Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Knew Right Away She Was Not Like Other Girls

Lest anyone think this kid is not VERY special...think again.

There will be much, much more to write after we go up to San Francisco and rock her in our arms. For now, here is a picture. From what we understand, Vanessa is fine, Brando is exhausted and still trying to get his arms around the whole thing.

Chloe is the first great grandchild in the Bortnick family. We have been calling her GiGi since before she was born. She has made us all richer when we are feeling so poorly.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tell Me All That You Know, I'll Show You Snow and Rain

Let's get this straight right up front. Dad was an atheist and so are most of us in the family. Sure, we are Jewish in culture and tradition, but there ain't no God to comfort you. He taught us not to believe that lie.

So here's what went down on that dark night of Jan 21 and early morning of the 22.

The old man got his last shave.

As kids, every one of us were taught to shave by him lathering up, giving us a razor (blade less, we later learned), and we would go to town on his face.

I did it, Josh did it; all of us had the experience. I hope you readers shaved your dads too.

On the evening of the 21, we all shaved him one more time. Does that seem weird?

Everyone in the family, and there are a lot of us, stayed in the room, taking turns lying on the bed, holding on for one last hug.
Kimberly was the nurse, keeping him comfortable any way she could dream up.

Brother-in-law, Jeff was the assistant. He had a hard time with the rubber gloves, but bless him, he was there to help.

Then Josh looked outside and noticed something extremely rare and unusual happening ..Snow.

Snow in Tucson has not occurred in 25 years. It never snows at night. There was no wind or sound. And it just kept falling until the entire neighborhood was blanketed in deep, silent, whiteness.

We all went out and played and laughed and wondered.

Joshua said that people think Death is black, but actually Death is white and pure and clean.

I was a little freaked out by it all, but kept taking pictures.

When we returned to the room, somebody uncorked a bottle of wine and there was sadness and laughter. Pretty soon, Kimberly was teaching the girls yoga poses. She was remarkable.

I got on the laptop and started playing some music.

At he end, Kimberly and sister Mickey helped him pass while James Taylor was singing "Enough to Be on Your Way". Check it out sometime.

This is a time in the story when one would expect some of those Famous Last Words. I will try not to disappoint.

But, truth be told, the real last intelligible thing he said in English was "All I wanted was a screwdriver!"

Nobody could figure that one out. But by then, Kimberly had seen that he was tightly wrapped in the arms of Morpheus, so he was really dreaming away. Perhaps he was making last minute repairs.

We'll never know.

But a while earlier, a more significant and profound thought came out and this will be the one we will always count as the Famous Last Words because they speak to what sort of a guy he was.

Kimberly was on the bed, doing what she does. I was in a bedside chair as was Jeff. We were feeling pretty sad. Dad was mumbling, trying to get some words out out and finally said, very clearly,

"Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Kimberly kissed him on the head and said, "No, Dad, we thank you!"

The next day, the snow was gone. We got a phone call from our son, Brandon in San Francisco. He told us his wife, Vanessa, had just given birth to a baby girl whose name is Chloe.

We have already given her a nickname..GiGi (great granddaughter). I expect her to be shaving me someday.

All of us atheists believe they passed each other somewhere in the cosmos that snowy night and Dad gave her a high five on her way down.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Black Muddy River

Bernard Bortnick

August 29,1923 -January 22,2007

When the last rose of summer pricks my fingers
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can't hear the song for the singer
And I can't tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
Sing me a song of my own

When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain
And the stars seem to splatter in the sky
When the moon splits the south west horizon
And scream of an eagle on the fly

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And listen to the ripples as they moan
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
Sing me a song of my own

Black muddy river Roll on forever
I don't care how deep and wide
If you got another side
Roll muddy river
Roll muddy river
Black muddy river, roll

When it seems like the night will last forever
And there's nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart start to sever
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
Sing me a song of my own

And sing me a song of my own

If You Fall, You fall Alone

There is a road,
no simple highway
between the dawn and the dark of night.
And if you go, no one may follow.
That path is for your steps alone
Lately I have been thinking about how time passes at different rates during life. Of course, it depends on what you are doing. An hour spent with a beautiful woman can be over in a few minutes. On the other hand, sharing an elevator with an insurance salesman can seem like an eternity.

We just took a plane ride from Auckland where I was forced to sit in the middle seat next to a fat lady who just took a cruise with a bunch of friends. She told me all about it for 14 hours. I never knew cruises could be so damn interesting.

When the meal came, I wanted to kill myself with the plastic fork.

Anyway, looking at how the time goes in our lives, it's like a man jumping off a very tall building. The way our son, Josh, explains it, speed actually increases as he falls until something called Terminal Velocity is reached.

Nice term.

So when we are born, we jump off the building and seem to actually float for a while. We enjoy the entire experience and don't pay a lot of attention to what is really happening. If we bother to look down, all we see are friendly, fluffy, white clouds.

It takes quite a bit of time to realize that the years seems to be passing by faster than they used to.

"Yipee! Summer vacation! Where's my bike?" "Wasn't it just yesterday that I went to the Senior Prom with what's-her-name?""Didn't you kid just have a Bar Mitzvah? Oh, it was a wedding? He's divorced? No kidding?""Who's that old man in the mirror?"
"What the hell is that down there? Is that a SIDEWALK???? WhoputTHATthere?"Ohhhh,SHITTTTTTT!!!!"
I am glancing down watching my father just inches from the ground. If he has the time to look up he will see a baby girl, his great-granddaughter, about to float from the top of the building. She will never know him or see him.
She doesn't even know there's a sidewalk.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Watching Flies and Children on the Street

One of the first things we noticed when we got here was that there were no screens anywhere. When it started warming up, people were opening their doors and windows to let in the breeze.

New Zealand has flies, bugs, mosquitoes, and all those sorts of things, so we reckoned they would be crawling all over the homes, wouldn't you?

But they don't.

Instead, everyone has a little apparatus called "Eco-Mist" which is a spray that puffs out some anti-bug potion that is harmless to people and environmentally friendly, of course. Made in NZ.

The critters either die pretty fast or stand at the doorway and avoid coming in without an invitation from us.

I don't believe this is available in the US. The screen manufacturing people would not like it. One container can work for a 1500 s/f house and lasts a season at least.

So we got one the other day. Now we sleep with the windows open. We have our doors wide open all day....no bugs, even though they are visible outdoors. I actually don't get it, but who cares?

Here is their website:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sitting plush with a royal flush, aces back to back

We have been meaning to address the toilet situation here in order to answer some pressing questions.

The word "Loo" comes up a lot for the room we use to make water.

The most widely claimed source of loo is gardy loo (based on pseudo-French gare de l'eau "mind the water"), used in 18th-century Edinburgh to warn passers-by when a chamber pot was about to be emptied into the street below. However, this is chronologically unlikely, as there is no evidence of loo being used for "toilet" before the 1930s. Other possible candidates include Waterloo (the link with "water" gives this some plausibility) and louver, from the use of slatted screens for a makeshift lavatory. The likeliest source is perhaps French lieux d'aisances, literally "places of ease," hence "toilet," possibly picked up by British service personnel in France during World War I.
Loo is very British and Kiwis are sometimes trying to distance themselves from the Poms so they avoid the word and say "toilet". In the States, we have lots of ways to avoid saying toilet and use rest room, powder room, facilities, gotta see a man about a horse...but in New Zealand, just say toilet and nobody will look at you funny.

In Moari, it is called 'Wharepaku", pronounced Fareepaakoo and it means toilet house

Boy, are we getting an education, or what?

They have a dual flush system here that makes a lot of sense. On the tank are 2 buttons, one for pee and one for poo. More water is released for the 2nd button for obvious reasons.

It took us a while to figure this our because we were afraid to ask about toilet stuff.

By the way, as far as we can tell, the water swirls the same way, clockwise, as everywhere else. Possibly the counterclockwise story is an urban legend.

The public toilets are extremely clean everywhere, even petrol stations and along the roadways. Campsites have outhouses or porta-pottys, but they don't call them that. They are called longdrops. Can you guess why?

That's all for now.

Gotta go.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Weight

Once upon a time, I was playing a round of golf and doing quite well after 8 holes. In my mind, this was going to be that score I have been waiting for all my life. Then, of course, the tee shot goes out of bounds and the penalty shot, which ended up in the deep rough, could not be found.

So, I am complaining to anyone who will listen within 100 metres. And complaining heavily with several glasses of whine.

My partner simply says, "This may mean a lot to you, but nobody else gives a shit."

And that is the lesson of the day.

Everyone walking around above the ground is carrying around some weight on their back, much heavier than a lost ball. Some people point it out to others, most carry it silently as they trudge through their day.

Everyone has weight and nobody gives a shit about yours.

That being said, my back is killing me lately. It is at a level 5 all the time and often it goes to a 7. This has been the way it is for nearly my whole life. Either I don't exercise enough, I am overweight, I need to swim, do sit ups, see a chiropractor, an acupuncturist...blah, blah, blah. I have relatives and friends who share this malaise and sometimes theirs is worse than mine.

Fortunately for me, there is Vicodin. Taking drugs has never been a problem for me at all...but not for medical purposes fer cryin' out loud.

The other day, Brandon introduced me to Tiger Balm. It is from the mysterious East and contains such exotic ingredients as camphor, menthol, cajuput oil and clove oil. How could that be bad? It actually works much better than Ben-Gay, not to mention the name. I think I would rather be in a wheelchair before I let Ben-Gay get his well manicured hands anywhere near me.

But I know nobody gives a shit about my problems.

My dad has a lot to be concerned with these days, but he doesn't say a word.

Taped onto my father's office desk is a little clip of paper which has been there for over 50 years. It looks like this:

Thanks Dad. once again, your ball is right down the middle.