Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Let's Go, Boy!

His face is a map of creases, rosy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. His salt and pepper hair is nearly all salt now. His voice booms and his laugh is quick. He likes to hunt turkeys, drink beer and sing Rod Stewart's Maggie Mae. "Wake up Maggie I think I got somethin' to say to you!" He is retired and lives in an enchanted land in central Pennsylvania called Sugar Valley with my mother-in-law. All trees and birds and land and sky. The cleanest air you ever welcomed into your lungs. Technically he's my step-father-in-law. I just call him George and he's one of the best people I've ever met.

For instance:
During Fourth of July celebrations in Sugar Valley Mom-In-Law asked my dear friend SickSadWorld if she'd like some wine. As SickSadWorld isn't and never has been one to refuse an alcoholic beverage she readily agreed.
"George, get SickSadWorld some wine!" Mom-In-Law shouted.
"Comin' right up!" Seconds later he was clutching a Franzia box. He released the lever and golden white wine filled her glass.
"Ain't cold yet." George observed.
"That's okay." SSW replied.
"Wait, I got just the thing." He returned with a handful of ice which he dumped into her wine glass.
"Geoooorge!" Mom-In-Law shrieked in embarrassment. "You don't put your hands all over the ice and put it in her glass!"
"Her wine was warm!" George said as he proceeded to stick his index finger in SickSad's glass and gave the ice a little swirl. For good measure, of course.
"GEEEEORGE! OH MY GAWD!" Mom-In-Law nearly keeled over in her chair.
I observed my girl SickSadWorld as she bemusedly watched George swirl his fingers in her glass. She shrugged. "Eh. I don't mind." She took a big gulp of wine and pronounced it tasty.

Another time I declared that I had a thirst for cider.
"Cider? I got cider!" George announced at the dinner table. He jumped up and poured me a glass of cider. "That'll make you shit tomorrow!" He boomed heartily as he handed me the glass.
"GEEEORGE! Not at the dinner table." Mom-In-Law, again horrified. I often lament the fact that I haven't tape recorded one of their conversations. Mom-In-Law and George. Would make for better listening than the George Burns and Gracie Allen show.. or Lucy and Ricky.. or for you youngsters - it'd be better than Nick and Jessica arguing on Newlyweds. But that's George for you. Cares nothing for propriety and silly social rules. He's all heart.

About a year ago George and Mom-In-Law lost their beloved yellow lab Morgan. Morgan was old and aching. The ol' boy couldn't make it up the stairs anymore. Every night George would carry the 90 pound dog upstairs so he could sleep near their bed. Finally, the vet told them it was time. And so they put Morgan out of his misery. The only time I ever saw George cry? When he opened the Christmas gift The Surge and I gave him. A framed photograph of him and his old pal Morgan.

Recently, George and Mom-In-Law adopted a three-year-old yellow lab named Pete. Pete is a troubled young dog. Was abused and neglected at the home he came from. But George and Mom-In-Law have worked hard to fill Pete's life with love and dog treats. Now, George and Pete have forged a relationship. From a growling, shivering, suspicious dog, Pete has transformed into George's best friend and constant companion. This video is for my family in Sugar Valley... George, Mom-In-Law and Max's cousin Pete.

Reader Comments (15)

George isn't totally retired.

He runs Amish folk around. Makes decent coin. Buys himself more dog treats and beer. Likes to pass out out in that chair. Loves his wife. Pretty good singing voice, 'specially after 4 or 5 beers. Usually regales anyone with a story or his take on current events.

One of the most truly decent people I know.

That video was beautifully done.

Gotta' go rake leaves, now. Dogs LOVE leaf piles. I find dog-shit in the strangest places.
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCountry Joe
I liked George from the first few sentences I read of the post! You had me at Rod Stewart, then for him to be singing Maggie Mae, I love that man, great taste in music! That is a great post! What a tribute!
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Beautifully done! I really enjoy the variety on your blog. Writing, movies and photography. I've been looking through and am amazed at your talent.
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAL
I enjoyed this post, Monica. Reminds me of some people I know. Thanks.
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKarenH
In addition to enjoying your post, I just watched the video and it was wonderful. Thank your for helping me think happy thoughts during a stressful time in my life.
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKarenH
Just watching that video is relaxing. Thanks for the smile and good feelings.
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
That's a great tribute video; makes me pine for rural Pennsylvania again. I recently lost a very dear pet who was my husband's pet for nearly 15 years, and was with him in the hospice when he passed away. They were inseparable, and then the cat and I were inseparable. The loss has been tremendous.

I'm not ready for another pet yet, but when that time comes I'll be sure to adopt from a shelter.
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGail
Dogs are the best. Great music too!
November 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJibs
awww! what a couple of good looking fellas!
November 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersfh
beautiful! :)
November 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterana
Hi Monica! You might notice the last name is a familiar one. I am George's daugter in law Missy. I am sure Marian has talked about us and you have seen pictures. I have to tell you - I love your website. Great writing - you are very talented. This story and video were really great!

Anyhow, just wanted to say hi and can't wait to hear you one of these days!

Take care!
November 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Koch
OOPS! I meant meet you!

November 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Koch
Hi Missy! It's very nice to meet you, virtually anyway. And of course I've seen pictures of you all. I'm glad you like the video.. George is definitely one-of-a-kind. I look forward to meeting you as well!


November 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko
This video triggered a 100 percent improvement in my mood, and I was already in a pretty good one. You're crazy talented. You even have an excellent ear for music. This fellow new yorker thanks for sharing the homage.
November 15, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterangela
Love the blog, love the video! Your talent is an inspiration. But technically, I believe Pete is Max's uncle, not his cousin.
November 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGlinda the Good Witch

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