Friday, May 31, 2013


Spring's Promises

The spring is fresh and fearless
And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.
Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing,
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.

  By Sara Teasdale

Ah, the weekend is here again, and it looks to be a great one weather-wise. I'm looking forward to heading out to the fruit stand on Saturday and Sunday I will probably just rest up.

Thanks for all the compliments about my Miss Minga. For those who don't know, my baby will be 21 in July. I've had her since she was a baby. Our neighbor's cat gave birth to four kittens. They were such wee little things. Hubby and I loved the mama cat, and when the kittens were old enough, we used to bring them to our place to play. One day our neighbor was outside bragging about how he used to beat them up. I was livid when I heard. As soon as hubby and I got the chance, we stole all four of the kittens and found them homes. We'd already chosen to keep Miss Minga so it was a matter of placing the other three. Miss Minga has been with us ever since.  She and I have literally grown old together.
 Wishing you all a sunny and beautiful weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hail to the Sun

‎"Come the day, thief of the night
Lifts its voice to sing
Now rise up, rise up
Ever victorious
Know the time, know the light
Comes the sun again
Now rise up, rise up
Ever victorious" 

- Thea Gilmore "Sol Invictus"

Seems like summer has arrived. Predictions of going up into the 90's. Yikes!!!!  It is too soon for that. Don't know if I am ready for that.  Spent the last few days racing through the rain drops. Yesterday it was only a shower on my way home from work, but on Tuesday, by the time I got home, my toes were all shriveled from being wet  so long. It is so, so good to see the sun.  Just not looking forward to the humidity that is supposed to go along with it. Hubby had a hard time of it.  He's a man who has always been on the go, and it is hard for him to give up the things he once his long walks to the park on hot summer days. 

I told someone the other day I would post a picture of Miss Minga, and here it is.  This is my girl.  Love her with all my heart.

It's totally official now.  My job is being posted. Officially I have 31 days to go, but I also have nine sick days to use up and a holiday in between. As I sit here procrastinating, wishing I didn't have to go, I'm  thrilled with the thought of being free, of being able to sleep as late as I wish and decide for myself if I want to go out in the bad weather or not. Breakfast has not been a big thing in my house as we both had jobs and usually ate out because there was no time to eat in the morning.  But, now I have been hoarding recipes of special and healthy breakfast treats.  I can't wait, but oddly, now as I am anxiously awaiting something, time has slowed to a standstill...much like when I was a child awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus.  I always said that time passes to quickly; well, now it is just the opposite.  

But, that is okay, too, for it is nice to have something to look forward to.  May you all have a great day.

The future you shall know when it has come; before then, forget it.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carlos Castenada

Everything we do, everything we are, rests on our personal power. If we have enough of it, one word is enough to change the course of our lives. If we don't, the most magnificent piece of wisdom can be revealed to us and that revelation won't make a damn bit of difference. Do you know that at this very moment you are surrounded by eternity? And do you know you can use that eternity, if you so desire? Do you know that you can extend yourself forever in any direction and use it to take the totality of yourself forever in any direction? Do you know that one moment can be eternity? If you had enough personal power, my words alone would serve as a means to round up the totality of yourself and get to the crucial part of it out of the boundaries in which it is contained.

From 'Tales of Power' 

The above is the only book I have left of the series written by Carlos Castaneda. It is beaten up, to be sure, and the cover was destroyed years ago. For some reason, this is the one I couldn't let go.  Castaneda died of liver cancer in 1999, but in the 60's, he was 'the man', the 'godfather of the New Age.' I guess perhaps it might be a reminder of my youth. I came of age with the  teachings of this man.

I was in my 20's and working at an answering service during the evening hours.  By 7 pm the place quieted down and we all brought out  our books and whatever else we had to occupy our time. There was a young woman who worked there. We always seemed to grab the boards next to each other. I remember her name was Adriane, and she was very deep into Castenada's teachings. She was such a believer. At the time, I was very much into the Rosicrucians and was taking both their astrology and philosophy course, but the covers on Adriane's books looked so inviting. She began to talk to me about his teachings, and before I knew it, I was reading his books right along with her.

They now say that his writings were a hoax.  Well, I knew they were all along. I read his books not because I believed his far-fetched tales, but because I liked some of the things he had to say.  His words were meaningful. Judge for yourself.

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.

“The aim is to balance the terror of being alive with the wonder of being alive.”

Dwelling upon the self too much produces terrible fatigue. A man in that position is deaf and blind to everything else. The fatigue itself makes him cease to see the marvels all around.

Things don't change. You change your way of looking, that's all.

As long as a man feels that he is the most important thing in
the world, he cannot really appreciate the world around him. He is
like a horse with blinders; all he sees is himself, apart from
everything else.

What we need to do to allow magic to get hold of us is to
banish doubts from our minds. Once doubts are banished anything is

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday This and That

Had a great weekend, made even greater by having an extra day off.  Did my food shopping and cooking on Saturday.  On Sunday I went searching for some, what I call, 'retirement clothes'; that is, clothes that are not to be worn to work.  In that department, my closet is bare. I found three very plain little sundresses for hot days and a pair of shorts.  The dresses are perfect for lounging around the house or, with a piece of costume jewelry, out to the park. It is an awful picture, but they are actually really very pretty, nice and soft and a wee bit shiny. This is all I plan on buying. Have to hold onto my money, and I have plenty of little tops and skirts that I wore to work that I can now wear to the senior center.

Yesterday I dug out the George Foreman for an indoor cookout.  We had ribs and chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, and a watercress and cucumber salad with a homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette. I am a potato salad lover, but I'm the only one who eats it, so I make it rarely.  For dessert, we had blueberry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a strawberry on top for the red, white, and blue.  Needless to say, I ate too much.  

After getting my clothes ready for the work week, I settled down in my chair and read...and read...and read.  This time I found a great fiction trilogy by Mary Gilgannon.  'The Silver Wheel'. The trilogy includes: 'Lady of the Moon', 'The Raven of Death' and 'The Silver Wheel'. Set in ancient Celtic Britain during the period of the Roman invasion, the book relates the story of a young Drui-in-training whose gifts of vision have been passed down from the 'Old Ones' via her matrilineal line. The adventure begins when our heroine has a vision warning of death and destruction for her people and sets out with two friends, one gifted in traveling to the spirit world, and the other, a young warrior who is in love with her, to save her people from the Roman invaders.

"The book is steeped in Celtic philosophy and mystical belief, and also has supernatural/magical elements. But it is primarily a historical novel, telling the story of the Roman conquest of Britain from the standpoint of the Britons."

As usual, whenever I read a book such as this, I find myself becoming lost in dreams and visions and cannot shake that feeling that "I was there".

On another note, I do believe we have a haunting in the apartment upstairs. The people upstairs moved out awhile ago.  I think they had no choice, if you ask me.  One day when I was in my apartment I heard a commotion in the lobby, and, of course, nosey person that I am, I had to look and see what was going on.  It was two women arguing, one the woman from upstairs, and the other woman was yelling about her son.  The super's wife was there as well, and I heard her tell the woman who lived upstairs that she'd better start controlling her son, that the next time she would call the police.  Shortly after that, they moved out. 

Well, the men have long finished with the painting and whatever else they do to make the apartment ready for the next person, but no one has yet to move in.  One evening I heard someone moving around upstairs, and I asked hubby if someone had moved in.  "Not that I know of", he responded.  The telltale sign that he was right was the lack of the sound of a toilet flushing.  Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but in this building we have these high powered toilets that sound like they are about to take off when one flushes them.  If I am quiet, I can here the toilet on floor three flushing.  When the toilet upstairs from me is flushed, it sounds as if it is coming from my house.  (So much for bathroom privacy). 

So, to make a long story short, there is NO ONE living upstairs, yet on several occasions I have heard someone moving around up there. The latest was Sunday night, or should I say Monday morning around 3 am.  I heard footsteps enter the bedroom, move about, then exit to nowhere...and I mean nowhere.  They virtually disappeared when the exited the bedroom. There has been nothing ever since.  Strange happenings, indeed.

Well, time to get a move on. Talk to you all tomorrow.  Have a great day.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

No warrior he, a village lad,
needing nor words nor other prod
To point his duty; he was glad
to tread the path his fathers trod.
Week days he worked in wood and field;
with homely joys he decked his life;
The sword of hate he would not wield,
nor take a part in cankering strife.
On Sunday in the little choir
he sang of Peace and brotherly love,
And as his thoughts soared higher and higher,
they reached unmeasured heights above.

A cry for Freedom rent the Land -
"Our Country calls, come, come, 'tis War;
Together let us firmly stand;"
he answered, though his heart beat sore
At leaving home, and kin, and one
in whose fond eyes too late he read
That life for her had but begun
with the farewells he sadly said.

A half a century has passed -
and more - since all those myriads fell;
For he was one of those who cast
sweet life into a Battle's hell.
The village has become a town,
brick buildings the old graveyard gird;
Of him who fought not for renown,
no one now hears a spoken word,
But on the Monument his name
in gold is lettered with the rest.
Without a sordid thought of fame
he to his Country gave his best.

Strew flowers, then, Memorial Day
for him, for all who for us fought.
With speech and music honors pay;
teach what our brave defenders taught.
And now our sons are setting out;
the call for Right rings to the sky,
"Our Country! Freedom!" hear them shout,
re-echoing their Grandsires' cry.
Helen Leah Reed 

And remembering the many, many more whose graves I have not yet found. We remember.

Happy Memorial Day to all.

Friday, May 24, 2013


A carpenter and his apprentice were walking together through a large forest.
And when they came across a tall, huge, gnarled, old, beautiful oak tree,
the carpenter asked his apprentice: "Do you know why this tree
is so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful?" The apprentice
looked at his master and said: "No. . . why?" "Well," the carpenter said,
"because it is useless. If it had been useful it would have been cut
long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is useless it
could grow so tall and so beautiful that you can sit in its shade and relax."

Tao Story
I always love the Friday before a long holiday weekend, especially when it's a pay week.  It means that that even though pay weeks are cooking weekends, I will still have two days of rest.  

Didn't get my blood taken yesterday.  I'm beginning to think the Universe is trying to tell me something.  First it was the EKG machine not working when I go for the test...this after being misdirected and sent to the other side of the hospital to admitting where I waited almost an hour before being told I was in the wrong place.  Then, it was back to where I started from only to find that the machine was not working.  So, you guessed it.  Back to admitting so I can be tested by the machine upstairs.

Then, Monday rolls along.  The most important of the lab tests have not been done.  These are the tests that show whether or not I am a bleeder.  The doctor explained that this is very important when it comes to the lungs. The doctor apologizes and gives me another referral to the lab.  It was then that the following conversation between doctor and nurse ensued...

Nurse: (to me) 'Don't go back there.  You come to see me and I will do it for  you.'
Doctor:  'She shouldn't be billed again.'
Nurse: 'Don't worry.  I'll take care of it. She won't be charged.'
Doctor: 'Are you sure?'
Nurse:  'Definitely. Leave it up to me.'  (to me now) 'I am going to be in on Thursday from 8 am to 4:30 pm.  Come between those hours and come immediately to see me. I'll take care of you.'

Fast forward to yesterday.  Now, mind you, the lab is two blocks from my home.  Walking distance.  Once I am done there, I walk two blocks to a bus which takes me to the train.  Very easy trip.  I have to take a taxi to get to the hospital as there is no buses from my home that go directly there.  I'd prefer the lab rather than spending money I don't have, but this blood work is important.  So, I opt for the nurse.

Yesterday, I walk into the clinic and find it packed with people.  No problem, I thought.  They are all there to see one of the  doctors.  I am only here for the nurse. I explain to the front desk what I am there for, and she asked for my referral form.  No problem.  I hand it to her and take a seat. 15 minutes pass, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. There is no sign of the nurse in question.  'Did something happen and she took off today?'  I wonder.  Now I am beginning to get anxious. I go back to the desk and am told that the nurse has my form. I take a seat again.  60 minutes pass. 

Finally, I see the nurse in question and approach her.  She looks at me like she doesn't know who I am as I explain why I am there.   'Where's your referral form?' she asks, not too pleasantly I may add. I explain that I handed it in to the front desk.  'Without that  form, I can't do anything.' She turns and walks away.  'Don't you remember me?' I call out, but she just keeps walking as if I am some insignificant nothing.  I am furious now, but I take a seat again.  

Now we are reaching an hour and a half.  The lady at the front desk calls me.  'Finally,'  I sigh, relieved, but instead of instructing me to go to the back, she hands me a referral to go to the lab, the very same lab I was originally referred to. By now my pressure is through the roof, and I am ready to explode.  On the way out of the hospital, I tell my story to anyone who will listen. A nice hospital worker tells me he is having a bad day to and offers to listen, "You tell me yours, and I will tell  you mine," he says. (Turns out they took too much in taxes from his pay check.) I also told the security guard, two patients, and the lady at the information desk. I had to get it off my chest.  In the afternoon I left a message for my doctor and typed up a letter of complaint against the hospital.

 Needless to say, I've pretty much used up all my sick time and had I headed back to the lab, there would have been no sense in going to work. And I need my days for the biopsy. Whichever way I look at it, it was a wasted day all around. Too much has been going wrong with these pre-op procedures.  Can't help but question if there is a reason for it.  Is the Universe reaching out to me?  I am beginning to wonder.

Nevertheless, this is a holiday weekend, and I am going to brush the above out of my mind and enjoy.  On Monday, I'm going to whip out the George Foreman and grill some chicken and hamburgers.  We'll have some salads and ice cream and celebrate life in honor of those who gave their lives so that we may be free to celebrate.  Enjoy, my friends.

Wishing you all a Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Believe

Hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and 
healing wells.

Seamus Heaney 

Do I believe in miracles? Yes! Do I believe in healing? Yes! 

I believe. 

Well, I am off to get my blood drawn before work.....again.  This is the second week in a row. I am not the spring chicken I once was, and all this running around is catching up to me. Hope you all have a wonderful day. 

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

"Inches from my bed  and from each other stood the terrarium and a clock.  While life in the terrarium flourished, time ticked away its seconds.  But the relationship between time and the snail confused me.  The snail would make its way through the terrarium while the hand of the clock barely moved--so I thought the snail traveled  faster than time. Then, absorbed in snail watching, I'd find that time had flown by, unnoticed.

The above is an excerpt from the latest book I am reading, "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating" by Elizabeth Tova Bailey.  In all honesty, I probably would not have purchased this book by title alone, but after reading a review it sounded interesting, and I decided to give it a try if I found it on Kindle.  It was, and you know the rest.  I downloaded the sample chapter and bought the book before I even finished reading it.  Since that time, it has been hard to put it down.

The book is a memoir of a year in the author's life which begins when she, a young vibrant woman, travels on vacation to a foreign country and picks up a virulent virus which wrecks havoc on her body and leaves her with a mysterious neurological disorder that leaves her bedridden, unable to sit up for more than a few seconds at a time.

"Survival depends on a specific focus: A relationship, a belief, or a hope balanced on the edge of possibility. Or something more ephemeral: the way the sun passes through the hard seemingly impenetrable glass of a window and warms the blanket, or how the wind invisible for its wake, is so loud one can hear it through the insulated walls of a house."

Then, quite unexpectedly, a friend brings her a pot of violets in which she had placed a small, woodland snail.  Disturbed, at first, that the creature had been moved from its natural habitat, the author begins to watch it move and becomes fascinated with its journeys. Eventually, her caretaker moves the snail into a terrarium where it settles and lays eggs.  The snail is mostly silent, but during the night,in the silence of her room,  the author can sometimes hear it munching on the flower petals.

"The sound was of someone very small munching celery continuously...the tiny intimate sound of the snail's eating gave me a distinct feeling of companionship and shared space."

What follows is a wonderful story of survival and resilience as the  finds comfort in its company and begins  to study it, drawing drawing strength and inspiration from this tiny little creature which gave her a reason to go on.  This book gives one a great appreciation for life and reminds us how much we miss when we forget to slow down. If you haven't read it, do so.  It will give you an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.
There is a certain depth of illness that is piercing in its isolation; the only rule of existence is uncertainty, and the only movement is the passage of time. One can not bear to live through another loss of function, and sometimes friends and family can not bear to watch. An unspoken, unbridgeable divide may widen. Even if you are still who you were, you cannot actually fully be who you are. Sometimes the people you know well withdraw, and then even the person you know as yourself begins to change.
There were times when I wished that my viral invader had claimed me completely. How much better to live an exuberant life and then leave as one exits a party, simply opening a door and stepping out. Instead, the virus took me to the edge of life and then left me trapped  in its pernicious shadow, with symptoms that, barely tolerable one day, become too severe the next, and with the unjustness of unexpected relapses, that, overnight, erased years of gradual improvement.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Rainy Day

The day is cold and dark and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold and dark and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining:
Thy fate is the common fate of all:
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry W. Longfellow

I told my boss yesterday that I am leaving, and he broke down in tears.  I knew he would feel the loss, but I didn't expect him to take it that hard.  We've worked together for 13 years now, first in my previous job and this one now.  He was totally understanding and told me he was expecting it.  He said, "I realize how stressful it is here, and I know you are not well.  I knew I was going to lose you, but I kept hoping I didn't."  We then sat and chatted about the other staff members and the various health problems they are having since we moved to this new office, and he admitted he is fearful of losing more of his staff, but he doesn't know what to do. The problem is is that there is no place to find any serenity there, no place to just be alone and take a few deep breaths to get yourself together.  We're sitting in little cubicles of four with no barrier to keep clients away.  And as many times as you tell them to go to the front desk and call, it goes in one ear and out the other.  Needless to say, I am glad it is out in the open.

I didn't fare too well at the doctors.  It seems the lab, an outside lab, lost the most important test for my medical clearance.  Being that the lungs are involved, it is super important that I am not a bleeder, and that is the test that will show it.  The nurse told me she would be in early on Thursday, and she will draw my blood so I don't have to go back to the lab.  All this running around is taking its toll.  My blood pressure is still up, and now I sit and wonder if all this is happening for a reason.  Remember the fiasco with the EKG? And now the lost vial of blood.  I know I need this biopsy but I have to wonder why so much is going wrong.

My ear has been plugged up for several days now, the first time in 66 years I ever had a problem with my ears.  According to the doctor, I have a huge ball of wax in there.  She told me to get Debrox drops, and in case there is no improvement in two days, she gave me a referral to an ENT.  It seems like there is always something now that I am older.

Hubby didn't fare well at his doctor's appointment either.  His emphysema is bad.  He is getting no air at the bottom of his lungs, and there is nothing that can be done at this point except to make him comfortable.  The pulmonologist was angry that his doctor did not follow up on this since he was hospitalized in 2009.  Had he been placed on medication and monitored, the process could have slowed.  So, now he has been placed on a number of medications, will begin therapy to learn breathing exercises, and, if no improvement with these medications, oxygen.  

Retirement cannot come soon enough.  Too much time is being wasted now, too much time apart.  I honestly don't know why I didn't start this process sooner.  I guess I hated to give up, or perhaps I had a fear of reaching another stage of my life. But, since that time I have come to realize that retirement is not an ending, it is a new beginning. Fifty-one years ago I stepped into my first job, and now I am ending my last one.  Life has come full circle.

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us
tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden
over the horizon--instead of enjoying the roses
that are blooming outside our windows today.

Dale Carnegie

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Morning This and That

Throw away all ambition beyond that of doing the day's work well.
The travelers on the road to success live in the present,
heedless of taking thought for the morrow.
Live neither in the past nor in the future,
but let each day's work absorb your entire energies.

William Osler

Monday morning rolls around,  and they are predicting a rainy week. I do hate setting off to work on those rainy mornings, especially now that they have the AC on.  No fun sitting in wet clothes all day.  Oh, well, what is it that they say? 'April showers, bring May flowers.'  So, they are off by a month.  Speaking of flowers...

This is my building, and these are the two flower beds I was telling you about.  I sure do wish they would finish.  It has become a real eye sore.

I made my weekend trek to the fruit stand and made out like a champ.

I bought some cherries, sweet plums, black seedless grapes, strawberries, apricots, and a few donut peaches.  Not bad price wise either.  Along with some fruit juice, sour cream, and baking potatoes, the whole lot cost me $23. 

Also made a trip to Rite Aid.  My ear has been plugged for a couple of days so I went to buy some ear wax cleaner.  Never had this problem before.  Of course, I couldn't come home without a couple of sweet scented candles. 

I'm going to have a sit-down with my bosses today and inform them that I will be leaving the end of June, early July.  I did want to wait, but I saw a new intake in my box on Friday.  I would have told them then, but didn't want to put a damper on the festivities. At this point I want to be concentrating on my caseload, getting charts in order, discharging who is ready to go, and helping clients deal with feelings of separation that I know are going to come up.  I don't need to deal with anyone 'new' right now. 

The graduation went without a hitch, but it was a long, long day.  12 hours. It was especially meaningful to me because it was my last one.  The client I had mentioned did show up, and I simply said, "And the following client always has a smile and a 'hello'  for everyone.  I've never heard a grumpy word come out of him.  I wish him well as he moves on to the next stage." Then, I called him up to accept his certificate.  Angry as I was about this, it wasn't directed against him.  He is such a sweet man, and I fear that we have done him a disservice. I only want the best for him as I do all of my clients. 

Tonight I see the doctor for medical clearance.  It's getting close now.  I'd have less fear at this point if it were a simple biopsy, but he's already warned me that it is not a simple biopsy.  I prefer honesty to someone just trying to make you feel better, but it doesn't make it any easier.  Hubby is to meet with the pulmonologist today.  Keeping my fingers crossed, but he doesn't seem to be doing well at all.

In closing, here us a photo of my block. Those two wonderful big trees stand right in front of my building.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Home is not around the hearth. it is within the heart. Any worthwhile pilgrimage brings us home, and so does any distant voyage for the sake of love.

Donald Masterson

Friday morning of what looks to be a beautiful weekend, and I'm going to do my best to enjoy every minute of it.  Had my bloodwork on Wednesday and my EKG on Thursday.  All is set to meet with my doctor to get medical clearance for the biopsy on Monday.  I won't have the surgery this upcoming week because it is a pay week, and I am going to need my money.  What a relief when social security kicks in, and I don't have to worry about getting a 'paper check'. For those who have followed for awhile, because I had co-signed on something for my ex many years, and he hadn't paid, 20 years later they came after me, put a lien on my account, and garnished my wages for about two years. Since that time I've been afraid to have my money in the bank.  Who knows what else he did?

Speaking of my ex. Got some news yesterday.  Received a phone call from Social Security and all is in the works--cash benefits plus Medicare.  The reason I was called is that it was discovered that I am eligible for widow's benefits, which turns out to be over  $200 more than I would receive on my own retirement benefit.  I definitely opted for that.  So, I will be able to collect widow's benefits until I reach 70, and then it will switch over to my own.  That's awesome!!!  I guess this makes up for all the money I lost.

With graduation ceremonies tonight, this is an 11 hour day for me.  My home will be especially welcoming to me.  I've really nothing planned over the weekend aside from a trip to the fruit stand and Rite Aid.  My supply of candles is running low. Other than that, I'll do a little housework and read my new book, "Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan"  by Alaric Albertsson.  I want to know more about the other side of my ancestry, my Germanic side. 

What is home?

“A roof to keep out the rain? Four walls to keep out the wind?
Floors to keep out the cold? Yes, but home is more than that.
It is the laugh of a baby, the song of a mother, the strength
of a father, warmth of loving hearts, lights from happy eyes,
kindness, loyalty, comradeship. Home is first school and first
church for young ones, where they learn what is right, what
is good, and what is kind, where they go for comfort when
they are hurt or sick; where joy is shared and sorrow eased;
where fathers and mothers are respected and loved, where
children are wanted; where the simplest food is good enough
for kings because it is earned; where money is not as important
as loving-kindness; where even the tea kettle sings
from happiness. That is home. God bless it!”

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. See you on Monday.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Rant

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life
as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.

Booker T. Washington

Thursday sure has rolled around quickly, hasn't it?  I'm not complaining.  Another work week is almost over.  Tomorrow evening is our graduation ceremony for those clients who completed the program. It's always a tearful time, and this will be the last one I participate in.  Graduation is for those who accomplished something while in the program, even it is only to maintain abstinence and good attendance.  This year I have S. who managed to battle his heroin addiction and go to school to become a barber.  Later this month he takes his test for certification.

J. has been in and out of prison his entire life, and he openly admits that this is the longest he has been able to stay out without being violated.  He had found full-time employment, has reconciled with his family, and will be moving into his own apartment in July.  O. has spent many years on the streets and in the shelter system.  He finally has his own place.  N. was a terror when he first entered the program.  In fact, I'm the only one he never cursed out. No one thought he would make it.  But, here he is, a year later, and everyone loves him, and, when he speaks in group, the newcomers take out a pen and write down what he has to say.  He has become a true role model.  D. came to the program from parole.  He, too, had had a problem staying out of prison, as well as some serious health issues. He not only complied with the work program he was placed in, but did so while taking care of his medical problems.  Today he is stable and ready to work a real job. 

The only damper on the whole thing is J., who has done absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING.  His attendance has been atrocious, and there is no way to tell whether he has been drinking or not because I never get to see him.  He misses his psychiatric appointments and doesn't appear for his 'shot' in a timely manner.  He's  not made an attempt to do anything, so when my boss asked if I wanted to graduate him, I said, "No, he hasn't earned it."  So, you can imagine my chagrin when I was informed that he'd been placed on the graduation list.  Why even ask me if if my opinion didn't matter? 

When I said something about it, my boss said they, and the housing director just wanted to move him on to a mental health program.  Well, why didn't they just tell me to complete him and move him on?   Isn't that hypocritical and unfair to those who worked hard to get where they are now? It's also unfair to the client.  We teach our clients a new way of living. So, what are we teaching him when we reward him for doing nothing?  And what am I supposed to say?  I have to give a little speech about each of them and their successes.  What do I say about him?  They've really put me in a delicate situation.  To be honest, the man is nice, he's just unmotivated, and I don't want to embarrass him in any way.  So, what am I to do?  Any suggestions will be helpful. 

Thanks for listening. 

It is never too late
to be what you
might have been.

George Eliot

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Chuckle

I always end my Wednesday group with a joke. This started about fivel years ago when I had several very emotional clients in my group who turned each session turned into a tear-fest. I hated having everyone leave on this note of sadness, so I incorporated the joke of the day to dissipate the sadness and add some joy.  It has worked very well.  In fact, whenever a co-worker covers my group when I am absent, they are informed that group isn't over until the joke is told. 

So, I decided that I'd like to add a little fun to this blog in the middle of the week in the way of a 'Wednesday Chuckle'. No writing.  Just sharing a funny.  In newspapers they would call it a column; I don't know what it is called here, but it is going to be a weekly, shall I say 'respite', in the middle of the week. 

So, moving onto the first installment....Hope you enjoy.

An elderly man is stopped by the police around 2 a.m. and is asked where he is going at this time of night.

The man replies, "I am on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late."

The officer then asks, "Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?"

The man replies, "That would be my wife."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Ramble

If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old. 

James A. Garfield 

Last Thursday a book was recommended on a blog that I follow,  Sage's Play , a fantastic read for those of us 'getting up in years'.  The  title of the book immediately caught my attention, perhaps because I live in Brooklyn. Indeed, the book was on Kindle so I downloaded a sample chapter and ended up purchasing it even before I got through the sample.  The book,  "Fierce with Age: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn" by Carol Osborn,  is an autobiography which focuses on a year of the author's life as she struggled to come to terms with the aging process and all of the negative stereotypes attributed to it.  One story the author told immediately hit home for me.

There is a knock at her door, and she opens it to find a young woman asking if this was where the party was. It seems that the woman was there to attend a party, but had knocked on the wrong door. At this point that the author hears the sound of a party emanating from her neighbor's apartment.  She then goes on to explain how she and her neighbor, both dog owners, had been friendly and how she had even taken care of her neighbor's dog when she was not home. When the neighbor steps out of the apartment and sees the author standing there, she is clearly embarrassed. The author continued to watch as other, younger, neighbors continued to arrive. 

 "I saw all this.  We witnessed all this together.  And what I saw in her eyes that I'd never seen before was that she was embarrassed that she had not invited me to her party, and we both knew why.  I am old.

Suddenly, this grown up woman who imagines that she can gracefully accept the ups and downs, just happy to be alive, was knocked back into the self-knowledge that she could not even gracefully accept that she had not been invited to the party next door" (Excerpt from "Fierce with Age")

Something very similar had happened to me a year or so ago.  Although I'd accepted the fact that I was aging, I still felt young inside and really believed that biological age meant nothing when it came to dealing with peers and friendships. After all, I really do get along well with my peers at work.  We laugh and joke with each other, and I, always the practical joker, am always the first one to start some kind of ruckus at work--dialing a co-worker from a prank call sight, hiding a cell phone, telling a joke. As far as I was, and am, concerned there is no generation gap, but I know that is not true because I learned the hard way that there was.

I learned that although my peers, all in their 30's and 40's, genuinely like me and respect me, see it more fitting that I engage in activities with their mothers when it comes to outside socializing. It seems that one of my co-workers was throwing a party over the weekend that featured, not tupperware, but sex toys, and she invited everyone at work, but  me. I was not supposed to find out about it, but secrets like that are hard to keep.  Not that anyone deliberately tried to hurt me by telling me about it.  I overheard a conversation at lunch.  It hurt, yes, but it also opened my eyes to a truth I hadn't wanted to face.  I COULD be their mother, and who invites their mom to a party about sex toys?  They would have been uncomfortable, and let's face it, I would have been pretty darn uncomfortable as well.  I come from a different era and have nothing, absolutely nothing aside from work, in common with them. If I hadn't always had this desperate need to fit in, I believe I would have seen this truth a long time ago.

This neediness is not just a part of my growing older;  it has been with me my entire life.  I've always had that 'need' to be a 'part of'. When they say that childhood emotional wounds take a long time to fade away, they are clearly speaking the truth.  Starting in early grammar school I was teased and taunted unmercifully and treated as an outcast, like I didn't belong. When teams were drawn for baseball, I was always the last gal standing. I did everything I could to fit in, but it only seemed to make matters worse, so eventually, I gave up trying.  

So, here I am, 66 years old, the scars still there. I have my blog friends whom I love with all my heart, but I have not one 'real life' friend my own age.  That's pretty sad, isn't it? But, it's something I definitely plan to work on when I retire.  I've contacted the senior center near my home, and not only are they offering the ceramics classes I was looking for, but they are also offering the friendship and companionship of people my own age, something I have lacked for most of my life. Retirement is going to be good.

If you have the opportunity, do read this book. I could not put it down and read it in record time.  It's wonderfully written and lots of other things the author wrote about hit home. 
The aster has not wasted spring and summer because it has not blossomed.
It has been all the time preparing for what is to follow, and in autumn it is
the glory of the field, and only the frost lays it low.  So there are many
people who must live forty or fifty years, and have the crude sap of their
natural dispositions changed and sweetened before the blossoming time can
come; but their lives have not been wasted.

Henry Ward Beecher

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Morning This and That

Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos
and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, comrades and friends - but only one mother in the whole world.

Kate Douglas Wiggin

Is the weekend really over already?  Too fast.  Way too fast.  Saturday was pretty much a washout.  Boy, did the rain come down, but Sunday was an okay day. Both of my sons came over for a nice visit, and I was ordered not to cook. We spent the afternoon going through some old photo albums, and then we ordered some pulled noodles and chicken from down the block. Wonderful memories were shared. Later, after they had gone home, I took some time later in the evening after all had gone home to remember the women in my mom, my grandmother, and all the other women who made me what I am today. I found myself surrounded by love. 

I tried two new chicken recipes this week, and both turned out fabulous...and not very expensive to make. With food products skyrocketing as they are, I'm learning to become more budget conscious.  The first was lime spiced chicken breasts.  I tend to take the bare bones of a recipe and add, subtract, and basically make it my own.  So, here are the final ingredients for the spicy chicken.

black pepper
cayenne pepper
Mrs. Dash's extra spicy
 garlic powder
dried thyme
dried parsley
4  chicken breast halves
green pepper
chopped onion
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
lime juice

I also add ingredients without paying attention to measurements; hence, but you can add as much or as little as you want, what is comfortable for you.  I do tend to be a bit heavy on the cayenne sometimes so I have to watch myself.   Mix all the seasonings together.  Arrange chicken, green pepper, and onion in baking pan. Sprinkle with lime juice, then sprinkle spice mixture generously on both sides of chicken breasts. Bake at 350 degrees until done. About 30 minutes before it is done, I turn chicken and re-sprinkle for added taste.  Yummy dish!!!

The second was chicken and pineapple,  a slow cooked Hawaiian inspired dish. So easy to make and finger lickin' good!!!  Did you ever have a meal that you didn't want to end? This one is a keeper.

small chicken drumsticks
garlic powder
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple
soy sauce 
green pepper
cooking oil

Brown chicken.  Mix all ingredients together and add to chicken. At this point I add a little water.  Bring to boil and simmer sauce thickened and chicken done.

Saturday afternoon I watched "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".  Haven't seen it in years, and it sure did bring up memories.  That movie, and the women I worked with at an answering service back then, gave me the idea for the one and only screenplay I wrote, way back in the late 70's.   I'd written plays before, but this was the first time I tackled something so extreme.  The story itself was about a group of women of various ages and ideals along with strong personalities who work together on the night shift of an answering service.  (What else?) The narrator and main character was me, of course, a very shy young woman who was  involved in an abusive relationship. When he would call her and yell at her, she'd pull the plug.  This gave her the only sense of power she had at the time.

Another character was loosely based on a real woman I worked with who introduced me to Carlos Castenada and Shamanism as a way of life. Each evening this character would come in an tell us of the various places and people she met while astral traveling.  Of course, her stories were so far-fetched that it soon became obvious she lived in a fantasy world. In fact,  each woman was dealing with some sort of mental illness or personality disorder,  and it was during their evening chats, when the boards slowed down, each woman gradually opened up and shared their lifetime secrets as if in a group therapy session.  The film ended with the answering service closing down, and the women going their separate ways.

I even registered it with the 'Screen Writer's Guild', now the 'Writer's Guild of America', but nothing ever came of it because I only half-heartedly sent it around to agents, and after ten years, it was fair game.  An unknown has to bust their butt to get in the door, but I was in the midst of a bad relationship, and my mind and heart weren't with it. The name of my script was 'Friends', and it was written long before the hit television show. Imagine that.

Wishing you all a great start to the new week.