Sunday, September 23, 2012

Get Me Out of Here

My father's sister, Auntie Phyllis has a son, Cousin Wally. During the 54 years of Wally's life he and his mother may have spent 27 hours apart. Cousin Wally has never had a friend, earned a dime, driven a car or had an opinion. Their relationship is so symbiotic Cousin Wally doesn't eat tomatoes because Phyllis chokes on them.  My father and I have just about reached that alarming state. When I took him for chemo yesterday the nurse observed that we were dressed alike.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dinner with Doctors

My father idolizes doctors so when Mike's sister Kathleen and her husband Ricardo (both radiologists) invited us to a 6:30 dinner Mike was ready at 3:00. We met at a restaurant. Everyone, and I mean every single person in the restaurant knew my father. I've lived away from RI long enough that I forgot that about him. My father is a well know jazz trumpet player, he's played at just about everyone's wedding. Not to mention he just generally gets around.  Tomorrow at coffee with the guys he has a good story made even better by the doctors telling him he looked pretty healthy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We're all on the Lido deck

Every time my father introduces me to a new girlfriend I want to pull her aside and tell her she's dancing on the Lido deck of the Titanic and I'm the only one who sees the iceberg. What's stopped me from doing that with the last few was the thought that they may take care of him when he's old and sick. I liked that idea. Well  guess what, word's gotten out and they all DO want to take care of him, the calls, cards and letters are non stop. My father can be described in two words; Bill Clinton. He's magnetic, charming and isn't happy if he's not picking up some woman who looks like Linda Evans.  My father won't see them, he sends me to meet them for coffee to return whatever they have sent and remind them he's with Doris.  It seems his last girlfriend will be Doris. My father is 100% Italian but has always loved waspy blonds. Come to think of it I have mostly steered clear of Italian men…. Anyway, Doris is the queen of Wasp, she's from England. She's rich, rich, rich and brings five changes of clothing for any overnight. When she told me her only hobby is shopping I figured there was no common ground for us. For once I was wrong, I love Doris, she's funny, smart and real.  Doris won't drive on the highway so I chaperone many of their dates these days. She takes beautiful care of my father every weekend. Now we all see the iceberg.

Monday, September 17, 2012


My junior high best friend, Annette, had an Aunt Fay who would stay with Annette's family after drying out at Chapin Hospital. It was during one of these shaky, hopeful homecomings that she taught us to knit.  I don't have to explain to you the irony that I became both a knitter and an alcoholic.
Knitting is a soothing, meditative activity that gets me through any difficult situation.  Every time I've moved I find an AA meeting and a knitting group before I unpack and I'm home.

Today, as Mary Ann faces a rugged chemotherapy regime next week , for metastatic pancreatic cancer ,we sat and knit. It's our normal. This weekend Mary Ann taught her son's girlfriend, Ali, how to knit. It's an easy way to pretend that all is right with the world. Ali seems to be our kind of knitter, when breakfast was served she said "I just need to finish this row".

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Guys

My father likes my husband more than he likes me, most people do. Last night Mike was flying into Green and Mike the father wanted to pick him up with me. I lost my keys and Mike the father went ballistic and he finally found them, that hunt took a couple of months off his life expectancy. On the way home from the airport he said "do you know how I found your keys?". "You prayed to St Anthony". "I prayed to St Anthony" he said. He then recounted a few times when he prayed to St Anthony and the lost object was in his hand. Mike the husband was Mike the father's show and tell at McDonalds this morning.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jeet yet?

When my father was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer I found myself without a place to put my worry. If the worst thing that could happen comes to pass, there's nothing else anyone can tell you that could be worse so a calm sets in.
 If you're Italian though, NOT FOR LONG. I'm afraid my friends will realize they never really liked me anyway, my clients find a hairdresser they like more and I have no life left in Maine. But just in case I do still have friends, clients and a Maine life they will have to learn to communicate with me all over again, I've reverted to my native language. North Providence Rhode Islandese. This state is an opera, and everyone speaks in sort of a recitative. It's a musical place. At the gym this morning two women who remind me of me had a conversation that went like this;"How ARRRRRE you? Goooood?" " Yeah, you know……..ooooh those shoes are sooooo cute! Not for nuttin but ha much?"
So if you still like me study up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Maybe I'm taking the "Make Sure Mike has Fun' tour to the extreme

The Hell's Angels were visiting Mary Ann today and I asked her if we could crash the party. One of the prospects, Francis, was from the same area of Northern  Ireland that Doris is from.   They do kind of resemble each other don't they? My father probably exhausted his entire bucket list by 1965 so I'm letting him share mine. On this day these were wonderful, caring men who helped my father down the stairs.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle

Mike is doing fairly well, and yesterday I wondered if I need to be here all the time, so I asked him. He said he couldn’t do this without me and I need to stay. I think the peanut butter and banana sandwiches I make for him to take to coffee with the guys are just as important as the morphine I hand him twice a day. But really, this cancer is a roller coaster, right after I took this photo Mike was shaking and doubled over in pain, yesterday he couldn't walk. Today, if you ask him he's perfect, he kind of is.
Mike waits for  'Wheel of Fortune' and the Red Sox. I got every movie channel there is and he changes back to Bonanza just when things are getting good in 'Manhattan'.
I've become a tour guide for a bunch of former hep cats. They still like going to the dives.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Daddy -O

It’s been my experience that cancer dawns slowly, first you notice the lump, ignore it for awhile, forget about it maybe and then some time later you realize it’s still resolutely there. In the doctor’s waiting room you’re nervous but certain she’ll say it’s nothing, a lipoma, a cyst and you’ll leave feeling reprieved. She doesn’t though, she says it could be something, probably not but let’s do a scan, a blood test, a biopsy. Still, you wait nervously for the results certain it’s nothing more than the closest call you’ve ever had. When the cancer call comes you’ve done enough research on the web to know what your options are and so you hope for the most benign cancer. So anyway, what I’m trying to say is that when the say it’s metastatic pancreatic cancer you aren’t as freaked out as you ought to be.
My father called me one evening and I ignored the call. The next morning on my way home from and a meeting I remembered he called and listened to his message, “I’m having trouble breathing so I’m going to the ER tomorrow”. I don’t care how sexist I sound, women just KNOW, and I knew that day. He had a chest xray, then a CT scan, then a biopsy, this took weeks, a crawl to diagnosis. He called me every day speculating on the biopsy, ‘it can’t be too bad if they haven’t called me back right away’, and more stuff like that. Oh Daddy. Daddy O.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hair With My Fingerprints On It

I am honored when people ask me to do their hair. I have been doing this for 20 years and I still love it. I learn something new every day and I get to touch people, share their lives and make them look their best. Mike said he is resigned to the fact that wherever we go people ask me to do their hair. I hope they never stop asking.

This Man Interviewed Marina Oswald in 1963 (but not today)

At the urging of his wife, whose battle cry has always been "experience before things" , Capt. Mike McCarten was the high bidder in a silent auction to benefit the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. What caused him to circle that table for an hour? Being a guest at a live broadcast of Face The Nation from the control booth. We are Sunday news morning junkies; it's the only real news these days. Today's show focused on the oil spill. The guests were Sen.Barbara Boxer, Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep Joseph Goa and Sen. Bill Nelson. There was discussion about Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP for the government shakedown of the company and then his apology for the apology. Bob Schieffer, the moderator, also commented on the head of BP's decision to sail in a yacht race this weekend.
Tim McCarten and Lisa Perez, our nephew and his wife, came with us.
Get out of my way at the Navy Marine Corps Ball next year, I'm bidding for this again and after all, my husband is in Afghanistan (a card I will use).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Have Loved This Man for 30 Years

And I got to see him for the first time last week. Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes gave a flawless concert at the Warner Theater. He did a reworked version of "I Write The Book" that had us all spellbound. Jessica Zamora, my co worker, her sister Juli and Mike came with me, Jessica and I were in heaven. Mike and Juli not so much.

The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes

We attended the 2010 Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Ball and danced all night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We are eating M&M's and dressing the dogs, that can only mean one thing, dementia.
Don't pass these photos around, I wouldn't want Poodle Rescue to see them and take the dogs back.

Drag Race

My 1980's life flashed before my eyes last night at the High Heel Drag Race. I was lucky enough to have a great perch at Leah's apartment. And guess what? They were doing the Thriller dance, it took all my self restraint (like I have ever had any) not to join in, the only thing that stopped me was I lacked a fabulous dress.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Madame Secretary

I am very sorry she is not Madame President. Ms. Rodham Clinton heard Mike McCarten was working in town and ran right across the street to say hello. I thought I might try, that day, in true Lucy and Ethel fashion, to impersonate someone who worked at BUMED but where do you put a woman of a certain age not in uniform when there is no cafeteria line?

Thrill the World

In an attempt to break the world record for simultaneous dancing, a record currently held by 'The Hokey Pokey', I convinced Mike and Leah to join me at Joe's Movement Emporium to learn Michael Jackson's Thriller Dance. We had a few hours of lessons, then off to the makeup room if you wanted blood and guts and then at 8:30 we joined the rest of the world in doing the dance. What could be bad about this? It was free, we were dancing and meeting lots of new people. At the next family gathering we will teach it to all the McCartens. Stand by for THAT photo. In anticipation of my next visit you should go to, watch the videos and learn the dance so we can get started right away.

Lucky Prepares to Meet His Maker

I arranged for Lucky and Pepper to go to day care on the day our furniture arrived here in Old Town. It was a great place, they were among hundreds of dogs and placed in a room called 'the lounge' for older dogs. At the end of the day they came home with report cards. Pepper had reclined on the futon all day but I was happy to read that Lucky made a friend named Homer. Well, it seems Lucky may have picked up a little something life threatening from Homer. Lucky spent a restless night and when we woke to the morning light our room looked like a scene from 'The Shining', there was blood everywhere. Lucky spent a few days in the ICU and was diagnosed with Canine HGE which led to a cascade of things culminating in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He still isn't quite healthy but he's not trying to die anymore. In the midst of all this a local church had a blessing of the pets on the Feast Day of St. Francis Assisi so we put on our best leashes and hedged our bets.


On our way out of Japan we got another dog. Pepper is an 11 year old Husky- Schnauzer mix ( Schnusky). We are her eighth owners, she has been passed around Camp Zama in Japan the way cars are passed from one family to another and never leave the military base. Her last family had her the longest, three years. For some reason could not get her on the flight back to the States with them so they had someone pick her up at the airport and take her to the shelter on the Yokosuka base. I was keeping tabs on her, no one was interested in adopting an 11 year old dog so they were going to give her a permanent home at a no kill shelter as a last resort. Mike and I took her on a trial basis and one day as we were walking her someone stopped us and said she was thinking of taking Pepper home for her children as they had left their dog behind in the States. Mike turned to me and said "lets go sign her adoption papers right now". As I write this I realize that's exactly the way he married me.
The major difference between Pepper and Lucky is that Pepper is a dog.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"She thinks a little like a Japanese person...." hosts said to our Nakai-san at the Ryokan, nodding in my direction. That's because I bring gifts and thank people profusely. Mayummi-san, Chizuru-san, Motoyo-san and Chizuru-san's husband treated me to a night at a very nice Ryokan with an Onsen that is 100% volcanic water. We had our own Nakai-san (a hostes who wears a kimono) who served our 18 course kaiseki meal in our room and even though she finished with us at 9:00 PM she was back to wake us up at 8:00 AM to then serve our 5 course breakfast consisting of many kinds of fish, three soups and four kinds of pickles. In between all this food we soaked in the Onsen. After spending hours in showers and baths the night before I thought I would wait until I got home to shower again. I could see my friends were quietly horrified so I told them I would take a shower. "Oh no. Ka-chan. Take a shower just to get clean, then you must take a bath, the water is 100% onsen water and the tiles are special Izu tiles."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Answer: Sayuki of Asakusa

Question: What do you get when you cross Margaret Meade with a geisha?
Sayuki is the first foreign geisha in Japan. I know I have always called myself the "Gai-jin Geisha" but I apparently have no rightful claim to the title. Sayuki is a British woman with an MBA from Oxford who studied in Japan off and on for 15 years. She is currently persuing a degree in Social Anthropology, that is the form of Anthropology where you have to live among your subject of study. So Sayuki applied to be the first foreign geisha and was accepted on account of the fact that she is fluent in Japanese, has lived within the culture and plays the flute. All Geisha must be experienced in some kind of performing art. Sayuki is not ready to give up the Geisha life, she is quite liking it and asks that we all be on the lookout for the book she is writing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Winter 2008/2009

I have been working almost full time in the hair salon here so the only trip I took this winter was to the States. I did my niece Allegra's hair for the Winter Ball. A near disaster, how could I know that Winter Ball hair is not like prom hair?
Mike and I hosted a Christmas party for the salon. On Christmas day we served dinner on the ship. Mike's apron says "Wash your damn hands". We hoped to do some good but I felt as though we were harassing people who just wanted to be left alone to eat lunch.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kindly Don't Panic The Horses

Yabusame (horseback archery) is a Shinto ritual that dates back to 794. A mounted archer must hit three targets while galloping full speed. Yoritomo Minamoto the first (and my favorite) shogun of Kamakura made his warriors train in this ritual and they began performing the rite at the Hachimangu shrine in 1186. It was the proudest thing in a warrior's life to be selected as an archer in Yabusame. Mike and I had ringside seats as guests of JANAFA (Japanese American Naval Friendship Association)