fashion, good news, rants, social media

Energy surges… my body is finally kicking the crap out of the virus.

I think I’m starting to feel somewhat better now. I can tell, because when I start getting over a sickness, I get a surge of energy, and I start getting annoyed by little chores that need to be completed. Yesterday, the weather was cooler, so I took the dogs on a much needed walk. I ended up walking longer than I had planned, because there was a lady sweeping the narrow pathway where we usually go when I’m feeling lazy or sick. I didn’t want to get in her way or have to maneuver past her. When we got back to the house, I had every intention of vacuuming, because I always do that on Thursdays. But I was, all of a sudden, so tired that I hosed off the sweat in the shower and laid down on my bed. Before I knew it, I was sound asleep for two solid hours, complete with vivid dreams about a woman from my childhood to whom I haven’t spoken since the early 80s.

I went downstairs after my nap, noting that it was mid afternoon, and I just really didn’t feel like vacuuming. The vacuum remained in the closet, and I pulled a notice taped to my front door, letting me know that the chimney sweep is coming. In Germany, it’s a law that chimney sweeps have to inspect every year, even in homes that don’t have fireplaces. In our old house, we didn’t have a fireplace, but we did have a visit from the chimney sweep every year– a pretty brunette lady who was quick and polite about her business. Former landlady would always show up to “supervise” her work (and be nosey). In this house, we do have a fireplace, but our current landlord doesn’t feel the need to bother us or “supervise”. So I have to wait for the chimney sweep. It’s a good thing we weren’t away, since we got very little notice. Hopefully, I won’t share germs with him.

Bill got home last night at about 8:00 pm. Arran was as delighted to see him as I was. We had a little dinner and beer, and went to bed. I got up a little later than usual, and Bill was making us breakfast. I started a load of laundry. Bill said he thought he’d try to come home early, and I remarked that I hoped he’d be home in time to deal with the chimney sweep. After he left for work, I went up to my trusty iMac and started thinking about what I wanted today’s topic to be. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming urge to vacuum, in spite of a coughing fit. I went to the kitchen, got the vacuum, plugged it in, and briefly considered getting the laundry. Then I realized that I’m so slack about vacuuming, that I could just vacuum and be done with that dreaded chore very quickly. It’s not even 9:30 am, and I’ve already done laundry, vacuumed, and written half a post. I think I still have the energy to walk the dogs, turn on the robot mower, and deal with the chimney sweep! So let’s hear it for strong immune systems! Maybe by tomorrow, I’ll be even closer to my old self. I might even try to weed whack a little.

I still don’t know if this was COVID or a cold. It felt mostly like a cold. I had something similar last month, only my nose ran a lot more, and I didn’t have a sore throat. If it was COVID, it wasn’t bad at all, as sicknesses go. I think that’s proof that vaccines work, even though I know I’ve read comments from people who have said they were unvaccinated and didn’t get really sick with the current COVID variant. Maybe the mild illness isn’t such a good thing, though. Maybe it gives people a false sense of security when COVID doesn’t bite very hard. Then, they get really sick with a different variant. I won’t pretend to know… What I do know is that nothing I’ve had so far as come even close to what I think was swine flu in 2013. That shit knocked me on my ass for a solid week, and I was coughing and fatigued for many weeks afterwards.

Having typed all of that, I now realize that if that was COVID, it was really contagious. I wasn’t in super close contact with anyone last week, except for when we went to the wine stand on Friday, and when we went to AAFES on Sunday, to pick up a few things. We did talk to one person who said her partner had been sick with COVID, but we weren’t that physically close to her. She was probably the source of the sickness, though.

I’m still plowing through my book about Roe v. Wade, marveling at how very comprehensive and well researched it is. Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe) was a very complicated woman, but there were so many other interesting and complex characters in the story of Roe v. Wade. I look forward to finishing the book so I can write about it. I think it will make for an interesting blog post, which will probably parent a few other blog posts. 😉 And while Roe v. Wade may have been a very flawed decision, I still believe, and continue to see strong evidence that overturning the ruling is going to have tragic and devastating consequences for a lot of people. I continue to be saddened by the terrible and ignorant comments people have about abortion. Are Americans really that uninformed about why abortions are necessary sometimes? Do so many people really think that the only people who have abortions are heartless, irresponsible, awful people who are loose and careless? Do people really believe that using pregnancy as a “punishment” is a good idea?

I am genuinely heartsick about it, even though that particular ruling won’t affect me. I did read a comment from a woman last night who wrote that she got pregnant at age 50. Fortunately, she had a miscarriage, because the prospect of being pregnant at 50 was “horrifying” for her. I read a comment from another woman, who at age 51, wrote that she was going to get her tubes tied. Obviously, this is a woman who hasn’t reached menopause yet, just as I haven’t. Some asshole MAN wrote, “I think you’re good, ‘Grandma’.” Seriously? What an inappropriate and tone deaf comment by an ignoramus. I hope no woman ever lets that guy get close to them. He shouldn’t be breeding!

Can I just say I’m so sick of those kinds of rude, dismissive, snarky comments from people? And I’m also sick of people who “react” to things they haven’t bothered to read, or in the case of videos, haven’t watched. Yesterday, I shared a video by this hilarious androgynous person named River. I think River is technically a male, but they present as female– or a princess, even. River often comments on the British Royal Family and fashion, and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are frequent topics. Yesterday, River made me laugh as they shared a pretty pink ring “Second Hand Suzy” purchased. River said that they didn’t have a pink ring… at least not one that one can wear on a finger! I thought that was hilarious and shared the video, which had a title that suggested it would be about throwing shade at Meghan Markle. River is actually quite kind and fair to Meghan, but I still got an “angry” reaction from a friend… who didn’t even bother to check out what she was reacting to. I know it happens constantly and almost everyone is occasionally guilty of doing it, but it’s still annoying. Why not just keep scrolling instead of making erroneous assumptions? Leaving angry reactions to friends, particularly when they aren’t really warranted, is kind of disrespectful.

The reason I shared this is at about 2:33, and my reason for sharing it has NOTHING to do with Meghan Markle.

I don’t like most of the Facebook reactions, anyway, because people use them inappropriately. On the other hand, there are times when I can feel satisfied leaving an angry reaction to someone’s rude comment rather than firing back at them. Sigh… social media is such a mixed bag, isn’t it? Remember the days when you had to communicate face to face or by letter? Seems like life was so much less complicated then. Someday, I hope someone will come up with a better version of social media. Or I’ll just simply stop caring about it.

Well… I suppose it’s time to wrap up this post and walk the dogs, so I’ll be ready when the chimney sweep gets here. I doubt Bill will be home early enough. He has to take the bus home from work, since he had to get a rental car for his overnight to Stuttgart. I need to take the dogs out for their walk… ride this wave of energy while it exists. Because, just as today’s featured photo suggests, sometimes energy surges are tragically fleeting. I’m just glad the vacuuming is done. I hate vacuuming. I need a riding vacuum.

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good news, history, lessons learned

My Peace Corps friend, Loretta…

Earlier this month, I took part in a Zoom meeting memorial my group of Armenia Returned Peace Corps Volunteers held for our former colleague, Matt Jensen, who was struck and killed by a speeding black Rolls Royce in Brooklyn, New York. During that meeting, I learned that another member of my group, Loretta Land, also died this year. She passed in January, having reached the age of 86 years.

I had recently been in touch with Loretta via Facebook, but she hadn’t been posting in awhile. I was afraid she might have stopped following me, as a lot of people tend to do when they don’t like my raunchy humor or outspoken posts about Trump. But, as it turned out, Loretta had simply moved on from this world. It wasn’t a total surprise, given her age, but I was a bit sad about the news.

I knew that Loretta had published a book about our time in Armenia. I decided to download it, and I’m now about halfway through it. It’s a pretty quick read, and if I’m honest, not the best edited or accurately fact-checked book I’ve ever read. And yet, I’m enjoying reading her book so much!

I always really admired Loretta, who was in her early 60s when she joined the Peace Corps. Loretta was about my dad’s age, and I think that had my dad not been married to my mom, he would have liked being in the Peace Corps himself. He was very excited when I told him I wanted to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, as my eldest sister, Betsy, had in Morocco during the mid 1980s.

For some reason, Loretta always made me think of my dad… the best parts of him, anyway. Dad and I had kind of a rocky relationship, but he had a very altruistic, adventurous, adrenaline seeking side of him that was fun. Loretta was like that too, as I’m discovering as I read her book, Yes, You Can! Have a Second Life After 60.

I remember when we arrived for staging in Washington, DC, Loretta was interviewed by a reporter for the Associated Press. A newspaper article later surfaced about Loretta’s decision to join the Peace Corps at her age. She was the oldest one in our group, but the subsequent groups I encountered also had older people serving.

Loretta served as a business volunteer, and lived on the outskirts of Yerevan, not too far from the very last metro stop heading east. I never visited Loretta, even though I also lived in Yerevan. Yerevan, in the 1990s, was like a really big village, but it’s also pretty vast, with over three million people living there. Her work was in a village about fifteen kilometers away from Yerevan called Zovk, while mine was at a Yerevan city school that, at least when I was there, served kids of all ages. Now, I believe my former school is what’s called a “basic school”, that doesn’t serve the youngest or oldest children. My students were all among the youngest and eldest at the school.

It’s been so much fun to read Loretta’s memories of our time in Armenia. There are some things in her book that I never knew about– a lot of it is about her specific work in Zovk, as well as Yerevan proper. She’s written some things that were common experiences that I don’t remember, like when our training group was asked to write letters to ourselves about what we thought our last day in Armenia would be like. I don’t remember doing that, but I’m sure we must have… because I remember the training director and his wife, and it’s exactly the kind of exercise they would have had us do. Unfortunately, someone lost the letters we turned in, although Loretta said she’d kept hers, but then decided to throw it away instead of reading it. She wrote that she was sorry she’d done that.

She’s also spilled some tea about some things that I knew nothing about… like, for instance, that a couple of Volunteers traded their kerosene for a car and a driver (which they were not supposed to do). She doesn’t mention their names, but she does mention the area where they lived… and I have a feeling I know who they are. But at least they got something truly valuable for the kerosene. I remember one lady who lived with a host family came home to find that the family had traded her kerosene for 200 kilos of potatoes!

I got a kick of reading her mentions of people we knew from our group, or people in the very small and close-knit American diaspora that existed in Armenia in the 1990s. So far, she hasn’t mentioned me. I don’t expect she will, despite my unforgettable charm. 😉 But I have seen some names of our colleagues, as well as Peace Corps staff and other Americans in the community during that time. I had forgotten just how challenging and difficult life in Armenia could be back in the 90s. Reading Loretta’s account makes me proud that I managed to survive that tough existence, even if I wasn’t as amazing and effective as a Peace Corps Volunteer as she was.

Loretta’s book is reminding me of the traditions and customs in Armenia, as well as the very warm and hospitable nature of its people. I got pretty bitter and depressed during my time there, and I think I lost sight of what an amazing opportunity it was to get to experience life in what had been the Soviet Union, just after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. When I think about it, it just blows me away that I joined the Peace Corps. It was not something I had really aspired to do until I felt the itch to do something drastic to change my life. My life didn’t change in the way that I thought it would, but it did change. If not for my time in Armenia, I’m not sure I’d be living in Germany, for instance.

I find myself oddly gratified, too, to read that, like me, Loretta experienced depression while she was in the Peace Corps. I remember, back in those days, feeling like such a loser. I felt like I couldn’t accomplish anything. By the end of my second year, I had actually done some good things, but they felt insignificant. It wasn’t until later that I realized I’d been suffering from depression, which is a medical problem. It wasn’t until many years after I had been treated for the medical problem that I realized that, in fact, I had done some things that made a lasting and good impression. One of my former students now works for Peace Corps/Armenia. I had nothing to do with him landing that job, but I do realize that at least his experiences with me didn’t turn him off of Americans. 😉 And yes, he still remembered me many years later, and now we’re friends on Facebook.

I expect to be finished reading Loretta’s book very soon, and then I will write a proper review, which I will post on this blog, and probably the travel blog, too. But for now, I just want to post that I’m glad I bought the book and am now reading it. I wish I had read it when Loretta was still alive and I could talk to her about it. She was an amazing lady and I am so honored that I got to meet her. Honestly, I met so many incredible people thanks to my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. It truly changed my life in so many wonderful ways… even if it didn’t always seem like it at the time.

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Germany, good news, money, musings

When landlords are honest…

A few days ago, our landlord/neighbor rang the doorbell. He had papers with him and asked to speak with Bill. I told him that Bill was out of town, but would be home on Friday. The landlord looked perturbed, which worried me a bit. He said he needed to settle our “Nebenkosten” bill. That’s supposed to be done every year, but he never got around to doing it last year, so we had two years worth of bills to settle. Based on his demeanor, I thought maybe we owed him money.

Even though it’s been two years since we moved here, we’re still quite traumatized by our former landlady, whom we ended up suing over our security deposit. The last year we spent in our former house was, in many ways, very stressful. In other ways it was less stressful, mainly because she became passive aggressive and mostly quit speaking to us.

In fairness, our current landlord is nothing like our former landlady was. He very rarely bothers us and doesn’t complain to us about how we live our lives. He respects our privacy, treats us like adults, and is a good neighbor. And although we spend a lot of money to live in his house, it’s a beautiful house that has everything we need. So we’re happy here, although I will admit to missing the views from our old town and some of the people we got to know there. I especially miss nearby Nagold, which is a really cute town. It was just a few kilometers from where we lived. If we ever move back to the Stuttgart area, I would look for a house in Nagold.

I told Bill that the landlord needed to speak to him, so we weren’t surprised when he rang the doorbell last night. Bill stepped outside to talk to him. I braced myself, because I figured he would be presenting us with a bill for overconsumption or something. Our former landlady had started off being nice, but most of her visits included unsolicited advice, complaints, judgments, or other indications that she wasn’t pleased about something we were doing or not doing. Gradually, she became ever more hostile, resentful, and rude, even though Bill was never anything but pleasant and businesslike to her. He never, for example, screamed at her or made false accusations about her. She, on the other hand, yelled at me more than once and falsely accused us of things.

Even though our current landlord is nothing like our former landlady, the trauma lingers… same way it lingers in Noyzi, who knows Bill is a good guy, but is still terrified of him. And so, even though our landlord is a good man and has never been anything but businesslike, I still kind of dread his visits and assume the worst is about to happen. I wait for the shoe to drop, so to speak.

Bill came back into the house, shaking his head. He said, “Unbelievable…” as he set down a stack of papers.

“That bad?” I asked, expecting that we were about to shell out some euros.

“Well, it turns out that there’s a discrepancy of about 1200 euros.” Bill said. “But he owes us 1200 euros. We’ve been overpaying the whole time we’ve been here. He apologized profusely for not settling the Rechnung last year. I think he thought we knew we were overpaying. And he wanted to know if we wanted cash or to take it out of next month’s rent. He even offered to show me his bills to prove that we overpaid.” Bill’s face still registered pleasant shock.

“Wow!” I said, remembering that Bill had to email our former landlady to get her to send us 20 percent of our deposit that she deemed we were due. And when Bill questioned her charges, some of which were legitimately illegal and out of statute, she became downright recalcitrant. Meanwhile, I learned that the tenant before us was monitoring me and, evidently, sharing with the ex landlady. My guess is that they had a good time gossiping about us while trying to determine the best way to fuck us out of our money. At the same time, former tenant was very zealous about guarding her privacy, even as she was happily invading mine.

I noticed that the money our former landlady did begrudgingly refund to us was about what she had received in an insurance settlement she got after an old awning collapsed on a windy day. We had filed a claim for her, but because the awning was seventeen years old, it was valued at being worth about just under 600 euros, and part of that money went to pay the technician who looked at it and determined it couldn’t be fixed. Ex landlady ended up with around 300 euros, which she said wasn’t enough to buy a new awning. I have never known insurance to pay the entire cost of replacing something. Ex landlady is older than I am by 20 years, but somehow she missed the memo that insurance is mostly designed to defray costs, not completely cover them.

Ex landlady tried a lot of tactics to get us to let her take our money. She started by trying to get us to pity her, citing how much money she had to spend to spruce up the house after we left. She even sent us a bill for having the top of her carport washed, even though that wasn’t our responsibility. She wasn’t asking us to pay it; she was trying to show us that she had spent a lot of money cleaning off the carport and we should have mercy on her and let her steal our deposit.

When the pity approach didn’t work, she tried shame. She accused us of trashing her house, being filthy, and being negligent. She claimed we were being “unfair” to her, asking her to prove that we were guilty of damaging her house and verifying the expenses she claimed. She said we were the worst tenants she’d ever had, although she didn’t seem to mind that we lived in her house for four years and was visibly relieved when I told her halfway through our time there that we had decided to stay in Germany rather than move to Italy for another job.

Then she became outrageous. She accused us of dumping an “American” refrigerator in her kitchen and stealing her “nice” one. There was a dorm sized fridge in the kitchen when we moved in. We did not buy it. We assumed it was her fridge. It didn’t work very well, but even if it had worked well, we never would have bought such a fridge for our own use. We’re Americans, and we like our appliances large, modern, and functional. Moreover, that fridge was plugged directly into the wall socket. If it was an American fridge, we would not have been able to plug it in directly. We have different voltage in America and different plugs. We did take a nice fridge when we moved, but it belonged to us, and I could prove it with receipts. We also took an old freezer, but it was one Bill bought from a departing co-worker. The old freezer no longer works, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it “nice”. I had taken a photo of the shitty European fridge on the day we moved in and posted it on Facebook, knowing that my friends would get a kick out of it. In the States, I have a full sized fridge that we use for drinks. I call it the “fridge of sin”. There’s no way we would have ever bought a puny fridge, even if it was just to dump it on the ex landlady. That’s ridiculous.

In response to our lawyer’s demand letter, ex landlady’s lawyer blustered about what shitty people we are and threatened a counter suit. He claimed she hadn’t charged us for everything, although many of the charges she listed were either out of statute or illegal. Almost none of them were provable, because she never did a Protokol when we moved in. She also never settled our Nebenkosten in the four years we lived in her house, which is against German law. Consequently, we could have demanded that she return all of the money we paid for our trash, water, and her irregularly performed lawn work. When she did the lawn work, it was done to a high standard. But she became increasingly lax about it, especially at the end of our tenancy.

Ex landlady somehow decided that she deserved 2800 euros for a brand new awning. She never told us how she arrived at that figure. She just expected us to give her the money. Since we didn’t agree with her, she decided to take it out of our deposit and evidently never thought we’d question it. But she had no right to do that. I suspect she never dreamed we would sue her. Bill is a kind, considerate man without a malicious bone in his body. She probably assumed she could take the money with little resistance from him. Strange that she would assume that about a man who has made his living in the business of planning war, even if he is even-tempered and seems meek. She never really took the time to get to know us, for all of her intrusiveness and judging of our lifestyle. That was a mistake on her part. I mean, really it’s probably better if landlords stick to business, but if you’re going to be nosy, controlling, and intrusive, you should probably try to actually understand the person you’re surveilling.

We spent our last precious weekend with our beloved Zane, the wonder beagle, answering her lawyer’s ridiculous claims and translating it into German. Zane had to be euthanized the following weekend because he had lymphoma. Instead of enjoying our last time with him, we had to deal with the ex landlady and her lies.

Allowing her to just take the money would just be encouraging her to continue to bilk her tenants. We felt we had a responsibility to hold her accountable. And frankly, she had driven us to the point at which we no longer cared about preserving any good will toward her. We had repeatedly tried to be patient and understanding toward her, but she simply went too far and we had to take action. Sometimes, you have to take a stand.

The process of suing the ex landlady wasn’t fun at all. It was expensive, aggravating, and it made us feel guilty. We didn’t want to do it. It would have been much better all around if she had simply been cooperative, respectful, and honest. I think she would have found that Bill is a very fair person. She certainly would have saved money, and she would not have ended up being reported to the housing office. It would have been good business. But instead, she decided to take a stand on quicksand, in spite of herself. She lost, but it wasn’t without a lot of pain and aggravation for us, and the process took a long time– probably longer because of the pandemic.

If we hadn’t sued, we would have had to live with the diminished self-respect that comes from letting someone blatantly screw us over. Both Bill and I have repeatedly done that in our lives, and it never leads to anything good. The person who screws us never learns not to, and we feel used and abused. This time, we decided it was time we fought back. And again, it was also for the people coming after us and having to deal with her. Maybe she’ll think twice about the way she handles her business. Or maybe she’ll decide to get out of the landlady business, once and for all. Personally, I think that would be the best end result. She shouldn’t be renting to anyone, in my opinion.

Despite coming out on top with our former landlady, we’re still traumatized and wary years later. And so, when our current landlord turned out to be honest and forthright, it was a shock. A pleasant shock, to be sure– but still it was a shock. We were still smiling about it this morning. And the end result is that we would recommend our landlord to other people, which ultimately is good for his business. He won’t end up being blacklisted by the local military community, and that will likely translate to more money for him. It’s a shame that our ex landlady wasn’t able to realize that cooperation is the better way to go, rather than being stubborn, accusatory, retaliatory, and insulting.

My faith is restored in humanity. It’s like the universe is now showing us that we were right to do what we did… and that we were victims of gaslighting, among other things. I hope we can stay here for awhile longer. I like to reward good people when I can. Either way, I don’t think we’re going to have to sue this landlord, and thank heaven for that.

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good news, nostalgia

Some good news…

My cousin writes that yesterday, my Uncle Brownlee got another try at the swallow test and did well enough that the staff brought him dinner. He was able to swallow some pureed food and drink tea from a straw.

Hopefully, he will be taken to his home tomorrow, which I know will make him feel a lot better. He’ll still be on hospice, but he no longer appears to be knocking at the pearly gates. Looks like he’s going to make it to his next birthday after all. He will be turning 78 next Friday, the day after I turn 47. Like me, Brownlee is a musical person. I have many memories of being accompanied by him playing his organ and listening to him play with his band, The Flames. He really is talented… plays entirely by ear. Passed on his musical genes to his son, Justin, who is a professional musician in Nashville.

I got bored yesterday at about 4:30pm, so I asked my friends to give me a song to sing. One person asked me to do “Walking on Sunshine” or “My Favorite Things”. To be honest, I never really liked the infectious pop ditty “Walking on Sunshine”. Even when it was a hit in the 1980s, it got on my nerves, probably because it was always on the radio. Then years later, it became a staple of commercials. I miss the days when jingle writers would come up with original song hooks rather than recycling pop songs like “Walking on Sunshine”. Much to my surprise, SingSnap only had one version of that song anyway, and it wasn’t a particularly good one.

I decided to try “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, instead. It turned out pretty decently, although I shared the first version. I probably could practice it and make it better, but time was getting short. I like to do my recording before Bill comes home. I was further inspired by Julie Andrews, so I gave a stab at the duet, “Something Good”, and even scored a couple of good male partners.

Speaking of jingles and pop ditties… yesterday, while I was watching old episodes of The Price is Right, I took notice of the jingles. There was one for Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza (blecch) that had a very distinctive male voice. I was suddenly jolted back to the 80s for a moment as I remembered that voice was on so many commercials back in the day.

Jake Holmes… sang this and wrote the lyrics to this jingle, as well as so many others back in the 80s!

In the course of finding out who was singing the jingles, I learned that Jake Holmes is also the real composer of the song “Dazed and Confused”, made famous by Led Zeppelin. For many years, they never gave him any credit; Jimmy Page was listed as the composer. Holmes finally sued years later, and now gets a nominal credit… “inspired by Jake Holmes”. Shitty! I lost a little respect for Led Zeppelin after reading that, especially when Holmes contacted the band and they rebuffed him.

No… this was NOT written by Jimmy Page!
Looks like he made a nice living singing jingles, though…

He also did that infamous Army “Be all you can be” jingle I referenced the other day. His voice reminds me a little bit of the late Glenn Frey’s. Just a little bit, mind you.

A classic!

I could probably sit here all day and listen to Jake Holmes’ jingles from the 80s. It seems like they don’t make ’em like this anymore, although I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I was last subjected to American television. In a different world, maybe I would have followed a similar path, like the late Ukrainian American singer, Kasey Cisyk. She was famous for this jingle.

What a voice! Hard to believe she made her career in jingles! And she was also the original singer of “You Light Up My Life”, which was made famous by Debby Boone. Kasey’s version was in the movie by the same name.
Lovely… and Didi Conn did a great job lip syncing it to make it look like she was singing it.

Well… it’s Thursday, which means it’s time to vacuum. I hate vacuuming more than any of the other chores I do, but at least when it’s over, that means the weekend is coming. Hopefully, my uncle will continue to improve and we can have him around for a bit longer. He truly is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve been thinking about him all week. When he does depart this life, it’ll probably hit me a lot harder than when I lost my own father.

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