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A woman of substance died today.

Her name was Shirley Komish. I called her Grandma Shirley, "Gram" for short. We were related through marriage. Her daughter Louise was my mother's best friend. Her son Al married my mother's sister. I knew Gram my entire life.

She and her sisters were in Poland during the Nazi era. She didn't talk a lot about it, and now I'm never going to get the full story, but when she did mention it, she said it was terrible. I always meant to sit her down and hear more. Now it's too late.

Grandma Shirley had one of the hardest lives out of anyone I know. I was a child when her husband died. I was still a child when her son-in-law, Aunt Louise's husband, died of a heart attack. And I was all of thirteen when Aunt Louise died of leukemia, leaving three children aged thirteen to seventeen. Suddenly, Grandma Shirley was a mother again. She took care of the kids. She kept working long after retirement age to make sure they could stay in the house they lived all their lives, and get themselves an education and make lives of their own. She worked hard, on her feet all day at the dry cleaners, then doing the housework and the cooking at home.

The knocks in her life kept on coming. Next, her son died of a heart attack. Now Gram had outlived her husband and both her children. It's the kind of sorrow that devastates even the strongest of people. But not Gram, not yet. There was still one more knock, the final blow, the one that you would think even she wouldn't recover from. My "cousin" Scott, her daughter's youngest son, died of a heart attack at age 37. Scott was the grandson who spent the most time with her. He was the one who tried to get her to move out of state to where he lived, and stay with him and his wife and children. But she would only visit, not remain. She liked it here. She spent most of her life here in New Jersey. She would stay here until she died.

And still, she survived. She survived another six years. I saw her last month. She lived ten minutes away from me, so it was always my job to pick her up for family gatherings. I was greatly amused when I bought my Jeep and picked her up for the first time. I told her I'd help her get into the car, and she waved off my help and insisted on climbing into the Jeep herself. Ninety-four years old, and she could still get in and out of a Jeep Wrangler without help. "Go, Grandma!" I told her. Except I did stand behind her, in case she slipped.

She was a marvelous cook. She was at many of our Passover Seders, and the year Mom let her cook was the year I surprised my entire family by having seconds of everything. Gram's the one who taught me how to make latkes. Gram's the one I called up last December when I was in Richmond and needed a quick recipe (and advice) for potato kugel. Gram's the one who always seemed surprised that anyone thought she did anything special with food--all she did was throw a few things together, she said.

She tried to set me up a few times. I resisted steadily. She was always concerned with my being single. She was concerned with everybody, actually. And she was more forgiving than anyone I've ever met.

I'm really glad that over the last few years, she let my mother help her with financial advice. Gram put what little savings she had into an investment fund that quickly doubled her money and let her buy nice things for herself. And I really didn't mind picking Gram up for the family gatherings. It gave me a chance to spend some time with her and catch up.

But I'm really going to miss her. She was a special lady, who overcame more hard knocks than any human should have to bear. And still, she would smile and laugh, especially over the latest addition to her family, her great-granddaughter.

A woman of substance died today. The world is diminished.


A day late, and yes, I'm short

I almost forgot. Happy Mooniversary (thanks, Hugh Lofting!) to me! It's been a month since I started Blogging. Phew. I'm tired, how 'bout you?

When all else fails, use cats

Okay, I was at a bit of a loss on subject matter tonight, so I'm reaching here. And I remember thinking that I wanted to start one blog with this line:

My cat has a strange relationship with my sneakers.

See? Isn't that a great line. And it's true, too. Years ago, when I was working night shift, my original Tig used to wake up in the afternoon and want to play. I'm fine with that; but when he wants me to wake up and play with him, I tend to lose my temper. So I got in the habit of piling a few pairs of shoes and sneakers near my bed and launching them in his general direction when he was being noisy. I almost never hit him, since I was just aiming to scare him into silence. But the message was received--all I had to do was lean over the edge of the bed and reach for one, and Tig ran.

Well, being one for recycling things that work, I pulled the same trick on my current Tig, and the effect is the same. Except then you have the weird relationship part. I generally kick off my sneakers soon after I get home, and since I have no one to complain about it, they tend to stay near the chair where I watch TV. You'd think that Tig wouldn't go near them, but no. They're a toy repository. He drops his paper ball in there, and twist-ties, and sometimes the little toy mice that I buy for them. I tend to forget to shake out my sneakers before putting them on, so I tend to get surprised on a regular basis.

Then there's the sniffing part. Sometimes, right after I come home, my cats find something that interests them on the bottom of my sneakers. I always look, and I never see anything. But they won't stop sniffing.

I don't know what it is about cats and old sneakers, but they like to stick their heads in them for some reason. Cats have scent glands on the sides of their mouths that they use when they're particularly interested in a smell. They open their mouths wide to process the smells through these glands, making them look like they smell something bad. It's always amusing to watch. And both my cats do this with my sneakers.

Tig was doing that just yesterday, which brings me to the line I was thinking of for this blog: My cat has a strange relationship with my sneakers.--MAY



You mean Miss Cleo's not real?

Funny piece on the local news tonight. Seems there's this 900 line that offers Tarot readings that was investigated by the Fox News team. They discovered, among other things:

  • The people who answer the phone aren't really psychics
  • The non-psychics use scripts
  • The non-psychics don't read Tarot cards when they tell you they are
  • The employees aren't asked whether or not they have psychic abilities before they're hired.
  • The three free minutes you get when you first call the 800 line get used up by employees asking your personal information before they do a reading for you
  • There's no guarantee you'll get Miss Cleo when you call the line

The line that had me rolling on the floor was from a so-called psychic who quit working for the company. She was astonished that the company didn't ask for any proof of psychic abilities. "I'm disgusted by this," she said. Well, the company fixed that. They now require their employees to sign sworn statements attesting to their psychic abilities.

Gee, I'm so surprised to find out all these horrible things about psychic hotlines. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.


Gas prices suck, but some people just don't get it

So I'm at the car dealership today, getting my Jeep's 7500-mile checkup. I was there second, so I decided to wait the hour or so it would take. Well, at one point, this guy is complaining to the manager about his gas mileage, going on and on about how he just doesn't get why it's so bad. The manager tried to explain that gas mileage varies widely depending on many circumstances. This guy just didn't seem to get it, and kept on complaining about the horrible gas mileage his vehicle was experiencing. Well, a few minutes later, he was gone and my car was done. So I asked the guy behind the counter what kind of car the complainer had.

"A Grand Cherokee."

Duh. Like the title says--some people just don't get it.



This just in--

This is what I get for updating my Links page at 1 a.m. Check out this link to The Register, a great online IT information site, for the latest in Scientology's pursuit of anyone who dares to criticize them in any way, shape, or form. A United States citizen will most likely be jailed on charges of "Interfering with a religion", which really bothers me that it is actually a law on the books in these United States. Seems to me some First Amendment rights are being trampled here.

This portion has no title

Someone tell me why I'm writing this after midnight when I'm getting up at 6:45 so I can be the first one at my auto dealer's mechanic shop for my car's 7500 mile checkup.

I can tell you, actually. It would be because in the last three weeks, my wonderful early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule fell by the wayside, and I see 2 a.m. as often as not these days. Which precludes getting up before 10, or really 10:30, which means half my day is shot by the time I shower and eat breakfast. It's a vicious cycle.

Which is why I'm rather glad I'm getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow--er, later today--so I can get back onto that good schedule by Thursday. So I can get up early and drive to Richmond.

Texas Oilmen Lies

I made a huge mistake this morning. I started watching "Meet the Press", starring our oh-so-available and eloquent Vice President, Dick Cheney. The first thing that happened was that Tim Russert was actually asking hard questions of someone other than a Clinton, a Clinton spokesman, a Clinton staffer, or a Democrat. I nearly fell off my chair over that one. The next thing that happened was Russert quoting an L.A. Times column, which I am simply going to have to find, that showed that one year ago, a megawatt hour cost a Californian consumer $30. Today, it costs $300, and it has gone up to as much as $1500. The problem, you see, is that demand for electricity has actually fallen by 9% in March. Overall, demand increased 4%. Which, of course, warrants the kind of 1000% increase from $30 to $300.

Who owns the California energy companies, you may be thinking? I'm glad you asked. They would belong to Texas energy (read: Oil) companies.

This is what happens when you elect two Texas oilmen to the White House. Although it could be argued by some that they weren't elected, still, they're in the White House. They're in charge. California's votes went for Gore. This, my friends, is what's known in political circles as payback. Bush and Cheney get to pay back their Texas oil buddies, who contributed millions to their campaign, and they also get to pay back Californians who didn't vote for them.

Everybody wins. Oh, except for Californians who were paying $30 a megawatt-hour a year ago, and are paying ten times that now. But hey, the answer is more drilling. Not stopping the price-gouging.

One last thought for you: California doesn't use much oil. It's mostly natural gas energy out there. Someone always seems to forget to point that out when Dubya is making a speech.--MAY