Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hoppin John

It is the last day of 2013.  A gray chilly day, almost like it is mourning over the ending of the year.  A year that has been filled with challenges for so many people. 

My year?  Wow, this year has been filled with events I would never have guessed could happen to me. 

Bug proposed
I accepted
Vicki asked us if we did?
We both readily agreed
Then we were husband and wife
best friends
happy, happy, happy

We travelled
Met each other's friends
fell in love with these new friends,
on both sides

We buried Daddy
We helped his parents buy a house near us here in Monticello
My big brother and I have become even closer
I have gotten to spend so wonderful moments with my baby brother and our family
Christopher is a teenager
Nathaniel is a senior in high school
Jessica was 9 and in a few days she will be 10

When I married Bug
I also got 2 great parents
A daughter and almost son in law
Three grandsons
One grand daughter
A son and girlfriend

Cousins and Aunt, Uncles
Two new brothers
and a partridge in a pear tree
Okay, not that last one, it just seemed right considering the time of year and all

We will stop by and visit with Mr and Mrs Moon this afternoon
I used to see Ms Moon every week
But then I lost my mind and my anxieties took over my world
and the ability to talk on the phone or stop by and visiting people
Ms Moon would have understood me
She probably would have even know what to say to make me laugh and feel better
but I couldn't do it to her
or to anyone
so I shut myself away from the world
Hid behind my Bug

I am better
not consistent, but better
It is just I am so very happy in my life
But I have to manage the situations I put myself in and if I can not be sure that I will not break down crying or say mean or crazy things.
I have the best friends in the entire world
Everyone of them would be more then happy to do whatever they could for me
I have not wanted to take advantage
and now I am so far out it is even harder to try and come back into a life with friends again

Jan. 4 is the very best most special New Year's Party there is. 
The invite came yesterday and I was so thrilled.  It is a Christmas tree burning
reminiscent of the bon fires roaring on the hillsides in the UK and I am sure else where in the world
Fire and a new year just seem to go together
and dear special friends

The black eye peas are bubbling on the stove
I soaked them last night, which is my preference.  They are a bean that really doesn't need to be soaked, but it is part of the ritual of new year's eve.
Now they are getting thick as the water cooks down.  Bug helped me to chop the onions, carrots and celery for the pot.  This evening I will make the rice, cornbread and cook the turkey sausage for my hoppin John. 

Tonight we will each eat a big bowl of the new year's eve delicacy. 
Each bite we will make that happy face of rich savory beans and meat over rice and a piece of corn bread stuck to the side of our mouths.  We will scrape the bowl down and then Bug will remark, "Wait until it sits all night.  It is going to be even better tomorrow."

Which is why I love to soak and then cook my black eye peas on new year's eve instead of new years day.  I also like the transition from one year to another by cooking and eating what is often referred to as Southern Caviar between the last and new year.  It is a feeling of plenty for me to carry over such a basic food, and one of my favorites.  This year I will be cooking spinach instead of collard or mustard.  Just changing things up a little.  Life throws challenges and I try to change and flow with them

The pain is getting to where it is almost a back ground noise again.  Yes, there are moments where it grabs the spotlight and comes down stage right into all of my attention, but I think I am starting to relax into this world of medication and just not feeling so lost is helping to separate the pain from just the background.  After all, I don't just have stage 4 c, but I am also growing older each day.  So some of these pains may also be just getting old.

I think one thing that would help me with my pain management is to see the next PT scan.  I want to see where the cancer actually is so pains elsewhere can be dealt with for what they are, not what I fear they could be. 

I have a small bruise on my lower back, right on my back bone and it is swollen.  I don't have one clear memory of where it came from, but with 3 labs and unstable feet, the possibilities are infinite.
I have had it over two weeks now
But once you have had cancer, anything like this makes me take notice to make sure it is not something else.
I don't even want to say in my head what it could be.
I just want to look at the PT scan with my own eyes and see that nothing is there.
That it is just a bruise
This could help me a lot in starting to be able to calmly look at changes and not consider the worse.
It is funny instead of convincing myself it is the worst possible scenario,
As soon as that thought comes into my head I start looking for a simpler possibility
Something more reasonable with a klutzy person like myself.  Because people tend to think I am getting down on myself by using the word klutz.  Well, I could say gravity impaired.  It doesn't matter to me.  It is not a fault as much as just who I am. 
I have often said, "It is not if we will fall or hurt ourselves in my family, it is when"
My hands are covered with burns from the toaster over, cuts, scrapes, gouges and dry cracking.  Why?
Because I do feel in my hands,
but my brain is much slower reacting these days when it comes to pain

OK, my brain is slower these days periods
I had called the med delivery people three days before we left on vacation
They assured me that I needed not call that it was scheduled to be mailed out on the 19 of December.
I thanked them, double checked because I only had 17 pills left.
The pills had come with out calling last time, but they had gotten to me earlier then these seemed to be coming, and I don't want to mess up on my doses
This is the stuff that is keeping the cancer a little slower
Just like my brain, the cancer is slow
Slow cancer is good, slow brain, not so much
When the pills were not here yesterday I was concerned and called. 

Oh, no, they were not mailed out until the 26, not the 19th
They said the mistake was that they did not say the week of the 19th.
I know my brain is slow, but the 26 is not the "week" of the 19th.
but my brain is slow

By the time I found out that they had not mailed my pills and I had to answer all of these easy questions but fired at me non stop like a machine gun, just loud enough that I could barely hear them,
The anxiety just shoots out of control and then I answer one wrong and I can't get back, and well, I just ended up in the bathroom weeping

I cried because I had so much anxiety flowing through my veins I could do nothing else
I cried because I realized how impaired my brain has become
I cried because I had snapped at Bug when he tried to help me
I cried because I was scared
I am not scared of dying
that seems like such an easy thing to do at this moment
The hard scary stuff is trying to live when your brain just doesn't always work
It is scary because I snap at people like a crazed animal backed into a corner
I cry because I feel so stupid that I am taking 2 drugs for crazy and that I am still crazy
Okay, even more crazy
I cried because out in public every one looks at me and tell me that I am going to be fine
I am fine
Well, when I am not weeping and whining over poor me
It seems like a lot of people survive in this world just fine never even trying to use their brain

The pain?

It is not that bad
even the bad is in more perspective and I am learning about my pain management meds
I have to quit worrying about becoming addicted
even just mentioning it I feel stupid
I am a moderate person, not an addictive person
If I use the drugs as prescribed there should be no worries
just pain management
I am working on it
and even though I had that terrible melt down yesterday
Bug was there and wrapped me in his arms and told me how he felt
I felt guilty at first at putting him into this spot,
but he opened the door and walked into my life and has never asked to leave
he kind of knew what he was getting into
Not really because how could he
if I didn't
and still don't

We will get out of the house, maybe straighten up his parents new home a little bit.  We will come home later and snuggle with all the animals and eat our hoppin John. 

oh yeah
it is new years eve and I
am once again counting all the amazing gifts given to me this year
how lucky can one person be
Good bye 2013
what adventures will 2014 bring?
we will just have to wait and see


Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Most Wonderful Christmas

Vicki and I always say we had the most perfect and wonderful childhood ever.  I don't have a single memory of a Christmas where I didn't get what I wanted.  I don't remember really wanting anything like children are portrayed today.  I just wanted to ...hmm.  What did I really want at Christmas?  I knew exactly what would happen every moment of the day.  From Breakfast, stockings, presents, standing rib roast, grandparents, presents, and then time together as a family.  Every year, the same wonderful reliable holiday.  The tree always in the corner.  Sitting on the couch, now my couch, and listening to Mother read the Christmas story.  The Christmas play at church done, the shepherd's robe returned to Dad, my halo hung in the closest with the wings and sheet transformed into an angel outfit with a little tinsel. Christmas Eve,a story, bright colored lights and hot cocoa. Like a Rockwell picture.  Our family's Christmas grew up with us, and yet a childlike spirit was nurtured in us.  It was easy to keep the childlike innocence, when you parents both have the same twinkle in their eyes and the joy of being able to give to their children.  It wasn't about money.  There wasn't much money.  But we all were happy and appreciated the gifts given.  Most of the gifts were hand made.  All of the gifts were perfect, because it was the giving and the receiving that was important.

How do you have Christmas after 57 years knowing what was coming and getting excited, not for the presents we would each get, but the cookies, the nut bread, making presents for others, for the family tradition? 

I found for me to do something so foreign to my life before this year was how to spend Dhristmas.  Bug and I drove north.  It was cold, but the only "snow" we saw was hidden in the woods along a river as we drove north from Florida.  Well, unless you count the piles pushed off parking lots and sidewalks.  They looked more like an old Slurpee with liquorish flavored syrup.  I don't mind driving north and not seeing snow.  But the cold was everywhere.  How do people keep their giant homes warm in the winter?  They don't as far as I can tell.  I am not criticizing, I am sure that they are used to keeping the house in the upper 60s.  I am sure it is environmentally smarter and definitely makes sense financially, but I don't go outside here when it is below 70 if I can help it.  What do you do when the house doesn't even get to 70.  Wear lots of sweaters, preferably cashmere and warm comfy socks and sit under a blanket.  I am just not made to live in the cold. 

We had a wonderful visit with the kids.  Christmas Eve, Ken's Dad came over for dinner and Shireen and Ken cooked a beautiful ham dinner with home made chicken soup and a lovely chicken breast cooked perfectly for me.  The table was sparkling and perfect for Christmas dinner.  The room was golden washed with the light from one of the ten Christmas trees in the house.  The house smelled of ham, brown sugar and pineapple.  The rich savory smell of chicken soup bubbling on the stove.  We all set together around the table.  Kensington sat next to his Poppa Bug, Colton sat next to his grandmother.  Patient with me as the joy just bubbled out of me.  We ate as a family, like was the tradition of my family.  We thought of those absent from our table, knowing they were with other beloved members of our combined families.  We toasted and Chippy the shelf elf moved around the room unseen by our youngest member who ahhhhed in sheer amazement to see that his best friend Chippy at slipped off of the table and up on the grandfather clock.  The adults conspired together to find moments to shift Chippy's position without being detected.  Even the 13 year old joined in instead of spoiling the fun and ratting us out.  At the end of dinner I leaned in and whispered to him, "See, it is way more fun to play a little trick on Kensington because it made all of us happy and see the real spirit of Christmas.  That one day when both he and his brother were all grown he would then be able to tell Kensington the little trick we played on him at dinner that night."  Colton looked at me with awe in his face.  He got it, and because he really did understand then he was allowed to look through that veil of the adult world.  Into the nitty gritty life of adults trying to do our best.  He truly saw the magic that exits between the world of the young and the not so young.  That lessons can be learned in strange ways.

Christmas morning Chippy was perched on the Christmas tree holding a note.  Kensington is 5 and just starting kindergarten.  He recognizes letters, but he is not able to read riddles.  The note stated that before they could open their first present they would have to find the present that they would open last.  Colton had to read the notes for his little brother.  None of the adults would read for Kensington, and no one could open any presents until they followed the riddle.  A few clues later and Kensington was happily rushing between clue and clue.  "Where do you wash your hands?", "It is very cold where your next clue lies" and so on.  Even Colton, at 13 who is in that disgruntled age of believers and those who make the magic for the believers, got into the hunt.  He allowed Kensington to figure out the clue and madly dash to get the next one.  He followed behind with bright eyes reading each clue.  A team working together, and it was wonderful.  They were happy and for a few minutes they were just brothers, happily chasing a riddle together on Christmas morning.  Their parents watching, their grand parents, oohing and ahhhhing and cheering them on.  They finally came to the present they would open last.  It took a few minutes to explain this to Kensington.  It is 5 and he had worked very hard to find this present and now he was supposed to go back into the family room and be happy with all the presents under the tree.  He may be 5, and at first look this may have seemed unfair to him, but he figured out his odds quickly by the number of presents with his name on them and was soon ripping through bright red and green wrapping paper excited.  Both boys oohed and ahhhed over each present.  Each of them got what their hearts most desired.  How can Christmas not be the very best when you are still a child at heart, and you get what you most wished for?

When the presents were unwrapped, the children's desire for opening presents spent in the brief joy and energy expelled earlier, we packed our bags to leave.  I hated going.  I hated missing Christmas dinner with Lisa, Shireen's best friend.  A big lovely Italian Christmas family dinner.  Sounds wonderful.  Unless you are taking the strongest pain med the doctor prescribed and still struggling.  And not just once, but several days I actually followed the instructions on the label for as often as I could take them.  Pain management is new for me.  It is amazing all the different things, good and bad that seem to increase the need to manage the pain.  The joyful excitement of children on the holiday.  The most wonderful moments you could ever wish for, but on the pain scale, it is right up there as one of the top 10 things that cause the need to manage the pain.  Lifting heavy items, getting chilled, breathing in the cold winter air in the Northeast, sleeping on a bed other then our own comfortable bed at home contribute to the challenges.  Talking and being around people too long at anyone time, sitting in a car for too many hours, well, I guess you could say that just about everything I do, feel, hear, see or generally experience will affect me.  I realize that this is true for everyone, young, old, sick and healthy alike.  Everything affects us, it is how we handle things is what gives us a happy life.  Maybe the biggest gift I received this year was the opportunity to experience so much stimuli at the beginning of this new phase of my journey.  A time to understand how so many things affect me, not in a day or two.  No, instantaneously, just something happens, and pow your body feels it.  Yoga helps me to feel where the pain is coming from and then focusing on those areas and try to breath through the pain.  That helps mostly.  If nothing else, it gets me to stop and focus on what am I doing.  I have no intention of staying at home.  I have no intention of not being around people and the emotions and personalities pouring all around me.  I just know to prepare and think through pain management before I go some place that I have learned affects me.  I still plan to travel.  I am just trying to still live life, but understand what that means when it comes to medications.

We left Christmas morning while the children were still weary and happy from their ripping and tearing of paper and packages.  We left while the joy of the holiday held us tight in a group hug.  We drove south to Virginia where Bug's son lives.  We drove with all the crazy people trying to get somewhere.  They do not have the same need for personal space up north then I am used to.  Their driving reflects that same closeness but now wrapped up in their vehicles racing along turnpikes and highways at break neck speed.  We took back roads when ever possible.

We had Christmas dinner at Denny's with Bug's son and his sweet girl friend.  She is next door girl beautiful.  That sweet, intelligent best friend kind of girl.  Just lovely inside and out.  Denny's isn't really where I would rather have had Christmas dinner this year.  But I got to meet my step son.  He is too old to ever think of me as a step mother, which is just fine with me.  But if he feels comfortable enough around me and his Dad and me together, to spend more time with his Dad, well, that would make me very happy.  It was a crazy night and we were all exhausted from a challenging day, but we sat around the table in the middle of all the chaos of families and children crowded into tables Christmas night at Denny's in Newport News, VA.  Everything at the table seemed to stand out while everyone else in the crowded diner disappeared into a hum.  I saw how much Bug and his son look alike.  Josh has his grandfather's color blue sparkling from expressions I have seen on Bug's face.  Family features passed around the genetic pool.  Popping up in every generation in a unique new person.  It was a wonderful Christmas dinner.  The four of us were a little family sharing the moment together, and we all looked very comfortable with each other.  nice.  very nice.

The next morning we got up, ate breakfast at the IHOP, long story and met Josh at his new shop.  We were able to walk around Josh's new space.  He is putting it together now and hopes to have a grand opening maybe around March.  He would also like to have a hog to cook for the opening that he got himself.  We will have to check with Spat and see if he can help make that happen. 

We headed south again.  I was not really feeling any better.  I seemed to still be not getting the pain meds right.  So we decided to stop in Southport, NC and spend the night with the most amazing, precious, special friends, family actually that we love so dearly, Marty and Shelia.  Oh, and of course, Marco and Polo, their 'boys'.  The boys are adorable.  Marco is growing so big.  His mother was a poodle and the father was the shizt poo portion.  Polo takes after his father is quite petite.  They are sweet wonderful little dogs, and help take away a little of our home sickness for our kids.  Their antics entertain us and hold our interest better then TV or even a movie.  We exchanged presents, and they had picked out such thoughtful gifts. Just perfect.  The four of us shared dinner at a Mexican restaurant down the road which was some of the best Mexican food I have ever had.  Bug and I enjoyed my left overs the next night for dinner.

The next morning Marty needed to go into work at the airport.  Shelia would be working at the Hallmark store.  So knowing that they already had commitments made it easier for us to get up the next morning and continue our journey back home.  It was too short, but so sweet.  We shared breakfast of turkey bacon, eggs, fruit and Marty's delicious pumpkin spiced bread.  Marty packed us up enough loaves to keep us set with this amazing treat for many more mornings.  They had even hunted and found my most favorite tea, Earl Grey Decaf.  I felt so loved and nurtured around this sweet adorable couple.  But as comfortable and luxurious is our guest sweet, we missed our own bed.  So we hugged and smiled.  We promised each other to get together again soon.  Anytime, but let's do it soon.  More hugs and then driving away from a place so special, so filled with love and funny intelligent people. 

(Marty, how did I do?)

This time we declared no more stops, even with our most beloved ones.  I needed to get home.  To our bed, our 'kid's, our warm weather, our chairs in front of our TV.  Everyone has been so generous, kind and loving.  And as much as I revel in the love, sometimes my body needs to be in a place with less stimulation.  Even positive stimulation can exhaust and over whelm me.

We were gone for 10 days.
We spent time with Shireen, Ken and the four grand children.  Sweet, beloved grandchildren that stole my heart over and over.  Joy that left me awed.  I got to spend time with my grand daughter crocheting.  I got to spend time with my daughter while she learned the knitting loom and I sat and crocheted.  We talked about this and that and laughed.  We were comfortable there just gabbing and knotting yarn into lovely scarves and afghans.  A quiet time to enjoy the holiday, those moments already spent, others still come on that afternoon. 
How can you explain the joy of time spent with your children and grand children, when you never had children.  What I have learned is that the emotions you are having are yours and right for you.  I have always loved basking in the joy of mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers when they spoke of their off springs.  I felt the joy and wonderment of a child born, a child loved and worried over.  And now to realize my position in this complicated world of families.  I am actually the step mother of the step mother of my grand daughter.  But when I look at that lovely face, I see through the eyes of my friends.  I have seen the look I know is on my face.  It is the look I have seen other parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles have on their face. When they look not only at the person in front of them, but also the connection between themselves and those eyes they look into.
I got to share that kind of moment with the family in NJ
but I also got to share a moment with the son I had never met.
It is almost impossible for me to imagine, let alone realizing that the memories in my head are real.
To leave these precious children that came with Bug into my was hard
Spending the next night with Shelia and Marty, it took the sting out of the separation of the previous few days.

We drove the long drive home.  I-95 was a parking lot.  Just before you got to each exit the traffic would take off and you would be going 45 - 50 mph and you are like, yeah, we are finally getting past whatever the problem was and get moving.  Ha!  Ha Ha!!!  I say.  As soon as you pull securely past the exit the traffic would come to a complete stop.  After much frustration and inching forward we got off on another exit and had the most beautiful ride on the back roads.  Every time we got close enough to see the interstate, we could see red brake lights and cars stopped.  We zipped along under canopy roads and fields of cotton.  The cotton white like snow against the red dirt.  We were heading home.  Home.  It had been a wonderful holiday, and now it was time to go home.

Home in our own bed
We are both completely exhausted. 
The pain is much less here
I am listening to you all and trying very hard to figure out what to take when to keep things running a bit more comfortably

The side effects are literally popping out all over.  I have a few, not many red spots all over my body.  My stomach is also putting in its two cents concerning meds and how well it behaves. 

It has been a 10 days of learning to deal with the changes occurring inside of me.  I appreciate the opportunity to have meds that help after I have lived a good day.

I was awed and reminded so many moments over these 10 days about the important things in life.
How many wonderful things I have in my life

Bug and I watched White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Cluney and Mitzi Gaynor.  My favorite Christmas movie

We watched The Santa Claus movies with Tim Allen, we watched the Christmas movie with Chevy Chase in it.  Movies as much a part of our world as the one with Bing and friends.  Wonderful happy movies

This was one of the most wonderful Christmases ever. 

I missed my brothers
I missed my Daddy
But Daddy will soon join Mother in that memories have faded, but so has the pain for missing her
I spent this Christmas different then any other Christmas I have ever had
It was a wonderful Christmas
All of it
Absolutely every single moment special in my memories
Next year?  I don't know.  For the first time in my life, I do not know where I will be next Christmas. 
And you know. 
That is okay. 
Maybe I will wake up in my own cozy home, snug as a bug (or should I say snug with my bug) in our little bed.  And then Christmas morning.  Magical, light shifting into the bedroom golden with the day. 
We will see

For now, I am still radiating the glow of joy, love and aw of these past few weeks. 
Again and again, challenges are lost behind the happiness of life


Monday, December 23, 2013

Grand kids

We have made it to the grand kids.  But what about all of my animals?  Who takes care of my Bob, Edna, Harley, our cats, the bear, the chickens and the Bubba fish?  We always have a house sitter who comes and takes care of our kids.  The kids like her just fine, after all they are animals, feed them, throw Harley and Bob a ball or a stick and tell Edna she is special.  And things go fine.  Okay, someone on the wrong side of the fence is a different story. 

I miss the kids, obviously.  But here I am with my grand kids.  We were sitting in the family room last night and I was crocheting and Kayla, my grand daughter came over and asked me what I was doing.  Before I knew it she was sitting next to me and making a long chain stitch.  I was so thrilled I could hardly breathe.  I mean this is a dream I have never dared to have.  She looked up at me and asked how long she had to make the chain.  I showed her how to take the chain apart and then taught her about a single stitch and a double stitch and how to start making a square.  She worked and worked.  Her fingers were a little clumsy, after all, aren't we all a little clumsy when we are learning.  Each time she finished the first two rows she would tear it all apart and start again.  On her 5th try her stitches were as consistent and neat as anything I can do.  She never complained or wanted to stop, she just kept trying and trying.  Every time she figured something out, she would tell me in her sweet 9 year old way of thinking.  "That looks like a flower"  "That is like....." and so on.  She amazed me.  By the time she finished her last try it looked better then my stitches.  She was so in this that Santa Claus was driving up and down the streets in the neighborhood and she didn't want to leave to go see him.  The local fire district had Santa on the back of a fire truck and I wanted to go see him.  He was giving all the children candy canes.  But she told her dad, "No, I have already seen two 'Santa helpers' and I think that is enough.  I am very comfortable sitting with grandma crocheting."  Just writing that breaks my heart.  What more could you ask for.  Isn't that one of the sweetest part of Christmas?!!  Being with the children.  Seeing their kindness and goodness at this time of year.  Kensington was so excited to see Santa, he is 5.  He kept running in and grabbing Kayla's hand, "Santa is coming, Santa is coming" He exclaimed.  His eyes bright with excitement.  Kayla is 9 and I guess she is growing out of Santa.  She isn't yet willing to give completely up, but........

Kensington ran out to see Santa and when it was his turn to get a candy cane he asked Santa if he could get one for his sister.  Santa hesitated briefly, but you could see the honest love in his eyes and Santa handed over the second candy.  He ran into the house with it, thrilled to tell his sister that he had gotten Santa to give him a candy for her.  She was happy, he was over the moon and the adults?  We all stood there awed by the sheer sweetness of the moment. 

As I was looking through my emails and facebook and came across an old message about The Quaz.  This was an interview I did early in 2012.  Jeff Perlman is a writer and more known for his two books about sports.  One is "Sweet" about Walter Payton the other is about the Dallas Cowboys.  He does a weekly interview about someone in sports, politics are whatever interests him.  How and why he found my blog and wanted to interview me is a mystery.  I went back and found my interview.  He is up to 133 interviews, I think I am like 34 or 38, I really can't remember numbers anymore.  I went back and read it again.  Wow!  What a different person I was then.  I was smart and deep.  I was funny and kind.  What happened to me?  I guess I have burned my brain up with meds, chemo, crazy and pain meds.  Trust me as I read that I was taken back.  Where did all of that go?  How could I have been so together back then? 


I found the 15 comments people had posted on the blog.  The tears streamed down my face as friend after friend said the loveliest things.  I had never read them, and next to my grand daughter wanting to spend time learning how to crochet, that was the most amazing Christmas gift I have ever been given. 

As I counted my blessings, the tears blurred my eyes, stinging as I thought about the person I have become.  This new years resolution.  I am not even sure what I need to do to try and bring that person back.  To be a better person.  A more caring person.  A more responsible person who is better about getting birthday cards out on time.  To call my friends more and be more dependable.  Someone they can like again.  I am humbled by that person.  She was so brave, so willing to take this challenge on.  Today, I lay in child's pose and wept with the pain in my body.  I wondered how will I do this, if now, when the pain is first starting and I weep like a baby.  How?  How will I be a better person.  I don't have decades to work on, only year(s).  I know I will never be that person again, but I have to start being a better, braver, stronger person. 

Last night the kids opened their presents from us, because two of the kids had to return to their mother for Christmas.  It was loud and joyful.  The tin toys were wound up and raced across the floor.  The parachute men were thrown off the second floor.  The dogs ate through their stockings to get to their milk bones.  Within 15 minutes the entire room was filled with ribbons and presents and packaging.  They loved their pillow cases and happily filled them back up with their prizes.  It was as good as it gets.

My blessings overwhelm me.  For my first Christmas after Daddy's death, it is turning into one of the most beautiful Christmas' I have ever had.  The elf on the shelf is watching over the children, and they are serious about being good.  Kensington walks around singing Christmas carols and tonight he was sweet even to me.  He ate his dinner then got up took his shower without being asked and then went to bed.  "Chippy" the elf will report to Santa who has been naughty and nice, and this little man has taken this to heart.  He is seriously sweet and kind and everything you would want for a child to be at this time of year.  I am so very proud of our little man.  The lessons these children have taught me in the last 36 hours are well, I feel like I am in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  The one where they decorate the Charlie Brown sad little tree.  Where Linus quotes from St. Luke.  These children are as wonderful and precious as those children from Mr. Shultz's mind. 
Thank you Charles Shultz for Peanuts. 
And thank you Bug for giving me grand children
Thank you Shireen and Ken for sharing your home and children with this crazy old woman
Thank you my dear precious sweet friends for, well, everything you are and do
Thank you to my big brother for having Christmas at his house this year and inviting Marie, my Dad's girlfriend and her daughter to spend Christmas with them.  I am so proud of my big brother for being so kind.
I am proud of my little brother for understanding and supporting our brother as he tries to make this first Christmas without Daddy to be special and to still be about family.
Tonight, there is peace and joy, love and hope in this heart.
There is pain in my body.  Pain I was not prepare for, but I will survive it and learn how to deal with it.  And maybe, just maybe that pain will help me to learn how to once again be that kind, generous person in the Quaz interview.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Travelling north

As we have been travelling north on our little adventure we have seen lots and lots and lots of Florida license plates also heading north.  I mean when we were in North Carolina and lower we saw almost more Florida tags then any other license plate.  I commented to Bug that all of these "old" people were heading north to see their grand kids.  He said, "Like us"

Whoa!  stop the bus.  I have become one of those old people driving north to visit the grand kids for the holidays.  This is so far out of what I thought would happen in my life.  But once I got over the shock of reality it was kind of cool.  I was getting to do something that I never dreamed in a million years I would ever get to do. 

But, Shireen, next year, it is you and Ken's turn to bring the kids south.  Yes, that is how it works.  The old people drive up until they are too old and then the kids drive south to have holidays with the old people.  With Mom and Dad moving to Monticello, that is even more reason for y'all to come and visit all the old people.

I am so glad that I grew up in Florida so I know how this works.  Now, just to convince the kids.

Ticks, Santa and record highs

So when I went to see Dr. May, just as we drove up to the clinic I felt something in my hair on top of my head.  It was a little uncomfortable and at first felt like a huge red spot from my meds.  Bug looked at it, and no, it was not a huge red spot, it was a tick.  A tick with its head buried deeply into the top of my head.  great.

Bug tried to remove it but was afraid he might break the head off in my head and that couldn't be good.  As I was getting ready to go in to see the nurses we thought maybe they could use some forceps and remove it.  I took my cookies in and talked to the insurance people updating my newly medicare life.  Then I went back to the lab for blood work.  I sat down in Precious's chair and asked her if when she was done collecting her blood samples and flushing my port if she could remove the tick from my head?  She stepped back and looked confused.  It seemed like simple English, "Please remove the tick in my head."

She looked at the other nurse and asked her if she could help remove a tick from my head.  She looked even more confused.  She said, "Tick?  What do you want me to do?"  I smiled and said, "Nothing, I will just name it and keep it as a pet."  That was just quirky enough to get the ladies looking at my head.  They peered and peered.  They moved my hair this way and that.  They tried to pull it out and squeeled.  "His legs are moving, he is trying to burrow deeper!!!" They exclaimed.  They went got help.  They finally found a pair of plastic forceps.  The crowd of nurses discussed what to do.  One suggested that you have to touch it with fire to get it to remove its head.  I told them that besides possibly having caught my hair on fire once before with an ear candle, I would rather that they not involve fire.  Another suggested salt.  Another gave a good pull and off came the body.......leaving the head firmly attached in the skin in my head.  They picked and poked until I told them thank you, that was enough.  Two heads were better then one anyway.  They love me and my quirky sense of humor.  Now that the excitement was over they all went back to try and get cookies before they were all gone.

We went on to lunch at the Farmer's Market Buffet.  Bug looked at my head and was not happy to see the head still firmly attached.  He said we should have used olive oil.  But once I had mentioned the tick to the nurses, there was no stopping them.  

When I got back I told Ann, my nurse for the day about the tick and could she please let Dr. May know and could she please look at it for me.

Dr. May came in did our business and looked at the tick.  She also said that she could not get the head out and suggested that maybe I should go to the Emergency room and have it cut out.  Whoa!!!!  No, I still think two heads are better then one, and I am not going to the Emergency room for some small black spec in my hair.  That and after everyone had helped my head was pretty sore.

Yep, a tick head in my head.  I swear I can find the craziest things in the world to happen to me.  I wash my hair about every other day or so and I never found it.  Oh well.  Update?  Yes there is still a little bit of tick head in my head.  It is slowly working its way out, so really, no worries here.

We will get to Shireen's house tomorrow.  We have taken our time getting here and have gone thrifting at Goodwill's and other stores.  It has been nice taking our time to get here so hopefully that will help my body to adjust and I should be fine when we get there.  All I do is sit in the passenger side of the car.  An occasional look at a map to verify the GPS.  I open waters, mints and snacks.  I crochet.  Yet, when we travel all day long, I get really worn down.  So taking our time to get her seems to be working so far.  A few complications, but heck, I have a tick head in my head, I am used to complications.  I am a complication.  Shireen's Ken is a Med Tech, so I am sure that he can look at it and if necessary removed any little pieces of head left in my head. 

I finished the latest Rick Rirodan novel, "House of Hades".  It is a series that Christopher turned me onto.  I found "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" by Frank L Baum at a thrift store.  Yes, the same Baum who wrote the 16 or so Oz books.  He wrote this story in 1902 and I have only read a few chapters so far, but it is beautiful and as wonderful as his Oz stories.  My Mother read and owned all the Oz books growing up and when Harry Potter came out she read those.  She thought of Harry Potter as this generation's Oz.

So as we have driven north we have brought the record highs with us.  You are welcome to those who are enjoying these record highs.  Tomorrow it will be 70 when we get to Shireen's tomorrow.  It will get cold again for Christmas, but it has been nice so far.  I am getting so excited to see all the kids. 

Life is good.  Yes, travelling does bring a few challenges, but not enough for me to stop or to not spend this Christmas with my grandkids.  And any time with my Bug is a gift. 

Oh, Christmas cards.  I have mailed my Christmas cards.  Well, all the ones that I still have addresses for.  When my hard drive quit I lost a lot of things that I had not backed up recently.  Yes, I know computers should not be treated as imperfect, and I do backup, just not as often as I need to.  Obviously.  When I get home, if I have any cards with lost addresses I can simply send late cards.  So if you are wondering why you haven't heard from me via US Post office, it is because I have lost your address.  I know I have printed copies of these addresses somewhere from last year, but I had not found it when we left.  That is one of the problems with travelling over the holidays I don't have as much time at home for holiday doing.  But for this holiday is different and not doing so much is working out just fine so far.

Tomorrow is the grand kids!!!!  Yea!!!!!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Heading North

I had my visit with Dr. May today, and all is well.  Well, as well as I can be.  My lab numbers continue to look good.  I talked to Dr. May about symptoms and pain management.  I have been juggling a couple of different pain pills.  I only take one most times even though I can take 1-2 every 4 hours, 1 is enough if I do it smart.  Go ahead in the morning and take something when I eat breakfast.  Don't wait and make it worse, just accept that these are tools and use this smartly.  Doc gave me a couple other tools to put in my medicine cabinet.  We stopped at the CVS and filled the prescriptions before we leave tomorrow.  I might very well need some on this trip. hee hee

We are pretty much packed, just needs to go in the car and off we will go.  I am taking Christmas cards with me.  If I don't get time to write them, I will write them when I get home.  I am so bad, but really, oh well.  I did find one present for my friend Maggie in Houston that did not get mailed.  I will mail it to her when I get home.  I am sure that she will understand and forgive me for the lateness, she is a dear friend I have known since high school. 

I bought cookies for the nurses, but not enough.  Not everyone got a cookie, so I will have to take them again next time I go in February.  Yep, I do not have to go back until then.  Life is good.  Dr. May loved her shawl, Allison loved her scarf.  Geraldine was off for the day so I left her scarf with Dr. May.  I love Christmas.  Shoot, I love holidays of any kind.

I will be heading to bed pretty soon, I want to get a good night's sleep, tomorrow is a long day.  I woke this morning at 4am and could not get back to sleep, but I laid in the bed and just rested watching the time click by.  I did not get stressed out, I just laid there quietly listening to Bug's regular breath, the familiar sounds of the house, the dogs and cats going in and out of their door.  The darkness of night finally gave way to dawn and I got up and fed the animals and went on with my day.  I am always tired, today was no exception.

Christmas carols playing on the stereo
a chill in the air
hot coco
presents in the mail
cards to write
what a wonderful time of year

Monday, December 16, 2013

Being Santa

I love giving presents.  I love searching for the perfect thing, or the perfect yarn or material to make presents.  I made scarves, afghans, one shawl, a couple of pillows with Tinkerbell on them, a berka for keeping your head warm under a helmet and pillow cases.  Lots of pillow cases.  Well, here are some photos of some of the things I made:

Yesterday I wrapped each person's gifts and slipped them into pillow case and tied a bright ribbon.  I went through my list and checked it twice.  I couldn't believe I got every present wrapped.  Then I started putting the presents to be given locally in reusable grocery bags and filled a laundry basket.  For presents being mailed, I divided them up into the boxes and called it a day. 

This morning I got up and walked into a room that looked like it had been hit by the Tasmania devil. 


There were some Godiva Santas and Reindeer pops in a couple of the boxes, along with a Claxton Fruitcake and some chocolate covered cherries.  Well, the fruit cake was history.  What is it with that dog?????  This is his second Claxton fruitcake he has eaten.  You would think after the first one, he would have had enough, already.  hee hee  Now he had to eat his way through several boxes of Christmas cards, no where near the fruitcake.  Then it would appear that he did find one bag of Santas.  Not a lot, thankfully.  Again, these were no where near the fruitcake.  I guess the fruitcake monster must have gotten a whiff, because he left the rest of Godiva, ripped the box then the plastic bag holding all the presents, then pulled out the one pillowcase with the forbidden fruit, ate through the back of the case, pulled out the fruitcake from the more than adequate sized hole and left only the tiniest slip of the label.

The most upsetting of this entire situation is the fact that Harley only uses part of his brain some of the time, yet he outsmarted me.  We did have a very unpleasant discussion concerning his Claxton fruitcake addiction.  It does not look like my big brother will get his fruitcake this year.  I sent him the chewed bag as proof that I had tried.  He knows about the first cake, so, I don[t think this is going to happen this year.
Harley has the worst gas.
I am just saying.

After cleaning up the mess, and taking many deep breaths, I marched back out to the barn and sewed another pillow case for my brother and then packed the boxes, taped them up and addressed them to my precious loved ones. 

We loaded the car up, completely filling the trunk and then more went into the back seat and drove into town.  Monticello that is.  That is town to me.  Tallahassee is Tallahassee, town, Monticello. 

I had presents to mail and presents to deliver.  The toy felt like Santa's sleigh and I was so happy.  We carted all the boxes in using one of the handy little folding carrier thing Bug found at the Goodwill for $3.  One trip we were able to get everything in to the office.  Who should be in the Post Office, but Denise.  I was so happy, I drug her outside to the toy and gave her the presents.  She told me I shouldn't, but she had that smile that says, thank you and I see how happy you are giving me this present.  And I am.  I love giving presents.  And these are so fun with the pillowcases.  Most of the gifts are home made, or cashmere or fish shirts.  That is mostly what I give as presents.

After I returned to the Post Office I suggested that Bug might want to wander down to the pawn or one of the other stores.  His face broke out in a wide smile and he disappeared out the door.  It is Christmas, but this is a small town and it probably took 15 minutes to wait in line and then give each box over wishing it well on its journey to a loved one.  The Post Office was busy, but everyone was of good cheer and patient.  Smiles and hugs, thank yous, and she was ahead of me were the murmurs of those waited.  We all knew it wouldn't take any longer smiling and being pleasant and helpful to each other then being any different.

Bug appeared back at the Post Office just as I was finishing, with Ms Moon in tow.  What another wonderful Christmas surprise.  I drug her out to the car for hers and Mr Moon's presents.  She is another one of those dear friends that knows that giving is really what is most enjoyable to me.  The three of us wandered around Trader's Marketplace Antique store.  Mary found a beautiful silk scarf, Bug found me the "sweetest, softest robe".  Sweetest?  It is pretty wonderful and I have washed and dried it and I am currently nestled in it as I sit on my Mother's couch, write my post and eat some chicken veggie soup I made.  The house smells rich and homey.  The Christmas presents are wrapped and mailed.  I should be writing Christmas cards, but after the last few days I needed a night off.  I will work on my crocheting and go to bed early.

I have hung a fir wreath in the living room decorated with flowers and pine cones. a glass acorn, bells, a wooden angel ornament and a beautiful brown/gold ribbon that came on a box of Godiva.  It is a big wreath, and it gives us the smell of Christmas without buying a tree.  I have a poinsettia.  One of those new varieties that has pink and red speckled leaves.  We have our Merry Christmas lights up on the carport and I have my Christmas cactus blooming.  I have two beautiful ones, a pale peach and a vivid red/magenta.  They make me smile every time I look at them.  They are out on the screened in porch so are protected, but have better humidity then in the house.  That is Christmas decorating this year.  I am happy.  I have enjoyed everything I have done this Christmas.  I think I will do a little baking when we get home.  I have not made any nut bread, my family tradition, but I can make it and have it for New Year's.  I always make enough bread to last from Christmas into the new year.  So my need for baking will be satisfied.

I will go and see Dr. May tomorrow.  I have the scarves and shawl and will take cookies or cup cakes or something like that from Publix.  Presents.

Here are a couple photos of my two boys, Bob and Harley. 

 And my other two men, Henry drinking water out of my glass and Bug laughing at him.

It is December and cold here, but not as cold as it will be in NJ. 
I mailed my packages
I have my Christmas letter written, the stamps bought, and still a few cards that Harley did not eat.  I can always write them on the road in the car.  maybe
we will see
Jack and Jan called.  They had found their Christmas presents hung on their front door.  They called to tell me how much they loved them.  sigh, I love presents.
life is good
chicken soup good
Christmas presents good

Monday, December 9, 2013

Just another happy day

Nothing big to report.  Just living life.  Learning to recognize pain instead of ignoring it.  Learning to recognize when to stop before I drop.  Okay, I am still no better at that than I ever have been.  But now, I stop, okay, I have no choice, but I do stop and rest.  I will not see the doctor until the 17th.  So that is another week I had not planned on.  No problem, just adjusting my perspective.  The weather has been gorgeous, simply perfect.  We broke 2 records for the first week of December.  Not lows, highs, we beat two days in a row records for the high of the day.  The rest of the county is freezing and without  power.  It is snowing and ice every where else, but here, sunshine and warm temperatures.  Okay, it is humid.  Not uncomfortable humid, but it is warm and humid, in December.  I am happy.  So happy

Have I ever mentioned before, I really don't like cold weather?

We have taken bike rides.  Just riding up to Georgia, or just the back roads.  We have been running errands, and on the go, but this weekend, we stayed home.  I simply was exhausted and needed to be home and working on Christmas presents.  I just finished a shawl, an afghan and a scarf.  I have started another scarf, working on another afghan and have 2 scarves going again.  I am also wrapping all of my Christmas presents in pillow cases.   Susan and family were some of the very first recipients, and reasons for me sewing bags instead of decorating with paper.  I wanted to give the kids presents in reusable bags.  Susan has kept them over the years, and now they almost exclusively use my bags for presents within the family.  The previous bags were holiday oriented with pretty ribbons and could be used over and over, but this year, I wanted to make pillow cases this year.  Why?  I don't know

Ever since I found out I had cancer I wanted to make pillow cases.  So finally, all the material I have been collected is being cut and sewn and pillow cases are being made.  I have made about 40 so far, but have been giving them away as presents already, but I am working on a large batch that expands from sweet sleep lullaby to vivid dream cases.  It is simple, and most of it very easy and flexible.  Just the end is important on how careful you are.  I am about at that point with about 40 more cases.  One size, fits most presents.  They can be the presents.  Maybe a mini loaf of banana bread and a pair of pillow cases.  I would love a present like that.  I realize that the colors might not match my friends colors, but I still think they will enjoy looking at the colors and patterns, feeling the combed cottons and smile while they think about a sweet nap in the sunshine, or falling asleep under star light with these hand made pillow cases.  A simple thing in life, but if right, it can will give you a restful nights sleep and a sweeter next day.

Pillow cases
they make me happy
and I am enjoying making them

I made one case today that was tie dyed blues with a border of black with bright colored insects on it.  The brightness of the blue tie dye and the insects went together perfect.  It is like cooking with my eyes.  It is like stained glass, but soft and flexible unlike glass that is rigid and hard.  I have met several stained glass artists that have turned to fabric art and make some of the most fun, beautiful and bright colored quilts I have ever seen.  Their eye for color with the glass reflects through their choice of materials for the quilts and I am in awe.  I just stick to my pillow cases.  I piece the border to the body of the case.  Certainly easier than hand sewing lots of pieces.  Not as beautiful, but the best my brain is capable at this time.

I have scaled way back on what I would normally would try and accomplish for Christmas.  Decorations consist of a poinsettia, a few lights and a wreath, that I am hanging inside instead of outside so that we can enjoy the evergreen smells in the house.  I will decorate the two wreaths I bought tomorrow and hang them up on the hooks my sweet honey bought at the store today.  I had a list of things I needed, but really didn't want to go to town, so Bug did and I sewed and talked to my precious Judy.  I don't talk a lot to people any more, but I still love to have a real talk with my precious friends, so call me.  No, really call me.

The leaves are changing and patches of yellow, orange, red and gold hidden back off the road with the green of pines and oaks dark and deep seem to hang on.  We  have taken several motorcycle rides lately.  We finish something and hop on the bike and head out for a few hours.  We live in such a perfect location for motorcycle riding.  Quiet, almost empty roads, 2 and 4 lanes, paved slipping in and out of small town bordering along the Florida, Georgia line.  The air is cool and most against my cheeks as we ride through the place that has stolen our hearts.  Roads now familiar as we search for new adventures and possible homes.

We are open to where will we be living in the next year.  My garden is on hold as we determine where it will be.  We are happy, busy, getting ready for Christmas.  We hope that Mother Nature will welcome us up north to be with the grand kids.  We are driving, it would be nice to have some nice weather to get there and get back.  We are watching and hoping.  This would be my first ever Christmas with my grand kids.  I have grand kids.  I can't tell you how happy that makes me feel.  Okay, I took the easy route and married a man who already had kids.  But they are my grand kids.  And I am thrilled.  I have bought Godiva Santa's and Reindeer pops along with wind up toys for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning table.  I love a Christmas table covered with chocolates and toys and presents and ribbons.

This is the first Christmas in my life that is different.  This is the first Christmas with out either of my parents.  I will not be helping Dad with his Christmas list.  I will not be cooking the prime rib roast for Christmas dinner.  I don't eat prime rib.  I will not miss cooking it.  I will not make the nut bread for Christmas breakfast for my brothers.  But I still might make it for me.  maybe.  I will not wake up in my bed room and walk out to the front of the house and kiss my Dad good morning and merry Christmas.  I will not open a stocking that he filled, and I will not watch him open his stocking that I filled with his tradition and favorites.  I really do not mind giving up these long traditions.  I look forward to starting new traditions.  Or maybe, just lowering expectations and really cut traditions to a minimum.  Traditions are wonderful, but memories of new and old traditions are both wonderful.  And to get to spend this Christmas, this Christmas of change with my grand kids, oh joy!!!  I can not think of a better way to have a change in my life.  To try something different.  To celebrate the moment instead of trying to relive the past.  My life is filled with happy memories and funny, crazy stories of past Christmas.

Stories from being the daughter and sister of fire fighters and EMS.  Stories involving DIY.  Do It Yourself.  This involves glue guns, stained glass, hot ovens and pans, glue, glue guns, scissors, in other words, lots of dangers for a gravity impaired klutz.  Happy memories of hot chocolate, Christmas plays, stockings, Santa, reading the bible story on the family couch, trees, wreaths and sparkling lights twinkling and reflecting in the ornaments.  Memories of my Dad standing in the living room, his light bar blinding us as we would run into the living room in our pj's.  Blindly running in the general direction of the tree.  My mother, also blinded in the lights, yelling support as we ran directly into the hot lights necessary to use an 8mm film.  Well, at least that was my Dad's perspective.  Christmas Eve rides to look at luminaries, lights and decorations.  I love the holidays.  And yes, I love presents, but I love making as many as possible, or giving presents that hopefully are useful, but are mostly just reminders how much I love someone.

I listened to Christmas music while I sewed pillow cases today.  It made me happy. 

It was a lovely day
I am happy
Yes, I did have a lot of pain today
I have been very physical lately
I am having anxiety attacks
but it is the holidays
and I am anxious about getting everything
that I want to do

but in between the anxiety
is happiness
riding behind my honey
wrapping my arms around him
leaning into him
the world flying by

life is so good

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Here's to you

Nelson Mandela was 95.  Ninety five years old.  In that life time he saw a lot of things, he accomplished more then the average person, and he is loved for what he did for not only his people, but by freeing his people, he gave hope to everyone in the world. 

Thank you Mr. Mandela
Thank you for all you gave to all of us
Thank you for your life
Blessed be
Blessed be

Sunday, December 1, 2013

And it was REAL

We watched FSU beat the Gators, 37 to 7.  I am proud we were able to score against this amazing team.  I was way impressed that we kept them to less then 40 points.  We looked pretty good the first quarter, almost like we might actually make this a real game instead of the normal slaughter FSU has been forced to leave behind them.  I say forced because, well they have just been that good, that even with second and third string players, they still run over their opponents.  However, I think the many "force" has been that when FSU actually tried to not slaughter a team they were rewarded by loosing ground in the National standings.  What?!?!  That is right, one week FSU actually tried to not bully up on the opposing team.  They tried to ease off a bit and the ranking reflected a drop.  After that, FSU had no choice but to go full throttle.  And they have, and their QB is amazing is only a freshman.  Amazing.  But Florida played as well against them as any other team has done this year, and well, that has to be enough this year.............

wait until next year..........................
hee hee

But then we watched the Alabama and the Auburn game.  That was the most amazing game ender I think I have ever seen.

In fact as Auburn was running down the field I actually asked Bug if it was real, was it really happening.  Yes, yes, this is real!!  My heart is still pounding with the unexpectedness of it all.

Then Georgia lost in double over time.

Tomorrow morning is going to be very interesting to see how the rankings reflect this Thanksgiving weekend of rivalries and conference winners. 
just wow
I enjoyed that so much
That moment where all of us watching or listening to the game
experienced something so