Sunday, December 26, 2010


It was the one thing he desired the most…  His desire wasn’t for health, wealth or love.  It was…  Well…just let me tell you the story…


The little boy quietly played with beer coasters on the floor behind the bar.  While he played, he appeared to be deep in his world of imagination.  He seemed oblivious to the fact that his Mother was scoring a hit in the backroom of the lounge.  The little boy, Donnie, was smart and knew a little too much for such a young child.  He knew what his Mother was doing…  When she comes back, she will laugh too loud and act stupid…in his humble opinion.

As Donnie played with the coasters, he was really worrying about where he would sleep that night.  He hoped they would not have to sleep in the car again, but then again, he didn’t want to sleep at Mrs. Wright’s house again either, but it was better than the car.  Mrs. Wright said that children should be seen and not heard.  Donnie tried so hard to be a good little boy for Mrs. Wright, but he didn’t think he would be good enough.  It seems like just breathing was an infraction in Mrs. Wright’s house. 

He allowed other scenario’s to enter into his imaginary world.  He really didn’t mind sleeping in the car when his Mom was there with him, but a lot of the time he was alone in the car while his Mom was in a bar or a motel room.  It was scary for him to be alone in the car because usually there were drunk or high people walking by or bumping up against the car or, worst of all, trying to get into the car.  But…no one ever called for someone to help him and he didn’t know how to help himself. 

His Dad lived in another part of town.  His Dad was just a plain old alcoholic.  His Dad wanted to take Donnie home to live with him, but he was married to a drunk lady ~ much like Mrs. Wright.  And his step-mother made him eat oatmeal ~ even when she knew it made him throw up.  It seemed there was no real place for Donnie and nobody really cared. 

He also worried about when and who his Mother would live with again.  The nice men didn’t want her for long and the bad men didn’t want her for much longer.  Sometimes the bad men beat him.  His Mother never stopped them.  He would rather sleep in a car in the parking lot of a bar than for his Mother to move in with just one more man…

Donnie, contrary to most five year old boys, learned to play quietly and become invisible to adults.  He tried to not only NOT be heard, but NOT to be seen either.  It would be the ability to be invisible that would get him through life. 

Another thing about Donnie was that his early life prepared him to play by the rules because if not playing by the rules, bad things happened.  So…Donnie grew up and went into the military because that is what good boys did.  The military would become both mother and father to him and finish the job of raising him…so to speak.  In the military, he was invisible.  When his time came to an end, he was discharged to go home to his invisible life.  Soon, he had the first of a series of invisible jobs.  He played by all the rules and began to save for the one thing he desired.  While other young men were racing around in sporty cars, Donnie drove a modest car ~ a sensible car ~ like him.  He married once, twice, three times.  Lacking emotions in his invisible world, he could not sustain a relationship long enough to have his own home.  Another marriage and a divorce returned him to his solitary world until many years later, when he gave marriage just one more chance.  This marriage was to a lady who was tenacious as a bulldog.  She could see through the pain that made him vulnerable.  She poked and prodded into the tender areas of his memory, into the cobwebs of his mind and the hard spots in his heart.  She knew there was a good man in there, but his defenses were many.  It was a daunting task, but she knew there was someone wonderful under the layers of scars.

Again, many more years passed.  She never forsook him.  Donnie grew strong in emotions, faith and love.  The man God intended him to be emerged from the wreckage…  He now has the one thing he desired ~ his own home ~ never to sleep in a car again…  And love fills his home to overflowing because when he allowed someone into his invisible world, he broke out of his lonely, invisible prison.


*This is pure fiction.  Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

Darlene Cirinna
All rights reserved.  Do not
use without permission.

Monday, December 20, 2010


‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a sound could be heard
‘cept for the snore of a louse

no sugar plums imagined
no gifts were expected
no food in the fridge
no signs of Christmas detected

The little boy curled into a tight little ball
Hoping beyond hope to not hear a foot fall
Just another night of terror and misery
Nothing to look forward to, not even a tree

Fast forward many years
the little boy was grown
He married his sweetheart
Had a home of his own

It’s a miracle he grew
To be such a fine man!
His rocky youth
Now a memory ban

But deep down inside
His memories would erupt
Each Christmas when his wife
Put the Christmas tree up

He said “Bah humbug”
His wife not a clue
Why the Grinch showed up
Every year on cue

Many a holiday
Was spent in this way
His wife completely puzzled
Until one cold dark day

He said to his wife
You cannot know
The memories I have
Not allowed to show

My childhood was different
No happiness known
No loving parents
No kindness’s shown

No Christmas dinner
No toys under a tree
No loving words
It was not to be

So I don’t want a reminder
Of past misery
I want Christmas to be over
Take down that tree!

His wife was heartbroken
To learn of his past
So carefully hidden
Until this cold blast!

His memories hurt him!
But what could she do?
She said I love Christmas
I’ll not allow misery too

She thought and she thought
Of how to resolve
His issues with Christmas
To get him involved

Suddenly she realized
The answer so clear
He needs new memories
That he can hold dear

New Christmas Eve traditions
Were started that day
Traditions that now
Are here to stay

She went to her kitchen
And began to prepare
Mouthwatering delights
All made with care

She invented snack night
Much to his delight
They munch on treats
By the glow of Christmas lights

Only a couple of years
For the bad memories to leave
As he began to look forward
to their new Christmas Eve

Now the Night before Christmas
Is a wonderful night
New memories were made
And their world is all right!
Written by Darlene Cirinna
Copyright December 20, 2010
All rights reserved.  Do not
use without permission.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Yesterday, I shared a blog I wrote last year for BFF.  In the blog, I told all about hubby and my 1st Christmas in 1971.  Today, I want to share my current Christmas with my friends.

For our 1st Christmas in 1971, I went to the local Army & Navy store and purchased a small artificial tree and some really cheap ornaments and other decorations.  I also shared how I “hid” a new color TV under the tree and how my husband couldn’t find his present “under the tree”.  What a fun Christmas memory to have for our 1st Christmas!

I have not decorated for Christmas nor put up a tree for the past seven years.  Having decided so long ago that I hated how commercial Christmas had become, I simply stopped doing anything except for the annual cards to let family and friends know that I care about them.  I boycott Wal-Mart annually from Thanksgiving until after New Year Day.  The only evidence of Christmas in our house was the small nativity that I set up as a reminder of the real reason for the season.

This year, I decided to donate both of my artificial Christmas trees, ornaments, garland and any other Christmas decorations except for my nativity.  So I went to the garage and hauled boxes off the shelf that had not been opened in 7 years.  Oh my…there was that “old” smell that I can’t stand.  I can’t tolerate that “old” odor.  So, I quickly sorted things into two piles ~ one to give away and one to throw away.

While sorting, some items invoked special memories…like the small tree that I bought for our 1st Christmas and a shabby chic red metal star that graced our Christmas tree every year since my earliest childhood memories.  The small tree had been replaced with a much larger, much nicer artificial tree a very long time ago and the star for a glitzy new star.  But…I kept our first tree all these years.  Nostalgia, I guess.  I just never could bring myself to get rid of it.  It is no more than a green wooden pole with holes to insert branches and a metal stand.  The branches look like big green bottle brushes.  There are large gaps between the branches…  A sorry looking tree, indeed!  However, when decorated with lights, ornaments, garland and icicles, it was pretty enough.  In 1971, it was beautiful to me.  Heck…even a Charlie Brown tree would have been beautiful in my eyes for that very special 1st Christmas.

When I took the tree off the shelf, I was planning to donate it to our church thrift shop.  But, then I began remembering that first Christmas and how happy we were.   (Not to say we are not happy now because we are blessed and very happy.)  Suddenly, I knew that I just HAD to spend just one more Christmas with that old tree and, maybe, create just one more sweet memory for the old memory bank.

So, I sprayed the tree with a freshener and took it to the backyard for fresh air.  Lovely….all odor is gone.  Then, I went to the dollar store and bought some new ornaments, lights and garland.  I have put that old tree up just one more time.
Anyone want to guess what is under the sheet this time?  Hahaha
After Christmas, it all will go into a box for donation to the church thrift store…all of it…tree, new ornaments, lights and garland.  I hope some young couple purchases the box for their first Christmas in 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010


NOTE:  I wrote this blog last year for BFF.    It was a fun Christmas blog, so I am reposting this year.  I have almost completed a sequel that I will post tomorrow.  I hope everyone enjoys the story of my FIRST CHRISTMAS with my husband.  Thank you all for being my friends.  Those of you who are not my friends, please feel free to send a friend request.  How can I get to know you if you are hanging around in the shadows?  K?  ;-)
When I started thinking about this BFF topic, I thought about all of the “FIRST CHRISTMAS’S” in my life.  There was, of course, my first Christmas in 1947.  I would love to tell you about it, but I can’t remember that long ago.  Then there was my first Christmas in Florida in 1958.  Eh…  You all know the difference between a Christmas in NY and a Christmas in Florida.  Nothing interesting there…  I dragged my mind through the labyrinth of my memories…  AH HA!!!  I know the First Christmas I want to tell you all about…
In 1971, I spent my first Christmas with my Husband.  We didn’t have much, but we had each other and that was the world to me.  Our furnishings were minimal.  Our TV was a tiny 13” black and white portable.  All we had in the living room was a sofa, 1 chair and the portable TV on a small table.  I wanted Christmas to be really special, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money for tree and decorations.  I went to the Eagle Army & Navy store and bought a 36” artificial tree and a few decorations.  The tree was too small to have set up on the floor, so I set it on top of a huge box, threw a white sheet over the box and decorated the tree.  It was rather pretty.  I wish I had pics, but I’m not sure I even had a camera at that time.

I bought 2 gifts for my Husband.  I couldn’t hide the recliner chair, but I hid his other present under the tree.  I hid it so well that he couldn’t find it.  Several times before Christmas, he asked me where I put his present.  My response was the same every time…”It’s under the tree.”  Finally, he said to me…I looked at every present under the tree and they are all for your family.  Where is my present?  “It’s under the tree!”  He was very frustrated with me.  But, honestly…it was under the tree.

Finally, Christmas Eve arrived.  In my family, we always opened presents on Christmas morning. His family opened them Christmas Eve…  OK.  That was fine with me.

My Husband was soooo excited.  Finally, he will have the present that made him crazy with curiosity.  He looked and looked and looked at every present under the tree, but did not find a present with his name on it.  He thought maybe it was a trick and I put a family member name on his present to throw him off…  “No, I didn’t put anybody else’s name on your present.”

Seeing that I was on his last nerve, I walked over to the tree and lifted the white sheet to reveal his present that was truly “under the tree”.  In the large gaily wrapped box, covered by the white sheet, was his brand new color TV.

I still smile every time I think about our very first Christmas and how I nearly drove my Husband crazy while he looked for his present that was “under the tree.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Dear Santa,

It’s been many years since I last wrote.  Please forgive me for all the years of silence while I was totally immersed in life.  Since I last wrote, I graduated high school, college, married a couple of times, worked 42 years, and then retired.  There was more, of course, but I won’t bore you.

I have been weighed down with the cares of the world far too long.  The last 6 years have tested my faith…completely.  Then, I remembered!  Of course!  I’ll write to Santa.  You always gave me my heart’s desire.   I began to recall the many letters I wrote to you.  Each letter started out, Dear Santa…..  My letters told you how good I had been all year, followed by the carefully thought out list of items I wanted to find under the Christmas Tree.  I lured you to my house with promises of cookies and milk.  Ahhhh….  How simple it was to be a child.

As I write today, I think…  How do I explain?  I need a definition of naughty too, Santa.  I have been very naughty in my life, but not much lately…  Well…I can think of a couple of things, but I’ll get to it.
Is this naughty?
HA! Santa…do you really think I would put my 60+ year old body in that?  So, on that count, you can chalk me up as good.
What about this?
I quit smoking almost 2 years ago.  Not one single cigarette since 1/24/09.  That means I have not been naughty even once in 2010.
Then there was this:
No.  Once again…not in 2010 or the 32 years before.  Nope, no alcohol for me.  Nor have I ever done drugs except that time I didn’t inhale and was scared because I just KNEW there was a police officer hiding at the corner of the house just waiting for me to inhale.  Hee hee….maybe I did inhale just once, but surely you wouldn’t hold that against me for the last 4 decades…would you?
At one time or another, I have given up every vice I ever had except for coffee.  Even that is now a sissy version of caffeine…
Now that I told you how good I have been, I suppose I should explain the times in 2010 that I was naughty.  Hmmm….How do I explain?  I don’t know that I can.  But, I will try.

For every time I get in trouble, it is a toss-up between whether the reason came from my heart or my brain.  Both are rather deep wells, you know?   I never know what might come up from those wells.

That said…I’ll start with my brain, since she (brainiac) thinks she has the upper hand.  My brain is always up to mischief.  I call it the “party in my head”.  It was my brain that created that raisin man party in the backyard.  You know the one…I blogged it…remember?
Then there was the coffee art blog the day I was bored…  Heh…  That was fun.
Actually…now that I think about it, I’m never naughty when I am using my brain.  It seems that the times that I have been the naughtiest are the times that I thought with my heart.
Mostly, my heart is a tender one, however, it can roar like a lion when something touches it or breaks it.  Many years ago, I had rental property.  One tenant poured a sob story on me…[I tend to believe people until they prove to me they are liars]…  It was just another time when my heart got me in trouble when I let the tenant slide on rent for about 3 months.  It took another 3 months to get her off the property – legally.  My husband was livid.  He asked me “Do you know what your problem is?”  I’m pretty sure he didn’t expect my answer, which was…  “My heart is bigger than my brain???”
My brain/heart ratio:
So,  Santa…  There you have it.  Every time I was naughty in 2010, it was a case of my heart being bigger than my brain.  You know me from when I was a small child and you know my heart.  I have taken in dozens of lost or injured animals…from birds to squirrels, nursed them back to health and released them.   You know I have 8 cats only because I couldn’t take my Mom’s 6 cats to the pound when she died.  They were a family and had always been together from birth.  How could I take them to a place where they would be split up and end up….how?  So, I brought them home.  They love it here and are very happy to get to live outside of the confines of a house.   Then, there are the dogs.  Each of my last 4 dogs were rescues…  Each one not wanted primarily due to age and physical condition.  Why can’t other people see with their hearts?  I saw little lives – not finished yet – not to be thrown away like garbage.  God didn’t create garbage.  I adopted each one, paid the veterinary bills to get them healthy again, and then loved them every day thereafter.  Two have gone on to the rainbow bridge at ripe old ages of 17 and 19 years old.  My two who are with me are 15 and 8 years old…  The 8 year old one being the newbie…  The 15 year old one has been with me for 5 years already.  Both are happy, healthy dogs…and I love them so very much.  No…they are not the garbage that other people considered them to be…..not garbage and not disposable.

Now that I think of it, those aren’t good examples of my heart getting me in trouble.  I mean…after all…how can love for helpless creatures be naughty?  Unfortunately, that tender heart doesn’t extend to EVERYONE in the human race.  Lots….but not everyone.

Hmmm…..think, think, think….  Oh yeah…my heart roars in defense of cruelty and injustice.  Those are the times I have been really naughty.  I won’t go into detail because I’m sure I made your naughty list for some of those times.  If anything, Santa, I would hope that you would look at my amends.  After all, my conscience does not allow me to continue a battle in anger.  I pretty much blow up, then blow over.  I make amends for my wrongs and usually it does not happen again for a long time.  You know most of my anger does not stem from these little instances but comes up out of that deep well of grief.  I’m getting better about controlling that anger that roars to life when I think of how my Mother died.  It was 2 years last month and my anger roared again when my 18 year old cat died just over 2 weeks ago.  Yeah…it roars at whatever little mouse happens to be there when the grief turns to anger once again, then gets bumped up again, this time due to Mikie’s death when my grief was already resurrected by an anniversary.  *sigh*  I cannot excuse myself, but I have made amends where I needed.

Then, there is my mouth – *sigh* – I am opinionated and outspoken.  Blunt honesty is not appreciated:
[For the record, this comment came out of the blue from someone I didn’t know.  Nonetheless, I have protected the screen name of the attacker who took exception to my avatar of a clown face.]

Then, there is my tendency to point and laugh … like the time someone made an ass out of himself on Myspace, then moved to another site.  Yep..I pointed and laughed…
[Once again, identity is protected.  I should be the only one to look like the ass here ‘cause I won’t lie to you Santa.]

So, Santa…Yes, I have been naughty in 2010.  But, not as naughty as I was in 2009 when my grief was so raw.  I am getting better.  My anger is below the surface again as I continue to heal from the worst thing to ever happen in our family…EVER…  But, I will conquer this fault in me, just as I did the alcohol and cigarettes.  Then I will be perfect….  HA!  Like that will ever happen.  I’ll never be perfect, but I can continually strive to be better.
Just let me keep my last vice….
Just one question, Santa….

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Ginger sat at her computer station and just let the rage continue to wash over her after she had finally gotten Ted out of her life. Try as she might, she just could not get his sneering face out of her mind. Ted lied and cheated and stole her money for just one day too many. When he came home smelling of his usual mixture of sweat, stale cigarette smoke and cheap perfume, he was welcomed to the sight of packed luggage on the doorstep and a changed lock. He simply stepped over the luggage, kicked in the door and came in anyway. Ginger was still shaking from the encounter, but he was gone now and the shaking fear changed to shaking rage.

Hand poised on her keyboard, she tried to think where she wanted to begin. Ginger always took her rage to her keyboard. As a skilled hacker, the elimination of data was a piece of cake for her. She just wanted to eliminate all evidence that the piece of crap ever existed. So, with her rage, she went into countless entities and eliminated him. She began with the Dept of Human Services, birth records…delete. Moving on to his school and military records…delete, delete, delete. She paused in consideration as she located records of his countless bad debts. Nope…resolve took over and she deleted all. Again, her fingers paused on the keyboard when she located his criminal records…thinking….let this be the one thing to stand. But, after considering all, she deleted. After all, she could not stop her rage until all traces of him were gone from the Internet.

Ginger pounded her keyboard late into the night - deleting every piece of evidence that he ever existed. Every time she thought she had it all, she would find another piece of data - maybe from credit card use or a comment to someone somewhere on the Internet. But, try as she might, she finally realized that she might never be able to eliminate all evidence he ever existed. She began to understand that it was easier said than done….

In her intent to destroy him, she forgot about her MySpace account. Ginger logged into her MySpace page to locate a blog she had written about Ted….actually a rant about his cheating, lying and thieving ways. It must be eliminated… But, just before she hit the delete button, she realized that she had just spent a whole night in denial. There are literally millions of data bytes on the Internet pertaining to the average person. Every transaction creates a record in data bytes. Slowly, the realization settled in her mind….there is just no way to eliminate all of those data bytes. Her shaking rage began to recede into the shaking fear again.

Thinking very hard, considering all, she came to realize that it was no use. So, instead of hitting her delete button, Ginger hit her edit button. Near the end of her blog, she changed one entry from “I could just kill him“ to ”Please pray for me because I fear this man. I fear that one day he will kill me.”

Satisfied that she had planted the seed she would need to secure her future, she logged off her computer and called the police to report to them that she killed Ted.

The defense team took the position that Ginger killed Ted in self-defense. The prosecution team had all of Ginger’s computer records….every data byte.

It was easier said than done….

A work of fiction by:
Darlene Cirinna
Copyright October 29, 2009
All rights reserved
Do not copy or use without permission of author

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The night around me was crawling with activity and noise. People were chatting as they stood in doorways, children screaming, then Moms screaming back at them. The odor of cooking food drifting on the air from open windows, some distinguishable, others so mingled with the street smells that the origination could no longer be determined. I wrinkled my nose at the smells.

I glanced down at my feet as I walked and I thought about my conversation with my best friend, Samantha – Sam for short. We were sitting in the student union at the university over cappuccino and books. Somehow, we ended up challenging each other to each walk a mile in the other’s shoes…figuratively speaking.

My thoughts were disrupted as two young men began making catcalls at me. I lifted my eyes up off of my feet to peer into leering eyes glazed with undisguised desire. Frightened, I began to run. I knew I was within a block of Sam’s house – within a block of safety. I lifted my feet and put them down harder than I ever did in my life. The smell of fear was all over me.

As I ran, I thought about the mile Sam was walking to my own home. The streets were graced with older, comfortable homes. The neighborhood had a charm of its own with big ancient oak trees and houses set back from the street by big lush green lawns. My neighbor would be walking her little dog – a dog that stays amazingly white and fluffy. There are no dinner smells because all the homes are air conditioned. The only fragrance drifting on the air was cut grass.

I was bored with my home and complained to my friend Sam about living in such a boring neighborhood. All of our neighbors were elderly. My parents had fallen in love with the charm of the neighborhood when I was 5 years old. They watched closely for a house – any house – to be placed on the market. Such was how much they loved and desired to live in that beautiful neighborhood. At that time, all the neighbors were in mid-life; children grown up and gone. It was a lonely childhood for me. I think I was always bored. Now, all of our neighbors were seniors. Yes…life was boring indeed…

Pounding feet from behind brought me back from my drifting thoughts. In fear, I ran faster – my feet hitting the pavement like no other time in my life. My heart felt like it would explode from the fear and the physical exertion. Yet I ran until I reached the door of Sam’s home. I was sobbing as I pounded on the door for entry. It was then that I felt a hand touch my back. I screamed with fear as the hand reached around me and drew me into arms. I spun around in the circle of those arms, expecting the worst. I found myself looking into the eyes of my friend, Sam. She drew me to her and hugged the fear out of me. I was so happy to see her and to know that I was safe, yet I wondered why she was here.

Sighing with relief, I asked why she was here and not on that tree lined street of boredom. Sam smiled gently, and then said “I could not let you walk such a hard mile alone.”

I had never been out of the sight of my friend. As she held me in her arms, a peace came over me. I thought about how my Mom had always said that fear and God cannot occupy the same place, therefore, I should never fear because God is always with me. Just as I had never been out of the sight of my friend, I am never out of the sight of my God.

Suddenly, I knew that I had sadly confused boredom with peace. I think I shall now always know the difference.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I’m going to tell you a secret…  I’m a softie ~ a push over ~ a soft touch ~ a heart for the underdog ~ literally.  Sometimes my heart is bigger than my brain.  And I love old dogs.
This week, I adopted an old dog.  Correction, I adopted another old dog.
But, before I tell you about her, I want to tell you a little story.  I had three little dogs for many, many years.  Elvira was the oldest.  I wasn’t looking for a dog the day I took her home.  I was walking my dog when a woman down the street asked me if I wanted a puppy.  It was 1983.  I already had 2 dogs and I was packed up to move to South Florida to take my new job as personnel manager of a state prison.  My plate was full and a new puppy just wasn’t in the plan.  But, I looked…  They were all adorable.  My heart was untouched ~ so far.  Then I noticed a puppy sitting off to the side.  She had the biggest brown eyes and a huge worm belly.  Something happened when our eyes connected.  It was kind of like a spark ~ recognition of two old souls.  The moment was magical and I knew she was special.  Without a thought, I said ~ “I’ll take that one.”  My brain was saying ~ “OMG.  That puppy is going to die if she doesn’t get help.”  It was a cold day.  I took her home under my jacket and to the vet the next day.  He confirmed my worst fear.  She was in serious trouble with parasites at the ripe old age of 6 weeks.  She had a rough few days.  She passed more worms than anyone could have imagined.  The crisis was over and she lived with me for the rest of her life.  She died June 2000 at 17 years of age.   
Then, later, I acquired a miniature dachshund, and a Maltese.  Cocoa and Jake were the best buds in the world and Elvira was never far away.  Jake and Cocoa grieved when Elvira died.  When Cocoa died, I found Jake sleeping with his body.  Then Jake died just 8 days after Cocoa in the spring of 2002.  Could it have been because of a broken heart?  Cocoa was 15 and Jake was 16. 
In less than 2 years, I had lost all three of my dogs.  My heart was broken and I did not have another dog for almost 2 years.  When I finally felt like I could give another dog love without grieving for my three who had been with me all those years, I started thinking about getting another dog.  I thought and thought about what I wanted.  What breed, what size, male or female?  I wanted just the right companion.  I thought about everything for a couple of months.  I was still working, so I had the welfare of the dog to consider.  Getting a pet is a BIG decision and no one should act on impulse.  I wondered if I had the energy and time for a puppy – the housebreaking, the chewing, whining and barking.  One day, in total frustration at my inability to make a decision, I said to myself ~ out loud ~ ”You probably forgot how to take care of a puppy anyway…all you know are old dogs!”  That was the very instant an idea was born.  I would not go find some cute puppy.  I would find an old dog that no one wanted.  It was January 2004 when I adopted Vinnie.  His age was estimated at 10-12 years.  He was a rescue.  Vinnie was with me until May 12, 2010.
In March 2004, I saw a wizened old yorkie at the pound.  One look convinced me that no one would adopt her.  Someone threw her out on I-4 like a piece of trash.  I don’t know how she survived, but she did.  The vet said she was close to 20 yrs old.  She lived another 6 ½ months while being treated like a little princess.   I named her Katie and she was 3 ½ pounds of pure, sweet sugar.  She died while one of the 2004 hurricanes was slamming my house and it was my worst birthday ever.
Then came Maggie Mae in January 2005.  She was not much more than skin and bones.  She was flea infested and, due to her flea allergy, had chewed most of her hair off.  Her skin was raw from all the chewing.  I saw her pic on the pound website and her misery was etched in the expression on her face.  Maggie Mae’s pound picture:
There were no adoption applications on her and she was nearing her end.  I knew I had to help her.  Yes…I adopted her.  With good veterinary care, love and attention, she is now 15 and a beautiful little dog.  They said she is long haired chihuahua.   When her hair grew in, it turned out she is Papillion and a beautiful girl at that!  Maggie Mae today:
I didn’t intend to get another dog so soon after Vinnie died, but another little dog at the pound came to my attention last week.  She is approximately 8 years old.  She was confiscated due to an eviction.  I asked specifically what that meant.  Basically, it means she got left behind.  As is common with older dogs, she was in the pound from May 19 until I saw her June 3 without one single adoption application.  Small dogs usually have applications placed in the first couple of days after arriving at the pound.  I was concerned that she was there just over 2 weeks already without even one application.  After discussing with my husband, I went back and put in an adoption application the next day.  She came home Monday after her spay surgery.  Wednesday, she was seen by my own vet.  Her health issues are really minor.  This is her pound picture:
Why did no one want her?  She has a flea allergy.  To the inexperienced eye, it looks like mange.  It is not mange.  One eye was matted closed and she has kennel cough…hello…too long at the pound and completely treatable.  She was lethargic because of the kennel cough.  It feels like the flu. Today, she romped in the backyard and we had our first photo shoot.  She feels much, much better and it shows. 
We named her Molly…  
I don’t have statistics for the number of dogs that are not adopted – who end up being euthanized.  I could research the statistics, but I am pretty sure I don’t want to know how many unwanted pets are killed.  Puppies are cute and fun.  Most people want puppies.  Hardly anyone wants the older dogs.  I want to point out the plus side of an older dog…
ü   Older dogs are usually housebroken
ü  They are way past the chewing stage
ü  Often, they are more obedient
ü  They seem to know and appreciate that you have given them a chance for life
I am like a one little old lady rescue organization.  I do not have a house full of dogs.  I have only two.  Two small dogs at a time are all I can reasonably handle.  I take on no more than I can afford to properly care for.  Anything more is irresponsible.  I wish I could save more old dogs, but I do what I can do.  To adopt an older dog is a small thing, but it is HUGE for the dog because you are saving a life.  I know I’m not putting any big dents in statistics, but I will save one life at a time, give them a healthy, caring home and keep them for the rest of their lives.  I wish I could do more for the old dogs.
I hope the next time you decide to get a pet; you will consider a shelter pet.  If you want a puppy or kitten, they have plenty of them too.  They gave me a new owner package when I brought Molly home.  In the package was a bumper sticker that says it all:
Think about it….
So….Who’s the winner?  Molly or me?  I’ll let you be the judge.
UPDATE:  This was written last June, shortly after we adopted Molly.  She settled into our home very well.  She is smart.  There is never any question about if she needs to go outside....SHE TELLS US...LOL.  Yep!  We have a "talker".  We are constantly smiling at her charming ways and she has brought much joy to us.  She is now the picture of health.  This was 2 weeks ago:


Isn't she precious?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I didn’t know if I could explain it even one more time!  It all seems like such a bad dream.  Could it be only one week since he said it to me for the last time?  But, it was my time to speak, so I braced myself, took a deep breath and began…again.

“Greg and I got married in August 1973.”  I took another deep breath and I launched into the story.  “Greg was a good husband and a wonderful provider, but he did things that drove me crazy.  First it was little things – like leaving his whiskers in the bathroom sink after shaving and leaving the toilet seat up.  He grew up in a house full of boys and his Dad was a single parent.  I think I know why his Mother left…heh…  Sorry…  I didn’t mean to get off track.  I tried to ignore his bad habits, but they were like a snowball rolling down hill.  The older he got, the more bad habits he picked up.  I had to deal with the cigarettes and the beer.  He had a spittoon in our living room for when he chewed tobacco or dipped snuff.  Did you ever have to empty and rinse a spittoon?  Sorry…  I didn’t mean to get off track again.  Well… ‘round about three years into our marriage, he began hanging around with some hippy types…  Remember, it was the 70’s.  Next thing I knew, he had a marijuana habit.  He didn’t do anything harder than weed.  I’ll give him that.”

“I tried to be a good wife, but his bad habits were really taking a toll on me and my nerves.  I asked him to quit all that bad stuff, but he always told me to “drop it”.  So, I did because I really didn’t want to fight with him, you know?  When the kids started coming along, I didn’t like him being such a bad example for the children.  And, I certainly didn’t want the children to think everything their Dad did was okay.  So, maybe I nagged him a little too much.  I dunno…  I just couldn’t ignore all know?  That is when he started his most maddening habit of all...using metaphors!  If I brought up something where he really needed to correct himself, he would say “Lois…drop it like a rock!”  I hated that about the tenth time he said it in one day.  As time went on, he added other metaphors.  It was “drop it like a hot potato” or “drop it like the left shoe”.  There were other “drop it” expressions that he used and abused – in my opinion.”

“Well, the kids are grown now.  I had 3 boys.  They all turned out just like their Dad.  They are all good kids and hard workers, but they have such bad habits that none of them have been able to keep a wife.  In fact, Frankie’s wife ran off and left him with his son.  She just up and left after little Junior asked her to pull his finger.  I know that is a nasty habit, but boys will be boys.  Plus, I don’t think a 3 year old boy knew any better.  But, his Momma up and ran out screaming and Frankie hasn’t heard from her since.  She tried to correct him from teaching her boy to pull his finger, fart, then laugh.  When Patsy tried to correct him, he told her to “drop it”.  It was all too much for a gentle woman.  Well…now I’m raising Junior while his Daddy works and Junior’s habits are getting worst.”

“I told Greg about my concerns for Frankie and Junior, but Greg told me to drop it like a bad habit…  That’s his latest metaphor.  Lord save me from metaphors…”

“Sorry…I know I keep going back to the “drop it” thing, but it does factor in here.  I’m getting to it…” 

“Last week, Greg asked me to go with him for target practice.  I was already aggravated with him over his new bad habit.  Now that he is retired, he stays up all night and sleeps all day.  I try to keep Junior quiet in the daytime because the damn old fool wouldn’t go to bed like he is supposed to.  I said as much to him and he said “Lois, drop it like a bad habit”!  My vision went all red and the rest is pretty much a blur.  I never intended to shoot him, your honor.”


Saturday, April 3, 2010



Sorry to say...I am in a really foul mood.  Yes...happy-go-lucky me is royally ticked off.  Why?  Something happened today during the House Session of Florida Legislature that was outrageous...IMHO... 

We didn't look stupid enough after the national elections 9 years ago.  If you need a reminder...simply think "hanging chads"...  Now our politicians are at a whole new level of stupid.  What happened?  Heh...  You're not going to believe this...

House Bill 5701 is written to bring the health insurance subsidy to an end for Florida State retirees by the end of the year.  It's not much ~ $5 per year of service up to 30 years, paid monthly to "off set" some of the expense of our health insurance cost.  While employed, the state picked up a major portion of our premium.  Once retired, the retiree pays the whole premium with no state contribution.  For my husband and I, our cost is nearly $1000 monthly.  Next month our cost increases by another (almost) $50 per month.  Then we will be paying more than $1000 a month.  The health insurance subsidy (HIS) has a cap of $150 per month.  I receive the whole $150, but my husband's HIS is only $87.50 because he became disabled at 17.5 years of service.   The HIS is included in our monthly retirement payment.  This means that our spendable dollars will be decreased by $287 per month soon.  So...we had a vested interest in whether this bill would pass or not.  My husband and I watched our televised house session today.  Here's what happened:

HB 5701 came up for vote.  It was defeated 59 to 57.  It was a squeak, but enough to be a failed bill.  My husband and I began to breathe again and thank God for His mercies.  Immediately after the vote, the house representatives took a break that seemed to be only 15 to 20 minutes.  When they resumed, there was a motion to put HB 5701 back on the table.  The motion passed, then the debate (over in mere seconds it seemed), then they voted again.  The bill passed on the "do-over"  (Well....what would YOU call it?) by 63 Yay's and 56 Nay's.  So...during their break, they managed to get 3 people to change their votes and rounded up 3 more who didn't vote the first time.  The whole thing smacks of impropriety.  Whether anything was improper or not is immaterial because the appearance of impropriety shouts louder than words...

My husband and I sat in our livingroom - stunned into silence!  I am outraged!!!  Immediately, a House Representative stood up and announced that he was embarrassed for the process he just witnessed.  He said that what just happened tells the world that if they vote and don't like the results, all they have to do is a "do-over" to get the results they want.  I am sickened at witnessing such a process. 

If the bill had passed upon the first vote, I certainly would have been sad and upset, but I would have accepted it.  But to "do-over" after the bill was defeated was just WRONG.  So...I will not be quiet...  Immediately and while angry (NO I'm not sorry), I sent the following letter to our Governor:
Dear Governor Christ,
I am outraged at what I witnessed today.  Is that how we do business in Tallahassee?   I am referring to the "do-over" that I saw happen with HB 5701 this afternoon.

Do you know how this looks to the citizens of this state?  Well...the ones of us who were watching.  I will do my best to get the news out far and wide...that if our representatives don't like the results of a vote, they can take a break, grease some palms and vote again.....what???  Like 20 minutes later???  It didn't happen that way?  Well...appearances speak louder than words.

How does this affect me?  My husband was injured at work for DMS and became disabled.  His disability retirement isn't much.  After the $24.94 health insurance increase (FOR RETIREES ONLY...I see the state has once again absorbed the cost so that employee rates are not increased...Is your insurance still free?  Yours and all the SES, SMS and all the others with free insurance...) But, I digress...  My husband's health insurance subsidy is $87.50 a month.  Let's see what that is going to do to his already ridiculous retirement check...  $266.05 less health insurance increase of $24.94 and loss of HIS of $87.50.  That leaves a payment of $153.61 deposit to our checking account per month.  Can you live on that?  Well, neither can we.  I am also retired state employee after 36 years of service to the State of Florida.  My HIS is $150. ~ add the $24.94 increase in my individual health insurance premium and we can see that my retirement check is down $174.94 as well, for a total decrease in household income of $287.38.  Can you afford a monthly decrease of $287.38 per month?  Probably.  But, what about that retiree who has already been retired for 10-15 years.  Inflation has, no doubt, surpassed their income.  The COL increase does NOT keep up with inflation for neither state employee nor retiree.  But, at least a young adult can withstand the physical demands of picking up additional hours or a second many of us did in our youth...if needed.  Have you noticed the increase of white-haired workers in ground level bagging groceries in Publix or Wal-Mart greeter?  Do you think that was their retirement dream?  Or do all you insensitive politicians not care what happens to our elderly? 

Well...after 36 years in state employment in administrative positions, I understand how things work, so I know it is unlikely that YOU, Charlie Crist, are reading this email.  No doubt some OPS office aide will send me one of the canned responses.  Or, maybe your office will kick it down to DMS to "handle".  Whatever....I want my voice to be heard, so I will be sharing this email with everyone I can think of...  Just so that other people can see how much government REALLY CARES.

I gave 36 of the best years of my life to the State of Florida.  Is this the thanks I get?  My husband and I paid $11,573. for our health insurance in 2009.  The annual cost for family coverage for a current employee is $2160.  The state pays $12,049.68 annually per state employee who carries family insurance.  Yet, you will remove a small health care subsidy with a maximum ANNUAL cost of $1800. per retiree and less for many who retired with less than 30 years of service.  My husband's HIS is $1050. per year.  Not much to you, but is a lot for a retiree on fixed income.  How is that a fair way to treat a retiree?  Well...I'd just like to remind you that you will be a retiree some day and I wish you long, healthy that you can see just how quickly the economy catches up and surpasses your retirement income.  Also, I want you to live long enough to see how much appreciation the State of Florida will show you for also giving the best years of your life. 

One thing I need to get off my chest...   Republicans always want to spout that they are Christians, yet your party violates a basic Christian responsibility to care for the less fortunate and the elderly.  They want the churches to do it.  So, if your party doesn't want to ACT like a  Christian should, then DON'T TELL ME YOU ARE CHRISTIAN.   (This is directed at your party…not you personally)  If they want separation of church and state, then don't even mention your religious affiliations and keep the Republican Christian Coalition out of the churches.  I saw through them years ago and so do a lot of other people.  We the People Aren't Stupid.  Just sayin...

And another thing....  I am fed up and disgusted with the political division that I see.  If you ask me, which you didn't, but I'll say so anyway....the Republicans are more interested in the unity of your party than the citizens of this great land.  Assuming a proclaimed Christian has actually read his Bible, I would remind you that a house divided will fall.  You all don't work together....  You work for your political parties...  The Bible contains much more regarding the support of our leaders.  I don't see it happening.  And it is evident that your party is NOT working for the overall good of the citizens of this state or our nation.  The Republican stonewall is not invisible...  The lack of cooperation with the current administration is damaging our whole nation.  Can your party not see that?

I'm pretty sure I just wasted a lot of time writing to you and I'm going to waste more as this email grows legs and find its way to many places.  I'm pretty sure someone somewhere might be interested in seeing the political shenanigans in the State of Florida ...  As if we weren't already embarrassed enough 9 years ago with the election fiasco.  Let us just keep on being stupid for all to see...

So....  Have a nice day!

Darlene Cirinna
Retired State Employee

This is completely out of character for me to post a political blog.  I hope I never get so angry that I EVER do it again!