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Point Break of the Speed Matrix

Keanu is my Mac. He helps me reach you, Interwebs.

Tag Archives: Family

Meet Sunny.

The SPCA of Northern Virginia has a great “Guardian Angel” program.  You can sponsor an animal up for adoption for $10 a month.  This money makes sure that they get all their food and medical needs met while they wait for the perfect home. 

This is Sunny and as of today she’s my little “pet” project.  For the next three months.   I will get pictures and updates on Sunny from the shelter in turn for my sponsorship. 

Today is my dad’s 79th birthday and growing up in Ireland he had two dogs that were very dear to him.  His father’s hunting partner, Smuttyface, a  greyhound that met an untimely demise.  And my dad’s own loyal companion in the fields, Rex The Protector!

I have happy memories from childhood of my dad sitting on the edge of my bed telling the great story of how Rex chased the fox out of the hen house and saved the family from starvation!

My father is a quiet man but a great story teller for those close to him.  I made a nightly request of the story for bedtime.  It goes something likes this:

 “It was a dark and wintery night and the wind was HOWLING  ’round the house.  [he attempts to whistle like the wind]  There Seamus and I are tucked in our beds… [he tucks me in and stops with jolt] WHEN I HEAR A NOISE!  I whisper to Seamus, “There’s a fox in the hen house!”  [stops to make the same face Seamus had upon hearing the news] And Seamus turns to me, “Call Rex!”  So I let out a call to REX!  Seamus and I run to the window!  [points to the window above my bed]  We don’t see him at first but we hear him coming!  BA-DA-BOOMP BA-DA-BOOMP BA-DA-BOOMP!  ‘There he is Jack! ‘Seamus says.  AND HE COMES GALLOPING PAST OUR WINDOW AND STRAIGHT INTO THE HEN HOUSE!!!   And then they’re out!  And Rex is chasing that sly fox UP and DOWN the fields as far as Seamus and I can see…

Seamus and I run down to the kitchen and already there is Rex with his tail wagging.  ‘ATTA BOY, REX!,’ we shout.  And Rex gets his bone.  The end.  Time for B-E-D, Tara.  Say your prayers.”

It wasn’t until I was in college that I thought to ask what kind of dog Rex was.  And not having told the story in a long time my dad quickly and honestly replied, “A cocker spaniel.”


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Where me ma and da are from:


My fave Saw Doctors song:

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Growing up there were few times all of my immediate family could be found in the kitchen howling with laughter.   My siblings are a lot older than me and were always in and out of the house.  My parents being foreign and religious do not always share the same sense of humour as their children.   And then again I am just a big weirdo that didn’t share the same sense of humor with anyone else.  I can remember one time I sent the family into hysterics because when I was around 6 years old I left the dinner table, rummaged through some bathroom drawers and came back into the kitchen with a maxi-pad stuck to my forehead. 

The other thing that made us laugh was Frank Kelly’s “Irish 12 Days of Christmas”.  Every year my mom would tune into the Fordham radio station coming from the Bronx (where there is a large Irish community) and we would sit around the kitchen table peeling carrots and, yes, potatoes while this was playing in the background.  It is my favorite Christmas memory.

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It seems that not only have I inherited my paternal-grandmother’s sturdy farm girl constitution but also her sixth sense.  Yes, my late grandma, Nan, was a psychic.   If we were Gypsies she may have used a crystal ball, but we’re Irish so her medium was tea.   According to my parents she would sit at the kitchen table and read tea leaves from everyone’s cup after dinner.
The science of reading tea leaves.

The science of reading tea leaves.

I think most of the people she read leaves for on the regular  still live in Europe and think the “internet” is related to fishing (including my father), so I have zero chances of verifying any of her predictions.  However, past and recent personal phenomena lead me to believe that her talents were not simply parlor tricks for a household with no television or radio but rather on the REALZ  “Dead Zone” shiz.  

Let me explain.  I know she wasn’t left clairvoyant after a horrific car wreck like Christopher Walken was in the movie but she did give birth naturally to fifteen children in her marital bed with no meds.  Personally, I am not sure how I would separate these two facts by trauma standards.

Since Clay Aiken had the courage to “come out” today and shock the world by exposing his heavily-veiled-not-really-taboo-anymore-except-to-people-who-live-in-states-that-sell-things-like-fried-pickles-sexual-preference, I find myself inspired.   I shall take my cue from that fabulous bastard and stand equally naked and unafraid in claiming my birthright.  Friends, family, internet pervs….I am a food psychic. 

I see salmon pinwheels.

I see salmon pinwheels.

It’s true.  I suppose, like with any dark gift, I’ve always been aware of its presence within me.  But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when my tastebuds vested and I matured into a complete and total New York City food snob, that the “episodes” began to occur more frequently and with great resonance.

It always starts with a yen. I’ll feel a bit peckish. Then I’ll find myself verbalizing or thinking of the perfect food that would satiate me.  From that point on it’s a weird cosmic adventure and somehow the universe finds its way to let me know that I have chosen wisely thereby reaffirming the fact that I am a TOTAL food psychic. 

A “for instance” would be the time I was in Whole Foods and I was passing by the smoked salmon fridge.  I had just returned from London where my cousins prepared a lavish birthday dinner for me complete with salmon pinwheel starters.  J’adore salmon pinwheels.

 I glanced at the overpriced seafood wares Whole Foods was peddling and sure enough there were pre-made salmon pinwheels for me to purchase, take home and enjoy.  OK, wanting a food item and finding it in a supermarket is not that paranormal.  However, later that evening after enjoying several of those salty delights I turned to my then current read…eh, this is a little embarassing…I was still enjoying all things British after my trip…and it was playing on TBS all the time so I finally picked up…Bridget Jones’ Diary.  Fine.  Whatever.  Moving on.  I returned to the chapter where I left off and there in my sights is her sad little calorie list detailing regrettable indulgences such as….SALMON PINWHEELS.  Como se dice “Haley Joel Osment”, people? 

Are you still sitting?  Are you ok?  I’m ok, but I just had to step away from Keanu.  I get a chill every time I retell this story…which is A LOT.  Yes, that’s when I first fully acknowledged my dark gift.  I spent the rest of the night trying to lift heavy things in my apartment because I was convinced I was a superhero.

I took the day off from work and went to Union Station trying to listen to the thoughts of weary travelers. Nothing.  I hung out in dog parks attempting to read the thoughts of our canine brethren.  Nada.  It turns out it’s all just food related and can benefit no one in any way shape or form.

Flash forward to this past Monday.  Gordon Lightfoot is telling me about “Bagelfuls”.  They are these really disgusting frozen bagels made by Kraft with cream cheese stuffed in inside them.  Being a food snob and a New Yorker, I am aghast.  I almost don’t believe Gordon.  But we laugh and joke about the fact that Gordon’s 88 year old grandma loves those little suckers and I continue to chuckle about old farts eating bad things all the way home.

While catching up on serious news after my Western adventure I decide to take a peak at The Onion.  I haven’t read it online for quite some time but I was DRAWN to it that night.  Get ready.  Here’s what’s staring me in the face…

I’ll expect a visit from Mulder and Scully any minute now.  If I go missing please call your senators and tell them about me.  I am probably stuck in a bunker in Nevada.  Don’t trust the Smoking Man.  I love you. Good bye.

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My parents were in town this weekend and I took them out to Middleburg, VA for some antiquing.  Yeah, it’s a verb.  Middleburg was founded in 1787 and therefore has lots of “quaint” shops filled with things that no one will ever need in order to lead a complete and fruitful life.  But I’ll be damned if a $45 hand-painted sign made of cork for my linen closet that reads “Prive” isn’t going to make everything ok.  Did I keep the economy going while in Middleburg?  Let’s just say, Tara: 1, terrorists: 0.  

As we were walking down the main street past the local pet shop for pampered pooches, I noticed this sign out front.  

The universe is funny sometimes.  It was an odd coincidence to have my dad with me in Middleburg on the same day there was a meet and greet for rescued greyhounds.

Smuttyface, was a large tan greyhound rescued by my grandfather from the racetrack along with Sally, Smutty’s wife.  It was common practice for farmers in Ireland to buy greyhounds off the track and use them as working dogs, for rabbit hunting in particular.  Like most greyhounds, Smutty, was hard working, loyal and extremely sweet. Rescued from a caged and abused life on the track, Smutty and Sally enjoyed the rest of their days running in the fields, hunting rabbits and getting belly rubs from my dad.  Smutty’s story, like any good Irish tale of love and friendship has a tragic and ironic bitter end.  

Smutty possessed the same great speed but not the same agility of the rabbits he chased.  While in hot pursuit of one particularly wily rabbit along a cliffside, Smutty’s swiftness got the best of him and as he fast approached the edge at full track speed the rabbit made a hard right and Smutty just kept goin’…like Thelma & Louise…too fast to slow down.

My father was heartbroken but comforted by that fact that Smutty died doing what he loved and is probably playing a harp on a cloud in doggie Valhalla with the rest of his kind…the brave, the loyal and the way too fast.

When I was little my dad would put me to bed with stories of Smuttyface, Sally, and his other dog Rex (that’s another story). These are memories that are special to me and I knew I would be making another with him that afternoon in Middleburg.

My dad (arm on right) telling the greyhound advocate about how winners of the dog races in Ireland were determined by which one made the hare turn first...before the dawn of the mechanical hare.
My dad (arm on right) telling the greyhound advocate about how winners of the dog races in Ireland were determined by which one made the hare turn first…before the dawn of the mechanical hare.


I think my dad still hold’s some bitterness toward the rabbit that got away and unjustly took Smutty from him.  He was explaining to me that you have to be careful when handling a hare because they’ll bite you and a rabbit won’t.  I said, “Really?”  My father said with a steely look, “Yes, a hare will fight for its life. Rabbits are cowards.”

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Taken at National Air & Space Museum on Labor Day '08

Taken at National Air & Space Museum on Labor Day

I took this pic to share with my dad.  He was 9 years old when WW II broke out.  Like most septuagenarians he is a big WW II history buff.  And like many off-the-boat Irish, he became a New York City police officer after serving two years in the U.S. Army.  It is no coincidence that I majored in History with a focus on WW II studies and minored in Sociology with a focus on Criminology.  When your father is 48 years older than you and from another country you have to find things to talk about other than the deliciousness of my mother’s stew.

At the Air & Space Museum I was looking at these pieces of memorabilia and noticed the word “shamrock” above a fetching photo of a bathing beauty.  I immediately thought of my dad and knew what he would have said.  “Oh look, something Irish!”

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