Month: February 2019

Let Down

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’ve been on vacation from work for the last week.  And I’ve been rather purposefully sedate, almost to the point of being lazy.  But then again, I don’t usually do much on my vacations, normally because I work so hard on the weeks when I’m on the job.  Too, neither my wife nor I are big on traveling.  Sure we’ll make little forays out of the house for shopping, going out to eat, appointments and the like, but we don’t normally travel all that far from home base, unless it’s a special or unexpected occasion.  We’re homebodies, for the most part.  Always have been.

Even so, we’ve been discussing off and on about going to Rochester, NY for a shopping trip together.  It’s about 2 hours distant, and there’s an Italian bakery we’ve been going to for many, many years.  It’s the bakery that made our wedding cake 26 years ago, and they make the most delectable butter cookies you could imagine.  On more than one occasion I’ve mentioned that if that place was closer, I’d easily creak the floorboards at 500 lbs (or more).  Yes, they’re that good.  Last year we both bought a Groupon for $30 worth of baked goods for $15.00 (USD).  A nice bargain and we’d done the same thing a couple of years back.  Of course we both spent ours on cookies.  They freeze well, if they make it to the freezer that is.  The deal expires at the end of March, and since I had vacation, we figured “why not?” and decided to make the trip.  The wife checked their website to be sure we’d be there at the right time, and yesterday afternoon we set off for the city.

We’d considered going the day before, but the weather report was saying that it was snowing in the city, even though it was sunny where we were.  Personally I don’t mind driving in the snow at any time, unless it’s really a white-out or blizzard.  Even so, driving with the wife can be a little more problematic, since if the wheels start to slip, she has a tendency to go into full panic mode.  And no one wants someone to have a screaming fit in their ear when they want to concentrate.  So we postponed the trip.

The trip was uneventful, though when we reached the area, we decided to eat at the local Olive Garden, so when we got to the bakery, we wouldn’t have the urge to buy everything not nailed down.  Dinner at OG was very nice, we had a very engaging waitress, enjoyed our meal and tipped her accordingly.  When she asked about dessert, I mentioned casually that we were going to the bakery (mentioning it by name) and she recognized the name and said that she loved their baked goods.  Leaving the restaurant, we continued down the highway looking for a suitable place to turn around, since the bakery was in a plaza on the other side of the road.  As we passed the plaza, I noticed something rather odd….the sign that advertised the bakery was missing on the building.  Or at least I thought it was.  Perhaps I had the wrong plaza?

After turning into a small strip mall and making our way to the right plaza, my worst fears were confirmed.  The sign was indeed missing, and the place looked like it had been closed for several weeks.  The windows weren’t boarded up, but you could easily tell that it was no longer in operation.  There was a computer printed sign on the glass door that announced they were “now in California!” along with a website to check out.   Might as well call it what it was.  We were both dumbfounded that the people who have been operating this bakery for the last 105 years could be so callous with their loyal customer base.  Taking out my phone, I did a quick web search and sure enough, a month back there was some local news coverage of the bakery’s closing and moving to the West Coast.  However, they never bothered to update either their website or social media presence to reflect that.  As a matter of fact, they went so far as to purchase another website to reflect the new location, registered a new Facebook page as well as an Instagram account (all the while leaving the old ones up and not updated) to advertise their new business.  And to add insult to injury, referring to their new bakery as having been opened in 1914.  Um, sorry people, you’re new to California.  While the bakery has been in your family for 105 years, that’s false advertising.  Better to say that you’re starting from square one.

Needless to say, we came straight home.  What we probably should have done was seek out another Italian bakery in the city.  As it turns out, there are several.  But we were more than a little crestfallen and decided to head for home and call it a day.  Even so, on the 90 minute trip, we discussed the discovery and lamented about how we were going to have less of a reason to go back to the city now, it was pretty much the last reason that either of us ever needed to go there.  Once arriving back at the homestead, I went to my couch and started searching YouTube videos about how to make the cookies myself.  My wife decided a more direct approach was in order and emailed the new bakery, informing them that it would be nice if they had done a little due diligence with their website and inquiring if our Groupons were still good.  Apparently it depends on who you ask.  The new bakery Facebook page suggests that they’re not being honored, as they’re being described as a ‘one time sale’ and since the old bakery closed, the new bakery isn’t going to honor them.  Which is a sucky way of doing business, but given what we’ve learned, I guess we’re not terribly surprised.  Suffice it to say, with the comments on their old Facebook page, we’re not the only people who were caught unawares.

I suppose in retrospect it was a good thing they moved across the country.  Pissing off your client base isn’t the best way to engender repeat business.  No matter how good your product is.

When you’re not -quite- family

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I received a message from my birth mother this morning, informing me of the rather unexpected death of my Aunt Lorraine.  Except that I was unaware of Aunt Lorraine.  And I’m not entirely sure that she, or her family was aware of me.

I may have mentioned this before, but if I didn’t here it is now.  I was an adopted child.  As a baby.  3 days old as a matter of fact.  Born on a Saturday morning, shipped off to NYS (USA) on a Tuesday.  My birth mother was finally able to relate to me the story of how I came to be with another family in the same geographical area where she grew up.  Even if she was unaware of it at the time.  Since it was a private adoption, neither she nor her family was allowed to know where I ended up.  They could have made some guesses, due to the lawyer that worked the adoption at one end (he was local), but other than that, it was private, closed, and she wasn’t permitted to know more details than basic ones. (Loving family, had one child already)

Anyway, after ‘Mom’ told me about Aunt Lorraine’s passing (via text message, I was asleep when she sent it) I did a little digging and came across Lorraine’s obituary.  Then her FB page.  I didn’t do much digging after that, because what I found out was nice, but a little disconcerting as well.  But not wholly unexpected when you think about it.

Lorraine lived a long life, was much-loved by her family, and had several children of her own (my cousins).  She was very active, even into her 80s (84 when she died last week).  Lots of activities, some travel, interactions and she was religious, or so it seemed from the posts from her church and in reference to church related activities.  I do have to mention here that Lorraine was not my direct relation.  She wasn’t my mother’s sister, she was the sister of the man who my mother married in the 1970s.  NOT my birth father, so Lorraine wasn’t a direct relation.  Sort of an Aunt once removed.  But the thing that irked me a little was how the obituary was printed and shared in the newspaper.  To be blunt, I wasn’t listed.  My half-brother and half-sister are there, but no mention of me or my wife.

Now, I can understand how it came to be, even though its been 2 years since my mother and I were reunited, I’m still much of an afterthought when it probably comes to familial interactions on her side of the state.  To be honest, it took my Mom all of about 20 months before she listed me as her son on her FB profile.  She said she hadn’t really thought about it, and I can understand and appreciate that, but now it’s corrected and out there for anyone to see if they care to look.  My conception, birth and adoption in the 1960s was one of her family’s things they didn’t discuss, considering the fact that when she was found to be pregnant in 1964, she was shipped off to live with an aunt in Indiana.  So that the neighbors in their little town wouldn’t know that an unwed mother was living in their midst.  While nowadays that can be considered normal, 50 years ago it just wasn’t.  Too, this was 8 years pre Roe v. Wade, so an abortion wasn’t legal.  Not that they weren’t done, but getting one required extraneous or extraordinary circumstance.  No Planned Parenthood, nothing of that nature.  It was considered (and was) illegal, period.

So, Aunt Lorraine has passed on.  Obviously, we’re not going to the funeral.  I offered my condolences to Mom and her husband Ron, and wished them safe travels (they’re flying up from Florida for the services, staying a couple of days then flying back to resume their winter layover that they do every year) seeing as it’s snowing here in NY currently.  I expect my half-brother and his family will be at the funeral as they live locally.  Fairly certain my half-sister won’t be driving up from VA, since they have 2 small children and travel might be a little problematic, too they’re both teachers and would more than likely have a little difficulty getting the time off from work to travel.

Having this to think about the last day has me wondering what’s going to happen when Mom does eventually die.  Is it going to be late in the planning stages when someone finally remembers that I need to be notified?  My half-siblings and I don’t have the most engaging of relationships.  When I visited the area 2 years ago, my half-brother couldn’t be bothered to introduce me to his wife.  I had to meet his children when they visited their grandmother, and then only for a few minutes before they wanted to go off and do things on the computer (they’re in their teens, I can understand the mind-set).  Sort of a “hi, here’s your Instant-Uncle, be nice to him!”  I haven’t had any interaction with either of them since.  And really, don’t expect to.  Too, I’ve only interacted with my half-sister and her family through a couple of video chats, her 3-year-old has no clue who I am, whenever he sees me on the video screen, his response is “where’s Grampa?”.  Thanks, kid, makes me feel really welcome.  [Yes, I know he’s 3.  That was sarcasm, fyi.]

Not for nothing, but it all reminds me of when my estranged brother got married for the first time 30 years ago.  He wanted the wedding announcement to be put in the New York Times, (at the time he wanted to be known as an ‘up and comer’) and whoever took down the copy at the Times got the names mixed up.  If anyone bothers to look in the Times history, my adopted father is listed as the groom.  Nice going, NYT.  And one wonders why copy editors are so highly prized.

RIP Aunt Lorraine.

7 months and counting…

Reading Time: 3 minutes

HarmfulFlatEgg-smallIt’s been now seven months since I’ve seen my girl.  Honestly, it actually seems longer.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but well, life does have a tendency to get in the way.

The original plan last year was: Get together in either May or June, and then start getting together every couple of months, to keep things fresh.  But of course that didn’t happen.  One month turned into another, and another and another.  Disaster occurred in her life at the end of August, so that sucked in a major way, and I was unable to be there for her when she really needed me too.  Still bothers me that I wasn’t able to do it, but responsibilities here kept that from happening.  After that, it was Labor Day, then the temperatures started to drop and it was not feasible for her to attempt driving in winter weather, since I’m the one that has decades of experience in that, and she has basically one winter season under her belt.  Too, my vehicle is a lot more reliable.  So, more waiting.

I keep reminding myself that I’ve done this before, and I didn’t much like it.  No one likes waiting, and watching, and being on the sidelines, hoping for the time that they can be together.  I know there are others in the same boat, and I’ve often in my mind equated it to WWII soldiers being sent off to Europe and not seeing their loved ones for years.  At least that’s how I work it out in my mind, even though if I don’t really know if it happened that way.  Soldiers and sailors (and marines) got liberty, and leave, but were they allowed to take it in the US in the middle of all that combat?  Did the US military allow that?

I did a little digging on the subject and here’s the result, fwiw.  Your average GI Joe wasn’t allowed to go back home unless there was some sort of extraneous circumstance.  If multiple siblings were serving, and all but one were killed in action, the remaining one was sent home, to continue the family line.  This rule wasn’t in force at the time of The Sullivans tragedy, but several other families benefitted from it later on.  So that’s the answer to that question, in case you were wondering.

Of course I’m getting away from the subject at hand.  As is my custom.  The bottom line is, I’d like to get together more often.  I’m not certain in the current idiom it’s going to happen.  And yes, dear reader, it’s damn frustrating.