Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's baack!!

Quick Note
My camera is back - but not the one I sent off to be fixed.

It couldn't be fixed.

Since it was under warranty I could get a new camera of equal value.
They still sell my old camera (it was only 8 months old), but they were out of stock, so I bought the next camera up and it cost me only $30 ... the difference in value between the two cameras.
I am pleased.

So I am going to take a few days to get familiar with it - shouldn't take too long.

And then, we are off and running again on the blogging picture trail!!

Welcome to my blog house

I have gotten into a blogging routine ... finally ... after a year!

Some of us are slow learners.

My day usually starts around 6:30 am (today was 5:30 am because 3 grand dogs wanted to go for a walk - can't they tell time???) *sigh* ... the day begins with a cup of coffee and my laptop. I would give you a picture, but my camera is vacationing in Geek Land (still!!).

I spend the first quiet hour of the day reading blogs. It is my own quiet me-time. Everyone is asleep. Usually that first hour I am not awake enough to do anything else but sip coffee and read. That first hour gives my body time to catch up with my brain. And I try hard to not write stuff until after the coffee has been absorbed by my cells. My words without caffine can be dreadfully confusing - almost another language.

Periodically during the day I will check email to see if anyone has visited my blog and commented. Now you visitors who don't comment (you know who you are) ... how do I know that you came for a visit? Yes, I know, there are blogspot stats that let me know the number of visitors to each post, but without comments you are "lurking" ... I need you to comment and say "hi". "Hi" is good!! The door is always open to my "blog house". Stop peaking in the window and come on in!!

Come evening I get another hour just before bed ... another hour of me-time. Everyone else has zonked out for the night (cats, dogs, mother, daughter, husband) and it is just me, my laptop and maybe a glass of wine and a hunk of cheese. That is when I create blog postings. The cheese makes me creative and the wine makes me wordy! It is a good combination.

Sometimes I just drop ideas into draft postings for the future, sometimes I create the guts of a single posting, sometimes I read what I wrote previously tweaking it (it is amazing what crap I can write - you don't want to see an "un-tweaked post"), and sometimes I just schedule a number of finished postings for future days (I so love the "schedule" feature.)

So what is your blogging routine? Do you have a routine? How do you squeeze this sometimes time-consuming process into your day?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Teacher Teacher

Graduating from College with a degree in Education sort of predisposes you to teaching, I guess.

I never thought much about teaching before entering college. Sadly it wasn't a life long goal. What I wanted was go to college, and my parents pressured me to pick a major that would get me a job ... like Nursing, Teaching, ... uhh ... at the time I felt like those were my only choices. My parents wouldn't have paid for a Degree in Theatre Arts - and in hindsight I can see that a degree in performance arts wouldn't have paid the bills. When you live at the lower end of the income spectrum - practicality must rule. Taking time to explore my options was a luxury I didn't have. Nursing? I wasn't prepared from high school for college level science or math so Nursing was out. Teaching it was. My degree was selected by default!

What I discovered was that I had a hidden gift to teach! My first years as a teacher were for Second Graders - 7 to 8 year olds. I enjoyed it, but teaching children wasn't my gift. I left classroom teaching after 4 years to raise a family. When I returned to the work force in non-teaching jobs, I fell into teaching roles - new employee orientation, adult trainer, mentoring. I did some form of adult teaching all my work life. My gift was teaching adults ... and I have heard that observation repeated back to me many times.

Still, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't pick teaching, but the knowledge and skills I learned from those years have served me well.

Here are two pictures of my time in the class room.

This first picture is my student teaching year. I am on the far left - standing next to the top row of students. On the far right is my mentoring teacher, Mrs. Miller. Mrs. Miller was 73 years old at the time and that was her last year of teaching. I was asked to return to the school the next year to take her place. No one could take her place. She was a wonderful teacher and mentor, but I was in the right place at the right time. I got the job.

This last picture is one of 4 classes I had during my time at this school. I chose this year to show you specifically because of my outfit ... very 70's - a bold, ugly plaid pant suit.

Whatever was I thinking?


The question still remains ... if there were no pressures and time to decide what my major would be ... at 64 I still have no idea! The College Degree opened employment doors over my whole working career.

I got the college experience which I wanted, and I got the benefits of having the piece of paper.

Friday, July 29, 2011

High School and the "Great What Ifs"

High School ... how does anyone survive it!

I wasn't one of the in-crowd. I didn't date. I didn't go to prom. I wasn't part of any highly regarded club or student government. I wasn't college bound. I wasn't traditionally pretty or popular, I struggled academically, I wasn't stylish (money was an issue), my mom wouldn't let me wear make up until I was 16 or shave my legs until I was 18. I looked so much younger than everyone else, but in high school looking more mature was very important. I had to take public bus transportation with a transfer in the middle of the trip for my senior year (we had moved out of the county at the beginning of my senior year so I was sort of illegally attending the high school.)

It was a gigantic high school. There were about 1,000 students in my graduating class alone, and the other classes were just as large. It was easy to "get lost" in the mobs of students.

I know, I know.

From the perspective of approximately 50 years later these are not life-shattering things. But layered on top of a dysfunctional family life ... I remember it as a pretty heavy burden to bear.

In my Senior Year in High School things changed. You see, at that time I wanted to be an Actress! (figured ... I would be more interested in make believe than real life.) I was taking Drama classes in a high school with a regional reputation for exceptional quality theatrical productions. I was lucky. Today the school is a magnetic school for the performing arts. Goldie Hawn (Actress) and Connie Chung (News Anchor) were both graduates of that high school. Performance history runs very deep in that school.

In my Senior year I cheekily tried out for the Senior Class Play. This play was one of two major theatrical productions each year. That year the play was Our Town. I auditioned for the part of Emily, the female lead. Clearly, based on everything I said above, I had no chance of getting the part. I remember at try-outs I had a sinking sensation in my stomach. I watched all the beautiful, popular girls audition for the part of Emily. They all delivered their lines exactly the same - like they had discussed the exactly right way to do the part in their cliquey groups. Ironically I had planned to do exactly the same presentation in my audition. But in that moment changed my approach. I used different inflections, rhythm, pauses, blocking. I was going to be noticed!!!

A week later I walked up to the bulletin board outside the drama department to check the list of cast members. There was a large group of students clustered around trying to do the same thing. I had to squeeze between students to get close enough to read the cast list. And it took me probably a full 5 minutes for the message my eyes were reading to be recognized by my brain. My name was listed for the female lead! And once my mind accepted what was written, I don't think I would have believed it except for the congrads of other students around me as I stood there stunned.

I remember one thought that popped into my head at the time: "What have I done?" :-)

If I had known what the day had in store for me, I would have insisted on shaving my legs! :-)

And so, here are some grainy pictures from my yearbook of the performance. The first is me at the beginning of the play, alive and well and getting married.

And below is me dead. I look pretty good for dead, don't you think?
For those who don't know the play Our Town, the message of the play is to love your life, every minute of it. In this scene Emily has died and is with others who are also dead in the town grave yard. The town is gathered at her grave site. The dead behind me have over time become totally disinterested in the ways of the living. But Emily who is newly dead (you know that because I am wearing white.) :-) ... Emily can still remember how wonderful life is-was, and how sad that the living don't see that.

That play was the beginning of change for me. I started hanging around with the Drama in-crowd. Now I was "in" too. Most of the Drama crowd was heading to college. So I decided I wanted to go to college too (this would have been about December of my senior year). I was not prepared academically or financially to do this, and by today's standards deciding to go to college 6 months before graduation from high school is just not done ... but I wasn't getting hung up on the sniggly details. Life can just pass you by if you get tripped up by details.

I had one Year Book from high school - my senior year. We couldn't afford for me to have the others. The book was filled with well wishes from tons of students and teachers.

I think that momentary desire to stand out from the in-crowd in that audition changed the course of my life in a large way. But the questions I often ponder are the "what ifs".

What if ...
  • mom had not supported my desire to stay in my current high school for my senior year.
  • I hadn't auditioned for a play I had no chance of getting a part in.
  • I hadn't gotten ornery and decided to be "different" on purpose during my audition.
  • Mom wasn't willing to pick me up every school night after play practice at 9:30 pm for 3 months.
  • I hadn't spent time with college-bound students and changed my mind about going to college.
  • Mom hadn't (after picking herself off the floor) supported my wish to go to college and found the way to pay for it - because there were no scholarships for me, no family inheritances, no extra money just laying around. This had to have been tough for her.
All I can say is two things ...
  • I believe completely in the message of Our Town. Life is wonderful and we should enjoy every single minute.
  • and, Thanks mom!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Geek Squad has spoken!

So here is the update I received by email on my camera from the Geek Squad!

Your product is in the hands of Geek Squad®, getting the care and attention it needs. We are working diligently to complete the job as quickly as possible – no action on your part is necessary. We'll contact you as soon as the product is complete and ready for pickup.

We're on it. Things will be better soon.

Geek Squad
"Things will be better soon."

How do they know I am having adjustment problems?!?! Is there no privacy in this world anymore or am I just paranoid? (Rhetorical question - no need to respond.)


The absence of my camera has been interesting. I have had my moments of dismay at not having my camera. For example:
  • My daughter and I went bridal dress shopping with my future daughter-in-law. I would have loved to share that with you. I wouldn't show the dress she picked, of course, but maybe just tease you with pictures of the lace and stuff. It was a fun time and I am very upset about my lack of pictures. I may share our adventure without pictures, but pictures make it so much better.
  • My grand-dogs have been extra extra special cute. I know they are just teasing me because Grandma isn't pointing the "flashy box" thingy at them all the time now. Don't get used to it boys ... the camera "will be back."
  • I finally get out to dinner with friends and my husband (you know, pretending to be a grown up and "playing" with adults without my mom), and I don't have my camera. *sigh*
On the upside, I have totally enjoyed selecting the older pictures and reminiscing. Don't get me wrong or anything, but I was damn cute!!! I got less cute as I got older. It is tough to peak at age 7 in your looks. Its all downhill from there. :-)

But I am eager to share some other stuff I have uncovered and remembered. I have my high school years coming up - who doesn't have something interesting to share about that time. I plan to share some of my wedding pictures too - memories of that day. And, of course, a bit of my time as a young wife and mother.

You know, people always complain about growing older. That is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong!!

Think on it ... all the life you would have missed if you hadn't grown older and had the time to experience life. I remind mom of that fact frequently when she gets frustrated with her ill health. She has lived to 85 (so far), and Dad died in his 50s. Think of all the things he missed! I know for a fact that he wanted a son, so missing out on his grandson was a HUGE loss!

I celebrate every year I have lived - grateful, grateful, grateful.

And bring on more years!!!

I am really looking forward to moving through the past years with you while we wait for my camera to return - like in 12 days, but who is counting!!!

Not me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Girl Scout and the Daughter

I did my time at being a girl scout! I wasn't a ardent girl scout, but the choices of organized activities for kids wasn't so great then as it is today. I still have my sash with the badges that I am wearing in this picture, but since my stupid camera is broken I cannot provide the picture proof (13 days).

But I have something even more special from that time than a girl scout sash ... a hand written note from my father to me.

I should explain about my father.

Dad died in 1970. He was an alcoholic. As is typical for the family members of alcoholics, we didn't share that fact publicly. It was something you hid. And you made excuses to cover that fact that you couldn't have sleep overs or any other typical kids-focused activities at your house. I didn't think of it as so unusual at the time because I grew up with those normal pieces always missing from my life. You don't miss something you didn't have in the first place.

His disease did not impact the supervisory job he held until his death ... it impacted only his family. And even to this day when we are more enlightened about this disease, I wasn't sure what to share and what to avoid in giving this information. But for you to understand just how special the hand written note from my father was ... you need to know the back story.

And the back story is that when he was sober he was the most charming, loving, warm father you could ever want. I have those wonderful memories along with the ugly ones. So when you read this note - this was the man my mom fell in love with and had children with. The "other" man had an illness that was not well understood at the time.

One other thing ... he wasn't an educated person. He finished school, but his interest wasn't in learning or reading. I don't believe he had any interests outside of his job. We have nothing else of his. He had no collections or cherished possessions with which to remember him. What I have inherited are mostly memories - and many of those are filled with unhappiness. But I have this letter, and it is a reminder that all people are multifaceted. This letter allows me to remember his good side and that he loved his family.

And so ... Dad always left for work very early in the morning, before we were out of bed. The morning he wrote this note and left it for me, he was responding to a stack of items on the kitchen table that I was going to take on a Girl Scout camping trip that day. He mentions Lucky who was our dog at the time. To stop and write this note was something way out of the ordinary for him.

The paper has not withstood the test of time very well. It is yellowed and split at one of the folds. I am sure Dad used some dime store pad that was just laying around in the kitchen. But the words and the emotions expressed still resonate with me 41 years after his death.

It was a message to just me, and it was not tarnished by alcohol.

Thanks, Dad.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Now we are 4!

Early years as a Maryland resident included some pretty large events for a 7 year old child.
  • My sister was born in 1954. I remember mom waving to me from the hospital window after my sister was born - children visitors were not allowed. I clearly remember my first view of my sister. Sitting in the back seat of our car at the hospital entrance, Mom got into the front seat with my sister in her arms. I leaned over mom's shoulder asking to see the baby. The blanket was pulled away and the largest dark brown eyes I'd ever seen were staring back at me. She had dark hair and an olive complexion. She definitely favored dad from her earliest days.
  • I began first grade - for the second time! In New York City they let students enter first grade mid-year - for me in January. In September Maryland wouldn't recognize a half year of first grade. I was never a great student in grade school, so it was probably a good choice. If I had started second grade, I would have been so much younger than everyone else and I would have been missing some basic skills.
  • I developed my first neighborhood friendships - one of which has lasted my life time.
Here is a picture of me on a swing in the playground right outside our bedroom windows. The building is located right behind me. The playground was a magnet for all the neighborhood children. And I imagine it was great for mom. She could look right outside the bedroom windows to check on me. I love this picture because it shows me pretty well decked out in my dress coat and purse. I love the purse!! I wonder what I had in it. I have no memory of ever being dressed up but obviously I did.

Countdown clock: 14 days!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Maryland - our first home was ...

... a motel room off Route 1 in College Park shown in this post card. Back then they called these motel rooms "cabins" or cottages. I think the term "motel" became more common later.

This place was called Haass' Haven. The back of the post card has this description: "On U.S Route 1, 10 miles North of the Nation's Capital. Modern Cabins, Shower or Bath in each. P.O. Address: 8419 Baltimore Avenue, Berwyn, Maryland. Phone Tower 6691. Mr. and Mrs. Carl Haass, Owners." Too funny. Shower or Bath in each ... I guess not too long ago there were outhouses.

In my mind, the area seemed very green and lovely ... almost country, and maybe in the 1950s Route 1 was mostly green. Of course, I was coming from New York City, even alittle grass was "very green" to me. The motel I think stands today but is seedy looking as you would expect after 60 years. That whole area is now built up with uncontrolled and random development.
We came to Maryland in the summer. This picture was taken in July 1951. I was 4 years old. I don't think we made a permanent move to Maryland until I was almost 6, but the details of that time are spotty. It must have been warm because I remember the heat and humidity (probably hotter than New York) and in this picture I am in a sun dress. I also remember a small plastic pool Mom had for me to cool off in outside while we lived in the motel. No air conditioning then.

Later we moved to a second floor apartment in a large brick development. We never lived in our own home, always in apartments or rental units. More on our apartment living next time.

15 days until my camera comes home, but who is counting!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One old Pug

Oh my, do I miss my camera.
August 8th will be 3 weeks since I left it at Best Buys for repair.
It is on my calendar.
And a count down is in progress.
16 days!

Anyway, I found two pictures that I took when my camera was working. I've been saving them for a "rainy day". Today is the day.

(Technically, there is not a drop of moisture outside that hasn't been sucked up by extreme humidity and blistering 100 degree heat ... but when your camera is broken and you are a blogger ... it is a rainy day. Trust me on this.)

So here is the back story to this picture.

I visited my grand dogs' vet to buy some dog food. Both are on vet grade dog food. (Grandmothers buy their own equipment and food. It is sort of like a grandmother rule.) Anyway, as I was waiting, an old man came in and dropped a dog bed on the floor in the waiting room. Walking slowly behind him was this old Pug. The Pug seemed to be "seeing" his way with his nose to his bed.

Needless to say, I couldn't just ignore the fact that a very old Pug had just arrived. I was compelled to ask questions. Apparently, Mr. Twizzles is 15 years old. The owner, who was pretty rickety himself, was bringing his dog in for boarding for a week. Mr. Twizzles is both deaf and blind! His nose, however, still works. Once he found his bed, he curled up and settled in.

Now I tell you!!

When my grand dogs are old, they will NEVER EVER come to a strange place to spend a week - especially if they are blind and deaf. NEVER EVER!!

The vet staff assured me that Mr. Twizzles has been here before and that as long as he has his bed (and his food and his bone), he is happy.

So did someone ask him if he was happy? And did he respond? And if he is deaf, would he have even heard the question??? Hmph!

Mr. Twizzles doesn't have a Grandmother - obviously!!

But doesn't that face just melt your heart? I know it melted mine. If I didn't have 3 dogs waiting at home for me that day, Mr. Twizzles would have been boarding with me for that week.

(Technically, my husband who is a cat person probably would have had a problem with that arrangement ... but, well, I know ... if he saw that face ....)

Saturday, July 23, 2011


It is a scorcher out there.

In keeping with my recent "looking back" posts - I just want to make a few unsettling observations.

Looking back ...
  • I think the weather generally has gotten hotter, colder, more bazaar, and more extreme in the last 15 years or so. When looking at the historical ebbs and flows of the earth we inhabit, these changes are not the most extreme in its history. But, since earth's geologic and meteorologic changes occur very, very slowly - over thousands and hundreds of thousands of years - it is a bit disconcerting to be aware of changes that span just 15 years!!
  • Red and Orange Air Quality Alerts are a relatively new phenomena - probably in the last 15 years or so. I don't remember having problems breathing during the heat of summer prior to the early 1990s. Maybe it is because I am 20 years older, but I doubt it. I don't remember TV and radio cautions being broad casted to the public telling the elderly and young children to stay in doors prior to the 1990s. I figure this isn't just about how my 64 year old body is reacting to the atmosphere.
  • I do not believe that any one scientific group is any more in the know than another group of experts on what is actually happening to the weather. I do believe that the scope of our human scientific knowledge on our earth and its atmosphere is infantile compared to what we have left to learn.
How much of this current situation is man-made and how much is part of a natural earth cycle of change is the subject of much public discussion. But I do know that the earth's cycles are not in tens of years ... tens of years are just micro seconds in the earth's clock. So something is different ...

Makes you wonder.

So lets hear from you. Which camp are you in?
  1. Mankind made this mess so man needs to fix it.
  2. The Earth is cycling through climate change. Us little peons need to stop being so full of ourselves and adjust to what Mother Nature has delivered.
  3. I think it is a mix of both.
  4. I have no idea. I just hope my air conditioner doesn't break.
  5. Other - explain yourself!

Friday, July 22, 2011

More blanks filled in.

The story goes that dad moved us to Maryland to follow a job opportunity and to get away from his mother-in-law. How much of that was due to my grandmother's personality vs my father's personality ... is unknown. Gram was French/German and Dad was Cjeck/Polish. They probably butted heads at times.
In this picture was taken in Astoria, New York right outside our apartment (September 1951) when I was 4 years old. It probably was taken within a year of our move. My most vivid memory of this time was learning to roller skate. I clearly remember the feeling of rolling uncontrollably down a city sidewalk with increasing speed while a parent or an aunt walked quickly backwards in front of me, arms outstretched waiting to catch me if I fell.

Terror is usually a memory of note - even at 4!

Another memory is of Thanksgiving. We celebrated this holiday several times at my Great Aunt Grace and Great Uncle Otto's apartment in New York City. In this picture (1949) I am 2, but it was repeated enough that the memory stuck. The remember the room being filled with a lot people. I also remember the curved arched doorways. Seeing this picture I now see that the room was very small. I think the dining room table was set up in the living room - probably the biggest room of those tiny apartments. To a small child it must have seemed like a crowd. :-)

Memories of my childhood become more complete after we moved to Maryland.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Distance Memories

How far back can you remember? Sorting through the pictures of my distant past I am sometimes surprised.

For example, I don't remember this picture (1947) - no surprise there! I would assume only geniuses or savants would remember anything prior to their first birthday.

I don't remember this picture (1948) either - too young, but the woman is my Aunt Phebe who I blogged about previously. She is just as I remember her - a beautiful, warm and loving person.

I remember a small bit of this picture (1950) at 3 years old. The photographer had placed my hands just so on the fake board. I remember him messing with my fingers and being asked to hold that position. I also remember my mom put my hair in pin curls to make it look like that.
No memories of this picture (1950) - with Santa holding a Candy Cane just out of reach! I'd like to see him try that now!!

Pictures can prompt memories further back than you might suspect. I am so glad to find these pictures tucked away with mom's stuff.

It also prompted the desire to print out some hard copies of pictures that I now have saved on my computer. Years and years from now, would someone have access to my electronic copies if they were curious?


In so many ways photo albums seem like a thing of the past, but so much past would be lost if electronic copies are lost or technology changes or fails. I have stored many pictures in the last 10 years on my computer. Time to print out some hard copies for future albums.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20th - One Year Blogging Anniversary

A Year!

I wasn't sure I would do a whole year of blogging!

I remember when I started on July 20, 2010, it was all a big adventure. I had no preconceived likes or dislikes. I felt like a sponge absorbing everything. I could count about 6 people who might be interested enough to read what I wrote (and they would do it as a favor, I was sure). And I was interested in blogs with hundreds of followers. The bigger the better.

I was sure that whatever I wrote would be warmly received, I would be very interesting to the world at large (I have no clue as to why I thought that - and secretly I still think this), :-) and ... well, as I said before ... it is all about me!

Doesn't that sound like the immature 5 year old who lives next door? That would be me!

In a year I have refined my preferences. I enjoy blogs that:
  • Give you a peek into a person's everyday life, and not just the big events but all the little details that fill our days.
  • Focus on variety rather than limited content or a single theme.
  • Have less than 100 followers. There are exceptions, of course, but I like the "getting to know you" feel of the smaller blogs. I feel lost and disinclined to comment when the followers number in the 100s.
  • Have pictures.
I have learned a few things too:
  • Don't fall behind in your blog post reading. Holy Cow, those back log of postings build up fast.
  • Don't try to follow more than 50 blogs. I am over that number now. It is difficult to keep up if I am over 50.
  • Carry your camera EVERYWHERE (of course mine is now broken - but it off being fixed so in 3 weeks or so, I will carry it everywhere).
  • As ideas occur for future postings, create draft posting holders with those ideas. I am telling you, once the idea drifts out of my focus, it is gone forever! *sigh*
  • Write about EVERYTHING. I have done a few off the wall things: Vacuums, hair cuts, my new purse, the weather ... do it all!
And my very favorite thing I have learned in this last year is this:
  • We are all more alike than different. Maybe there would be more peace in the world if everyone blogged and we all discovered this simple fact.
Of course this blog was built on the premise of "the next 20 years". Yikes! Time flies. Now I only have 19 years left!!! I have goals to achieve. I think I will check back in a week or so and see just how far along I am with them. If I have 20 years to achieve them - and if only 5% of that time has passed ... guess I don't have to feel too bad when I find I have fallen short!

Or maybe ... ( !! boing !! - a great idea was just born) ... maybe I should make one of my goals be: Don't be too worried about achieving your goals!


Totally genius!


Oh, well. Happy Anniversary to me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Camera boo-boo

My camera (purchased in December 2010) is being repaired.

Upside: The repair is covered under warrantee. Apparently the retractable lens that doesn't retract is a common problem with these smaller cameras. And, as luck would have it, we HAD purchased additional repair coverage back in December!! We didn't remember and we didn't have any paperwork, but Best Buys had it in their system. Yeah for Best Buys!!

So the camera is on its way to the camera-hospital to get fixed!!!

Downside: It should take 3 weeks before it comes back.

I sure do miss it.

The Sisters and The Charmer

I guess I should have posted these pictures first because they pre-date my birth. I just found them in a stack and they are favorites of mine. The one above is my mom with her sister during the 1930s. Mom on the right is probably about 12 years of age. Her sister was about 5 years old. They were very close growing up and they continued to be so even to this day. And mom's sister is my favorite Aunt.

Mom remembers being thrilled when her sister was born. She spent alot of time caring for her baby sister. Once mom described her sister's birth as something of a gift for her - someone born just for her. It sounds like a thought a 7 year old would have - but I understand the sentiment behind it. I used to think that their close relationship wasn't such a big deal. But life sometimes teaches you differently - it really is a big deal - a remarkable gift, actually.

Below is a favorite picture of my dad at age 29 in 1946. Some people are blessed with a young look all their lives. Dad was one of those people. This picture was taken the same year my parents wed. From other pictures and from the rare movie footage we have, Dad was a handsome young man. His dark hair, charming looks and demeanor were passed down to my sister and her 2 girls.

The one regret I have for my dad is that he didn't live long enough to meet any of his grandchildren. The choices he made in his life sadly shortened his life. He missed so much.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It started with ...

(June 1947)

... a first grandchild. That was me. A first grandchild on both sides of the family. So it was a big deal - as it is with every first grandchild. The picture shows 4 generations of my mom's family. Me on my mom's lap, her father on the left and his mother on the right.

Mom was a beautiful woman. Dad always said she was beautiful as a young woman. In the pictures and movies I have seen of her from that time I think she resembles Ingre Berman.

(September 1943)
And Dad was a handsome young man. Dark with a boyish look to him. I can definitely see his charm and attraction in this picture. I am sure they made a beautiful couple. Of course in this picture my mom was 17 1/2 years old and dad was 26. World War II was still going on. She looked older than 17. The age difference seems a bit large from our perspective now - maybe not so much then. And she appears to have a drink in her hand. Guess the age restriction for alcohol consumption was started much later. I know mom graduated from high school at 16 as a result of skipping 2 grade levels and was working in Manhattan when she met my dad.

I was born just before their first Anniversary. I didn't hear much about their first years together. There aren't that many pictures either. Mom's marriage to dad was difficult. Details are not important now, but during that time her choices were limited. She was married for life, and her family and religion would permit no other choice.

Don't get me wrong! Both my parents were wonderful people in their own ways. They both loved me - the few pictures I have show that clearly. But dad had problems, and it made living with him harder and harder as the years past. From the point when my own memories are established, I don't remember them ever "happy". And yet, I know they loved each other ... even when things were very bad. Before my dad died in 1970, mom was the one holding the family together. She was the one who was our constant! And yet, while I sat with her in the funeral home waiting to pick out a casket for my dad, I remember her clearly saying ... "How will I do without him? Do you think he knew that I loved him?"

My mom's life was never easy those 24 years she was married, but she made a commitment. Knowing how she lived, struggled and sacrificed, I am not sure I could have made the same choice.

But these pictures show hope and possibilities. I believe it shows love. It is how most unions begin.

It is how my story began.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Looking back

Well, I am photo limited right now. My camera is broken and I don't think I will be buying another one all that soon.

But I am drowning in pictures. Literally drowning. Albums and albums.

So why not show a few of those.

I have completely enjoyed the blogs where old photos were spotlighted. I have thought to do the same on my blog.

I might not be able to publish everyday, as I need to sort through my pictures to find what makes sense to use. And maybe not every blog entry will be focused on this theme. But it will be a constant for the next few weeks.

So, here we go!

Quick Update

Once again, we dodged the "hospital bullet" with mom and her frequent Urinary Track Infections.

As many of you may already know, UTIs are one of the leading causes of hospitalizations for the elderly. Mom has been no different than millions of elderly people. While a UTI for a normal healthy adult isn't such a big deal (uncomfortable, sure, but treatable quickly), for an elderly person it can be deadly. The condition can begin a simply as most UTIs do - burning and discomfort with urination. However, in the elderly, they seldom feel those early signs. Mom never does. The infection grows and grows without any indication. And then, appearing suddenly, fever, weakness, disorientation ... all artfully disguised under the normal signs of aging ... napping more, not so steady, and some increased dementia. By the time my mom shows these symptoms, she is very sick - and it is only hours before she is septic - a life threatening condition. Then, of course, once at the hospital, you must count in the debilitation that results from the enforced inactivity dictated by the hospital protocols. Twelve to eighteen hours restricted to bed results in weeks of at home physical therapy to get her strength back. Yes, a UTI is a formidable opponent for the elderly.

This time, however, we had several hard-hitters in our corner. To begin with I knew what symptoms to look for. I learned that lesson through many previous hospitalizations for the same condition. (Some things you just have to learn the hard way!) It took me about 3 hours to catch on, but not 24 hours as in the past. Thankfully, I could act fast. I had antibiotics in the house. No waiting for the doctor to call in the prescription, no waiting at the pharmacy for them to fill it, no travel time to and fro. The moment I put the symptoms together in my head with the probably cause, I had her pop an antibiotic. The last and most important element of our success is her new at-home doctor. She returned my call promptly, advised me to double dose her - so a second pill was given right after the first. And the next day, we double dosed her again. Within 24 hours of the first antibiotic, mom was pretty much back to herself.

And for anyone who is keeping count, (I am), since mid May, our at-home doctor has saved us from 3 hospitalizations!

So we are doing well here. Thank you for all your comments of concern both on the blog and by email.

Next time we beat the UTI opponent, I will figure out how to play the "Rocky" theme song on my blog!!

Anyway, next posting ... a new theme to tide me over until I can get my dern camera fixed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gone ...

... but hopefully not forgotten!

I guess I hit a blogging slump. Some days I just write topic after topic, no gaps, no wondering what to write next, no real effort ... and other days (like today), I open my blog and notice - "Yikes, it has been 5 whole fricken' days since I blogged? What gives?"

I have been busy. Blog worthy stuff? I doubt it. But now that you are 6 or 7 sentences into reading, I am going to tell you what I have been busy doing.

Don't leave me now!!
  • My iPad - that darn piece of technology sucks up more of my life minutes than it should. My current game is The Chronicles of Inotia 2. I am a level 34 Warrior and a Priest and a Magician hang with me. Together we fight bad guys and are saving the world - I know you didn't realize I was saving the world, but someday it will be evident! You can thank me later.
  • I have been on a clean-out rampage - again! Last week, we couldn't find the ladder in one of our downstairs closets. The ladder!!! So now we can find the ladder and I can actually step inside the closet. I can now also walk around my computer table. Big improvement. Of course, now that the junk is gone I can see the dust and dirt! *sigh*. I am better at throwing out than I am at cleaning.
  • I am actually knitting again! That is a very good thing in several ways: I am slowing getting back to me. I have not been me for awhile, again something you might not have known since I am a very good actress. And since I haven't stopped buying yarn, using some yarn up is critical to avoiding an "obsession intervention" by those who love me.
  • I am getting yelled at by cops. No ticket! Just a swaggering law enforcement officer who decided to scream at me because I wandered into a work zone - by accident - believe me I did not want to be there. I let him yell, didn't offer an apology (but boy was I sorry!) and just backed out. And he backed his cruiser right along in front of my slow retreating car. Menacing. Was he having a bad day or what.
  • Things break in threes for me. My camera (my new camera - several hundred dollars) is malfunctioning so no pictures. Just annoyance. Maybe I can get it fixed. My new air mattress which is my weekend bed with my grand-dogs (less than 2 weeks old - $200) has a leak! I am really fried about that. Think I will buy a futon. My old Maxima (116,000 miles) needed struts! Do you have any idea how much struts cost on a Maxima? $2,000. For that kind of money, those struts should be external on the car so everyone can see and admire them!
  • Walking? No so much. Curves? Even less. I am trying, really, but my life has been busy.
  • For example, mom is running a fever tonight, probably a UTI - which is very common in the elderly. We started antibiotics this evening, but if we didn't catch this infection in time she will wind up in the hospital tonight with a blood infection! Just like 2 other times in the last 7 months. She can get very sick, very fast! Oh well - my bag is packed for the trip should it occur. I can ride over to the hospital behind the ambulance on my new struts.
So there it is. My life for the last week.

What have you guys been up to? Hope it cost less.

See ya!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Humor - a serious reflection

Yesterday I was gifted an award: The Humorous Blogger Award from The Feathered Nest. I accepted this award in my usual fashion. I recognized that I was accepting something that I asked for ... and I looked for the humor in the fact that I asked, begged, pleaded, and the blogger graciously consented to give me the award.

(I think I will try playing the lottery and see if I can get them to pick my number ... because I ask them to do so!) :-)

As part of my acceptance, I am asked to talk about how humor has impacted my life. For me that is a serious topic. Humor totally changed the path of my life.

The roots of my respect for humor begins with meeting the man who became my husband. I met this man in 1967. I was a college student and he was an employee of the university I attended. We were married in 1969.

Prior to meeting him, my life was problematic. My family life was dysfunctional. Somehow I developed a positive outlook on life ... maybe an opposite reaction to the negatives, I cannot begin to guess. But humor and laughter were not a part of my life experience to that point.

And when you are a young female, if you are asked what you look for in a "boyfriend" ... it typically is one or more of the following: handsome, popular, successful, understanding ... and so on. Humorous was not on my list. As an adult, I now know that humor should be somewhere near the top of the list ... but back then, I didn't realize the value of it. It is hard to value something you haven't experienced.

And then this introverted, shy man walked into my life. He saw life as a negative experience and his outlook was pessimistic, but he had a finely developed sense of humor. He could make me laugh. I was drawn to a person who was able to see the world through the lens of amusement.

We were an odd combination. But we filled in each other missing pieces.

We have been together for 44 years ... married for 42 years. Over that time I learned to see things differently, to see the humor in situations, to deliver a funny line with the right timing (funny is really about timing), and to temper my optimism with a bit of his realism. And he has learned from me as well. We are still basically the same people we were when we met, but only better - more complete. We joke about the fact that he keeps me from floating off the face of the earth with my Pollyanna ways, and I keep him from killing someone (not literally, but you know what I am getting at).

Yes, humor impacted my life. It changed the course of my life.

The second requirement of my acceptance was to pass the award onto another blogger.

I pass the award onto Chatty Crone.

Now I know that some bloggers may not participate in these award activities. I respect that. But since I get to pick, I pick Chatty Crone. She makes me laugh and smile and see life though a "fun" lens.

Yep! Chatty Crone it is.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mega Discovery!! And a great award!

I have discovered a technique for getting cool stuff - just ask!

Well, maybe not ask!

More like beg! More like jump up and down, wave arms in the air, say please, please, please, please, (in a whiny voice), and finally just be so obviously needy for approval, that they take pity on you and do what you ask.

No matter! The technique works and I am gloriously happy!

See, one of my blog friends at The Feathered Nest gives out an award called "The Cat's A**"(and yes, that is a cat's rear end). Isn't that just the greatest title!?!? She was giving this award out to some of her blog friends. I saw it. Immediately I knew this was something I coveted! (I think coveting is a no-no in the Ten Commandments - need to look it up - later.)

Anyway, after I totally prostrated myself, (it looked alittle like this) she gave me the award!!!

Really, folks. This technique works!

Anyway, there are two requirements:
  • I have to blog on how humor has impacted my life.
  • Pass the award onto another deserving blogger.
I most certainly will do that in a separate post.

My heart-felt thanks to The Feathered Nest for this award!

(Really, folks. Do not underestimate the power of begging.)


Drum Roll for The Hair

The hair cut!
Notice how artfully I placed the camera in the shot right where my double chins are!
Am I good or what!

It was amazing to turn around in the salon chair and find about 3 inches of hair on the floor.

I wore my hair in exactly this style - maybe a smidge longer - for probably 20 years. And then I got this "great" idea that longer would be better. But longer was more work, always in my face, showed my gray hairs more (they were longer, as well), and made me hot, hot, hot! (And not in a good way, either.) When I was overheated (like from vacuuming), it clung wetly to my face and neck and kept me warm and wet. Next time I think longer is better, I will write down my reasons so I can check back when I am using hair pins and head bands to keep the darn stuff out of my way.
I thought this last shot was interesting. I have a point and shoot camera. It automatically decides when I need the flash and when I don't. I like it that way. But for some of the pictures it flashed creating this interesting picture ... sort of like me shooting a ball of light at the viewer. Actually, upon really looking at this picture, it muted out the wrinkles too.

Maybe the camera does know what it is doing. :-)

Anyway, I wonder how much weight I left behind at the salon. What else I can cut off before I stand on the Weight Watcher's scale on Saturday morning. :-)

Just kidding.

(Maybe I will trim my nails and pluck some eyebrow hairs.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Today I went to my hair dresser and said "cut it off", and she did!

I have been wearing my air longish (long enough to tuck behind my ears) for a few years. But it was driving me nuts!! Too hot!! So back to the style I wore about 5 years ago. Very short, very cool, very easy. Mom loves it. She said she didn't recognize me when I came up the side walk. And I felt 10 pounds lighter.

Saw the doctor today for my GI reflux. Nice man. A friend. He said I could take Omeprazole for reflux continuously if it helps. It did work while I was using it, so I will. He went down the list of causes and things to avoid. When he hit coffee, I told him to stop! Coffee stays! Then he mentioned stress! Another bump in the road. Sorry, but no way to avoid stress right now. So I am hoping the pills do the trick! He was happy my weight was down 5 pounds since my last visit. Me too.

I also just had to steam clean my rugs on the first floor of my town house this evening. Yes, I started at 8:30 pm and finished at 10:00 pm. Then I was so pumped up I vacuumed the upstairs - bedroom level. Mom was in bed, but she had her hear hearing aids out for the night so it didn't disturb her, and my husband was totally oblivious. He just kept working on his cross word puzzle while laying on the bed in his underwear! I was a vacuuming fool. He knew better than to question me. :-)

Now I am writing my blog entry, just because I need to ...

Restless, that is all I can say.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My other caregiver role

(Meathead in 2004 - his more "buff" days)

This morning at 5:00 am, I awoke to the sounds of heavy breathing and restlessness ... only to discover that one of my granddog's, Meathead, was having a Grand Mal seizure.

As some of you may remember from a previous post, Meathead has canine epilepsy! His seizures have been part of our lives since he was 3 years old. And over the last 5 years medicine management to control them has been an ever increasing and challenging responsibility.

For those who have not experienced seizures, it can be a frightening situation to view. For Meathead, he falls to his side, legs are extended in a rigid position, there is strong jerking movements, sometimes his head is arched back, he drools extensively, heavy labored breathing, and sometimes he loses stool and urine control. He has no awareness of his surroundings. For Meathead, that state can last about 60 seconds - which feels like a long 60 minutes when it is happening to a loved one.

Post seizure disorientation can be almost as unsettling. He seems to come awake, but doesn't know his surroundings and cannot focus on any one thing. He paces quickly around in circles and pants greatly like he is overheated. Stairways need to be blocked because he can not safely manage to descend them during this period. Eventually he pulls out of this disorientation, able to focus on you when you say his name. The panting slowly subsides and usually he falls asleep. This period can last from 15 minutes to 2 hours.

How do we manage this condition?

Meathead is on 2 seizure drugs given twice a day. Since the age of 3 he has been on an ever increasing dose of potassium bromide. When that medication alone couldn't prevent seizures (as frequent as twice a month), he was started on phenobarbital. That combination of meds reduced his seizure activity to occasional strange behavior and extended his grand mal seizures episodes to about 6 months apart. A big improvement. But epilepsy is never cured, just controlled. There are breakthrough seizures, like we had this morning - always heartbreaking to watch.

Managing the actual seizure has become almost second nature for me. I try to remain calm (although my brain and heart are in overdrive), I administer 1 cc of Valium rectally to ward off any repeat seizures (cluster seizures are also a part of his history), stairways are blocked, noise and lights are reduced in the area, and an ice pack is placed on his lower back. Otherwise, we are just calmly present for him waiting for the episode to pass. It always does.

So here I sit, now 6:40 am in the morning, wide awake with a morning coffee, trying to work off the Adrenalin that shot into my system at 5:00 am. Meathead is peacefully asleep on the couch trying to catch up on the rest he missed for the last 90 minutes.

In moments of reflection I often wonder how is it that some people get a life time of care giving for others, while some folks never have to care for anyone other than themselves. Is it because I can, that I was born with a predisposition to help and assist others? If my nature was less wired in this fashion, would my caregiver load be less? Or is it something that is common to all humans? Is it an element of our natures that is developed and refined by practice?

I don't know the answer, but I know I have had my fair share of experience in this role. I held the traditional role of caregiver to our children. Mom is my third elderly relative to require extended assistance. My cat has degenerative kidney disease and needs subcutaneous fluids every other day to live. My husband's eyes are failing (my next care giving assignment, I am sure). My son's dog has epilepsy.

I have had a lot of practice in this role.

So now it is 7:30 am, the coffee isn't keeping me alert. I would really love to just take a morning nap. But in an hour, mom will be up ...

Better get a second cup of coffee.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

This rant and That rant

  • Its a Dog Weekend ... no time to post on the blog, write my thoughts, compose my thoughts, create a thought, go to the bathroom ...
  • Sleep deprived from Friday night ... Milo was on the alert all night for bad guys, and absolutely anyone else within 5 feet of his sleeping (or rather non-sleeping) mom. Snarling sounds work better than any alarm clock - if you are inclined to set your alarm clock at 10:00 pm, 12:30 am, 2:00 am, and 4:30 am. He was his cheery self in the morning. No one else was cheery!
  • We had our deck stained ... yeah! The tarp the painters threw over our air conditioner (to protect it), overheated it, causing it to shut off. I just love having conversations with contractors where I need to tell them that I am withholding full payment until I am sure my air conditioner is alright! They are such sunny, bright, and friendly conversations ... NOT!
  • My GI reflux is giving me fits! My doctor's appointment is Wednesday. A discussion of my eating habits, weight loss, or the stress in my life will be off limits. I want drugs!! I won't give up my daily glass of red wine, I am in Weight Watchers, and I can't give up my mom. Thank God I know this doctor very well, and we are long time friends. He will understand when I hand him his prescription pad and say "write".
  • I said I wouldn't blog about this ... but I lost 1.8 pounds last week. Good, but what about the 10 pounds I had hoped for in the first week of this program!?!? *sigh* (No, I won't give up my daily glass of red wine. Yes, they are empty calories. I have given up potato chips, french fries, cake with lardy icing, snickers, moon pies ... the red wine stays!)
There ... I feel much better.