Saturday, December 29, 2007

Another Christmas Past


Christmas 2007 was very different for us than Christmases of recent years. We moved into our current home nearly six years ago. We have never had family here for a holiday. This year while working full time I decided it was time.
My mother is getting older and having holidays overwhelms her anymore. Thanksgiving my sister came down and did most of the work. I wasn't sure she would be able to do that at Christmas so although I believed I would be working until 8 on Christmas Eve I planned to have a 25 lb. turkey with all the trimmings. Our company gave us a wonderful gift when they told us Friday that we would also have Christmas Eve off. This meant I would be able to join the festivities at my brother Bob's house and have most of the day to prepare. Prepare we did. I had a wonderful spread with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, a whipped sweet potato recipe that is outstanding, salad, green bean casserole, rolls and for dessert a buffet of cheesecake, cookies, pies and my "Rachel Ray" fudge wreath. Yummoo.
It is a bit cramped here compared to the roominess of my old house but we managed and everyone had a good time. I gave my sweetie a digital video camera and he has recorded some of it. Technology is amazing. The gift that was the biggest hit by far was the one Rob gave my son. It was a remote controlled helicopter that can be flown IN the house. Most of what he got was clothing because he is grown up but men are just big boys with toys.
Throughout the day I thought of last Christmas. No one had a clue that this year Jennifer would not be a part of our Christmas. Each year we received a box from Rob's Mom and in it were the gifts from Jennifer and her brother Brian. I remember them year by year. Rob was able to drive up there a few short weeks ago and deliver our gifts to them. She loves the American Girl doll we gave her and for Christmas we gave her the most beautiful red faux velvet coat and hat. Also ice skates and a few small other things. I wish we could have been there to see her open the gifts but we had to be at work the next morning. Maybe next year. I was so happy to have a lovely Christmas. I hope you did too and I wish you a wonderful new year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Three Days and Counting...................


What Christmas Means to Me.................
Christmas isn't just a paid holiday off from work. Christmas has a deep spiritual meaning. I do believe that Jesus was a man who lived among us long ago. I believe that he lived an exemplary life and that if we could all just follow his teachings of kindness, brotherhood and forgiveness the world would be a much better place. Today I had to work and thinking that it was a few days before Christmas I was hoping that others might have the Christmas spirit. For the most part I was wrong but there were a few which after thanking me for my assistance wished me a Merry Christmas. I was appreciative of that. This Christmas there are some things which hamper the spirit. Firstly the loss of Jen weighs upon us. As more time passes we are keenly aware of the loss and the huge void left in her 9 year old daughter's life. My son lost his job (as did his entire department) with a wealthy company and was canned a week ago tonight. No severance just a brief goodbye. He had really enjoyed that job and been there over two years. He had taken ONE sick day during that time. I guess the company chose not to give these people the paid holiday.
Ebeneezer the company owner is a multimillionaire. Tidings of comfort and joy.
While there are things that bad there is so much good. I have a good job. They gave us Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. We had four spreads of food over the past few weeks.
In addition we were given vouchers for food in their "world class" cafeteria. The food there is marvelous. I feel blessed to work with some of the hardest working people I have worked alongside of. Today I was hugged by many coworkers. Genuine shows of affection happen often where I am. Help is always there and given generously and competently. While my days are long, I find myself driving home each night feeling that I am blessed.
I am planning to have a 25 lb. turkey here for Christmas Day. The crowd will be relatively small. Not sure we can all fit around the table. This house has an eat in kitchen and no dining room. Gone are the days with my sprawling dining room and unlimited space. I still have the china and the silverware. The space is small in comparison. The difference is that my tiny home is overflowing with love and hospitality. A small house can hold as much love as a mansion. In my case it holds much more. What particularly thrilled me this year was that I was able to make a bag of gifts for a friend who lost her only child last year at this time. I was also able to send some money to Feed The Children and send a box to a Navy soldier. That to me is what Christmas is all about. Helping those in need, whether the need be financial or spiritual. There's not much that I want or need. I do need to know that I care about my fellow man. I need to know that is a part of my personality that will never change. I consider it my best asset.
Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything. Mostly, Lord I thank you for the precious gift of life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Coworker Made Me Sick.......LIterally


Where I work we have days that are shared in a pool. Meaning that sick days are the same as vacation days. While I can understand the value of this there is a serious downside as well. One of my coworkers is planning a vacation this winter. She was soooo sick but refused to call out and take a sick day. She left early one day to pick her sick daugher up and was saying her husband had to take a day off so that she wouldn't use one of her pool days for sickness and she could save them for vacation days. How unfair to others and I told her so. On Sunday evening I began to be chilled to the bone and feel very ill. Woke up Monday even worse and a trip to the doctor confirmed I had strep. I'm sure that is what the coworker's daughter and she had. I wonder how many more employees will have it. I had to call out yesterday and use my ONE accumulated paid sick day. I am still not well today and had to take a second, UNPAID day.

Since they are consecutive days it will only count as one call out illness thankfully.


What do you want for Christmas?


I know what I want and I want it bad. I want people to start acting responsibly. To stop ordering things they have no use for, to stop making phone calls ordering services that are incompatible with what they have in their homes. Furthermore, these people want to scream and yell at people instead of taking responsibility for their decision. Most companies now have people who try to keep customers......and keep them happy. Don't try to verbally berate people when they are stuck trying to help you get out of a mess which you have created. Be mature enough to admit that you made a mistake and kindly ask for assistance to get out of it. I remember when children knew better than to try to blame everything they did on someone else. Nowdays many parents are afraid to correct their children even when the child desperately needs it. I am not talking about people treating children like chattle. I am talking about constructive discipline. I cringe when I see how many children have NO boundaries. Children need love and security but they also need to know that adults are in charge. It gives them security. Too often the children are running the show these days. If parents cannot control them at 9 what will happen when they are teens? I remember the movement not to hit children. I liked the philosophies associated with that. There is a rare time a child needs a swat on the bottom and I could never condone more than that. I do believe children need to be told gently but firmly that the parents are in charge. Sometimes it scares me to think what these children will be like when they are the adults running our society. Maybe I'm crany today but these are my thoughts.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wow a degree from a university


On Friday I finally got my degree from a university.....of sorts. I am now a graduate of a private university. I don't want to post too much about my job here for reasons that it can come back and kick you in the butt....hard. Many of my fellow grads went out for snacks and drinks but I declined. I have learned that often coworkers are not the best people you want for your friends. When there's a group of people and you barely know some of them the robot arms start waving "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!" Not going there.


My new job is tough at times. I am taking calls where people want to cancel their service and I am talking them out of doing that. Well, often the calls go like this...

ME: Thank you for calling ______ My name is Nutjob how can I help you today?

Them: I hate you and your F*N company.

ME: May I have your account number with us?

Them: I don't have an account.

ME: If you were billed by us then you have an account with us. Can you look on your bill

and give that to me?

Them: Look A******* I don't have email and I can't read anything you sent me.

ME: If you signed up for an account with us then you needed to give an email address, may I please have your first and last name then?

Them: Yes it's mumble mumble mumble mumble.

ME: I'm very sorry. I didn't catch that, could you please repeat that?

Them: Listen jerk off: just cancel my account.

ME: I will be happy to help you once I can identify which account we are talking about.

Them: Oh wait a minute is *************** an account number?

ME: yes, thank you. Now can you verify some information for me?

Them: I hate you. You should die, a slow painful death.

And the conversation goes downhill from there!

There are some good and courteous customers but honestly they are more the exceptions.

I am polite and do the job that I am being paid to do. It's not easy but I am grateful to be receiving a paycheck. I have a wait for my benefits still. I am doing shiftwork and I will be working Christmas Eve until the phones close at 8. If we have calls that went into hold before that we cannot leave until they are all taken. What kind of people you have to wonder would be calling on Christmas Eve in the evening? Remember Ebenezer Scrooge?

SO....if you know anyone who might want to call and bust someone's holiday mojo on Christmas Eve, try to talk them out of it. Offer them some holiday cheer (liquid cheer that is.)

I have a lot of shopping to do. Last night we received a dusting of snow but it is snowing again. I have to get to the MAC, get the dog's nails trimmed, and pick up a humidifier. Since we ate out for Thanksgiving and had no leftovers I am making a turkey breast today. Don't know when I will find time for the decorating but the Christmas mugs are in the cabinet and a wreath is on the door. It's a start. Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a cup of good cheer.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

(Left: Rob and our niece, Cassie)
This week I will finally be doing my actual job in the new arena. I have been in training for weeks and I am looking forward to kicking it up a notch. Customer service jobs are not always easy. Sometimes people feel that they can say things to an anonymous voice on the phone that they would not dare say if they had to watch the person's face they were speaking to. I have been the irate customer on the other end of the phone. More times than I would like to admit.

I made over a dozen calls to Verizon when their FIOS installer cut through wires and left a gaping hole in my house. I finally gave up and never did get any satisfaction. What really irked me was when they gave the complaint to the INSTALLER to deal with. He basically called to tell me I shouldn't have complained. It cost me $85 to have the electric company tell me that since the problem was INSIDE my house they couldn't fix it either but they demanded my money and threatened to turn off my account when I delayed in sending it in. I cannot wait until my obligation of time with Verizon plays out. Then I will happily cancel my FIOS phone service which sounds like an echo is in the phone. Sorry Verizon but you no longer dominate the world.

I will go with an IOP carrier and save lots of money. So for the money you cost me you lost what might have been a life long customer. That's really poor business and horrid customer service.

Certainly not the kind I give to customers.


This will be our first Thanksgiving without my sister-in-law. We are a bit concerned as this will be the first holiday her nine year old daughter will spend without her. They are coming here for dinner and a visit. I have tried to get some fun things here for her to have. We are all going to my parents where my 95 yr. old grandmother will be and my sister and her significant other from upstate New York. I have to work Friday ( no seniority yet ). Fortuantely Rob will be home to take them out for the day and keep them busy. We are always trying to think of ways to put a smile on the face of our Cassie kid. She is so bright and recently wrote a story about a pencil which died. It was about her Mom and the pencil told her that although she was dead, she was happy. We constantly worry that she will be okay but she seems alright. Nothing takes the place of being able to hug and kiss her when we are far apart. We send mail frequently to constantly assure her we are always just a phone call away.


I am on my way over to have lunch with my grandmother. She is insisting on chow mein for lunch. I like to have more exotic Chinese food but she sticks with what she has known for so long. She looks wonderful and it's a joy when she is nearby and I can pop in for a visit. I am thankful for many things this year. While I am keenly aware of the absence of Jen a part of me is relieved that her suffering is over. I am grateful to have been a part of her life and to have a part of her still in her daughter. I am grateful that in a world of poverty all my basic needs and then some are met. I am grateful that both myself and my son beat cancer and enjoy good health today. I am grateful that I have friends that have stood by me through so much. I am grateful for my little house that is small but holds as much love as a mansion. I am grateful that I have someone who loves me and that I love him in return. I am grateful for my real estate friends who still call me and keep in touch with me and let me know they miss seeing me on a daily basis. I am grateful for the new friends I have already made in the new job. Many of them are younger than I am and they all tell me how cool I am. That makes my day :)


What are your greatful for?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Changes.............

I am finding it more and more difficult to have time to enjoy activities I once did.
When I first began going online there were a few chat rooms which I thoroughly enjoyed. Over the years I met up with many of the regulars several times. Several stopped going to our regular spot and about three years ago my visits dwindled away as well. I do email some of the friends I met there and hope to stay in touch with them in the future.

When I first began to blog it was on AOL. There was a strong blogging community which I felt a part of. My days when I was out of work for awhile began with coffee and some blogs that were food for my weary soul. Sadly, when AOL made some poor decisions, a mass exodus took place.
I was so angry and we all came here to start over. Sadly, it, at least for me, has not been the same. Something was lost when you didn't have the email in the person's name I think. I have rare contact with some of the people that I became so fond of. It's sad. By the same token, I am finding that the more I do in my real life, the less time there is to come on and make posts.
I am making friends at my new job. Friends who are making plans outside of work. Many of them are younger than me and have blogs over on My Space. I have no plans to start another blog anywhere else. I do want to keep in touch with the friends who I have met with the blogging community. There are many things that I learned here that I will take with me when I go. Mostly, I learned that there are a lot of really cool and genuine people on the internet. People who through keystrokes on their keyboards touched my life. I will always be grateful to have known them and at a time I was fragile for the gentle words that helped me regain my strength.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I don't like Mondays............

Why do the weekends go so fast? I had so very much to do that the weekend flew by although I was able to work in my father's birthday party, picking up my car, getting my hair cut and colored, buying a black suit for my new job and a Sunday breakfast with my sister. On Sunday night although I was cream crackered I witnessed most of the game as the RED SOX once again became the victors of the World Series. I am happy about this because my darling and his family are huge fans. Congratulations RED SOX fans and you know who you are. :)

Back to work today. I am in training in some highly technical classes. I have to know how a call works and is received and every minute detail of how the internet works as well. I have to tell you that this company is awesome in it's expectation that if you work for a communications company then you need to know just how it works. My brain feels on overload at times but I am doing okay with an A average thus far. Hope I can keep it up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh happy day

I started my new job on Monday. Can we say "Sweet?" I have to tell you that this company is amazing. I have been told that our company owner sold a previous website for 300 million. I do not know this for fact.......I was just told. This guy pays us well. On top of that I am having some perks that I am loving. Firstly, there are gourmet coffee machines everywhere and you have access to it all day. As though that were not enough there are bowls filled with fresh and wonderful fruit and they are FREE. That's right: FREE!!!! We are also given a monthly credit for the cafeteria and I have to tell you their food is out of this world and reasonably priced.

Had our first exam yesterday for the training. I got a 99. So close to perfection but hey I'll take it! I am really liking this company and it's treatment of employees. Respect for fellow employees is highly emphasized, as well as tolerance. It's easy to get along with others when you feel so appreciated, all of you. Of course there are always the moaners who will look for the fly in the ointment. Sorry but I don't see anything wrong. I wish the benefits kicked in now but I have to wait for 90 days. They are well worth waiting for. I am grateful to have this opportunity.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NEW THINGS ABOUND


On Monday I start a new job. While I have enjoyed the time spent focusing solely on real estate, the market it not doing enough for me right now and I need some guaranteed income. I will once again be working in customer service which is my forte. I will have paid vacation and health benefits and all the wonderful incentives that work provides. I will also be going to work in a new vehicle which we purchased Friday evening. I have tried uploading a picture of the car but right now Blog Spot will not cooperate so perhaps later.

We made an excellent deal getting a leftover. I will have an extended warranty, 7 years of 100,000 miles so I can rest a bit easier. One minor snafu was that my manager backed into it leaving a dent yesterday but that will be fixed quickly and I will be provided with a rental car while the work is done.

I am so very excited about receiving a STEADY paycheck. The amount will be nice and in the neighborhood I have not received in the past almost five years. Finally, I can put some away and replenish emergency funds that were used.

Fall weather has arrived and I am loving it so very much. The chill in the air is invigorating.
Today I am off this afternoon to my new employer's huge building to fill out paperwork. They insist that you have direct deposit, not a bad idea. The building is really cool and the atmosphere is so wonderful there. People do not seem stressed out. I am eager to begin this new chapter of my life. Dress is business casual and that alone thrills me. Look out here I come!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tears, Memories and Wishes


I just read a blog entry by our cousin Luke. It was beautiful and touching. Two weeks before Jennifer died, his sister Lynn got married. We wanted to attend that wedding but we also wanted to be there for our niece's communion and to be there for baby sis at the end. We just couldn't make another trip. Those trips are about 500 miles round trip. My car is eight years old and the trip is expensive, not only the gas but tolls too. Luke called his entry "a beginning and an ending." After he drove all the way from Michigan to attend his sister's wedding (he did visit Jen in the hospital as well) he drove back two weeks later for Jen's funeral. While the circumstances were not the best, we did enjoy talking with him. I enjoyed getting to know him. It makes me feel good to know that others are memorializing Jen. Luke has a page in his blog with photos of her. I have days that I still cannot believe this petite young woman so full of life, is gone. I touched her lifeless body and still a part of me refuses to accept the harsh reality that I will never see her again. Thoughts like this quickly make me think of her 9 year old daughter. I wonder so often what she is thinking. I wonder if she will remember all the fun, good times she had with her Mom? Jen so loved Halloween. (Above pic is my mil, Jen and Cassie a few years ago.) She got dressed every year and went trick or treating with Cassie. She made special hair ribbons and decorations for every minor as well as major holiday. She leaves such a huge void and no matter how hard we try, I don't think anyone can fill her shoes. Despite the fact that they were so tiny. Each week I try to send Cassie a piece of mail or two. Sometimes they are just little cards but they are reminders that she is loved.

I found a beautiful piece of quilted fabric and will have my friend make it into a blanket for her doll. She and her grandmother are coming for Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait. Holding her is the best RX for our pain. She has just started violin lessons. She will have a captive audience when she performs for us. I hear she has asked her Daddy to buy the miniature violin which is sold for her doll. To know this little girl is to love her....and we do.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Last Week

The last week found me not feeling well. I ended up not going to work functions due to that. I also know that I will be starting a new job and I am not highly motivated with the old routine.
I went to the periodontist and on Friday I saw an internist and along with an antibiotic script I received my required flu shot. My arm is hot and sore but I slept about three hours later than usual and am feeling rested today.

Last night we had a frustrating experience with our Pogo game playing. Pogo has a high stakes poker room which I never go into but my spouse enjoys. Some new player who was around for three days waiting until the pot token got really high and then refused to play. He was waiting for everyone to leave the room so as the last remaining player he could win the pot by default.
This really upset the usually genteel man of the house and I agreed with him. I cannot stand people who cheat, and it infuriates me that a company does nothing about it. We and at least a dozen other people reported his screen name and nothing seems to have been done. One woman came in after seeing his screen name and told us he had done the same thing the day before to her father. I know that this is a game and the tokens don't really mean anything. That is not the point. I feel that people need to know not to take, by trickery or outright thievery, what is not theirs. I believe in forgiving people, providing they are sincerely sorry. Clearly, this is not the case. My husband taking the high road has chosen to let it go. It will take me longer and I will always be telling others to watch out for this dishonest person.

I read an interesting book this week, Middlesex. It was recommended on Oprah's book club.
Have to say that although it was interesting I felt the constant jumping around from the deep past and the future interrupted the flow of the story. I was disappointed in it. I still have another book I purchased that she had chosen and after a few attempts, I still cannot get through it. The books I have most enjoyed recently are those by Jodi Picoult.

Have a good week.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Breezy Saturday

I have longed for a Saturday like the one I had today. Nice and sunny with a cool breeze. I had a bit of a stressful yet good week. On Monday I went for my final interview which ended up being two interviews but I was offered a good job. I have not received a paycheck like the ones I can anticipate in about five years. It will certainly make things easier and better for us. The past few weeks Rob has taken every minute of overtime offered to him. He is trying to fill the gap left by such a slow market. The market is not dead but it is slow and most of the agents who are conducting business are having customers from the past. The buyers who are looking seem to think there is something better still waiting out there. That is not a good situation to be in if you need a steady income as I do.

The new job will be five weeks of training which I will work normal hours. After that I will be working an unusual shift that will find me arriving home about eight thirty in the evening. The thing is I will be eligible for bonuses for accepting that position so I think it is worthwhile.
Every time I think of getting a nice paycheck I begin to do the happy dance.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall is Here


Fall is here and I am loving it. One small tree in my yard is losing it's leaves. The grass is greener now that the scorching sun isn't baking it daily.
There is a crispness in the air and I want to get to a local orchard today for the freshly picked apples. I have already purchased my Halloween treats. Individual bags of popcorn with a few Halloween decorations on them. I gave these a few years ago and the kids loved them. I live in a development and get about 115 children each year. They love to come here as sometimes I dress up but the dog is always in a costume. Last year he was Elvis. I have a huge box of Halloween decorations in the attack that will be coming down something this week. The best part is knowing that when Halloween is over, Thanksgiving will follow it.......and later Christmas. So much to anticipate!
I am on the way to the mall to pick up shoes I am having repaired. On Friday I was out and about when a strap broke. I couldn't walk in them at all and had no spare pair in my car as I sometimes do. I dropped them off with the shoe repair man who is wonderful. I am picking them up and I believe I may put a spare pair in my trunk. It was not fun walking out of the mall on all the cement and hot asphalt in barefeet. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Wheels on the car go round and round


Today I went to a job agency. I did several tests to see what I qualified for. As much as I like the thought of being a real estate agent, it has been difficult because the market has slowed and being a new agent I do not have the clientele to fall back on. I have worked very hard but I need some guaranteed income. It has frustrated me that family members from other states have done business with strangers. I could have done a referral for them and received a piece of the commission. My theory is it's better to have someone who knows what they are doing find an agent for you rather than blind luck leading you to a stranger. Sadly, I guess others don't see it that way. I have had nine months of money going on with none coming in and I just have to have some guaranteed income. I have many things that I want to do that cannot be considered without it. Money IS a necessary evil. The good news is that I scored very well on the grammar portion. Good grammar is second nature to me. I'm not sure why that is and perhaps when I am tired that doesn't come across to others but I do know proper grammar.


I am glad the weekend is here. I am not doing an open house. I will be putting a few hours in the office tomorrow.


On a sad note someone I met only once but who was a generous and caring person passed away this week. Candy Lynd was a friend and coworker of my Aunt Judy's. When my son had leukemia she contacted her daughter who was a personal assistant to my favorite boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard. My son was a huge boxing fan. Delivered to the hospital were a pair of autographed boxing gloves. These came in the darkest hour and my son lit up like a Christmas tree. As though that were not enough a few weeks later a pair of tickets arrived which were close to the ring. My son left the hospital and boarded a train into Madison Square Garden with his Dad to see that fight. It was something he still talks about. All this because of the caring of a teenage boy she had never met. Last week when I knew Candy was so ill I sent her a card once again thanking her for her part in making my son so happy. I pray that her family will find comfort and that she will rest in peace. What really matters when you die is what you leave behind in the thoughts and hearts of other people. She will never be forgotten.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Visit to New England



Over the weekend we traveled to New England, Rhode Island specifically for our niece's 9th birthday. This was the first birthday without her Mom. I knew we had to be there and do something that would be so special it would occupy her thoughts instead of the huge void left by her Mom's absence. She had mentioned that her stepsister had an American Girl doll and so did one of her cousins and she thought they were wonderful. I made a vow to myself that she would have one. Not only did she get the doll but she got the beautiful metal bed, night table, an antique typewriter, phone and gooseneck lamp, carpet, pillows and several outfits. Some were obtained used but in mint condition. She was really surprised. We had her open the furniture first and the doll last. She carried the doll all over with her, took her to church and put the doll bed touching her own. For the first time since June, she slept alone in her room with her new pal, Kit. It was very touching as she leaned over to me and said "I've always wanted an American Girl doll." To see a smile on a child's face, a child who has been through so much this past year, really made my heart smile. My mother-in-law found it very difficult to have the party without her daughter there. It was hard for us to be there and seeing Jen's room with so much gone. There were more things there than I would have imagined. When I see certain things that I have given her such as the angel that holds a banner saying "My sister is laughter on the cloudiest day" it hits you hard. Like a sucker punch to the gut. We went to the cemetery and it seems surreal to us. There were notes from her long time friend, Fred. Fred arrived early that morning to blow up balloons with a helium tank he had purchased. That guy is okay. So now as I climb into my own bed, I get a visual of our little princess in her bed and Kit's bed touching hers. I get great comfort from that. Now the search will begin for a Christmas dress for Kit. I think I will be viewing the American Girl website quite a bit between now and then. Well, time for bed. I am beat and have a full work day tomorrow that will begin at 9 a.m. and end after six p.m.

I am thinking of our Jen and hoping that she can know that her baby girl had a nice birthday. While we tell her daughter that she will never be forgotten and we keep her memories alive with words and pictures, we are trying to also let her know that life goes on. Tragedy strikes, our hearts get broken but we pick up the pieces and we go on. Most people don't learn that lesson at such a young age but our girl knows that she is loved by many people. Somehow I think that will get her through. Goodnight angel.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Autumn is Around the Corner


I have always loved Autumn. I think it goes back to the magic of having my grandparents rake the leaves in their yard. They would rake them against the white picket fence with the rose trellis. My brother Jimmy and I would dive into the piles and roll around. It was sheer heaven. I even remember the smell of them. In my childhood movies that scene was captured one year. I was wearing a faux red leather jacket and wearing my red cowgirl boots. One of my favorite outfits of all time. My brother had a black jacket and black boots. When we got down rolling around in the mountain of leaves my Grandaddy would rake them back together and scoop them up for burning in a metal barrel. Oh the smell of the burning leaves. Now that is illegal. We would go into the house and have some of my grandmother's homemade (NEVER store bought) cookies and cocoa that was made in a pan on the stove. No instant anything for her. Life was grand. I would think about the wonderful holidays that would soon be here. Halloween, Thanksgiving and soon after that Christmas. At night I would open my window to catch a breath of the crisp Fall air. Oh how I love it still.
Sometimes I wish I could be that person for just a few minutes. The person whose entire life was yet to happen. All the promise of a future not yet determined. At this point my father was still stationed in the Navy and we lived most of those years at my grandmother's. It was heaven. We were so cramped in her two bedroom home. My mother was sharing a bedroom with her younger sister who still lived home for part of that time. My brother and I shared a sofa that became a bed. Sometime during the year I was four my mother became pregnant and my father began to build our own house around the corner. I started kindergarten from that house. The following year I got my baby sister. Five short years later my father got a job in New York and we moved to New Jersey. While I saw my grandparents many times after that, and spent some weeks with them during the summer, I always missed being able to walk to their house. Now my grandmother is a four hour drive and my life is so hectic that I haven't been there for years. Today I am feeling badly about that. I simply must go this Fall and maybe I can rake her leaves and have one last dive. See, you really can go home again.....at least for awhile longer.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Rob







Today is my 5th wedding anniversary. It makes me laugh when I remember what I said on our first date "I will never get married again." Strong emphasis on the word never. If I am truly honest, the marriages I have had are complete opposites. In the first one I had little say in anything that really mattered. I was told not asked. Towards the end of it things were good financially but only in that area. I was utterly miserable and so was he. My biggest regret in life was that I didn't end it much sooner. I do have my son and I could never regret that but I think he might have had a better life as well.






I remember our wedding so clearly. My childhood best friend was my maid of honor. I teared up before going in and she asked if I was sure. I said yes, these are tears of happiness because I am finally marrying someone who can make me happy. Happiness comes from within. In that respect, I don't expect someone else to make me happy. MY CHOICE of who I am spending my life with is what brings me happiness. I chose the right person. Someone who has and always will be there for me. In our short time together Rob and I have had a lot of sorrow and tears. That has only drawn us closer. I would have never made it through my heart surgery and recovery without his support. I have dreams of things I want to do for Rob. Those cannot be fulfilled right now because I have started a new career and money is tight. Tonight we will go to the wonderful restaurant where we had our reception. The food is excellent. We will celebrate that with all that we have been through, we still have each other. We are keenly aware of just how fragile life is.






Rob, you are the best man I have ever known (though I must admit my grandfather is right behind you.) There has never been a day, a minute, where I have questioned myself about us. I am so very grateful for you and I hope and pray we have many more healthy years together. You are truly a blessing and I will never take that for granted. I simply adore you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Busy

The past few days I have been covering for a coworker who is on vacation. She had a lovely couple who wanted to put an offer in on a home. The homeowner feels he should get his asking price which is not in line with the neighborhood. It's unfortunate when you come across a homeowner like this. In the business we pull "comps". These are homes which have things very similar to the one we are trying to place a value on. When homes are in a development it makes doing this very easy. It's so disappointing for a buyer to have to deal with someone who is not realistic. When there are many homes on the market, pricing a home right is crucial for it to sell.

My cell phone, the razor has a non functioning keypad. I went to the AT&T (formerly Cingular) store today. They told me I had to deal with the manufacturer but it was under warranty. For me who is on the cell phone at least a dozen times a day, not to have it working, is a hardship.
I had some voice mails which showed up two days late in addition to the keypad problem. They promised to have one to me no later than Friday with me paying for the expedited shipping.
This is the last time I buy a cell phone because I love the color and the thinness of it. If I continue to have the problems with the delayed voice mails I will be switching companies. Tomorrow I have another long day. I have worked two of the longest days ever this week already. I am working Saturday and Monday on Labor Day. Being a realtor is NOT an easy job. There are some wonderful things about it but you have to be flexible with your time. When someone wants to act quickly you accomodate them.

Monday, August 27, 2007

OH what a beautiful morning.......oh what a beautiful day.....I've got a wonderful feeling........everything's coming my way!!

It has been a crazy past two weeks. I was sick but going downhill slowly and not realizing how sick I was until Saturday when I woke up feeling SOOOO much better. I feel really good today too...........
I had a situation at work which was very delicate. My former mentor is not well and I was floundering and not knowing how to handle it. I couldn't pester her with phone calls with what she was going through but I needed someone to bounce my ideas off.
Fortunately, a coworker saw the situation and stepped up to the plate and called her and explained that I would never be so unkind to complain but that I was being put in a difficult situation. Much to her credit she made contacts and saw that I have a new mentor now. I pray daily for my previous mentor that all will be well with her and I am grateful that during her difficult time she did something to help me. I will never forget that and hopefully sometime in the future I can repay her in some way. I am more grateful to my coworker than I could ever say.

The weather last week was so crummy. It suited me being sick I guess. All was dreary. This weekend was all about sunshine. I soaked it up. Every last drop! It was really hot Saturday and I had to work for a few hours in the afternoon. Yesterday it was a bit cooler and I worked again. I feel fortunate to work with people who are helpful, friendly and make my office a happy place to be. If you need help with anything you just ask and although they are "independent contractors" they will take the time.
My attitude is 100% improved over the past few weeks. When you don't feel well, don't sleep and can't put your hand on what's wrong it's hard to feel any direction.
I got recharged over the weekend. I have a full week at work and I look forward to it.
Two coworkers are on vacation and I may have to pitch in a bit there but I am looking forward to it.

As much as I like summer......I love Fall. It's on it's way and I can hardly wait. I already have a new Halloween decoration. A fabulous witch my sister-in-law bought for me. It's my favorite time of the year. All the holidays are fun without the issue of gifts. Just time to have fun and be thankful. Speaking of being thankful.......August 31st will be our 5th anniversary. It has gone by so very fast. So much to be thankful for in my life partner. He is always there for me. Even during the times I try to pull away, he gently refuses to let go. I think I'll keep him. :)

One final thought: I sure do miss the postings in Randomly Rambling. No one had the wit and humor of the beloved author of that blog. I need those laughs again.
Pretty please with sugar on top???

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Great Quote and Some Thoughts

"A great friend is one who gives you what you want to take and takes what you want to give." Mario Batali

I love a good quote. Saw this one on a card which I purchased for my best friend. I have had the same best friend since the age of ten. We have had our ups and downs over the years but she has always been there for me when the chips were down. She is very comfortably financially. Many people think that would cause big problems for us but it really hasn't. She lectures me for being so generous when I give her what I can afford to. She doesn't lavish money or gifts on me but treats me the same as she always did from the time we were children.

I love the internet. I really do. When I think of all I can accomplish on the computer I am amazed. I can find out the weather and even what my local pizza place is serving special for lunch today. I could even order it up in advance. What an amazing tool. What I do struggle with are email addresses. I have way too many (as one blogger can attest to when the other day she asked me just how many emails do you have?) When I began on AOL so many years ago, you could only have 7 letters in your email. I opened my account with Nelclaire which I am stuck with as a master. My family used that and continues to. My darling hubby, then boyfriend gave me a cute nickname and I used that as a second identity which I used for chat rooms and such. I later learned people from there took it and used it on Yahoo and other places. I still have it on AOL and won't give it up. No one emails that one but for sentimental reasons it stays. Nextly I made one up for a religious chat room I went to. I never imagined all the email that would start. Nice people and I still want to stay in touch so that one stays. Next I made a screen name using my actual name. This was going to be the ONLY one I would use. When I began the job hunt I quickly learned that my journal was being read by every company/job agency out there. I felt I had no privacy and tried to make up something else. Ended up deleting both. I now use my Verizon addy for my work email. I was forced by Blog Spot to make up a GMAIL account.
IF I tried to check all these emails all the time I would be crazed. I am trying to think of how I can get down to only ONE email for everything except business. I wonder if the screen name
I Have 2 Many Email Addys is taken. I am open to suggestions.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Appreciating Myself

Today was myself appreciation day. It was long overdue. For the past month or so I have been so bogged down with a cold and all the telltale signs, the cough and dark circles under my eyes.
Yesterday I went to work and had to cancel something I was going to do in the afternoon. I came home and took inventory of my thoughts. I have been pushing myself very hard for the past month. Yes, I needed a day of pampering and spoiling myself. Don't think I take this to any real extreme. I did it with a budget in mind. I started out by going to a new store here that just opened. They sent me a 25% coupon off. I was able to score two lovely tops for work at HALF price each! I also bought a nice quality tee shirt and a necklace that matches one of the "shells".
Got 25% off all of that and the necklace was marked down as well. OH yea I was on a roll and just feeling better about having something decent to wear to work. I had worn white and black nearly all summer. I then headed over to my favorite farm market near the house I lived in for twenty years. It's in the country. I got a huge canteloupe, three huge tomatoes, three large plums, six ears of corn and three green peppers all for under $10.00. The smells of the fresh produce were wonderful. I then hopped over to the factory outlets and bought my nephew a toy at the Disney outlet. I saved about $10.00 on that and found my mother-in-law a Tinkerbell mug for $1.99! Could this day get any better? YES! After that I headed over to my favorite pizza place who makes the world's best salad (IMHO). I came home and enjoyed that and just enjoyed viewing my bargain purchases. Had some of our fresh wonderful produce for dinner.
A fresh garden tomato makes a hamburger right off the grill taste extra good. The corn was so fresh. Came home and had a two hour phone call with someone I rarely get a chance to talk to. My husband is home and the weekend is here. Except for an hour and a half tomorrow we can enjoy each other's company and just kick back. My life hasn't changed in the past 24 hours, only my perception has. Today I stopped to enjoy a few things and recharge. We all need that once in awhile. At this point in my life when my body speaks, I listen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Saluting a Heroine or two



Brooke Astor dead at 105

I have always thought of Brooke Astor as a heroine. Having enjoyed the museums of New York there are so many places that are the beneficiaries of her wealth. While some people who are wealthy only think of themselves her great life's work was sharing the wealth. I have the utmost repsect for this woman and I think most people in the New York area share that.

For the past few weeks I have been enjoying my 95 year old grandmother's company. This time we did notice memories that were confused at times. She has had such a clear mind for most of her life. She walks a bit unsteady on her feet at times. She has less gray in her hair than I do! It is about 90% brown still. She frets constantly that her hair doesn't look pretty because the beauty parlors in her day used curlers and a set. Now they all want to blow it out. This is a constant source of frustration for her. She still enjoys cooking but this year she had to supervise the planting of her garden instead of doing the work herself. She takes frequent naps but I can only say that if I lived to 95 I would be very happy to be in the wonderful condition she is. Yesterday she was telling me that she lays in bed every morning doing leg lifts. She has been a hard worker all her life and took care of her mother who lived to be 97. We cannot partake of any food without her first blessing it. She thanks God constantly for everything. She is very grateful for everything and thanks us profusely for the smallest things. She has never had much money but she wants to treat us constantly. In short I can sum it up: I have been very blessed to have been touched by this woman's life. I will miss her when she goes home today.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Contemplating many things

Yesterday I learned that someone I know has had a cancer relapse. This is such distressing news in many ways that I won't go into because they are keeping it very private right now and I need to respect that. It seems that my life is constantly touched by this horrible disease and I just wish I could go for a time where I didn't have to hear the word. That word evokes so many negative emotions for me, especially now, with the loss of someone so dear to me. I struggle daily with the emotions of grief and at times disbelief. I have to force myself to think of other things and distract my mind. This week for the first time I have been able to sleep. However, that is at least in part due to the fact that I have been sick. I have the head cold from hell. I wake up with a sore throat and the need to blow my nose a few times but then seem to go back to sleep probably because of exhaustion. I went to work yesterday to see a few new homes that were listed but quickly came home to lay down. Today I am trying to just hang out and rest. Already had two bowls of chicken soup which I swear make me feel better, at least temporarily.
My bed is calling me to come enjoy the soft cotton sheets and quilt. Quilts and down comforters are such great source of comfort to me, especially when I don't feel well. In the winter it is so cozy to crawl under my lightweight but very warm down comforter. In the warmer months I switch to a light weight hand made quilt which I love. I actually own several, some of which were made by my grandmother. Well time to rest.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Simpsonized


It's been hectic here with so much going on. Let's see last weekend my sister arrived with her significant other. I gave a party on Saturday for my grandmother who turned 95 the previous week. I only invited my siblings and their significant others along with us and my parents. There was some complaining that each and every family member should have been invited. Thing is, I was paying and chose to have a buffet supper, on a budget. (Did ya ever notice the ones who do the complaining are the ones who never pay or do anything themselves? Hmmm.)
On Sunday evening as my sister was departing, my mother-in-law, brother-in-law and niece arrived for a visit. We were all so disappointed that we had pouring rain on Monday. We visited my grandmother and afterwards went to get a few things, including some back to school shoes. Came home and had burgers on the grill and hoped for a good day the next day. That morning my brother-in-law slept in until noon. We were told we couldn't/shouldn't wake him and by the time he got up he only wanted to go to the mall. Rob did take the little princess for a miniature golf outing. While they all headed off to the mall I took superpup for his annual visit. He was so well behaved and happily healthy as well. That night I had to go to work and the following morning they were on their way home. The visit went so very fast. It's so hard to do what several people want. I wanted to indulge our niece and do anything she wanted. Unfortunately, she is going through some fears right now. She is terrified of getting lost. When her grandmother was out of her view for a few seconds at the store she screamed her name. She was fearful of going anywhere a crowd would be. That was virtually anyplace that might have been fun for her. I don't know what is the right/wrong thing to do in a situation like this. Three years of psychology didn't tell me how to deal with a fearful eight and a half year old who just lost her mother. I just dispense all the kindness, food, hugs and kisses that seem comfortable for both of us. Meanwhile at times I am washed in a wave of grief and the tears flow. Yesterday we went to the store and made many copies of pictures that we have. I am working on an album for her to have. Most pics of her Mom and her together and a few of her with us or her Mommy with us. Our constant thoughts are of this little girl who is so bright, so strong, so nervous and seems so very vulnerable. Her grandmother is still recovering from a recent surgery and seems so tired. I worry that she is up to this huge task. I worry that as my mother put it "she listened to her heart and not her head." We have told her that we are here as a back up for her. I hope she will take advantage of that. In the meantime my constant thoughts are of how I can make a small difference in this child's life.


On Friday I got a notice from the IRS. They think I failed to report something which I did NOT.
It's a mistake in how the taxes were done and I am afraid a nightmare will ensue. I do not have the money they are claiming I owe them. I have the guy I pay to take care of this working on this and I hope he comes through because I am on stress overload. Somedays seem so very overwhelming as I try to adjust to all the changes and concerns. One day at a time. I keep telling everyone else that and it has to work for me as well.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Hot Topic

I just read that Amnesty International is saying countries that don't provide abortions are on their list now. This distresses me. With so many other human right issues such as female castration I wish they would not go down this avenue. They are going to alienate many of their supporters.

I was raised to think that abortion was wrong. The irony is that my grandmother told me she had a back woods abortion when it was illegal. She did it because she felt she could not afford a second child. She spent much of her later years regretting that decision. She later became very religious and was adamantly opposed to legal abortions.

When I was in high school I had friends who became pregnant. I cringed when I learned that some of them had abortions. There were many forms of birth control available and for the most part they didn't use any of them. I felt that was very irresponsible. In my early twenties I was becoming more and more open minded and I felt that it was a woman's right to choose. I didn't really think that I could ever personally use that right but having said that, I have never been raped or sexually abused. In those cases, I think every woman should have that option.
When I went to work for a health insurance company my views on abortion changed. The reason for that is how often many women were having abortions. When they called to discuss their benefits they would talk at great length about it. Most of these women were married.
More than one told me that if their benefits didn't cover birth control pills then they would not purchase them but rather make the company pay for the abortion instead. When I had one client have several in one year my view was starting to change. I would never make abortion illegal however I would like to see legislation of some sort that would not permit it to be used as a form of birth control. To me, that is irresponsible and immoral. Perhaps this is only my opinion but it is how I feel. I also have strong feelings about other emotional issues. Having said that when I pick up the paper and read of children who have been murdered by their parents I have to ask myself if that child would have been better off never having been born. Those are not my decisions to make or my judgements to pass but I wish people would take more responsibility for their own actions. Again, I realize that there are people who are victims who are not given that opportunity and that does not apply to them.

On a different topic I was shocked at something I saw on The View yesterday. Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and an African American actress whose name escapes me at the moment, all admitted they had affairs with married men. Only the newer younger Elisabeth had not.
They all felt it was wrong. I am strongly opposed to cheating of any kind. If you make a lifetime commitment to someone then I think if you cannot keep that commitment, you deserve it to let your partner know. My suspicion is that in many of those cases the partner is not happy either. I feel people degrade themselves by becoming involved with married people. The person who is married is not being faithful to their current spouse so why would you want them? I know there are rare exceptions where the cheating spouse is faithful to the new person but I believe those instances are rare. What about the person who was cheated on? It takes them years to rebuild trust, if they ever can. I know women who have never even dated again because they know they can not find it in themselves to trust. I wish we as women would show more respect for ourselves and other women and not become involved with these men.
Sometimes I think that I am becoming more conservative as I age. That worries me. I have always prided myself on having an open mind. Part of having an open mind is the ability to go back and rethink things I guess. I will have to revisit these thoughts in the light of day.
Well, it's nearly 5 a.m. and I have a big day tomorrow. Time to try to get back to sleep.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I am still here

I don't really feel inspired to write much these days. This past week my mother-in-law sent us a box. In it were some of Jen's things she thought I might like. I do like them but I hate that I am receiving them under these circumstances.

On the happy side of life I am working to make Cassandra's 9th birthday magical. She has wanted an American Girl doll and I have been bidding like mad on Ebay to secure her one that I could afford. One in VERY good condition. My neighbor's daughter Skyler, an angel, offered me hers. I told her I would accept only if she would allow me to buy her an ITunes card for her Ipod. I know that she is always wanting a song and her Mom doesn't like her to use her credit card online. She insisted that I did not have to do it but of course I will. In addition to the lovely doll, KIT there are some clothes. Missing is the original skirt Kit was wearing and I am searching Ebay high and low and not finding one. I have found the comforter for the bed that she gave me.
I plan to be in Rhode Island to celebrate this special birthday. I am hoping to be able to put together a little tea party for the birthday girl, a few of her closest friends and cousins and their dolls. I have obtained some little porcelain baskets to use as favors. These are the things that I try to keep my focus on right now. I have already ordered the Christmas outfit for the doll for her. I am hoping I can find a similar dress for her. (When she was at her Mom's wake she had a bear in a dress like hers. Although it was made for this doll she didn't have one and improvised.
I vowed to get her the doll and I think she will be thrilled.) Life goes on. I am sad much of the time and I have so many questions I would like to ask Jen. I want to call her and hear her voice. I want to hear her say it just once more "I love you" as she always did when we ended our conversations. When grief washes over me I just remember the words of Kahlil Gibran about sorrow and they are so very true
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
This is the price we pay for loving. It is hard but I am happy to pay it for someone who brought so much joy and laughter into my life.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Bouquet

Last night as I was laying in bed and fretting on so many issues going on I began to make a bouquet of my thoughts. I tried to picture each one as a beautiful flower. I then began to focus on memories of my sister-in-law Jen. I began to smile thinking of happier times and conversations. Sometimes I am incapacitated by waves of grief. At times my mind goes into denial mode and I refuse to believe that I will never see her smile or hear her voice again.
We speak almost daily with my mother-in-law. She seems to be managing well but no one knows the pains that we hide from others. Life goes on. That bothers me. You die and life goes on without you no matter who or what you leave behind. I guess it is myself I sometimes think of when I have those thoughts. Mostly my mind focuses on a petite 8 1/2 year old little girl who faces each day without her Mom. I wish I could make it better for her and I hope to try.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I wanna know have you ever seen the rain coming down sunny days?

Today it was sunny and we had a rain shower. How appropro. This week has been one of the worst I have had in a long time. I met a wonderful couple who I liked very much. They were in the market for a very expensive house and they finalized it to two choices. They told me they would call me that was several days ago. I have since learned they have done this with two other realtors and never come up with money when needed. We all believe they have the money and I am hoping that it will still fly. Let's say I am guardedly optomistic.
My parents spent the past few weeks at their house they just built in upstate New York. It's been cold there. On Thursday morning as my mother was packing things up to head back to Jersey my father appeared to have some small stroke. His face contorted and he was visibly confused and unsteady on his feet. My parents called my brother who came and PRAYED for them. Not took him to the hospital a few minutes away but then sent them on their way for a five hour journey home. My mother called all the other children but me to tell them about it.
I learned as my other brother and sister called to ask me to go over and persuade him to go to a hospital. By the time I saw him he seemed okay and he refused to go to a doctor or a hospital.
I came home and it was nearly bedtime. I was so exhausted but this was weighing heavily on my mind. I dozed off until a giant clap of thunder wokened me. We had one of the worst lightning and thunder storms I have ever witnessed. I tossed and turned and I heard my neighbor's car leave around 1 a.m. I wondered if something was wrong. An hour later her husband's car left and I became more concerned which led to me tossing and turning some more. In the morning I discovered that my engine light was on in my car. Took it to a mechanic who turned it off and it came right back on. Apparently this means something serious. Since I just put over $600 in it last week I was hoping I would be alright for awhile. Not so.
I was exhausted and came home after checking on my father who again refused any kind of medical treatment or evaluation. I fell asleep and promptly my phone rang three times, two of the calls were asking me why I was not there observing my father while my mother was in Maryland picking up my grandmother. I gave up and went back to my parents house. On the way home again a few hours later I noticed that my mother-in-law had called my cell phone while I was sleeping. Rob was home then and I had him return her call. She needs a new pacemaker. Her one that is three years old has stopped working 75%. If it stops completely she will lose consciousness. She was going into the hospital today and having surgery tomorrow.
We had a huge dilemma. Do we go? Well, my car is not reliable right now and cannot be taken. Rob's vehicle is a truck, very uncomfortable and very costly gas wise. We thought he would go alone. WE have made several phone calls and her sisters are telling us they are on the case and that she will be upset if we come. She is planning on being here in about ten days. They are not having to open her chest totally as the wires are alright. Just replace the pacemaker under her chest. I am so overwhelmed right now. I am concerned about her, my niece, my father, my lack of steady income, my lack of sleep which has become so bad it's impacting on my health, my car repairs which may be outrageously expensive and my current physical problem. I am retaining huge amounts of fluid and have been put on a drug for that. I need some tests to make sure my valve is functioning properly. I cannot face the possibility that it is not.
I am sick of hearing myself and I fear that anyone who reads this will feel the same. I have never had so many things go so wrong....at least not for a very long time. I just don't know what to do to have even a sliver of peace right now.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Much To Do About Nothing

The hardest part of dealing with grief is being able to put it to the back burner so that you can function. At times it's nearly impossible. Today I have a list of things I simply must do. Instead of doing any of those things, my mind tends to wander. Yesterday I had a tense exchange with my mother-in-law. I had a picture of Jen and her daughter taken in May. In fact, this is the LAST picture taken of the two of them. I purchased the cutest frame that said Mommy & Me and put the picture in it. I was so excited about Jen's daughter having it. I mean, imagine the memory of that day for her. My m i l quickly vetoed that. She doesn't LIKE how her daughter looks in the picture. Well, who would like a picture where someone is so sick, wearing a wig, I GET that. But her daughter saw her look much worse in the final weeks. I didn't want to upset her so I dropped it. When Rob came home and I told him about it, he said let's just put it away for her and when she's older we'll give it to her. Yes, I certainly will.

I know that people grieve differently. I know that I must respect the m i l's process of grief.
Having said that, a part of me feels so disturbed that she is removing every trace of her daughter from her room. She has given away all her clothes already. I know how I grieve.
I worry that my little niece needs to be surrounded by her mother's things right now. I have searched my house for things Jen gave us. They are organized together and I feel the need to keep touching them. What if her daughter feels that way? Granted most of what she has was given to her by her Mom so she may not be going through those feelings that I am. There are things that I gave Jen I would like to have back. I doubt I will get them. For the life of me, I cannot understand how removing someone's possessions can help. My m i l came upon a box wrapped for a birthday present. She was so happy. Her daughter had missed her birthday this year and she thought that she had hidden away a present for her. When she opened the box she realized that it was not for her but for her granddaughter's birthday in the fall. Her heart sank. I really was sad for her. We exchanged a glance and a thought at the same time. There will never be any more gifts from Jen. I thought of the joy her daughter will feel on her birthday in a few months to have a last gift from her Mommy.

Now I must distract myself from these thoughts and go balance my checking account. I am going to try to write again in my paper journal.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Celebrating Life and a Joining of Lives




The first picture is Magnolia Diana drew and I just love it. She is a Southern Belle that has been liberated.



This is a picture of Diana with Rob (over 20 lbs. thinner)
when we met her in North Carolina about seven years ago.


I just learned that one of my favorite people, Diana the author sometimes formerly known as Prozak and ProzieofMountns has married her darling HippieJim.


Oh this makes me so happy. Two people joining their lives together despite hardships they have been through. Actually, I think hardships bring true love couples closer.


Diana helped me get through a really rough patch when I needed support. She didn't tell me what to do but gently affirmed my decision to take another chance on love.


Oh, friend, I can never thank you enough.


I cannot wait to actually meet Jim. All I know is anyone who still has Woodstock tickets really rates in my book. I hope someday he can see my Janis Joplin Porsche cookie jar.


Best wishes for a long life and much happiness,
From just one of the many who love you.





Saturday, June 16, 2007

Relay for Life

(This is the luminaria that will lit in Jen's memory tonight. Between the two in the pic are the words "beloved mommy" and above the dragon pic are the words of Cheryl
" Rainbows and butterflies.Fairies and dragons.She always saw the magic in life." The heart is surrounded by gerbera daisies. At her services Rob and I had a huge heart of them with roses and a banner "Sister." Those are favorite flowers of Jen's and ours.) Thank you again to my ownline friends who made pledges in her honor. Jennifer, Mary and Katie bless you.

Today is the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life
There is a survivors lunch at noon. I can bring one guest. At 2 p.m. the festivities start. I have submitted luminarias for Jen (which Rob and I worked on together) and Marc, his friend we lost last year to cancer. I would give years off my life in exchange for a cure for this disease.

I am going to walk only one lap. If it's hot it is a strain on my heart and body.

There are two other cancer survivors in my office. They understand what I am feeling right now. When you survive cancer and someone else loses their battle you experience guilt. You feel unworthy to be given survival when someone else was not. Especially when the person is young and leaves a child. Our niece has become very weepy. She never cried at her Mom's services but now the slightest thing has her crying and she made the statement that she never got hurt before Mommy died but now she is having a lot of accidents. I am so concerned about her getting through this with minimal psychological stress. Her grandmother is doing everything possible to comfort her while dealing with her own loss. Yesterday she began cleaning out Jen's room, sorting through clothes. I would leave it all alone for a very long time. She and I are handling things differently and I have to respect her choices.

The Beatles were right......love is all there is. And.........the love you make is equal to the love you take. That's it, all there was to know and I have had the albums for forty years. When you leave this world all you leave behind is the love that you gave people. It inspires me to want to give more, be more accepting of others and make joyful memories with those I care about.
So, please have a wonderful weekend and know that if you have the link to this private journal, you are someone who matters to me. Peace and love baby.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It is hard to function. We are not eating or sleeping normally. Today I was driving and when I returned home there was a police officer who pulled up behind me. He asked if I knew why he had stoppped me. No. He proceeded to tell me I was going way over the speed limit and passed him and then had failed to signal when I turned down the road. I explained to him that I am detached from myself. I explained that just one week ago today my sister-in-law who had been promised a year if she had the surgery that she had six weeks ago was performed. I showed him her prayer card with the date. He advised me not to get out of the car (hmmm okay) and he ran all my information. I guess I was fortunate that I had a perfect driving record because he decided just to ticket me for not wearing a seat belt. I know I should be grateful because I would have had points and insurance surcharges. Instead I just think of the $50 I will have to spend.
I feel numb.......that is when I am not crying so hard that I have pain in every limb of my body.
Thanks officer for being a human being.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts

I am consumed with guilt that I could have/should have done more for my sister-in-law.
I guess it's normal to go through that but I cannot feel that I did my best.
I want to be more like her, more thoughtful and helpful of others.
Her ex mother-in-law wrote this about her:
"Rainbows and butterflies.
Fairies and dragons.
She always saw the magic in life."
So very true. I do remember when her Dad died and she went through a bout of depression.
I know in time my grief will lessen too. I feel guilty about that as well. I made a memorial web page for her. On Saturday there is the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. I am walking with my team from work. I did it in her honor. I am doing two luminaries for her.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rest in Peace


MEMORIAL WEB PAGE FOR JEN

On June 8th at 5:15 a.m. my beloved sister-in-law (the baby of our three sisters)peacefully left this world. We were blessed to be able to spend several hours with her for the two previous days. Despite four surgeries since January and many radiation treatments, her cancer had returned in less than four weeks after the last surgery in which the doctor felt he had it all. Mercifully, pneumonia claimed her before the cancer could. She left the world without complaint, much as she had lived her life. Her final words as we left that evening were barely heard because of the difficulty she had speaking and the weakness of her voice. We did see her mouth move and I heard the whisper "love you" as her mother, brother and I headed out. I suspected that might be the last time we would see her alive.

Jennifer McLaughlin McFetridge was a wonderful friend, daughter, sister, niece, cousin but mostly she was a mother to her eight year old daughter, Cassie. That was the thing that made her happiest. Making Halloween costumes, making head bands with ribbons to match each outfit, waiting in line to buy the latest Disney DVDs, anything that was for her daughter. This was her true happiness in life. Her daughter was not the only person who benefitted from Jen's caring. She always thought of what she could do for her Mom and even for her neighbors. All the neighbors had many stories of the times Jen had helped them. She did not complain. Her doctors came to tell us how brave she was, how hard she fought. We knew but it was good to know that they knew as well.

My favorite memory of Jennifer is this. When Rob and I were married we asked our DJ to play some Irish songs. He played the Unicorn Song where you make all the hand motions. She and I totally spontaneously, jumped up and the two of us did all the motions. When the music played between we grabbed each other and we waltzed all over the dance floor. We then proclaimed ourselves unicorn sisters. That Christmas we gave each other (unplanned) unicorns. That was a magical moment as were so many moments spent with my beloved baby sis. Several months ago I got a phone call at 7 a.m. It was Jen. They had just told her that her tumor which had been removed from her neck was now in her skull. She was scared. She talked to me about so many things that morning. Before we hung up she reminded me of the day we met. It was her father's wake. Her daughter was not yet two and I left the receiving line to care for her. We bonded like there was no tomorrow that evening. Since then her daughter and I have had a mutual admirational relationship. I adore that child and often think she was the daughter I might have dreamed of having. Jen asked me to promise her that if she lost her battle I would take care of her daughter, Cassie, at HER funeral. I promised her. I never dreamt it would happen. When we arrived for the communion last month Jen asked me to do everything for her. I did, WE did. Yesterday, once again, I dressed my eight year old niece and we went to her Mommy's funeral. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye. We will be seeing them here in a few weeks. I am hoping to make more money and surprise them with a trip to DisneyWorld.

I thought I was pretty together but Jen taught me a lot these past few months. She was wise beyond her years and she knew how to squeeze the lemons life threw at her and make them into lemonade. She knew how to put it in a beautiful glass and then take it to the beach to drink it. Her legacy is that she left people better off for having known her. I am a better person because of her example. I strive to be a good example for her daughter.

Jen never ended a phone conversation without saying to Rob or I "I love you both."

What a beautiful way to remember someone, that they made you feel loved. Thank you unicorn sis for the sunshine you gave not just to me. Jen was loved by all who knew her. It doesn't get any better than that in life.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Absence

The photo is of Rob with Jen and her daughter at our wedding. Jen and I danced the Unicorn Dance that night, just the two of us on the dance floor. A memory that has to last a lifetime.


This will be the last post I expect to write for awhile. We got disturbing news today about my sister-in-law Jennifer. If you remember she had surgery just one short month ago to remove a large tumor in her head. They felt that if they radiated her right away, the chances were that the tumor would take at least a year to return. They did radiate her right away. The result was a swollen brain that filled with fluid necessitating a shunt put in about two weeks ago. Two nights ago she began to feel ill and they discovered that she had pneumonia. Last night they were uncertain she would make it through the night and wanted to put her on a ventilator. She refused (how I respect her for maintaing dignity in a hopless battle). Today they took her down for an MRI and it showed that the tumor is already back. Devastating news. The doctor told my mother-in-law that they are only going to make her comfortable at this point. To try to cure the pneumonia might only make her death far worse so at this time they are done treating her.


I think that is the right decision and one I would want made for me. The thing of it is although we logically know what is good our hearts only know the pain and don't want it. First thing tomorrow morning we will be driving up the the hospital for a visit. Not sure she will even know we are there. This is the dread disease that robbed a beautiful and energetic 34 year old woman of her life and her eight year old daughter of her mother. Surely, less money could be spent on war and more on cancer research. Tonight I am trying to think of all the wonderful memories I have of Jen. I have many. During our last visit I held her and told her that I loved her. We both cried and discussed our fear. When she first learned of the tumor in her head she called me at 7 a.m. I made a promise to her. One that I will keep. On the first day I met her over seven years ago we were going to her father's wake. Her little daughter was only a year old and I volunteered to take care of her, leaving her to deal with her father's service. That always impressed her. She made me promise to take care of her daughter at her funeral, should that happen. As my heart breaks, I will be taking my little niece's hand and letting her know that she is not alone. Letting her know that her Mom will always be with us in our memories. It's my final promise and it's the last thing I can do for my beloved Jen.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A great weekend

Yesterday we headed to the Philadelphia area. My friend Debbie and her husband Don took us to her tennis partner's home for steaks on the grill. Yummy and they had the best pastries for dessert. Came home and Rob found that he had eaten something that had him quite ill. Fortunately he survived that ordeal and today we went to a college graduation party for Debbie's son. Her ex husband and son's Dad is a wonderful guy. He had bought a brownstone in Philadelphia that is four floors, it even has an elevator. Beautiful and so interesting. We had a nice tour and his new wife Debbie gave us a tour. She is very nice and it did my heart good to see two families get together even though they are both remarried, and have a great time.
I got to see Debbie's huge family which I don't get to see that much anymore. I got to see her two grown children and got to see the restaurant manged by her new husband's son who is a great guy. If you're ever in Philly you should really stop in The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar (old city) there is also one midtown. I was literally drooling looking at the fresh salads and had a wonderful drink called a Miami Mango something.
Now back to the real world. My doggie missed me like crazy despite visits from my son and mother he refused to eat. We missed him too. The cat is less fussy.
It will be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight. There truly is no place like home.

Friday, June 01, 2007

My friends, the books

Today I decided to clean up the garage. Well at least organize it. When moving things about I found an old box of some of my favorite books. I quickly opened and examined them. I have purchased so many over the years, read so many but these are the ones that I will always own.
Kahlil Gibran: three by him, one, Beloved Prophet, was so difficult to find as it had not been published in many years. It took me two years searching before I located it in a rare book store in another state. it contains his love letters to the woman he loved, Mary Haskell. I have been fascinated with him since first reading The Prophet as a teenager. Some of that book contains quotes that I frequently use. I love his mind. Other books are by Anna Quindlen. Her essays in the New York Times were outstanding. She can open anyone's mind by using logic. Three books are by an author most of you never heard of, Laurel Lee. When I was being treated for Hodgkin's Disease in 1977 she wrote an article that appeared in a woman's magazine along with her ink drawings. She was living the life of a hippie (not so different from mine) with two young children. While pregnant with her third she developed a horrible cough which was diagnosed as Hodkin's Disease. She refused a late term abortion as the doctors begged her to have it. She later gave birth to a healthy daughter and published her diary of the ordeal, Walking Through the Fire. A TV movie was later made of it, but it did not do the book justice. Laurel has an uncanny sense of humor and her drawings make it rich. I do not know what became of her.
I do know that her books are two of my prize possessions.

I stopped here and went to Google her name. I simply cannot believe that I never thought to do that. I just learned that she died August 2004 from pancreatic cancer after fighting it for a year I am so saddened by that but joyful that she left behind three children and four grandchildren.
The fact is that she died at 58 but she lived each day after her cancer diagnosis at age 29 with such joy and appreciation. Her dream was to live long enough to see her children independent and she achieved that. I hate knowing that she is gone because of all the days and nights that I wrestled with the demons of fear. I knew that she was out there doing the same and overcoming them. Thank you Laurel for all the hope that you gave me for all those years. Rest in peace. I have one last book of hers to purchse, Tapestry the Journal of Laurel Lee.

I have other books........they are my friends. Sometimes on a bad night they help me. I have one book that is unread. I purchased it a few years ago and I simply cannot get through it. I refuse to get rid of it and I just know that one day I will get through it, One Hundred Years of Solitude. My new favorite read are books by Jodi Picoult. If you haven't read My Sister's Keeper, you must. I am eagerly waiting to read her latest. Hoping it comes out in paperbook soon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Learning Requires Patience

Today brought to the conclusion the ordeal of a buyer I have been working with for four months. It is ironic to me that this person was in sales because they have shown the least consideration for my work of anyone I have dealt with thus far. I had to tell him at one point that I worked solely on commission. He wanted me to show his wife every single house for sale in our entire county. When he came he wanted me to show him anything that interested her.
He then systematically vetoed what she liked. All the while he was telling me that it was HER choice. I came close to piercing my tongue with my teeth this past week. I was pleasant and polite throughout even when he behaved in what I felt was insulting behavior. In the end he has chosen to buy something that he saw on the ONE day that I did not take them out when he wanted to go. What he is buying is a very poor investment and something that his wife does not want but he is pushing upon her. If she doesn't take that she will be in a rented room in someone else's house. I feel sorry for her to an extent. I feel sorry for myself at times but I have learned a valuable lesson. Early on I felt no loyalty from these people. I should have not continued to work with them, allowing my time and finances to be consumed by them. I take responsibility for that. I really thought once they got to know the kind of person that I am they would appreciate my honesty and integrity. He did thank me for all my efforts and told me he was very frustrated and knew I had to be. Of course, he felt this rested with his wife. I have to let this go and move on, taking from it knowledge. It was a hard lesson to learn. What is hardest is not to lose my confidence. I did a good job. As I told him I cannot demand loyalty, I can only hope that one gives it freely and appreciates what I do for them.
It's a beautiful day here today. Has been for several days running. I decided to treat myself to a bit of shopping. The Pier 1 outlet relocated and it was a treasure hunt to find the new place. Sadly, the new place is fancy like the store and the fabulous bargains were no longer to be found.
I think I did better in the regular store with the sale prices actually.
I had a bad night last night tossing and turning. I am going to have a little nap now. Sometimes we have to be gentle with ourselves.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The healing balm of friendship

This has been a rough week for Rob. His sister left the hospital and within 24 hours had to be readmitted. She is undergoing cranial radiation that has her brain swelling and has her very ill.
The problem is that if she does not have the radiation the tumor will be back quickly. They fear if she does continue though she is running a risk of paralysis from damage. What a choice to make. She has chosen to continue with the radiation even though her mother is strongly opposed. My m i l asked the doctor would he have his daughter radiated like this and he answered he would not want to. She has the power of attorney and is struggling with what to do. I am glad not to have to make those decisions. Unfortunately I do not believe my sister-in-law now down to 70 lbs. and heavily medicated can make sound decisions on her own. While we can only listen and offer emotional support we are all hurting on the sidelines.

Last night, after nearly five years Rob heard from his estranged best friend. I believe that karma knew Rob needed something good to happen. His best friend really hurt him when he failed to show up as best man for our wedding. The night before he went out on a drinking bender that lasted for days. We were aware at the time that his wife and he were having some serious problems. That lead to him drinking way too much which caused other problems.
I would not be discussing this here, but my journal is private and I trust those who have access to read it. When he called he left a lengthy message asking both of us to forgive him. He went on to say that if we couldn't he would understand. That really touched me. I played the message for Rob and at first he was reluctant to call him back. Five years is a long time to wait for an explanation. I asked him to just listen to what he had to say and then to make a decision. His friend cried over and over as he told him all of the problems he had been experiencing. His wife left him and he took his two sons and had to go stay with his parents in Florida. I knew right away that Rob would forgive him, as would I. He asked to speak to me and asked my forgiveness. It is easy to give when someone demonstrates real sincerity as he did. All is alright now and now as we face the problems with Jen, Rob has a friend who truly understands. His friend's father has cancer as well. Life is strange but sometimes just when we need them our friends surface and just their voice can be soothing. I was thinking about when Rob's Dad died. This friend was there for every minute of that time dispensing hugs to his entire family. Friends and relationships are never perfect because as human beings we fail sometimes. The thing is that when the relationship is based on the good stuff we accept those failings and we forgive....just as we hope to be forgiven when we mess up. I am happy for Rob and since his friends are my friends too, a bit for myself.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Realtor woes and frustrations

Yesterday I spent the morning hours repeating the tour of homes I had made the previous day with just the hubby. This time the wife (who I have shown about fifty homes to) joined us. Hubby finally convinced her to put in an offer but having been told by a BANKER that he should not make any offer that he was not embarassed to make, he made an offer that was so low that it was immediately turned down. He decided he will not consider another offer but will instead go after cheaper properties (although he LOVES this and in truth could afford it.) OKay............
now we will be going through this again. I must say it does not make sense to me to pay less to buy a home that is cheaper if it is not what you truly like. Wife likes the other home very much though and I am hoping that I can talk them into coming up a bit so they might get this one.
Interesting what motivates people. To me when I see a home I know I would want to live in, price is very much secondaring PROVIDING I can afford it. Other people fall in love with a home they can't afford, but find a way to give up enough to make that dream come true. I think I am too prudent to do that but I admire those who can. I have a busy day today. I am showing a potential buyer a home this morning (someone driving here from Maryland because this Victorian home he heard about is a MUST SEE) and writing a new contract then answering phones in the office for an hour and a half. So glad Sunday will be a day of rest. I need it!

If you love older homes, I have the most beautiful home, with a historic plaque, been on many tours: Christmas, gardening etc. on a main street of a small town just reduced to $400,000.
Honestly, it's a great buy! The yard is amazing.