2003 and it’s hard for me to feel planted… you know what I mean? I still have that transient feeling about me. I don’t really decorate, though I do little things, but mostly the things that are supposed to be finishing touches, not my whole decoration deal. Sigh. Well, I came across this blog and realized that I am bonded to the place where I grew up. I can now see why my childhood friend still lives in the same house as her parents, only on the top floor. She, CAMILLE, must really have that old neighborhood in her blood. My problem is that I’ve spent so many years not recognizing it in my own. Oh, well. I need to be here. The Drake is here and his job of 30+ years is here, so for sure, he never would’ve come to Brooklyn, and by extension, we never would have conceived our Little Drake… so, God works in mysterious ways… as they say.

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