Sunday, November 30, 2008

Old But Not Moldy

I'm popping in two Thanksgiving posts. But I'm struggling with missing Thanksgiving posts. I wrote one for this year, 2008, but not on Thanksgiving day, and I wrote one for last year, 2007, and I wrote one in 2003, the year from hell in my life, but there are no Thanksgiving posts for 2004, 2005 or 2006. Strange? Maybe. But in all likely hood the shade of depression was slowing descending and I was struggling to just think about the holidays. At. All.

Thursday, November 27, 2003
Giving Thanks
Happy Thanksgiving! It's been a bit since I've written, but with all the ills going through the house; flu, colds, sinus infections it's been a stretch to get much on-line time.

Giving thanks today for many things: my family, home, friends, work. The pets too. We lost one last night. Our cute little grey tiger was hit on the road out front. For her the good thing was she was killed immediately, for us, it was bad. How do you tell your little girl that her favorite pet has been hit by a car and killed?

She handled herself well I have to say and although it was a bit of a rough day for her with crying jags now and again, I am proud of her. She tells me now that she will miss Pyewackette. I tell her I will too.

Giving thanks for having that cat in our life too. She was a pest, but an adorable pest. One of those cats that followed you everywhere and meowed all day!

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Great Expectations
My great expectations for the holiday did not include: Cheddar ... the really cute, sweet, adorable Brittany ... rescued by my nephew-in-law last spring. Still not completely trained for visiting other people's homes, but hey! NIL is working on it and by this time next year, voila! A wonderful dog!!! ... What's a family gathering without a little, er, extra dog thrown in, just for fun? He's a bird dog. He acts like a bird dog. He watches, points, stands. Points some more. Bounces up and down in front of the French doors in the dining room. And in fairness to Cheddar (and NIL) once he acclimated, he was fine. He is a very sweet personality. Oh yeah, and he peed on the kitchen cabinet, but hey ... no biggie.

No, that wasn't expected at all.

Trust me to get things under control. I can shop, clean, prep, cook and kick a dog's butt all in one exhausting day. But I didn't. I let NIL take care of the dog and that worked out quite well.
Did I tell you we had fun? We did. So here's the fun part and the post I've been writing in my head for days:

I was expecting HIM! (there was a picture here) That's our darling Evan who had plenty of time to be spoiled by cousins and Auntie. And he got to play with Landon who is, of course, as big a love to us as ever. They shared, they played, the talked gibberish to each other and were not only the hit of the day, they were our entertainment! We had new toys for them to play with, an old rocking chair and lots and lots of patience and hugs!

Did I tell you there was some bad stuff? No? Well, I'm not gonna mention it here. But there was. Into every holiday a little rain must fall. Or not. I prefer or not. I'll get over it.

I think, we, in the general sense of we as human beings, place expectations that far exceed what our intelligent brain knows will occur. Our emotional brain, the brain that gives virtual hugs and kisses and visions of the perfect holiday seems to push rational thought aside and we plod on, march forward, burst onto the scene with ....

What?

Oh. Expectations!

To be absolutely honest, I had only the expectation that I would do the lion's share of the work. Which is exactly what occurred. Oh, I had help as needed -- I won't take that away from my helpers -- but I take on the challenge of the perfect holiday for myself. Each year 'the perfect holiday' changes in my mind.

Do not let me complain because that would be like taking the holiday away from not only myself, but my family and guests.

Thanksgiving has always been and will always be, my favorite holiday. My favorite family and friend gathering. My favorite meal to cook -- which includes the shopping (with my canvas shopping bags in tow) lugging, prepping, cooking and putting it all on the table. I love to prepare for this holiday and I thoroughly enjoy each moment of the day. [even if I do have to train a dog while I'm cooking! :) ]

Getting out my grandmother's china, some of my mother's and some of my own gives me a sense of belonging and longing ... for childhood Thanksgivings at my aunt and uncles New Hampshire camp ... long tables set end to end. Lots of food, relatives, extended family, friends and noise. Men cooking the turkeys, women preparing veggies, kids unfolding chairs and placing dishes, silverware and the like on the tables. Wood smoke and dark blue water of the lake. Cold, crisp air. After meal walks in the woods where we would gather the greens and berries to adorn Christmas gifts and wreaths.

Yes. Sometimes I long for those days again. I would like to impart them to my own children. I know that those days, of belonging and being a part of a large, happy crowd are what made me grow to love Thanksgiving. And all that goes with it.

So what am I talking about? Expectations. Visions. Dreams. Years ago I learned that surer than shoot, if I placed an expectation upon anyone other than myself, I would be dearly disappointed. Sorely disappointed. Arguments would occur. Bickering would happen. Tears would be shed and doors would be slammed. Why? Well, simple ... we each had our own expectations of what the holiday would be.

One year I ...
... made an actual grown up, mature decision. I promised myself that I would have Thanksgiving every year and I would enjoy it the way I had as a child. Not because I expect others to see the holiday the way I do. Not because I expect others to have the same happy memories that I do. I decided that I would enjoy the holiday and I promised myself that I would not expect anything from anyone other than myself because I love Thanksgiving and I love the people that share it with me.

(Well, let's leave out the expecting people to arrive on time, enjoy their meal and you know, say 'thanks, that was good.' I still expect that)

That promise to myself has allowed me to really enjoy every aspect of Thanksgiving. I shop ahead of time for those items that I can and keep a list at the ready. As the day draws near I try to keep ahead of housework so that I'm not running about like a mad woman the day before or the morning of. Some years I'm successful at that -- others not so much, but it's all okay. In the end I don't think anyone really cares how dusty my house is or is not.

That promise to myself has allowed me to look forward to prepping and cooking and enjoying each guest who joins us for Thanksgiving. Some years it's the four or us with the five of them and others, like this one, we add a few more to the mix.

That promise has allowed me to wake on Thanksgiving morning and regardless what needs to be done throughout the morning, give thanks for my life, my family, my friends.

That promise has allowed me to accept that not everyone moves through the holiday the same way I do. They too have their childhood memories and some may be happier than mine -- others may not.

Is there anything at all I would change about this Thanksgiving just past? Sure there is. But the changes have nothing to do with the number of people, the prep work, the cooking or even the dog that peed on my kitchen cabinet (lucky for him (and me) Dave was in the basement).

There is the matter of the yams and brown sugar and pecans and coconut. YUK! Oh, and the frozen squash! What was I thinking?!?!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm a bit late with the wishes, but the thoughts were with you all for the days leading up to and throughout the day. I offered thanks to God for all of you too.

And now I'm heading into Christmas.

With absolutely no expectations....

Ever Felt This Way?




Or this way?



Yeah. Me too.

video

What does this say about me?!


Resting comfortably ...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Prep Work

This Thanksgiving found me in an unusual spot. Two very willing helpers! And a third who helped with setting the table although that might have been under some duress.
Amy & Jamie.
I have been giving a niece cooking lessons on Tuesday evenings so I wasn't surprised when she offered to help with Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Yes, I even let her use an electric mixer!
Secretly, I was pleased that I wasn't going to be alone in the kitchen. For me it's not about the work involved. I love to cook. It's something of a hobby and a passion. My hips can attest to that -- and at this stage in life I'm actually okay with a little more weight than less.
What I love about the kitchen and holidays is the relationships that exist in the kitchen. Mother/daughter. Husband/wife. Aunt/niece. Sister/sister. You get the idea. Usually I am alone in my kitchen, dicing, slicing, chopping and while I enjoy the process and the peace of the quiet, the process, I miss the conversations that occur when a group of like-minded individuals get together, in this case -- getting a holiday dinner on the table.
Both my daughter and my niece went through those years when they were too young to really be of help, and then they moved right along into the 'it's lame to be in the kitchen' phase of life. But now, oh yes! I am a happy woman because not only did my niece ask to help out, 'because I really want to learn this Auntie' but Amy asked too ... and admitted she was a bit annoyed that Jamie was going to help out and I hadn't asked her to help. Which is rather quite funny from where I'm sitting.
On Wednesday Amy arrived home from school and we went to work baking apple pie, berry pie and dipping strawberries in chocolate with coconut & nuts and just plain chocolate! It was nice spending time in the kitchen with her and just having that round about conversation that women are famous for ... start here, go there, end up over there and eventually back to the first topic ... which completes the cycle of the conversation. It was indeed quality time with her and I am so glad we had that time together.

Amy working on the strawberries!

Her apple pie out of the oven and cooling. Yes. She's done dipping the fruit and is now licking the spoon.

Thursday morning dawned cold and crisp with Jamie at the door ready to take on Thanksgiving dinner. We started with the turkey ... and she did it all ... from opening the package to getting him into the pan and into the oven. I taught her my secret Turkey ritual: Wash the bird gently, pat him dry gently, put him into the roasting pan and then massage him all over with light olive oil, give him one last pat on the backside with a sincere 'thank you' and then put him in the oven.

We did eventually have time to clean up ourselves and does she look happy with the outcome? Yes she does! This bird, her first, came out just perfect. I told her it's all about the ritual. ;)

You might not want to kiss this fresh cook who helped to make that pumpkin pie ... which was delish!
I do hope that your Thanksgiving day found you having time to reflect on what you are thankful for in your daily life and that you enjoyed the day however you spent it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Emily's Thanksgiving Gift

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! As always, I am pleased that we are having guests to our house for the day. We are a pretty casual group for Thanksgiving. I learned many years ago to relax, dress comfortably and enjoy the day with the folks we care most about.

Re-reading that sentence has me thinking of how many other friends I would love to have spend the day with us, but honestly, cannot fit in. I've thought every year how nice it would be to rent a large hall and invite all these friends and family members to a potluck Thanksgiving dinner.

There is a summer camp here in town that has a beautiful rustic great hall with a large field stone fireplace and a full kitchen. The deck overlooks a beautiful pond. Maybe one year I will actually organize it.

In the meanwhile, I'll be happy and thankful to have our traditional small gathering here at the house.

Emily arrived home from school the other day with a flower arrangement for me!

"Look Mom!" "I made it!" "For you. For Thanksgiving!"


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Done! My Creative Muse Is Back To Typing

Although my creative muse is back to using my fingers on a keyboard (at least I hope so) I have completely enjoyed the painting of the sleds. It's been a couple of weeks of no computer time for the most part, no housework ( Oh! I do like that part!) and a lot of de-stressing because of the painting.

Here they are, four of the six I managed to finish. There weren't nine, there were eight and so, with little time to accomplish the task, I think six was a good job done.





Happy Weekend All! Hoping to be back here soon with some writing I've been puttering around with. And well, maybe some fodder that's actually interesting!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Turning These Into This With Old Brushes And Paints

My friend Barb recently lost a friend quite unexpectedly. These two women have known each other for many years through church, children, ceremics, cooking, crafts and they had matured into their sixties together.



Barbara has been so sad since Margaret died. But she is trying hard to carry on with the church fair and all that entails as well as pick up the pieces of it that Margaret always handled. Not an easy task.



This church has a woman's craft group that meets once a week and they work together on group crafts and then individually at home on their own. Anyone who has ever organized a craft fair knows how much time and energy goes into the process. Needless to say, Barbara is wiped out.

And then she brought home a number of craft items to complete for the craft fair on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, in addition to signing up to help out in the kitchen that day; on top of her annual, yearly job of enticing crafters to purchase space, organize and plan out the spaces and pretty much set up the hall with some elves along as helpers.


I do not belong to this church and I do not help out at the fair. I do attend the fair though. Each year I find one or two items I can't live without and I love the White Elephant Table (which is really an entire room).



Barbara freaking out on the phone, "I am so tired. I don't know where to start. What to do. How to get it all done."



Kathy, "Barb, load the stuff in the car and get over here. I'll unload it all, and I will get those sleds painted for you well in advance of the fair. That'll be one less job for you to worry about."



Barbara, "I know. But I just can't ask you to do that."


Kathy, "You aren't asking. I'm telling. I am telling you to do it. And you will."


Barbara, "Okay, you're right. I'll bring them over. Are you sure?"


Kathy, "Yes!"


While waiting for Barb to arrive I run down to the basement (dangerous for a woman my age, I know) and start routing around for my acrylic paints and my brushes. I haven't painted in years and I'm wondering if I still can. Locating the items in an old plastic tub, tightly sealed and covered in dust I wonder if that dent in the lid is actually a cat body shape.



I lug the tub upstairs, pull out paints, brushes and other items I had no idea were stored there. Honestly I don't think I need them any more either. Yet another failure on my part. You know the one where you clean out, but you don't? Still, you talk about it enough that you actually think you've done it?

The brushes look like heck, after all they were well loved and well used and the bristles are still in excellent condition so I know I won't have to borrow or invest in any.


Anyway. Barbara arrives and I go out to meet her. The back of her little car is crammed with sleds. Yes! Old sleds. They have been painted red and green with a bit of white where I will add the snowmen.

I am to turn these old sleds into ...

this!

There are only nine sleds. Only nine. Just nine. That's all. And that is what friends are all about. Turing These Into This ...

On A Lighter Note

Today I was off to have two cars inspected ... both failed. Miserably. One for emissions. The other for safety. Geeze Louise, can I catch a break?

The emissions fail/rejection will be okay. The 'service engine soon' light lit up about a week ago and the man was able to run the diagnostics, tell me what the problem is (or was) and turn off the light. My van has been rejected and I have to drive for 200 miles and then go back again. If the light stays off the car will pass, if it comes on again. Well. Repairs will be in order. I guess. Bleh.

The safety fail is another story on another car. And one might wonder why I am bringing two cars for inspections on a Saturday morning? Just 'cause I'm nice.

Four tires. FOUR. TIRES. One more bill to add to the pile which does get paid but makes me just a little nutty. "I'm real sorry, ma'am." "I have to put a rejection sticker on the car." Do what you have to do ... it's not his fault after all.

It seems the two front tires have lost the inside edge ... and the two rear tires are, well, worn out from all that spinning. Yippee!

"You aren't supposed to drive the car at all after a safety fail." "I know that's not realistic because you have sixty days to make the repair." "Do not let your daughter go on any long trips."

How to feel safe in one easy sentence. :::sigh:::

But here is the lighter note. On the way home from the second car inspection, in a round-a-bout way Emily & I were driving past a craft fair. It so happens that this is also a fund raiser for The American Lung Association (I think) run by two young women, one of whom we know and suffers from fibrosis in her lungs. She's had a rough year or two with this disease but keeps plugging along doing the best she can.

While there I came across a young man and woman -- and I'm not sure which is the artist, but they obviously work together and darn, if there items weren't whimsical and just a teeny bit feisty in some cases.

Go check them out. Monkey Chow. http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5048118

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is It Enough?

Have you ever sat and observed a roomful of Special Olympians?

Colin approaches me as I enter wearing a generous smile and with a solid thud on my shoulder (meant to be a pat), “Hello Mum!” Of course, Colin is not my son, I am not his mother, but I am there with Emily, my daughter.

We are at the Fall Dinner Dance for Special Olympians sponsored by the same charitable group that sponsors all the sports for the athletes in this area.

The music is loud and dance-y. Some sway to the music on the dance floor. Others sit and mark the beat. All are smiling.

Pockets of conversation surround me: hushed, heads together in order to be heard, loud, above the noise voices, in order to be heard. “Are you playing basketball this season?” “My mother dropped me off.” “I’m hungry! When are we eating?”

Their physical ages do not matter because they are all eighteen to twenty-four or so socially. It’s a good group in size, more men than women -- the primary reason I sit in the back of the hall, notebook and pen in hand, reading book at the ready -- boundaries are not always known or remembered.

The sheer joy of life in the room keeps me from my book, but does help me to make a few notations.

Mike doesn’t like to dance, but he enjoys showing others how to use his I-phone. James likes Gabby and wants to dance with her, but he is too shy to ask. A little help from a parent gets the two onto the dance floor. Scott and Lauren sit with each other holding hands under the table in order that no one sees. Greg and Will sit with their backs to the dance floor, playing a finger game on the table. Corey, Albert, Dennis, three men with a purpose dance together. There are no rules of social graces in this hall. You dance with who likes to dance. Or you don’t.

Emily sits quietly, a serious expression on her face. There are interesting exclusions and cliques in the group and she is trying to discern which group she belongs with. Jen and Olivia are good buddies and hang out together. Abby and Emily C are best friends and they are together. Kristen and Marcia. Matthew and Everyone. Taylor and Himself. Mark and His Caregiver. Harry sits with Tim. Susan is with Janice. Mae is with Her Housemates. Emily’s best friend was unable to attend this evening and she is a bit lost.

I walk past Harry who looks up at me and asks, “Is something wrong with Princess?” I stop and respond, “She’s waiting to dance. Maybe you could ask Princess to dance?”

Harry is up and out of his seat and asking Emily for a dance before I can count to ten. She accepts, which is what got Corey and Albert up and out of their seats! She officially has a full dance card. They wait patiently and then begin the process of cutting in and it’s all very cute and funny from where I am sitting, way back in the room.

I am amazed at Harry. He is new to this group and already he is as entrenched in the social scene as any of the others. He is observant and thoughtful -- a welcome new addition to my way of thinking.

As I sit and watch my mind wanders to what my dreams were when I was young and carrying Emily within me. I thought of how she would look, who she would become as an adult. Isn’t that what pregnant mothers do? My mind goes over, once again, the surprise and shock after her birth, of this disability and how many times I’ve asked myself the same question. Again and again and again:

If I could change Emily, would I?

The answer is as complex as the life we have lived if I think about it too long. There is a little bit of leftover grief for the baby I was expecting who did not arrive. But there is far more joy in my life over the baby who was delivered instead and who has enriched my life more than I could have thought possible.

I feel honored and privileged to be the mother of this woman-child. I am blessed beyond anything I have ever deserved and I am sure that I am, like other mothers, doing the best I can, but wondering always, is it enough? Have I given her everything I can to ensure her life is full and meaningful and joyous?

I stop making my notes and I look up to the front of the room where they all are donning red and green tee shirts and Santa hats. It’s time for the annual Christmas card photo. They are not that much different than others their age. Well, yes they are. But they aren't.

And surer than shoot, I see the look on my daughter’s face and I know that all is at it should be. That her life will be full and rich and interesting and that yes, it is enough.

cross posted @ http://womenon.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Excitement In Smallville!

I was up early and off to the polls before work.

As I approached the polling place a steady stream of vehicles were in front of and behind me.

The biggest worry of the process was getting beyond all those electioneering fools, who do not have the right to wear a pin, hat, shirt, bumper sticker or other article with a candidates name on it IN to the polls, but they do have the right to stand just 150 feet from the entrance doors and, you know, electioneer.

I have to admit it was an impressive group of people; lively, noisy and dangerously close to the moving vehicles. Dangerously. The good news is for the first time in the history of this town, school children and carpool lines were not in the mix. We closed the elementary schools for the day. Yeah, I know. Novel idea.

Just as I was turning into the parking lot one of these dedicated souls stepped off the curb and into the direct path of my moving car. Geeze Louise! Buddy, just in case you didn't know I am already wondering if those very young children holding signs that are way too tall and heavy for them, are going to drop one into the path of oncoming traffic or worse, onto a car going by. But never mind that. What in the name of gawd are you thinking?! We are driving here and all of you are distracting us.

And while I'm on the subject of you dedicated fools ... why are all of your cars parked in the front row of the parking lot, making a longer walk for the old folks in town? Oh, yes! We have electioneering to do!!!

I respectfully suggest that at the next dammed election for anything ... there should be barricades up for you fools to stand behind ... about three or four feet from the curb. That way, the motorists won't be worried about the falling signs or running one of you over.

I made it passed the dammed fool and into a parking space in the far reaches of the lot and sat for a minute collecting my thoughts before I headed in.

Question 1: No.
Question 2: Yes.
Question 3: No.

I followed the blue line to precinct three and walked up to checker-in-people, all retirees who have the time and the dedication to work from 6:30 AM until after 8:00 PM at night. Gave my street, the house number and first name and I was off to the voting booth where I completed my voting in record time.

There wasn't a whole lot on the ballot ... you know?

I heard tales of backed up traffic, overflow parking not well labeled and lines within the polling place. Such a small town ... only 5700 registered voters ... and an unofficial count of the number of folks going in per hour was 'roughly 400'. Amazing. They are coming out of the woodwork.

So. Now it is time to sit back, watch the tube and wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

But this wait is just so much shorter than the entire campaign!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Stuff


It's been a busy week. Brain surgery, a trip to Maine, hand surgery. My sister did well with her surgery but she is just 'not right'. That being said, I'm sure it's due to my BIL still being in Boston recovering from his surgery. She's anxious to see him and to have him home.

The bad news is he's still feeling crappy with palsy and vertigo. The good news is, he will be sent back to Maine on Monday and will do a stint at a rehab spot in Maine, at least unti he is able walk further and without assistance.

My sister's dogs were full of fun and giggles the twenty-four hours or so I was there. One even chewed a chapter out of a book. Fortunately for her, it was my sister's book, not mine. I would have had to, oh I don't know ... I love animals too much to hurt one, but I'd have been really, really, really angry. My sister just said, "Well, I'm missing a chapter, but I have the end of the book!"

While I was gone Emily and Dave decided they would get all the Halloween decorations out and surprise me.

It was a surprise -- half pleasant one, although I had specifically told David, when he queried, 'are you going to decorate for Halloween?', that I was too busy to worry about getting it all out, up and then put away.

So now, I guess, I just have to worry about getting it all put away.

Let me pose a question. Why is it, in life, that when someone is helping you out, it tends to turn into more work for you?

Tomorrow is Special Olympics fall finals for soccer. It will be very cold starting out and then improve as the day wears on. The facitility for the final games of the season is beautiful and wonderful photo ops present themselves each year. I'm hoping this year to take advantage of the location in between games and get some nice fall shots of the salt water marshes.

I'm missing all my AOL alerts -- they were about the only mail I got!!! It's a bit quieter on the Buddy List too. I believe things happen for a reason and so here we all are. The reason may never be known, but we are where we are supposed to be.

I have created a gmail account, but since I am clueless as to what 'everything' is for, the address won't be linked here until there is some time to figure it out. I am eventually going to just make AOL disappear from my PC and will access it only through the www method.

Do any of you know, off hand, why is it that some commenter's alerts come to me in their own e-mail address and others come via 'noreply'. And just where-oh-where do I make it so it's commenters e-mail addresses ... or do I do that for myself and you do that for yourself?

That's my one other big question of the day? I'm fairly certain it's as clear as mud.


Happy Weekend All!