XI. I'm gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair

We were never allowed to do laundry on New Year’s Day. The Husband believed that whatever you did on New Year’s Day you would do all year long and that if you did the laundry, you would ‘wash’ someone out of your family that year. Personally, I was okay with that if I got to choose the relative in question. He never saw the humor in that, probably because he knew who I was gunning for. But his silly superstitions ruled the day, no matter how many times I rolled my eyes. So when She rented a truck and moved back from Cincinnati and into her old room on New Year’s Day, he was irate and I was amused. In fact, I may have even done a load of fine hand washables just for spite.

I refer to the nine months She spent in Cincinnati as a very expensive gestation; ten thousand dollars to be exact. At the time I considered it well spent, later it was just one more nail in our financial coffin. If that’s what it took for her rebirth, then so be it. She went to Cincinnati for a boy. As far as I knew, it was always about boys back then. He was a grad student at Xavier; she was a store manager for a leading plus size retailer that just happened to have its home office in Ohio. So when he asked her to follow him, she applied for a transfer, packed her gnomes and left me. There was a truck to rent, deposits to be made, furniture to be bought and rent to be paid. I helped her because I wanted to give her the support I had never had. I wanted to give her choices. I didn’t want her trapped as I had been. Unfortunately, we cannot see into the hearts of men, so there was a truck to rent, a lease to buy out, and a long drive back to Virginia on New Year’s Day. But that’s her story to tell.

That’s how the year began for us, with her a depressed mess in my recliner watching pay per view and scattering tissues on the living room floor. But I was fine then, I didn’t know what was coming. I was placidly going through the motions of the middle class suburban working woman. Apparently I had turned off my radar.

I was a hard core vegan at the time and had undertaken a massive organic gardening project. The Husband and I had a couple hundred non GMO seedlings taking root in my dining room. I considered it the perfect place to begin their life; after a brief trip outside they would end up on my dining room table anyway, most likely with extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground kosher salt.

This was much more than just a few tomato plants and a terracotta pot of basil. It was seven separate gardens of companion plants, well thought out and researched, that would grow us a season’s worth of food. We were so proud of our Christmas Lima beans, our German Johnson tomatoes and the sweet potato shoots that would arrive just in time for a May planting. Of course, we had bitten off more than we could chew but we were willing to make our mistakes and enjoy whatever came to fruition. That was January. In the middle of February the Husband came home from work with the proverbial pink slip and I remember thinking, at least we’ll be able to eat.

I expected him to be depressed. The anger and bitterness surprised me. The economic outlook was bleak, job prospects were few and far between, and I was the only one in the house working. I kept a brave face but I was scared and I resented having to deal with both of their moods after a long day at work. His constant stream of criticism, the both of them arguing over how to load the dishwasher, and coming home to a messy house were just too much for me. It was my turn to get angry.

Many arguments were about keeping the house. I wanted to let it go. He would hear none of it. We were already feeling the keen sting of him working at reduced wages for a year; we had begun to use credit cards to pick up the slack, expecting it all to be temporary. But it wasn’t. He began siphoning off the 401k to make house payments. I disagreed wholeheartedly but I was not being heard. He was out of work for six months and we were in bad shape. So I shut up and found myself a better paying job. And then I found the lump in my breast. But I kept that to myself.

New Year’s Day: moving, depression, arguing and laundry. It turned out to be Ground Hog Day for us. She moved three times that year. All three of us would battle depression. All three of us would argue. And I, the one who did the laundry, would wash my Husband, my sisters, my mother and my Boy out of my life. If you had asked me that first day of January if I had seen any of this coming I would have said of course not. I would have laughed and said, as I had done a hundred times before, there would be no divorce in our house; a death maybe, but no divorce. Oh, how very close we came to that.

I'm sure some of the rift with my family will mend. But words cannot be unsaid, deeds cannot be undone and I may never hold my Boy again. He alone I cared to keep. ~Dazzledgirl


X. There's No Place Like Gnome, There's No Place Like Gnome.

Rudely enough, one of my oldest and dearest friends moved to Philly. The Philadelphian, The Baker, and I consider ourselves a trio of soul mates. I fully expect that we will be friends for life. Regardless, he up and moved to the City of Brotherly Love where he had the audacity to purchase a house in the suburbs with an air of permanency. As most new homeowners do, he traded in the bar scene to spend his Saturday nights at home improvement stores buying mulch and fertilizer. The need to nest takes over; an ordinary backyard becomes a beautiful new haven, hammock included. Upon one of his many trips to Home Depot, he stumbled across a collection of Garden Gnomes and thought of me. "Doesn't Braticas collect these?" The answer to that is no. No, I do not collect gnomes. Why would one think that? Well, it all started with a girl from Montmartre.

Senior year of high school I got completely lost. I'd had a well thought out plan for my future, but it vanished the day I received a rejection letter from art school. I was crushed. In fact, so upset that I called out of work, a first for me. Everything I had been working for my senior year seemed like a waste. I had no backup plan and no idea what else to major in. Rather than obsess about my unsure future, I opted to escape from reality using music and film. Amélie, a masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, was my anesthetic of choice.

I am by no means exaggerating when I tell you that every day after school I'd come home and put Amélie on the tube. I'd watched it so many times I didn't even need subtitles. I'd revel in the language, the set design, the clever and gorgeous camera angles, and most importantly, the plot. The girl from Montmartre and the Collector. The story resonated with me, the idea that two perfect strangers could find each other and be just what the other needed. I'd always fancied stories that dabbled with fate and soul mates. Only You. Sleepless in Seattle. But Amélie was my favorite.

With the end of my senior year fast approaching, I threw a college catalog in the air and landed in the Mass Communications department. It seemed like a plan, but it wasn't. It was a costly detour. Had I been reading the signs screaming for me to go into film or music, things might have turned out differently. I’d been obsessive about both my entire life. I possessed the rare talent of picking out editing or continuity flaws in films. I quote movies incessantly. I excel at Six Degrees of Separation. My childhood was spent watching the same five films over and over again. Princess Bride. Back to the Future. Dirty Dancing. The Man from Snowy River. Working Girl. An odd assortment of films for a child. She refuses to watch Back to the Future to this day. Apparently I insisted on watching it back to back for a solid year. By the age of eighteen, Amélie had become what Back to the Future had been at age four. Clearly, I liked film. Mass communications would bore me to inertia. But that was the only plan I had at the moment.

How does this relate to Garden Gnomes? If you’ve seen Amélie then you know. If not, let me explain. In the movie, Amélie's father is grief stricken after the death of her mother and spends his days building a shrine to her in the garden. In an effort to get him out of his funk and to start traveling, she steals his garden gnome and sends it around the world with a stewardess friend. The Travelocity commercials were born out of Amélie. She, being gift giver extraordinaire, researched the company that made the Gnome featured in the film, purchased the exact one, and had it shipped from Europe. Albert was my high school graduation present. The card was filled with encouragement to go out and see the world and to take Polaroid’s along the way. I cried when I opened it.

The summer after graduation sped by. Come August I’d packed my extensive movie collection full of Sundance winners, dark comedies, period pieces, and foreign flicks and Albert and I went to college. He lived on my bookshelf and oversaw homework, fights with my roommate, drinking, and hundreds of movies. But he never traveled. Then one tragic day while entertaining a few friends, in a desperate plea for attention, Albert dove off my bookshelf and broke into pieces. I choked back the tears so my guests wouldn't see. Surely they wouldn't understand me crying over a garden gnome. I was weird enough without that.

I made a frantic phone call to Her shrieking, "Albert is dead! He's dead! He just jumped off the bookshelf!" Later I concluded that my roommate's obsession with Sponge Bob was just too much for Albert. I could escape the cramped dorm room- he couldn't. Within weeks She surprised me with a replacement Albert. When I opened the box, however, he turned out to be Albert's evil twin. His clothes were different colors and his face was dark and menacing. A sign. Things were not as they should be.

I sloppily glued Albert back together; he went back on the bookshelf with his evil twin at his side where guests would always inquire as to why I had twin garden gnomes. Since then I have been gifted with two more. So there I was, four garden gnomes in a 9 x 9 dorm room. Bizarre indeed. I still have them all, Albert, Evil Albert, and the two nameless have made it through five moves since college.

That's why The Philadephian thought of me when he saw a garden gnome. Now when I see one, all I see is mischance and lost opportunity. How She wanted so much for my life to be full of Polaroids, but I misread the signs and detoured off the yellow brick road. ~Braticas


IX. M. Night Shyamalan Revisited

I've been thinking about signs lately. You know those things that point you in one direction or another? Some are fairly easy to read, such as STOP. Others can be quite dicey. Merge. Yield. Depending on your point of view, those could mean any number of things. Who gets to go first in a merge? How many cars do you yield to? All of them? There are definitely questions.

I thought I'd gotten good at reading the signs in my life. I was learning to pay attention to the precognition, and that helped me be on the watch. So when all the signs said go-ahead-and-buy-that-house, I thought I was doing the right thing. Not so much.

I'd been scouring the real estate sites and driving neighborhoods for a couple years in search of our new home. The Husband wanted a master bedroom downstairs, I needed a better kitchen. We had just about given up the hunt and decided to remodel when I stumbled across something. An ad for a new subdivision just a couple miles from where he worked. It was a sketchy ad with line drawings and a bad map but the houses came with a stand-by generator and Lutron lighting. I was intrigued. We took the Sunday afternoon drive with freshly printed Map Quest directions and high hopes.

We couldn't find it. The maps all showed a golf course where I thought the home sites should be. I remember commenting to the Husband that a golf course was the last place I'd ever live. My Dad golfed, not in the least bit fanatically, and built a lovely house on a golf course in Florida. He paid dues on it for years all the while he sat in a wheel chair unable to pick up a club. I was also mildly steamed during the summer I spent in Florida during the drought. My sister had to haul buckets of water from a fire hydrant down the street to flush her toilets since the wells had all gone dry. Water restriction was in place everywhere. Except, of course, the golf courses. They irrigated daily and driving by those sprinklers used to infuriate me. I'd had a bad taste in my mouth for golf ever since.

So naturally the home site was an old nine hole golf course sold off to developers. We'd be finding golf balls in our yard forever. I had a bad feeling. That was until I turned down the gravel construction road and I caught the edge of the street sign in my eye. Naylor's Blue Court. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Naylor was my maiden name. Not too common. Blue, my Mom's favorite color and the interior color of every home she had. Signs. I called the realtor Monday morning to get more info.

My Dad was so much on my mind in those days. He'd been gone a couple years and I missed him. I was constantly searching for signs from him. I don't see dead people, but I'd wished I could have seen him. A few days later as I poured over floorplans I realized the only one the Husband would approve of was called The Parkside. I didn't really like it but it had the requisite master down. We would think about it. The lots were going fast, especially the larger ones in the cul de sac that I liked, but we had planned a trip to Georgia and we wouldn't be signing anything until we came back. I stopped at my sisters to give her the keys to our house; she was going to look after the dogs for me. This would be my youngest sister, the care giver of my mother, and she was a candy lover. She'd gone to a little candy shop across town, Kathleen's, and brought back a childhood favorite from our hometown: Sponge candy. She handed me a bag for the car trip. When I turned it over to see where it was made my breath caught. Parkside Candies, Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, New York. The candy store at the corner of the street my Dad grew up on. Parkside. Another sign. I emailed the realtor and begged him not to sell my lot until I got back from Georgia.

It was a lot of money but we had enough equity in the house we were in that it might just work. It would be our retirement house, the one we lived in until the end. If the payments were a little high in the beginning it would level out over time. I went to talk numbers with the realtor and decided to give him a small deposit to hold the lot til we made a decision. He handed me the pen to sign the agreement, I glanced over the contract and noticed the address for the first time. The number was both my parents' birthdays. I signed.

I loved the beautiful house we built. But the signs I should have been reading I had ignored. I wasn't content in my marriage or at work and no house was going to fix that. We argued every decision that went into it's construction, right up to closing day when I infuriated him by starting a new job and not being able to help us move. We were drifting farther and farther apart and neither one of us was noticing. We were in the house just two months when the company the Husband worked for decided to close up shop and get out of town. The first step towards our financial devastation. A sign things were changing.

The last time I was in the yard I kicked a little lump of dirt that turned out to be a golf ball. I picked it up and rubbed the grime off on my trouser leg. It was monogrammed with two initials, the Boy's initials. A sign. I would stumble over him forever. I choked back the tears and whipped it as far as I could into the woods. ~Dazzledgirl


VIII. Five Assorted Siblings and One Imported Sister

We've come full circle; we started this family with just the two of us, and here we are, just the two of us again. I love it. I remember as a child being happiest when it was only us; especially when we'd sneak away to grab lunch or go to the movies. Our connection exceeds that of an ordinary mother-daughter duo. We’re meant to be together, to be this close, as if we've been recycled and reincarnated over the centuries. But that's something only She and I understand. As much as I wished for it at times, if it had been just the two of us we wouldn't be where we are today. We wouldn't be writing this blog. We wouldn’t be tweeting each other from ten feet across the room.

We’ve become quite introspective this year, over analyzing the why’s and how’s. Despite the rough patches the past twenty five years, I thought if given the chance, I’d trade it all in an instant to relive my life alone with Her. Maybe next life we will. But right now, though we thought about how glorious it might have been 'just the two of us', we’d forgotten one very important detail: if She had not remarried I would have never met my true sister.

As She mentioned, the great haul from New England to a small southern town was a culture shock. It was difficult for me to adjust. I was a chatterbox which deluded folks into thinking I was happy. I was, however, an outsider and reminded of that every day at school. My northern accent, my uncommon last name, my extravagant handmade dresses with matching accessories made me an outcast. I remember being teased mercilessly on my pronunciation of pecan in 3rd grade. As children naturally do, I dropped my proper pronunciation of words and began to slide into a southern twang of made up words like ustacould and fixinto. My identity as a New Englander faded away. Every time I called my Father he was shocked (or perhaps appalled) at what a southern belle I’d become. But I’d say ya'll every two seconds if it'd prevent me from being teased. Despite how hard I tried to fit it, they still knew I didn’t belong there.

Then one day it happened. I met her. You know how you can have a memory but not even know if it’s a real one? You don’t know if you actually remember it or if you only recall it due to pictures or how many times you’ve heard the story told? I’m sure She remembers the details of how I met my sister. All I know is, a little brown girl walked into my life and the simple act of inviting her to play intertwined our lives forever.

Newly imported from the Dominican Republic, she didn’t speak a word of English. In typical American fashion, volume was substituted for bilingual ability. Apparently I screamed at her and placed special emphasis on the word Barbies when asking her to play. Surely, she had to know what Barbie's were, English or no English. So there we sat, nine years old, managing to find a common ground despite the language barrier and our friendship blossomed. Nicole. Mi hermana.

Just as I had learned the language of South Georgia, Nick had picked up English practically overnight. Pretty soon she'd become a full translator for her Mom. A task she hated but that lasted a decade. As the communication gap lessened we became the closest of friends. In no time at all she had moved in across the street from us and we became inseparable. But more on that later.

Fast forward to age fifteen. The day we moved to Virginia. We stood in my driveway, baking in the sun, the grass already dead from Georgia's scorching, intense summers. We lingered, neither one knowing how to say goodbye. The only time we’d been separated was my brief stay with the Grandparents in Florida and a summer she spent with her Father in New York. We attempted to lighten the mood by quoting John Lequizamo’s HBO special Freak; a favorite of ours which gave us years worth of one-liners to zing at each other. But the mood didn’t lighten.

Sisters can be brutal. We were jealous, competitive; we fought over Nintendo’s and boys. We loathed each other often. She even kicked my ass on a trampoline once, which she still boasts about to this day. Yet when the car was packed, the dogs confined, and it was time to separate, none of that sibling rivalry mattered. We clung to each other and said I love you. That was the first time I’d ever seen Nicole cry. (Lord knows I can cry at a drop of a pin.) It took all I had to keep it together. I think I held it until the end of Grace Avenue before it came gushing out. At that moment, I didn’t care about leaving my stepfamily or the house I grew up in, I only cared about leaving Nicole. I was on my way to being an outsider again, on the road to a new home and a new life and a part of my soul was being left behind. I was terrified of losing the only sibling I’d really had, the only person who knew me. I worried the distance would tear us apart but in the end it made us stronger.

Fast forward to age twenty-five. It’s been eight years since I've seen the only person other than Her that I’d die for. Nick married a soldier and took on a new life and I was secretly delighted. I didn’t want her to get stuck in that small town. I wanted her to see what a different world was outside of rural, redneck Georgia. My prayers were answered when they were stationed in England. She was in Lakeheath a month and her southern drawl was gone. No joke.

Family is such a relative term. I share blood with two brothers I’ve barely met, shared a bathroom for years with a brother I barely know and became sisters with a girl I could barely understand. Just as She and I were meant to be mother-daughter, Nick and I were meant to be sisters. She is my childhood. She’s in every memory. She knows me better than any friend ever has or ever will. She's been there through awful haircuts, braces, clarinet lessons, breakups, and even death. Granted, I have a few friends now that would help me get rid of a dead body but Nick is the only friend that’s ever helped me sneak a guinea pig into church.

Here we are 16 years later and sometimes when I see an international number on the caller ID I pick up the phone and hear a screaming Hispanic asking, "Do you wanna play BARBIE'S?" ~Braticas


VII. Five Families and a Sixth Sense

She has me thinking about family now. I just realized She and I are on our fifth family together.

The first family: When it became apparent that I did not have the flu and that I would be expecting a visitor in seven months I took it all rather matter of fact. Expecting was the perfect word for my situation. From the very beginning I had the sense that I knew her, that her coming was all part of the plan. It would be years before I knew myself to be precognitive, all I knew then was that she was the soul assigned to me. I gave birth to her without a lot of fuss and drama and she began sharing my life, and later my clothes and jewelry.

Our little family didn't include her father. I'd gone into labor Labor Day weekend and he'd gone fishing, which was fine with me. We weren't married and he wouldn't be part of the family we made for the first year of her life anyway. We lived instead on the edge of poverty with my newly divorced sister and her two children. My sister had painted a rainbow on the wall in our room and her crib sat at the end. My little pot of gold. We'd had a tiny little garden of Dutch bulbs and Italian vegetables, we sewed gingham cafe curtains and forced spaetzle dough through a sieve into salty boiling water on a hot summer day. It was a sweet little family life but it wasn't the path I thought I was supposed to be on.

The second family. When she was 15 months old I married her father, or as she would call him years later, the sperm donor. Now we were a real family. Daddy went to work. Mommy stayed home with baby and made delicious meals from scratch, canned preserves, upholstered furniture and took long walks through suburbia.

Except it didn't look exactly like the Norman Rockwell hanging down the hall. Daddy drank. Mommy got fat. Daddy drank. Mommy got depressed. Daddy drank. Mommy got a job. Daddy drank. Mommy got divorced.

The third family: She and I out on our own again. I was pretty good at the working Mom gig. I was an embroiderer. (A job my younger sister found in a one inch column in the classifieds that would turn out to be my favorite job ever.) She went to day care and on busy days I would pick her up and bring her back to work with me where she would eat snacks and entertain my manager with her incessant chatter. I should tell you now that she talked a lot. In fact, my older sister used to say she was destined for radio where they would never have to take a commercial break because she never shut up.

We were poor again and that scared me because I wasn't naive anymore. We were living in New Hampshire where the cost of living was quite high and meeting ends quite difficult. As so many northerners are wont to do, my family had started migrating south towards warmer winters. I migrated towards a lower cost of living in south Georgia. It was quite a culture shock and for the eight years I lived there, one I never got over. More on that later. We were there a year when we (as she would say back then) married a local son.

The fourth family. She was eight years old then and with the Husband came an older brother who would live with us, and another brother and sister. She would have a step family. I kept working but managed to create a reasonably close facsimile to the ideal family. There were Sunday dinners after church on my Mom's Rose Chintz, dance classes and Girl Scouts, a Golden Retriever named Katie and enough mutts to start a kennel. It smelled like honeysuckle and jasmine all through the spring, we stayed inside in the summer and came out in the fall to pick up buckets of pecans in our front yard. We built a beautiful brick house and she had her own room over looking a five acre pond. She found a sister across the street in the form of a little brown girl from the Dominican Republic. It was a pretty picture indeed.

I was a master at creating an illusion. I had made a commitment to the Husband and I intended to keep it, no matter what it cost me. I would make myself be content. I would stay married for her and because I had promised him. What I didn't know was that the Boy was out there and that I would find him and all my good intentions would come to naught.

Over the years precognition had saved my life a few times, prickly feelings warning me back from the edge of danger. The day I met the Boy he extended his hand and I shook it. When I looked up to his face and into those clear blue eyes I saw my own destruction. Oddly though, it wasn't enough to warn me back from certain danger. So I left the Husband and tore apart the family I had so handily crafted for her.

The fifth family: She and I are alone again and together. We've given up the beautiful home, packed the china, kissed the dogs goodbye and started a new life. It turns out all that illusion was an exhausting exercise in misdirection. While we were looking for the right life, a lot was left to chance, a lot was left behind. ~Dazzledgirl


VI. Watching a Life Crumble.

Yesterday someone asked me if I was working on Easter. "Um, I don't know. When is Easter?" They looked shocked at my response. Apparently it's Sunday. Apparently the resurrection of their personal savior is a big deal. I thought that Easter was only about whiny children, plastic eggs, and peeps these days.

I haven't the slightest issue working holidays anymore, nor do I care about the holiday in the first place. I've been an indentured servant to the world of retail since the age of seventeen. In the early years I skipped out on family functions just for the holiday pay. Then as my career progressed it switched to working holidays out of obligation because I was salary. What an ugly word: salary. If you've been a retail salaried employee you know why.

I do love Halloween but that's an exception. As She mentioned, my costumes were professional grade, award winning extravagant ensembles. We did masterful pumpkin carving and had scary parties. I still dress up. In my 24th year She made me a Queen of Hearts costume. This year, of course nothing.

I've always loathed Thanksgiving and it's stench of roast turkey and bothersome words like pilgrim and gizzards. And with each passing year my enthusiasm for Christmas dwindles away. I'd always blamed my job for ruining the holidays. Rude customers trashing my store and verbally abusing me over a clearance sweater. Maybe not the job. That Christmas in Cincinnati, right before I moved back home, I realized that maybe it was something else. It was my Grandparents; or should I say, the lack thereof.

My Grandparents were Ozzie and Harriet as She mentioned. Ozzie and Harriet who moved south to avoid harsh winters and enjoy retired life near the beach. I lived with my Grandparents for a short time in Nokomis, FL. Although my Grandpa's health deteriorated daily due to diabetes, they still entertained. We'd have visitors stay with us that had been my Grandparents neighbors back in the sixties. I couldn't imagine what it was like to have friends for forty years yet my Grandparents held onto so many. I barely remember any details of these get-togethers but one thing is engraved in my memory. Every old friend that visited us would enter my Grandparents house with outstretched arms, kisses, and handshakes. They'd kiss me on the cheek as if they'd seen me yesterday when it fact it had been ten years. They would linger over cocktails in Gramma's gorgeous kitchen, complete with double oven and commercial stove. While catching up with each other, someone would invariably say, "Angie, you are looking beautiful as ever." My Gramma was the definition of beauty and my Grandpa was the consummate host.

When we relocated to Richmond my Grandpa's declining health brought them here as well. I was thrilled to have them close by but then my Grandpa passed away, and it seemed like a part of my Gramma went with him. By that point, Alzheimer's had begun its slow, insidious assault but we hadn't noticed. Not until one frantic phone call from my Gramma insisting someone had stolen a piece of pineapple cheesecake out of her fridge in the middle of night. Shortly after the cheesecake incident she moved in with my Aunt. We celebrated holidays and birthdays just the same but you could feel something changing. With the progression of the disease Gram became less and less a part of the functions. She no longer cooked, compulsively cleaned, or contributed to the conversation. I missed her light hearted laughter and pan roasted potatoes sprinkled with rosemary. I began to feel that I was a visitor at someone else's holiday.

My Grandparents had made the holidays special. To them it really was like a party. It was entertaining at its best. We dressed up, used the fine china, and had cocktails in Waterford and a menu to die for. A menu laden with treats only made on those special days: Ham Pie and Rack of Lamb on Easter, Onion Pie and Octopus on Christmas Eve, Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding on Christmas day. It was a collection of little things like fresh flowers and freshly pressed table linens that made any family function memorable. To me that is a holiday and one day I hope to recreate that.

As naturally would happen, my Aunts began their own traditions with their small children and the cousins closest to me in age both started families of their own. Since I did not take that path, those traditions didn't belong to me. Now during holidays it feels like I'm an outsider looking in. And worst of all, now when I see any of my Grandparent's old friends they lean in with a hushed whisper and ask, "How is Angie doing?" I don't really know. My beautiful Gramma's nearly gone and I don't know what we're celebrating. ~Braticas