Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010: Something Wicked This Way Comes


Just wanted to share these pictures of my six year old niece Sophie, dolled up & ready for some serious spell-casting tonight!


“I’ll get you my pretty”—oh wait, she’s only showing off her fake nails…


One more—on the front porch, Sophie with her lifelong friend Sheldon as Mario; this boy’s obviously a playa Winking smile

Happy Halloween, Sophie!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (as for the rest of me...)

Lone Indian on Hill


A few weeks ago, I was up later than my usual bedtime & watching David Letterman, and was ready to hit the off button  when he said something that made me sit up and take notice.  He remarked that New York City was facing a crisis of sorts--it seems the city’s cemeteries are approaching full capacity.  There will soon be no space left in NYC to bury their dead.  I wonder what they’re going to do.

While I’m sure they’ll figure out something, I found this a bit ironic for a couple reasons.  As a kid in the early ‘70s I sometimes wondered (okay--worried, actually) where everyone was going to go after they died.  (I’m not talking souls here either; there’s only so much Earth, y’know!)   I know that sounds a bit odd, but I had my reasons.  First, my Dad’s old Navy buddy, Willy Sutton, often visited Saturday mornings & always had interesting stories to share.  He told me once that real estate in Japan was at such a premium, only the wealthiest could afford to bury their loved ones—and even then, they had to go in vertically.  Who wants to stand on their feet for eternity? 

Secondly, you have to remember the times.  The “Population Explosion” was a fixture on the evening news, and even Hollywood was responding with movies like ‘Soylent Green’ & ‘Logans Run’.  (In the future we were either vaporizing people on their thirtieth birthdays or turning them into crackers and eating them.)  So I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of us.  Well, most of us.  I’ve always known where I was going, because strangely enough, my family has their own cemetery.


My Dad & Grandma Morris; behind them are headstones from the 18th century, all Morris descendants or married into the Morris family


The Morris Family cemetery sits high atop a hill overlooking my Aunt Dena & Uncle Bill’s farm (which originally belonged to my grandparents, and my grandpap’s grandparents).   As kids, my siblings & cousins often climbed the steep hill from our Grandmas’ place below, while Mom reminded us not to “mess anything up up there”.   I always saw the fenced in area as a curiosity at best, and sometimes would wander among the earlier headstones, trying to find which one was the oldest.  (The markers went back two hundred years or so, too.)

I don’t think I saw it for what it really was until I was 19 years old & my Grandpap Morris was buried there.  I can remember sitting on my Grandma’s porch during the wake, and looking up towards that hill, and realizing it was no longer some page from our family’s history book, but who we were right now.  It took on a new meaning for me that day. 

My sister Shawn at the entrance to the cemetery; check out that view

It would be fifteen years before I saw another loved one laid to rest there, when Grandma Morris left us in 1997.

And then sadly, all too quickly--an uncle, a second cousin, my own parents.  For a long while I dreaded that hill, but it feels like home there now; it’s more than loved ones laid at rest, my family’s origins are from there too.   I’ve always felt more at peace on that hill than anywhere else I’ve ever been, and I know that someday I will be with my loved ones again, hopefully in more ways than one.

My mom’s place of rest, shortly after the delivery of her headstone.  Rest in peace, Mom.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When all else fails, eat Soup (echh)

Sophie loves soup 

While I’m waiting for my brain to come up with something interesting & original for the new Teepee, I’ll just share this.  Last Sunday my sister Shawn (and her husband Jim & my niece Sophie here) came to visit.  It was Sophie's sixth birthday on Tuesday, so we were celebrating a little early. 

After we walked up the street for pizza and returned to my apartment, I leaned against my dining table to rub my sore leg and lamented to my niece I was an old man.  Sophia (who was sitting on the floor, playing with her birthday gift) looked up and said "Uncle Doug, you're not old."  I said "Aw, thanks honey!  But I sure am getting big, y’know…"  Sophie went back to playing and matter-of-factly said "Then stop eating so much junk food."


Sophie on the floor in her soccer uniform, with her gift from Uncle Doug


What!  Well, I don't know why that took me by surprise--she's such a tenderhearted little girl, but she's not old enough yet to understand the subtleties of patronizing someone who WANTS to be patronized.  She’s all about the truth, God bless her.  And because of her, I need to find my motivation to stop lugging around all of these extra pounds.  I’m making it my life’s mission to hear “Uncle Doug you’re not fat” come out of this kid’s mouth! 

Don’t get me wrong, I want to lose the weight regardless of Sophie’s approval—but I’m constantly fooling myself into thinking I’m not that fat.  Why do I keep doing that?   I can go for weeks at a time thinking things aren’t that bad, but it takes just one photo to jar me back to reality.

Who is this gorgeous little girl hugging?  Someone who needs to eat more dreaded things like soup

This pic surprised me, and not in a good way--when Shawn asked if she could post it on Facebook I nearly had a stroke.  (So why is it here?  Because this isn’t Facebook.)

I currently weigh 200 plus plus lbs., this is the heaviest I’ve been since mom passed in 2004.  I haven’t weighed under 200 pounds since my sister’s wedding in 2000, so I’m not even sure I remember what it’s like to be that thin.   I know what I have to do, though, as this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve tried to lose 25-30 pounds.  I did it once before in the mid-90s, and after trying diet pills, ‘sweat belts’, self hypnosis, sprinkling tobasco sauce on everything & even prayer, I finally discovered the secret:

  • Sweaty exercise (3-4 nights a week)
  • Treat red meat like Beluga caviar 
  • No potato chips, ice cream or white bread—ever.  And eat soup until it’s coming outta my ears.  (I’d rather it go in that way as well!)

Sophie, I hope you had a nice birthday & thanks for the hugs & good advice.  I’m going to try & do just as you said, your job is done!