Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Family is Growing Again

Well, not my immediate family. We are happily expecting our fourth grandson this spring. That's his picture there. He has yet to be given a name.

I'm so very happy for my son and his lovely wife, and the little brother to be, Liam. I miss being pregnant. Sometimes I try to remember what it was like to have those little feet scroll across my belly. It's a magical time.

Girl babies are a rarity in my husband's family tree. His father's family was made up of four boys and one little girl, who died early. His own family consisted of three boys. We have, by birth, that is, one girl and two boys. Baby X's mom said that she told my son that he is just so manly that he doesn't have any X chromosomes. (Aren't men with YY chromosomes violent killers? Read that somewhere.)

Can't wait to see Liam's baby brother. Too bad they live so darn far away.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Our big backyard is totally natural. Oh, those weren't my hopes for the backyard. I pictured a big deck off the back of the house, flower and vegetable gardens and a huge play area for the kids.

Well, that didn't happen, largely because of financial reasons, not to mention time and energy lack. If you have a large adoptive family like we do, you'll understand that.

When we built this home in 1995 the county government made us take down all non-native trees and shrubs. You used to be able to see into the back neighbors and side neighbors' yards. And it probably would still be that way if we had had the money to actually plant grass and flowers and shrubs to enjoy from a deck we don't have either.

Luckily, nothing can hold back these "Non-native species." We've let them grow back on the fringes of the yard, so that now we have a lovely natural fence, and a very private back yard. I'm sure there are people who would walk into my yard and say, "Why don't you cut down those Brazilian Pepper tress?" "Why don't you put down some sod?" But I don't care if that ever happens.

I've learned to look for the beauty in the weeds...the things that "aren't meant to be here." Mostly by walking Jack, our pup, while he looks for just the perfect place to deposit his poo. Then, this past summer, our mower was broken, so the yard didn't get mowed until September. My husband was upset, but I was in heaven.

The western half of the yard was filled with a lovely dark green "non native" ground cover that produces little yellow flowers shaped like daisies. Like a meadow. I would have been just as happy if they were dandelions, but we don't get those here like we did up north.

Jack and I made our own worn paths through the jungle. I came to love each species of non native plants and trees. And the butterflies just loved the yard. It became magical.

Then my husband decided that we were going to have to fix the mower, and we splurged on some new parts and he got it running in September. I tried to talk him into just mowing paths through the backyard and leaving all the "weed" in place for my enjoyment, but, no, they had to be mowed back. My yellow flower ground cover was lost, but he hasn't gotten the chain saw fixed yet, so I can still enjoy the trees and bushes.

I guess it's the same way with how some folks look at people with disabilities. That they are "weeds" and an inferior species. Those people are missing so very much.

The little "weed" above is Taylor, who was to be our last baby in 1993. She was born with spina bifida, just like the two boys right before her, and had a shunt in her head. What a little sweetie! Not a lot of prospective adoptive families for he, but our weedy family loved her.

When she was a month old she was sitting in the baby swing and I looked over to check on her and she was very, very still, but her eyes were open. I said, "Oh, My God!" and got her out of the swing and put her on the kitchen counter,and checked but she was not breathing and had no heartbeat. Luckily I knew infant CPR from my older boy, Will, who had a trache as an infant until age 4 1/2. I got started on her while my husband called 911. At the hospital they stablized her and she came home ion a couple days.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the arrests. At first it was just once a week, but as the months went on it became a daily thing, and then several times a day. Most times it was just respiratory arrest, and bagging her would do the trick. other times it was cardiac as well.

The MDs looked for all kinds of answers as to why this was happening. First they thought she must be aspirating, so they put in a g-tube (no big deal to me by then, as we had another daughter with a feeding tube.) Then another time they thought she must be aspirating, so they put in a trache (again, no biggie as we'd had a kid with a trache.)

None of those things stopped the arrests. After the last big hospitalization when she was 6 months old, the MDs decided that I could not bother calling the paramedics and just take care of her at home, unless I couldn't get her back. Taylor also had Arnold Chiari syndrome, where the brainstem is pushed down too far toward her spinal column, and they finally figured out that that part of her brain that controlled her breathing and heartbeat was damaged. She wasn't stable enough for the surgery to correct it. I think they just wanted her to die, but I welcomed the chance just to keep her at home.

By then our living room looked like a mini ICU. Her full crib was in there, as well as her ambu bag, suction pump, and IV pole with the formula bag hanging from it, and the O2 tank, the nebulizer pump, the heart monitor/alarm, the Sat sensor on her toe and accompanying SAT alarm, the breathing treatment equipment and so much more.

By the time she was 8 months old in April,1994, she was going into respiratory arrest several times a day. Just moving her or bathing her could set off an arrest. Then she got pneumonia again and died in my arms, exactly one year from they day that our 4 month old Rebecca died.

Was she a "weed?" Not to me, not to my other children or my husband. She was a magical little girl, full of beauty and great smiles. She had a sweet personality, and we loved her as much as we loved our other children. A rose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Simpler Times

This is me, my mom and my sister, Janet, outside my grandparent's home, about 1951 or 2. We don't look all that happy here, but it's probably because we were exhausted. We'd often take a trolley down from Wilkinsburg to Frick Park in Pittsburgh. We'd spend some time on the huge slide and the swings and monkeybars and then start our magical journey into the woods. You walk down into this beautiful little grotto with a stream. Back then you'd never know it was in the middle of the city.

We'd stop at a little store beforehand and get peanuts to feed the squirrels, and the little things would come right up to you to get them. We'd sit on a bench and talk. Mom always told us stories about "The Olden Days." She'd tell us stories about when she was growing up, like chasing the ice-man's truck, how he'd chip off some pieces of ice from the big blocks and toss them to the kids on hot summer days. About her family's "ice box." And how you had to be careful where you walked on the streets so you didn't step in horse poop. (Mom was born in 1923) We loved those stories.

When we were ready to leave the park, we still had one stop to make. We'd take the trolley to her parent's house, where we'd go upstairs and sit at the kitchen table with our grandmother and mother and listen to the two of them talk and gossip, eat cookies or bread and butter, and when we were totally tired (as in the pic) we'd take a trolley home.

Frick Park had changed for the worse by the time my own kids were ready for that trip in the 1970s and '80's. It just wasn't the same. The park had gone the way of a lot of big city parks. The magic was gone for me. I went looking on the web for a photo of Frick park to write this post. I found out that the city had recently done a major restoration project on the park, turning it back to its pristine beauty. And that photo brought back the magic.

This photo evokes exactly the feeling I had when I was a child visiting Frick Park. Magic. Joy. Freedom. Hope. Promise. Love. I haven't been back to that park in probably 25/30 years. But I don't need to. I have recaptured the feeling with this one photo.

It's just so important that you constantly try to get yourself into a state of mind that is joyful. If all you think about in your day is fear or anger or depression, you'll only get more of that in your near future. So when you see that you need to change mental focus, go back and look at your old photo albums. Find something that brings you peace and joy.

Even when it doesn't seem possible, it really is. It's a decision you make daily. Maybe that joy will only be momentary, but it's effects will be felt in your future.

Monday, October 22, 2007

About JOY

This is Jeremy, who has Down Syndrome. Look at that face! I found the pic when we were defragging our closet.

A baby's smile is one of pure joy. His face explodes with joy.

It's probably because he is fresh from heaven, where all is joy. So, what if we could recapture that feeling for ourselves, at 20 or 35 or 60? It really is possible.

There are some steps to doing that. Steps that one should take every day. They are:

1. Relax and calm yourself

2. Say aloud exactly what you are grateful for in your life. Feel the joy that those things create in you. Expressing gratitude, and clarifying it for yourself are so important.

3. Say "Today I will find things that make me happy." And all day, look for those things. A wildflower, a pretty car, a friend's voice, a butterfly, a child's smile, a kiss...

4. Allow yourself to feel that joy. Unless you allow it, you'll miss it.

5. Remember your greatest moment of joy. Let that old feeling fill you. Strive for that feeling all the time.

God sends us experiences that match our state of mind. If you are angry, you'll get more things that make you angry. If you are at peace and happy, you'll get more things that make you happy and bring you peace. If you are sad or depressed, you'll get more of that.

What you feel each day, whether it be joy or sadness, is setting up by your spiritual vibration, what is going to happen in your life. Like attracts like in the spiritual world.

What do you want for your future? Joy or sadness and uncertainty? You can choose.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Defragging My Closet

Are you like me? Perhaps it takes a geek to appreciate this, but I love to defrag my computer. I like to sit there and watch while all the errant files are relocated to their proper place on my hard drive. And when it's done, it feels good.

I also like to defrag my house. Last night we started on a two day defrag of our master bedroom closet, which has become a depository for far too much junk. There are bags of stuff in there that were probably with us when we moved south in 1986. Unbelievable amount of junk.

I envision a walk in closet like you'd see in a closet organizer ad. Ain't gonna happen I know, but it WILL be organized. Lots of stuff set aside for Goodwill. An even bigger pile of crud to go to the landfill. How does one acquire so much junk?

I frequently set aside time to defrag my brain. To clear out all the crap that doesn't belong there. The negative memories, the sad stuff, the frustrating things and the maddening ones.

I don't need all that nasty stuff taking up perfectly good brain cells in my head. I'm trying, and actually succeeding most days, to replace all those things with good memories. A quick mental SAVE of the pretty coral colored flowers on a stalk I see out in the backyard when I walk Jack. A mental SAVE of something one of my kids said that was funny. The way my husband looks at me. Knowing I'm loved like no other woman on earth.

Those things can happily copy over those misplaced brain cells in the hard drive that is my brain. Try it. Defrag your brain and get rid of those ugly thoughts and feelings that have been taking up space for so long. You don't need them. Overwrite those thoughts and feelings with happy thoughts and loving feelings. Replace them with remembered joy.

Thought for the day: "The standard of success in life isn't the things. It isn't the money or the stuff. It is absolutely the amount of joy that you feel."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pooping on Command

Our service dog in training, Jack, at one year old, after being in weekly training and daily reinforcement since he was 10 weeks old, has a good grasp of all the commands. The one I like best is the one where you make him heel, so he know's he's "on." Then you take him to where you want him to pee and poop and say, BREAK (the code word for pee and poop.)

He will stop and do which one of them he needs to do at that command. I think that is so cool.

And I'm thinking how neat it would be if you could train a kid from the age of ten weeks to do the same thing. Not just for going to the bathroom. But if you could train them to your commands, like "QUIET" (Jack sometimes pays attention to that one) or "COME" or "NO MOUTH" or "SIT" or "STAY."

For kids though I think I'd add a few others, like: "Homework, " "Chores," (where they would drop what they were doing immediately and do it, or "PEACE"-where they would immediately stop arguing. But the major command that I'd like to train kids with is the command "NO." It's all purpose for parents.

You train the kid to stop whatever he's doing immediately, like a service dog. So you catch a kid starting to rage you just say "NO." and the kid stops. Wouldn't that be cool?

Come on now, are our kids any less intelligent than a German Shepherd?

Here's a couple more I wish I had trained my kids with: "SHOWER!" and they dash off to actually do it-not just splash water on their arms and dab some on their hair and say they did.

How about "NO LIE?" You catch a kid lying and give the command, and they are so highly trained that they MUST give you the truth.

OK, so it does sound a lot like big brother...but hey, one can dream, cant one?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

About being happy

I've been studying "The Secret" even before it was known as "The Secret." Like for several years. But the movie, of the same name is a quick explanation that I watch at least once a month.

The cool thing about the movie is that each time I watch it I come away with new insight into my own life and how I can build my world the way I want it. The secret is a step by step process you can learn, and positively affect every aspect of your life. Be Happy!

For those of you who haven't become part of the phenomena, The Secret talks about "the Universe," which many of the teachers will tell you is just another name for GOD. Like attracts like. Your thoughts create your universe. If your thoughts are all about the fear of getting cancer, you are attracting cancer. If your thoughts are about how grateful you are for your fantastic health, you'll have fantastic health.

You can't, however, think, "I am so grateful that I do not have cancer." THAT would attract cancer.

Believe it or not, I'm not trying to change anyone's minds. I'm just reporting on my own experiences. I'm not trying to TEACH anything, either, as you simply cannot drag a person into happiness. It's up to each person to find their own path in life, and if they want to continue to think negative thoughts and create a negative world, there is nothing I can do to change that.

The one thing that I can say, is that the VERY best way you can create the life of your dreams is to 1. wake up each morning and think of all the things and people for whom you are grateful. Think of all the things that make you happy.

Finding ways to keep yourself in a HAPPY state is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Say, This day I will be happy and friendly and helpful to everyone I meet. That way, you will be attracting good things into your life.

It works for me. You don't realize how good you'll feel if you spend time appreciating the little things, the flowers you see along the road, the beautiful puffy clouds, you child's artwork, your spouse's hug, a child's smile. The appreciation makes you happy. And the happiness attracts more happiness.

I'm putting a quote here every day now. I get them by email and it's a great way to start my day. Here's today's quote:

>>The best thing you could do for anyone that you love, is be happy! And the very worst thing that you could do for anyone that you love, is be unhappy, and then ask them to to try to change it, when there is nothing that anybody else can do that will make you happy. If it is your dominant intent to hold yourself in vibrational harmony with who you really are, you could never offer any action that would cause anybody else to be unhappy.<<

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brothers and Sisters - A Necessity

Saturday, my brother from Orlando and his wife, and cute as all get-out 10 year old son came to town for a 50th birthday dinner with me and my sister, whom I haven't seen in two years and her husband.

It was magnificent seeing them all again. We were all so close growing up. At least four of us now live in the same southern state, with only one brother still in PA. My one sister from way up north in the state could not come. But we had a lot of fun laughing and talking.

I often forget that even though I've turned 60, that my siblings have been aging as well. I still picture them all as teenagers, before we all went our own ways. I always expect to see the teenagers they were. My brother is starting to look a lot like my maternal grandfather, and I think both my sisters tend to look like my paternal grandmother. It's the nose I think. They have thin noses, and I have a big honker like my dad. I'm pretty sure I take after my maternal grandmother. I have pix of her, and, being the oldest, I was actually around when she was living. My body shape matches hers to a t.

It was funny when my nephew brought out his bag of presents he had bought for his father. He got him exploding soap and a shocking calculator, from a magic shop.

I look at all my own kids now. They absolutely NEED each other. I moved my one son with Down Syndrome on Friday over from the high school he had been attending to the high school where five of his siblings are attending. Before the move he was difficult to get into the tub in the AM, and difficult to get him to go on the bus to his old school. Sometimes he would strip naked right before the bus came and we'd have to redress him. Sometimes wed end up driving him to school. Since the move to the new school, he gets his bath without trouble every AM and RUNS out to the bus to get on.

Siblings are important when one is growing up, but they are also important when you are an adult. All 9 of my kids who still live at home are developmentally delayed, and will require supported living arrangements or group homes when the time is right. I just want to assure that they will be able to regularly get together with each other when I'm gone. It's just so important.

People who grew up as only children don't get it. People with 5, 10,15 or 20 kids or more thoroughly understand.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Here's an email I was sent today. It was supposedly written by an 85 year old lady. It truly hits home in this house!

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed betweenhis presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed tohonorit. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are tobecommended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application for Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance of your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:


#1. To make an appointment to see me

#2. To query a missing payment.

# 3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

# 4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping

# 5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

# 6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home

#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer
is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.

# 8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.

# 9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

# 10. This is a second reminder to press* for English. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call. Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year?

Your Humble Client

(Remember: This was written by an 86 year old woman) 'YA JUST GOTTA LOVE ' US SENIORS' !!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fright Night!

Yesterday, I think I scared the absolute cr*p out of my 23 year old son, Matt. He has Down syndrome, and knows better than to walk into my bedroom without first knocking. But that's what he did.

I was standing there about to put on my bra and he takes one look and turns white. Then he says, "Oh, Geez..." and backs out of the room.

My husband and I cracked up. The look on his face was priceless! I did go and joke with him and tell him that I wasn't mad.

I remember when I was little, one time I was at the bottom of the stairs when my dad came out of the bathroom with no clothes on. I remember the extremely freaked feeling I got. Nobody should ever see their parents naked. :)

Once, a very long time ago, my grandmother was in the hospital for gall bladder surgery. I took the bus to the hospital for a visit and met my dad in the lobby. We went up to her room together, but when we went in she was crawling into bed with her open back gown flapping open, with everything in plain view. My dad got that very same white face look that Matt had yesterday. And he said, "Not a good time for a visit."

Both of us just went home. It was way too much...

Here's something funny I found on youtube:

You could spend all day watching clips there. Ask me how I know.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Needle Nose Pliers

When you have a very large family of special needs children, you wash an incredible lot of loads every day. I mean a LOT of loads. We go through washers and dryers lightening fast. We've had I think five sets while living in this house for 12 years.

Our current laundry set is only a couple years old, but yet the lid on the washer has rusted off it's hinges, and most of the knobs on the panels have been broken off. That's why we keep a set of pliers in the cabinets over the washer - to turn the machines on.

Now there is nothing special about the stupid little plastic knobs., and until now, my husband hasn't made a big deal about it. But his side of the family would have had the knobs replaced the day after they broke off. My side of the family would have not only never replaced the knobs, but when one washer went kaput, my family was more likely to just set the new one on top of the old one. (Well, we never did that, but we stacked up tvs as they died on us when I was growing up. One time we had a stack of three tvs, one on top of the other.)

Anyhow, the metal posts are now getting to the point where the flat side that the pliers grab onto was wearing away. So Monday we went to Home Depot AND Lowes, and I think we hit Walmart as well. Nobody sells a common little knob that accepts a flat sided metal post.

So today, while we were out getting bloodwork done and taking one of our 14 yr olds to his special behavior class about 45 minutes away, we stopped at an actual appliance store. They had them! But they were $22.98 EACH. needless to say, we didn't buy them. He thinks he can order them online for $6 each.

I'm thinking there is money to be made in this appliance knob business! But, alas, my inspection of this niche market proves that darn few people ever search for a new washer or dryer knob. Which proves another point: I guess most people throw out their old appliances before the knobs fall off and the lids rust away.

Bored yet?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Middle of the night musings

Our service dog, Jack, came to us ten months ago as a 10 weeks old puppy. We're raising him to be a service dog for our 15 year old son, Ross, who has spina bifida and uses crutches to get around.

Jack's a big guy now-really big. He has bloodlines that go back to France, and his daddy dog was recently sold for $30,000 to a wealthy family as personal protection. We didn't spend anything on him, though, as he came to us through a brand new local service dog training organization, Paws4Liberty

We were lucky to join the program at it's very beginnings, as normally one fosters and trains a dog for someone else. Jack goes to puppy school once a week with dad and Ross to learn everything he needs to know- all the commands and such. He's so smart. In a few months he will go back to Paws4Liberty for complete training at director Heidi Spirazza's kennel. (If so inclined, please donate what you can to Paws4Liberty.) Heidi is a remarkable woman!

Now, Jack is never allowed outside by himself and he must be on a leash at all times. So Jack takes me for walks in the backyard several times a day, and sometimes at night. We live on a little over an acre of land, and the back yard is very large. I've learned a lot during those walks, about nature, about myself, about God, about the world. Instead of it being a chore to walk Jack, I've turned it into a time of contemplation.

I first realized this was possible when Jack was a tiny little guy, and we were outside to pee (Jack, not me) at about 3 AM. It was a lovely night with a clear sky studded with stars. I was looking up enjoying the view skyward and I started to sing, "Starry, Starry Night."

Jack sat his tiny little butt down and listened to me singing, his little head crooking to the side to hear me, watching me. So I kept on singing to my teeny captive audience. When I was done he came up to me and licked me and wagged his tail.

And there I learned my first lesson of my many walks with Jack. No matter how badly you sing, or how badly you do something, there is always someone who will appreciate your effort. They might not come up to you and lick your face, but do know that someone out there appreciates what you do.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Why a Blog?

Three are several reasons why I've started to blog. A great deal of my large adoptive family moms have blogs, for one. But because of past experiences, I simply cannot expose private information like some of these brave ladies do. For the moms who do blog about their large adoptive families, more power to you, because I read several every day and am constantly upheld by your posts. The things that happen in your lives mirrors the stuff that goes on here. But I'm just not ready to make our daily struggles public knowledge.

Instead I want to blog about the things that bring me peace. Memories. Dreams. What makes me happy. How my mind works. Things I need to remind myself of daily. (I guess I'm kind of weord to think that anyone would want to read it...but I want to write it.)

I'm an incurable genealogist since the age of 12 when my grandfather Thompson sat down with me and my mom and told me everything he knew about his own family history. My research has largely stalled in recent years, as, thanks to the internet, I've gotten most of my lines way back, some to the 1400s. I would need a massive influx of cash and no need for things like, say, a new roof, or paying property taxes of $8800, in order to get the lines back even further.

Perhaps I've ruined the excitement of genealogy for my children, not that any of them seem to be overly interested in family history. But the sport has kept me sane several times in my life.

I'm also an inveterate internet marketer. Most of my free time goes to learning search engine optimization, traffic generation, and other stuff that most people would find boring. But my goal is to earn enough monthly income to allow my sweet husband to stop working. I have several online storefronts that bring in a little money, and that is growing, but it's a slow process. But selling my readers stuff isn't my goal here.

I'm also a very spiritual person. At one time I dearly wanted to become a minister and attended an MDIV program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for a few years. I had to quit a year before I would have qualified for graduation and ordination, but I did have the experience of working as a pastor for a while.

I enjoyed that experience and learned from it. But I am no longer a church goer. I'm on a lifelong search for spiritual answers, but it's my voyage, and it doesn't conform to any one religion anymore.

So, this blog is just a diary of my thoughts and feelings. Not an expose'.

All my love...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hello CQ

When I was a kid, my dad was an avid ham radio operator, using the call letters W3UHO, as all ham radio people did, he used the code name Uncle Henry Oboe. So when he wanted to troll the air waves for someone to talk to he would broadcast "Hello CQ, This is W3UHO Uncle Henry Oboe," until he got a hit and someone would answer him.

Then they would talk about the weather and what kind of ham equipment they had and where they lived and where they had served in WWII the big one, and then say goodbye. He talked to people all over the place in his little basement studio with the walls lined with asbestos squares of sound proofing poison.

I used to sit and listen and wish I were old enough to get my own ham radio license, but hey, I was a girl, and in the 1950s ham radio was a man's sport. A few years later, my mother, in a rare feminist action, got herself certified as a ham radio hobbyist herself. Probably just to prove a point, as I don't recall her ever sitting down there in the studio talking to people on the air herself without my dad present.

My mother's call letters I cannot remember correctly, but her code name was Gruesome Toothless Babe, so GTB had to be in there.

So, here I sit, in 2007 at the age of 60, broadcasting the modern way of saying "Hello CQ!"

Welcome to my world.