Meet the Family


The other day we met the future family-in-law.

The parents and sibling of my soon-to-be daughter-law.


We have had this luncheon planned for a while since the in-laws live in Queens and we are in Philadelphia. Even though the luncheon is not until two o’clock, we get up early and drive to NYC so we can stop in Brooklyn to pick up my bike, which has been sitting there chained to a railing since son moved to Queens.


I have made brownies and cookies for dessert. We grab the goodies and hit the road.


It only takes us two hours to get to Brooklyn. We do a few errands and Philly gets the bike unlocked from the railing. Then we Google Map it to Queens. Even though it is not that far away, it will take us an hour. Because that is how NYC is. Crowded with traffic.


We drive. We pass many neighborhoods. When we get close to the in-laws neighborhood all the houses are detached with yards and driveways. It is very nice.


I say to Philly, “This is nice.”


When we arrive “L”, the dad, is standing outside helping direct us to which driveway to park. Philly pulls the car WAY in.


“That is too far.” I say.

He backs it out.


Now “S”, the mom, is at the door. We get out of the car and greet everyone, including Future-Daughter-in-law. I am thinking it will be handshakes but it is hugs AND handshakes.


I can tell this will be a fun visit.


We go in. On the table are various Guyanese dishes set up like a buffet. Future-Daughter-in-law family is from Guyana. The food looks very appealing.


Before we eat we sit down on the couch to chat. We talk about our trip. “M”, the brother, comes in and says hello. We are not sure if he will be staying around. Future-Daughter-in-law has informed us maybe yes, maybe no.


Turns out, he sticks around.


“Let’s see Future-Daughter-in-law’s baby pictures!” I say.


Future-Daughter-in-law trots off to the other room and returns with three books. She hands me the first one.


One by one we look at the cute baby pictures. We see other family members. Future-Daughter-in-law has a large family. Both her parents are one of ELEVEN.


Now it is time to eat. Future-Daughter-in-law explains what each dish is. There is also bread that is like Naan but called something else that I am forgetting right now. And spicy sauce. I fill my plate with a little bit of everything and some bread and return to my perch on the couch.


Philly also fills his plate but he takes some spicy sauce. Which prompts a conversation about all things spicy. And it is soon discovered there is HOMEMADE spicy sauce in a jar in the fridge. Philly tries this.


I am a little afraid for him on the spicy.

But it works out.

Everything is delicious!


Next we start talking sports. Apparently, “L” is a big fan of tennis, both watching and playing. Coincidentally, so is Philly. In fact, he used to teach tennis. There is a lot of tennis talk. I myself do not play. But mostly everyone else does.


“Maybe you can teach me.” I say.


This brings us to Cricket. I really have no idea what Cricket is. Turns out I have Cricket confused with Croquet. After some maneuvering by the Millenials, we wind up using the CAST feature on the iphone to watch Cricket on the big screen TV.


I try to follow along with this unfamiliar game. Future-Daughter-in-law is laughing. I think she has heard a lot about CRICKET in her life.


Soon it is time for embarrassing stories of son’s youth. Since we are discussing Future-Daughter-in-law’s propensity to climb things aggressively when she was young, I decide to share how son was quite the opposite. How son would let other kids cut in front of him in line for the slide. Or how in MIDDLE SCHOOL he would just let other kids take his beloved Yugio cards.


“Didn’t you let someone take your iPod?” I ask.

“No.” son says. “I lost it, remember?”

“Ah, yes. Now I remember. One of many.” I say.


I am looking at son and Future-Daughter-in-law. They really are perfect for each other.


Philly asks the parents, “When did you know son was THE ONE?”

“S” answers, “You will have to ask her.” And she gestures at her daughter.

“L” chimes in. “One day they were sitting here not talking. Just both reading together. She over here and he over there.”


“And you knew?” I say.

He smiles


Meanwhile Brother “M” is enjoying the cookies and brownies. He is funny in the way a younger brother can be. I am glad he decided to stick around.

I think to myself: What a fun family.


At first “S” was quiet. But I know from stories she is not always this way. It just takes her awhile to warm up. As our day goes on she opens up more. She is very funny! And I am envious of how close her son seems to be with her. He gets right next to her. He even pets her hair.


Future-Daughter-in-law tells us, “He is a mama’s boy.”

I tell son, “See?”

Son says, “You are giving her ideas.”


Some more conversation about work and the love of airplane parts and I find out right then and there and then a honeymoon has been booked. I am surprised since originally there was no honeymoon. I give son the why-didn’t-you-tell-me-this-major-news look.


“I was going to tell you tomorrow on Facetime.” he says.

“Who are you?” I say. Because I really do not understand him.


It is getting late. We need to get on the road to drive back to Philadelphia. As we are gathering our things “L” asks, “So if I ask you a question do you promise to answer honestly?”

“I promise.” I say.

He makes me pinky swear.

“Did you like the food?”

“Yes!” I say. “It was delicious!”


And with that we get a whole big bunch of food to take home in a large bag!

“Thank you!” I say.


“It was really great to meet you.” Philly says.

“Yes.” I say.

“Very nice to meet you too.” They say as we all walk towards the door.


I turn to “S” and I give her a hug. I think: Soon we will be related!


We all make the rounds with the hugging goodbyes. I say goodbye to son, but only for two weeks since I will see him soon for daughter’s 21st birthday.


We hop into the KIA. “L” says, “I like this car.”

I say, “I know! Isn’t it great!”


And off we go, back towards home.

I turn to Philly and I ask, “How do you think it went?”

He says, “Great. They are really good people.”

I say, “Yes, I think so too.”


As we are driving I think: Soon son with be married to Future-Daughter-in-law.

I am so happy for them. Plus we will gain a whole big family with all kinds of different customs and a lot of common interests.


Just like that. Our own family grows.

I feel very lucky.

Yes I do.




Today I had a visit with Zelda at her Foster Mom’s house.


I have been picking her up when I can and taking her for walks and runs. But this is an in-home visit. It is a little more treacherous because Foster Mom has another dog and a CAT. Which I am highly allergic to.


We go for the visit in part because Philly needs to mend a fence in the backyard. I sit inside and cuddle with Zelda as much as I can. I try to sit on a plastic bag so I can minimize the cat hair.


We sit. We pet. Walter, the other dog comes by now and again. I try to pet him but Zelda gets possessive of me and growls at him. Secretly I feel kind of nice that she is possessive of me.


Mostly I just want to bring her back home. But Philly tells me it is not time yet. I am not well enough.


While I am there Foster Mom makes me a cup of tea. We drink the tea and talk about how hard it is to be apart from your animal. I can tell she really understands. Talking about it I almost cry. But I hold it in, for now.


Foster Mom goes back outside to see what is happening with the fence. I decide to call my sponsor. She gives me the hardline sponsor talk.


Sponsor asks, “What are you doing with this dog?”

I say, “I don’t know.”

She says, “That is not sobriety. You need to get clear about what you are doing. You are sitting in a house with a cat now. Are you trying to clean your house of dander and see if you get better? Are you visiting with the dog over there everyday?”


“Not everyday.” I say. But I know what she means. I have to pause and get rigorously honest with myself. Am I choosing to remain sick because I want to be around her so much? It’s a valid choice. But I cannot kid myself about what I am doing.


That is my program. And I have to live by it.


And so I will try to think more consciously about the choices I am making everyday about Zelda. As it is I am pretty sure I am on the wrong antibiotic and will have to switch to one that is more effective against whatever sinus infection bacteria I have.


Some more time passes and it is time to go. The cat is getting to me. I give Zelda a kiss even though I know I shouldn’t.

I tell her, “See you tomorrow for our morning run!”


She wags her tail.


It is hard to leave her but Philly helps escort me out the door.


See you soon Zelda.

See you soon.



Yesterday we had a meet and greet with Zelda.

Zelda is our dog, just in case you are new here.


We had to take Zelda to meet another family and their dog because we may have to foster her out for a little while, as I try to heal from the onslaught of allergies and sinus and respiratory infections I have had since November.


It seems we have hit a tipping point. Forced air heat, dog dander and allergies converging to make it almost impossible for me to be in the same house with her.


My heart is breaking as I write this.


We have tried everything we can think of: Allerpet allergy dog rub and fabric spray. Homeopathic dander drops. Ultraviolet light in the heating system. Humidifiers. Air filter. Allergy shots–Although these are said to take months to work.


Still, I get sick, I have to go on antibiotics. I get better and I get sick again. My immune system is all revved up fighting dog dander. And I am a walking Petri dish for infection to fester.


And so we have been looking for a solution. I have seen Allergist, Pulmonary, General Practitioner, and ENT. ENT says I need sinus surgery. My passages are narrow. My septum is deviated. ENT says sinus surgery will at least allow me to drain so I am not getting constant sinus infections.


And so I am considering this as we foster out Zelda. Hoping the shots take hold. Hoping if I get the surgery it will help. Hoping the dander clears a bit in here. Hoping as spring approaches and the blowing air heat goes off I will be able to get better, stronger. And then we can take her back.


Tonight she goes for her first overnight at the neighbors who have agreed to try to foster her. Her first overnight of a string of many overnights.


I can barely stand the thought of being without her tonight and tomorrow morning. But I know I have to get used to it. And just hope for the best. I cannot continue to be this sick.


All day today I tell her, “I love you Zellie. I love you so much.”

And I try not to cry.


I know Neighbor is a wonderful person and I am very grateful she has offered to do this.

But it hurts so much to let Zelda go.

Yes reader, it really does.

Thank you


The other day I volunteered in Teacher Friend’s classroom.


We have been trying to get together for weeks but for one reason or another it has just not worked out.


Finally the day has come.


I hop in the KIA and head out to South Philly where Teacher Friend’s school is. Conveniently there is a Rite Aid with a parking lot where I can illegally park. Amazingly, there are six open spots.


I park.


As I am walking over to the school, memories are coming back of teaching in a classroom. As I open the door I am hit with old-public-school-building smell. This smell is kind of a mixture of old wooden items and floor wax. I remember it well.


I go up to SECURITY AGENT. I tell her, “I am here to volunteer in Teacher Friend’s classroom.”


“Ok.” SA says. “Go to the MAIN OFFICE.”


I KNEW that was coming.


I walk down to the Main Office to check in with them. I tell them, “I am here to volunteer in Teacher Friend’s classroom.”


“Ok.” MAIN OFFICE PERSON says. “Go up to the second floor.”


I think: Wow. That was pretty easy.


I go upstairs and knock on TF’s door. She gives me a big smile and turns to her second grade class to let them know I am here.


They are very excited. When you are in SECOND GRADE a special visitor is a real treat.

Also TF is very grateful for the help because I am her friend and because teaching is extremely exhausting.


I walk in. I feel like a celebrity. Al the children say: HELLO!
I say HELLO back.


Now we go to the rug. TF asks if the children have any questions for me.

“K” raises her hand. “Are you a teacher?”

“Yes.” I say. “I used to teach in NYC and now I teach yoga here.”

“NYC!” the class says.

A boy’s hand goes up. “How come you came here?”

“Well, I got married to someone who lives here.” I say.

Another hand goes up. “T” asks, “What grade did you teach?”

I answer, “I taught first, second and third grade. And art.”

“OOOOOhhhhh ART.” they say.


The questions keep coming:

Do you have children?

Where do you live?


I am waiting for: How old are you?

But it doesn’t come. Yet.


Next we move on to identifying patterns. We are working on the white board. TF is drawing patterns and the students are trying to figure out what comes next.


  • > ** > > *


“I know!” says a girl in the back row. “It’s star!”

“Yes!” I say.

She smiles.


TF has told me to jump in when I want to. So I do. I ask the students to see if they notice any patterns around their classroom. They look around.


“E” raises his hand. He points to the border pattern on the board. “Right here there is a rainbow pattern. See? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Then red, orange, yellow again!”


“Good noticing!” TF and I say. And then I ask, “Do you notice any others?”

And they do! They find the rainbow on the rug. And patterns in their number grid on the wall.


It is all very exciting.


Now it is time to move onto math. I take a few students into the hall to work with manipulatives. We are doing a worksheet on money. Each student has a bag of play coins.


NOW I am REALLY having a memory. Teaching money was not easy. Trying to help children who struggle in this area understand that a quarter is worth 25 but we call it a quarter. Which is also worth 15 if you are using a clock. And really when everything else they are learning is based on units of 10 pretty much, now they must integrate THE QUARTER.


We lay our sheets down and open our money bags. “K” perks up right away. “I know this one!” And he lays down his play money to match the picture shown. One quarter, two nickels, one dime, and a penny. This involves matching the look of each coin to the pictures, laying them down and then adding them up. It’s a lot of skills at one time for a person who is seven.


“46!” he says.

“Yes!” I say.

He smiles a very big smile.


We keep going. My two other students are moving a little more slowly. But “K” is going along swimmingly. Sometimes this happens and then the faster student overtakes the more slowly processing students. I try my best to intervene so everyone gets a chance to solve and feel successful. I do the best I can with all the bathroom breaks asked for, questions on if I am coming back, how old I am, how many children I have… I remember many struggling students looking for an ESCAPE.


And then it is over. We are done and I go back into the classroom. It is time for the students to go to lunch and for me to get on my way.


“Bye!” I say.

“Bye!” they say. “Are you coming back?”

“Yes.” I say. I will be back next week.

Now I get a bunch of smiles.


I walk out of the building.

I think: That was fun.

And I also think: But I am glad I do not do it all day long.


Teaching is a beautiful, exhausting, heartbreaking and wonderful calling. Do you know a teacher, reader? Maybe today you can thank that person for what they do. It is not easy.


Thank you teachers.

Thank you.


Dedicated to all the teachers out there working everyday to serve their communities. Thank you for your service.



The other day I worked a co-op shift.


I used to also work co-op shifts in Brooklyn at the famously large Brooklyn co-op. I think it had 16,000 members. Or something like that. You had to work 2 plus hours every four weeks. You could not shop there unless you were a working member in good standing. And if you missed a shift, you got punished with a double make up. Sometimes people would try to cheat and hire neighborhood kids to do their shifts.


The Brooklyn co-op police soon put a stop to that one.


Luckily, since I was on a teacher’s schedule, I could work at 4pm. This meant I could snag one of the better jobs like HELP DESK.


Here in Philly the co-op is much smaller and gentler. You only have to work six hours a YEAR! And you don’t have to work there to shop there. But if you are not a working member you do not get the discount. And so we are members. And lucky for us the co-op is pretty much right down the street.


Shifts are two hours long and today my shift is FLOOR. Which pretty much means I will be stocking shelves. I come in to the co-op and tell the LEAD CASHIER, “I am here for my shift!”


“Ok.” Lead Cashier says. She pulls out her little ipad tablet. “I will mark you in. Meanwhile, go upstairs and get an apron and then see the FLOOR MANAGER.”


“Ok.” I say. I go and find a nice tan colored apron and tie it around my body. I stash my stuff in a locker and head back downstairs to find Floor Manager.


“Hello!” I say when I find him. “I am here to co-operate!”

“Great!” he says. “We can start with the ice cream freezer and then move on to this cart of miscellaneous items.”


I start on the ice creams. There are all kinds of ice creams. Almond milk ice creams, soy ice creams. I pick up and almond milk ice cream and start the business of stacking and fitting.


All is going well until I get to the top shelf, which I cannot reach. Luckily, Floor Manager is a tall person. He looks at me trying to climb the freezer an says, “Here, let me help you.”


And he reaches up and places the soy ice cream on the top shelf.

“Thank you.” I say. And I tell him, “The world is made for tall people you know. No shorter person can reach the top shelf in the kitchen without climbing.”


He smiles. “I guess that’s true.” he says.

I move onto the miscellaneous cart. Various items lie in no particular order in the cart. I begin picking them up and finding them homes. While I am working SHOPPER comes and asks me, “Do you have any Ghee?” she asks. Then she says, “Actually I don’t really know what it is or what it looks like.”


I am excited because this is a question I know the answer to. “Yes!” I say. “I think it is right over here somewhere. Its clarified butter. It comes in a little tub.”


We find the Ghee. “Thank you!” Shopper says.

“You’re welcome!” I say. Still really just so happy I received a question I could answer while I am working FLOOR.


Next comes the COOKIES AND CRACKERS area. Floor Manager has brought me several boxes to stock the shelves. He plops them down next to me. I can tell he is a little overwhelmed with the amount of work he has to do. I hope I am helping.


While I am stocking the crackers SHOPPER #2 comes over. “Do you have gluten-free wraps?” she asks.


I know that we do. I am not sure where. “Yes.” I say. “I think they are either down there,” I say, pointing down the aisle, “or in the refrigerator section.”


“Great!” she says. “Oh and also do you have any Vegan desserts?”


Is this my lucky day or what? I was nervous to take this shift because I was thinking people would be asking me for all kinds of information and items and I would not know the answers. But I know the answer to this question too! “Yes!” I say. “The cupcakes are right behind you and there are more things down the aisle.”




Now we are moving on to cereals. Floor Manager shows me how to look at the shelves first and write down what is needed on my list and then takes me to the basement to show me where the cereals are. I am impressed with how neat and clean all the food storage is. There are boxes and boxes of cereals. All clearly labeled and accessible.


I get a big box and fill it all up with items on my list. Then I trudge up the steps and back to the cereal area to stock the shelves. I do this four times and the shelves are full. I look at my watch and amazingly it is time to go already, my shift is over.


“You’re done right?” Floor Manager asks.

“Yes I am.” I say. “It was fun working with you.”

He smiles and thanks me for my help.


I go upstairs to take off my apron and grab my stuff. Even though I was kind of dreading having to do my shift, co-operating has been fun. Maybe for my next shift I will sign up for FLOOR again. Maybe I will get to answer more Shopper questions.


I stop and look back at the co-op as I am walking down the street.


Sometimes when you are dreading something it actually turns out to be fun reader.

Yes it does.

The Workshop


Yesterday I went to a workshop.

It was a DESIGN workshop.


I used to do a lot of designing. It was my very first career.


It has been awhile so I decide to take a workshop for fun and to see if I feel like doing design again. It is an all day workshop starting at 10AM. I arrive a little bit early so I am sure to get a good seat.


I go up to the 3rd floor where I find a sign telling students the workshop has been moved to the 6th floor. On the way back down the hall I see a fellow workshopper.


I tell him, “It’s on the 6th floor now.”


“Thanks.” he says.


We take the elevator up to floor six. We walk into a big studio room. It is set up with six long tables that fit four people to a table. Fellow Workshopper sits down next to me. We don’t know it yet, but we will be table partners.


The Teacher is setting up in the front of the room. There are post-it’s and 11×17 sheets of paper and a big display tablet. We have all brought a sketchbook and a pencil. We are ready.


Soon, we start! Teacher introduces himself and we get right down to it. He tells us we will work in table group teams. We are going to be solving a design problem. We are given a name of a company. We are to decide what the company does, do discovery, definition and design. I am excited.


“This will be fun!” I tell my table.


Everyone in this room is younger than me. Most are mid 20’s to early 30’s I would say. I am the only former Graphic Designer in the room. I just go with it.


Our group starts to work together. Not too long and someone says “woke” in a sentence.

I say, “Hey, you just said, “woke”.


Of course this is no big deal to a millennial. But funny to me since I hear my kids say this all the time. Table Mate smiles a little funny smile at me.


We work. We decide our company will be a Full Service Online Pet Company. We post-it note like crazy. Every phase of our work is timed.


“This is like a reality TV Design show!” I say racing around the room.


While we are doing DISCOVERY one of our team says, “Oh you know, AW on sub reddit?”


I am not totally sure I know this but I just play along.


I talk a little bit to Teacher about my past experience and Teacher talks to me about a possible interview for contractors at his place of business.




I try not to get to attached to any of it because really I am just jumping back into this whole thing anyway.


We are talking and strategizing and soon, onto the next phase, drawing out our very simple storyboard in a format Teacher has given us.


Really, I feel like I am playing house.


I am sketching and writing out the HOW MIGHT WE statement. Teammate is finessing the MISSION STATEMENT. We only have five minutes.


We finish just in time for critiques.


“Phew!” I say.


We do the CRITS. Everyone is very constructive and no fights break out. When we are done we get a little surprise. We are going to get to paint to unwind our minds. Paper and Gouache paints are passed out for our use. Everyone has been thinking all day. Now the room gets very quiet. Teammate on my right is painting tiny little lines. Teammate on my left is paint broad strokes layered upon one another. I am painting swirly circles in various colors.


“This is the inside of my brain.” I say.

Teammate says, “Yeah, I can see that.”




We pack up our day’s worth of stuff and head out.


“Bye!” I say to my team.

“Bye!” they say back.


I smile.

It has been a fun day workshopping reader.

Yes it has.

Open Mic


Last night daughter performed at an open mic.

She did this accompanied by Philly on Guitar.


So it is yesterday and I am excited to go.


I text daughter: What are you wearing?

She texts: Jeans and a turtleneck and boots.

I text: Cool.


She is at school now but we will be meeting up at the house later. Meanwhile I get on with my day and my anticipation. I have been listening to daughter and Philly rehearse. I can hardly contain myself to get out the door and down to the open mic place.


Gardener Friend is coming out too! She is a good friend like that. Very supportive.


Philly comes home from work and they run through their songs once more.

“It sounds great!” I say. Philly is using his new guitar and mini amp.


Now it is time to go. We gather the gear and hop into the Kia. Daughter’s Roommate will be meeting us at the venue. We drive for about 30 minutes and we are there.


“Things sure have changed around here!” Philly says about the area. Which means I think it is less of a dangerous neighborhood than it used to be.


I ask daughter, “Are you nervous?”

“A little.” she says.


Daughter has done many performances. But they were with choir, and a few solos. This will be all daughter.


Philly goes up to the OPEN MIC GUY and makes himself known. Meanwhile Daughter and I sit down at one of the little round bistro bar tables. But then we see a cozy fireplace area and decide to move over to the fireside benches just as Gardener Friend arrives.


“Hello!” I say. And I give her a hug.

“Hello!” she hugs back.


It will be a little while before the Open Mic begins. I ask Philly to get me a seltzer with lime.


When we come back I have water with lime. “This is not a seltzer.” I say. “Where are the bubbles?”


Philly tastes my beverage. “You are right.” He says and he walks back to the bar.

He is a good man that Philly.


When he comes back with the now seltzer there is no lime. “There is no lime.” I say.

He just looks at me. “You are going to have to get your own lime.” he says.


“I am going up to get something.” Gardener Friend says. “I will get extra limes.”


And so turns out I do not have to get up!


When Gardener Friend comes back we sit and talk. In a little while Open Mic Guy indicates he is about to get things started. We move back over to the Bistro Table for good viewing location.


First Open Mic Guy starts by playing a few of his own originals. I am listening but a part of me is just waiting for daughter’s turn. I think she is next but turns out ANOTHER guy was there before her, so he gets to go. Again I do my best to really be a good audience and listen.


Meanwhile Roommate has arrived. We are discussing how to get some good pictures and a video with sound in this arrangement of darkened room. It is decided she will video. And Gardener Friend and I will take photos.


Finally it is time! Daughter steps up to the microphone. Philly plugs in and tunes his guitar. They are going to do three cover songs: Two Amy Winehouse and one Lana Del Rey. First is Amy Winehouse, Wake Up Alone. Next is Love is a Losing Game, and last is Brooklyn Baby.


And they’re on! Daughter comes out strong with Wake Up Alone. I am smiling the whole time but I can’t get her to look at me. Daughter is kind of a shy performer. She stands softly as her beautiful voice fills the room backed by Philly’s guitar, the room which has become quiet as people are listening.


When she is done I yell, “What are you going to do next?”

Because I am THE MOM.


Daughter leans into the microphone and says, “If you would wait I will tell you.”


And she does. She announces the song that is coming next. I pick up my phone to take pictures but it is so dark I am struggling to get anything. I think Gardener Friend is using her flash though so maybe she will get some clear shots.


A nice gentleman with a stand up bass offers to support them. I see him sitting on the couch playing along softly.


And then it is over. People are clapping. I shout a, “WOOO!” out to the room.


Daughter walks back and says, “My hands were sweating. Feel my hands.”

They do feel a little clammy. But I am not surprised. It was very brave what she just did.

Very brave.


I am so proud of you daughter.

I can’t wait until next time.