Sunday, February 07, 2016

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, 50TH ANNIVERSARY!

PREFACE
It's the 50th Super Bowl and I'm celebrating it at my nephew's house. I really don't care much who wins. I do like to see a good football game, so I hope it is one. My sister is cooking mac'n'cheese to take and I'm off to try to do two installations before joining the festivities.

STORY
I really enjoy the commercials more than the game or half time. My late husband, George, was an audio/visual-phile and taped all the Super Bowls while we were married. I had 20 years of them on VHS. They sold well at my yard sale after he passed and I lost my home. I miss George more than any of the things I have lost since. There are times I am more emotional about his absence. Super Bowl Sunday is one of them.

CONCLUSION
As you enjoy the pinnacle of the favorite American past time (or one of them), hold your loved ones close and imprint the joy in your memory. You never know how many more chances you have. Yell at the screen! Eat, and don't think about the calories! Tell stories and laugh out loud! Put down the cellphone, the iPad, the laptop, and immerse yourself in the friends and family surrounding you. EAT! DRINK! AND BE MERRY! Enjoy! (and GO PANTHERS!!) :)

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Adventures in Flying! Happy New Year!

PREFACE
A happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to you and yours! I had a wonderful time, once I got Wisconsin. Adventures in flying! My flight was cancelled twice during my layover in Charlotte, N.C. and finally I was put on a flight to Dallas! and then flew into Madison, instead of Milwaukee. I left Ft. Lauderdale at 10 A.M. and didn't get into Madison until 11 P.M.! But it's all good. 

STORY
There was 7 inches of new snow on the ground and I was very thankful for my sister's snow boots and gloves. The ceremony for my son, Ian, and his bride, Erin, was informal at the courthouse. There were local friends and family there. The bride and groom's mothers were the official witnesses (me and her mother). The vows made me cry and I had no tissues, of course. The judge was friendly and funny and the ceremony was moving. Then we all went to dinner. Good times!

CONCLUSION
My son and his new bride are starting the new year out as husband and wife. My own parents chose Dec. 31st as their wedding day. I think it is a nice repeat of a tradition. I can already see that they will be much happier than my parents were. They are much more in sync and have more commonality. They remind me of my marriage to Ian's father and the soul-mate, best friend bond that we had together for 20 years. It gives me  a warm feeling in my heart and comfort that my son will have the kind of love that made him be possible. HAPPY, HEALTHY, & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR! 2016!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

MEASURING MY LIFE BY THE CATS I'VE LOVED

PREFACE
The vet that treated my cat, Milo, sent me a condolence card. It was a sweet gesture and I do appreciate it. It is never easy to lose a pet. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma two years ago August 2013. I could not afford the $300 additional chemo treatment that would only give him a possible 18 months. I decided to research natural cures and treated him myself with colloidal silver and aloe vera. The disease attacks the digestion and blocks their ability to absorb the nutrients from their food. My treatment allowed him 9 more months than the chemo promised.

STORY
I was Milo's person for the past 16 years. He came to us as a kitten (6 weeks old) and I had originally intended for him to be my son's cat. I had Molly (female brown Burmese) and my late husband had Sox (male Tuxedo, black and white). Milo spent his first few weeks sleeping in a box next to my bed at night, when he wasn't out and about getting to know our other two adult cats.
 Milo

Molly

 Sox


Milo was to be Ian's cat. Ian was 14. As it turned out, Ian was allergic to Milo's saliva and Milo liked to lick as a show of affection. Molly had no maternal tendencies toward him and attacked him repeatedly. He was a tiny kitten and could not defend himself, so I decided that Molly was to become an outside/inside cat (but mostly outside). Molly had always resented becoming an inside cat, so she was happy. Sox adopted Milo and protected him against Molly.

When we got Sox, he was a stray kitten that someone had abandoned near a friend of my sister. My sister called me to say that this kitten needed our family. We had been without a cat for a while, since our last kitten had been put down due to spinal problems, loss of use of his back legs and potty functions. Spooky was less than two years old. It was traumatic and we had gone for over a year without looking for another cat. Sox was a wonderful addition to our family. He LOVED my late husband and was a sweet, loving, adorable quirky cat. At max. weight he was 24lbs! but had a tiny little voice (mew!) like Mike Tyson. He also loved cantelope and watermelon!

Sox was about 4 months old when we got Molly. Molly was originally named Bonnie, but it didn't fit her. Her owner was going to be forced to take her to the animal shelter (to be gassed!) so I agreed to take her. I'm not partial to female cats but I didn't want her to be euthanized at seven months old! She came into our house always wanting to squip out the door to be outside. It was a constant battle. Molly knew how to open doorknobs! We had to keep the door deadbolt-locked so she couldn't get out. Molly also liked to open the side-by-side refrigerator doors (and LEAVE THEM OPEN!). We would come downstairs to find both doors standing wide open! My late husband had to devise a "lock" for the doors. He used a piece of aluminum rod, bent in a U-shape to slip over both door handles at night when we went to bed. Molly finally stopped after a few months.

All our cats have played "fetch", usually with small aluminum balls that we would fashion for them. They would run after them and bring them back to be thrown again. Molly was the most insistent. She would bring a ball and drop it on your bare foot to let you know she wanted to play fetch. They loved the sound they made on the tile floor.

Molly was the first to go. At 15 years old, arthritic and thin, she stopped eating. I force-fed her water and drops of food through the night, but she became lethargic and less responsive. I took her to animal control and had her put down. Soon after I was forced out of my house due to the landlord selling it, and I could only take one cat with me to my new living arrangements. Sox was 15 yo but in good health. I took him to the animal shelter and gave up ownership with the hope that someone would adopt a 24lb Tuxedo cat. This was in 2008 and there was a lot of animal rescue going on at that time. I hope he got a good home.

Milo was my sole companion for the past 7 years. I was his person. He saw his family go from 3 people, 2 other cats to just him and me. My son moved out on his own but couldn't take Milo due to his allergy. Milo kept me company, was very talkative, would rush to the door if someone knocked or rang the bell (like a watch-cat). He slept in my bed with me. Woke me up when it was morning (to feed him!). Milo watched TV with me sometimes and ALWAYS watched the Annual Westminster Dog Show (intently!). His favorite place to lounge was on my chest (while I watched TV, worked on the computer, or drove him in the car!). He was a total inside cat, never venturing outside.

CONCLUSION
These are just three of the cats that have populated my life, become part of my family, and owned a piece of my heart. When we take on a pet, we have to realize they have an expiration date. Lots of people don't think about a pet being with them for 15-20 years, nor about how close you can become or how involved in their lives. When it gets to the end of their life, it can become all-consuming in the daily caregiving involved, but you do it without a thought. The hardest is when you have to decide if you are being selfish and keeping them here because you can't let go. Luckily, Milo told me in his way that it was time for him to go (for me to let him go). I miss him every day but know that he is in a better place, running and chasing with Sox and Molly.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

WHAT I HAVE TO LEARN...

PREFACE
As the title addresses, what I have to learn...is a lot. I am always learning and hungry to learn. Sometimes the lesson is not so easy to identify. We go through good times and bad times and we should learn something from both, but bad times are harder to substantiate with a lesson. Our reality is made by our thoughts, so we are responsible for both the good and bad. Most people do not want to accept this premise.

STORY
I have recently gone through much change in my life. Experienced trauma in several different ways and I've had to work towards resolving what is the "now" of my life. In April of this year, I was forced out of my long-term housing (5 years in a house and location that I loved!) and had to humbly move back in with my sister. I am exceedingly grateful to her for her generosity because it is a terrible imposition and disruption of her life and home. During this vacation of my home, I broke my leg! The first broken bone of my lifetime. LESSON: I should have started sooner to pack and disseminate all my belongings of 30 years of accumulation, gotten a storage unit, and stored all that I could before it came down to a deadline.

After moving 140 miles to my sister's, and my broken leg healed, I caught a respiratory infection from visiting a cancer treatment center with a family friend who was going through chemotherapy. I was sick for 8 weeks! LESSON: ALWAYS wash your hands and sanitize while visiting a hospital/medical center! WEAR a mask if possible too! And keep your immune system strong (I had run out of most of my supplements that I regularly take to keep my health at optimum.)

I had been sick with coughing, low grade fever, and general exhaustion for 6 weeks before I went to the clinic for evaluation/treatment. I HATE modern medicine and was treating myself with remedies but needed an antibiotic to kick this bug out of me. I had almost healed when my sister gave it back to me again, and I just couldn't fight it off the second round. LESSON: Keep your immune system at optimum.

In one week in October, my family lost two dear family friends and our 19 year old cat. Three deaths within four days. Dan (74) died Wednesday night from complications of cancer treatment, Barry (67) died Tuesday from a heart attack, and Snowball (19 = 92 human years) died in his sleep of old age (warranty on all the parts ran out). This was HELL week for my sister and me. LESSON: Appreciate every day you are given. It's a gift, don't waste it. Tell your loved ones you love them every day.
Dan (1940-2014)
Barry (1947-2014)
Snowball (1995-2014)

CONCLUSION
The lessons we are presented with will be presented again and again, if we don't learn from them. I am very bad at meeting deadlines. It's a control thing and I have to get over it. I need to take better care of my health, especially when I'm depressed and overwhelmed. Many difficult times are hard to explain at the time, but great things will come out of tough times if you are open to seeing them, open to positive thoughts about the future. Embrace the present, enjoy your loved ones, and seek joy everyday!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

HEALING, BUT NOT HEALED...AND CAUSING MORE DAMAGE!

PREFACE
Four months later, my broken leg healed but the muscles are not back to normal yet. Fewer days of crying, more days of job hunting, scrambling for part time gigs to get SOME money coming in, and trying my best to show how much I appreciate my sister for all she's done for me.

STORY
I'm doing physical therapy (PT) once a week to strengthen my muscles that went unused/underused for 4 months. I get terrific knee pain when I overdo and the ankle is now being tended to, since there's so much more pressure on it and apparent damage was done there too. Management of pain is paramount at present.

I was tired. Haven't been sleeping well or in any socially acceptable time pattern (I sleep 6am-3pm, vampire hours!). When I have to get up and function in the normal "business" hours and it cuts my sleep time down to under 7 hrs, I get tired and careless (stumbling, banging into things, cutting flesh instead of food in preparation, etc...). On Tuesday (8/12), I had done two standee installations, driven to and photographed a third, and now at home was preparing dinner at 10:30p.m. All of this on 6 hrs sleep! I was heating up leftover meatloaf and while removing a plate I had placed as a warming plate on top of the food, it slipped out of my hands...dropped edge-first onto my left big toe...landing just below the bottom of the toenail. It didn't hurt at first, more than to say a slight profanity at my clumsiness. The "oh, f**k!" being drowned out by the clanging and circular-whirring of the dropped plate.  Then the PAIN made its way up my leg, spine, and hit my brain center!! I started to cry...it hurt SO bad...like it had been chopped off, or was being continually hit with a ball-pean hammer. I just wanted it to stop!

My sister leapt into action, offering help..."Do you need some ice?"..."You need some ice, right now!" she said after seeing the half inch black mark at the base of my nail, already beginning to bruise...and the redness spreading across my toe. She also got me a Vicadin and sat by me while I writhed in pain for the next 30 minutes...foot up on a pillow, wrapped in an ice bag...me crying (praying for it to stop hurting). She finished our dinner and served it up while we sat in front of the TV. She wanted me to go to the ER. (I am very opposed to frivolous use of the emergency room services, even now that I have health insurance to cover it...THANK YOU OBAMA!!) This pic is of broken toe...day 2.

CONCLUSION
I finally went to sleep with another pain killer and 2 Motrin. I knew right away that I will be losing that toenail. (It's happened before in my life...and you just KNOW.) Now I'm limping on BOTH sides! I hobble around, being extra careful NOT to bump that big toe...OMG! does that hurt! It's been four days and the toenail is almost all black with bruise, under the nail and everything red and swollen around it. I have been icing it and wearing my sandals to keep the pressure off but I still had to do (2) standee installations, (1) Ross shop, and a patron count for (4) showings of The Expendables 3 movie (last night). It's swollen and throbbing, but I have to earn some money! This too shall pass...and I just keep putting one sore foot in front of the other. :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

MOVING DISASTER

PREFACE: 
I wish the best to all of you having to move by choice but please APPRECIATE anyone who is helping you! I just had to vacate my (5 year) rental due to my landlord lost the house in foreclosure and it was auctioned in January. So that means I moved NOT by choice. My 2/2 with 1 car garage was holding the accumulated possessions of 20 years with my late husband, momentos of my son growing up, 14+ years of crafting and fine arts, ongoing eBay sales items, and 10 years of teaching (student work) at college level. I had 60 days to whittle down the mass, pack and store it all...or get rid of it. NOT enough time doing it by myself! 

DISASTER STORY: 
The last night of moving belongings into a rented UHaul (by myself) ended in a bad step off the back of the truck as I BEGAN to unload this last load into the storage unit. I fell 4 1/2 feet and landed on my right foot, hearing a loud POP in my knee, crumbling down to try to catch myself with my left leg twisting my ankle, down...down...down landing just above my tailbone and then hitting the back of my head on the parking lot blacktop. Laying there for 20 minutes, crying from the pain, in a puddle with a light rain falling on me...not knowing what damage I'd done...the storage facility now closed to incoming traffic...I was completely alone, with a full moving truck to be unloaded! I finally limped and hopped my way back to the cab of the truck, crawled up into it, welcoming the heater available as it was dropping to 59 degrees rapidly! and my cellphone! I called everyone I knew within 50 miles and got mostly voicemail response. It was 9:30 on a Tuesday night. One of my friends said he'd come and bring others to help when I refused to call an ambulance. He came, with a friend and they both unloaded my truck. I couldn't walk but could press the gas pedal to drive the truck back to the house again for the things I had left for last minute loading into my car and distribution to others. They loaded up my UHaul truck again, and unloaded it again into my storage unit. THAT is true friendship!

At 2 a.m., I drove myself to the ER, used a Rubbermaid two-step ladder as a walker, and after x-rays found out I had broken my leg. I spent the next 8 hours in ER, getting pain shots and pills so they could straighten my leg to put a splint brace on. They released me to another friend to drive me away from the hospital, not that I was letting that happen. I had her drive me to my car and I drove to her house (up 2 flights of stairs! where the rest of my stuff was & my cat!). I was moving that day to my sister's house 140 miles south. I had already told her not to drive up to get me, I wasn't towing my car down, that I was capable of driving (with both feet), and would arrive later that day.

I am now recuperating with family in a spare room with all that I could pack into my subcompact Toyota. I had to suspend all my online selling, my artwork, and my crafting until I am (literally) on my feet again. Moving doesn't suck, it is a gut-wrenching life event that is like losing a loved one, especially if you aren't in charge of the decision. At this point, 17 days later, I don't know what I saved and stored and what was left to scavengers and the landfill. I have flashbacks about items that I'm not sure I still have in one place or the other. It was traumatic on so many levels that it will be some time before I am able to move forward, much less create and enjoy my arts again.


RESOLUTION: I am allowing myself time to heal. Writing about it is cathartic and hopefully will help others. I am so grateful for my dear friends who helped me through this and my beloved family who is helping me heal. Things can be replaced, people cannot! As long as your move includes those you love, you can always survive. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

PREFACE
With spring comes renewal. Grass becomes green again, budding leaves and flowers everywhere, and change is in the air. My life is going through a big change and I don't have a clue how it will all turn out!

STORY
My landlord's house was sold at foreclosure auction on January 22nd. I have been getting letters all about it as the "unknown tenant" but with my name right next to that. So "unknown" but named...lol. Fannie Mae bought the house at auction, and is the agency that guaranteed the original "underwater" mortgage. Funny how things work.

It has been very traumatic to have to move again, and in with family again after 5 years of being on my own in a beautiful town and neighborhood. In central Florida, 2 hours from anywhere I would want to go (but didn't, except to visit family...where I'm moving back to!). I'm under a monumental amount of stress right now, and I broke down into uncontrollable crying today, just to slow me down some more.

I am asking myself what decisions did I make to get me here? Was I using good judgement when I signed up for a graduate level class in November and then continued to pursue that decision until I became $1000 in debt to family friend and 3 weeks away from the end of semester, still not knowing if I can pass this course or not. And when I do pass the class, it won't count for anything if I'm not accepted into the MFA program to complete my degree (of which I have 40/60 credits). It's all hanging in limbo, just like me.

Moving back in with my family entails the loss of freedom. No more walking around naked in the morning or sleeping that way at night. No friends allowed over. My cat isn't allowed anywhere there is carpet, so just my room and the enclosed porch. None of my furniture (my bed!) is allowed in except maybe my computer desk. And if I don't pass my class, I'll have to leave...move again!

I am grateful that I have somewhere to go, even if for only a month or two.

CONCLUSION
I must re-examine what I am manifesting if this is where I am right now. I don't want to be at this point, with these decisions and pressure, moving back to where I gladly left 5 years ago. I don't want to be "let go" from another college teaching job after 3 years because I don't have my MFA! I just wish I knew what to do, what to decide. I will meditate (which I have been doing more and more lately) and ask again, and again, and again, until I get a clear answer. My life seems to be nothing but change and renewal. Happy Spring!