Friday, December 17, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

This video is ...

A Social Network Christmas

... a gentle reminder that Christmas is about oh so much more than what appears at the mall.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Odd Photo Or Two (and blogger gone crazy -- edits not working)

Late fall reflections

Rammalamma. My portrait of the day.

Sploge ... curious critter.

Plate fungus gone crazy.

Paper wasp nest ... indicative of a cold, snowy winter and a buzzing spring.

Who doesn't love a nice lemon meringue pie?

Calmly waiting for the ride to move on ...
Disturbed by the fool who thinks burning rubber is cool.

A coffin door.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jump Ahead A Year

Graduation Day. Emily walks the long walk from the back of the auditorium all the way to the stage. Alone. She is one of two students attending NES, a new program this year. She is half of the class. She is the only graduate this year. Her great aunt is surprised that the school would make such a special graduation day for just one student. Our student, but none-the-less, just one. I am happy for Emily. I'll admit a tear or two slid from the corner of my eyes, along my cheeks to be wiped away hurriedly before anyone noticed. Dave did not try to hide his.

Her teacher, Christa presents Emily with her certificate of completion after speaking for a few moments about the wonders of Emily: her work ethic, her generous spirit, her happy personality, the way she pitches in and does classroom chores without being asked to. She talks about her shining light and her bright smile and her jokes. I admit, they aren't very good, but she finds them clever and funny.
After she received her certificate, Emily stood on stage and read her speech to her audience. Family and friends and students from different classes at the same school, in attendance at her graduation listened carefully. We couldn't see her face, she is a bit shy when presented with a large auditorium, but we heard her words: thank you Miss LaC., and Kailey, my BFF forever, my mom and dad. She has a yellow rose for Kailey and they hug. Solid friends. Good friends. Supportive friends. They will miss each other every single day, but somehow I know they will be alright. They'll see each other at Special Olympics and bowling and art class and the once a month dances they attend. They are, quite literally, attached at the ear, when they are not together.
When the ceremony is over, we all head down the hall to her classroom where her teacher, her co-student and Emily have decorated in pink and purple: streamers, tablecloths, napkins, paper plates and silverware. There are two kinds of salad and ziti in sauce, bread and three kinds of cookies and a giant cake with Emily's picture on it. We watch a wonderful slide show Christa put together for Emily; of her year with Christa and the places they've been ... summer camp, job sites, classroom work. It's a lovely slide show and I am thankful to see where she's been and what she's been doing.
Emily poses for photos with Dave & I, her Godmother, teachers and friends and smiles all the while. She visits with her guests and enjoys her special day. It is so much like her.
She's excited: Rosy cheeked, sparkly eyed.
She's is warm chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top.
She is just perfect.
Quote Of The Day
"Mom!" "I'm going to be twenty-three my next birthday!"
Those of you who've read my blog for a while will recall, this is the annual right of passage for Emily. Turn one age and start projecting to the next.
God Bless her.

Herbed Butter over Broccoli and Cauliflower

Here it is recipe time again. I'm always willing to try new recipes or attempt to improve upon old favorites. This recipe originally came from a Pillsbury recipe book, but, as is usually the case, it has morphed into its own little specialty.

Herbed Butter over Broccoli & Cauliflower

3 T butter, softened
2 T olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
3 T finely chopped chives
zest of 1/2 lemon (use a potato peeler for large swathes)
1 clove garlic, smashed
salt & pepper to taste (try fresh ground sea salt and pepper)
1 head cauliflower, cleaned and cut into flowers.
1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into flowers.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. (four quart pan, two - three quarts water) I prefer to steam my veggies though. Once boiling, add the cauliflower and cook for two minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for another two to three minutes. Veggies should be tender enough to eat, but still crisp. Drain and let sit in colander for a few minutes to be sure most liquid is gone.

In a large saute pan, mix together: butter, olive oil, thyme leaves, chives, lemon zest, garlic, salt & pepper. Using medium heat, heat the butter/olive oil and add the veggies. Saute until veggies are coated and heated through.

Serve warm. Reheats on a medium heat, well, in the microwave, but I prefer to just re-saute without adding any more butter or oil.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Of The Same ...

...But. What would Thanksgiving be if we didn't share a thought or two ...

So this evening, tomorrow and all the year through I am thankful
for each and every one of You, the lawn guy, the postman, the pizza guy, our emergency workers and military friends. For protectors, defenders, advocates, and those who know how to lend a hand and just when to. For prayerful types and opinionated types and quiet types, shy types, confident types, loud types, pensive types, brainy types and all types, because the world would be boring without your very presence and the difference you bring to the day.

I am thankful for my past and all that was in it. For visits with girlfriends and reminders of my youth. I'm thankful for today and the chance to live it. I'm thankful for tomorrow and what it will bring. Laughter and tears, sorrow and joy, they give us depth: make us who we are.

Computers and laptops and fingers to type, a wooden kitchen table to sit at tonight. A cup of good coffee and mocha latte, a fantastic hair cut, Mary Kay. I'm thankful for freedom. Who wouldn't be? For choices and options and speaking freely. I'm thankful for pets that snuggle and warm. I'm thankful for winters that bring a good storm.

My cup runneth over with all that is good.

For everything practical and silly stuff too -- like flamingos, silly bands, Mr. Potato Head. I'm thankful for a cozy warm house, a nice car to drive, a job that I love. For pumpkin pies made and delivered to friends, for cookies dropped off and real creamery butter.

My list could go on, on and on. And on. So I'll say one more time, this evening, tomorrow and all the year through, I'm mostly just thankful. Yes, thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Victory, However Small, Leads To Success

It seems the longer I live, the more challenging the battle. But this week, there was a small victory. A small slash of chalk on the wall so-to-speak.
Emily is fortunate to have a nice little part time job. It is only four hours a week, but it is a job, none the less and she loves her job.
Back to high school we go. Travel back in time for a few years to a meeting and coincidentally the sun, moon, stars and the special ed directors hormones all lining up right smack in a row. I asked for a vocational evaluation for Emily which was readily agreed to. I asked for a job coach and a part time job ... after school hours ... and that too was readily agreed to. You could have knocked me over with a feather two months later when Emily started a job two afternoons a week, after school, with a job coach one-to-one and the school district was footing the bill.
Emily worked at a little Woolworth type store ... old-fashioned, full of everything from sewing notions to hammers and nails and anything in between. Her job was to stock and tidy the eight very short but very full shelves of toys. Not only was she good at it, she could tell you where just about anything in the store was located. She has a knack for that sort of thing. Then ten months after she started her job, the store, an anchor, old friend, dependable in its presence, closed. The owner could no longer support not only his few employees, but his family. Those box stores had come too close ...
George, Emily's job coach, went right next door to the grocery store and asked if they could take Emily on. He, we, couldn't imagine how Emily would handle the store closing and the loss of the job she so loved. Very fortunate indeed, the store manager felt he could fit her in and she would be an asset to the store. She has worked there since and I am told by the store manager and her current job coach that she is dependable, conscientious and well liked.
Does a heart good to hear those words. Honest.
Emily hasn't been to the high school in ages, she is currently in a post graduate program, still under the direction of our school district and her job coaching is still picked up by the school district. I am and will be, forever grateful for this part of her education. She has learned so much ... but has offered as much in return.
I was told that her job coaching would no longer be available to her because, well, she'll be done with the school district at her next birthday and there is no funding for vocational portions of day programs for young adults with special needs.
No job coaching. No job. My heart was breaking. For Emily. I thought long and hard about how I could find a way to keep the job coaching so that Emily could keep her job. I was still reeling a bit when, thankfully, an angel turned up and she told me about a program through an agency here that might just be able to help with funding for job coaching. She suggested I apply on Emily's behalf and a day or two later the application showed up in my mail box. (Thank you!)
I hemmed and hawed and scratched my head over some of the terminology. Adult services are very different than youth services and the abbreviations are tricky. They could mean, literally, anything ... and were pretty much Greek to me until I read that application three or four times when finally the questions began to make some sense to me. I completed the form, mailed it in and that was that. Until yesterday.
Out to do errands, I stopped into the post office to pick up the mail, and there, in a # 9 envelope was a letter from the agency. I looked at it and turned it over and thought about it. I could barely open it for worry and anticipation. It was nearly as bad as waiting and then receiving an acceptance letter for college. Taking a breath, I slowly slit open the top and pulled the letter out.
"Dear Emily, We are pleased to advise you that ...." And there, pulled from that envelope was a small victory that will lead to success for Emily. She will be able to keep her job. She will be able to continue to earn her small paycheck and pay her way to the movies, the dance, for a magazine. She'll continue being out in the world; socializing, helping others, being an integral and important part of our world.
I couldn't, I wouldn't ask for more.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Dare You

How Dare You ...
... turn twenty-two when I least expect it, although I've known for years we were headed just this way. Twenty-two.
Big number. For a petite adult.

Emily's graduation from her post high school program is just around the corner. A matter of two weeks away. While I find myself excited for her, the birthday princess who loves all birthdays, old, young and in between ...

... I find myself reflecting on sleepless nights, worried days, harried meetings, forms, forms and more forms and realize with a start -- it isn't over yet.

To the left of my laptop sits a form letter with a form underneath. I need to complete this form and mail it in asap. The good parochial student in me will not let me start the form until I read from beginning to end; to be sure I understand the questions and also know the answers. I take note that the form is not all that long. But it is daunting. There are questions here I have no idea what the answer should be. What is EES? What is MRC? SGA? Pass Plan?

Good grief. Who can I call to help me? Oh forget it, I'll figure it out. Sooner rather than later, I hope.

I look at Emily and I am so proud of the young woman she has become. She is loyal, oh-so-loyal to family and friends and works hard and tries hard and lives well. And energetically.

I'd like to be more like her and less like me some days.

Her plans for her future? Well, marry Steven, of course. That is a far off dream. She, and he, have so much to learn before they can step off in that direction. Setting an alarm clock, telling time, grocery lists and grocery shopping, banking and money management, laundry, cooking, transportation. All the acts of daily living we do without thinking, they need to learn and learn and learn some more, because if they don't, they won't be successful. But what, exactly, is success? Is success found in only those things she can do without help? Or is it found in her acceptance that she needs help? I think a little of both.

Emily is a life long learner. That's a good thing, right? Isn't that what most of us strive to be?

I'm glancing at the form again and finally recognize that in some small way I've been sort of hoping forms would go away when twenty-two arrived too soon. Just a small dream, a fleeting thought that somehow twenty-two and being 'all grown up' would make all the rest of her challenges go away.

I want to watch Barney, and Arthur and see her eyes light up when she learns something new and knows she has. I want to put her in that little pink bathing suit and go to the town beach and splish and splash and enjoy a warm summer day. Just one more little girl summer day. Heat from the sun caresses your skin while the sand is cool on your feet and the noise of water lapping the shore lulls you to relax, step back, enjoy each moment.

What do I see for Emily's future? Next year? The year after? Five years from now? I don't know. I can't imagine her not living at home and yet I know that sometime down the road, it's the step that needs to be taken. Because keeping her with me, with us, will be holding her back. It would be keeping her from living her own life.

Do I want to look that far ahead? Oh no. Not at all. I want to stay right here. Two weeks from graduation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's Talk Personal Stuff

I've had a busy year or so health-wise. Nothing of crisis or life threatening proportions. Just stuff that needed attention. Do you love the disclosures we are required to read, initial and then remember when we go to the doctors for special testing procedures or surgeries? I read them all, initial and then think, "Oh yeah, I'd better disclose the truth about me."

I grab an ear and come right out and say it: "If anything can go wrong, anything at all, it will go wrong with me." Then I continue on to say I'm not worried about anything going wrong, I'm just giving them a heads up. In the last two years I've given three 'heads up'. In all three instances, guess what?

It's been just two years since I had three teeth extracted to then have dental implants to replace them and another tooth that was part of a bridge. It's been over $28000.00 in medical bills since. But, ha! I have two implants in my jaw, one up, one down and a very empty space where one implant would have gone, but the space is too narrow, and another empty spot where one would be placed to repair/replace the bridge.

To say it's been a long haul is an understatement. There were four surgeries to repair the gigantic hole in my jaw and my sinus, created when the first dentist extracted a tooth and lost the root tip in my sinus. So many antibiotics. So many tummy aches ... The residual effects are daily annoyances. One side of my nose 'blows' just fine into the tissue. The other? Not so much. There is a puffiness in my cheek (and while you might not notice it with all the other puffiness, I do)the space between gum and cheek is, ah, different. There is numbness on my face and a pressure change (much like an airline cabin) when I say certain words, sneeze, cough, laugh. I am unable to use the nasal spray for my allergies and I am now the proud owner of one-sided sinus headaches. I often feel as though water is running out of my nose. Where there should be teeth now, I have two missing and two metal posts. I'm almost terrified to let the dentist build the crowns to cover the posts, but promised myself that after the first of January that is what I will do. I'm nervous about the localized jaw pain at one site and what that will mean later. Down the road.

There was a growth in my left thumb that had been there for many years. When it started to grow larger, hurt and get in the way of typing, writing, etc. I decided it was time to take care of it. Off I went to Doctor P. for a consult and a surgical booking. I arrived early one morning and settled in to the Day Surgery Suite. He came in and spoke with me about the surgery and I repeated my usual disclosure, "If anything can go wrong, anything at all, it will go wrong with me."

Let me just say he didn't laugh, but I saw the amusement in his eyes.

I went through the surgery with flying colors. The wonderful thing about conscious sedation is that you don't have to take as long to come out of it. No vomiting, no headache, no sore throat. The weird thing about it is hearing the doctor speak during the procedure, in English, but have your brain unable to translate to whatever language your brain is currently thinking in. Strange.

Returning for a follow up appointment and to get the results of the lab tests on the neuro-type tumor that had been housed in my thumb, I was happy to note that I had feeling in the thumb and that the incision had healed so well. Dr. P walked in and asked a few questions about how I was feeling, explained how the surgery was completed and then went on to tell me that the results from the lab were in. He said, "but the lab didn't have the tumor to check, it only had a tiny piece of nerve." What? "The nerve tested fine but there's nothing we can do about the tumor. It's not here and it's not there." See?

Jump forward to today. I was scheduled for an early morning colonoscopy (don't shudder) and arrived at my duly appointed time. Hooked up to IV and BP and O2 monitors, weighed and questions answered, I was wheeled down the hall to the procedure room. In walks Dr. L, another very nice man, and he comes over to chat. He explains what he'll be doing and how if there are polyps found they'll be excised and sent to the lab for testing (rolling my eyes here ... I've heard that before) and he'll give me enough Vercett and Demerol that I won't feel a thing. He likes his patients to be comfortable. I don't bother to read the authorization and disclosure ... they all pretty much say the same thing. I sign it and say, "Well, now I have to make a disclosure to you. If anything can go wrong, anything at all, it will go wrong with me." He nods in acknowledgement that I've told him, but I don't think he believes me. Silly him.

I woke some time later in the recovery cubicle ... monitors beeping, confused as heck, vision blurred. The nurse (thank you all nurses -- you really are wonderful people) tells me to take my time waking and she'll be back with a snack. Crackers and cranberry juice after twenty-four hours of not eating! I felt as though I were in a fine dining establishment. It tasted so very good. We chatted and I dressed and she reminded me I would have to call Dr. L's secretary for an appointment in two to three months.

What? "You have to come back." "Dr. L couldn't finish the procedure." What? "You were in discomfort and your O2 was too low. " What? Really? I didn't remember any discomfort. I had no clue what-so-ever. See?

"Yes, Dr. L came in to speak with you." When I was asleep? "Well, you were awake, but probably still too under the influence that's why we tell you not to make important financial decisions or drive for twenty-four hours." "It's also why Dr. L writes everything down while he's speaking with you, so you can read it at home tomorrow."

That is if I can find it. And gee, I get to look forward to all that prep work again. :::sigh:::

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thinking About Dinner (and taking a suggestion)

While I wade back into the waters of blogging posting a recipe now and again might be right up my alley. I love to cook. I love recipes. Great combination in a kitchen. What I love best is when I can appreciate another's recipe, stay true to it, but somehow make it my own.

I rarely make up this cranberry sauce. Not because it isn't good. Oh no, that's not why. I rarely make this sauce because the recipe is my friend Barbara's. She makes it for me every year. Bless her heart. I prepare it occasionally for Christmas, but it's really a Thanksgiving treat for me.

Cranberry Sauce (serves 8)

2 C fresh cranberries
1 & 1/2 C water
1 C sugar
1 pkg raspberry Jello
1/2 C crushed pineapple
1 tart apple (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)

Add water to cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Immediately add sugar and jello.
Remove from heat and partially cool. Then add the pineapple with a small amount of the juice, apple and nuts.
Pour into your favorite mold or serving dish, chill until firm.

This recipe is easy and stores well with plastic wrap over the top, or if you prefer chill until firm in a tupper-type container and then transfer to your serving dish.

Got a Thanksgiving favorite you'd like to share? Please do!
A Grace by Rebecca Weston 1890
Father, we thank Thee for the night, and for the pleasant morning light; for rest and food and loving care and all that makes the day so fair.
Help us to do the things we should, to be to others, kind and good; in all we do, in work or play to grow more loving every day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

No Longer On Hiatus

Although I'm no longer on hiatus, I'm wondering what it is I have to write about.
Simple fact.
I continue to be intrigued by the blogs of others and by my own posts -- you know, the good ones. Not the fillers. I have so many fillers.
But then, my days are fillers. Of my life.
Life. I've been living it more fully this last year. I'm somewhat surprised by that.
Facebook is fun. It's okay with me if you don't like it. I do.
That's another thing that's changed. It's okay with me if you don't like something I do and it's also okay with me that I do like it. I'm not making excuses for my likes or not likes any longer. (you don't have to either)
I have so much to tell. And few words to express it all.
Soon. I'll get out the thesaurus. That should help!