this is so surreal

It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem like he’s gone.

The house isn’t any quieter – my mom and brother and I make plenty of noise – my poor dad couldn’t get a word in edge-wise when all of us were here.

His chair is still in the den – my brother sat in it tonight. My mom sat in her regular place. I sat on the love seat between them and we watched Wimbledon.

I went grocery shopping today; there were a few items that I didn’t need to purchase, but basically, the grocery list was the same as always.

Just not as much ice cream.

We also went to the Funeral Home today – that was bizarre. Everyone speaks so softly and wears a benign (comforting?) smile on their face. They were all men – big burley men – men in grey suits. The couches in the waiting area were covered in vinyl and they served coffee with powdered creamer.

Sitting in the office of the Funeral Director talking logistics seemed to have nothing to do with my father. When you talk about “the deceased” it’s easy to forget that that person is connected to you.

Marshall, the man in the grey suit with whom we met, asked if Montclair, New Jersey was one or two words.

One. But I told him that New Jersey was two words.

I went back to the funeral home later in the day to spend time with my father. Mom and my brother decided to not go – they had each had their goodbyes.

I went because I thought that seeing him would help reality sink in.

But it wasn’t real. He wasn’t real.

They took him out of the fridge and put him on a medical cart and covered him with a sheet and placed the cart at the front of the sanctuary – where the alter would be in a church. The lights were dimmed.

For a more peaceful atmosphere? To make him look better? Who knows.

Whatever the intention, it didn’t work.

He just looked fake and he was as cold as a popsicle and his lips were glued shut so he didn’t gape but they didn’t do a very good job and he just looked unfamiliar.

I cried for a minute. Then I lay down on a pew and stared at him. After ten minutes, I left. Dry-eyed. There didn’t seem to be anything else to accomplish in that room.

So I went to TJ Maxx and wandered the aisles. Then I went to the Publix to buy hamburger meat.

My family is funny. Funny funny, not odd funny. My dad was really funny. We tease each other. We can get a giggle out of most anything. So we laughed a lot today and gave each other a rash of shit.

Then we went back to tennis.

When my sweet boyfriend called to check in, I almost felt guilty for not crying.

We’ve talked as much about the godawful heat in Florida, in July, as we have talked about Dad.

We have brief moments when someone starts to crack. Eyes well up. A laugh almost turns to a sob. But no one has fallen apart.

Yet.

Is this all normal?

It’s normal for the Strazzas.

As normal as can be with our patriarch gone.

 

 

This is happening right now

I settle into my chair under the stars and suddenly Elvis is barking incessantly at something.

He’ll bark at the neighbor dogs occasionally but I’ve never heard him do this nonstop, rhythmic, “barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark…”

I call him and he doesn’t even pause.

Okay, obviously there is an animal over there that my dog is antagonizing.

Fuck.

I have to run inside, grab my phone, slip my flippies on, and run across the yard to see if I am about to be eaten.

Of course, I was worried about Elvis too.

I’m thinking, “Is this going to be my cougar encounter that I’ve been dreaming of (or dreading)?”

And then, the meager light from my phone reflects off of two white stripes in the darkness.

My brain works faster than I ever thought possible: skunk, dog, has he been sprayed already, I don’t smell it, hunh my foot hurts, skunk between me and elvis, do not, I repeat, do not want to get sprayed tonight, I cannot smell like skunk, fuck, I can’t go to work, so many skunkings, remember tessa when she rubbed against you, whatever you do, don’t let him touch you.

I start calling Elvis, with a sense of urgency in my voice which cripples him into submission, on his back, with a hard-on.

At the skunk’s feet.

The skunk turns around and Elvis cowers then finally comes running just as that tail lifts high in the air.

I wanted him to hurry but I wasn’t about to pick him up. I still couldn’t tell if he’d already been sprayed or not.

We tear up to the door and Elvis is a nervous wreck and I make him lie down so I can sniff him, which freaks him out even more.

Then I let him inside.

He’s so wound up from all the excitement that he runs laps around the couch for a solid 3 minutes.

And I think, “Ouch, my foot hurts.”

And I look down and the damn thing’s blowing up like a balloon and turning black and blue before my eyes, and there is a lot of point tenderness, and…

I don’t have a fucking clue what happened.

Not one bit.

There was a moment facing off with the skunk that I noticed it hurt but I wasn’t aware of anything that I had just done, but I so crazed about the beast that maybe I just don’t remember.

I can’t figure it out. It has changed shape over the last hour – it’s gone from an overall swelling to a rising mountain of swole right by the raven.

(please know that I know that “swole” in only a word if you’re 16 in hillbillyland.)

It’s got a solid 2 inch diameter – you’d think I’d have some idea of what happened, but I really don’t. It’s all a big skunky blur.

All I remember was the sight of those two white lines.

family

I just want to say that I am one of the lucky ones.

I am spending this week with my parents and two of my kiddos. We are together 24/7. I am even sharing a bed with my mom. The boys and I had an adventure today then came home and spent the evening with the grandparents.

There has been laughter and quality conversation and sharing and honesty and openness and sincerity and love.

What there hasn’t been…

Strife

Family “dynamics”

Stress

Disagreement

Arguing

Traumatic triggering

Anger

Resentment

Passive aggression

Disgruntlement

A desire to be anywhere else

I dig my parents.

I fucking adore my kids.

There is no where that I would rather be this week. Any week. Any time.

There are absolutely no people with whom I would rather be.

I have the most amazing family in the world.

I know that this is rare – that so many families have undercurrents of shit.

Not us.

And I do NOT take that for granted in any way.

I say that we are lucky but the reality is, when you put this many fantastic people in the same place at the same time, you can’t help but love every second.

#sayingaprayerofthanks, #lovemymommyanddaddy, #mykidsarebadass, #mydadisafuckingriot, #momsmybestfriend, #howdmykidsturnoutsowell?

alone

I blew off paddle boarding with friends today to instead go alone with my dog.

I had to force myself to go to the coffee shop to have some human interaction before I hole up for the rest of the weekend.

I did not bring my dog because he didn’t want to sit in the hot car.

I keep looking for him.

I spoke to him in the car.

He was at home.

He loves to paddle board. He willingly hops on and is good for at least an hour before he needs to stretch his legs. Sometimes he sits at the helm, others, he scouts behind us for attacking sharks.

He loves to watch birds.

He’s afraid of buoys. I found this out recently when I got close to one and heard a sudden splash behind me. I have no idea if he backed off accidentally or jumped off to swim away, but either way, he ended up in over his head out of utter terror.

With entertainment like that, who needs friends?

 

the discerning art collector

Whenever I walk past Pier One I look at the display windows and wonder, who finds mass-produced art attractive and actually wants it hanging on their walls?

Admittedly, it’s quite snobby of me.

I believe in one-of-a-kinds, originals, cool shit you find in the back of a thrift store, or art produced by friends.

So as I’m checking out at the Salvation Army the other day, I saw this hanging on the wall:

And I’m totally excited because it’s a real canvas stretched on a real wooden frame and there’s even a layer of gesso on some sections.

Convinced I’ve scored, I hang it on the wall, sit back and appreciate my new bird.

Then I notice that it’s hanging a bit cattywumpus and when I take it down to adjust, I see the sticker on the back:

Pier One Imports.

Guess who like mass-produced art.

Utah vs Colorado

I went to Moab this weekend to have dinner with my son.

What I am aware of when I go to Moab, is that I don’t call it going to Utah.

When I “go to Utah” I am going for desert and solitude and nature.

When I go to Moab I’m going for an urban experience, so the two barely feel like the same place.

When I am there, as beautiful as it is, I feel incredibly disconnected from the rocks around me; I’m distracted by cars and people and coffee shops and parking spots and sometimes even schedules.

But my boy is there, so there I go.

Tourists abound – it’s like a monstrous bus opened its doors and dumped out thousands of passengers then went away and came back with another busload.

The people are there for thrills, Arches, and shopping for Red Dirt T-shirts.

We have tourists too – they’re here for ruins and train rides.

The thing I notice the most about the adventure tourists is that they tend to be really uncomfortable in their bodies – these are people who do not spend a lot of time outside connecting with the dirt beneath their feet.

Everything in Moab is about the adventure; boatingbikingclimbing4-wheeling. It’s a scene.

My son loves it – he gets sick of the crowds, but as a river guide, he is right in the thick of the action – he’s part of the energy that creates the scene.

It’s a world that I used to be a part of but no longer am. I am conscious of bringing a little bit of country with me when I sit down at the dinner table at the restaurant owned by the boating company which caters to people in hiking boots and brand new Keens.

I used to feel so cool when I was a guide there. Now I’m totally not cool and totally okay with it.

After dinner, as I was leaving town, I thought about the fact that I no longer fit into that scene and I realized that after close to 23 years in a rural ranching community, I am very much a Colorado gal.

Albeit a Colorado gal from New Jersey.

2 hours away from each other, my town and my son’s town are like night and day – I feel like a hick – unsophisticated, working class, an intimate participant in the landscape of my home.

We work hard and get dirty a lot ’round these parts. W e are comfortable in our bodies because we use them and because we have a connection to the land.

On my way south to my very remote camping destination, I stopped at a used gear store on my son’s recommendation and my observations were proven correct.

In Moab, people buy pearl button shirts and straw cowboy hats at the same place they buy climbing equipment and wetsuits.

Hip, trendy, cool.

Over here, on this side of the border, we buy pearl buttons and hats at ranch stores.

Utilitarian.

 

 

Yep, my dog is THAT dog

My next door neighbors have two female black labs who Elvis crushes on big time.

If there is any sign of life next door, he races over, impossible to detain, deter, or dissuade, hoping that he’ll get to see the girls – even if only for a moment.

Said neighbors are getting married this weekend and they have family in town which equates to lots of activity over there and lots of “Elvis, get back here.”

It’s already embarrassing, but tonight…

There’s a man outside, Elvis’ substantial ears perk up and he’s running before I can even open my mouth. So I hurry over, yelling, “I’m so sorry.”

I’m far enough behind to be useless if he tries to eat someone, but close enough to see him run up to the wine casket and pee on it.

“I’m really so sorry. My name is Sally. I’m the neighbor with the wretched dog.”

Then I call the dog and attempt a graceful and hasty retreat.

I look over my shoulder at the father of the bride to say a quick toodleloo and watch my dog vomit all over their patio.

shitdamn

fuck

bounce back

When you have friends like T.B. and D.J., you can’t ask for better.

The depth of my friendships from my Outward Bound days; the quality of character and indisputable levels of integrity, are unparalleled.

And then there was this tonight:

And then, this:

How can life be anything but good?

I will not be crying myself to sleep tonight.

The answer

The question:

Is it ever okay to wear socks with sandals?

Opinions tend to vary, and are also, quite strong.

Not a lot of gray area.

Until now.

The answer that bridges the gap:

Yes, it is okay to wear socks with sandals as long as the socks are glittery.

you are mighty white

*at this time of year I change colors in the sun faster and more drastically than others so my skin color becomes a frequent topic of conversation. Someone thought I was Native American. I’m Italian – I get dark.

With that said:

I have a friend who helps me at work.

She’s three.

One of her parents is white and one is black; she is a lovely combination of the two.

We were cracking eggs together today, and she looked down at my hands then looked up at me, “Sally, you are mighty white.”

She’s three.