Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking forward to good eats in 2011

The Cooking Channel and Food Network have nothing on the chefs in my family. Virtually all my family members have mastered must-have dishes for our get-together meals. And I have advanced to status Master Eater. I have been thrilled to discover that even with my taste buds altered by medication, I can savor all of my families' delights... YUMM!

My oldest daughter often prepares Shrimp Fettuccine or Chef's Salad with Chicken when I visit. Almost forgot to mention her BLT Salad.
...her son has mastered Mini Burgers.
...just thinking about her husband's grilled or smoker eats makes me salivate. And he is bar-tending wizard.

My son operates a mean grill.
... his wife is a Master Cake Baker and Decorator. Give her a picture of anything and she can duplicate it in batter and icing.
... their girls are chefs-in-training

My youngest daughter delights with Venison Roast and Stew and Oven-BBQ Ribs.
...her youngest daughter makes a Chocolate Chess Pie to die for.
...her oldest daughter whips up From-Scratch Brownies that make all boxed brands taste like chocolate-flavored cardboard.
...her oldest son bakes Mexican Wedding Cookies.
...her youngest son makes a mean Lasagna.

My baby brother puts just the right char on hamburgers and hot dogs whenever the weather allows firing up his grill. (Hmmm... I'm sensing a theme here... males with grills). He also makes the best Boy Scout Stew (also called Hobo Packets).
...his wife has always had to prepare BBQ beans whenever we eat together, and her dressing is a must at Thanksgiving. (She graciously gave me her recipe but, good as it is, it must be prepared by her hand to taste the best.) This year she has added the best biscuits to her menu. Not to mention that we will require her Coconut Pound Cake at all holiday gatherings in the future.
...his sister-in-law makes Pumpkin Pie and Deviled Eggs that barely make it into the house before they disappear.

Serendipity has continued to be active in my life this year, bringing me chance meetings and connections to people about whose whereabouts and conditions I have been wondering... not to mention parking spaces in front of or near to the entrances of places I've gone for various reasons.

My 2011 New Year's Hopes list remains the same as for this year. One of these days, I will learn to para diddle.

My favorite nephew and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary this past week. When they got married nineteen years ago, my niece-to-be asked me to provide the music for the wedding. I was so honored. I asked if she had anything special she would like me to play and she requested a song by an artist that I enjoyed too. I had already learned one of his piano solos and confidently practiced memorizing the one she had asked for. Did I mention that I still get stage-fright, even after 60 years(!) of performing in public? This may be a factor in her answer when I asked if she had enjoyed her song... she told me, "Yes," but that I had played the wrong one. If they decide to renew their vows sometime in the future, I'm not counting on being the musician of choice.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Savoring the little things

The holiday season is upon us, beginning with Thanksgiving next week. We've had some achingly beautiful Fall days in the past 2-3 weeks. The nights have been chill and during the days, we've gone from putting on our heavy jackets to taking off our sweaters. The colors of the surrounding fauna have been ablaze with red, orange, gold, yellow, brown, and green. Heavenly!

I am so enjoying this phase of my life. Retirement has given me the chance to do, or not do, anything I can afford to do. I have made new friends and discussed old ideas. I even found new things to think about and to do with my hands that allow me to (continue) being lazy but seem to be accomplishing something (the procrastinator's dream!). I've cut my carbon footprint by more than half... maybe by 3/4. Recently, my car insurance company requested the mileage on my speedometer and sent me a revised bill that is $38 less than I would have paid. I imagined the clerk thinking "This woman needs to get a life!" Little does she know. My life is fuller than it's ever been. My children have advanced to the age where they feel they can tell me what to do, and I get to see them when they feel up to it; most of my grandchildren like to spend some time with me. (I have told my children that I'm not old enough to have kids their age. Well, I don't feel old enough.)

With Thanksgiving coming next week, my mind has turned to considering the idea of gratitude and the benefits of being thankful. I've discovered that although I don't have a lot of things (i.e. gold bathroom fixtures, a private jet, Mercedes in my parking space), I have much to be grateful for daily. I've realized that, just for that moment, the gratitude replaces the pain. It doesn't take away the trouble but replaces it with a small imprint of warmth and joy. Everyone has something to be thankful for. I can stand on my own two feet unconfined to a wheelchair; I eat what I want to when I want to (if I can get it); I can breathe unassisted; I can fall asleep whenever and wherever I happen to be; I can go wherever I want to if I have gas in the car or money to buy it. See? It's easy to find things to be grateful for if I try. The reduction in my insurance payment? It will cover the $25 increase in my next month's rent. Are there things that I can't control? Sure there are, and I've finally realized that I'm responsible only for deciding how I'm going to deal with them. I've come to accept that the fate of humanity isn't my total responsibility. Phew! What a relief! Try a little gratitude. You'll be glad you did.

Speaking of angst, the News is full of it about the TSA requiring more thorough security imaging and pat-downs of airline passengers. Get over it! Accept the scrutiny or stay home... it's still your choice. Hmmmm... it's been awhile since I had a good pat-down. May just have to head out to the airport.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Who's at the wheel?

Back in the late '50s when Science Fiction was becoming very popular, one of the predictions for 2000 was that we would all be in the air, 'driving' our flying cars. Not yet on the horizon, but driver-free cars with auto-pilots doing all the work are being tested right and left. Cars that park themselves are already being touted for sale.

Right now, the main rule of road law is that the driver is to be in control of the car at all times. With the new self-parking cars available and the driver-free cars being developed, insurance coverage and changes in the laws will become necessary.

I can see it now: " It's not my fault, Officer. I was asleep in the back seat".

Friday, October 15, 2010

When it's good, it's good; when it's bad, it's merely irriting

When it's good....

Since my diagnosis, I have been surrounded by angels in scrubs and white lab coats. All of my care-givers have been wonderful. Saw my oncologist yesterday. He showed me the results of the blood test and pointed out the cancer markers he watches. They look good. I'm still Chronic! Treated myself to lunch at one of my three favorite oriental eateries. Why the celebration? Well.. the next phase is Terminal.

My youngest grandson has always wanted a guinea pig. He was able to get one... a pretty all-gray. Finally decided on a name: Harry Plopper. (He doesn't go for the mundane when naming his pets.) His mother's reaction... "groan." Now he just has to find a name for his hermit crab.

There are two streets I avoid during the day here in Richmond, if possible: Broad Street and Midlothian Turnpike. Between drivers who think the rules of the road are for everyone else and those who insist on driving 10 miles below the speed limit, I have to use stress-reduction tactics to keep my blood pressure down. I don't ask for much. I don't want them to speed... but could they please just go the limit? And, how about loosing the attitude and driving defensively?
There is one street the gives me respite... West Cary. Drivers maintain the speed limit (mostly) and are courteous to other drivers, allowing cars to enter from side streets when possible to do so without backing up traffic too much behind them; slowing down a bit and waving through drivers waiting to make a turn across the lane onto a side street. And a high majority of drivers benefiting from this courtesy wave a hand of 'thanks.' For me, driving on West Cary is a wonderful respite from driver idiocy and personal stress.

Another driving note: my second-oldest granddaughter has acquired her learner's permit. She drove me a couple of weeks ago and did well. Note to drivers described in paragraph above: pay attention to the road laws when she's on the street. You don't want to get on my List (just ask my kids).

Fall weather is finally here and it's wonderful. Drove in the rain yesterday... for just the second time in several months. Yes, I know it was dreary, but we need the rain so much in our area, and the sun did come out eventually.

When it's bad....

My youngest granddaughter fell off the monkey bars at school and broke her right arm (both long bones). Naturally, she is right-handed. She was brave and has acted the Trooper through it all, only being sad that she can use only her left hand to color and paint. I suggested she practice slowly with her left hand and she might become ambidextrous. We were on the phone but I know I felt an eye-roll at some point. X-rays show that things are proceeding well and she should get her cast soon. I don't know what color she has decided to ask for.

I don't really follow the news much anymore, but the Primaries are coming up soon. I did happen to hear that one of the candidates said that this is an election where the 'the voters might actually make a difference." ???? Was this an admission that results don't really have anything to do with what the voters say when they go to the polls. And 'they' wonder why it's so hard to 'get out the vote.'

A suggestion... Re-institute the Draft. For convicted paedophiles. Why should we keep sending our best people into harm's way when there is such a plethora of the worst ones available? And none of this 'three strikes you're out.' First conviction, send them to Afghanistan. Armed with slingshots.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A life well lived... a woman well loved

I attended the viewing yesterday evening of Cathy Bolton, a woman taken from her life much too soon by breast cancer. She was 47 years old and fought to live like the proverbial tiger... she wanted to be around long enough to see her grandchildren.

Cathy's love for her family, friends, patients and work associates was the guiding force of her life. They responded by being there for Cathy and her family, giving of their time with visits, food, whatever she needed that they could provide... their respect and love for her evident in their faithfulness to her throughout her illness.

At the viewing, I asked Cathy's mother how
she was doing... she said her heart was broken, but she was okay. The line of people who came to show their respect and caring grew and grew and grew... to the point that additional rooms had to be opened to accommodate them. I suspect the visitation lasted well past the planned 9pm closing.

I met Cathy's mother several months ago and we discovered that my daughter and grandchildren knew Cathy and her husband from attending the same church, my grandchildren having attended the same school with her children. When I went for a treatment this morning, one of my nurses and I discovered that
she and some of the other nurses there had known Cathy through work. They were devastated... another hint of the far-reaching effect and influence Cathy had during her life.

Cancer may have finally killed Cathy, but it didn't win.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unofficially official

Today is the unofficial official first day of Fall in my world... the day after Labor Day and the first day of school for most of the schools in my area. It's always been that way for me. It even feels like Fall to me now. Summer has been HOT here but the nights have started to have a coolness that lets me know the season has changed. I'm breaking my own obedience to the rule "No white after Labor Day"... wearing white pants to go to Meals on Wheels. It feels jarring to me but I want to have a full load of whites to launder before putting them away for next year. The pants will come off and go into the wash basket as soon as I get back home... wearing them just doesn't feel right.

The heat and a dying a/c in my car have kept me inside a lot this Summer, but I'm looking forward to cooler weather, just-picked apples, the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg, and planning another end-of-the-year holiday get-together with my family.

Had wall-to-wall granddaughters this past Saturday night. What fun! And my claustrophobia didn't even kick in. Of course, I know that the draw of staying with me wasn't just my scintillating personality... my high-speed internet and Wi-Fi connections had a lot to do with it. Oh well, I'll take anything that lets me enjoy these girls' company. The great thing is that I know their brothers will stay with me too. For the same reason, of course.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I hope the people who fussed about the cold weather this past winter are happy.

My daughter and her husband, who have been looking at rental property ads, found a listing for what sounded like the perfect place... plenty of room for their family and lifestyle. The landlord would not show them the property. He had no problem with the the fact that they have four large dogs... just couldn't handle the fact that they have four children.

My car's A/C has been cutting out on me again this summer... doesn't stop running... just stops blowing cold air. Took it in for service a couple of days ago. The mechanic "could not simulate the customer's concern." It ran perfectly... by the time he gave up, it was practically spitting out ice cubes. Of course, It has stopped working for me every day since. The mechanic told me to run it by the shop the next time it happened, no appointment needed. He understands... cars know when your are taking them in to be repaired.

Several times in the past few months, I've found half of a pistachio shell in the bottom of my purse... just the one. I haven't been eating shelled pistachios... have a hard time opening them due to the neuropathy in my fingers. But there they've been... just the one half shell. In the Ann Landers column, I've read of people finding a single penny soon after the death of a loved one; a sign, they believe, of love and concern from their dearly departed. They get pennies. I get pistachio shells. Who? Why?...

Friday, July 30, 2010

In the storm of things

Drove home from the country yesterday afternoon in the midst of a thunderstorm. It was marvelous!... for me... the TV news this morning is showing downed trees and fires from lightning strikes. It's been a long time since I've been able to drive in the rain... we haven't had any. At one point, the rain was so torrential I could hardly see to drive. I traveled Staples Mill Road in to Richmond City, apparently ahead of the lightning strike that caused the fire destroying the Dental Association building. There had been debris on the road from high wind... none that I was unable to pass over. The only time I completely 'lost video' was when I went through a large puddle and a huge plume of water arced over my windshield obscuring everything. It lasted only a few seconds... seemed like hours... long enough for a short prayer that I wouldn't hit, or be hit. by anything. I encountered a couple or three stoplights that weren't working... all busy intersections. The storm had moved ahead of me so the rain had decreased. Drivers were being cautious and courteous; one had a city police officer directing traffic. As I was motioned past her, I put my window down and said, "Thank you. Be safe." She looked at me and I hope she was able to hear enough of my words to know that they were not a curse. I arrived home safely and walked to my building sans umbrella, enjoying being pelted by raindrops.

I love being in a car during a storm. The only place I prefer during stormy weather is a porch, protected by the roof and surrounded by glass or screen... high and dry while Nature rages. Havens both for me... safe ones... so far.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another year older....

Yesterday (June 29) was my 65th birthday. Attaining this age was not a sure thing, especially the past 3 years. (But then, none of us gets a guarantee.) The past year has been wonderful... new experiences, new friends, new abilities, old friends, family... full of serendipity and glee. I can't decide whether it was the last day of my old year or the first day of my new year (remember the foofaraw about the turn of the century?) but I am so looking forward to this new year. Great things (my year, my yardstick) are going to happen. I don't feel 65 years old... more like 40 or 45.

I've learned and experienced so many things during the past years... I've made a list... it doesn't include everything because I can't remember everything....

...I'm glad my children are raised and out on their own. Parenting has never been easy and seems to be getting harder every generation. My kids managed to overcome their genes and upbringing and turned into people of whom I am very proud to call mine.

... Children will tell it like they see it. It's important to realize that it is their perception, not necessarily the way it actually is. That's something we adults need to consider for ourselves... 'is it real or just our opinion?'

... Don't ya hate it when the i.d. photo on your renewed Driver's License makes you look like a hedgehog caught in the headlights... and everyone says what a good picture it is?

... Counting is very important when knitting. New obsessions can hit at any age and knitting has become mine. For a short time it even over-shadowed my reading obsession, but things have evened out... I'm knitting and reading now.

... Having a conversation with me has become more interactive. Between Chemo-brain and Senior Moments, I sometimes have a hard time getting out a complete sentence without hand gestures (Mime... encouraging others to supply the word I'm trying to say) and questions to identify the subject (who was the guy that... you know... the one who starred in that movie with the...). I was chatting with my daughter and her husband the other night when she quipped, "Hey! We're playing Charades!"

... My life is the best it's ever been. I'm learning to savor everything... not just what I'm doing but the atmosphere, colors, and surroundings, while I'm doing it. Chemicals have altered my taste buds but the flavor of food I eat seems richer (I catch myself 'yummming' a lot). I think I can feel the auras of my friends and, sometimes, those of people I meet during the day. Wow! Teach yourself to savor. It's wonderful.

... Just because you make a Strike your first time up doesn't mean you won't drop the ball on your foot the next time you get ready to roll. Just sayin'...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wired.... uh, caffined?

As of 5am, I have officially been awake a full 24 hours. The night was lovely. I opened my windows as soon as I could to freshen the stale air in my apartment. Fortunately, it was a quite night... infrequent but quiet traffic, some train whistles, only one siren about 1:30am. It was the first time in over a year that I felt able to leave the windows open. Heavenly.

Yesterday was a busy day. I had to be at the Infusion Center at 8am for a treatment but left early as I had to get gas... I was running on fumes. My treatment was completed about 12:10pm but left a little later after I finished the lunch they provided (Thursdays are 'chicken' day but I've been assured it's the best meal on the menu). Stopped at the library to return audio CDs then headed home to rest, but stay awake, as I had plans for an adventure.

I had made arrangements with one of the founders of From the Heart to go out of town to a meeting of another group of FTH stitchers. On the way, we stopped by McDonald's for an iced coffee and a large mocha frappe (wonder if that had anything to do with being un-sleepy?). The meeting was held at the new library in Hopewell, VA. The library is beautiful and much larger than I had expected. The group brings food to the meetings so I had dinner there, too. The group is wonderful... lovely women using their knitting and crocheting talents to make items for those in need. The conversations ranged from help with patterns and stitches, family news, news about absent members, recipes, and other very important subjects. I will be going again as often as I can... it was a treat to be with them.

On the way to the meeting, I realized that I had forgotten to turn off the alarm on my clock... not a problem if it were a
normal clock. Let me tell you about this clock. I had purchased it last year. It had large numerals so I could read the time without my glasses. The numbers were so bright that they cast shadows! I had set the alarm for yesterday morning so I wouldn't oversleep and be late for my infusion appointment. While I was home getting ready to leave for my meeting, I realized that the alarm had not gone off in the morning... I had accidentally set it for PM instead of AM. Two problems: 1) I have no short term memory left... if I don't do something at the moment I think of it, it doesn't get done, 2) the alarm on this clock is truly alarming!... so loud that the first time I had set it, it nearly gave me a heart attack! I did not get up at that moment and turn off the alarm. Traveling to the meeting it suddenly hits me that this monster alarm is going to go off while I'm away from my apartment. I at least had the presence of mind to call a fellow resident and warn her... I didn't want other residents thinking I was in the apartment too ill to move, or dead. No one could get into my apartment and I certainly didn't want emergency personnel called. When I arrived home yesterday evening, one of the other residents from my floor was sitting outside enjoying the delightful weather. She said she was glad she had been aware of my alarm(ing) situation because '... that alarm is certainly effective.' I told her I had decided that I didn't need to know the time during the night. She said she wanted to get one like it because sometimes she has trouble waking up to go to work. As soon as I got into my apartment, I unplugged that sucker, put it in a plastic bag and hung it on her door knob.

I think I know where the directions are for the clock. Wonder if I'll remember to look for them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

1000 down. More to follow.

I awoke at 1:35am this morning to wicked, wicked lightning outside my window. Safe in my apartment, I closed the blind in my bedroom as if plastic slats would protect me from a strike (perception may be all). Nature is expending a lot of energy; reminding us humans that we are not in charge.

I started this blog a year ago, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, 2009. We are still at war. The news says that we (the U.S.) have reached the 1000-death level in Afghanistan. The dying continues. Our soldiers are still in the midst of man-made lightning on foreign soil and aiding in the midst of disasters on the home-front.

I offer my humble gratitude for, and pride in, the past, present and future service of our armed forces and the families & friends who support them.

God bless the USA.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Incident highlights irony and time ticks on

Had a bit of excitement at the infusion center yesterday. One of the nurses had just hung a bottle of chemo for a fellow patient. When she attached the tube mechanism to the bottle the assembly split and the medication started spilling onto the floor. She managed to flip the bottle before it completely emptied. Thus began the haz-mat routine. They called to report the emergency spill and got out the haz-mat kit. The nurse was already wearing her glasses and had on gloves so she didn't need to put on the goggles and gloves from the kit. She donned the face mask, plastic full-body apron, and shoe covers. Out came the large yellow disposal bags for the towels used to wipe up the spill. A man from Security arrived; his attitude so low-key that I decided this was just a small blip on an otherwise dull shift for him. A man from Housekeeping came with the haz-mat disposal container, mop and signage to mark off the area. I commented to the patient how ironic it was that 'here we sit with needles injecting the poison (yes, that's what it is) directly into our blood streams but wiping it off the floor necessitated protective gear with attendant alerts.' The nurses also had to fill out a report giving the date and time of incident, chemical info, what it spilled onto (clothing, floor, etc.).

About seven or so years ago, my brother got our mother an inexpensive Timex watch with a large dial and big numbers to aid her in getting to programs and meals at the assisted-living facility where she lived. After she passed away four years ago, he gave the watch to me and I stowed it away. I was looking in the drawer a couple of days ago and noticed that it was still running... the second hand moving past the numbers, marking the march of time. John Cameron Swazey was was right ... "Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Celebrations, this, that, and the other

Yesterday, May 4, was my son's 40th birthday. His wife pulled off a successful surprise party for him last Saturday evening. The weather was wonderful, the food good and plentiful, the guests my sons friends and relatives. Not as many people came as she had hoped, but all there had a great time. The men got to talk about guy stuff; the women got to visit and share family lore and talk about girl stuff. The kids played, computed, watched movies on TV... all without any least, none the adults had to referee.
Yesterday was also the 3rd anniversary of my official diagnosis. (When one gets a call from the doctor's office about the results of a mammogram with the message that it is imperative that one return the call as soon as possible, a less than favorable diagnosis is not a big surprise.) I look forward to celebrating several more anniversaries of the day.

In a blog that I do for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (subject to editing and rewriting by the Marketing Manger before being published), I mentioned a dream of a special garden with a gazebo. While going through a magazine in the Garden Library (I'm a volunteer in the Library most Tuesday afternoons) a couple of weeks ago, I saw a picture of the perfect garden house. Windows all around it and wonderful color. My first reaction was 'Wow!' My second was 'Wouldn't it be great to be in that house during a rain storm?' There is even a turntable available for it. (??)
You can check out my Garden blog at:
You can check out the garden house at:

On April 18th, Sunday Morning (CBS) did a piece on SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). They interviewed Jill Tarter. She was the inspiration for the character Jodie Foster played in one of my all-time favorite films, Contact. The search continues. SETI is still watching and listening. I've always wondered what kind of intelligence they are hoping to find. I assume they want a species that is smart enough to get here and communicate in a way we can understand. Stephen Hawkins has finally decided to agree with me...
He recently said: "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."

The Other...
Who knows if, or when, aliens may visit Earth. Then again, they may have already arrived and been here for awhile. By the way, has anyone seen my copy of How to Serve Man?

Friday, April 16, 2010

I've got Mitts!

THE Mitts.
The red ones.
With the white maple leaf on each palm-side.
Olympics 2010 mitts!

I won them in a drawing. I hardly ever win drawings. Gave up on the Lottery. The last time I won the Lottery was several years ago. Won $30. Stopped by a 7-Eleven to claim my prize. I was on my way to pick up a friend to take her to the train station. I owed her $30. Love that serendipity.

So... don't hate me because I'm beautiful. Hate me because I got Mitts!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Spring has sprung with a dollop of Summer added in. Yesterday, Easter Day, was glorious weather-wise. Add in lunch with the local contingent of my family and it was as near perfection as one can get. Flowers are in bloom; tree buds have blossomed. The beauty of the season is everywhere.

When I came home this past Friday, the red message-waiting light was blinking on my caller-id. While I was listening to the messages, there was an electronic crunch and the caller-id options popped up. I tried to get it straight but have ended up with MENSAJE! showing... 'Messages' in a language I don't recognize. And I can't get the red message light to stop blinking. At least the id shows in English when a call is ringing in. I love electronics.

So... the MENSAJE! of the day is... Life is an adventure. Enjoy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's finally Spring!

I'm enjoying my first 'official' storm of Spring. Lightning and thunder... means there is warm air in the atmosphere. Yeah! I've been in my upper-floor apartment for just over 8 years, and the excitement of being up in the midst of the lightning hasn't yet waned.

My fingers have been busy with tissues for the last three weeks, trying to stem the output of a cold. It may have morphed into the usual reaction to Spring allergens in the air, but that's okay... (did I mention it's Spring?). After the Winter season we've had, the sniffles and swollen eyes almost seem to be benefits.

Easter is on the way in a couple of weeks. Another harbinger of the wonderful season that's come. I harbor no illusions... Winter has been known to sneak back in and smack us up side the head. That's okay... Spring will win out in the end.

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekends have been a study in contrasts

The past two weekends have spanned the spectrum of experiences for me...

Two weekends ago, feeling under the weather, I spent the entire time in my pajamas (or a reasonable facsimile) getting funkier as the days passed. Finally took a shower and dressed in clothes suitable for public viewing on Monday.

Last weekend my oldest daughter came into town sans younger children. She stayed with me and we had a Saturday to wander as we would. Had a wonderful brunch, then went to a fantastic store owned by a former classmate of my daughter. The store, Anthill Antiques on Cary Street here in Richmond, is full of jewelry collected by the owner. She is also a gifted artist and creates lovely necklaces from 'found' pieces. The reunion was warm and extended to me as I discovered that I knew the owner's mother (she works in the store). We realized that we (all of us, mothers and daughters) had worked at the same (now defunct) business together. Met more of my family for dinner on Saturday evening. On Sunday, my oldest grandchild arrived and we all had breakfast. On to my son's home were I had all my children and grandchildren together for the first time in over a year. What a joy to see and be with them all again! I intend to spend as much time as I can with all of them, as often as I can. They'll just have to live with it. After all, it won't be forever.

Had been waiting for an important piece of snail mail that was supposed to arrive by Feb 27th. I gave it a week extra because of the snow storm problems. Called them yesterday morning to request the mailing. They assured me it had been posted but promised to get another in the mail asap. I arrived home late yesterday evening after attending a meeting. About ten minutes later, I passed my front door and noticed a piece of mail had been slipped under the door. You guessed it... the letter I had been waiting for. It was postmarked Feb 25. Welcome to my world.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eating a few feathers and taking a smidge of credit

I've been thinking about my last post (venting my snit over someone parking in 'my' space.) I've come to realize that I was exhibiting one of my least favorite attitudes in other people... entitlement. I went from stating that the spaces were not assigned to an 'how dare he!' mini-rant. In re-thinking my attitude, I realized that, since he and I both are 'people of a certain age,' he probably didn't feel like trekking over piles of snow and black ice that night anymore than I did... bad backs, hip problems, and aching knees will do that to a person. I've eaten a few crow feathers this past week. (I save the whole crow for my really bad behavior.)

Now that I've spit out the last bit of down, I'm going to pat myself on the back a little. (There goes the shoulder.) Through another bit of serendipity I recently reconnected with the parent of a couple of my high-school classmates. They were twins but I never had a problem telling them apart. It used to drive friends who had grown up with them crazy... " How do you do that?" Our Senior year, a girl I knew (a Sophomore, I think) admitted that she had a crush on one of them. She wanted to 'meet' him and I introduced them a few days later. They ended up getting married. I've often wondered since how that went. Yeah! They are still married. I can't take credit for the work they put into their marriage. (Why is putting another person ahead of ourselves so hard for us humans?) But I will take credit for the introduction. Sometimes, things are just right.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Unwritten protocol finally broken

The complex were I live does not assign parking spaces. Parking is on a first-come first-park basis. With the snows we've had here (starting before Christmas!) parking has been at a premium. A friend and my son dug my car out (twice in the past three weeks) so I could get out for doctor and treatment appointments. Each time I have returned, I've been pleasantly surprised and pleased that 'my' space was open. Residents and guests have been operating on an unwritten protocol of not taking a space that someone else had worked to clear. I returned home yesterday evening to find a car parked in the space. I was rather taken aback that the driver is a retired Marine. (His car has specialty license plates with the Marine insignia.) All things come to an end. (I think I just tasted sour grapes.) Oh, well... Spring will get here eventually.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The snow! The snow! My God, the snow!

I doubt the younger generation of readers would recognize the re-phrasing I used in my title, but I could not come up with a more relevant phrase. Given that everything is relative and that other areas have had and are having it worse weather-wise than our area, please excuse me if I say that I'm TIRED OF SNOW and mess. I'm ready, so ready, for Spring. Does that count as wishing my life away? I expect (and demand) that all the bugs and germs that have survived our past few mild Winters be totally dead and unavailable to make us miserable later this year.

I have hair. Fun hair. Warmth for my bald head. I had seen a hairy cap and found the pattern to make one for myself. Couldn't... less said the better. When I asked a friend who knits to make one for me, she said she had tried and couldn't handle that type of yarn. A few days later, she let me know that she had one for me, made by a fellow member of a group of ladies that get together to knit, crochet, and fellowship.

From the Heart is a non-profit organization made up of women who use their skills to give warmth and beauty to those in need. Their craft is lovely, their smiles bright, their hearts warm, and their willingness to help each other and their community without boundary. I had seen the results of their charity while I was still working in the activities department at an assisted living facility. My boss had received a call from someone who wanted to know if any of our residents needed lap robes. We expected 4 or 5 robes. What we received were bags and bags of lap covers and shawls in beautiful variegated colors to liven dreary days and warm cold aching knees and shoulders. We had enough to be sure that each resident received one as a gift from Santa.

I called my youngest daughter yesterday morning to see if she and her family needed anything to weather the coming storm. She said she had gone to the store the day before and it had been a madhouse. There were plenty of snack foods available... the store was well stocked up for the Super Bowl weekend... but she was surprised that all the toaster strudels and waffles and pop tarts were gone! Nary a package to be seen. I hope the power doesn't go out. If the wind, snow and ice don't do in the lines, the power surge from all the toasters may.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunshine and shadows. And scotch.

After seemingly endless overcast and rain, last Saturday shone bright with crisp Winter sunshine. A friend and I had made plans to meet for lunch and shopping. She treated me to lunch at the Daily Grind. There I met the owners who have become extended family for her and her husband. (Her husband is a photographer. He was in Prague, on a trip for the International Mission Board. He has a blog with pictures taken on the trip.) After lunch, we crossed the street to shop at Short Pump Town Center. The roads and parking areas were jammed with traffic... others, a lot of others, were out enjoying the sunshine with us.

Early Sunday afternoon brought frantic knocking at my door... a fellow resident, a friend, incoherent and in obvious distress. I finally understood that she had discovered my across-the-hall neighbor deceased. But she wasn't sure and wanted me to verify. I've never taken the pulse of a dead man before. I confirmed that he was past help. He had been gone for awhile. In the brief time my finger touched his wrist, I noted the coldness and stiffness of his body... truly "cold as marble." I called 911 and reported our discovery... no, there was no need for medical assistance... just the personnel who investigate the death of a person alone. And, although he as only 40' feet or so from the neighbors who live around him, the walls of his apartment and ours separated us...he was truly alone. His story is not mine to tell. I hope he is finally at peace.

I spoke with my oldest daughter later that evening. Responding to her query of what I had been up to, I told her about my enjoyment of a Saturday spent with a good friend and an afternoon spent confirming a death, comforting a grieving friend, and providing information to the officials who handle the aftermath of death. She called again on Monday to check on my physical health and emotional situation. I assured her that I was fine. She then said that while she and her 5-year-old daughter (my youngest granddaughter) had been out running errands, my granddaughter had been lobbying for a treat... candy... a pass through the drive-thru at McDonald's. She suggested they go home and make brownies. My granddaughter was all for this... but she wanted to make them the way her big sister did... from 'scotch.' I requested a dozen.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Serendipity still surprising and delighting me

A couple of weeks ago, I had a treatment appointment that was scheduled a little later in the morning than usual and I was resigned to driving the lanes of the parking area to find a spot. When I pulled into the lot, my space was waiting for me... the first one... right in front near the entrance! The only way I could have been closer to my doctor was to have parked inside in the hallway outside the office door.

Last Sunday, It started with the phone ringing at 2:56am. Calls in the night instantly awaken me, all cells in my body on the alert... what's wrong?... who's in trouble? Heart thumping in my chest, gasping for breath, I leaped from the bed, turned on the light, and hurried to answer. The caller ID said the call was from the Lobby. Just someone pushing buttons on the keypad, trying to get into the building! I don't let strangers in during the daytime... I certainly wasn't going to do it at this time of night. Fully awake now and, knowing I'd never be able to go back to sleep, I booted my computer and turned on the TV to PBS hoping to find something worth having running in the background while I surfed the Web. Lo and behold, a wonderful program, an Independent Lens offering titled Young@Heart, (which I have already watched at least four times) was on. I got to see the finale and the short animated film which follows. THEN... I saw that a program I had given up hope of ever catching again was about to to be shown and I had time to set my DVR to Record! I couldn't have been more delighted. The program, Between the Folds, is about folding paper... origami, if you will, taken to the nth degree. I had caught a portion of it weeks ago, searched for more show-times, but had given up hope. The reason I wanted to record it is that one of my grandsons has always been interested in folding paper, especially paper airplanes. All sizes. He made one of the smallest I had ever seen (just barely missed classification as a spitball). I had to have this to show him. Success! Can hardly wait for him to visit so I can let him watch it.

For the last couple of years, I've been training myself not to sweat the small stuff... to choose my battles. It takes so much of the stress out of life. Last Spring, I was driving and came to an intersection where I had no stop sign but the cross street did. The school bus on the cross street ran the stop sign. If I had been less alert and going a half-mile faster, I'd have been in the middle of the intersection and broadsided by the bus. My guardian angel was directing serendipity for me again.

When driving, I try not to get upset about traffic delays. I've had so many experiences where being a few feet further up the road would have put me in harm's way or I would have missed delightful chance encounters. Now days, I start anticipating the surprise that may be waiting for me... the one I would have missed if not for the delay. I used to get irritated at myself when, after finally getting out the door, I'd discover I had forgotten something again and had to go back... just at the moment the phone started ringing, heralding a call I needed not to have missed.

Life is grand. There can be delight even in the bad spots, if I slow down, take a deep breath, and await the grace that's coming my way. It's the small gifts that are usually the best, even if only because they are more frequently received than big ones.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conquering a fear and waiting for Spring

I don't remember being afraid of an inanimate object. Sure, I feared a monster in the closet but I wasn't afraid of the closet door. I went through a season of keeping my feet from hanging over the edge of the mattress because there was something under my bed that would grab them at the first chance. That was more a fear of the space under my bed after dark. I had purchased a Multi-slicer for slicing and match-sticking vegetables and decided to use it for the first time a couple of days ago. I had heard and heeded, I thought, the warnings about the extreme sharpness of the blade. I used the guard to hold the potato and keep my fingers away from the danger. On the third pass, over the blade, something jammed and my finger hit the blade. Pain. Blood. More blood. Taking a blood thinner everyday didn't help. Finally staunched the flow, applied antiseptic and a bandage. I felt fear. I was afraid to touch the slicer, sure that it would get me again somehow. I didn't really think it would jump up and attack me if I got near it again, but I didn't go near it that day. What to do? Didn't want to throw it away and definitely didn't want to pass it along to attack someone else. Next day, I decided I was being silly, carefully washed it and replaced it in the box. I was not going to let this thing get the best of me, although I admit it will be awhile before I use it again. But I've been thinking... what if it wasn't the Slicer? What if it was the potato?

We've been having cold weather and I admit I'm ready for it to be over. Thank heaven it hasn't been as bad as they have endured in the northern states. But, I'm in my usual Post-Holiday funk... the lovely lights are no longer lit and the remaining decorations look tired and unappealing. I am so ready for Spring. The first day the temperature rises above 50 degrees, I'm going to open my windows and air out my apartment. The forecast says it may happen tomorrow! The air will be colder at my 7th floor level, but I don't care. Time to get some fresh pollution in here!

The snow is mostly gone from the Garden and elsewhere; just the remnants in shadowed areas and the huge piles of snow that were pushed aside to allow access to roads, parking and buildings. Winter is a good time to see all the things that are hard to see from a distance when the leaves are on the trees and bushes. Also the reason I enjoy driving in Winter... I can see the buildings, fields, lakes and streams that have been hidden from view during the green months.

It is already the middle of January! I'm struck again by the question of how the days can seem long and but the weeks pass so fast.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Finishing the old year and staring the new

Went to spend New Year's Eve with my oldest daughter and her family. The kids enjoyed staying up 'til midnight, eating snacks and then putting on hats and blowing on horns to greet the new year. It was easy to get the youngest to go to bed. The male teen retreated to his room (man cave) and probably stayed up using his computer. The 10-year-old wanted to stay up longer but didn't really fight for it.... just didn't want to admit being tired and sleepy. The sky was overcast so didn't get to see the Blue Moon. Lots of wind. Brutally cold for us, but grateful not to have the weather that people are struggling with farther north.

The rest of my children and their families joined us on the 2nd for a get-together. Had my three children and nine of my ten grandchildren there. The oldest was sick. We missed her. At some point, after we had started eating but before the gift swapping game, the adults noticed that it was eerily quiet in the next room... the one with all the kids. Peeking around the corner, we saw every one of them hunched over their personal electronics, stylus and thumbs flying over tiny screens and keypads. Not a sound from any of them. Must admit, we grownups enjoyed visiting during the quiet spell.

Knowing Santa would have taken care of their special wants, I had taken the easy way out and put money in cards for all the kids. Knew I had 'done good' when the first one to open the card shouted, "I got money!"

Looking forward to a wonderful year spending time with my family & friends and in the Garden.

Happy 2010 to all.