A Budding Blog…

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Well, it is with a fair amount of fear and trepidation that I’d like to make an announcement.
Before your mind starts to wander too far, I am not pregnant. That would cause mind-boggling fear and trepidation, and would, in fact, be a miracle.
This is “Not That Big a Deal” which is also the name of my new blog. Yes, friends I have “bitten the bullet, jumped in with both feet, leaped into the breach” and it scares the crumbs out of me. But, I enjoy making people smile and laugh and forget, even if just for a little while, their troubles. I think it’s something we all need now and then. I really do believe that “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” So, here I go…
My blog link will be posted on facebook and twitter tomorrow and, hopefully, every Friday after that. I hope it does its job. I hope it makes you smile. 

 

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For the Love of Dogs…

I have owned dogs for almost half of my life. Some were bought, some were given, and  two were inherited. Of the two inherited, only one is still with us, Stella. Stella is a “chichihuahua,” as my granddaughter used to call her. Chichihuahuas are not my favorite dogs, but Stinky-Stell’s been with us for 16 years and has won a place in my heart, mostly because of her sheer determination not to die. She’s not nasty with people or children, like some, but she is feisty with her doggy roommates. “Though she be but little, she is (truly) fierce”.

The other inherited dog was a personal favorite of mine, a 75 lb. female white boxer named Haven. I loved Haven. She literally ate 3 of our couches, was terrified and strong enough to break out of a metal crate, and was not housebroken until we fenced the yard  and got a doggy door, though that last part wasn’t really her fault.

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She was massive for a female boxer and most people thought she was a pit bull. Once while bringing her to Banfield Pet Hospital to pick up her medicine, people in the waiting area took their dogs and backed away from her. I understood. An older lady was in front of me in line. She rolled her eyes at the waiting room’s reaction and proudly told me, “I am not afraid of pit bulls.”

Should I tell her? I hated to burst her bubble, but I had to. “Well, actually, she’s not a pit bull. She’s a boxer.” The people in the waiting room relaxed. The lady in front of me was perplexed. “They come in white?”  

When people came to the door, Haven would plaster herself on the little side windows and bark like a maniac. People would, understandably, back away. One UPS man would stand halfway down our driveway and slide our packages the rest of the way. Little did any of them know, that once they came into the house Haven would wiggle her butt and get her toys and was just thrilled that they were there. Stella, not so much, but somehow she was the one that everybody wanted to pet.

When Haven was almost 11, her back legs could no longer support her. The vet said it was time and we took her and stayed with her while she closed her eyes for the last time. It was sad, but I am convinced that I will see her and all of my dogs again. It may not be Scriptural, but I refuse to believe otherwise.

Once Haven was gone, I waited a little while but knew I needed another dog. My poor husband, not a lover of dogs, but truly a lover of me; was done with dogs. He was very content to let Stella live out her life as a single dog. I explained that I needed one more, that I needed my last dog to be one that I chose for myself. Because he’s a good man and understands his wife, he let me. Enter Phoebe…

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I didn’t exactly want a Phoebe. I wanted a Norman. I have no idea why, but since my kids were little I’ve always wanted a big, old hound named, Norman. But then, while looking on Petfinder I saw a picture. This puppy was exactly what I pictured my last dog as being except for one thing, this puppy was a female. I asked if she had any male litter mates. She didn’t. Somehow that no longer mattered. I knew she was mine. I thought about calling her Norman, but didn’t want to get into the whole transgender thing, so I named her Phoebe.

She’s not exactly the big, old hound I wanted. In fact, she’s not big at all. She is the runt, but then, so am I. Instead of topping out at 60 lbs, she is barely scraping 40. This makes my husband very happy and since he let me have her, I’m glad he’s happy. After all, size isn’t everything and really, it’s not that big a deal.

 

 

 

 

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“We Wants The Redhead”

It’s time to say goodbye and goodbyes are never easy. She lived her life hounded for years by a bunch of drunken scoundrels shouting, “We wants the redhead!” Where other women would shrink back in fear, she saw opportunity and was ready to meet the challenge. She was confident, even brazen, never a victim. She was my hero.

Though human trafficking has always existed, it has become a more prominent issue recently, and I suppose I do understand the need for a change. But, still, I will miss hearing those pirates proclaiming those wonderful words, “We wants the redhead” because, honestly, who really ‘wants the redhead’?

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For all of my almost 58 years of life, I have been the beneficiary of MC1R, the notorious redhead gene. Though there is something kind of cool about being a part of only 2% of the worldwide population, it does have it’s drawbacks.

I have, I hope, heard it all.

When wearing shorts to a family picnic or anywhere else for that matter,  there are stares and the inevitable, “Oh my gosh, everybody put your sunglasses on! Roxanne’s wearing shorts!” They wonder why I wore long pants all summer long. My own children would tell me I looked “naked” if I had on light-colored shorts and white sneakers.

Reaching adulthood and being asked by a childhood friend. “Were you always that white?” I replied, “No, I’ve faded over time.”  Seriously?

When I sold real estate, I would sometimes wear a skirt with a pair of sandals. I was told by one of the owners of my office, “Either get a spray tan, or wear stockings.” I felt bad. I tried the spray tan. I turned orange. I thought about it and returned to the office in my skirt and sandals, white legs proudly exposed for the world to see. I went up to said owner and told them. “THIS is the way I’m showing houses!”

Maybe the redheaded temper is a real thing, but then again, I’m Italian and Irish with just enough German thrown in for good measure. Add the red hair and you have a deadly combination.

And then there’s the medical world who have their own ideas about redheads. I have heard all of the following on many different occasions.

  • Redheads are fainters and bleeders.
  • Redheads feel more pain.
  • Redheads feel less pain.
  • Redheads have veins that roll.
  • Redheads are unpredictable in surgery.
  • Redheads don’t do well with anesthesia.
  • Redheads don’t do well with medications.
  • Redheads have excessive ear wax.

And my personal favorite…

  • I’m sorry. I don’t date redheads.

Okay, that last one was not said by a doctor, but still, there it is. The fact that almost all of these are true for me is mere coincidence.

Once while walking in Disney with my husband, I heard a man behind us saying, “So you see, redheads are actually genetic freaks…”

I turned around. His girlfriend elbowed him. He looked at me and apologized. That was nice! He was a biology student and was fascinated by the MC1R gene. Even better! I liked this guy! I even answered questions for him. Finally, someone with a positive outlook on the wild world of redheads.

History has not been so enamored. Redheads throughout history were thought to be untrustworthy, impure, and dangerous. Some were even burned at the stake as witches. It was thought that fat from a redheaded man could be used to make poison. Who knew?

And then there is Cyrano de Bergerac, a famous literary character in love with, are you ready for this, Roxanne. (If I had an emoji, there’d be a big fat happy face right here.) Evidently, he loved red hair. He wrote:

“A brave head covered with red hair is nothing else but the sun in the midst of his rays, yet many speak ill of it, because few have the honour to be so.”

A fitting end to my redhead rant, which is really not that big a deal.

 

 

 

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Full Circle…

I am not bothered by many things in life…

I often wonder if this is because,  when I was younger, I never thought much about anything. Ever.

For example, I did not realize, when Cliff asked me to marry him, that I was entering into an interracial marriage. A friend at work told me. I didn’t care one way or the other, but I really hadn’t given it much thought.

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I did notice, when we went to Chinatown in New York, that older Chinese people would sometimes give me “looks”, but I quickly decided it wasn’t personal because they didn’t know me. Cliff’s family knew me and loved me and that was good enough.

When our first child, Eric, was born my roommate was a lovely black woman named Karen. Babies weren’t allowed in the mother’s room during visiting hours back then. Visitors had to look at the babies through a big window. Then, when visiting hours were over, the babies were returned to their mothers by female teenage volunteers. The first day of visiting, the poor girl returning babies was very confused when she got to our room. The girl looked at Karen, looked at me, looked at Eric, looked at the room number outside our door, then looked at Karen again. She cautiously began to wheel Eric towards Karen, but then realized Karen already had her baby. She looked at me again a fair-skinned redhead who blended in with her sheets, and then looked at this dark-skinned baby with jet black hair. Her expression was pleading for some understanding. I finally realized what was happening. I looked at her and said, “He’s mine”.

And so began my journey as the mother of three Asian children who did not look like me…at all.

Almost every time we left the house there were questions…

“How long did it take you to get them?”

“Nine months each. They’re mine.”

And then they validate you. “Oh! My sister’s  friend’s grandson married a Vietnamese girl.”

“That’s nice.”

“They’re beautiful! Where are they from?”

“Boonton.”

“Ohhh???”

“Are you babysitting?”

“Yes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

I admit, there was a point when this started to get old. But then one day it happened. I went out all by myself. I never knew a trip to the dry cleaners could be so refreshing, so exhilarating! While there, waiting my turn, and basking in my temporary peaceful existence, I saw a blonde Caucasian woman with an adorable little Asian girl. I don’t know why, but I did it.

“Your daughter is adorable. Where is she from?” I asked.

The woman, ever-so-nicely replied, “Oh, she’s mine. My husband is Japanese.”

God has a wonderful sense of humor. Don’t you think? I thanked the woman and explained my embarrassment. We both laughed. It was then that I realized that people are curious and that’s okay.

A few years later, we went to Disney World and the tables were, somewhat, turned. Our children were 7, 5, and almost 3. It was an incredible trip planned by my incredible planning husband! Cliff had been there before, but for the kids and I it was all new and exciting! Our youngest daughter, Autumn, renamed Epcot, “Apricot” and it soon became one of our favorites.

One day, as we were walking around a store in the China Pavilion of “Apricot” I let the girls get out of the stroller to walk around. Autumn went with Cliff and Eric. Rachel, our 5 year old, stayed near me. She was absolutely mesmerized by the Chinese woman behind the counter. The woman was in full Chinese dress and was beautiful. Rachel, only six feet away from me, stared unashamedly.

I need to pause here for a brief explanation. Of our three children, Rachel is the “fairest of them all”. If she and I were alone together, people rarely asked if she was adopted. If she was with her siblings, it was obvious that she was one of them.

So, here she was openly staring and looking adorable in the process. The woman finished with her customer, looked down, and saw Rachel.

“You’re very beautiful. Are you Chinese?”

Rachel looked at me. I told the woman, “She’s half.”

Now, Disney workers are trained to ALWAYS be polite to park visitors, but this woman must have had a really bad day. She looked at me kind of disgusted and said, “How do you know?”

I smiled sweetly and replied, “I’m her mother.” The woman was embarrassed. I know it’s not right, but I was enjoying myself!

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Years have passed and life has come full circle for us. Our children are grown and I’ve noticed that people are less surprised when I point out who my children are. But, when my children point out who their mother is, people are somewhat shocked. I guess it’s their turn. It’s kind of fun for me and, overall, it’s really not that big a deal!

 

The picture of the beautiful pagoda comes compliments of my brother, Paul. You can see and purchase this and all of his photography at his website ~ nuhorizondesign.com.

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The Story of Us…

Once upon a time a fairly long time ago, on January 15, 1954, there was born in the city of Brooklyn, New York, a little Chinese boy. He was given the name Cliff James Chin by his parents, not Clifford or Clifton, just Cliff.  

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Irma

 

We visited Irma last May. She was very hospitable.

Like most Italian ladies she made sure we were well fed and cared for while in her home. She’s always been that way. I remember as a little girl loving to visit Irma because she’d let my siblings and I have anything we asked for. IMG_20170506_114340743Knowing this we asked for a lot. When her sons asked for the same things, she would say, “No”. She always made us feel special!

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Little White Cotton Socks: A Rachel Story

At some point in our lives, all of us receive the same ‘gift’ from our mothers. It happens at the point of total exasperation when she looks at you and says those prophetic words, “I hope you get a kid just like you!”

I remember it being said to me and it came true. I got one. Although, I must say I made out on the deal. My sister was told, “I hope you get six kids just like you!” My sister was very smart. She stopped at two and they are both, for the most part, just like her.

I’d like to say, I’ve never felt like this was a bad thing. IMG_20170830_111204465

Every family has that one child among all of their children that has no “off” button. Ours came in the form of a little spit of a girl named, Rachel.

Without an ultrasound, I knew when I was four months pregnant that she was a girl. I also knew she was a whirlwind. She never stopped moving. She still hasn’t.

This picture is Rachel at 5 years old. She was very excited about her recital. Notice the dirty sneakers, they were actually fairly new. Rachel had a ‘way’ with sneakers. She had a ‘way’ with most things and early on received the nickname “Miss Destructo” from my husband.

Also notice the adorable little white cotton socks.

They were just out of the package and, as such, had not yet been destroyed. I would like to write this blog as a tribute to those little white cotton socks. For they would soon come to their undoing at the hands of my five-year-old.

It was a beautiful summer day in Boonton, New Jersey. The sun was shining, we were done with school, and the kids were all playing in the backyard. Rachel came inside and went to her room. She was quiet for more than a few minutes. Always cause for concern.

I was about to go see what kind of havoc she was wreaking, when she came out. She wanted to paint her fingernails. I told her she couldn’t and to put the polish, which I knew she’d already taken out, away. She obediently and without whining went back to her room. Within minutes she was flying out the back door to play. I checked her room and was very pleased to see that everything had been put away. I thought all was well, little did I know.

After dinner that night, I told the kids to go get ready for their baths. I was washing dinner dishes. We didn’t have a dishwashing ‘machine’. In fact, for the first 17 years of our marriage we didn’t have a dishwashing ‘machine’. They were so cold and impersonal. We had a dishwashing ‘person’, me. But, I’ll save that one for another day. On with the story…

In the midst of my dishwashing reverly, I was interrupted.

Nothing could prepare me for the sight I was about to see. 

There she was, standing in the kitchen with her little white cotton socks hanging, inside out, off of her toes. They were stuck. She looked at me and said, “Mommy, my socks won’t come off.” She seemed surprised.

In a way, I guess it was my fault. I did tell her not to paint her fingernails but, I did not say anything about her toes. As for the little white socks, they didn’t come clean in the wash and were given a fond farewell. A lesson learned, a memory earned; but, really, it was not that big a deal.

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The ‘Ecwipse’

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This past Monday I woke up early and started making ‘viewers’ for the eclipse. I made four of them out of cereal boxes. I was so excited I posted about it on Facebook. My sweet daughter-in-law, wanting to protect me from disappointment, responded.

“So you know, the reflection you’re looking for is about 1/2 cm wide with a cereal box viewer.”

I explained to her that “bigger isn’t always better”. In her defense, she knows me well. She was telling me so I’d know how to aim correctly and wouldn’t be thinking I was going to see a much bigger diameter of the eclipse; which of course I was. But, we prepared anyway and we waited patiently. I set the timer on my stove, just in case, and then I warned the three of our grandchildren that live with us, about not looking directly at the eclipse. They understood without question. All except Gavin. Continue reading

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