Monthly Archives: August 2010

A grandma by any other name…

We are at that stage in life when our friends are beginning to become grandparents. It’s not a flood yet, but the trickle has begun.

This past weekend, our friend and neighbor, Lou Ellen’s, son and his wife had a baby and so raised Lou Ellen to the ranks of grand-motherhood.

One of the more amusing aspects of all this is the incredible amount of thought and discussion that many women put into their most serious issue. “What will the child call me?”

Apparently this is a big deal with new grandmothers and grandmothers to-be.

When Lou Ellen called on Saturday to break the news of the blessed event, she told me that they had all decided that her “grandmother name” would be “Me-me.” When I repeated the name with a questioning tone of voice, she said.

“But we will spell it ‘Mimi.’”

She did not indicate how they would convey the proper spelling to the newborn.

This has become something of a family joke between Mrs. Poolman and me. It started more than ten years ago when her younger sister was discussing her active negotiations with the other grandmother over what her soon-to-be-born granddaughter would call them. They settled on “Grandma” for my sister-in-law and “Mimi” for the other grandparent. (“Mimi must be the equivalent of Sarah, Madison or Emma for the grandmother generation.) During the course of the conversation, I suggested, “What about ‘Big Mama.’”

My sister-in-law took it with good humor. On the other hand, Mrs. Poolman had fire in her eyes. She could see where that was going, and threatened me with severe bodily harm “…if any grandchild of mine ever calls me ‘Big Mama.’”

If this blog ever ends with a final post about my future grandchildren learning to talk, you’ll know what happened.


It’s what time?

I have never been one who likes mornings. Getting out of bed is always a chore for me. So I wasn’t all that surprised this morning when my alarm went off at its usual 6:15 am, but it was almost painful for me to pull myself off the pillow. I let the dogs out and went to the bathroom to start the morning routine. Even after taking a shower, I was still dragging bad.

As I got ready to shave, I looked down at my wrist watch on the counter to check my progress. I expected it would be around 6:45 am.  It didn’t look right. I picked it up to make sure I was looking at it right-side-up, but it still didn’t register. So I put on my glasses and looked again. My watch indicated 3:15 am.


That’s three and a half hours earlier than it should have been.

I went back into the bedroom. The alarm clock also said 3:15 and the alarm was still turned on.


All I can figure out is I must have dreamed the alarm went off. It woke me up and I just assumed it was time to get up. But it was still 3:15 in the morning!

I did the only thing that made sense. I left the alarm clock “on” and crawled back into bed. I was asleep in about 30 seconds.  I awoke when the alarm went off at the real 6:15 and popped out of bed, fresh and ready to greet the day.

Yeah, right.

‘Why don’t I have a mother?’

Last week it was same-sex-marriages. This week it is same-sex-parents.

I heard on NPR this morning that actor Neal Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser) and his partner have gotten together with a surrogate mother to produce a set of twins (who are yet to be born.)

Neal Patrick Harris (l) and partner David Burtka

I’m not a homophobe. I really couldn’t care less what someone does in the privacy of their bedroom, so long as they aren’t hurting someone else. That’s the problem I have with this trend of gay and lesbian couples having children. There is potential harm.

I believe both mothers and fathers matter to children. Children absorb and learn different things from the different genders. In this case, why would you go through an incredible amount of effort and expense to create a child who will not have a mother? Did your mother not play an important part in your life? Why would you deny your child the benefit of having both a mother and a father?

The nephew of some of our friends went through the same process about a year ago. The two guys ended up with twin girls. While I’m sure these two guys will love and care for their daughters to the maximum extent of which they are capable, but they are limited biologically in what they can provide. Neither is female. The two girls will be raised without a mother or mother-figure. How will that affect the girls? I don’t know, but it can’t be ideal.

It seems like an incredible act of self indulgence. The same-sex parents get a baby to play with, but the child is the one who is missing one parent.

Of course, in today’s climate of “starter marriages,” “no-fault pregnancies” and high rates of divorce, missing parents are all too common with “straight” families.  The difference is that, usually, the parents do not plan to make it that way from the outset.

I feel the same about single women who elect to have a baby without benefit of a functioning father?  I don’t understand the benefit to the child of not having a father.  I guess some mothers really think you are going to be so good as a parent that they can fill both roles. Some of the time, and maybe even most of the time, many parents I know feel they stretching their abilities to handle one job, let alone two.

It may sound contradictory, but I don’t have any problem with gays or lesbians adopting children. Why? Because usually they are improving the lot of a child. By adopting, they are providing a child with a set of parents. While a male-female set of parents would be ideal, same-sex parents are better than no parents at all.

The question is simply this: In the grand scheme of things, is a would-be parent’s desire to have a child of greater importance than that child’s need for both a mother and a father? It’s something to think about.

Ironically, Harris is also the star of the CBS sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother.” That is one story he won’t have to tell his real-life kids.

A very good Viet Nam War novel

I finished another book over the weekend that is worth mentioning.

“Matterhorn; A Novel of the Viet Nam War” by Karl Marlantes is just that. It is a very gritty account of a Marine company in combat in 1969. Marlantes wastes no ink on any subtleties or side plots. From the very first page, he places the reader into the “bush,” with the main character, a brand new second lieutenant who is trying to figure out his job while simultaneously trying to keep from getting killed. The reader lives with the Marine company and experiences the mud, the sweat and the fear. The story is involved and detailed.

Marlantes brings out all the absurdities of war — good officers and bad; expert Marines and inept; courage and stupidity; blacks and whites. The story reminds me a lot of “Fields of Fire” by James Webb; “The 13th Valley” by John del Vecchio; and “Better Times Than These” by Winston Groom.

This is not a “chick book” by any stretch of the imagination. Mrs. Poolman would have no interest. However, if you like military fiction, especially of the Viet Nam era, this is a must-read.

A solution to the same-sex marriage debate

The issue of same-sex marriage is back on the front burner this week, courtesy of a Federal judge’s ruling this week that struck down California’s Proposition 8, which would have outlawed the practice, at least in California.

There was an interesting column on The Huffington Post today with a reasonable solution — get government out of the marriage business.

Gee, I wish I had thought of that. Oops, maybe I did.

A trip home to the ‘burgh

I have been out of the loop for about the last week. I’m just now getting back to the normal routine.

Mrs. Poolman and I drove to Pittsburgh late last week to visit with my Dad, youngest sister and a multitude of nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. Even my brother drove in from the other end of the state for a few days.

We had a very nice time, but it was very busy. Mrs. P absolutely hates spending more than eight hours in a car. (“After eight hours, I’m just ready to cut my throat just to get it over with.” That makes a terrible mess, and you never get the smell out of the upholstery.) So we split up the drive both going and returning.

Our first stop was the Holiday Inn in Oak Hill, West Virginia. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were very pleasantly surprised. We ended up being upgraded to a suite-style room that was gigantic. We were tired, so we just ate in the hotel restaurant, and it was also good, and not just by Holiday Inn standards.

We got into the ‘burgh early Friday afternoon. I went to a Pirates game that evening with Dad, my brother in law and nephew while Mrs. P hung out with youngest sister and visited. I haven’t followed the Pirates since I was a child, but I know they aren’t the most successful team in baseball. They didn’t surprise anyone Friday night, loosing to the Rockies. But it was still a great experience to watch the game in the very nice PNC Park.

A good time was had by all.

On Saturday, my Dad hosted a party at my sister’s house. This is most uncharacteristic of him. I’m not sure about the motivation. In any case, he invited a bunch of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc; ordered ribs, wings, etc from some local restaurants; and put on a very nice party. Several of my cousins in the Pittsburgh area came with their families. There were a ton of kids. Everyone had a great time.

One of my cousins and his wife adopted a child from Guatemala about a year and a half ago. They live in the DC area, but came into town for the weekend. We had not seen little Anna before this weekend. She is a gas. She is three years old and very full of herself. She pretty much has all her cousins (all older, 6-18 years old) wrapped around her finger. The kid has it licked. Apparently, she has been totally absorbed into that large Irish-Polish family. Very cute.

We drove back to Savannah Sunday afternoon and Monday, again spending the night on the road. I turned it right around and hit the road for two days in Atlanta Tuesday and Wednesday. This morning I felt a little like I had “been rode hard and put up wet.” I had spent four to seven hours behind the wheel during six of the past seven days. I guess I piled it on by mowing the lawn and cleaning the pool and back yard when I got back to Savannah yesterday evening.  I’m turning into a wimp in my old age.

We have nothing big planned for this weekend, and I think we’ll keep it that way. I need to catch up on bills, laundry, and a little chillin’. The pool and a lounge chair are screaming my name.

Gettin’ ready for a cruise

Earlier this year Poolboy decided he wanted to organize a family vacation.

We have been on so many we can’t count them all a number of cruises and that is Poolboy’s all-time favorite activity. He did the research back in the winter and came up with an extremely good deal on a five-day Carnival cruise out of Tampa in the fall.

The group grew to 16 people (all adults), including our entire immediate family, Son-in-Law’s brother and sister-in-law, and a good group from Mrs. Poolman’s side of the family in Jacksonville.

A number of the group will be on their first cruise. As we get closer the excitement is building. We are going to have a pre-cruise preparation gathering this evening at Casa Poolman to bring all the newbys up to speed and to coordinate travel and shore excursion arrangements.

Like many enjoyable activities, half the fun is in the anticipation and the memories after it’s over.

Love that ‘beer butt chicken’

We had some folks over for a “float-in” Sunday afternoon. I cooked some “Beer Butt Chicken.” If you have never tried this, it is worth a shot.

1.) Mrs. P put together an herb rub which she applied to the birds the night before and sealed them in plastic bags in the refrigerator overnight.

2.) You take one can of beer for each bird, and after draining some of the beer (either in the sink or down your throat, as you will), you stick the can of beer into the large cavity of the chicken.

3.) We have some wire frames designed to hold the beer and the chicken, but supposedly you can use the drumsticks to form a tripod and keep the bird-beer combination vertical.

4.) I cooked it slowly on a covered gas grill. It took about an hour and a half, but it doesn’t require a lot of attention. As a matter of fact, I imagine the fewer times you open the grill, the better.

The end result was very tasty and very, very moist and tender chicken. Our company sure seemed to like it. If not, they sure faked it well.