Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Think I Might Have a Problem

Can you have specific OCD or does it have to infiltrate your whole life? I wrote a while back about my OCD when it comes to my shoes and their care and storage. Generally I'm a little messy, I'm a piler (a piler, not a plier) of books, magazines, etc. It's fortunate for me, on so many levels, that I have a weekly housekeeper because it forces me to clear horizontal surfaces and put things away in preparation for Ana's Tuesday visits.

I'm pretty certain I'm not a germaphobe but I might be heading that way. I have never liked having my hands dirty for any length of time. I get to soap and water ASAP and always have wipes in my purse and car.

These are some of the habits that seem to be growing and which make me wonder.....

After ordering and closing the menu in a restaurant, I either use hand sanitizer, wipes, or head for the nearest restroom. Who KNOWS what was on the hands of the last diner? And I need AT LEAST two napkins; one for my lap and one for my hands and mouth. An extra one just in case is good, too.

I really don't care for finger food. I'm lucky I can eat a sandwich. When eating chips or nachos, I wipe my fingers off on a napkin or paper towel every two to three. Grease! Although I CAN pick up a slice of pizza, it's not uncommon to see me use a knife and fork. But I LOVE pizza so I struggle through. Chicken wings, another favorite, are a serious problem.

Shake my hand? (Remember, I'm in business and meets lots of people) There are wipes in the car. I even tend to wipe off the steering wheel of my own car before tossing it into the trash.

Remotes in hotel rooms? Wipes. Keyboards & mice in libraries, etc.? Wipes. There are more, I'm sure, that don't come to mind immediately.

But what brought this on this morning? The newspaper. I was putting yesterday's paper in the recycling bin and had to move a copy of our little weekly paper. I love it but the little paper is not clean; the ink comes off the newsprint and makes my hands black. Not to mention the ink sometimes comes off the paper and gets on your clothes. Good thing it only comes out once a week.

Our daily and Sunday paper is clean! I was so thrilled when they announced that change a few years ago. I'm one of those who still prefers to read the paper in its orignal form. Good thing it's clean, I don't think newsprint would stand up well to hand sanitizer and wipes!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Broken Circle Reconnected

I have a new first cousin. Her name is Carol, and she was born June 16. That would be June 16, 1946.

When Carol was sixteen days old, her mother, my aunt, my mother's only sister, arranged for her to be adopted. My aunt already had one baby daughter, Betty, born one year earlier almost to the day. In between the births of her daughters, her husband left. Twenty years old, single and faced with raising two babies alone, she felt the best thing to do would be to give Carol up to be raised by someone who would be able to give her what she needed. That's our assumption, my aunt would never talk about it.

She eventually married again and had another two children, two sons. In the 60 years after Carol was born and until her death five years ago, my aunt steadfastly refused to discuss her. My mother was 13 when Carol was born. She saw her only once and knew she had been adopted by a woman she knew only as "Mrs. C." Shortly after Carol was born, Mrs. C moved. My mother never saw them again. Until a week ago.

Although I was close and spent lots of time in my aunt's house growing up, it wasn't until I was an adult that my mother told me about Carol. Or she told me as much as she knew about her, which wasn't much. Betty found out about her eventually, too, and talked about finding her sister. But all we had was that last name. No first name for Mrs. C, nothing. A few years ago, Betty's daughter did find some of their biological father's family but he had died and the family knew nothing about Carol either.

I've done a lot of genealogical research on the family over the years and have tried but never had any luck finding Carol. A long time ago I put a query out on a genealogy online bulletin board asking if anyone knew Carol "C" born 6/16/46. I never received a response.

Recently Betty called me again saying she really wanted to find Carol. This time I started going through records on Sure enough, within 5 minutes I had found an obituary of a man who died two years ago whose wife's name was Carol with the maiden name "C." He was about the age she would be and they lived in the same town that my aunt was living in all those years ago. Could it be? Could it be that Mrs. C and Carol were living right there in town all along?

A little more research and I had an address for Carol. I gave Betty the information and she sat down to write a letter. What should she say? Suppose Carol didn't know she was adopted? Suppose she did and didn't want a connection to her biological family? Betty sent the letter and it came back.....Addressee Unknown. A dead end.

I went back to the computer and found several people with her married name in the same little town. Before I had a chance to start making some random calls, Betty's husband called me and said, "I think we've found her." He had beat me to the random calling and found a relative of Carol's late husband who said she'd remarried and moved to another state. They had her cell number.

It was Carol, our Carol. She knew she had been adopted. Her birth date was right, and she had discovered her father's last name years ago. Her adoptive mother, who died 30 years ago, would never discuss her birth either. Carol wanted to know more but with nothing except a last name to go on, she could never find more.

Now here we were. Her family. She was excited to learn that she had a sister, two half brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins and an aunt. Several times she told us that she grew up happy and well loved but had always wanted to know more.

We sent her family photos and she sent some of her. Her resemblance to my aunt, her mother, is astonishing. If there ever was any doubt about who she is, once we saw her, it was gone. One of the grand kids looked at a photo of Carol and her husband and asked, "who's the man with Nana?"

Last week Betty, her husband, Bob, Mom and I traveled to meet Carol. After 64 years (almost to the day), several phone calls and a few emails, Carol had her family and Betty had her sister.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's (Never) Too Late

Sunday night, Gisele and I, along with 9,000 of our closest friends, had the pleasure of seeing James Taylor and Carole King in concert at Mohegan Sun on their Troubadour Reunion Tour.

We've had these tickets since January. The morning they went on sale I was at the computer. The first show for Saturday night sold out FAST. I finally got to the point where I could choose and buy the seats. On Ticketmaster you end up in a queue online and only have so many minutes to pick and purchase seats or you get thrown out.

The seats I chose weren't exactly what I wanted but I was happy to get them. We ended up in the nosebleed section but what could you expect for $100 a ticket? (I know this is cheap for big shows now, but I'm a child of the 60's and 70's when I paid $4.75 to see the best concerts) It didn't matter. We've both seen JT several times but never Carole and to see them together was too good to miss. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, to me it was the chance of a lifetime.

We were far above the stage and couldn't see much clearly but it was a revolving deal so at least no one was behind it. We had to be satisfied with watching on the screens around the arena but the camera guys (and girl) did a great job. Although there were several times I wished I could see Danny Kortchmar's and Leland Sklar's guitar work other than when the cameras were on them. But the acoustics were terrific, and we didn't miss a word or a note.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a concert that started with a standing ovation. The emotion of the crowd continued right through their second encore when they finished the show with You Can Close Your Eyes which is a particular favorite of mine and takes me back to long ago and bittersweet memories. Throughout the show I was leaning forward with elbows on knees and chin in hand.

In some ways it was like seeing two different shows because they played many songs together but usually with one out front and the other singing and playing back up. They played most all the songs we wanted to hear....So Far Away, Machine Gun Kelly, Smackwater Jack, Country Road, Sweet Baby James, Fire and Rain and many more. When they played Up on the Roof, a song Carole wrote but which they both recorded, they each played it the way they recorded it, two definitely different interpretations. It was fun to see their two different styles on the same song.

The affection and camaraderie between the two was so clear. What amazed me was how spontaneous they made the show feel. The banter between the two as well as James' witty comments and stories (he's funny!) seemed so fresh and original. And when they played all the songs they have probably played hundreds, maybe thousands, of times, they seemed to be playing them the first time for an audience. I guess that's the mark of people who love what they do. The adulation of 9,000 fans probably didn't hurt either.

A few times Carole got up from the piano and danced around in her 4" heels and got the crowd clapping along. You'd never know she's 68 years old. JT is 62 and although he is beginning to look his age, that smile and sweet voice are still there. They both seem to have just gotten better with age. Or maybe I just want to believe we all do. They sure made me feel like the 16-year-old who wore out her first copy of Tapestry back in the early 70's. Is it really that long ago?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On The Road Again

Paul and I recently made our annual trek to OBX, the outer banks of North Carolina. The photo on the right was a stallion following along behind his mares and a foal on the beach one day we were there. We didn't see too many wild horses this year.

This is our third year at OBX since buying a timeshare in Kitty Hawk on eBay, sight unseen. Not only had we never seen the condo, neither Paul nor I had ever been to OBX.

During the week of the auction I did some serious Internet research but it was still a leap of faith when I kept increasing my bid in those last minutes of the auction and then won. It turned out to be a great buy. The condo is beautiful and in a great spot. We start looking forward to it every March when we've had just about enough winter.

This year we left a couple days early and extended our vacation. On the way to OBX we stopped in Ocean City, Maryland, for what we expected would be a quiet couple days in an oceanfront hotel. Here's the view from our balcony. This is peaceful but it tells you nothing about what was going on in front of the hotel.

We had no idea that the week we picked to stop in Ocean City was the same week that the 20th Annual Cruisin' Ocean City was happening. On the way down we kept noticing classic cars on the road. We figured there was probably a car show somewhere south but didn't know we were heading right into it.

Right into it is right. The town was full of hot rods, custom cars and street machines of every vintage, make, model, color and style. They drove up and down the main drag called Coastal Highway. And anywhere there was a parking lot along the street you would see cars parked with some people sitting in canvas chairs and others wandering from car to car looking under the hoods.

Plus there were people lined up on the sidewalks along the street watching the impromptu parade.

The show is open to cars built in 1979 or earlier. The formal registration is limited to 3,000 but a total of about 7,000 cars show up and the weekend draws 100,000 people. It's based at the local Convention Center but spills everywhere in town.

Paul was in his glory. A 'gearhead' in his teens and twenties when he built, rebuilt, raced and wrecked a few cars, it was a trip down memory lane for him. There's a '90 convertible Corvette in the garage now. And as much as I appreciate wandering around looking, we have been to many car shows over the years, this was definitely sensory overload.

Coastal Highway runs past all the hotels, motels, restaurants, t-shirt shops and other places that want your money. There are traffic lights every block which gave the hot rods and street machines just enough time to go through a couple gears and leave some rubber before they had to shut it down for the next light.

The noise was incredible but it was fun to watch. I much prefer to watch the cars moving rather than sitting in a parking lot with the hoods up. Yeah, that's a lot of chrome but how fast does it go? The smell of testosterone was everywhere or maybe it was just exhaust. I felt like I was in a scene from American Graffiti.

Here are a few of the many photos I took. Whether you care about cars or not, you have to admit that the work and money that goes into these machines is pretty awesome.

So it wasn't the quiet few days at the beach we were expecting but it was fun. We heard there is a Bike Week in Ocean City in September when about 10,000 bikes and 200,000 people show up. We'll skip that. I've been to Laconia, and Paul goes every year.

Maybe we'll make Ocean City Cruisin' an annual event.


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