About Me

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My husband tells me I am a makebate. So, what's wrong with that? I love to write. I have 2 great kids and 1 grandson. I'd love to say I am "retired" but really, who retires from life? Shoot me a question, comment, rant or rave. They are all welcome here. Love dogs, my family, and most of all, debate. Pro NRA, conservative and a right wing lady.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remembering Michael Ryan

As the birthday of our nation edges closer, I am drawn to a level of sadness.  Fireworks, BBQs, parades, flag waving are all festive, and bring so much happiness and elation to most people, however the 4th of July brings bittersweet memories to me.  26 years ago, a little angel came into my life, and sadly went out almost immediately.

I speak of my son, Michael Ryan Burns-Gartlan, who was born and died on the 4th of July, 1984.  He would have been the middle child.  His sister is Eryn Corry and his brother is Bryan.  He is my angel now, but still, I remember him every day of my life, and as his birthday approaches, I think back to the decisions I made 26 years ago.

Michael had so many birth issues.  I can still recall the blank faces of the med students in the exam room, as they stared on the ultrasound monitor.  At first, it was just my mom,  the US tech and me in the room.  The big clue that something was wrong was when the US tech left the room, and returned with the doctor and a little pod of med students.  It was then that I learned what everyone saw on the screen.

Michael was diagnosed with a congenital heart anomaly, spina bifada, cystic hygroma right off the bat.  Those were the maladies that could be seen on the monitor.  Then came the amniocentesis.  A large bore needle, inserted into the womb to drain amniotic fluid off, in order to conduct genetic testing.  This revealed more problems - the most damning being that of Down's Syndrome.  I was told that even if Michael survived his birth, the chances of me raising him at home were close to nil, as he would most likely need to be institutionalized.

The drive home from USC that day was long and very, very heartbreaking.  All the specialists the USC had to offer couldn't change the fact that my son was in trouble.  Some people suggested terminating the pregnancy.  I simply couldn't fathom that.  Murder is not an option. When we, as people, begin the systematic elimination of the human race based solely on a birth defect, we hover dangerously close to what Hitler and other monsters had done in our history.  I would not even consider this abortion option.  I had already felt Michael move, heard his little heart beating and bonded to him, in utero. 

Michael's father and I decided to go forward with the pregnancy.  We had the support of our families, and knew that we faced some very daunting days ahead of us.  Our main concern was that Michael was in no pain, in the womb.  That would have killed us - to imagine a baby in any pain.  Thankfully, we were assured by the genetic specialist, that Michael did not suffer at all. 

Weekly visits to USC began after the initial diagnosis.  With what was considered an extremely high risk pregnancy, it was also a learning opportunity for the medical school.  At times I felt like an experiment, but I truly believed, and still do, that if just one of those students monitoring my pregnancy could help discover a way to prevent this ever happening again, to another mother, than it was worth it to me. 

Every week brought another test, another poke, another ultrasound. Every week I was blessed with the sound of Michael's heart beating.  I could feel him moving.  It brought me great comfort to feel him inside of me, safe from the world...safe from a world that would soon judge him based upon his diseases. 

On July 4th, early in the morning, I went into labor, and was sent to USC to deliver.  The labor was painful.  Physical pain, which I could deal with, still was uneasy.  However, it was the mental anguish that was ripping me in two.  I delivered Michael.  He had severe physical deformities.  He was wrapped in a blanket, and then died in my arms.  If ever one questions as to the presence of a holy spirit, or soul, I can attest to the fact that I felt the presence of God in that delivery room, and felt the little soul of my son, as it passed through my body, and went to heaven.  I held Michael for quite a while.  I did not want to let go.  What other people might have considered hideous, I saw a beautiful blond baby boy, with a little nose and chin.  I saw little fingers, little toes.  In my opinion and in my heart, I held the epitome of perfection.

How lucky Michael was to be born.  How lucky he was to have died.  He would not have to face the pain of people staring at him, because of his deformities.  He would not have to face painful ridicule.  He was so blessed to enter heaven and live among all of his relatives that had gone before him.  A life full of grace. 

There are some days when I can feel my son's presence around me.  I have even had the rare, but blessed chance to encounter his spirit near me during a particularly trying time in my life.  I imagine and dream of what he would look like now, as a young man of 26. I daydream about what his life might have been like.  When my daddy passed away, one of the statements he made to me was that he was going to see his grandson.  This brought me such joy.  I can't even imagine the spectacular amount of jubilation as someone enters heaven, and they are greeted by family.  Michael is there now... with so many people I loved in my life.

So, as the 4th of July draws closer, i am reminded that I was given a gift 26 years ago.  I was and remain Michael Ryan Burns-Gartlan's mother.  I love you dear boy! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do You Remember Your Vacation?

When I was a little girl, one of the greatest times of the year was summer vacation.  Sure, we had weekends with our parents, but a summer vacation was a real treat. My parents spent quite a bit of time planning where they would take the family for 10 days.  There were the camping trips.  One year my parents even sprang for a trip to England and Ireland, a glorious dream vacation, even though I did manage to come down with rubella.

What I remember most about vacations was that you saved up for them.  You worked hard, full time jobs, with 40+ hours a week, made sacrifices, pinched pennies, and in our case, drove to all our summer destinations.  My parents had a hideous yellow Plymouth station wagon, and no FM radio.  6 people in a car, with no air-conditioning, vinyl seats and summer in southern California, need I say more?  More often than not, I recall melting to the back seat from the heat, and non-absorbent material. 

Although my parents owned a beach house, often times the house was being rented out, and hence, we did not spend a multitude of time there.  We had camping trips in Carpenteria, Yosemite, the Sequoias, Death Valley and Mammoth Mountain.  Each and every vacation holds special remembrances.

What puzzles me now is the amount of vacation time that our current president and his family seem to be enjoying.  Now, one can say that some of these overseas trips are business trips, all with the best interests of our country at hand.  And some might say that all past presidents have done then same.  But, with the country in dire straits,  and people without jobs, insurance, hope or change, appearances are everything.

Michelle Obama has a deep affinity for french fries.  And she apparently enjoys them immensely, in South Africa.  I suppose that if you were on a field trip in a foreign country, any type of food would be a culinary explosion.  But, in case Ms. Obama has forgotten, the United States, Chicago in particular, has loads of french fries.  And in case B. Hussein Obama has let it slip his community organizing mind, golf isn't the latest, greatest way to manage a country.

As with every president, first families have from time to time, traveled with their parents.  But, this current president seems to think that there is an limitless supply of frequent flyer miles to be had.  The 2 Obama girls are having the time of their lives, traveling the globe with their Mom, while somewhere there are children who went to bed hungry, because Daddy lost his job, and works at Costco just to make ends meet. 

And let us not forget that every time B. Hussein Obama boards Air Force One, the dollar signs begin to add up.  Secret Service,  FBI, military pre-planning, security,  food, fuel, etc, etc.  And when Michelle Obama hops on a plane with her daughters, the tally counts even higher.  Where does this money come from?  Does anyone stop to question that?  It amazes me that this president and his wife are living high on the hog while people are trying to locate their lost teddy bears in tornado-ravaged Joplin, MO.

Somehow, the Obamas have sold a bill of faulty goods to this country, and there were some people dense enough to buy into the hope & change sermon. 

Free Speech & Malcontent

One by one, those who I believed were friends, have dropped off the radar.  Oddly enough, one of the women in my life, to whom I held and continue to hold the utmost respect for telephoned me today, in a state of rage.  I wish that she could have realized that the homage I paid her for helping me through a horrible patch of life was a salute to the gift of life that so many people seek for, some find and others fall short of; never finding the salvation. She is a heroine to me.  Regardless of the phone call, or the things said - I stand by my praise of her, and value the advice and determination she had me seek within my self.  Just how to you begin to thank someone for giving you a second chance at life?

Quite a number of people made positive comment as to an anniversary I celebrated not too long ago.  I marveled at the tenacity of this special person who is a fighter; passionate in life.  This woman is someone that I hoped to emulate.  Sadly, this person did not hold the same opinion that I did.

Even with a not so nice telephone call, harsh and strident, in tone, I can't help but feel sad that the pure intent I had to praise someone could be so misconstrued.

Monday, June 27, 2011

does this tan make me like thinner?

So, over the years I have become aware, painfully aware, that I do not possess a grand amount of collagen. 

Come on ladies (maybe some men, too) collagen is a magic remedy that some of us have in abundance and others lack in great deficiency!  It's the by product in our bodies that keeps us looking firm, taut, thin and young.  I apparently stood in the wrong line - mistaking the large group of people in line, and thinking "yeah, I want some of that".  Imagine my shock when I discovered I had been in the cellulite line.  The large group of people gathering around the stand had also made the same mistake, and we were all trying to "return" our cellulite! 

I had a cousin, Amelie Hennessey, who was a fantastic lady.  She always had a healthy tan going on!  Always!  She looked vibrant, alive and full of life.  She looked like a lady who had a great time - always outdoors,  sunning at every opportunity she was afforded. 

In my opinion, a tan just makes you look thinner.  Maybe its the fact that it hides the massive dimples that come with cellulite.  I don't know.  However, I spend every minute I have in search of ways to soak up sun.  Perhaps that is why I am finished with Colorado and want to return to the sandy beaches that give you a rich, bronzed look, year round.  Winters in Colorado do not bestow the type of tan I want.  I spent a few winters, into early spring, with goggle eyes.  Not  only did that type of tan make me look like some sort of pro skier, which I am painfully far from, but it made my butt look bigger.

After returning from Moab this weekend, I did notice that I am a few shades darker than I was last week at this time.  The minute the snow melts - this year it has been SLOW - I find myself retreating to warm, sunny spots where I attempt to soak up every single ray of sunshine.  I try to shake off the long winter blues with sunshine that not only rejuvenates my poor soul, but give my scary, beached whale appearance some relief.  I know, I know, losing 20lbs would be of great benefit, however, every thing must come in small increments, and thus far, the 20lbs I want to shed is not falling off as I expected. 

My reasoning on sun tanning is that if you are out in the sun, you are far more apt to be moving around, such as taking a walk, hiking or simply moving.  This promotes calorie burning, and thus the weight loss follows in natural order.  However, with menopause, I am discovering that calorie burning is twice as difficult as it was when I was 20 years younger.  Damn!

No more are the lazy days of summer, when my friends and I would travel to Zuma Beach,  smear baby oil on in vast amounts, set our radios to KMET or KLOS and lay in the sand for hours on end.  Now, I am forced to tan in a new, unconventional manner.  I actually need to cover some of the scary parts of my body so as to not offend other people. 

In some ways I wish I could convey to the younger generations that this is their legacy in life if they allow themselves to get out of hand...eating too much, or getting  in the CELLULITE LINE instead of  COLLAGEN LINE.

Friday, June 24, 2011

waiting on john

Most likely men will disagree with this posting.  But,  I believe in pointing out the routine I face whenever we are going on a trip.  I am always waiting on John. 

Now, God knows I love him, I really do!  But for the life of me, I can't figure out what takes him so long to get ready to go anywhere.  There are a million little things which seem to crop up the minute we are ready to walk out the door. 

There is the tedious issue of packing, which ultimately is followed by the arrival at our destination, only to discover that he has forgotten something...usually headache medicine.  So, today, as I am waiting for him...I packed his clothing for him.  For a 3 day camping trip:  4 pairs skivvies,  5 pairs socks, 1 pair long pants and a sweatshirt, 2 shorts, 4 t-shirts, antacids, advil, sinus medicine, his travel bag which contains a razor, soap, nail clippers, toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo.  Lord help us if we arrive in Moab, and he finds he is missing something.  I can usually tell by the way he wanders in the house that he is looking for something, and I insist he tell me what he is searching for - and I can put my finger on its location.

Then there is the morning coffee debate, in the porcelain office, which apparently takes men a long time to accomplish.  Come on guys, its not a reading room, its the water closet.  While I am getting ready to go wherever it is we are going, John could be doing a million little things. But, alas no, he is watching the television, or sitting in the office, or tinkering on some project.  Arrrgh - the frustration of it all.

I get the car packed, arrange all little luxuries in the car so they are at hand's reach.  I do admit to the fact that I am suffering from the inability to put CDs back into their original cases, thus popping in a CD is always met with surprise since you never know exactly what is going to be on the menu.  I guess its time to re-install the XM radio!  There is also the packing of the dog's "to go" travel bag.  Tupperware of dog food, a chew toy, a bowl,  a leash, poop bags...everything that a dog needs to travel.  Although today Casey is going to her Auntie Shirley's house, so the to go bag is not so fully packed.  Then there is the task of making sure I pack my own things. 

Once I announce that its time to leave, it is then that John decides that its time to hit the bathroom again.  The man has the bladder of a bird.  I must admit that I did laugh when our children were young, I would make sure they hit the bathroom at least 3 times before we left.  And sure enough, one hour into the trip, a voice would come from the back seat with, "Mom I have to go pee".  With John, any liquid consumed during the trip will entice him to need several potty stops along the way.  Lets just say that today's trip of 4 hours will undoubtedly take longer, as there will be several pits stops along the way.

Again, don't get me wrong, but traveling with John is a test to my sanity, and a reason that God made ativan!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Big Fat Gaelic Gartlan Group

The other night my husband and I were watching one of our favorite movies, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".  Such a great movie - full of fun, laughter and beyond words - almost a picture of some of the oddities that it is to be part of the Gartlan clan.

The were 4 Gartlans that survived from Patrick and Mary.  Anthony & Joan died young and are buried with their parents in the cemetery at St. Patrick's in Louth.  Uncle Maurice had many children, as did my Auntie Gertie, my Daddy and my Uncle Michael.  I listened to "Toula" from Big Fat Greek lamenting as to the amount of first cousins she had, and could not help but stop and laugh...There are alot of Gartlans.  We are spread across the globe.  Very few countries are safe from the raucous Irish Gartlans and all pratical tricks and odd sense of humor that has been inherited down the generations.

I don't want to leave anyone out, so here it goes: Patrick, Brendan, Nuala,  Hilda, Paul V., Louise, Michael, Brian, Cormac, Ann, Paul M., Katie, Michael B, Peter, Anthony, Paula, Gabriel, Terrence, Laurence.  Whew.  I think I got them all.  Then there are these cousins' children:  too many to count.  We're all over the place - South Africa, America, Canada, Ireland, Australia.  And with each and every Gartlan, comes a wealth of information on anything you might need to know about banshees, fairies, leprechauns, rainbows, black sheep, lone bushes in fields, lone rocks in fields. 

We also are a close knit group.  I suspect that if there was ever an opportunity to get all of the cousins into a room together, either world peace would be solved, or we'd run dry of cigars, irish whiskey and jokes.  Well, actually, a true Irishman never runs dry of quirky little stories about nothing in particular, but are able to salvage those stories into prolific tales.  Suffice it to say, when you have a few of us in a room, good craic is sure to follow.  The bottom line is that we all love each other.  Sure, siblings have disagreements, and sure, we do not see eye to eye on everything.  Some of my poor, misguided cousins actually think B. Hussein Obama is a great guy.  Go figure that one.

The aunties and uncles are all gone now, and sadly some of the cousins have passed as well, but this great family of Gartlans continues to grow.  What a great legacy we are molding for the future generations.  The next generations will inherit the stories, fables, craic, love of life, humor and all that was and remains great about being part of the Big Fat Gaelic Gartlans.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


So, as of today, June 21, 2011, the first day of summer, President B. Hussein Obama has played 75 rounds of golf.  WOW.  Who would have imagined that as the leader of the free country, one could spend so much time on a golf course.

So, I have a question... and really I believe it is a fair question.  Is this the "hope and change" that this joker went to the voting public with?  Really, 75 rounds of golf, while the economic state of this great country staggers around,  punch drunk from the debt counter ticking so loudly that it creates a vortex of  monetary fog? 

Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I want to emphatically state that if a Conservative Republican pulled these shenanigans, not only would the liberal, mainstream media be all over it, but I would hold a great amount of disdain as well for those sporting events. 

With the state of this country wavering between recession and depression, I believe that our President owes us, the CITIZENS of this country a whole hearted effort.  Seeing the Prez swinging away at a little white ball, in atrocious golfing outfits is simply downright disgusting.  Sorta reminds me of the now incarcerated O.J. Simpson swinging away on golf courses, "looking for his dead wife's killer"... all talk, no action.  On a happy note, O.J. decided that his true colors needed to be shown, and now he sits in a Clark County jail cell.  I doubt he's going to find Nicole's killer there - oh wait...yes he will.

So, I continue to ask my dear liberal friends if they are satisfied with their Obama votes.  I inquire as to whether or not B. Hussein Obama has fulfilled his campaign promises.  Oddly enough, not one has responded with an answer.  Looking back towards 2007 and months leading up to the election, one would have presumed that Obama was the messiah for America.  He was going to redeem us as a nation, save us from the despair of those big, scary,  mean Republicans, and get a gold star.  Hmm, I'd say that at this point in time, things are no longer looking golden.

Instead of B. Hussein Obama looking for solutions on the golf course, perhaps he'd be better off to take some solid advice from the nation, and start behaving like a president in stead of trying to improve his golf score. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kosher Hot Dogs - Inspected by Rabbi Stern

One of the best hot dogs on the market today are Hebrew National Kosher Hot Dogs.  Each package has been inspected by a rabbi.  Usually, as I have looked at the packages, I do believe that Rabbi Stern, God bless him, is the officiating man over the hot dog.

With the recent news of exposed wieners, I wonder if Rep. Anthony Weiner might have benefited from buying a few of the kosher hot dogs, and read the blessing of Rabbi Stern.  Perhaps, if the now defunct congressman had sought the help and counsel of his neighborhood rabbi, he might not be in the pickle relish that he finds himself in now.

I can't help but think that the real tragedy in all of this sexting, texting, weiner jokes, and, as a matter of fact, all foul playing governmental  men, is that we are less of a country in a whole.   I really have no concern nor care that men from both ends of the political spectrum are philandering with tweeter, twitter, or tapping their foot to the adjacent bathroom stall asking if someone "can spare a square", or if the $300 haircut scum Edwards is getting what he deserves, or that Sanford found his "soul mate" in Brazil, or that Ted Kennedy was a hypocrite, or that Bill Clinton liked cigars...all of them are idiots. Each and every politician that gets caught with his pants down just speaks volumes as to the people that are actually electing them in the first place.

What really eats at me is that these men took an oath to serve their constituents to a certain moral level of decorum and decency.  All of them lied, all of them broke their vows to their wives and families, and all of them fell by the wayside in relation to "Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery".  That is a pretty big one.

When I cast a vote for a politician, I am looking for someone who will uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  That politician will make every conceivable effort to act in a professional manner, live within a certain set of written and unwritten moral codes, and provide us the best possible representation in Washington, D.C.  Is this really too much to hope for?

Am I too naive to believe that there must be someone out there who runs for office that can rise above the mediocrity, and fulfill my wishes for a honest political figure?  Perhaps to be involved in politics, the only requirement is to be a good liar.  If this is the case - then there is no hope for America.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So, how far along are you?

As I was walking with the pups and hubby tonight, I made a comment as to how some of my menopausal friends and I are finding ourselves lamenting about our "pooches".  I'm not making reference to pampered canine pets, but rather the bellies or waistlines that have gone awry.  Hormones be damned - what have you done to us?

Now, keep in mind that I am about to be a grandmother, and my children are well into their late 20s.  My other friends who find themselves in the same horrific hormone hell also have children who are either parents themselves, or just finishing up high school.  We are all wondering - "WHERE IN THE HELL DID OUR WAISTLINES GO?", and how do we get them back?

As of yet, no one has uttered the words to me, "Oh when are you do?" as I am not quite at the point of no return.  Thankfully, I found prescription hormones, and now I can thank my lucky stomach that I do not look like I am about to birth another baby.  What I do face as a result of the hormone hustle is:  hair loss, grey hair, complete collapse of collagen, crows feet, jiggling thighs, lunch lady triceps, something that looks strangely familiar to a chicken gizzard on my neck, freckles, loads of freckles and things that were once eye level that now indicate the southern polar ice caps.  WTF -How did this happen?

When I was younger, I would marvel at the 20 inch waistline, and evenly spaced body measurements that God had given to me.  Even after the birth of 3 children, I still thought that I had escaped genetics and would survive to middle age in one relatively firm, cellulite state of being.  Then just like a virgin on prom night - it all vanished.  I hit 40 and things just went to hell in a hand basket.  Now, looking at 50 on the near horizon, I realize that God caught up to me and with the mighty wave of his almighty hand, "PRESTO, BRAVO" and here I sit, blogging my maladies for all to muse upon.

If you see me on the street or come across me standing in the body lotion aisle, or walking into a liposuction clinic on Rodeo Drive, smile, nod but please refrain from the utterance that many, many women fear as we grow older -

So, how far along are you!!!???

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peter J. Gartlan - Daddy Extraordinaire

Well, it's June, a month of graduations, weddings, fog in Ventura, time for the endless supply of snow to melt in Steamboat Springs, summer vacations, and most of all Father's Day.

Some of you reading this will know who I am speaking of in detail when I mention the name Peter J. Gartlan, some of you will know more about him after reading this blog.  Peter J. Gartlan was my father.  He was no ordinary man.  He was a saint.  He was a loving husband to Joan for over 30+ years.  He was a mentor to most every one he met.  He had a wicked, beyond bizarre sense of humor.  He loved Benny Hill, though for the life of me I don't understand why.  He was a father who loved each and every one of his children - each in their own unique way, making us feel special.  He was a grandfather to Eryn Corry (who was named in honor of him) and Bryan Scott, who was his little sport.  Daddy was my best friend, my confidante, the ray of sunshine in my life, and someone who taught me how to be compassionate and to stand up for what I believed. Daddy loved coaching soccer, going to Girl Scout father/daughter events, sitting around a campfire with Indian Guides, taking us hiking on weekend mornings to "Three Trees" (the Getty oil fields at the end of Rinaldi in Porter Ranch).

Daddy was the kind of person that God creates every once on awhile, just to throw an angel into the mix, and remind us the way we should be.  Decent and kind; just down-right funny and with a kick of Irish spunk to make you believe in leprechauns and fairy-people.

Peter Joseph Gartlan was born to Patrick & Mary Corry Gartlan at Drumgoolan House, in Louth, Ireland on June 18, 1925.  He was in the middle.  His older siblings were Maurice, Gertie, then Daddy, then Michael, Anthony and Joan.  Anthony and Joan died young, as did a great many Irish back when TB (the consumption) was running rampant, or a scrape from a bike mishap would result in staph, then death.  They are all gone now; all the brothers and sisters in heaven, together with their parents, and those before them.  We wait here. Sometimes I wish the wait would not be so long, but then remember that Daddy was full of life. Even near the end of his life, he taught his children the lessons of living to the fullest of our God-given potential.

Some of you reading this will remember Daddy.  And let me assure you - he remembered every single soul he met along the road.  At his funeral, I had people come up to me, some of whom I knew, others were complete strangers.  They all had stories.  "Your Dad - well he did this for me, or he did that for me".  And that was just like Daddy...he wanted to ensure that every single soul he met would leave their meeting feeling just a wee bit better about themselves.  Daddy had so much love inside of himself, his spirit, his soul, that it just over-filled into every square inch of life.

Daddy was a special man, and he left a mark on this world that none of us are sure to forget anytime soon - well actually, lets be honest - we will never forget those lessons.  He loved to dabble in quirky animal drawings, write secret pen pal notes to his children, even until we were old enough to realize who the author was.  I have all those little notes, the paper long since faded into yellow, brittle, with worn edges, scraps of paper, each with a few lines, some typed, some hand written, all with notes of positive encouragement for a job well done.  Each with a little owl, or cat drawn at the bottom.

His mannerisms are as vivid today as they were 40 years ago.  His method of dialing a rotary phone,  or hitching his pants up when discussing something of major importance, or how he looked sitting in his easy chair in the den, reading Time Magazine.  Daddy was a fashion icon long before Puf Diddy, Puf Daddy or any other suave dudes were around.  Always looking smart in his creased trousers, freshly pressed shirts, tie, black socks and dress shoes, Daddy was so GQ!  Unfortunately for Daddy, he failed, miserably, in backyard attire.  No where in this world have I ever seen such a dapper dresser in the lawn mowing category!  White t-shirt, plaid bermuda shorts, black dress socks and either black shoes or his favorite pair of comfy slippers.  And lets not forget a plaid golf cap.  Sunday afternoon were like a walk down the streets of 1950 suburbia, and Daddy in the backyard, mowing the lawn, slinging dog crap over the fence, dragging the trash cans to the curb Sunday evenings, or the infamous charbroiling (and I do mean CHAR) of Petey burgers.  Like pucks of overdone ground beef - and yet no one can duplicate them.  He was a culinary genius at hot dog cooking, making of oatmeal, tough enough to hold a house together, and the artistry of shining or polishing his childrens' shoes before heading to Sunday mass.  He was simply beyond any words!

On a rainy Saturday evening in March 1995, with his entire family around his bed, Daddy slipped the golden gates and entered heaven.  He died on his own terms, with a beautiful coastline of crashing waves just beyond the sliding glass door of our own living room. He held my hand, and we all spoke to him as he took his last breaths.  It was about 830 at night when Daddy left us.  It was a rough night.  I cried and my husband John hugged me throughout the long night.  The next day was spectacular - bright and sun shining up and down the coast.  The beach was breathtaking - long, purposeful  strides on the wet sand, conforming to my toes as I walked along the watery shore, avoiding getting too wet, as in early March the water is not warm.  The reality hit me when I walked back to my parents house and realized I would not hear my Dad's Irish voice any longer.  It dug deep, like a knife.

But, then, deep in my heart, I heard a voice.  A voice so beautiful, so calming, so gilded.  The voice of someone I knew so very well.  My Daddy.  I heard the song of love and devotion of a man who adored his children, his wife and his grandchildren.  I heard the Irish sense of humor, the hearty laugh, even felt the warm sensation of a hug.  And I heard a whisper in my ear.

Ann Corry...get going, pull yourself up by your boot straps, face forward and walk with confidence.  That was 1995, and today, as Father's Day and Peter J. Gartlan's birthday approaches us,  that voice remains loud, audible and forever printed on my heart.

I love you Daddy!

xxoo your daughter Ann Corry

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dancing in the Red Dirt

June 9, 2009 has a very special meaning to me.  It is the day which I finally admitted to myself that I was powerless over alcohol, and in particular, Jameson Irish Whiskey.  In the wee hours of June 9, 2009, while completely pie-eyed, I  began to take stock of my life.  It was like being a kid, carefully eyeing the Christmas edition of the J.C. Penney Catalog; looking at each item and imagining  the "what-ifs".  What if I had not taken the first drink?  What if I'd faced my addiction 25 years earlier?  What if this, What if that - 100 what ifs - all with no answer.

Later that morning, I took a walk with a friend Kris, who was on the verge of her birthday and ill.  We began our walk up Spring Creek and suddenly I found myself spilling my proverbial whiskey rocks on her.  I came out of my Irish Whiskey closet and 'fessed up that I had a serious addiction to alcohol.  Of all the people in the world, it was my uber-liberal, bike riding, environmentalist, friend who I felt most comfortable confessing my sins to.  Go figure!

The epitome of healthy living, dear Kris found out in 2009 that she was ill.  When I realized I was throwing my own life away on booze, I felt complete shame.  Being in Kris' presence on June 9, 2009 made me feel inadequate, small, trivial, but oddly enough - brave.  Brave in that of all the people I know, it was Kris that I wanted to tell about my inefficiencies

As we walked up Spring Creek, she listened. She could have turned away, she could have ignored me or made light of such a confession, but she opened her heart to me, listened and in the end gave me powerful praise for admitting my addiction. 

When times have been troubling, or I have faced challenges and even recently when I was so unjustly dismissed from a job I was good at, it has been Kris who keeps me on the path - the SOBER path.  Her constant and heart felt concern in my sobriety is, I believe, tantamount to my success.

In my yet, unpublished book, Red Dirt Dancing, I weave the story of a man who wakes up once day and realizes that he has almost thrown his entire life away because of the bottle.  He was once a dashingly handsome and very athletic.  He had it all - although if you dug just below the surface you could find the truth.  Jim was an alcoholic.His entire life was simply a facade to what his constant reality was.  Drunkard.

The  story continues that Jim meets Amy, a steadfast friend who he calls to bail him out of jail after getting a DUI.  Together they hatch a plan where Jim will face his biggest of battles - get sober in the red dirt of southeast Utah - Moab, Arches, Canyonlands - places of stark beauty, overwhelmingly breathtaking vistas of the La Sal Mountains and red rock geography that once you loose yourself its like you are on another planet.  The deserts can truly bring salvation, if you are willing to surrender yourself to her.  God had some seriously awesome brush strokes when he dabbled his creation paint brush down here in this desert utopia of red dirt.

After I finished writing the book, I realized that in many ways, the book was my life story as well.  While certainly not a gifted athlete, nor stunningly beautiful or even some sort of Ernest Hemmingway, I did have an epiphany that a good portion of my life had been destroyed by alcohol.  Who knows what might have occurred if I wasn't living a lie by pretending that I was a sport drinker rather than a full fledged alcoholic.

The funny thing about being an alcoholic is that we're always the last to know.  Well, in most cases.  I've never taken a vote among friends to ask whether or not they saw me as anything other than Annie Mac, who likes Irish Whiskey.

I knew that I had encountered my fair share of despair over drinking, but never was approached by anyone who said, "hey, you've got a problem".  Maybe I was good at hiding it.

The first 2 weeks were brutal.  I quit cold turkey.  No AA, no interventions.  Nothing.  I did it alone.  I wanted a drink so bad.  In fact, even  today I can still vividly recall the petey aroma of whiskey.  I truly enjoyed the taste.  I can still recall my last trip home to Ireland in 2007, and drinking so much that I actually fell out of a pub in Louth and broke my ankle.  What might have been mortifying under sober conditions was like a momentary lapse in graceful ballet movements followed by the realization that I was face down in the street, with my cousins all around me, laughing, as any good Gartlan cousin would do.  Of course, the next morning revealed an immensely purple left ankle.  A few years later I faced surgery because I'd completely destroyed all the ligaments that created stability to the joint.

I did make some serious mistakes along the road to recovery.  Some are small but the two most important people in my life - my children - my gifts from God are those that suffered due to my careless addiction.  Eryn and Bryan...oh  how do I begin to even say I am sorry?  Bryan has forgiven me, and I love him so much.  When he has every reason to tell me to go to hell, he forgave me and told me he loves me.  I am so proud of him!  My daughter Eryn is not so happy about it.  I don't blame her.  She has some stuff to work out and perhaps the impending birth of her first baby this October will soften her heart and she will be able to forgive her old mom. Even in the throws of my addiction I never stopped loving my children.  I just could not love myself.  I did not have an ounce of forgiveness for me.  I felt like a big failure and completely worthless.

For whatever reason, GOD put Kris, on my path and I could not help but see the irony in someone fighting to stay alive through illness, and I was so selfish as to callously throw my own soul away for a drink.

So, here on the 2 year anniversary of my re-birth as a non-pickled, yet still opinionated, right wing, sarcastic victor over the bottle, I say thank you to those of you who continue to support me, encourage me and most importantly, tolerate me.

A Sober Annie Mac

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pasta - Do You Hear Me?

As some of you may know, a few years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Thank God for EGD's and of course, the detective of  a doctor extraordinaire (and equally handsome as HOUSE character Hugh Laurie) the one and only DR. MARK MCCAULLEY.  This man is my hero, although at times I just want to smack him silly when I realize that my deep affinity for all things gluten is driving me bonkers.

For those of you who are lucky enough to not know what the perils of Celiac Disease are:  It is your digestive system's inability to properly break up and digest such tasty items as GUINNESS BEER (well, I had to give that one up due to jumping on the sobriety wagon), beautiful, aromatic Russian  rye bread, that you might find with a Reuben Sandwich, any and all round objects of my eternal affection - the household donut - and pasta.  Ooodles and oodles of noodles!  Gluten, in all its glory comes in all forms of culinary delights, even down to cosmetic items, lotions, shampoos and most food items that contain MSG and/or preservatives.  It is not a disease for the faint of heart - nor, even more dastardly in my case - having a son who is a master chef.  It just downright sucks. 

Some of the signs and symptoms of this pleasure driven dietary nightmare can be, but are not limited to:  severe abdominal bloating, gas, constipation, swollen joints, auto-immune disorders, headaches, malnutrition and fatigue.  So, if stuffing yourself silly with Macaroni Grill's Pasta Dishes, fantastic, near orgasmic bread loaf with olive oil wasn't enough, the aftermath of such a wonderful dish will be a "Mama Mia" moment with the porcelain God and anti spasmodic drugs to settle your stomach.

I can always tell when I have ingested gluten.  Whether intentional or not, I will usually wake up with the swollen joints, headache, and a mother of all stomach aches.  It isn't enough that God gave me menopause early, a bladder that forgot to function properly or that my once beach blond southern California locks are turning grey - no God threw me another curve ball by restricting my diet to bread that can double as a lethal hockey puck if over toasted. 

One thing that is gluten free is chocolate.  Pure milk chocolate.  Snickers...thank you Snickers for being my saving grace when all others are shoveling cheesecake onto their culinary palettes.  And certain ice creams are safe.  So is Tapioca and Rice Pudding.  To be honest, there are actually a few brands out there of gluten free Mac n' Cheese that do not taste like century old MRE's from World War II. 

Grocery shopping for those victims of Celiac Disease is an adventure.  There is a great deal of having to shop the out aisles of grocery stores.  Everything prepared from scratch is the safest way to go.  Thank God the almighty cow is Gluten Free...to give up any form of COW, eergh, I mean NY  Strip or Beef Tenderloin would probably cause me to go kill myself.  Most fish is safe too, and drawn butter is a safe food.  Baked Potatoes are okay, and given that I am Irish, and the potato is a staple of our diet, I suppose God has taken some pity on me.  Even though I can't salute this tuber with a wee shot of Jameson or even a proper pint, due to my wagon always carrying me around. (2 years sober on 6/9!!!!!! YIPPIE)

Other items which are free foods:  Luna Bars, some other forms of protein bars, homemade fruit smoothie (I can make one hell of a loaded mean fruit smoothie) Brusell Sprouts (which I love) all greens, etc of veggies, peppers, onions, which are best served with the Beef Tenderloin (BIG HAPPY FACE!!).  and some but not all cheese.  I never could bring myself to stomach Blue Cheese so I feel that I have the upper ground on that, and Gorgonzola, while mighty tasty stuffed into a hamburger is awesome,  it would cause hours of unhappiness down the line.

As a former Southern California Girl, the TOMMY BURGER is most assuredly out of the question, although once a year I throw caution out the window, and my best friend Kris and I go to the drive thru, or the old Tommy's down on Beverly & Rampart and order a single with cheese, extra chili, the almighty chili cheese fries and ice teas.  What follows within 2-3 hours is a digestive holocaust and then at least one day of self exiled suffering where I can blame no one but myself.  Oh and let us not forget Pizza.  That is so far out of the picture that I can't even remember what they taste like any more.  Gluten Free pizza is similar to a rice cake, with tomato sauce, sparse frozen cheese and well, nothing else.  Why bother? 

When my youngest niece, Ally, discovered that I had Celiac, she was over the moon with joy.  The poor little thing was diagnosed with it very early on in life, and her disease is even more sensitive than mine.  She no longer felt like the odd man out.  There was someone who could understand that pasta is hit or miss, (rice pasta tends to fall apart) pizza is a forbidden treasure, and that while other little girls are at birthday parties, with big cakes, Ally needs to bring her own cupcake.  One of her luxuries with this disease is that she was diagnosed so early in her life that she did not know what she was missing in some of the greatest things on earth - like croissants, donuts, Gorgonzola hamburgers.  Such a lucky girl.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Facebook Friends and Failure of the Face to Face

Modern technology has arrived.  Well, it arrived quite some time ago, but for some of us more technological idiot savants,  the internet and all its folly still leaves us sitting in a dust trail.

When cell phones arrived on the scene, it took me quite some time to figure out the puzzle of how to retrieve voice mail messages.  Leave it to my son to be of help to his old mother.  I'd say, "Bryan, the phone rings, half the time I can't hear it, and or I can't find it in my purse.  Once I locate it, I see a little envelope flying all over and can't get the message".  It took some remedial lessons on cell phone 101 to master the modern telephone.

Then there was the task of trying to recollect pin numbers, passwords and log-ons.  I finally came to the conclusion that everything should have the same password, log-on, etc so that I could easily plug myself in to any type of modernized modes of communication. 

Unreal, needing a password to have a conversation with someone.  What happened to the good old days where you picked up the rotary phone, dialed a number and then ask your friend if they wanted to "do something".  Then came Facebook.  And with Facebook, came Friends.  Last time I checked, I have 182 friends.  I had more, but somehow after going through the list, I thought why on earth am I still "friends" with this person if the last conversation I had with them was, "A Friend Request". 

Facebook is legal voyeurism.  I have, perhaps a handful, of people who I actually speak to on a regular basis.  We "Like" things, or "comment" or "share".  Its all very sterile and non-committal.   Facebook has its perks; I can post my Blog address on FB (lets shorten the name down)  so that I can have followers, or get some feedback on my musings.  FB also allows us to look at pictures.  It also allows us to spy on our kids, or our friends' kids, and then report back about social no-nos.  One of my modern friends, (actually we've been friends for over 30 years)  who is not on FB, has me review her son's FB account so that he isn't stepping in some mess that might hinder his chances of getting into a college someday.  Instead of creating her own FB account, I gave her my password so she can spy.  Wow, that's down right odd.  Its like revealing your bank account pin code.  Wasn't there a Seinfeld episode about that - BOSCO?

Of the 182 friends I have on FB, I would really deem half of them regular acquaintances. Split that again, and the next round might be those that I would stop and talk to on the street, if I actually saw them.  But with that many friends, who is walking on the streets anyways - We're all on FB.  Half the half, and there lies the real communicators.  A few old boyfriends, a few high school friends, and a few people I met since moving to Colorado.  I do have a good 20 or so relatives listed, and since they all live abroad, its nice to be able to chat with them instead of breaking my sparse budget calling Ireland, South Africa or Australia.  And if FB weren't enough for me, I also do "Skype"... and that is the epitome of saving money and talking into a small camera.

I do miss the days of getting together once a week to have lunch or take a walk, or just chit chat.  Now, with the FB genre, you have to be careful about what you say.  Employers can follow you, and next thing you know - you're being told to sign a Social Media protocol.  Ah, that one I refused to sign as I fervently believe in the freedom of speech.  You can FB the weather, or how much you dislike your boss, or that you are angry with your spouse, or, annoy your liberal friends with conservative stories (my personal favorite).  You can thank people, acknowledge people, tell other people what you are all about...

And somewhere out there in the darkness sits the old rotary phone, collecting no friends, just dust.