Saturday, July 29, 2006


Idealism thinking of things as they ought to be.......... " The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence." Bruce Springsteen

Friday, July 28, 2006

It's Electric!

Last night our sky was lit up with the loudest, most intense lightning. We had some the other night as well. Seems this heat has the weather electrified. I was supposed Duffy didn't mind the loud booms from the thunder but he didn't. My mother was always terrified of lightning telling stories of how as a young girl lightning hit the kitchen table and it fell in half. Today on the news they said two golfers in New York were hit and one died. They were in a shelter area. I feel safe inside my house but I wait to crawl into my metal bed frame until the worst is over. Tomorrow they are predicting temps that will feel 100. I am working so I'll be indoors but the return to the car late afternoon will no doubt be unpleasant.
This morning my sister-in-law had surgery to remove two tumors. They knew early on they were not cancerous but they were obstructing her throat and chest. Turns out they had to remove her nerve to her vocal cords and she will need speech therapy but the tumors will be gone. I know she'll be so relieved that it's over. It was postponed because the surgeon who performed this (in the Boston area) is leaving soon for Japan to speak. She went to many doctors before finding one would agree to do it. Apparently it was quite involved and we were happy to hear she came through the surgery well. Day before yesterday we got a phone call that Rob's other sister's husband was in the ER with a burst appendix. I was shocked to learn they sent him home tonight. He has to have an IV in his arm and a visiting nurse must come to administer IV antibiotics. These insurance companies have gone too far in my opinion. Your entire body is full of poison and they send you home with a fever?
My grandmother is here for her last weekend. I have enjoyed her so much. We have gone out do dinner, gone there and taken dinner twice and had lunch twice. The other day when we were leaving a diner I hugged her and told her having her here was such a treat. She replied that she always worries that she will be a burden. I assured her helping her get in and out of my mother's van, or up and down a flight of diner stairs is something that I will never mind doing. She does seem proud when no one can believe she is 94. Her hair is primarily brown. She has fewer wrinkles than her daughter. She should be the Ponds Cold Cream cover girl. Seriously.
Well, time to kick back and enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Coming To Grips with Life's Changes

Late last night I almost felt as though I had the weight of the world on me. To be honest, it wasn't the entire world, just a few continents. As the evening progressed I began to realize that I needed to sit back and put things in perspective. I walked outside and tried to find the good in the neighbor's fence. It is a beautiful fence. A six foot high fence with lattice work on the top foot of it. It's vinyl and I could take down my chain link fence on that side of the property. I saw that she put it slightly in from the property line. Deep breath. I slowly let it go. Some other thing that have bothered me seemed less important too.
This morning my mother showed up at my door with my 94 yr. old grandmother who is still in town. We went out for lunch and then to a bargain store. While eating at our favorite diner a beautiful woman came over to me. "Mrs. Roberts?" I looked up and recognized one of the chemo floor nurses who had cared for my son during his illness. She was as happy to see me as I her. She has a little boy of her own now. She wanted to know where I was living and working. She was thrilled to know how well my son is doing. They don't often have that kind of outcome. She wants to come and see me sometime. Wonderful. She wants me to give her best to my son. But..she already did that fifteen years ago. She soothed his pains, both physical and emotional. She taught him how to give himself shots of insulin when he became diabetic for three years from chemo. I owe her so much. We both do. I got so ferklempt that I couldn't say much. I will next time I see her. I hope if there are any nurses who read this they will understand just how much they mean to a family at a time like this.
I keep reminding myself that the glass can be half empty or half full. I hope I never see the emptiness when I am so blessed. I"m a nearly thirty year cancer survivor and my son is a fifteen year cancer survivor. I'm a two year heart valve replacment survivor and a two year breast cancer survivor. When I think of one word to describe myself the word survivor comes to mind. Thing is, I'm not just happy to have survived. I want to be a thriver. I want to be a sunflower. Moving my head slowly throughout the day to soak up all the rays of warmth, love and positive energy. I think I am a work in progress but I am becoming a little bit more of what I want to be each day.
WE must become the change we wish to see in the world. ~ Gandhi

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Neighbor's Influence

I found out a few days ago that one of my favorite neighbors will be moving. I am sad about this. These are neighbors who were ideal. When we moved in we had some people coming to give us fence estimates. The man came over and offered to help Rob do it and save us several hundreds of dollars. The real deciding factor was that we would have to wait for weeks for a company to do it and Sandie was used to a larger yard. We did it for her safety. Throughout the four years we have lived here, these people have done more kind things than I could ever tell. They sent me flowers when I was in the hospital and came over to check on me when I got home. We have become fond of their two daughters and watched them grow. They will be moving to Florida where the wife's family is. Although I hate to see them go, I am thankful for the opportunity of having such wonderful people near us.
A neighbor on the other side of us is a problem person. Trust me, when people cannot get along with me, they are problem people. ::::insert laughter::::::
When we first moved in this woman gave her car keys to her adolescent son who promptly backed the car down the driveway losing control of it and plowing into my car. As I was calling the police, she began to scream at me that it was not neighborly to involve the police. I chose not to press charges against her or her son but she continued to say I was difficult when I told her I expected her to pay for the damages. She chose not to contact her insurance company and I went along with that. Still, she found me unreasonable. Since then I have more or less avoided her. A few weeks ago when something blew into her yard she contacted our township and told them I was grooming my cat and throwing volumes of cat fur onto her lawn. Now honestly, this was quite funny. She went to the down and got a variance to put up a six foot fence. (the kind with the criss cross on the top foot.). I will be relieved not to have to see into her yard which is becoming more unsightly daily.
I just hate not getting along with someone. Our township government all know her and think her odd. Imagine that. Her thinking I am the difficult one. She contacted the town and told them we were tossing charcoal briquets onto her lawn. The official burst into laughter when I told her I had a gas grill. There are no briquets to throw and if she thinks I would chuck good lava rock then she is truly insane.
I have off tomorrow. I hope I can find some time to get into my zen meditation garden and just zone out. OHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wonderful Weekend

I had a simply wonderful weekend. My sister came from upstate New York. She brought her friend with her and her daughter. We had a nice cookout at my parents house and went out to lunch today. My niece, recently back from a semester in England where she managed to travel all over Europe looks fabulous. She will be starting her senior year at college and I envy the place she is in her life with so much to look forward to. She wants to be a pharmacist and she seems to have it all together. Her sister is living near my parents with her father and they got to have some quality time together as well. My sister is going through a difficult time. She will be having surgery the end of August. For her privacy I will not discuss it but we are all concerned. Being the older sibling is difficult. You feel compelled to take care of the younger siblings. Rob's sister will be having surgery Sept. 4th as well.
Rob is going through a series of tests with my cardiologist. He has a sometimes racing heartbeat. Sometimes tachycardia is not serious and other times it can be symptomatic of a serious condition. Our doctor is making sure that it is not serious. His final test is August 7th and then we will know hopefully soon after that. My cardiologist is now treating me, my father and my husband. I should get kickbacks or at least free meds!
I did my first major mail merge at work last Friday. It went smooth as silk. I was relieved. This weekend my sister bought a mail merge with her done by an underling. The woman pulled some major errors. Now she will have to redo a lot of the work this week. My wrists hurt from all the folding, stuffing etc. but my mind is happy that I figured it out on my own and pulled it off. I am thinking that I might go to school at night and get a real estate license myself. It would be a good source of a second income for me. It would also help me to better understand some things that happen. This would be a commitment for four months, two nights a week at a college. I know a woman who is going to do it so I would have a partner. She is lovely and I think it would work well for us.
Well it's time for bed. My weekend was full, went by too quickly, but I had some good laughs with my sister. Just to be able to hug her and let her know I care made me feel a lot better.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy 94th birthday to my grandmother

Today is a special day. My grandmother turned 94 today. I was with her on Thursday but right now she is visiting some other family members and attending some church activities she wanted to this weekend. We had her cake on Thursday night but when she returns I will have another one for her. I mean she deserves it!

My grandmother is such a special person in my life. When I was little (up until the age of ten) I often lived with her and my grandfather. My Dad was in the Navy and often abroad. When he was stationed near us we only saw him on weekends. My mother had four kids (one was born after his retirement) and was overwhelmed. Her mother was a block away from the house they built when I was six. Up until then we often lived with my grandparents in their two bedroom home. Talk about a tight squeeze. They lived in Silver Spring, Maryland and my grandfather was a policeman (the FIRST motorcycle officer they had.....and he had a white Harley). My grandparents were the kind who always doled out hugs and kisses. At that time policmen didn't make much was so tight with both my parents and grandparents. Still my grandmother always put beautiful meals on the table and made sure that we had everything that we needed. I will never forget when I got my first bicycle at the police auction. They bought it for me and I was so proud of it.

When I told my family I was getting divorced they were all angry with me......except for my grandmother. She trusted me to know what was best for me. She even went so far as to tell a minister that by refusing to marry me later that he was judging me. To have support like that means the world to someone who is hurting.

Throughout life we have many blessings. When I was receiving radiation treatments my grandparents drove 200 miles to be with me through some of those bleakest hours. There has never been a day in my life that my grandmother has not showered me with unconditional love. She now does the same for Rob and my son.

I am so very blessed and so proud to have this beautiful woman for my grandmother. God bless you always.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

When Knowing To Help and When Not To............

I have had a real quandry of the past few days. I have neighbors who I like very much. Thing is they are doing a lot of drinking. Alcohol is costly and they have become increasingly careless about their finances in order to enjoy their pursuit.
They recently went on a vacation and came back in a serious state because they had run up an enormous bar tab. The following day they came here asking for food. I have had my freezer and pantry lower than usual with recent repairs to my air conditioner and replacing my water heater. Still I gave them a few things to tide them over. Another neighbor came here and told me that they had gone out to buy another case of beer before coming here to get food. Now I am thinking that perhaps I am not truly helping these people out. It's a fine line from being helpful to becoming an enabler. Still, I tell myself that they bought the beer BEFORE coming here and had I said no, they still would have had the beer.

I am by nature a helping and sharing person. I do recognize that there are times where people need to face reality. Clearly when you choose to buy beer over food there is a problem. Other neighbors are getting increasingly concerned. I have had vast experience with a friend who became an alcoholic. Only the person themselves can make the determination that they need help. I have decided though that I need to gently tell them I can't afford to help them. I haven't had a vacation in four years. That vacation was a ONE night stay in a cabin in the Poconos. These people have vacationed five times in less time than that. If I ever hope to get away for even a few nights I have to buckle down and stop helping others. At least financially.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's my birthday!

Today is my birthday. Hallelujah! I made it another year. That is THE gift. On my birthday I always think back to my cancer diagnosis at 23. It's been nearly thirty years since then. I guess that makes me a scrapper. I am in many ways. I am a paradox: the gentlest of the gentle at times, the weakest of the weak and at other times tough as nails.

My friend and I that had a standing arrangement of taking each other out to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch on our birthdays left me high and dry. She has other problems to deal with and knows I will understand. I do understand but it still stings somewhat.

My boss/friend gave me a beautiful arrangement of flowers which include pink roses and purple daisies. So colorful and fragrant. I got some checks and something sweet and thoughtful from Rob. I have yet to cut my cake. My son is on his way over shortly and we'll cut it then. I have my son. He survived leukemia. Another gift. Of the only important kind. I have a new coworker. Her son committed suicide. She is such a wonderful person. I have the utmost respect for her and she is so very likeable. Not enough things could be said to do her justice. I know what it's like to FACE the loss of a child without actually losing one. Her pain must be tenfold because it didn't have to be. I have been thinking so much about people who in utter despair end their lives. I understand it. Just a way to make the pain stop. I also think that at that time they must not be able to think of the pain they leave behind them. I wish they could.

I am 52 years old today. That may sound old to some. I am a survivor. I have survived Hodgkins disease, breast cancer, open heart surgery (and the receiving of a mechanical part), and a failed marriage. I have shed many tears. I have laughed and shared wonderful moments with friends. My cup is not half full, it overflows with all the wonderful things that life has brought me. I am loved. For that I am so grateful and my spirit sings.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

In New Jersey there is a state crisis. The governor is forcing the elected officials to come meet with him today and try to work out the budget. If they don't, the state offices that are NONessential will not be open tomorrow. They may have to close down Atlantic City and the casinos. State parks are closed until further notice.

I used to be married to a state employee. The benefits were grand. Now that I am not, and don't have those benefits, I see what the problem is. Years ago state salaries were very low. Now they are not so low. I know people who have been working for about twenty years who are making over 40K and have a killer benefits package. In the private sector benefits are being stripped away. My ex pays $3 for a drug that my copay is $50 on. He doesn't contribute at all for the health plan and we are currently contributing several hundred a month towards ours. State workers often accumulate hundreds of days off they didn't take and get a lump sump of up to 20K when they retire for those days. I don't get paid sick days, or vacation days right now. I don't know anyone in the private sector that has it so good.

I wish now I had taken the jobs that the state had way back when. What I didn't know was that they would become unionized and I would have the killer benefits AND the pay up the road. The state workers can afford to live in New Jersey but sadly, the lower middle class cannot. If these trends continue they are predicting that New Jersey will only consist of the rich and the poor who take care of them. The middle class will soon be gone altogether.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Some Relaxing Time

This has been the first week since I went to work nearly a year ago that I got to have four consecutive days off. I am only part time and don't get any vacation so I take time off sparingly.

My friend (childhood best) invited us to her home outside of Phila. I was psyched. She has a new home and is fixing it up as only she can. She has some eclectic tastes with a heavy passion for art. She recently met a new artist whose works are unique. She doesn't have a website so I can't post what she does but I am intrigued by them. She purchased one called "Self portrait" that I am mad for. The price tag is too hefty for me to own any of her work but it is just so different. She bought three pieces from her. The young artist also does prints of her pieces which she is selling for $500. For that kind of money I want an original piece of art. When I first married I had been given an original piece of art. Sadly, it was not something I liked. The typical empty row boat next to a barn. I never even hung it and sold it at a yard sale years later. The ONLY piece of real art I have is one that has brought me tremendous joy. It is the sunflower picture (perhaps I should say one of them) painted by the gifted artist Judith Heartstrong. I love it and when guests come in my home they always remark about it. Someday I hope to purchase a second work and put this one into my favorite room of my home, the bedroom. My friend's house is filled with artwork, all originals. Her home is also filled with many candles, fresh flowers and all kind of unusual things which are fascinating.

We were having a delightful visit with her parents, sister, son, daughter and niece and nephew when we sat down to our second meal. Our lunch had been a feast for the bodies and senses. For dinner we just did burgers and dogs on the grill. The long haired chihuaha grabbed Rob's burger which he hadn't touched. He grabbed the burger and pulled the remaining part (outside of the dog's mouth out). We were laughing and he reached down to pet the dog when it bit him. Not realized how bad the bite was at first we laughed, thinking the dog had grazed him. When he came out of the bathroom, with blood pouring off his hand, I realized that the dog had made some puncture wounds. At that point the combination of drinking beer, playing badminton in the sun, overeating, indulging in extra helpings of cheesecake took it's toll on the poor guy. He laid down but then I just told him let's head home. We had brought a backpack prepared to stay over but we learned that her son and his girlfriend had the same idea. There was only one air mattress up for grabs and since Rob was feeling so hot, I felt we were better off taking the hour or so drive home.

My son spent the night here as he was pet sitting for us. This morning he got up at 4:30 to go take care of his bird before heading off to work. I feel badly for him. He had about 4 hours sleep. He will have off tomorrow. We had left Duffy with him and gone away for the weekend when Duff was a few months old. The minute Tom arrives Duffy starts pacing and acts weird. Even today is at odds, I suspect he has seperation anxiety.

My parents just called. They finally got some gas in their grill bottle. It's only TWO years old and this is the first time it's been filled. They are having burgers and some trimmings and want us to come by. I guess we will do that. I had intended to bake cupcakes..wonder if there's still time.

One other thing.....this past week my air conditioner went. My one neighbor who does plumbing/air conditioning repair/heating repair offered to take a look at it. He knew immediately that the motor which runs both heat and air was burned out. He contacted another neighbor, Jeff whose Dad owns a heating/plumbing parts business. Jeff was able to FIND one (they are no longer being manufactured) and get it to us overnight. He only wanted us to pay what it cost him to get it. We gave him that and money to take his family out for ice cream. The plumber, Ken, told us he would not accept money. He put in the motor and noticed that we also needed freon. He told us he would have to charge us for that. He came within hours of the part arriving which Jeff had hand delivered to us. We gave Ken the money for the freon and money to take his family out to lunch. He didn't want to take it but I INSISTED. I have to say that when things go bad and you find out that there are people out there who still have heart, who care enough to help out a neighbor, it renews your faith in mankind. I have lived in neighborhoods where money flowed. In this neighborhood people live (for the most part) from paycheck to paycheck. I have never experienced such an outpouring of support and kindness. These wonderful people do not care about anyone's color, marital state or physcial attributes. Everyone (with the exception of two neighbors who attempt to cause problems for others and who are very mean)
is treated equally. I often think of "Dr. King's I have a dream speech". I hope he can look down and see our little corner of the world. Brotherhood is alive and well and we live where we are judged by the contents of our character.

Happy July 4th. America is not perfect but neither am I and I love her.

(Forgive my errors but I am typing this on a computer that doesn't allow pop ups so I cannot use the spell check feature.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Million Little Thoughts..............

this is a year ago...........
and this is now...........
they have reversed roles as who is the big brother.......
Today the cat was on his way to make a quick break outside of the fence (he's front declawed and I don't let him run wild) and his brother followed his herding instincts and held him there until I could get there to pick him up and return him to safety.

In my previous entry I talked about a coworker who took his own life. It has been a spirit of grief and sadness at the office. Our owner brought in a grief counsellor who heads a suicide prevention group. It was helpful to listen to her. She told us that noone was to blame. Of course in your head you know this but I think all who knew him keep asking ourselves if there might have been some small thing that might have made a difference. I understand that he had written a goodbye letter which the police took from his home. His wife has yet to receive it back and has no idea what it says. I found it odd that she said had she been offered the opportunity to read it that night she would have declined. His wife is unusual. She says although she does not understand who is she TO understand. She seems to be a lot more capable of logical reasoning than some of the rest of us. I think this has had an impact on the rest of us. We are being supportive of each other and I think seeing a vulnerability in your coworkers helps you to bond with them. There has been good that has come out of this tragedy. I do find myself feeling very emotional and in the office I try to keep that under control. When I see anything with his name on it my eyes well up with tears but I compose myself.

The woman who came to speak to us had a very professional, well respected son who took his own life. She spoke about what that was like for her. It's been many years and she still doesn't understand fully but has gained much understanding. Often a suicide coincides with depression. That is why it's so important if you see someone depressed to try to help them. This made me do a lot of soul searching. About seven years ago I was battling a depression. I feel (and was told by a professional) that it was being caused by my lack of support and verbal demeaning I was receiving from my ex spouse. The depression was worsening and there came a time where I thought about what it might be like to end it all. I found that for about two weeks I thought of little else. While doing this I stopped functioning on most levels. One day I knew that I had come to a fork in the road. I had to either do it OR get some professional help to pull myself out of what was happening. I made the decision to get help. I was fortunate in knowing two people who had used an excellent doctor. He helped me more than I could ever describe. He assured me that things would get better once I took control back of my life. He helped me find the tools to do that. I am not embarassed that I needed his help. I am grateful for it and I highly recommend that type of help to anyone who struggles on their own. I set my course that day. I took baby steps at first but now I am back on track. I have the life that I dreamed I might have so many years ago. No one's life is perfect. I have some financial and health concerns. The difference is now that I know I will be okay. I know that I am a survivor (of many things).

I am not what I was told I was. I was manipulated for many years but that is over.
Now I am me. I am not the brightest but I'm bright enough. I'm not the prettiest but I'm pretty enough. I AM competent. Although I once perceived myself as weak, logic tells me that I am strong to have turned my life around. Still, I am weak enough to have compassion and identify with others. I finally know that I AM ok. Knowing that allows me to know that so are others. I'm in a good place. Hope you are too.