For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I Met a Handsome Man Today

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. 

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. 

~Khalil Gibran

As I headed out into the cold, damp morning for a run,  I just wanted
to hurry up and get it over with.   I usually like to run in the sunshine
or at the end of the day when I can take in the beauty of the sunset.
But there was no hope for sun today.  I just wanted to finish and
go home for a hot shower.

As I rounded a corner,  I saw an animal crossing the street up ahead.
I couldn't tell at first if it was a large cat or a small dog, but as I neared
it became clearer.  Definitely a cat.

It walked up a driveway and sat next to a tree.  Something about the
way it looked at me told me it was friendly.  So I stopped running and
bent down.  I softly called to him and almost immediately he began
walking toward me, unafraid.

Meowing and purring, he began rubbing against my knee, thoroughly 
enjoying the attention.  He was remarkably handsome and sweet!

At one point, as I was fiddling with my iPhone to take a picture,  he
seemed to get impatient because I had stopped petting him and he 
hopped on my back and put his paws on my head!  But I wasn't 
camera-ready yet!

After a few minutes,  I said goodbye and started walking away.  
He meowed and started following me!

I couldn't resist another snuggle and this time I picked him up.

I'm sure he is a well-loved member of some lucky family!

When we finally parted ways and I continued on my run,  
I felt much lighter on my feet and in my heart.  
Even without the sun, 
 the day seemed much brighter.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I'm Radioactive, Radioactive...

Our oldest pet, 13 year Momo, has had quite a month! 

It all began in early October when she went to the vet for her annual checkup. We had noticed lately that we could easily feel her spine and collarbone when we petted her, but she was eating well and didn't act or look sick. So when she weighed in at only 9 lbs (she was 12.5 lbs 3 years ago), our vet, Dr. Prichard at Ellington Center Animal Clinic, told me he suspected she had feline hyperthyroidism.

A blood test confirmed his suspicions and we were given two options for treatment:

     1)  We could treat her with oral medication.  It would not cure her disease 
          and would need to be given daily for the rest of her life.  The medication has
          a high risk of side-effects, including harm to other bodily organs. The cost of
          medication and blood tests to monitor her condition could cost $800 per year. 

     2)  Treat her with Radioactive Iodine.  This is a one-time treatment which is a cure.
          The cost of treatment is $1500.  There are no side-effects.

After researching the disease and treatment methods,  it was clear that the only treatment that made sense was the Radioactive Iodine.  While it was more expensive up front, it would be cheaper in the long run.  More importantly, it was a cure with no side effects. 

On November 1,  I drove Momo to Pieper Memorial Veterinary Center in Middletown, CT which has a Radiocat facility on its premises.

Momo joined 4 other cats who would also be receiving a Radioactive Iodine injection that day.  They would all be staying in a room in the basement of the clinic for four days until the level of radiation in their bodies reached an acceptable level.  Radiation is expelled through eating and drinking, peeing and pooping.

It was hard to leave Momo for so long.  She was very scared.
I brought along her favorite food and cans of Bumble Bee tuna!

This would be her caretaker during her stay.  He was a very nice man
who has 9 cats of his own, and promised to call me every day to let
me know how Momo was doing.

The Radioactive Iodine is absorbed quickly into the cat's bloodstream and the diseased thyroid tissue. Once in the thyroid, it destroys the overactive portions of the thyroid gland.
No anesthesia is required.  It does not destroy healthy tissue.  It does not damage other
tissues or organs.  Thyroid function returns to normal within one month.

When I picked up Momo 4 days later,  she was still somewhat radioactive.
I was given instructions on how to safely care for her over the next 2 weeks 
as she continued to emit radiation.

                 1).  People could only be within 3 feet of her for 20 minutes/day.
                      She could not sleep with us on the bed.  We needed to wash
                      our hands after touching her or any of her bodily fluids.

                 2)  She was supposed to be kept inside and we were instructed 
                      use flushable cat litter for two weeks.  

This seems pretty simple in theory, but not so simple in reality.

Momo's main mission in life is to sit on my lap and get petted.  I couldn't sit on the couch and watch TV at night since she would see it as an invitation to snuggle.  I needed to watch TV from a stool in the kitchen!

Perhaps more troublesome was the change in cat litter.  She boycotted using the litter box because of the strange litter.  After ruining 2 dog beds to radioactive cat urine,
we let her outside to go to the bathroom.  We weren't supposed to do this, but had no choice.

It has been one month since her treatment.  At a follow-up vet visit today,  Momo is now back to a healthy weight.  She has gained 1.1 lbs!

And the nodule on her thyroid is gone.

Here are some pictures of this beautiful girl from this past month:

 Momo waits patiently for some turkey on Thanksgiving.

 Here she is cleaning up after eating her breakfast.

 She spends much of her day on her blanket on the couch.

 Momo enjoys looking out the window.

 When she's cold, she sleeps next to the baseboard heater.

 In the evening,  she snuggles with me on the couch.

If left untreated,  hyperthyroidism would most likely have taken Momo's life with 6 months to a year.  We feel very fortunate to have a healthy, happy cat after a pretty simple treatment.
We hope to have many more years with Momo!

Monday, November 7, 2016

This Is NOT About Knitting

I recently finished knitting this beautiful afghan for my family room.

The front side of the afghan has nice clean lines between the colors:

The backside shows where the yarn changed color,  and doesn't look quite so clean:

There is one problem.  
When I was 3/4 done, I changed the yarn at the wrong time 
and this happened on the front of the afghan:

I noticed this after I had knitted another 48 rows of 120 stitches (5760 stitches).  
At that time I had a decision to make. 
Rip out the 5760 stitches and make it right, or live with it. 

In my younger days, I wouldn't have even taken the time to think about it.  
I would have made it perfect, no matter how long it took me to do it.

At 57, I've faced my imperfections many times.  
I no longer dwell on them.  
There are no internal beatings.  
I've made plenty of mistakes over the years 
and learned that most of the time they aren't a big deal.
But I've also learned from them.

I haven't been the perfect mother.

 I remember very well the time I clipped 4 week old Kerry's fingernails and drew blood! 

Every fall, when I eat my first freshly picked apple, I have flashbacks to the day I totally lost it and screamed at 4 year old Adam for not trying to eat an apple with the skin on.  
I must have been having a bad day.

I'll never forget the day I got a $250 speeding ticket on my way home from Walmart because I was trying to make it home in time to get my kindergartener off the school bus.  I had lost track of time when I was shopping. My heart raced as I pictured little Annie having to ride the bus back to the terminal because her mother was missing.  The officer had no sympathy for my explanation for my tears.  But luckily the bus was a little late and I made it back in time!

I've been far from perfect in other aspects of my life too!

My garden looks great in the spring, but with the heat of late July and August my enthusiasm wanes and it gets overrun with weeds.

I sometimes resent my dogs for the amount of care they need and feel guilty about it.

I feel like I SHOULD feel guilty that my husband has to go to work every day and I am a stay-at-home mom with an empty nest, but I DON'T. 

I hang up on sales calls rather than taking the time to politely turn them down.

One time I told my neighbor I would take her dog out to go to the bathroom when she was away overnight and I FORGOT! (This was during the menopausal years!). I felt so bad when I remembered the next morning and confessed. From that point on, I always set reminders on my phone.

When Annie was in high school and called for a ride home after track practice, she almost always kept me waiting for 5 or 10 minutes. In spite, one day when she called for a ride I finished a tv show I was watching before I picked her up - and made her wait for ME.

I have cheated at cards. It really bothers me when my husband has a long winning streak playing Rummy. One day, Annie and I spent over an hour devising a system of hand signals and gestures so we could feed each other the cards we needed to beat him.  I'd like to say I have regrets, but I don't.

A few years ago I knitted an afghan for my daughter.  During the project, I MIGHT have decreased a few too many times in an attempt to make it a bit narrower.  I thought it wouldn't be noticeable. When I finished it was almost triangular. When I gave it to her, I told her it was a combination shawl + afghan and we call it a "shafghan".

Last year, when I was cutting a mat of fur off my cat's neck I accidentally chopped her whiskers off on one side too.

I've said things jokingly to people I don't know very well and stayed up all night, unable to sleep, because I realized they might have thought I was serious.

I once got sucked into a fake "phishing" email from our bank that resulted in my husband's identity being stolen along with access to our online banking. We had to cancel all accounts and credit cards and still have a credit freeze to prevent further trouble.  Boy, did I feel stupid!

I'll never forget the time I mistook nail polish remover for eye makeup remover.  I thought I was going to lose the sight in that eye!

My memory is lacking.  I rarely remember someone's name, even a minute after I was introduced.
I swear my neighbor remembers more about my children than I do sometimes!
I forget to pick up the dry cleaning.  I forget where my husband is on business trips.
I forget a ton of things!

I hold myself back from participating in things because I am afraid of failing.

I lack certain social skills that make it difficult for me in large social situations.

I am not always aware of slang terms, especially referring to drugs of any kind.  My kids will never let me forget the time we were watching Friends and a character said "I smoked a doobie", and I didn't know what it meant. To make matters worse, when I took a guess and said "He farted?", they almost peed their pants from laughing so hard. :)

I could list so many more.

You can strive for excellence, but you will never be perfect.

When I look at the afghan on the sofa,  I don't always see my mistake.

I don't see it, but I know it's there. 

The best thing is:
I don't care.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What A Difference A Year Can Make!

I wrote recently about my daughter Annie's struggle with depression over the past year.  It was about one year ago that she reached her darkest point. When I logged into Facebook last night, I received one of the greatest gifts a mother can receive.  My daughter, Annie, had written a new post in her blog.  In that post,  I read these words:  

"I often struggle to wrap my head around the stark contrast between who I am now and who I was exactly one year ago now.  I don't feel I've returned to the Annie who existed prior to depression; instead, I feel like an Annie who has been put back together in a new, happier, healthier way.
What a difference a year can make!"

While Annie has seemed so much happier this fall,  we were very aware with the start of a new school year that there could be setbacks.  We check in with her often, and I know she makes an effort to do the same.  That, in itself, is so different than a year ago when she avoided talking with us. It sometimes would take days to get a response from Annie from a text message.  

When I read those words,  I really believed them.  I've seen for myself the extra sparkle in her eyes.  I've heard the lightness in her laugh.  I've felt her energy and enthusiasm for life.  I've noticed her positive attitude.  But I wasn't able to relax into believing it all - yet.  Until now.

Please look at these recent photos and see for yourself the newer, better Annie who has been put back together!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My Own Experience with Sexual Assault

With the events of this past weekend and the release of the Trump video where Mr. Trump brags about his ability to use his power and stardom to make unwanted sexual advances on women, I have been reminded of an event from my own past.  

I was 15 years old.  I was home alone during the day.  

My dad was very active in the Democratic Party in Burlington.  He was also very Catholic.   Before he met my mom,  he was in the seminary with the goal of becoming a priest like his older brother.  And he was Polish.  While working for the Democratic Party, my father became friendly with a fellow Pole. He was younger than my father.  He worked as an orderly at the hospital, and he was also very Catholic.  In fact, he became a "Brother" in the church (I'm not exactly sure what that means).  I think my father felt sorry for him because he was also legally blind and could not drive.  His Polish nickname was "Stosh".

Over the years, Stosh came to the house now and then, often showing up after drinking a few.  He was loud.  I thought he was obnoxious.  I also remember that he seemed as if he liked my mother and thought she was pretty.  I didn't like him much.

One summer afternoon when I was home alone,  Stosh walked up the driveway and came to the door.  I told him my parents weren't home, but he came in and sat down at the kitchen table.  He had been drinking.  Being respectful, I sat at the table and talked with him.  He asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  At the time,  I was considering going to medical school and told him so.  Being an orderly at the hospital,  he obviously wanted to spout his incredible medical knowledge.  He asked me if I knew all of the "pulse points" and proceeded to show me.  The first pulse point was on my wrist.  I knew that one.  Next, he put his hand to my neck to demonstrate that pulse point.  Then he asked me to stand up, which I did.  He said there is another pulse point, and the next thing I knew he was putting his hand inside my shorts.

In that split second,  a lot of things went through my mind.  I knew it was very wrong, but he was a 6 foot tall man and I was a 96 lb little waif of a girl.  He was a friend of my parents. He was a Brother in the church.  He was drunk.  I didn't want to make him angry.  In my naivety, it never crossed my mind that he could actually rape me.  But also in that split second,  I heard the sound of our car coming up the driveway - and so did he.  My older sister had come home.  He removed his hand and I went upstairs to my bedroom. 

I didn't tell my parents right away.  I was embarrassed. When I did get up the courage to tell them,  I was surprised when my mom asked me what I was wearing.  It was unbelievable to imagine that this flat-chested, naive 15-year-old girl may have been enticing this man.  I don't know what went through the minds of my parents.  Maybe they made allowances for him because he was drunk.  Maybe they felt sorry for him because of his disability.  I don't know.  What I do know is that he continued to show up at the house from time to time over the years and they continued to be friendly with him.  

I watched and listened to the video of Mr. Trump, I was disgusted.  I am sick of powerful men, who are so full of themselves,  thinking they have a right to do and say whatever they want.  I'm sick of people, men and women, who are willing to make allowances for this kind of behavior.  

This is not a political post.  If you know me, you are aware that I am a Democrat through and through.  This video has not changed my vote because Mr. Trump never had a chance of getting my vote to begin with.  

But if Mr. Trump represented the Democratic Party,  I could not vote to put him in the Oval Office.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

All You Have To Do Is Open Your Eyes

Amid all the craziness in our lives, it's so easy to go through our days in a blur.  We tick things off our to-do lists, moving from one task to the next - or trying to do too many things at once - when before we know it the day is done and we are plopped in front of the TV before settling into bed for the night.

Whenever people feel like they need to still the craziness within, many turn to things like meditation, music, running, or yoga.  Others find peace in creative arts like sewing, knitting, 
drawing, painting, or writing.  

Photography is what clears my mind and makes me shift my focus.  And it's often my humdrum everyday surroundings that inspire me - things that are easy to miss if you're not looking for them.  Or in the case of my macro lens, things my eyes cannot see by themselves.  

Here are a few pictures I've taken over the past 24 hours - just for fun.  

Even dark black smoke rose into the evening sunset 
could not erase a single star from the sky.

This plume is one of hundreds of weeds I've been yanking from my garden.

A delicate hydrangea blossom in a vase in my foyer.

Sunlight reflected off the gossamer strands of a spider's web

The simple raspberry is not so simple when viewed up close.


I never realized the flowers of a hosta plant were so amazing!

Another weed takes the spotlight, backlit by the sun.

This little guy blended right in with the mulch and I almost stepped on him!

The simplicity of the full moon in a clear night sky.

Look at all of the colors and tones in this periwinkle hydrangea blossom!

I love yarn.  I love knitting.  

My cat is old and wise (and beautiful).

Yet another amazing creation in the form of a weed.

Ice cubes floating inside my water cup!