Monday, January 21, 2019

On Falling in Love with Queen

Is it possible to fall in love with a band and all its members?  Were we born generations too late?  And in the wrong country?  Another thought - I had just this morning - what would we be willing to pay if we could be transported back in time to Wembley Stadium to join the masses - swaying, singing, clapping, and awestruck by Queen at a historic concert?  It seems that I'm constantly thinking about Queen songs & we play their concert videos almost every day.  Not to mention all the biographical videos I keep watching....

For me, the singular event of the past couple months was going to see the movie Bohemian Rhapsody after Thanksgiving.  I think it changed my life.  We went with Steve, Pam and Taylor - a wonderful six-some.  It was phenomenal, and Rami Malek the lead actor who played Freddie Mercury should get as Oscar for his performance.

To stop for a moment and grieve.....  the world lost Freddie Mercury to the horrendous disease AIDS in 1991.  While it can be managed as a chronic ailment for many people who have it now, it was a death sentence in the 1980's.  And for years it was stigmatized as a disease that "bad" people get i.e., mostly gay men.  So sad, and the potential, unrealized accomplishments of all those who died early is a loss to the world.

So, right now, let's just enjoy a wonderful performance of the song that's currently stuck in head.  Alex, you pulled this one up on YouTube for me a couple weeks ago.

Well, I could almost forget all the other important things you boys have been up to....  But coming back to the current day for a minute, here's the latest:

  • Alex, you officially got your Associate's Degree from LCCC in August and then finished your first semester at Misericordia.  It was a success!!  You transitioned to "serious" college-level workload (especially reading) and ended up with a 3.7 GPA.  Fantastic !  After a nice break with Taylor home and some shifts at Gerrity's produce department, now it's on to semester #2.  One great compliment to Misericordia University is that you seem to have excellent, interesting teachers.  Inspiring teachers are one of the gifts that every young person needs (American society does not value thoughtful, motivating teachers for the critical difference they make in our lives).  We celebrated your 22nd birthday at Pizza Perfect & with banana cream pie.  Your favorite Xmas/Bday gift will be the new fly fishing rod that you buy for yourself.  You decided not to go skiing with Taylor this month ....  hmm, I wonder why.  When I asked, you told me you are currently listening to Linkin Park (e.g,. "Numb") and Machine Gun Kelly (e.g., "Bleed it Out").  I checked them out on You Tube and thought they were pretty awful.  In other news, Taylor will graduate from Slippery Rock in May (wow!  already!) and has an internship with a safety consulting firm in the Pittsburgh area coming up this summer.  Great news!
  • Rob, you are half way through 10th grade (as we discussed last week, "sophomore" wise fool year).  It is going very well, including Anatomy class which had Alex and me concerned on top of all your Honors classes & French.  And this year you've been an active member of Key Club - in fact, within a few weeks after school started you were elected to its Board.  It was fun coming by to see you working the Key Club stand during football games (and asking at every game what snack you recommend.....  Lol !).  I admire your genuine interest in helping others, which now extends to tutoring elementary school kids at the Institute on Wednesday nights.  Your favorite Christmas gift was a white Fire Emblem 3DS.  And you seemed to mostly enjoy our time at the cabins, particularly since you got to bring the PS4 and play games with Lu, Kyra and her boyfriend Mike.  Unfortunately, you had a bad cold over the holiday break then came down with pneumonia the first week of January (in time to miss 3+ days of school).  Your favorite musicians are currently Bob Dylan (too many to mention) and Credence Clearwater Revival (e.g., "Bad Moon Rising").  They are fine, but I hope I don't ever again have to hear Bob Dylan songs for 4 hrs straight as we did on the way back from Hancock NH last August.

One additional note about Christmas - it was our first one without Tiger, and we do miss him a lot.  Rob, I felt so badly when you told me how much you missed having him with you over the past couple weeks when you were sick.  😢  I made you each Tiger photo albums which you got as Xmas gifts.  I was sad as I worked on them, though grateful for the special childhood pet we'll always hold close to our hearts.  As to our "dos gatos".....  Jean Luc continues to be his agreeable, friendly, portly self - willing to be Rob's  bedtime buddy and pal most nights.  Rambo is still somewhat anxious (he over-grooms, especially his tail), but overall is more social than ever before.

Our 2018 holiday card this year was a photo card with then-and-now pictures of you (enhanced by our resident photographer Steve - thank you!).  To wrap up, here are your 2006 and 2018 photos, sitting on the porch at 14 Hill St.  You are both very handsome and very loved.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Post Script

"The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES."

-T.S. Eliot/The Naming of Cats

When Steve heard about yesterday's post, he asked whether I remembered to list all of Tiger's names.  (Noooo.)  So, here is a list of special names we've had for our handsome, poofball kitty:
  • Tiggy Wiggy
  • Tigrero Rochete
  • The Wiger
  • Fluffy
  • Fluffius Maximus
  • The Ayatollah of Flufferola
  • Fluffmeister General
  • Fluffernutter
As you know, I love listening to old-time country music.  This past week I came across a Carter Family song what was covered by Roseann Cash.  The song "Under the Weeping Willow " is about about a completely different situation, but the theme of loss is the same.  It's a very simple arrangement, and absolutely beautiful.

Our Tiger

Our longtime, best friend, confidant and comforter Tiger died very suddenly on April 8, 2018.  It was a terrible day that we'll never forget.  I SO wish that Robby had not been home alone when Tiger passed so very suddenly mid-afternoon.  The only solace we have is that Tiger had Robby with him all day, since Rob didn't feel well in the morning and had stayed home from school.  Our boy was comfortable and felt loved up to his last moments with us.  Alex had been working at Gerrity's but came home soon after.  We often look at his favorite spot on the couch cushion, think of him climbing up on Everyone's lap as soon as they sat down.  He absolutely adored petting from Steve, especially in his favorite position lying across his chest.  As I wrote to my friend Cindi a few weeks after he passed, I think we will always miss Tiger.

Tiger lived to be 13 1/2 years old.  We wish he could have been with us much longer, but realize particularly after he passed that he had been sick toward the end.

So, here is a the story of getting Tiger when you boys were quite young.  Our kitty Kyle (named by Alex) had sadly passed away.  Aunt Pam had recently gotten Wolfie from a breeder near Selinsgrove, and told us that there were both Siamese and Maine Coon kittens there.  Alex, in second grade, had made up his mind that he wanted an orange cat that looked like a tiger.....  so after a couple months, we took a drive down to the breeder's house.  It smelled Terribly of cat urine, as she had numerous kitties from the basement up (in cages and wandering about).  Dad stayed in the living room with 2 year-old Robby while Alex and Mom went upstairs to see kittens ready for adoption.  There were kitties all around, but Alex went straight for a large cage with 3 orange Maine Coon kittens and immediately fell in love with the most active one (jumping all over the place).  The breeder noticed that Alex was smitten and offered somewhat of a discount on her price, so after some attempts to persuade Alex to pick a Siamese we gave up and settled on Tiger.  On the way home in the kitty carrier Mom was holding, he howled for 15 minutes or so until Dad said, "well, you'd better try petting him".  Petting and soothing comments did quiet him down.  The first night at home he stayed in your room, and after throwing up just once was fine-and-dandy.

As a kitten, he had a knack for getting into trouble because he climbed on everything - including upper bunks, bureaus and piles of train boxes downstairs  :-(   He started climbing up the curtains after he was full-grown, which as far as Mom was concerned was The End....  so he had his front claws removed.  Tiger was mostly an inside cat, except for a few escapes like when he fell off the porch railing and at least twice climbed down the walnut tree into the garden.  Uncle George and Aunt Rebecca's cat Meow would come up the tree sometimes to "visit" through the sliding glass door to the porch.  Seems like Meow came by mostly out of boredom (no particular friendliness in mind), as she thoroughly enjoyed tormenting Tiger who batted and hissed at her through the glass....  she would do the same thing by climbing up the dogwood tree by Aunt Pam's porch, walking up and over the low roof to "visit" Wolfie outside her kitchen window.

Tiger came to live at Sharpe Street in January 2012.  It was a real homecoming for Mom to have our boy back; there had been a picture of him keeping her company for the past 3 years.  Steve laughed at Tiger's fluff swaying as he walked across the dining room floor.  Tiger loved to sleep at the bottom of Robby's bed, where he could look out at the hallway & down the stairs.  Every few months he had a bath at Grooming Cottage, and shaved down in the early summers (when his tail looked like a truffula tree).  He met Jean Luc on his first morning at Montgomery Ave when Tiger "sang the song of his people" in the hallway until he was allowed to come in the bedroom.  Jean Luc watched from the foot of the bed with great interest; Tiger would sometimes hiss/spit, other times instigate spats or low-speed chases, still other times enjoy grooming with our calm, agreeable gray tabbycat.  Later on when Rambo was rescued and came to us, Tiger had a somewhat testy relationship with Rambo.  We had 3 cats !!

Here is a text from I got from Aunt Pam the day of our sad loss.

"Hi Chris, I'm so sorry about tiger!  My heart aches for Robby and Alex.  He was so much more than a pet.  He was a wonderful companion, and a link to their happier childhood times.  You and Steve must be horribly upset as well.  The only consolation we can take is that it was quick for him.  I feel Awful that Robby was alone with him when it happened.  Robby has witnessed too much.  😢
Tiger was larger than life 😊 so much personality."

Tiger was larger than life.  I know he is still with us in spirit and believe that we'll all be together again some day.  In the meantime, he is probably sitting on Grandma's lap getting petted.... and alternately sitting between Grandma and Grandpa so he gets double petting.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Lost at Sea

Today is Palm Sunday.  After getting home & searching on YouTube for Palm Sunday hymns, I came across this wonderful video of the Ohio State Marching Band playing the Navy Hymn "Eternal Father".  Military hymns are awesome (in the true meaning of the word, not the casual "that's awesome!" we hear too often when someone can't think of anything specific to say).  And this performance is fascinating to me because the band members actually sing the hymn themselves - so cool!!!

It makes me think about our family heritage, having Maine seafaring families including ship captains on the Rivers side (Rivers, Davis and others which I'm not remembering).  Walking through a cemetery near Port Clyde, ME, Dad and I found gravestones from these families years ago.  Sadly, we also saw many graves/memorials for young men (especially) drowned or lost at sea.  Oceans are probably the most wonderful and terrifying things we can know.

It also made me think of a ship lost during my lifetime, that had sailed out of Philadelphia's port next to Gloria Dei Church were I grew up.  You can read more about the sad story here, including some interesting theories about what happened to the ship:  The Disappearance of the SS Poet.

You'll notice the article includes a photo of a memorial placque, which is at the back of the church.  Grandad held a memorial service for the men who were lost, which was attended by family members from all over the country.  This is one of the very meaningful things Grandad did at Gloria Dei - you can read a bit more at the church website:  David Buchanan Rivers.

Well, having shared a bit of history with you I hope you will enjoy this video as much as I do !!  We need to remember to be grateful to all those families that have loved ones working on the coast or out at sea.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Exciting Times

Alex, now that 2018 is here things have been "happening" !  One not so good event over the past couple months, but MOSTLY exciting stuff.  Some recent highlights....

  1. Shortly before 2018, you turned 21.  Woohoo!   We had dinner at MizuSushi, presents, etc.  But that was only after you and Taylor you celebrated with Gage at Uncle Bucks.  I don't know too many details, and that's just as well.
  2. In January you broke your right ankle (tip of your tibia) on your first trip down the bunny slope, skiing with Taylor.  She took you to the Edwardsville urgent care clinic, then we had appointments with Dr. Hernandez who we really liked.  Fortunately, no hard cast - just crutches and a brace/boot that you could walk on before too long.  It was a simple fracture and healed quickly.  But an achy foot and no driving for (a very boring) 5 weeks or so was rough.  By the end of February, you were driving again and off for a long weekend at Slippery Rock.  You've been saying that it's very unlikely you will ever going skiing again....
  3. Then a couple days it was back to work at Gerrity's, where your boss very much wants you to continue working in the produce department.  The prior week you gave notice of resigning from Gerritys because of much upcoming travel....  but store management is willing to schedule your hours around the trips.  So no need to quit - great news!
  4. WHAT TRAVEL, you say???  Well very soon you are heading abroad for a 10 day visit with Uncle John and Aunt Fran in Qatar.  Leaving from JFK Airport in New York City, connecting in Istanbul, then on to Doha (and back).  It will be Very interesting and a wonderful opportunity to see part of the Middle East - from a geographical, political and historical perspective.  You will have much fun with Noel and Larson too.  The next special highlight is a weekend visit with Uncle Jason and Aunt Maryanne, traveling with Aunt Pam.  Good times!
  5. But really what prompted me to (finally!!) write a new post in Carroll Boys was your application to Misericordia University and, as of March 1, receiving a letter of acceptance/scholarship notification.  I am so, so proud of all the work you've done to become an honors student at LCCC, decide that you are very interested in politics and apply for the Government, Law and National Security program.  Fantastic!!  Congratulations Alexander Finley !!!
It makes me think of the fun and excitement of Wyoming Area graduation, so I've re-posted one of my favorite pictures of you in the blog header.   

There is much work to come..... and for now, let's be joyful !!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Real" County Music

I guess you both know that I've been an on-and-off country music fan.  (And I really did want a truck for a bit when you were quite young.....!)  What this has usually meant is "country pop" type artists such as the Judd's, Shania Twain, Martina McBride, etc.  Although Steve and I went to a Dolly Parton concert a couple years ago, and can verify that Dolly is a true country music icon.

As I while away time listening to music on You Tube, I've begun to appreciate old-time country music, and I'm always looking for more Johnny Cash and Carter Family songs.  I came across two tonight that are just fantastic....  so lucky you, I'm going to share them.

The first song was written by Merle Kilgore and June Carter.  It became one of Johnny Cash's best known songs, but was originally recorded by June's sister Anita Carter.  She had a compelling, spectacular voice - this rendition is just wonderful.

And this probably the sweetest love song I've ever heard, performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.  Theirs is a great love story; I hope very much that some day both of you will have the joy of finding your own soul mates.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Since my last post......

I updated the picture are the top of the blog to the one I've inserted below.  Steve (our extraordinarily talented, primary photographer) took it.  It was really a very innocent moment; but the cats look downright creepy.

Also, Robby you have been somewhat fixated on baby names lately.  So to add to the previous posting:
  • You like the name "Rain" for a girl, which is a very nice name.  We tried to talk you into Sleet, Fog and Hail too, but you aren't going for it.  You joked with Alex that you are also considering "Eduarda".
  • We are concerned about your latest boy's preferred boy's name , which is "Joof".  Alex is sure he would spend a lot of time fighting over it, and Steve says his nickname would be "ATM" since he would constantly lose his lunch money to his tormentors.  You did a Google search and found that there are "one or fewer" people who have this first name.  Good thing your future wife will have her own opinions.
As a funny conclusion, here's a perfect song for the wrap up the Name posting at least for now.  The comments to this video say it was recorded at a concert for prisoners in San Quentin (not in Denmark):