Monday, December 31, 2012

What I Learned This Year

January 1, 2012

1. If your spouse cheats on you it is a reflection of their character (and the person they are with) not
    a result of something you  have done or not done. No matter what they would like you to believe.

2. I have fantastic kids.

3. I have fantastic friends.

4. I CAN hold a grudge.

5. You have to ask right up front,"Are you married and/or living with someone?"

6.  If someone deletes your comments from Facebook they are not the laid back zen master
     they claim to be.

7.  I CAN manage a household. In fact I can manage two of them.

8.  I can also pay the bills (even on line)take out the garbage, change the kitty litter, take care of two
     cars, put up the Christmas lights, light a fire, buy appliances and take myself on vacation.

9.  I'm a really good cook.

10. I'll never be skinny.

11. I can put pictures on my blog (even if it takes half a day) without help from my kids.

12. As my friend Mary often reminds me, there are worse things than living alone.

13. Tears are endless.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Full Moon

December 28, 2012

No big thoughts today. Just happiness for Lauren and Matt. Not only a full moon but their wedding day as well. I'm so happy for them and excited to spend the day celebrating their joy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

All Gone

December 27, 2012

I just finished reading "All Gone, A Memoir of My Mothers Dementia with Refreshments" `by Alex Witchel. Ms Witchel is an author and columnist for the New York Times. The book vividly describes her mother's decline from a college professor to someone who did not always recognize her children. And the toll it took on the author. She turns to her mothers cooking to bring her back and shares the recipes for many of her favorite childhood meals.

It captured my feelings when I am in the kitchen cooking old Italian peasant recipes. Calm and secure. Like I did when I was young and thought I would always have my parents and sister to rely on when things got hard. So cooking keeps me from getting panicked or overwhelmed. I think of all the meals Jennie made and remember thinking to myself, "How can she stand doing this day after day?!!" Not to mention the countless dishes to be washed. How boring! But I find myself doing a lot of it myself now. Maybe it kept HER from feeling overwhelmed. Like there was a sense of order to the world. If only I had known then I may not have given her such a hard time about EVERYTHING!!

I recommend this book to anyone who has lost their mother. It is painful but ultimately heartwarming. A real tribute to their close relationship. And to those of you still lucky enough to have your parents this book will make you appreciate them even more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


December 26, 2012

I am so relieved Christmas is over. I usually want to take down all the decorations the day after but I didn't put that many up and they are so pretty I think I'll keep them up for awhile. I remember wanting to take the tree, ornaments and all, and throw it in the back yard. But there was no tree with ornaments this year. And I didn't miss it.

So here are the traditions I will have to keep:

     1. The stockings (for Hilary)
     2. The Angels (for Josh) The puff pastry ones I bake not the heavenly kind.
     3. Two big dinners. (Christmas Eve and Day)
     4. Presents
     5. Cookies for breakfast
     6. Christmas cards (maybe)
     7. Going to the movies on Christmas Day. (Just not Les Mis. Russell Crowe singing was
         something I could have missed.
     8. Most important of all visiting with family and friends during the season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Christmas

December 25, 2012

My kind of white Christmas. Enough snow to make it pretty but not so much as to make me wait by the door for Hilary to return from work. Yes, she is still my my baby...and so is Josh for that matter and now Jocelyn will have to put up with my crazy behavior. And it started on cue on Christmas Eve! Perfect, right Min?

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Stockings Were Hung....

 December 24, 2012

I have been trying to get rid of the Christmas stockings for years. The ridiculous things I bought to fill them. A total waste of time and money. And they were a fire hazard, hanging right over the mantel.This was the year to get rid of them for good. So many other big things had changed. This would be inconsequential.

I mentioned it first to Josh and Jocelyn. No big response. But did I detect a slight disappointment? Okay. Next was Hilary. "NO STOCKINGS?!!" Oh no. I knew right away I was doomed to hang them.

So up they went. Even one for Ophelia. I bought myself a new one in the interest of new memories. Its very cute. AND I bought ridiculous things to put in them. Next year I'll buy new ones for everyone since I guess they are a tradition I will have to keep.

I even started a fire in the fireplace ALL by myself. Ok. I had major coaching from Annemarie! It was a beautiful fire even if it was a little smoky! I just used the last of the wood from my other life. Yesterday I started using the "fake"logs I bought from the store so I don't have to deal with looking for firewood yet. Not as authentic but no mess, no kindling and no replenishing of the logs. Maybe another new tradition.

Friday, December 21, 2012

National Day of Mourning

December 21, 2012

Today is a National Day of Mourning for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. A moment of silence to be observed at 9:30 AM. Not just for the children and adults who were killed, but for the far reaching effects on the families and community.

We are all in some way responsible. We have to be the vehicle for change to prevent this from happening again. Both through stricter gun laws and increased health care for the mentally ill. Words alone are not enough. My thoughts are with everyone directly affected by this tragedy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


December 19, 2012

Every time there is a snow storm, hurricane, ice storm or power outage we all joke at work that we should have been teachers. No one is calling to tell us to stay home. We don't get up to check the TV to see if work has been cancelled. We work all kinds of shifts and weekends and holidays. And we always hold up teaching as the perfect job.

But in truth I could NEVER be a teacher. Many teachers I meet at work both as patients and visitors always say to me, "I could never do what you do." But I could never do what THEY do. Spend all day with 20-30 kids in a classroom and mentor them. Impossible. At least for me. I remember when I dropped Hilary off for her first full day of kindergarten. They were BOTH in school for the next SIX hours!!! If I could do cartwheels I would have done them up and down Alden Avenue. And I never expected that they wouldn't be lovingly cared for. Maybe not always for Josh as he inherited my penchant for sarcasm. (Kidding. I'm sure ALL his teachers loved him!) But I knew they would be safe. And that someone much more patient than I would be helping them grow into responsible adults.

Thanks to all of them who put up not only with my children but with me as well. A crazy, biased mother who wanted EVERYTHING for her kids. The Sandy Hook teachers are heroes. Like most mothers they would never leave their children behind. ( I could never understand women who could give up custody of their children.) I would like to think I would respond in the same way if faced with such a harrowing situation.

Monday, December 17, 2012

No Words

December 17, 2012

Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, a six year old killed on Friday in the Sandy Hook school shooting spoke very eloquently this weekend. He asked that this tragedy "not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble." I was awed by his grace and sense of forgiveness in such a painful situation. There are no other words to better express the gravity of what happened here in Connecticut this weekend. Our hearts are broken.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook

December 15, 2012

When I wrote about first responders yesterday I never imagined the tragedy that would unfold in such a sleepy section of my state. I drive through Newtown and Sandy Hook many times to get to the flea market in New Milford or sometimes the Danbury Mall. It is a beautiful, picturesque area. It could be a postcard of traditional New England.

I was at work having lunch when I heard the news. At first there were no details and we all hoped there would not be any deaths. But as the news unfolded we were horrified at the extent of the tragedy. Everyone went on  a computer for the latest news. The visitors had information streaming on their phones. Except for 9/11 I can't remember feeling so sad and horrified.

And for the first responders again I offer my heartfelt thanks for the job you do. EMTs and paramedics especially can't ever make enough to compensate for the work they do. If I were hurt out in the field I would want one of them treating me. They are the best. And to all the teachers out there, thank you as well for taking such good care of our children.

Children killing children. My heart goes out to all involved.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy Friday

December 14, 2012

Not much to say and no time to say it anyway. Running off to work. I survived my first Pilates class. Going to try Zumba and cycling next! In spite of creaking joints and groaning on my part.

I used to work with someone who proclaimed "Happy Friday" every week. At that time it really was happy. No weekends, holidays or call. We didn't know how good it was. But we still have jobs. So think of everyone who is working this weekend to keep you safe and healthy. Not just nurses and doctors, but policemen, firemen and EMTs.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Living on the Edge

December 13, 2012

The Edge. Means many things. To me today it refers to the gym. One of the good things about getting emotionally battered in a divorce is not eating. Losing weight like crazy! Having people ask me if I was sick! No one was ever concerned before that I was TOO thin. I was getting compliments at a time when I have never felt worse.

But alas, the good and bad thing about getting better means returning to the table. Eating is one of my favorite past times. I love to enjoy a good meal with family and friends. And now I found that I like to cook! What to do?

Later today I'm meeting a friend at The Edge, the gym. The same friend I HAVE traveled to the edge with on our medical missions. Not that she needs it but I DO! Especially because I have to travel to Thailand with her soon and we are planning a short island respite after the mission. Time to get in shape! But Lor, how about a snack after Pilates?!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

If You Can't Beat Them....

December 12, 2012

A continuation of my battle with the squirrels. I decided to take Hilary's advice and feed the squirrels. I put out food for them at ground level with the understanding that they would leave the bird feeder alone. I had a very long talk with them and I thought we understood each other.

For a while all was well. They ate their food and the birds flocked to my feeder. I watched them from my kitchen window. It was lovely. My cardinal couple came everyday.  I felt like Snow White without the dwarfs. But that's a story for another day.

But then I looked out and saw a squirrel climb over the baffle and hang upside down eating out of the feeder!!! I went running out there to chase it away. I was disappointed that they had broken the very good deal I gave them. I had no choice but to spray the pole and the feeder with olive oil. I went back inside and watched that rodent run up the pole and slide all the way back down. Hysterical.

So for now there is a truce. I will continue to put out food for all of them, occasionally spray the pole and enjoy the scene. It has been my experience however that these creatures always outwit me. I hope not. I don't want to have to resort to any weapon more drastic than olive oil.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Can Computers Replace Doctors?

December 11, 2012

Last week the Times had an article about computer diagnosis. Programs that allow one to input symptoms and it will give you a differential diagnosis. And apparently some systems are quite accurate.

But to replace a doctor? I don't think so. I know many physicians who can outsmart a computer. Really. They are compassionate and caring people. They spend time with their patients, answering questions and going over things again and again. Sometimes so much so that I want to go behind the curtain to rescue them(or at least hurry them up!) I would like to think we can exist side by side. Computers to AID human contact not replace it. Some of the best treatment involves just listening to patients. And some of the best doctors really listen to their patients. And the really terrific ones listen to the nurses as well!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Season.... Harder Than I Thought

December 10, 2012

I made it through Thanksgiving. The one holiday I anticipated as the hardest. But instead of feeling better I feel, if possible, sadder. I find everything brings back memories. The cheesy decorations in department stores, the sentimental Christmas songs, the cards and holiday lights. I am constantly on the verge of tears. Annemarie said it's because I was too numb to feel anything last year and now the reality has finally hit home. I would have to agree with that assessment. But I've always been a big proponent of facing things and dealing with them. SO I guess I will follow my own advice in this case too.

I went to the movies this weekend with friends. We were going to see Anna Karenina but I decided I couldn't see a heavy, sad love story. Especially one involving a cheating spouse. So we saw Flight instead. I thought I would enjoy seeing Denzel in almost every scene. But even he was sad. An out of shape alcoholic. And the crash scene! So authentic it was scary. But a good movie. And no crying (from me at least!) Then a very enjoyable dinner in Fairfield. Good food and good friends will get me through another holiday season. And hope that next year will be easier. For the first time in ages I don't have a song to cheer me up. But I think I recruited someone to see Pink with me in March!

BTW, my Christmas at the Beach candle is heavenly. Maybe that will be my new tradition next year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Check Engine Light

December 7, 2012

Wednesday Hilary left for the gym in the morning. A few minutes later she was calling me on the phone. She doesn't just call to tell me she loves me. I answered with, "What's wrong?"

"My check engine light is on." Oh shit! I needed some work on my car also but have been trying not to think about it. Did I mention, I HATE car maintenance. Should I take an Ativan or should I deal with this now? Deal now, I decided. I needed to work the next two days so it wasn't going to get any easier.

I called Steve at Skip's garage. We have been going to him for years and I already had the "divorce" talk with him. So there wouldn't be any awkward moments when he asked "How's Dave?" But still, I just didn't want to deal with it at all.

But I did. He told me to come down and he would look at the car. Thankfully nothing seemed to be wrong. We picked it up and he didn't even charge me. He said he could fix my car next week. ( I seemed to have hit the same bank drive through on two separate occasions!) And I got to have lunch with my daughter at Bread and Chocolate. A cute little cafe in Hamden. Breakfast and lunch only. A perk for for having to deal with an unpleasant task. Not to be a Pollyanna but maybe there is a silver lining in most situations if you can keep your wits about you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ipad Upgrade

December 6, 2012

I finished Breaking Bad season 4 last week. I've been trying to get the new episodes to load on my Ipad. ( And just as I originally thought, Walter is a psycho.) Sunday I went to dinner with Josh and told him my dilemma. I needed an upgrade to IOS 4.5. What exactly is that? I had no idea. He told me I had to connect my Ipad to the desktop. Okay. I knew how to do that. Easy. He also suggested I start watching Dexter. It's about a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. Interesting. So that night when I went to bed I tried to watch it. But again it said I needed to upgrade.

Tuesday I brought the Ipad downstairs and connected it to the desktop. Turned it on. Looked at it for a few minutes. Nothing. Wasn't it going to do something? Didn't it know about the upgrade? Okay. SO obviously it wasn't as smart as I thought. I was going to have to be more involved. I looked up directions on line but couldn't figure out what to do. That night I called Josh again.

"Mom, you have to hit Ipad." ???? Where was that? "Bring it over when you come on Friday. I'll do it." Just then Hilary walked in the door from a 12 hour shift. You would have thought I asked her for a kidney. I was determined to do it myself.

I found the icon and the update started. Yeah!!! I proudly called Josh to tell him. He said it should take less than thirty minutes. Three and a half hours later I had it up and running. I think. All the passwords are changed and new credit card information entered. It was always hooked up to Dave's information and I was tired of seeing his name every time I needed to sign in. But I honestly don't know what I did. Still can't figure out how to get Breaking Bad or Dexter. So I guess I'll be bringing it to Josh on Friday anyway. Maybe he can even help me with Spotify.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Victoria Peak

December 5, 2012

In April of 2010 Dave and I went to Hong Kong after a medical mission in Vietnam. Why he came on that mission will forever remain a mystery to me as he was already deeply involved with the lesbian conversion. It was my third trip to Vietnam and it is one of my favorite places to go for medical missions. I was excited to be returning and we even brought Hilary with us as she was majoring in nursing.

After the mission was over we met Josh and Jocelyn in Hong Kong. They were teaching English that year in a small school in a remote village in China. I hadn't seen them in seven months. Hong Kong is a fascinating city. The very old and the very new exist side by side. The harbor is beautiful. The people are stylish. High end malls on every street corner right near markets that sell live animals and produce. I loved it. We had a great time (or so I thought)

One day we visited Victoria Peak. It is the highest area in Hong Kong. We went up by tram and I was a little disappointed to find a mall and restaurants there. But when we went up to the observation deck I was enthralled. The view of the city and the harbor was spectacular. There was a house situated on the mountain that looked so calm and peaceful I wanted to own it and live there. I remember not wanting to leave the mountain. I stayed up there a long time. Maybe I had a premonition of what was to come. Someone offered to take a picture of all of us and I was delighted. The happy family.

But as with all things we had to return to reality. I think of that house a lot. I wish I could find that calm peaceful feeling again. The same one I had in a country so far away.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fidelity. Unnatural?

December 4, 2012

Last week one of the physicians I work with told me that fidelity was "unnatural." His words, not mine. Wow, I wish I knew that 35 years ago, when I was young and my body parts weren't trying to defy gravity. If I had known it was "unnatural" to be faithful my life may have taken a completely different track.

I would have to say that being faithful to one person is hard but not impossible. At least I would like to think that. I know that it was hard for me but I managed to not have an affair (or two) during my marriage as tempting as it would have been. But I could never bring myself to follow through. I knew I would not be able to face my husband or live with myself. And in the end, when we are all alone, what is left but self-respect.

It was also implied that I was anti men. Not true! I LOVE men. They are essential for the continuation of the species(at this point in time anyway.) It is wonderful to have them around to take out the garbage, change the kitty litter and put gas in the car. But all kidding aside, I loved being part of a "couple." I loved having an intact family. I would like to think that there are many men who are capable of being faithful to one woman. But fidelity alone is not enough. Love, loyalty and respect are also important. But maybe I set the bar too high. it unnatural to expect fidelity in a relationship? Equally so for women as for men? Please let me in on the latest thinking. I would like to be prepared for my next relationship.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas at the Beach

December 3, 2012

I used to love Christmas when I was young. The tree, the songs, Santa. But then I grew up. I had to BE Santa. The crowds, the shopping, the carols. The overheated stores. The anxiety of buying the perfect gift for everyone. The perfect tree (which we never had) the perfect outfit and the perfect dinner. Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT perfect. I don't even want to be perfect. It's boring. But I fell under the spell of holiday craziness.

On Christmas morning the kids would come down and open all their gifts. Their excitement would last for that day. Many of the highly anticipated gifts where not all that was expected. One year I looked around at all the "things" we had bought and I was disgusted by the excess. Children in third world countries were dying from lack of clean water and here we were spending hundreds of dollars on junk. (Reminds me of Jennie saying "Kids in China are starving. Finish your supper." No wonder I have a weight issue!) So I started to cut back on all the gift giving. Instead of buying "things" I tried to concentrate on spending time with my family and friends. Going out to dinner, for a drink or to the movies. NO GIFTS! This year my plan is to donate to Feed the Children. Of course I will not escape the gift giving altogether. I DO have a lot of people to thank this year.

But during all this time of cheer what I always wanted to do was spend Christmas at the beach. Dave and I had always planned to do that after the kids where grown and wouldn't miss us. I still yearn to spend Christmas somewhere warm someday. (Sorry, Margo) To be on the beach while everyone else is slaving over dinner and worrying if their gifts will be well received. Enjoying the sun and the sand. Reading a book and toasting Santa. Hilary and I went to Yankee Candle a few weeks ago. I bought a candle called Christmas at the Beach. I guess that's as close as I'll get this year.