Daisy

One of my oldest, dearest friends is staying home this Thanksgiving with her dog, Daisy. I feel for her because Daisy is close to dying. Barbara, one of the most tender people I know, if you can get inside her layers of bravado, will not leave her side. She will sit with Daisy and eat turkey together and will not leave her house for one minute, she knows this is Daisy’s last Thanksgiving.

Ba and I have grown up together and I don’t say this lightly. We have been friends for over 30 years. We may not see each other for 5 or 10 years at a time but our connection is unbreakable.

Barbara has cooked a turkey for Daisy because Daisy still has her appetite and I know that my dear friend will be eating with her. The dog can’t walk easily so Ba helps her on to the bed, where she sleeps, on and off. Barbara hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks and from how she sounded I can see the dark circles under her eyes. The ones I used to see when she allowed herself to be sad in front of me, crying, when she was vulnerable and unafraid to be who she was.

Part of me wishes I could be there, for her, part of me is grateful that I have my own family to be with, I was never good at endings. I can barely say good-bye. All of my old feelings of our first dog, Callie dying unexpectedly are coming up.  I can’t write this without being misty-eyed and I am controlling myself. A lot.

I am sending my love to Daisy and to my friend Barbara because I know how hard this is, most animal lovers can certainly relate. I know that Daisy does not have much time left in this world, and in fact, when I found out that Daisy died, about a week later, I knew it in my heart, I felt it deeply. I even told my husband the very same day that Daisy had passed.Dog lovers, animal lovers, there is a bond like no other. Daisy was Barbara’s fur baby.

You cannot know love until it is taken away from you. That is when the grief process begins. The house, Barbara lives in now, is just way too silent.

In memory of Daisy, dedicated to Barbara with love.

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The Art Of Changing


Every time my two college kids come home for a visit, in this case, Thanksgiving, I forget, that it takes 48 hours for all of us to get used to each other again. I wish I could remember that beforehand because it would take the sting out of the inevitable: regression,

dirty looks, initial combative behavior and sibling rivalry. What is it about coming home that automatically brings out old behavior patterns?

I remember this happening when I visited my parents when I was in college so I am not sure you really can stop it. I think you become child-like when you go home to visit your parents and old habits die-hard. To this day, it is never a good scenario when my sister and I are alone with our mom, together. I never liked being with two other friends, it’s not a good combination for me.

But, after two days of settling in with our children it’s wonderful, just like old times. It feels like they have never left and you wonder how you can let them go, again? The house will be so quiet without them. There are four of us now drinking coffee in the morning or snacking together at night, sitting on the bed together chatting and laughing, interrupting each other and rehashing the mini-dramas of Thanksgiving.

I know it won’t be like this forever, they will get married or move away or we will move so I cherish every second. I’m putting these memories in a special place in my heart, tucked away, like the memories of their childhood. The difference is that I have photographs of when they were young and sweet and innocent. I have a mountain of photographs of each stage of their lives.

But this, this one memory, lasted ten minutes, it is like a snapshot in my mind and I try desperately to hold on to to it, in my heart, hoping it will last a very long time.

The four of us all sitting together laughing and reminiscing, back and forth, happy, conversing, joking with no hint of displeasure or dismay. All of us being in tune with each other, bantering, back and forth, replaying the day, interrupting each other and finishing each others sentences.
The thought of them leaving in a couple of days just seems incredible, and lonely and sad. And yes, it will take another 48 hours for their laughter to die down, for my husband and I to get used to the solitude and the quietness and enjoy each other and the peace, all over again.
Change is inevitable, get used to it, it never goes away.

My Top 20 (Food Pop, Pop Cop, Odd Cop)

English: A jelly donut that was bought at Dunk...

English: A jelly donut that was bought at Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

20 RANDOM THINGS I LIKE:

The year is slowly coming to an end, the weeks are flying by. I’ve put together a current list of things that make me happy. Life can be hard, you need to appreciate the little things, here are twenty of mine:

1) Alex and Sierra (From the X Factor)

2) Miniature Almond Joys

I love these and their cousin Mounds but here you get an added crunch of the almond. I LOVE coconut, the taste lingers on your lips after you finish it. Don’t tell my dentist but if I have one of these before I go to bed I “accidentally” forget to brush my teeth. It’s so worth it. The only reason I added Mini is because if I have the regular size I start to feel guilty. ( You can’t possibly feel guilty after eating one of those.) Win-Win.

3) My Christmas (Thanksgiving) Cactus

Every year at Thanksgiving our Christmas cactus starts to sprout beautiful, bright red flowers. I guess our cactus is always early (like my whole family) and shows up ahead of schedule. Seeing some bright red color when the winter is so gray makes me happy.

4) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (the movie) The one movie that divides sisters! I love it and my sister hates it.

5) The time 8:32. On the way to junior high school, I would always look out the window while I was standing in the overcrowded, adolescent, odorous teenage filled bus. We passed a bank near our school and there was a big sign with the time, every morning we passed,it said 8:32. For some reason, that number when seen, still makes me happy.

6) Believing in messages from those who have passed on and getting them for me or a friend. Powerful. Spiritual: “Love Does Not Die” ( Post)

7) I like the way my husband orders his french fries: “Can you make them extra crispy please?”

8) My friend Denise’s nut tarts. I have a friend who bakes the most delicious, bite size nut tarts, she could sell these professionally, they are like a work of edible art. Bite sized carmelized pecan heaven, I’m almost glad I don’t see her often. Addictive.

9)  Avegelemno soup, from our local Greek restaurant. Tangy, lemony with pieces of chicken and rice. Served with soft, puffy pita bread.

10) Goldfish (the living kind not the crackers) I had a goldfish named Frank that I loved dearly, umm, it died and it was all my fault. I overfed it. I still feel guilty and this was many years ago. I’m so sorry, Frank. R.I.P.

11) The sun and the color Yellow (see my weekly posts on Yellow Magic Madness)

12)  A body of water (any kind) ocean, lake, stream, pond…This is where I feel happiest, close to water.

13) Nature. As I get older I want to spend more and more time outside surrounded by mother nature. It was not that important to me when I was younger. Age gives you experience, wrinkles too but it also gives you wisdom. I like to be outside, weather permitting, as much as possible. Even with Fibromyalgia, I try to force myself outside when I can.

14)  Vacation:  For the last few years I haven’t had anything to look forward to in a major way. Sure, I look forward to see my friends or to go out to dinner but having something special to look forward to months from now is incredibly joyful. We are planning a trip with my mom in the Spring and I am looking
forward to that, more than I can explain. I definitely need something once a year, it will be my New Rule for myself. It doesn’t have to be anything big but it does have to be SOMETHING.

15) Jelly Doughnuts: We have them on New Year’s Eve, a European Tradition but I had one the other day while my husband had a Boston Creme Pie doughnut just for the fun of it. Delicious. Thank you, Dunkin Donuts.

16) Singing out loud (and off-key) to music streaming from my computer (classic 70’s pop rock, Bruce,

17) Listening to my husband whistle, happily. My father used to whistle happy tunes all the time, when my husband whistles it also reminds me of my dad, and that’s a good memory.

18) Pizza (There is no such thing as bad pizza, when it is leftover pizza and is too dry or it loses its taste, add strawberry jam.) I’m serious.

19) Books (Real books that I hold in my hand, no techno devices) Call me old-fashioned.

20) Flashlights.

English: Evening sunshine, Rutland Water. Just...

English: Evening sunshine, Rutland Water. Just to the SW of Lodge Farm, this part of the shoreline looks most inviting. It’s just a pity that the beach is mud and there is blue-green algae in the water! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catherine Zeta Jones And Me (Pop Cop)

Catherine Zeta Jones at the Hasty Pudding Woma...

Catherine Zeta Jones at the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Parade, Cambridge, MA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I kicked myself in the butt and pushed myself out of bed today, I CAN’T let the icy cold temperatures keep me locked up inside my warm bed everyday. It’s definitely not good for my Fibromyalgia and as I have learned it is definitely not good for my head. I need to have at least one or two things to do a day to get me outside, walking. That was one of the problems over this Thanksgiving weekend, I was inside too much  (all the time) without going outside ONCE. Big mistake but as people with Fibro know it’s a hard rut to get out of, I’m trying to remind myself of how I felt these last few days. Hint: not good.

Today I went to T.J. Maxx to casually look around and while I didn’t find anything to buy I did catch sight of the beautiful Catherine Zeta Jones who truly is gorgeous and incredibly elegant. She seemed very pleasant, just shopping like everyone else and then politely asked a clerk to hold her things while she went to use the lady’s room. Catherine Zeta Jones actually used the bathroom at T. J. Maxx, probably the very same toilet I have peed in. For some reason, that she used the bathroom there really impressed me!

While I am not the type of person to fawn over celebrities it was lovely to see someone so unimpressed with herself. I didn’t see her sticking her tongue out, screaming, wearing skimpy outfits or causing a scene; this woman is beautiful and has what so many others lack: grace, class and elegance. Brava!

Obviously I left her alone and I didn’t even see anyone approach her for an autograph which was so nice to see, people were respectful of her privacy and trust me, there were no papparazzi around. I could imagine all the people in the store surrounding and protecting her, making a circle with Catherine sitting in the middle, to get any papparazzi to leave her alone. She just seems like the type of person you want to protect.

I’m no angel, believe me, if it was Miley Cyrus or some other young person with attitude I would have opened the door for the photographers myself. I get enough attitude from my own teenagers, I don’t need it from “self-made celebrities.” When I came back from my little outing I posted who I had seen on the” Town Moms Board’ that we have and truly people were thrilled. There have been sightings of Catherine Zeta Jones recently and not one person has said she was unfriendly or mean. Not one. She has always been nice, pleasant, not “shmoozy” that could be a made-up word coming from the Yiddish word: to shmooze (talk ) but cordial and polite.

To Catherine, Happy Holidays from hibernationnow and all of us who think you are simply lovely.

PS  It’s nice that Michael Douglas allegedly has come over to make you and the kids pancakes every morning (I read that at the supermarket when I was standing on-line) but only eat them if you WANT THEM. I know you understand. Be strong, go shopping, be happy.

Something Was Wrong, It Was Me

High Anxiety

High Anxiety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It arrived every evening like a suspicious stranger, its presence like black fog slipping under the door. It was deceiving at first, mist, started slowly and then it changed in a split second and attacked me. I felt like I was being stabbed with an ice pick, repeatedly, the chill of cold anxiety running up and down my spine. The goal apparently was to shock me and knock me totally off-balance. It won, I didn’t stand a chance.  I don’t know why it came. I certainly didn’t invite it nor could I prevent it and its malicious presence only showed itself to me after dark.

I don’t know why it happened and I never completely understood it but the displeasure was here, every single night. I tried every trick I knew: deep breathing and meditation, but I did not stand a chance, it felt like I had been swept up by a tornado. Actually, I  lived in the eye of that tornado, I felt helpless, yes, out of control, out of control, out of control…

In past years during this same time period I felt sad, weepy. In the past eleven years I have known grief and a feeling of longing but not anxiety. Major life events happened, I felt loss , my dad was deceased but fear? This year without the regular Thanksgiving plans, control escaped me and anxiety with its octopus legs strapped me in and squeezed me so tight I could not breathe properly. Maybe Thanksgiving, without check lists and red lines crossed off made me feel undone. Would it be five people or nine? Last minute? I used to be so flexible, what happened to me? I missed feeling in charge, in control. I was alone in the world, it put me off-center, dizzy with fright.

I had trouble sleeping and eating and with my chronic pain disorder, Fibromyalgia, I questioned if this could have been a flare-up? Very possibly but I don’t know. The physical pain is the same but the IBS and the anxiety are on over drive.  Anxiety rolls in my stomach like one of those slippery aqua blue water park slides that I hate, wet,  flying down way too fast. I went on one of those once when my children were little and pleaded me to go on one of the rides with them. Trying to be a good mother and show them that fear should not stand in one’s way I relented, seeing their shiny little faces. Big mistake. I laid on my back and flew down the twisting spiral of hell screaming all the way down only to see them at the bottom, laughing. “Why did you lie on your back, Mom, didn’t you know that is the fastest way to go down?” OF COURSE NOT!!!

I felt like I have been on that water slide for at least two weeks except in my head and my body. I’m in my own zone of panic. Nothing worked, nothing helped, my last resort was to try to listen to music which has helped in the past. No luck. Maybe I’m just so excited that tomorrow I will be seeing my children, home for the holiday? Maybe I am feeling out of control not knowing if we will be five or nine people? Or maybe the last four, stressful weeks have finally caught up to me: my husband got laid off, I had to have painful uterine biopsies and on the way to my doctor’s appointment I had a flat tire. I found out my friend and her husband both needed surgery, I took on my friend’s problems too.

Maybe I’m anxious now because I couldn’t allow myself to be anxious before. The food lists are really not important, there will be plenty of food, no matter who comes. My friends will be fine. My husband will eventually find a job and we are not living out on the streets. My tests results came out perfectly. AAA apologized for dropping my call, twice and they paid for the private road side assistance. I’m taking a deep breath, it feels good. All of a sudden, I feel like listening to music and I’m getting a little tired. That’s got to be a good sign. I hope.

Yellow Magic Madness # 43

Overheard on Thanksgiving by the duck below “I am sure glad I’m not a turkey.”

Rubber duck

Rubber duck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

# FWF Gratitude, Kellie Elmore

wonderful nature have a nice weekend and a bea...

wonderful nature have a nice weekend and a beautiful 3.advent dear friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listen, Love, Give Thanks

It was my birthday last month, I bought myself a small cup of creamy coffee with a crisp twenty-dollar bill and whispered to the cashier “let others use it up until it runs out” she looked at me with a blank stare. That was a birthday present to myself, the best kind. I felt happy to be able to do a small act of kindness. I walked out grinning. Giving. Joy. Love.

Today is dreary, rainy, and glum. I have turned my loud music off, there is no noise in my room except the ringing in my ears, the sound of my fingertips on the keyboard and airline jets flying overhead in the sky. I imagine they are traveling to exotic places: Bali, Greece, Japan? A couple of newlyweds are on their way to their honeymoon, holding hands and sipping champagne, kissing each others pink lips lightly. I was young once too.

The rest of the next hour is a gift. I have the luxury of peace and I relax on my bed with my sweet red dog, Lexi, wrapped around my legs. Every day has been long, arduous, bringing some medical testing, and waiting for results, a flat tire, silly and stressful things. Finally, Friday, I get results, I can give thanks that all has ended well. I send hope and light to my friend who is also facing challenges, we haven’t talked in years but now we talk daily. Support, Understanding, Old Friends.

I listen to the sound of my breathing and try to slow it down. Inhale slowly, Exhale slowly. The weather is damp and my arms ache with soreness just from raising them, my body is the barometer for all things; fellow patients with Fibromyalgia nod their heads “YES.” We understand when the weather changes before the news weather forecasters have any idea. What a waste of a job, why not just hire us at a fifth of the cost? Many pillows prop me up like a hospital patient, fully clothed, drowned in six comforters for warmth. I try to release pain and tightness from every limb, bone, muscle. I try. It doesn’t work. I’ve accepted that, there is no room in my life to fight. With age there is wisdom, I’m grateful for that.

Maybe I don’t have the highs and joy that we used to have in the past, a gratifying status of being “Mom” with sticky kisses and playing with cars or having tea parties, those days are far gone. But, I did have them once, a long time ago. It is not the good times we had in the past but also not the bad times that may await us in the future. I can’t possibly complain. Yes, my husband was laid off and I haven’t been in the best of health for the last seven years but we are dealing with the situation. A word of advice: Just count your blessings and not your sorrows. Thank G-d, Nature, or Angels, whatever you believe in, that you are alive TODAY. Enjoy today as much as you can because we cannot count on a tomorrow.

Embrace your spouse/partner or friend, child, mom, dad, grandparent and give thanks for what you do have and don’t waste a minute focusing on what you don’t have. Hug your cat or dog, Buy a present for someone you don’t like, maybe there is a reason why they are so cranky, see what happens. Everyone has a story, listen. There is always someone who has it worse than you do.We are relatively healthy, our adult children are coming home for a visit and we will have a turkey on the table for Thanksgiving. We give thanks for what we have.

Seeking Paradise OR Grieving Does Not Have A Time Schedule

Vegetables in a grocery store, Paris, France.

Vegetables in a grocery store, Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m lying in my bed, still in my pajamas, it’s almost three o’clock in the afternoon. My husband and I had planned to go out to dinner tonight but there is no way in hell I’m going. He thinks I will change my mind. He tries guilt “but I’ m going to be disappointed….” Apparently he doesn’t know me as well as he thinks he does. I do not like to go out when I  feel blue.  I will not step out of my house today unless there is a fire, even then, I would find a cozy corner for me and my red dog that seemed safe enough. I would protect her.

Sometimes I get delayed reactions to things, things that I THOUGHT I had handed well, or maybe this is just a blip in the radar. I used all the right buzz words, “when one door closes another opens” I was practically playing Mother Abbess role singing out loud to “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music.” Not now. I’m stuck in mud, not the kind that you can joyfully wade through and play in but the one you feel where you feel trapped in cement and cannot move. Yes, it will change eventually, Patience is not one of my virtues.

This is too familiar we’ve gone through this before. My husband got laid off from his job, I know it’s not his fault, the state of the economy is horrific. His age, doesn’t help, I’m quite sure. He is probably competing with 22-year-old youngsters, bright and bushy-tailed. that will accept less money. It’s those of us who are in-between that suffer the most.

Call us “Baby Boomers,” call us “Empty Nesters” but pretty much, call us what we are: F—ed. We’re taking care of or worrying about our remaining living parents, we have children in college, and we have no idea what to do ourselves. Where should we live? Should we stay, move twice, do nothing? Stress! I live in a town whose school systems excel, one that my kids both graduated from. The taxes are high but the thought of moving twice makes my blood curdle at the thought. I like a town that is peaeful, not divisive, where we help each other, not fight.

The only good thing for my husband and me is that we ARE open to moving, anywhere. If my husband got a job offer in California we would definitely consider it.(Sorry, kids) But, what are the chances?  Right now not very high at all. Besides, no matter where we end up, our children will ALWAYS  have a home. That’s one thing they never, EVER, have to worry about.

The days now are dreary, cold and grey. Wind is chilly and goes right through my winter jacket. I despise going out when the sun sets around four pm, even the grocery store is dull with its flat vegetables and fruit. I miss plums and peaches, cherries and magnificently bright-colored fruit that made summer so cheery. The ripe taste, juice dribbling down your chin, laughing. I’m stuck, we’re stuck and there really is nothing we can do about it.

I know, I’m procrastinating on writing my book. True. That is one thing I SHOULD do. It’s one thing I COULD do and have in my control. That, and what I eat. Food you can also control. I don’t have an eating disorder but it feels good to be able to control something. Yes, things will change, I need to be patient but it is okay to be sad. Dwelling on it, that’s a whole other story, I don’t want to go there. Tonight, I dearly miss my children, I can’t wait to see them in a few weeks, even when they make fun of me, especially when they make fun of me. At least, I will laugh.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

gratitude

gratitude (Photo credit: nathalie booth)

I’m still in my blue fleece pajama bottoms with cherries happily bursting on them and a 20-year-old mauve Cape Cod sweatshirt and I have no interest in getting dressed. This is my outfit today, I see no reason to change. It’s freezing outside, and if my tensed up bones need a break (no, not literally) I will give it to them. Cold weather is not good for people with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia. Trust me. I know. It’s too early to long for Spring.

The wind is howling outside, seeping in to our little house’s walls, windows. I am under a mountain of blankets with my dog. She could lie beside me or at the other end of the bed, but no, she picks the place over my feet to settle down. My dog, my mutt, was a wild puppy, I struggled bitterly with her biting and pulling and ransacking the house. How my friends encouraged me to “hang in there, she’s just a puppy.” At 8 months, she is still a puppy but a better one and most certainly a larger one. She no longer bites into my hand as if it was a cheeseburger. I’m not as steady on my feet as other people, because of balance issues, so I hope she behaves.

Our children have left for their respective colleges, the house is comfortingly quiet, and we are happy,  probably because I know the kids will be back in three weeks and because this happened to be a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. No fighting, NO DRAMA and a good time all around. My daughter didn’t even object when we told her she needed to see a doctor, she came home from her appointment with a package of antibiotics and a diagnosis of bronchitis. No, you cannot drink while you are on antibiotics. As my kids used to say “Nuff said.”

There are more leftovers to eat tonight, I’m not even sick of them yet. It’s hard to get sick of turkey, cranberry sauce, my Danny’s home-made, unbelievable stuffing and Polish rye bread “from the Homestead” in Kew Gardens, Queens where we both grew up. There is nothing like that bread, it brings back all sorts of childhood memories: standing in line, getting sandwiches made, deciding between the shrimp salad, or chicken salad, imported cheeses, home-baked desserts: cherry, apple and cheese strudel, chocolate layer cakes, and the traditional jelly doughnuts for New Year’s Eve.

Like last year, we won’t be exchanging gifts this Christmas. Everything is so expensive and times are hard. My husband has a job but I can’t work and I live in silent fear of him losing his job since the economy is so bad. If that happens, we will deal with it then. My present this year will be the memories of this past weekend, the family getting together at our house for Thanksgiving. The memories of the pretty amber lit candles that lined the middle of our long tables, my dog, lying on the green couch, the four cousins whispering together, the three grandparents still with us, childhood friends that I grew up with here, and the giant dessert spread we had, enough for 40 people not 14. We had a warm place to sit, food on the table, we were all grateful to be here, we escaped the worst from Sandy; we were very, very lucky. For this, and everything else, we gave and continue to give our thanks.

Mellow Yellow Monday

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would show you what my son, 20, whipped up at the last minute. He called it Corn Bread Pudding. The photo below is the closest I could come to it but his did not have jalapenos in it, instead he had diced red peppers. It was the first time my kids and my nephew contributed to the meal and it was very, very special. Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was sweet.

goin' coastal - jalapeño corn bread pudding

goin’ coastal – jalapeño corn bread pudding (Photo credit: Foodie Buddha)