Scentsy Party Success!

My Scentsy party was a very successful event!  I had about 15 people attend.  We all drank wine and indulged in all of the food that I had made for about an hour then we had a presentation by the Scentsy consultant about the products and we all perused the catalogs, played with the scent samples, laughed and had a lot of fun.

I’m leaving the party open for orders until Wednesday, December 7th at 5pm.  I’ve gotten a couple of orders from readers here, which is great!  I love my Scentsy products so much and cannot say enough about them.  The warmers and wax bars make terrific Christmas gifts.  If you would like to check out the web page of products and perhaps place an order please let me know.  I am guaranteeing delivery in plenty of time for Christmas and Hanukkah.  I can ship anywhere in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as to APO/FPO addresses.

I personally ordered 9 scented wax bars.  I use a Lavender scent, which is very relaxing, in the warmer in my bedroom, and I’m currently using the scent “World Traveler” in my living room, it has a really awesome clean scent. I also got a new wax warmer, the “Love” one from the catalog.  I got several free items for having the party, including beautifully scented laundry detergent and clothing conditioner (softener), some “Clean Breeze” room spray and a car bar to keep my car smelling good.

Everyone seemed to have a good time. It was the first time I have hosted a party of any kind here at my house.  And today marks my 1 year anniversary in this house!!!  Happy House Day!!!  I enjoyed getting to show the place off and having people enjoying themselves in my space.  Even Nola and Lulu were on their best party behavior, greeting each guest with enthusiasm and tail wags.

I also had two people who attended book their own Scentsy Parties for March and April 2017 respectively.  That gets me bonus points for free product! Yay!

I’m winding down now, I’m tired because I worked at making everything perfect, even getting up extra early this morning because I was nervous about having people over.  I wanted to make a good impression, which I think I accomplished.  Now I am trying to chill and relax for the evening.  I was thinking about going out Christmas shopping, but I think I would rather stay in and do some more writing tonight.  I’ve gotten several requests for writing about different topics, mostly either about the political climate here or about LGBT lifestyle.  I’ve got some work to do for sure!

Have a great night!  ~MB      MainelyButch@yahoo.com

 

Thanksgiving and Politics

I am becoming more alarmed as the days tick by…soon enough Trump will be sworn in as POTUS and I fear that day.  He’s surrounding himself with white nationalists, known racists and Nazi sympathizers.  As I heard today ” they’ve gone from wearing white hoods to business suits.”.  Which is exactly what I am seeing.  Emboldened by their new “leader” these outspoken haters are poised to basically take over in January.  I am very concerned and worried about what this means for all Americans; for civil rights, women’s rights, the LGBTQ fight for equality as well as just for living in the US at all.  I’m seriously afraid that our country will be commandeered by the alt right and a truly hate filled agenda.  How can I not be afraid of this when every days events happening around Trump are so bluntly indicating that this is the direction that he is determined to take us?

My best friend is sick of hearing about it.  She says she’s tired of watching it on the news.  She’s a straight white woman in working class America who’s upbringing was southern based.  She obviously sees this a bit different from me. It upsets me that she feels so overwhelmed by it all that she wants to play ostrich and keep her head in the sand.  But she is entitled to think for herself and to do what’s best for her.  Personally I need to KNOW what is going on so that I am semi-prepared for what is to come.  I watch the news and various commentary to stay well informed.   Because I think it’s important to be well informed.

I am going to meet later today with a couple of people from the LGBTQ community who are trying to organize groups around the country of people to sort of gather, support each other, to speak out and to fight for what we believe in .  The idea is in its infancy but i believe it’s a great idea and want to be involved.  I hope we can build a community that transcends the brewing hatred and bigotry and becomes a force with a voice.

The holiday is on Thursday this week and I am — like many others out there — trying to plan my personal strategy for dealing with my family if politics comes up, which I am most certain it will.  There are Trump supporters in the mix and they know I am a liberal and hate the man.  If things go as they have in the past someone will start making little snide wise cracks about the “tree hugging liberals” and I will begin to silently fume.  I have tried to educate in the past to no avail.  I am preparing myself for what could be a very aggravating day.  My only hope would be if my Mom declares it a politics free zone…even then they will gloat.  I know other people will have it even more rough.  One woman on Facebook was saying her parents told her she could not park her car at their house with the HTC sticker on it on Thanks giving because they believe that sodomy is an abomination and they won’t have it at their house.  She’s an ally, and the parents are evangelical in nature.  Yup, it will be a hard day for many I am sure.

I hope that YOU have a wonderful holiday.  I’m going to try to make most of mine enjoyable by focusing on love and tolerance.  Are you going to be dining with people of opposite views this Thanksgiving?  How do you handle it if a controversial subject comes up?  Does your family try to understand your views?

Much thanks to you, my dear readers.  May the force be with you .  Peace.  –MB

Love

Ang sketch

Love is just a giant little word.  One I am afraid of and have really only said and meant a very few times in my life.  Sure, there is platonic love like how you love a friend for being a friend, or parental love as in how we love our parents.  But there is also a thing called romantic love.  Romantic love is what I speak of here.  I have an issue with it evidently.   When I was younger and more outgoing I chased after love like it was an intoxicator that I just had to have to breath; to live.  But now in my older age here I do far less chasing after this type of love.

Currently I am in a long distance relationship with my lover from Virginia.  Long distance love just sucks when what you crave is the daily touch of another human being.  I want her hands on my body, her kiss upon my lips.  I want the sigh of a woman in my ear.  Distance just keeps all of this from me in a way that feels so cruel and stinging.

Love is one of those emotions I used to try to steer clear of for a few of the more recent years.  I don’t feel like I am very easy to understand for most people, therefore not very loveable to them either.  My exterior is a bit on the harder, rough side and I can be quite stoic in my emotions.  But believe me when I do crack and cry the tears flow like rivers.  It’s not that I mean to be sort of shut down sometimes, but I often am afraid of what to say and don’t want to make mistakes by saying the wrong things.  I tend to speak my mind and that’s not always a good thing I have learned.

Love is a very personal thing for me.  It never has come easy.  I am wary of being burned and thus I take my time with someone.  I have to know that the person loves me that same way that I love her.  I’m a very chivalrous type of Butch, I like to do things that some consider to be male attributes, like pull out her chair, open her car door and entry doors to buildings.  I believe it’s very easy to be kind and chivilrous at the same time.  I’m also one who likes to take care of my woman, make sure she’s happy and contented.  The happier the wife the happier the life!  And that is one very true statement.  And the happier she is the happier I can also be.

As you can see from this post Love has been on my mind heavily lately.  I’m hungry for the touch of another body, and for some ah-mazing sex.  But alas I remain alone here and committed to the path I am walking right now.

Peace!  ~MB

Just a Bit…

I was just reminded tonight that I have not blogged in quite a while, so I should put something together here and let you all know that I am doing stupendously well!  things have really been turning around for me, I’m getting myself together and it feels great.

The weather helps a lot, it’s been like summer here for a couple of weeks now, in the 80’s and sunny almost every day.  Honestly, we could use some rain as everything is very dry and parched.  I have to water my plants almost every night. And my outside water spigot is not working, so I am having to bucket water from the house out to the gardens and water each plant by hand.  Pain in my ass.  But my gardens, both flower and veggetable, are looking pretty damned great if I do say so myself.  I’ve put in all of the flowers that I am going to do for this season, maybe in the fall I will add some bulbs for tulips and daffodils next spring.  But for this year all the perennials are in and doing quite well.  They’ll all come back next season and it will look even better as the whole garden comes together and matures.  I will try to add some recent photos of the flowers I am growing at the end of this blog.

Health wise I am doing awesome as well.  I’m over the scare and stuff from the beginning of the month.  Doctors all say that I am doing well, altough I have some more neurological blood testing to be done, some enzymes are off for some reason.  I don’t understand most of the medical mumbo-jumbo, but I can follow directions.  I am doing well with the relapse too, haven’t touched a thing since I ended up in the hospital.  I can look back now and see all those things that triggered it in the first place too.  I was on the phone with someone tonight and she reminded me of the stresses that I was under, which probably helped lead to my relapse.  Anyway, that’s behind me now, and it’s staying there for good!

The dogs are doing great.  My Dad bought them both matching rainbow collars at the local Strawberry Festival that we attended together with my Mother this last weekend.  I thought it was quite sweet of him to give them those collars, and it was his mild way of showing support for me as well.  Being a staunch Republican he and I don’t talk much about politics or anything about the LGBT issues.  I’d rather not get into that with him.

So at work things are going well.  But I am about tired of being called “sir” all the time.  Summer doesn’t help, I wear a t-shirt (company issued) and black jeans and boots to work every day. It’s obvious that I have a flat chest (as I like it) and I keep my hair in a crew cut….so perhaps some would say I am asking for it. Yes, I am very masculine and present as very androgynous.  But when you thank someone do you have to add “sir” or “m’am” to the end of it?  Can’t we keep things more neutral and just say “thanks”?  Today I counted….11 “sirs” – a couple of them I swear were in a sarcastic kind of way, which irks me to no end.

I have really been trying to be more social lately, going to the fairs and festivals, attending parties that I usually didn’t go to, and being more friendly and nice to people in general.  I feel the change in myself as well, I’m loosening up and it feels good.  I’ve even been making plans for the rest of the summer, little things here and there to make sure that I stay out and involved in life.

So, that’s what’s going on with me.  Just an update of sorts.  I hope that you are all doing well and are in the best of health and spirits —AND enjoying this lovely Spring/Summer!!!!    Peace!!!  ~MB

Vulnerability…and a story

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

I feel often like I just don’t have the right words for various situations.  I can’t say anything right, as much as I put myself out there. I open myself up thus I am almost always in a vulnerable stance just trying to be brave and walk through.  In listening to Brene’s talks (various ones) on the subject of vulnerability and shame I realize that without vulnerability things just don’t happen; people lose their courage.  And being vulnerable is having that courage to keep going; to do what it is that we need to do or that we feel compelled to do.

There are times when I feel more vulnerable lately, that I can put my finger right on the feeling like:

  1. when I take medications to stay alive 3 times a day, the reminder that I am vulnerable to health related stuff is very prominent.
  2. I feel vulnerable when I am around my aging parents and I think that I may not have too much longer to enjoy them, then I question whether I am valuing them enough, even when I am damned sure trying my hardest to be the best I can be by them.
  3. When I am trying to talk to a woman I am interested in, my fear of rejection makes me very vulnerable, but I try to have the courage and just do it.

Story time….

I know I haven’t always been a walk in the park for them.  I gave them some serious trouble and a run for their money.  I was a tough kid, a confused kid and certainly caused my share of trouble.  I think the first time I got caught doing something wrong other than not putting my toys away right, was when I got caught with a porn magazine in my garage rafter fort.

This was probably the most memorable and earliest time I can think of that I felt shame and vulnerability in my young life.  I had built a platform high up in the rafters of the old tin garage we had.  The structure itself was pretty rickety from decades of being subjected to the harsh climate of southern coastal Maine.  It had been patched up, altered, added on to, subtracted from and abused in just about any way that was suitable for whatever it’s current use was supposed to be. At one time it served as a barn for a couple of old cows, I remember those being there, and a couple of pigs living in an adjacent shed that is now gone.  That was before we lived in the house, my cousins were renting it then and had farm animals.  When we bought the house the evidence of the farm animals residing there in the old tin shed was quite obvious.

We used the old shed for a bazillion things, everything from actually storing a car, which barely fit, and you couldn’t open the doors very far so ya had to be skinny as fuck to get in and drive it out of there.  It was my uncles’s old wood side panel station wagon, affectionately called the “Woodie”My Uncle, Dad’s half brother lived with us for a short time in the 70’s…it was short too, Dad booted his ass for continually coming home drunk.Dad was strict about that shit, he didn’t want any of his kids to be around alcohol in any way. I never saw the guy drink more than 2 beers on a Sunday while watching the ball game and I certainly never saw him drunk.

I think my Uncle was drunk most of the time, he was loads of fun!  I do remember that and he used to bring home some awesome things and once he brought home a used, beatu up but functional Honda 50 mini bike….for me!  And then he fixed it up and did a bunch of modifications to it and made it into a little mini-chopper! I had the only Honda 50 chopper tin town,  It was a bitch to drive in the woods and trails I do recall. I wish I could find a photo of that mini bike now.  I did love that thing, and it was my first introduction to feeling really masculine doing something. heres’ a picture of one, not mine but similar.Mini bikeSooo….where the fuck was I going with all of this?   Ah!  My rafter fort. And the porno book.  I only got caught with it because someone told on me!   She was a good girl and knew that I wasn’t supposed to have the explicitly detailed book that I had found on the side of the road up near the bar on the main road.  it must have fallen out of someone’s car or been thrown out.  Either way, it was just laying there saying “pick me up”  And I did.  She asked her mother if it was alright for me to have it, and of course her mother marched right up the road to see my mother immediately and the two of them confiscated the book.

I had a couple of old tires up in the rafter fort, I would hide things like cigarrettes and matches in an old snuff tin that I had gotten from my grandfather.  I would keep my pen and notbook up there so I could write when I wanted to, and I kept some of the books I was reading up there.  I would get out of school days and retreat to that little secluded fort and would be happy as hell reading, writing and trying to learn how to smoke cigarettes.

Now getting caught with it was very embarrassing.  Plus it resulted in foreclosure on my fort.  Down the fort came, and Dad wasted no time taking it down board by board.   I think the embarrassment was sufficient enough, I was pretty damned ashamed of myself for displeasing my father (who I have tried to please all of my life, but that’s another story).  The book was a novel type and didn’t have many pictures except in the middle of the book where they tipped in a set of erotic shots.  No big deal but not suitable reading for a 6th grader.

I then had to start at ground zero on the fort front and find a new location and set up.  The next fort would be further from the house…an ground level stone fort.  Yup, I was a fort builder from way back.  *smirk*

I felt vulnerable in the case with the book for several reasons.  First, I didn’t hide the book well enough, I wasn’t a good enough hider!  Secondly I trusted the wrong person to know that I had the book, I was a bad judge of character.  Third, shame, I shouldn’t have had the book to begin with and was ashamed of myself.  Forth I was vulnerable through embarrassment of everyone of my siblings knowing that I had been caught with a “grown up sex book” as it got called.  The word pornography was far too large for a kids vocabulary at that time.

Anyone curious of the name of the book?  Linda Lovelace- Deep Throat.  NOT 6th grade reading!  LMFSAO

Getting caught with the book was the very beginning of my teenage troubles….it all just kind of snowballed from there, and not in a very good kind of fluffy snowball way.  But every experience leads us to who we are today, so I suppose I had to go through stuff to get right where I am in life and through having each and every experience I have had I have grown and learned…never stop growing and learning, and never be afraid to be courageous!

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Brené Brown,

 

Post Christmas Day

Ah, Christmas Day is behind us once again…another year come and gone…I sit here this early morning thinking about it and considering that overall it was a very nice day.  I spent the better part of the day with my good friend Suretta and my large family, all of whom were very well behaved!  We hung out for a few hours drinking mimosas and talking, then we sat down – 17 of us at one very long nicely set table – and enjoyed a fine cut of prime rib roast with au jus, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus (yes, we grill in December in Maine), broccoli, cranberry sause, awesome home made sweet bread and all the fixings.  It was truly delicious!   Prime rib is one of my most favorite red meats, although I don’t consume much red meat anymore out of concern for my health, but when I do it’s going to be a very good cut of prime rib or filet mignon.

After dinner was over and we went through the clean up and rearranging of the house we all sat down and began opening presents.  It was sweet to see ALL of my nuclear family in one place on Christmas day.  That has not happened in many, many years.  There was even a group picture taken afterwards, I hope to get that posted as soon as my sister gets it up on her Facebook.  It’s not often that we have all of the family together for a group picture like that, it’s been a couple of years now since the last time.  But when we do we make sure that our family photographer, my sister Deb, gets some good shots.

The kids are all growing up.  The youngest, the twins, are 12 now…it’s amazing how fast life happens.  The two of them got new HP computers for Christmas and were happy little people.  My nephew Hayden immediately put stickers all over his – just like I do with mine!  I know those computers will be a big help in my brother’s household where they were all using 2 laptops to do all the homework and household stuff, plus Steven using one to work from home on proposals on occasion.  Now hopefully the kids will take good care of their new units, and hopefully they’ve been pre-installed with virus and malware protection, as well as parental controls.  They’re good kids, but hey even us good kids can’t help but peek at a little smut and porn once in a while!  hahaha

I got more new clothes from my mother.  Luckily she knows my taste pretty good, and also I show her things when we are out shopping that I like.  So I got a nice Izod sweat shirt, 2 new pairs of flannel pajama pants (which means I need to cull my collection of pajama pants and get rid of some of them..tooo many!) a nice new button down shirt.  I also got my AAA+ membership paid for for 2015, some gift cards, a new journal, some gourmet coffee and a few other little trinkets.  I’m a very lucky and a very spoiled rotten Butch.

I am thinking that I may have to do a closet over-haul.  I’ve picked up quite a few new clothes the last month or so –those damned Christmas sales!  So now my closet – which is 8 feet long and 3 feet deep is chock full.  I need to figure out how to organize it better and perhaps even install a shelving system that will accomodate my clothes properly. I hate it when they are packed int here like sardines, it wrinkles them.  I’m not into ironing my own clothing much, but I will do it.  I’d rather take it to the dry cleaners and have them clean and press everything nicely.  But if I have to I can iron with the best of them, it’s an old Army skill.  The key is starch.

Yesterday before I got dressed I took the time to shine my black boots up.  That’ s a little chore that brings back so many memories of my days in the service.  And these were my black Timberland Pros, so they really looked great once I was done.  My brother even noticed them, with some envious eyes I might add.  Hell, they ARE great boots.

My other brother Paul was there yesterday.  I hadn’t seen him since one day last summer when I went over to his place to get some veggies from his gardens.  He’s the one who inherited my mother’s green thumb for sure.  He can grow anything.  It’s good to see him.  His life is so tumultuous with his long time girlfriend who is very volatile and explosive.  She’s not allowed near the rest of the family because of her bizarre behavior.  She can be quite abrasive and downright violent.  Not a good example for the kids to be allowing her to behave like that and then pretending it didn’t happen.  We did that a few times, but after she really hurt him physically once and ended up in jail for it we had to exile her from the clan.  I don’t know what he sees in her, she treats him so horribly, and is so screwed up herself.  I think he pities her in some ways, and I think he doesn’t think he’ll find another girl so he stays with her.  Not a reason to stay with someone in my book.  I’d rather be alone rather than live with that kind of volatility and abuse.  My mom and sisters and I all worry about him, we’re afraid she’s going to kill him in his sleep or something horrible like that one day.  She’s just that tweaked in the brain.  There are a million stories I could relate to back up these claims, but it’s not worth going into here.  I just wish he would break free from her and begin to live again.

I am due to go back to work tomorrow.  Ugh.  I’ve been out with a medical condition the last 10 days, per doctor’s orders.  Now, hopefully they won’t give me too much grief about getting back to work. Maybe they’ll let me go, I have no idea.  And if they did let me go, I wouldn’t cry one bit, I really dislike that job and could find another a little easier if I didn’t have to worry about this one.  I’m thinking I am going to look back in the smaller sector – outside of big corporate America once again.  Small business just suits me much better.  Hell, if I had the cash I would do something on my own again, a new start up.  That could be in my future, I’m just not sure which direction I want to take right now.  For the moment I will continue to try to work for someone else, but in the long run I should really try to get back tot he self-employed world.

All things to consider for 2015.  I’m not one to make New Years’ Resolutions….I just like to think about making each year better than the previous.  Although 2014 was a great year for me, so 2015 better step up to that plate!  I realize that it has been through some positive changes, a very positive attitude and hard work that I made 2014 good, so I must carry on those things; it’s all up to me.

I’m going to clean up Christmas today, put the tree away and get my cave here back in order.  I don’t like to let things just sit.  So I will pack it up for next year and put everything away except the snowmen and snow globes.  Yeah, crank on some good music and get my ass cleaning this house up; whip it back into shape for the coming new year.

I’ve really missed my Mushball terrible the last few days. She’s visiting with her family in Madrid.  It’s difficult on me when we can’t have our daily Skype conversations and we don’t text as much because we’re with our families.  I really hope that we find that time to spend together here very soon…Sometimes I wish my superpower was to teleport.  eh….

Digging for Roots: My Upbringing

There is a weekly challenge on WP called “Digging for Roots” where it speaks of writing about where you came from, how you got to be you.

So I know where my DNA originated, know where my ancestors fit into the tree and I know my heritage as a human being. But how did I get to be me? I know we are all born, and that’s the logical answer..I was born.

Being born is just the basic way that we get to “be” in the world. Who we become once we are here is mostly through nurture and even then that is only a fraction of our roots.

As I dig through my mind and my own life I can see the defining moments that all impacted how I got to be me.

I’ve said before in my writing that I was born Butch. Born lesbian. Just like I was born white. And born female. But I was raised by 2 awesome people, and through nurture I was taught how to be a good person. This is where it starts, with how you are raised and what you are taught for values as a child. Those basic core values will follow you throughout your life, and while one may change now and then that core value system is very ingrained from childhood. Some childhoods are better than others. Mine was no different, nothing super special, and maybe even boring to some…Who I came to be today is a combination of my upbringing and now my life experiences along the way. Let me just address childhood and what I learned there that contributes to who I am today.

My childhood was fairly normal. It was a lucky childhood even, I was not abused, beaten or sexually assaulted as a child. I see so much of that today; so many people that I know have related stories to me of childhood abuse. I shake my head in astonishment, it just can’t be true, I never experienced anything like that. The worst I ever endured was a good old fashioned spanking on my ass, with a parent’s bare hand – never a lash from a belt or any instrument of pain. Yes, I was a lucky kid.

When I misbehaved I was sent to my room to think about what I had done. Then one of my parents – or both – would enter the room and make me sit on the edge of the bed while they stood in front of me and gave me the “talking to” about my infraction. Once you turned double digits in age you were then too old for the ritual “spanking” but the “talking to” got pretty heavy after that. I believe my parents did a pretty darned good job with discipline. They raised 5 of us successfully. Instilled good moral character in us, taught us ethics and self esteem. Never did they beat us, abuse us, call us nasty names, or cut us down verbally as I have heard has happened to many people during childhood. I can never understand child abuse because I never experienced it myself. I know it’s wrong, and I am blessed.

When the television show “Eight is Enough” became a weekly show on network tv we used to watch it because it was about a large family with 8 children. A big family like my own. So we could sort of relate to it. But … we were suddenly forbidden to continue watching it when the eldest boy, who was about 18-19 and out of school, decided to move in with his girlfriend. Not get married, but just live together with her. THAT was NOT okay with my parents, and they didn’t want to promote that kind of immorality with us. They didn’t want us to think it was “ok” to just live with your lover, and God forbid it was not okay to be having sex before you were married. This is how we were raised. I should inject here, as a side note, that I was born 6 months after my young parents married. And I was a full term 8 lb 14 oz. Baby. Anyone else see what I am saying here? Yeah.

I am the oldest of 5 siblings. I got to do all the “firsts”. And I got to be the test subject with my parents. They were new at raising kids, they were very young when they married days after my mother graduated from high school in rural Maine. (17 and 21) My father was in the US Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Lejune NC. I was born, their first child, in January 1962 in a Marine Corps hospital. There’s an angry reddish purple mark on my side where I was stuck with a diaper pin hours after birth. This incensed my mother and made her angry with the nurse of course. It gave me my Marine Corps mark for life. Still today if my mother sees that mark she gets angry…a reminder of someone hurting her newborn baby girl.

I’ve always figured that my upbringing was pretty normal and typical for a rural kid, with working clas parents struggling to make ends meet and having babies for the next 10 years, until there were 5 of us. My mother was 28 years old when she had her final baby, my youngest brother Steven. That’s young and a handful for any young woman, especially in the 60’s and 70’s. Plus she had my Dad, a young man himself, and she would sometimes refer to him as her 6th child.

Every night, until I left home at 18 yrs old, I would sit down at the dinner table with my family. All 7 of us, plus usually a guest or two from the neighborhood; some kid who was visiting or a friend of my Dad’s who would come over after they got done working construction. Dad always had construction jobs, he could build or fix anything. He was The Incredible Hulk. (it was his favorite comic figure and he playfully convinced his kids he was the Hulk. As a child I remember thinking my dad is HUGE and he can do ANYTHING. I suppose when you are all of 3 feet tall that a dude who is 5’11” does look huge!

My mother always worked as well, unless she was having a baby. Even then, she worked. She worked, raised us kids, put supper on that table at 6pm every night, helped with homework, fixed school lunches for the next day, put 5 kids into their beds, then stayed up and cleaned our huge 5 bedroom home at night…just so we could wake up the next morning warm and clean to have her go through it all over again. The woman is a saint. I know that I am not doing her justice here, she and Dad did a LOT more too. They were coaches for our sports teams, club leaders, cheerleaders for us all, the one-car family taxi service, helping with our paper routes, teacher meetings, birthday parties, and all kinds of other parental stuff.

So, I had this typical childhood, the best it could be actually. My parents did everything they could to make sure they raised 5 happy, good kids, with decent manner, morals and ethics. They took pride in every one of us, even when we weren’t being so good we knew we were still loved. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of what they must have gone through personally themselves to make all of our childhoods as nice as they could. We never wanted for anything. We weren’t rich, but we had a loving household and we had enough to be happy, well cared for kids. And we were good kids, to boot.

Our parents taught us good work ethics too. When one turned 14 in our household they got a job. All of us had our little after school jobs and made our own spending money. Dad had a rule that 50% of every paycheck had to be banked in a savings account. He collected every payday and made the deposits himself.  This way when you turned 16 and wanted that car you had some money stocked up to help buy one.  Either way, he was trying to teach us to save and be frugal with what we had to spend.  It was a good system.

We were also taught things like if you committed to something then you saw it through. You weren’t allowed to “quit” because you didn’t like it or didn’t want to do it anymore. So if you signed up for the basketball team you were definitely playing through to the end of the season, as you had so committed to doing so when you signed up. This rule has had a profound effect on all of us. No one quits.

We were taught to respect our elders. This was a hard and fast rule. Never was one to be caught saying anything bad to or about an older person. Period. No matter if you liked the older person or not. With age came respect, and this even meant that you had to respect your older cousins when necessary.

We were taught to be polite and well mannered. Table manners were especially enforced in our household. Ever caught the back handle of a butter knife on your elbow that was resting on the dinner table? I have. It hurts. Don’t put your elbows on the table. Ever. Chew with the mouth closed, never scrape the silverware on the plate, and always, always, always ask to be excused before leaving the table after a meal. And clear your place setting properly, dishes to the sink, etc.

We were taught that there are starving kids in Ethiopia that would love to have our plate of food. You cleaned it and did so without complaint, and with manners, every meal. You did not complain about food, mom cooked every night and she was damned good at it. There was somehow always enough and rarely leftovers. We were a voracious bunch. We played hard, worked up healthy appetites and were never late for dinner.

We were taught how to take care of ourselves and to contribute to the upkeep of the household as well. Everyone had chores. You did them without complaint too, or you would be switched to another more horrid chore if you did. Dishes were the dreaded chore, we all hated doing dishes, but with a family of 7+ eating every night there was always a lot of dishes to do after dinner. We didn’t eat on paper plates. Those were reserved for parties or deserts sometimes. Meals were served on real dishes, and Sunday meals were often served on Mom’s china.

We each knew how to make a bed that a quarter could bounce 12” high off of when dropped from above. (Dad=Marine=tight bunk), and you put your dirty clothes in the hamper, never on the floor. Your room was cleaned from top to bottom every Saturday. If you wanted to sleep in you had better be ready for the pan and spoon trick…Dad wasn’t into us sleeping late. You got up, ate, dressed and cleaned that room before you did anything else. We would be expected to help around the house until at least noon on Saturday’s then we could go out and play or whatever.

You knew how to do laundry, fold or iron your clothes and shine your shoes. And you knew how to look for school…THAT wasn’t negotiable at all. You would look clean, neat, and very presentable always – especially at school, no joking around on this one. Dad saw us as a reflection on him and Mom and he wanted his kids looking polished. This did cause tension, I wanted to wear jeans, and he and I butted heads on this around 6th grade or so. That’s another story though. I knew how to dress.

Everyone of us knew how to cook meals, clean house, care for the animals, mow the lawn, run power tools, wash windows, sweep the walk and drive and weed the garden. We all knew how to plant gardens, flower or vegetable. When you 16 you got your license and you learned how to pump gas, change a tire, change your car’s oil and wash the car.

Then there are the other little things you learn that actually help you become a good person.

-One was no tattle-taling. No one likes a tattle-tale, ever, so don’t be a snitch.

-No cursing (yeah, that lasted about until the youngest kid was in highschool)

-No saying the words “Hate” or “Can’t” Those are very strong words and never to be used lightly.

-Defend each other. You are family, you will be there to back up your brother or sister when needed.

-Family first. Remember blood is thick.

-Be honest, tell the truth and own up to your mistakes.

-Keep your word. This was one very stressed point. Never promise unless you mean it.

-Don’t be a bully – to each other or anyone else. Stick up for the kid that gets picked on instead.

-No sex before marriage…no living together in sin…

-Manners, manners, manners. Always be polite and well mannered.

-Always, always be nice to old people and animals.

Etc. etc…

And somehow this all seems menial, seems like it is stuff that every person should grow up knowing how to do; being taught how to do and expected to do for themselves, THEN they pass these things on to their kids, and so it goes. But today’s kids aren’t quite like we were….nope.

We also had a great time as a family doing things. We would take family camping trips, pitch tents and swim in the lake until we were shriveled and shaking from the evening cold. We would do long Sunday drives up into the White Mountains of NH, up past Franconia Notch to see the “Old Man in the Mountain” (he fell and is gone now 😦 ) Or to the top of Mt. Washington to see snow in July. We would go “down” Maine (which is actually north) to see my Dad’s side of the family, play with cousins, watch them hunt for our meals and learn how to steal a ciggarette to split with 6 kids. (we weren’t always good). Mom would take the 5 of us to the beach, often with 4 other cousins for the day, we all learned to swim by the time we were in Kindergarten. We would have big family cook outs and play yard games like volleyball and badminton, in the winters we sledded, went snowmobiling and built incredible snowforts…..and more… Yeah, recreationally we did a lot of stuff. I don’t know how my parents did it, but they did.

The more I think about this, the more I see just how much my parents sacrificed for family. And how much they did to keep us all healthy and happy; to make us productive people for the world. They taught us the basics to survive in the world on our own, they taught us to be proud and to take pride in all that we did every day. Pride in our work, play and ourselves. They produced 5 very confident, loving people and presented them to the world one-by-one.

My parents rarely took time for themselves away from us kids, but for the occasional Saturday night when they would go to my Aunt and Uncle’s house to play cards. They would send their kids to our house, so 9 of us would raise holy hell at our house, while the parents played cards down the road until 2am. I don’t know what went on in the card games. Maybe they drank. I know they all smoked ciggarettes and my Dad had an occasional beer. My parents were not drinkers. I never witnessed either one of them intoxicated while I was growing up. I’ve heard the stories from others about alcoholic parents, and I can’t imagine growing up with that. Both of my own parents each had a parent who was debilitated by alcohol…thus they chose not to drink or expose their own children to that kind of life. But I have to believe that those card games were a chance for them to relax without kids and have a couple of beverages together.

On those nights they played the card games we 9 would all get into our pajamas and haul all the blankets and pillows to the living room of our house. We would build blanket forts, create camp sites and watch the scariest black and white movies we could find. “The Blob” was a favorite. Back then at midnight they tv channel would put on 2 scary movies, each about 1.5 hours long and because all we had was a black and white console television, they were in B&W. Bowls of popcorn and bags of of Fritos were passed around. We all drank Kool-Aid or milk. We would tell bad jokes that we had somehow heard…usually we got them wrong, but we were just kids. Eventually all of us would fall fast asleep in a huge pile of legs and arms. I never did know when my parents came home…but breakfast was ready the next morning and we were recharged and ready to do it again. Right after we cleaned up that huge tv watching mess we had created the night before!

There is so much more I could add, but I think you get the gist of where I originally come from; of what formed my core values and what has helped to keep me on track in life.  I am very close to my parents today, they are just great people and I thank them for a great upbringing, for putting up with my rebellious personality and for loving me.