This Music May Be Classical But It Sure Rocks!

Check it out! It's "Ode To Joy," originally composed by Ludwig von Beethoven. This version, played by Cast In Bronze was arranged by Frank DellaPenna whose permission I have to post it here...Please don't download it. If you like it- buy the CD. It's called "The Voyage." It's available through the CIB Official website.


Angels on a Leash
244 Fifth Avenue #2312New York, NY 10001
Toll Free: (877) DOG-ANGEL (877-364-2643)

Animal Farm Foundation
Animal Farm Foundation P.O. Box 624 Bangall, NY 12506

Animal Medical Center
By Mail:
510 East 62nd Street
New York, NY 10065-8314
Ms. Jeanne Lunin, Director of Development
By Phone: Call The Animal Medical Center's Development Office at 212.329.8660 and charge your gift by credit card. We welcome Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards.

The Animal Rescue Site

Animal Birth Control
P.O. Box 353
Pine Beach, NJ 08741
Contact: Maggie Trengrove, President 732.2698793

Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park Zoo
124 Evergreen Ave. Newark, NJ 07114-2133 Phone: (973) 824-7080 Fax: (973) 824-2720


There are three ways to make a tribute donation:
Website: If you’d like to make a donation online and inform the individual via email, you may send them an eHonor or eMemorial notification. This is a very simple process, and the fastest way for your message to be sent.
Mail: If you’d like to send a check, please enclose a note indicating the name of the deceased or honoree, the name and the address of the person you wish us to contact concerning the donation, and who it is from. We will send out a tribute card to the person you’ve indicated. Please send your check to: ASPCA Tributes, 520 8th Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10018.
Phone: We also accept credit card donations over the phone. Please call 800-628-0028.

Best Friends Animal Society
5001 Angel Canyon Road
Knabe, UT 84741

Burlington County Animal Alliance
7 Pioneer LaneWillingboro, NJ 08046-3839
Make checks payable to: "Burlington County Animal Alliance"

Dogs Deserve Better

Jersey Shore Animal Center
Please make checks or money orders payable to JSAC and send along with your name, address, and telephone number
185 Brick BoulevardBrick, NJ 08723

Kindness Ranch-American Sanctuary for Research Animals
854 State Highway 270
P.O. Box 63
Hartville, WY 82215

Monmouth County SPCA
260 Wall Street, Eatontown NJ, 07724,

North Shore Animal League of America Davis AvenuePort Washington, NY 11050516-883-7575

Ocean County Animal Facility (North)
615 Fremont Ave. Jackson, NJ 08527
Phone: (732) 657-8086
Ocean County Animal Facility (South)
321 Hay Road Manahawkin, NJ 08050
Phone: (609) 978-0127

Purrfect Feline Friends
Email Cathy:
Jackson, NJ Foundation

PetSmart Charities
19601 North 27th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027 / 1-800-423-PETS
Or: contact your local PetSmart store

S.A.V.E. (Shore Animal Volunteer Enterprise)
P.O. Box 503
Island Heights NJ 08732
Or: call our Treasurer Carole Jablonsky at 732-206-0344

P.B.R.C. (Pit Bull Rescue Central)
P.O. Box 335Fulton, Missouri 65251

Save U.S. Pets Foundation
Please make checks payable to The Save U.S. Pets Foundation and mail to
657 Valley Road,
Suite 103
Watchung, NJ 07609-6118.
OR: donate through participating veterinary hospitals

The reason for the crystal ball:

At work when our computers go down, customers will often ask me when they will be up again. (Hello! Like if I knew the answers to questions like that, do you think I'd be sitting around here all day? Big Dah!) After about the fifth person asks me this, it starts to get a tad annoying...Nevertheless, I jokingly tell them that my crystal ball is unfortunately on the same server and it is also not working. Therefore, I have no idea...I'm no longer making this line up!

Alice Reads and Recommends


Usually I have several books going at novel for home, another for my breaks at work (when I'm not attempting to knit, run errands, talk, work or eat), plus several non-fiction titles to help me figure out whatever problem or project I'm working on. Many times (when not listening to Cast in Bronze) I will also "read" a book on CD while driving since my daily commute to work is kind of long.

Highly Recommended:
The Bells by Dennis Coleman became an instant favorite with me.

Dennis Coleman has many published writings to his credit, including novels, short stories and essays. His latest project forced him down a different career path and broke new literary ground. It all started with a request from a friend to design a story around an idea that came to this friend in a dream. For some time Dennis balked at the thought of undertaking such a daunting task. However, the friend was relentless and The Bells made its way into print.

The Bells unfolds against the backdrop of late 18th to early 19th century France when community bell towers were still relied on as a means of communication and entertainment to townsfolk throughout Europe. What sets it apart from other works in its genre is the integral relationship between the townspeople of Douai and their municipal bells, an instrument known as a carillon. Douai France, in actuality is known for its carillon. In this work of fiction, the bells are removed from their tower, and 30 years later restored through the courageous action of one woman. Through her tale, she demonstrates that the carillon, in an enigmatic manner, guides the lives of the people in her village through love, losses, and hardships.

Once Dennis completed his novel, the friend that initially motivated him to write The Bells adapted it for the stage, scoring it with original music and lyrics. A soundtrack has already become available and it is hoped that the musical will go into production in the near future. For the first time in history, a play has been designed to feature an actual carillon as part of the show. In addition to being a writer, Dennis is a musician. His friend is Frank DellaPenna, a nationally recognized carillonneur that performs throughout the country on a very rare mobile carillon under the name, “Cast in Bronze.” This sheds light on how a musical instrument became a main character in a literary work. The concept is expressed so well both in writing and song that I can see the play ending up on Broadway and the novel becoming a bestseller.

Other titles by Dennis Coleman were enjoyable, as well. These include: Clues and Secrets, A Full Head of Hair, and The Letters of Danny Coyle.

I was fortunate to have met Dennis on two occassions.

Alice's Pet Peeves (Stupid Little Things That Drive Me Crazy!)

  • Using the term "renting" in regards to library materials. Library services are free! Therefore you are "borrowing" the stuff you take out on your library card, not renting!
  • Unwillingness to accept innovations in technology. I picture the same people that complain about the library's card catalog being replaced by an online version sitting around in the stone age complaining about the invention of fire and the wheel!
  • The statement couples often make:"We're pregnant." Hello? Did I miss something in health class? To the best of my knowledge only the woman can be with child.
  • Some of the features on newer versions of MS Office, for example, their "Reading Layout" view. It never fails to mess up the format of a document that I have emailed to someone. Since it is a default setting for opening an attachment in MS Outlook, I'm often getting complaints that my documents arrive scrambled. People aren't always aware that they can change the view to compensate for the problem. I forget this myself sometimes. Then I get frustrated when I need to edit a file that was emailed to me as an attachment because that can't be done in Reading Layout either. I also want to pick a bone with the Microsoft people over "Drawing Canvases" used when working with graphics and photos in office douments. This feature completely gets in the way of formatting my documents which are always laden with complex illustrations. Guess what, you can't always turn it off!
  • So-called "reality" television shows. I doubt that much about most of them is even really real.... Whatever happened to t.v.serving as an escape from reality?
  • Shopping carts left in store parking lots after use. How hard is it to put them in the "cart corral!" At least put them someplace where they won't bump into cars or block otherwise empty spaces. Warning: I get nasty when I see people abandoning shopping carts in the middle of the lot! Carts ran into my car twice in the last two weeks.
  • Negative, vulgar or rude messages printed on t-shirts, automobile decals or other personal property that can be seen in public. To me this is another form of pollution! An example of this is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon decal often seen on pickup truck windows that portrays one of the characters urinating on an object of the vehicle owner's dislike.
  • Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes. Why do people care so much about what they do, think, and say when not performing or playing their sport?
  • Bicycle Shorts. Do bicycles now run on spandex or is it a law that those tight garments be warn by everyone that rides a bike? Almost nobody looks good in them and I can't believe that all of you are training for races. Go put some real clothes on and stop acting pretentious!
  • Another shopping pet peeve- What is so special about the closest parking spaces? The way cars sit and wait for them, blocking the aisles so that other cars can't pass, one would think there was something special about them. As for me, I think it's special that I have two healthy legs and have an extra opportunity to get in a little exercise by parking further away from the store..

State College, ESP and a Long Lost Friend

All of this searching for people on Facebook reminds me of an incident that happened to me within a week of moving to State College, PA back in November 1991. When I graduated from college, I lost touch with all but a couple of the friends that I made during that time....One evening, while unpacking my belongings that I had just transported to my new home, I took a break to nap for a few minutes on the couch. For some reason the image of one of my long lost friends from school popped into my head. At that time I had had no communication with Pat since early 1985. We both finished our graduate programs at the University of Buffalo and went our separate ways out of town. I went to New York City and I assumed that she had gone home to her husband in Wilkes Barre, PA. In any case, something prompted me to get off the couch and look in the State College Phone Book. There she was. We kept in touch during the time that we both lived in State College. Once again, we both left town at the same time two years later and lost touch. She is someone that I definitely wanted to stay connected with. However, the many attempts that I have made to locate this woman using Google, Facebook, the proprietary databases from work, offline professional and college directories, etc. all have led nowhere. The only references that I turned up were to her many published works all dated prior to 1990. Since then, she has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. So, if anyone knows the whereabouts of Dr. Patricia Ohl Rice, please let me know! Thank you in advance

Alice Joins Facebook

I received an email message informing me that Diane signed up for Facebook and that she was inviting me to sign up and become her friend....OK. I've been hearing and reading a lot about Facebook lately. Being the curious cat that I am, I followed Diane's lead and got my own Facebook account. I started out by locating associates that I suspected would be on FB. That wasn't difficult since FB automatically tells you who from your workplace has an account. From this fairly large number of people, I selected a few individuals to be my Facebook friends. Many of these people I see everyday.
Next, I started to guess at other current associates outside of work that might be using FB. I found a few people from this population and made them my FB friends.
Then I started to cross over into obsession- trying to locate individuals from my past that I have lost touch with unintentionally or in some cases- intentionally. I found some in both categories and made them my friends.
After a week of playing around with it, these are my thoughts on this online service.
1. It's a fun way to waste time with the shallowest level of communication. 2. However, with all of the shared comments, pictures, flair, and gifted icons, one's wall (FB main page) gets a little overwhelming for my eyes to view. 3. The search keys could be more sophisticated for locating people. Currently, you can only find people by school or company. In many cases- more often than I anticipated, several hits came up for a single name. This occurred even with people that I judged to have unusual names. When you find 8 accounts with the same name but no location or picture to go by, it's like finding a needle in a haystack to find the person you knew. I made a couple of lucky guesses by looking at lists of their friends (that did include location) and through sending messages to people asking if my name is familiar to them. I find it weird that you can't look at an individual's profile until they confirm you as a friend but you can see who they list as friends. 4. Finally, I have a karmic concern about using Facebook to dig up the past. As much fun as it is to find out what became of people, I can't help but thinking that there is a good reason that people are no longer in my life. I feel that I could bring bad luck upon myself somehow....It could be like opening a long buried Pandora's Box. I wonder if anyone else has this concern or if I am just insecure. Aside from this, 5. I think Facebook does not give me enough creative license. I am a web designer at heart.

News (or the Lack of It) in Wonderland!

This is the first chance that I've had to post in awhile. Not that I've had much to say. The recession has impacted my family as much as everyone else, so I have been working overtime at every opportunity. Additionally, I have been cutting back on activities that cost money. Therefore, I have had little time for blogging and not much subject matter to blog about.
I did take a three part aromatherapy course which has led me to do some minor experimenting with the use of essential oils to create home remedies and effect emotional well being.
I have been taking lots of photos with my new camera. This camera is so wonderful that I feel I could make any person or animal look beautiful. I haven't even scratched the surface of knowing how to use it. It's an SLR and I only have a basic lens, so far. All of my closeup work has been done by me physically getting close up to my subjects. I can't wait to get a telephoto lens when I have more money. I really love to do extreme closeup shots. My dream is to show my pictures in a gallery or even in the meeting room of an OCL Branch, lol! I had fun taking pictures of Rufus and the other Bishop dogs last weekend. I must have taken about 60 shots that I kept. Those bull terriers with their interesting round heads make great subjects. Besides, I just like hanging out with their mom and dad. Barb and Tom Bishop are great people! I also took pictures of Nancy from my gym's dog and grand dog. I have so many pictures, I will soon need a new site just to display them!
I guess I have more to say than I thought. Now that I'm actually online and typing, my thoughts are coming fast and furiously. One thought leads to several more. That is typical of how my strangely wired brain tends to function....particularly when I've been hitting the caffeine.
One of the free associate thoughts that frequently infiltrates my train of thought when I am writing, doing or thinking about something else concerns how proud I am of my friends. I consider myself to be very average in every way but I purposely surround myself with people that have something extraordinary about them.
The other thing I think about constantly is the things I wish I could be doing but never seem to find time. Usually these things concern creative projects, too numerous to list. One of these days I will figure out the art of time management and prioritising so that I will not be obsessed with having a perfectly clean, dust free home before I can be creative.
'Bye for now. I have to put my laundry in the drier...

Recent Reading

I don't feel like I've been accomplishing much lately, outside of work. However, I have done a bit of reading. That is one thing I can report on.
The subject matter of the books differs by about 180 degrees. At the same time that I was reading The Shack, a very serious and philosophical work on spirituality, I was enjoying Twilight, a fun romance-fantasy vampire saga marketed to a teenage audience.
Maybe the 2 things gave my brain some balance.
There isn't a whole lot to say about the 4 titles in the Twilight series. They aren't particularly well written and, for any of the overlapping genres covered, it's very "clean." The main characters are good vampires that don't even kill people. In fact, the leading male vampire wouldn't even have sex without marrying his girlfriend first. While there is reference to swearing violence (except in Book 4: Breaking Dawn), and sex there is nothing explicit. (I wonder if the author, Stephanie Meyers, a graduate of Brigham Young University, is a Mormon. The ones I have met were extremely conservative, socially speaking.) Still, the story is very addictive. There is something about vampires (even the well behaved ones) that fascinates me...No, I have not seen the movie. I am number 285 on the waiting list at the library, lol! Also, guess who my favorite character is! Hint: the fan club tee shirt would automatically fit!
The other book that I read lately is as deep as Twilight was light. While I can't say that The Shack rocked my world entirely, it cracked a door for me to be less doubtful about the existence of God. The picture of God presented in this novel is almost something in which I could believe. It makes me open to further exploration of spirituality. One thing that I really liked about this book is that it takes the stance that Christian fundamentalists have it wrong. It is my wish that church leaders become influenced by this piece of literature. I really would like to become part of a balanced, mainstream Christian congregation for the "community," at this point. However, I can't seem to locate a protestant church that does not practice an Evangelical philosophy. So far, there is only one that my reseach has turned up- 45 minutes from my house- in PA....I can't subscribe to any view that tells me it's evil to read books like Harry Potter or to study and practice elements from other philosophies. While culturally, I believe Christianity is the best fit for my life, there are many other practices I support, including Wicca and Buddhism.

Westminster 2009

I am finally done processing through my brain, my annual trip to Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with "The Other Alice.". I think I've said this before: in the world of Alice, this 2-day event would be a national holiday. As it is, I always take floating holidays off from work when it's going on. This year we went on Tuesday so that we could meet up with The Other Alice's relatives. We accomplished our primary goal- to pet as many dogs as possible. Neither of us care that much who wins and who doesn't. To us it's just a big smorgasbord of dog therapy! I also enjoyed taking pictures with my new SLR camera.
The benching area is always very crowded with dogs and people so the area typically was very hot. By the time we got to the Papillon row, I was about ready to pass out from the heat. We decided to take a break so we went into the arena where they were judging the breeds. Coincidently, we sat down in view of the ring where they were judging the Sussex Spaniels. I'm usually not right about such things but this time my hunch was correct. I just new that little dog, "Stump" was this years Best in Show.
A few days later while doing laundry, I found a business card in the pocket of the jeans that I wore to Westminster. Ironically it was from Stump's breeder whom I must have conversed with at some point in my dog petting feast. I emailed them to congratulate them on their win and today they emailed me back.
I can only imagine what it must feel like to have your dog become an instant celebrity. To think about it gives me shivers up my spine!
I feel priviledged to have friends that have been in this spot! I will never forget that moment in 2006 when the judge made his entry in the book then walked toward the finalists and announced the winner: "The Colored Bull Terrier!" I picked the winner that time, as well! I never get tired of hearing Rufus' mom and dad tell me what it was like with all the cameras and reporters in the middle of Madison Square Garden plus making the rounds of parties and television talk shows. As shy as I can be at times, I am so glad that I made the effort to meet Rufus and his family! They are 100% great!

Recouperating from a Righteous Weekend!

Last weekend was very busy, fun and exciting. I ran around like crazy, learned a lot, had lots of fun and got a bunch of stuff done. Friday night started off with a baby shower for one of my co-workers. On Saturday morning I had to be up at the crack of dawn to be at the hairdresser's by eight. In addition to giving me my routinely scheduled trim, she covered the remnants of my teal hair which had mostly faded to a color that I couldn't even identify. My hair is now black to show up the pink and teal hair extensions that I purchased in Hot Topic at my next stop after the beauty parlor. I finally figured out that it would be cheaper and more convenient to be weird on demand... Talk about a place where I feel uncomfortable. At Hot Topic I almost feel like they would like to be carding customers to make sure they aren't over the legal age. After that, I ducked into Coldwater Creek (the Cheers theme song just popped in my head: "sometimes you wanna go where everyone knows your name"). For a change I didn't buy anything although the gift cards and coupons that I received from being a frequent shopper there were burning a hole in my pocket!

Next I attended the first of a three part aromatherapy class. I was surprised that it dealt with actual chemistry. The instructor has a knack for thinking in the scientific and spiritual realms simultaneously. I've not encountered many people that can do this. In fact, until meeting Debbie, I was the only person I knew of that did this. It used to drive my mother crazy and she would threaten to stop me from watching Star Trek as a kid.

On Sunday, I knocked myself out cleaning, grocery shopping and doing laundry...until the SuperBowl. For the record, I am admitting publicly that I enjoy watching football. This is a pleasure that most of my close friends do not share. Having lived in Pittsburgh and being married to someone that hails from that city, I, of course root for the Steelers. The Super Bowl was an exciting game for sure! It's a good thing my finger nails are fake and my heart is strong! Just when it looked like they had thrown the game away, the Steelers pulled it out and ended up victorious! What a nail biter!

It was a great weekend but it's taken me all week to get my strength back...just in time for another weekend. I don't have as much planned for this weekend but I'm off From tonight until Wednesday because Monday and Tuesday are Westminster Dog Show! That's a legal holiday in Wonderland!

Small Successes Welcome in the Doldrums of Winter!

I'm in a very optimistic and motivated frame of mind today. Now that the exact nature of my thyroid problem has been found and my medication has been accordingly adjusted, I am feeling hopeful about losing weight, having more energy and no longer suffering from strange aches and pains all the time. I drove to work while listening to the bells. That also got my brain functioning...Once at work I made great progress on redesigning our branch newsletter. I originally created it as a vehicle for my supervisor to deliver her bi-monthly report to her bosses at Headquarters. After awhile, she offered it to the branch staff to read. They enjoyed and looked forward to receiving it. Now that she is no longer required to submit this document, we decided to distribute it in a revised format to both our customers and staff. Today, I finished creating the basic template art and logo for the "Manchester Branch Beat." After work, I plan to go to the gym and have a great workout then go home and accomplish some chores around the house...It's the doldrums of winter. None of this is very exciting information to anyone other than me, I am sure. However, it is always a wonderful feeling that progress is being made- that I am moving toward success, even in miniscule sized steps.

Also tonight, I plan to curl up and read a few chapters from The Nine Tailors. I've been struggling with this book by Dorothy L. Sayers for about 3 weeks. It's an interesting enough story (at least I'm sure it will be once I get into it further). The problem for me is the language style is British English plus detailed technical references are made to the art of "change ringing," a style of bell playing perfected and most commonly heard in the UK. I was completely unacquainted with this musical style so I had to stop reading and look up change ringing online. It's very interesting and complicated. I would like to hear what it sounds like. For now I would like to get through this book. I still have a whole pile of other ones calling my name.

Long Time No Type

I can't believe that it's been over two months since I've posted a regular blog entry. Just add this to the list of things I haven't gotten around to doing. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish before the end of 2008. Very few of them got done. Life just got in the way. So I'm back to square one or maybe square two. Here are my revised plans and goals for the winter doldrum months.

1. Get my health issues under control. Despite al of the medicine I take, good nutrition habits, plenty of exercise plus the supplements and alternative remedies I try, my hypothyroid symptoms persist. This Thursday, I'm headed back to the doctor.

2. Finish organizing my house the way that I want it. I still have two bedrooms that I haven't touched. One isn't too bad but the other has tons of my mothers stuff that's been sitting there in boxes, unsorted for the last two years. At least I got the upstairs computer/sitting room looking decent.

3. Sell possessions on eBay or Craig's list that I no longer want to keep.

4. Catch up on my reading. Since the last time I blogged, I have finished reading the first two titles in the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers. (The first book was recently released as a feature film for teens.) I've started The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes, and The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers and Football for Dummies. I'm trying to get a better understanding of the game so I don't ask my husband stupid questions while the Steelers are playing. Plus, I have another huge pile of books sitting on my coffee table awaiting my attention. These include two titles by Temple Grandin, whom I met Friday night.

4. Work on fiber crafts. I still have never completed a knitting, crocheting, or felting project.

5. Learn to use my new SLR digital camera. The learning curve looks pretty steep. It took me an hour to attach the strap and another hour to figure out what memory card it requires, lol. That's as far as I've gotten.

6. Organize my address book. I have been carrying my contacts around on scraps of paper in a plastic baggie.

7. Write for publication. I contacted one magazine with an idea for an article. A month later they emailed me to say, "don't call us, we'll call you."

Well, this post was a good start for updating my blog. Now I'm going to reward myself by going to the gym for some exercise. I will elaborate on many of the above mentioned topics in the near future as they occupy my mind and my time.

A Full Head of Blue Hair

I lifted the title of this post from one of Dennis Coleman's book titles... In recent weeks I had the urge to do something trendy like add a couple of teal streaks to my hair. I finally got up the nerve to act on my wild fantasy and had it done at a salon where I noticed a stylist with purple and pink highlights in her own hair. Well, big surprise. She got carried away working on my head. I went to work after leaving the hair place. The first thing I did was consult with my boss about the advisability of skipping a meeting that would be attended by the highest ranking official in our organization. Close to the end of my workday I called home to warn my husband before he saw me that I now have a full head of blue hair.

Blue States

As big of a pain in the neck as it was to listen to all the election talk everywhere I turned, this presidential election led me to do some serious thinking. I have come to a bunch of conclusions about American politics as it relates to me and made some observations about voting behavior- my own and others'. Please forgive my run on sentences and lack of cohesiveness in the following points. I am just thinking out loud.

1. I have no grasp on the subject of politics, at all. I haven't bothered to educate myself because it all sounds so boring to me. Plus,

2. In my opinion, the general public doesn't get any real facts about issues and candidates, anyway. Hard data can be molded to support any agenda being pushed. Most politicians are lawyers and lawyers are schooled in the art of debate and manipulating people. If objective information exists, it is buried too deep for access by the average citizen that doesn't understand the intricacies of our legal system. So,

3. It seems to me that most people vote by following the opinions of others that they like and whose judgement they trust....(Or, in some cases they vote opposite from someone they don't trust or find repelling.)

4. In my case, I am totally confused. There are both conservative and liberal influences in my life. So, this doesn't even help me chose my political views. In recent years, I have been doing what many dutiful married women do- vote the same way as my husband.

5. This election, as I was pressing the button to make my choice for the next American President, I felt a nagging lack of confidence in my choice. Later on, upon sorting out my feelings by talking to a co-worker, I realized that my opinions on major social issues contradicted the way I voted.

6. As much as I despise all of the conflicts that go along with politics, I'm thinking that I need to come to a better understanding of its importance. Although I always do by civic duty by voting (I owe it to the suffragettes that endured physical torture so that women could vote) I keep thinking that it's all a big game that brings out some of the worst traits and seediest behavior in humanity and that anyone that gets involved with running for office is an ego maniac at the very least and at worst, an all out criminal. I can't believe that some people actually enjoy politics or get a thrill from it. I get a headache from it.

7. I still am asking the question, do politicians ever do anything that makes the world a better place?

8. Now that it's all over, all I can say for now is God Bless President Elect Obama. He's going to need all the help he can get.

In Memory of My Mother, Also an Alice

Here is the original obituary that I wrote. I ended up having to shorten it for submission to the newspapers.

Alice Paupst, a resident of Shrub Oak for most of her life, died peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday, December 3rd after battling Alzheimer's disease for several years. She was 84 years old. Until retirement she was employed by the A & P food company as a book keeper in their Yorktown, Shrub Oak and Peekskill stores (NY State). She was the wife of Marvin C. Paupst and daughter of George Dewey and Marion Hancock, all deceased. She is survived by a daughter, Alice Tiffeault Parfitt living in NJ and a brother, George Hancock, Jr. of Louisville, KY. Viewing hours will be held at the Clark Funeral Home in Yorktown Heights this Friday, 12/5 2:00pm - 4:00pm and 7:00pm to 9:00pm. A service will be held at the funeral home Saturday morning at 11:00 am followed by the burial at the Amawalk Cemetary also in Yorktown Heights. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to animal charities on Alice's behalf.

The following is a "polished up" version of the eulogy that I delivered at the funeral.

My mother was a victim of identity theft. I don’t mean the kind involving stolen credit card and social security numbers. Instead, my mother lost her memories, her personality, and, in the end, her dignity and her life, to Alzheimer’s disease. The real loss of my mother took place gradually over the course of several years. It’s been such a long journey that I’ve been finding it difficult to recall what she was like when she was still of sound mind. For this reason, in the last few days since her passing I’ve been mentally reviewing her life, making sure that I can still remember what she was like before her illness. It is these memories that I want to share with everyone here today.

Right away, the first thing that came to mind was how well she got along with people. A line from an old song that I used to listen to said, “Love everybody and make them your friend.” My mother was the only person I knew that actually accomplished this. In her work as a bookkeeper for the A&P she often encountered difficult people because everyone eats- nasty people, as well as nice ones! She always looked at the people that gave her a hard time as a challenge. Her method was to “kill them with kindness.” In almost every instance she was able to turn negative relationships into positive ones. She was respectful and kind towards everyone. She used to advise me to give people a break because you don’t know what’s going on in their lives. She never judged people or held any prejudices or grudges. Furthermore, she never gossiped!

Mom’s work ethic was second to none! Although she didn’t command a huge salary, she treated her job like it was the most important one in the world! It was not uncommon for her to go in on her own time to straighten out problems balancing the money for the store when her bosses couldn’t figure it out. She was also very loyal to her employer, sticking with the same company for over 30 years despite low pay and working conditions that were frequently less than optimal.

On a couple of instances, I have encountered people that my mother supervised as teenagers working after school in the store. Since her career with the A&P spanned several decades there were quite a few of these individuals. (Back then, the two major sources in our area for after school employment was Caldor and the A&P.) In any case, whenever I ran into these former checkers and stock boys, they always attributed much of their success in later endeavors to the example set by my mother. (One person brought it to my attention that my mother was quite progressive for a woman because she worked full time outside the home before it was commonplace for a woman to do so “after the kids arrived.’ She wasn’t trying to make a political statement. She was just trying to meet her financial responsibilities as a parent and homeowner despite obstacles in her life.) Also, some of the teens that my mother supervised came from troubled backgrounds. I recall her offering these kids extra guidance and nurturing. She was strict but always compassionate with the high school kids and all of the people that worked for her.

The only thing more important to my mother than her job was her home and family. She always made sure I had the best of the stuff that matters most in life, for example- love, security, education, and discipline. And when her parents started getting up there in age and started experiencing health problems, my mother devoted all of her leisure time to caring for their needs. Mom and Dad took few vacations preferring to spend their days off from work on home improvement projects. On those rare occasions when they did travel, it was usually to visit mom’s brother in Louisville, KY or Dad’s family in NC.

At the heart of Mom’s values and strong moral code was faith in God and country. All living things were important to her. This included non human critters. For this reason we always had a houseful of pets plus tons of stray animals and wildlife hanging around our property because they could count on my mother for a meal. This is where my love for animals started as a child.

This is by far not an exhaustive list of my mother’s positive attributes. However, I am picturing her at this point giving me a look and telling me to “wrap it up. It’s the weekend and people have things to do. They can’t sit here listening to you all day!” Therefore I will take her unspoken advice and close here with a final message.

Through writing this speech I came to realize that a major purpose in my mother’s life was to teach me how to be a good person. For this I owe her infinite thanks. Reviewing her life was like looking at a report card for my own….I fair good on some points but not too well on others. Included with my farewells I am offering the promise that I will keep working to improve the areas of my life where I am capable of doing better in the battle of right vs. wrong. Everyone here can bear witness to this promise.

More than I have the words to tell you, I appreciate everyone coming today. Thank you.

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