Monday, September 19, 2011


"You are a bad influence on your sister."
"She's EIGHT years older than me."
"Worse yet."

As fate would have it, I had worn my FREE dog food T-Shirt that day, little did I know...

It all started out, well, innocently enough.  My sister had just survived the one and only surgery they would assault her body with in the name of a cure, and while she waited to physically heal enough to endure her first attack of chemotherapy with radiation to follow, I thought she should have a bit of a respite.

We arranged the usual meet halfway at our parents place.  By now Dad had long since given up on maintaining the old New England Farmhouse.

Dad would strip and paint one side per year.  In 25 years he had painted the entire place, including the three story attached barn, twice.

You are now being served...

Instead, he and our mother had decided to opt for the 55+ mobile home community in an outlying area, far away from  city traffic, in fact just far enough out of the city to be inconvienant for 'drop-ins' should my sister or I be shooting by on the highway.  Oh they enjoyed our company surely enough, simply   'BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.'

Our kids would be watching our parents to make sure no funny business went on while I took my sister out to dinner.  The problem arose when we all arrived at our destination far too early.  It was summer, but the popular vacation area we grew up in didn't sport the usual bumper to bumper traffic on week days back then.    It was at this point in my life I would discover that the combination of my sister and way too much time on her hands was a dangerous duo better suited to her husband.

While we sat on the steps of the shed -  my sister's old Raleigh poking out from the doorway - Dad snapped our picture (she was in the process of admonishing me to "Sit up straight, would you.").
She then decided  we should take a stroll around the park to see if there was anyone about we could  get to know.  Yup, we did that back then. Give us an hour tops and we could tell you who lived where and their entire life story within a mile radius.

As luck would not - for me - have it that day, there were no 55+ out and about.  Not even a stray cat wandering by.  We walked round the roadway that swirled through clusters of mobile homes of varying age but all in pristine condition, while the sun shot sharp glints into our peripheral vision from huge, blue glass balls sitting in pedestals on perfectly mown lots.  We chatted about our lives, her illness, everything we hadn't been able to cram in during our late night-rate phone conversations and oh everything was just as peaceful as it could be until...

I figured out I no longer felt a body moving in stride next to me and wondered how long I had been chatting away to myself.  A full 180 later I discovered my sister was twenty feet behind me standing stock still, staring at something.  I sauntered back to her position.  "What cha lookin' at?"    Big mistake. 

What she was staking out was a gigantic, brand spankin' new double-wide, still in two pieces, large strips of clear plastic sheeting covering what would soon be the interiors of someone's new home.  Her eyes were all glazed over, her tone that of a Stepford Wife.  "You know they deliver these things with all new furniture in them."    Uh oh.   I knew this mode.  Our mother had sent me to Boston with the charge card to have my sister take me shopping for school clothes.  I had seen my sister throw herself into a physical fight over the last pair of size 10's that she wanted with another like-sized female in Filene's Basement.   I stared at her, then at the new double-wide.  Things were about to go south here pretty quickly and I didn't even have one of my kids to throw in front of her while shouting, "Think of the children."

My sister. The Princess. In her, "Oh, lets go for a five mile walk on the beach." style outfits.

"I bet you it has one of those new garden-style tubs in it...."    The emphasis, as always, was her way of making an outright 'dare yah' out of what normally would be a rhetorical question.  I had learned that years ago.  The hard way.  "I simply must see the interior."   "OK, sure, it's clear plastic. We can see through it, right?"   "Righto," she replied as she marched in between the pieces.

Evidently the clear plastic sheeting had not faired well during its transport to the final frontier.   It was so cloudy we could only see the shadowy outlines of the interior, and only that thanks to the sun shining through the exterior windows on the outside walls.   We stared.  Well, I stared, what I failed to notice was that my sister's stare had turned into that, "This is not what I had envisioned," glare.  I felt a movement beside me and watched as my sister's hand slid up the plastic sheeting.  For one silly moment I thought oh, she's just wishing, until on its way back down I watched in horror as one of her perfectly manicured fingernails was etching a large slit in the plastic.  "Oops." she dead panned at what must have been by now my saucer sized eyeballs.   "Um, you know where I work, right?  RIGHT???"

Mr. Berry & Me. Circa 1988

"Oh silly, you know them all."      "Might I remind HRH I work in a different state now, I never worked in this area, and it's not like one big family? We don't all know each other." 
"Well then, there's a hole in the plastic, let's just make sure everything inside is okay." While synapse between my neurons were crashing into each other in utter confusion, I watched in terror as her classic KEDS, with the little blue rubber square on the heel, slid through the opening of her own creation.

I began to ask myself where this side of my sister had been all my life, as freedom from the free side of the bars flashed before my eyes.  Until scenarios I had, up until now, just considered normal -  sort of - brought themselves to the forefront of my brain.  Like the time she took me white water rafting on the Saco River. When I was 10. 

Dad took the photo.  No one was getting HIM into one of those things.

At the time I had just considered it another one of my sister's attempts to murder me for coming along eight long years into her perfected nest of our parents home and she had to begin retraining them all over again.

Darn.  Can't just leave her in there alone, besides, where I came from I would be considered a LOOK-OUT.   I clambered in through the slit after her.   "Wipe your feet," she said primly.   "On WHAT?  The not-NEW-anymore carpet?" but she was already wandering through the living room into the kitchen oogling the new appliances.   "Oh Joni, look at this would you?  It's like something out of Ozzie and Harriet."     "Oh, did they get arrested for a B & E too?"   "Oh stop it would you, nothing will happen."    Famous last words as our mother used to say.   When we had seen every inch of the side we were in I felt secure enough to say, "Okay, We Came, We Saw, We're leaving, there are no Chesterfield sofas here..."

"No, the bathrooms must be on the other side."   Oh silly me, I had forgotten about the freakin' garden tub.  You know the drill.  The 'accidental' slit was made on the opposing side, and we were in.

More poignant photos flashed through my brain, such as this one Dad took on a side trip to our World's Fair vaca.

And this one, where WAS my Tree-Huggin' sister anyway, who killed her, hid the body and replaced her with this, this, well,  prospective criminal?

My reverie was interrupted by the imposter cooing, "Ooooh, just come and see this tub."  I raced to the end of the side with such speed it began to shake a bit , so that when I arrived at the master 'suite' to find my sister flat out in the garden tub pretending she was surrounded by a bazillion strawberry scented bubbles, she said, "Oh, be careful, remember it's not anchored down yet." 
"Sure I can see the headlines now, 'SISTER DUO CAUGHT RED HANDED AFTER TRAILOR TOPPLES OVER, FILM AT ELEVEN.'  Now lets get out of here you're scarin' me."

By the time we arrived back at our parents 'manufactured home' I thought I had wiped the horror-stricken look off my face, yet somehow our mother always knew.   "What have you done." 
"Um, why do you always ask me that anyway?"  as her scanner started to sound a tone for an auto accident on the lake road.  I paled.   She walked away muttering.  My father, sittting on the couch made the sign of the cross. 

My sister sighed and smiled.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Before finishing the story of the B & E.  Yes, it's exactly what you think (not really, er, well, sort of...), and yes, the statute of limitations has run out.....more importantly yes, my sister "The Princess" was involved....   :}

Friday, September 9, 2011


Courtesy D. Hochberger

My new mantra....

Summer is NOT over...
Summer is NOT over...
Summer is NOT over....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Just now and then The Great Gatsby leaves his bedside reading next to the bed where I trip over it, further delaying my hike over him and to my place in the bed, plastered up against the wall,  when usually I feel a long white boat shoe stretching out, gently applying pressure to my spine, letting me know I so totally already have quite enough room on the bed, Thank You.

His is, after all, a literary cat......



No wonder I'm up late so often....   :}

Monday, September 5, 2011


Just how HUGE those fire engine truck tires truly are....

I have a 36" inseam. The truck tire is up to my waist.


His qualifications...

With CT. Senator Richard Bloomingthal


The Next Day

Thw Weeping Willow Faired Well....

And ALLLLL Over the News We were WARNED

Which is why I found this Hilarious....

Hurricane Gear.

Power is nearly restored to all parts of the state, streets and roads are cleared of debris and on to the next.  Due in tomorrow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Bunny & Edgar

Dogs have Masters.

Cats have STAFF.