Tuesday, June 26, 2007

McGreenthumb Presents.....

Just a couple of pics from our gardens. We have one on the side of our house and a newer one in the back by the patio. The pic on the top is Day Lilies. The one on the bottom is the Princess Diana Hybrid Rose. It really is beautiful. You cannot get the full beauty of it in this picture. Maggie certainly has the green thumb eh?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Today was a spectacular day here in Jersey. The temp never got out of the 70's and there was a nice strong breeze blowing all day. A nice big blue sky with nice fat fluffy white clouds cruising by. (I think ballplayers call this a 'high-sky... don't ask me why).
We were both awake early, courtesy of our psychotic dog. We were experiencing a perfect 'sleeping-night', you know nice and cool..low 60's nice breeze.. But here's the problem. Boyo hears a noise, any noise at all...could be a cricket farting a fucking block away, and the dog goes ballistic. And he barks and barks and barks. And when he barks like that I want to remove my ears with a cheese-grater. And he'll pace in tight little circles..and the panting..sweet Jaysus....and he'll go for like ten minutes straight.....Finally, the cricket died and there was piece in our home...until about 545 am...when Delta flight 576 from Bombay to Newark passed over his yard. This shit has got to stop. Neither of us sleeps through the night. It's starting to get to me...but I digress
Early this morning, Maggie decides to have herself a little yard sale. She sets up at the end of her mom's driveway, which is on a very busy road but has no luck. Except for 2 people looking for directions to a nearby racetrack.
I ventured to Lowes for some stuff for the yard and furnace filters. Exciting right? No. Not exciting. But that's okay. I've had enough excitement already this year to last me 'til the New Year.
I worked on the Zen Garden and will post pics soon. I swore I would do nothing this weekend but that went out the window. Our very cool neighbors popped in for a bit and we all had a drink before they headed out for a party. Keith was kind enough to give us some really nice Belgium blocks and I lugged them out back to use in our ever growing Zen Garden.
Now, dinner has been eaten and we are both relaxing. The cutie is working tomorrow so I might just try and catch some soccer on the tube or maybe try and call the Redman.

Sisters and Brothers

Some time ago, when Jen was a young lass I thought it would be funny to play a little prank on her. At the time of said prank, my father, who was a pretty handy guy, was adding a second floor to our house. It had been enclosed and really everything was about done. The floors, however, were not. They were just the 'subfloor', waiting for tile or rug. I heard my mother downstairs ask Jen if she wanted to go for a ride to the store. jen screamed in delight and said she would have to get her shoes. By this time, I had already nailed them to the floor.
She was sitting on the floor yanking and pulling, wondering why they wouldn't come up. I was laughing in my room and at this point, the jig was up. My Dad came up looked at the shoe, looked at me and just shook his head. He removed the nail and sent Jen on her way.
Now if you're thinking "what a little prick", Jen did have her revenge. See we always had a cat or two in our house and at the time we had a litter box. Well, come winter and the snow was a flyin', she dug into the litter box and took a few pieces of crap and slid them into the fingers of my gloves. It's okay, you can laugh.....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

9 Years of My Life for This??

I spent the last nine years watching the Sopranos Faithfully. My Sunday night religion, if you will...And when the final episode was done and the screen went black, what did we really learn?? That Meadow Soprano can't fucking parallel park...Thanks Dave..

Sunday, June 17, 2007

How Much Would She Get on Ebay?

A Day at the Track...sans Horses

Yesterday was the American Cancer Society's relay for life in Freehold, NJ. Maggie (cute one on the right)was going with the office staff as part of team Weichert. She asked me if I wanted to go, saying she'd understand if I thought it would too hard this soon after losing Jen. I debated for a moment and decided I should.

We loaded up and went to the local horsetrack where the event was being held and when we came in, we saw a tent with a purple banner that said "Survivors". Maggie went over and registered, herself being a 30 year survivor of Hodgkin's Disease. We met up with some of her coworkers and some folks from other offices. We chatted for a bit and then went to the dining tent for the 'Survivors Lunch'. The spread was really nice and the food was pretty freakin' good. After lunch, a local ROTC group gathered at the end of the tent and brought the Survivors to a seating area in front of the stage. The ceremony for the Survivors was really great. I was weepy at points, thinking of Jen, and my Dad and my Friend Marc. All cancer victims. The announcer, from the local rock station, read the list of names, announcing which type of cancer they had survived and the number of years cancer-free. Sooo many folks old and young made up this group. It was amazing, honestly. So many survivors...

When Maggie's name was called and they announced "..a 30 year survivor!" , the crowd gave her a really nice ovation. Kieth Richards would have been jealous of this ovation. (Of course he would have forgotten it in a mere four seconds, saying "whaa..?")But I digress... The announcer even put a nice emphasis on the word thirty. "THIR-Tee..." Showing his was impressed and letting all present know that my girl is one tough cookie.

During the ceremony Survivors were awarded medals and they were then lead to the track to take the ceremonial first lap. After the first lap everyone else could take the track and do their laps.

The track is 1 1/4 miles long and there is even a guy who shows up every year who walks the track from the opening lap to the final lap of the night when the lights above the track are extinguished. I did 5 laps for Jen. I wanted to do more but I was starting to get a bit tired and the sun was really baking my little melon. Next year I plan to bulk up and do 33 laps. One for every year Jen was when she died. I told Maggie I might even bring a tent and sleeping bag, because, honestly, I don't know how long this will take me.

AT ten pm they had the 'Luminary Ceremony'. The luminary is a white bag with the Cancer Society logo on it that you can decorate for a loved one and they place little votives in the bags and the bags are lined up along the track. It was very moving. I'm sure Jen would have loved it.

All of the tracks lights but one was turned off and we all did a final lap around the track, checking out every ones different bags.

It was a long day, but I will do it again next year and for as many years as I can.

Hopefully someday a cure will be found. I hope and pray it is...

Saturday, June 16, 2007


To the left you will notice a very, sweet little girl. All Holy and angelic and such, in her tiny little First Communion garb. This is my sister Jen's daughter Cassandra. Well, everyone calls her Cassie...except for me I call her CrazyPants & CassieKid amongst other things.

She is living with my Mom who will be rearing the little sprout. I am assuming my Mom knows what she has gotten into. It is a huge responsibility and she seems okay with it.

Cassandra is a pretty sharp kid, or as they say in New England "that kid is wicked smaht". She really is. I'm not just saying that because she's my nice. Jen did a pretty good job bringing her up to this point. She reads well, helps around the house and get this..she loves school.

At her mother's wake and funeral she just observed everyone. Jen and my Mom had prepared her pretty well I think. I had a moment in front of the casket when I kinda lost it. I had my face in my hands, sobbing, she just stood there looking,. Maggie came up and put her arms around Cassie and told her "every things okay, we're just sad because we're going to miss your mommy." She touched her mommy in her casket and wondered why she was so cold. My brother opened his mouth to speak and we all shuddered briefly. My brother is s good guy but sometimes says some crazy crap. He calmly explained to her that when some one's heart stops beating, the blood stops flowing and that is what keeps you warm. Cassie thought on this for a moment and the said "like this?" and tilted her head to the side, eyes closed, tongue hanging out of her mouth, like she was dead.

She catches everything...I mean things people say and do. She's pretty observant. She makes references to lines in tv shows and movies, and she uses them at the proper points in conversation, too. She is a strong little tyke and has, until this point, keeping it together after losing her mommy. Last couple days however, she has been crying alot. But not saying her she misses her mommy. She gets 'hurt' easily. Every little thing, and she sobs and cries. She told my mother, who from here on in will be referred to as 'Mims', "I never got hurt when Mommy was alive". Deep for an eight year old.

In a week or so, her an Mims will be coming to see us and we'll be taking her out for a fun filled day. My mother needs to get the heck out of that house. She needs a break. When she comes here, Maggie and I will cook for them and take them around. Hopefully giving them a couple of days of relaxation and taking their minds of things.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jennifer McLaughlin McFetridge 1974-2007

Well we drove to Burlignton Mass. on Weds to see Jen. We arrived and she lay in bed hooked to a few IV's, looking very tired. I walked in and said "hey...you're favorite brother is here!" She amazingly, lifted her arm weakly into the air and gave me a thumbs up. Short of that however, there was very little movement from her. It was very hard to see my once spunky little sister like this. The cancer in her head had returned after only three weeks of it being removed. A tumor in her neck/throat area had prevented her from swallowing. The tumor in her neck also prevented her from vomiting completely the illness brought on by radiation. The vomit she couldn't get out went into her lungs and she developed pneumonia. She refused to be aspirated or ventilated. I feel she knew she was at the end. She was sick of fighting. It is a brave decision. One I don't know I could make. She was so afraid of dying. Of leaving her baby. And afraid to leave our mom. She once said to my wife "what will Cassie and Mom do without me?"

She waved her hands weakly while we were there, drifting in and out of consciousness. She would hold our hands, squeezing them now and then. She would try to speak but was so very weak. We left her on Weds. and then we made the one and one half-hour trip the very next morning. We sat with her for hours. Her surgeon came in and apologized. He spoke quietly saying he really thought they had gotten everything and were amazed it had come back so viciously. He said it was his biggest surgery and things went so well....My mother cried and nodded. She knew he did what he could. Other people came into the room. A nurse, the physicians assistant, a social worker....we all cried. My mother made the decision to stop the antibiotics that were fighting the pneumonia. Pneumonia would be a much easier death.

We all kissed Jen goodbye, told her we loved her and she weakly told us "love you too" She never ended a visit or phone call without "love you guys"....

That night my aunt called and said they were having their weekly 'girls night' at Jen's room. My mom and her sisters and some of the cousins get together once a week for their 'girls night', and they asked my Mom to go. She balked, saying she was just there. I insisted, Maggie and I could, afterall, take care of the little one. She called the hospital and asked Jen's nurse if she thought she should come back. The nurse told her it might be a good idea. So she went.

At 5 am the next morning, Jen passed away. My wife heard my mom's cell phone ring and went to the kitchen and then came to our room, sobbing, "Jen's gone.."

It all seems like a real shitty dream that we can't wake up from. I wish it were. I still can't accept, or believe it. It seems unfair that somebody who was once so full of life had been taken away from us. Believe me. nobody was spunkier than my sister.
Mags and I went with Mom to the funeral home to make arrangements and tried to keep Mom occupied for the next two days until the wake.

The funeral home did a really nice job on Jen. Considering her face was swollen from the fluids and they cover the bruises on her arms where all the IV lines had been. They even did her hair nice. Jen was freaking out because she couldn't wash her hair. It had been weeks, because of her surgery, that she couldn't get her hair cleaned. This bugged her. Jen always took great pride in her appearance. She always looked good.

The night before the funeral I had about 2 hours sleep and Zombie walked through the day. It seemed so unreal. After the funeral we went to my cousin Shelly's home. She offered to host it because she didn't want my Mom to have to clean after this.

At 530 Monday night we said goodbye to Mom. We all cried and she thanked us for everything we did. Mag and I wish it could have been more.

My biggest problem is the constant fight in my head between logic and emotion. I didn't want Jen to die. I wished and wished and almost convinced myself she'd beat it. But the logical part of my brain told me she couldn't. The emotional part of me says I didn't do my job as a big brother, to do enough to help her. To protect her. Logic tells me there was nothing I could do.

She fought a long, courageous battle. Her PCP came to her wake and told me and Mom how impressed he was..how impressed everyone was, with her spirit and determination.

I hope I can be as strong if I'm ever in that situation.

I am hoping that someday maybe she'll turn up on my doorstep and apologize, telling me she was working deep undercover for the CIA and they had to fake her death..I want her to say anything...I want her to come back so I can have my baby sister back and so my wife can have her friend back, so my Mom can have her little girl back and most importantly, so her daughter can have her Mommmy back....

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

This is Why it's Called Bad News

At work today I received a call from my cousin. My sister Jennifer, who has been battling cancer is not doing well. I have been trying to prepare myself for this, but really, how do you prepare for the death of a loved on? A sibling especially? I told my cousin thanks for calling and called Mag who was at work. She came home as soon as she could and we are getting ready to go to Rhode Island first thing in the morning.
My mom is not doing good with all this. We lostmy dad to cancer 7 years ago and now this. My sister who is divorced, and has an 8 yr. old daughter, have been living with my mom for the last few years.
The news today was the tumor is back in her head. There is water on the brain, and on top of that, she has pneumonia. She has refused being aspirated and has refused to be ventilated. She is probably not going to be with us much longer. I saw her about a month ago and she was just a shell of the person she once was. She is down to about 65 pounds and the cancer is just finishing her off.
I am thankfull that she will leave us with many happy and funny memories.
The time for a miracle has passed, now I hope she just dies peacefully.

Weekend Update

Well I've survived ( barely) my trip to PA. Our first stop was the home of Maggie's childhood best-friends home. Deb and her man Don live in a super nice townhouse in a very quiet city named Berwyn. It is always a good time when the four of us get together. Well, my wife and Deb provide most of the entertainment. When these two get together let me tall ya'. I love being with them because a: they enjoy each other so very much and b: they are very, very entertaining. I'll throw in a good Irish joke now and again and Don, well mostly Don does damage control. He does his best to keep Deb from starting trouble. Trouble could be an argument or, well, a small riot. This has yet to happen but hey, it very well could.
After a drink at Deb's we went to a friend of hers for a little BBQ. Bob and Laurie are very nice people. They have a really nice home and they were gracious hosts. They were, however, unprepared for the 'Deb & Maggie Show'. Deb and Mags regaled the group with tales from their wild, misguided youth. From the time Deb stole her mothers car to come pickup my wife and then had to have a friends dad park the car for her because she couldn't back it into the driveway. This was because there was no 'B' for 'backup on the shift column.
There was also the time Maggie bought pot from her older brother. The pot was really, Oregano. Debbie wondered what the big deal with pot was for many months after that.
There were many more stories and Bob and Laurie seemed somewhat stunned. Neither said much until Don corralled Deb and said "It's getting late." A wave of relief seemed to wash over our hosts faces.
Once back at Deb's I sat on the leather sofa prepared to watch some Stanley Cup action in HD. It was soon apparent that my dinner was in the revolution stages. I told Don to put a fork in me, I was done. I went to sleep immediately and slept well until about 1 am. It was then that the evil living in my intestines was ready to come out and rule the world.
I must say I have never vomited quite so violently. It was bad. My head spun, I was sweating and freezing at the same time....the coolness of the bowl was both refreshing and irritating. I was Retching so bad, if Sigourney Weaver had seen this she'd be like (low whistle) "daaaaaammmnnn...." Honestly, this was Alien 4, or whatever they're up to, in the making.
I laid in bed and Maggie at one point went and made me tea. This seemed to help a bit. At about 10 I ventured downstairs and everyone went "daaammmmnnn..."
Soon though I was taking some aspirin and some more tea. Feeling better, I felt we could indeed go to Wills ( Debs' son) graduation party.
We all piled into Dons car and headed to the city. We made a quick stop at the Continental Martini Bar where Don's on is the manager. Everyone but me had a Bloody Mary or Mango Mash or something with the alco. When the waitress came to me I just muttered "hot tea"
The manager says " we have lots of nice herbals.." I cut him off "black, nothing fruity.." He nodded and soon I had my tea.
After this we arrived at Will's home. It's on S. Front Street. It is directly across from Penn's Landing. This home is amazing. I'm a big fan of old architecture and this house was a treat. I'm guessing it's about 200 yrs. old at the least. It has a fucking elevator! An elevator people.
It is four floors of 1800's funkiness. Sunken rooms and large windows that face the river and the bridges...amazing. Matter o' fact, it will be featured on HGTV this month sometime. You must check it out.
After the party we headed back to Deb's and then hit the highway for our trip home. Maggie was snoozing as soon as we hit the PA Turnpike. It was smooth sailing until we hit the Jersey Turnpike. We sat in traffic for a loooong time. By the time we came to the next exit, my trusty navigator had awoken and we hopped off the Highway to Hell and followed back roads home. It was so good to be home. With my crazy ass cat and dog. Man, there is nothing I hate more than sitting in traffic. Well, except for retching like I'm about to deliver Beelzebub via my stomach..that does suck worse.....

Saturday, June 2, 2007

On the Road

Well, the weekend is upon us. It is hot today. I was up at 7 and when I slid the patio door open to let CrazyDog into the yard, the humidity hit me in the face like a big, soggy mop. So what did I do? Mow the lawn, naturally. We have a small yard, it takes me about an hour to mow, trim, and blow the clippings into my neighbors yard. Still, when I came in I was soaked.
Today we are hitting the highway to go and see our friends in Pennsy, Deb and Don. Deb and my wife, the lovely Maggie have been friends forever and they often regale us with tales form their wild, untamed youth.
Tonight it's dinner at the home of someone whom we have yet to meet and then we will spend the night at Don's home in the quiet suburbs of Berwyn. They have a pretty freakin' nice house let me tell ya. And the best part of their development? No kids.....sweet
Tomorrow it's into the city for a party for Deb's son who is graduating college with his degrees in Chemistry, Rocket Science, and most importantly, Mixology.
It looks like it will be a nice day for traveling.