MadMom and Mutt

Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring Cleaning

Well, I'm all revved up now, cleaning windows (in the dark, as I knew I would be), washing and ironing curtains (I can't believe how domestic I am. I must be premenstrual!). I even started moving furniture about, though the walls must be at least minimally wiped and the carpet well vacuumed! I'm really starting to get excited about the new layout. Mind you, I haven't yet made sure it will actually work! Have pizza and good beer, will least for a little while! I'll have to post a picture when I have it all done...probably about next Wednesday!

Since it's 8:30 at night and my adrenaline is still going, and I've had trouble with insomnia lately, can I tell you again how glad I am the apartment directly below me is currently vacant?!?

No, I don't do other people's windows! ; )

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mixed...Media, Races, Messages, Part III

Well, I have all my little furniture pieces cut out and taped onto my living room mini-blueprint. I think I'm pleased with the layout. It will allow me to angle my area rug in the LR, which sounds appealing at the moment. Tomorrow I'll get to see if my scale drawing placement will work as well with the actual furniture pieces as it does with their paper cut-out counterparts.

The following commentary is why the issue of race has been so much in mind recently and was the impetus for several recent conversations with my friend, Tamara. Both of us happened to hear the following review on NPR's All Things Considered. The piece is from John McWhorter, who sometimes comments on racial issues on the show.

Mr. McWhorter was reviewing the new show on FX called
Black. White. The show is about two families, one black and one white, who 'trade places.' I admit I've never watched it. I'm not much interested in network tv and this stuff is largely the reason. But the commentary really got me thinking about the issue. Mr. McWhorter, an African-American, paid particular attention to a segment in the show in which the black dad, Brian, and the white dad, Bruno, were walking down the street. Brian and Bruno apparently are not getting along very well. Oh my! Brian can't understand why Bruno doesn't perceive the slight intended when a group of young, white women, approaching on a narrow sidewalk, moved to the other side of the street as the men drew near.

Mr. McWhorter agrees with Bruno, white dude, that Brian, black dude, is overly sensitive to a perceived "daily litany" of insults he believes are hurled at him. Is the perception of slights something that is over-honed as one grows up as an African-American child in America? As you overhear negative comments? As your grandmother tells you what to watch out for, for your safety, and relates tales of "how it used to be." Or are white Americans, having always been in the position of power in our culture, far too undersentisized to slights that are intended? Is white America so ashamed of our history (personal or cultural) of racism that we put on blinders as a way to cope? The end result is the same...the perception of oneself as 'victim,' whether as a black person in America, a battered spouse or, to some extent, a woman...only perpetuates a sense of suffering and impedes the development of a positive self-image, be it an individual or a group.

Tam and I agree. Neither of us knows what creates the divide...race, class, financial status, powerlessness but something has to give soon.

Sadie is Happy to be Home you can tell from her relaxed poses:

"Thank God All my Toys are Safe!"

"Ahhh, life is good!"

"There's no Place Like Home!"

aka, All Knackered Out

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Well Said!

I came across this wonderful blog on my evening surf. Of course, I have no recollection of the convoluted path that led me there, but I believe it started, as it so often does for me, at Nurse Pam's. If it's real important, out here in Blog World (God, that sounds like a Kevin Costner production!) for one to keep track of how one gets from point A to point B, please let me know and I'll do my best! : )

Somehow, I would up at la casa de La Queen Sucia, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. This woman rocks! This little beauty was in response to a Lou Dobbs show on the "immigration crisis." Thank God I don't suffer from the compulsion to watch or listen to idjits like Dobbs! I can't even get through more than 5 or 10 minutes of a Bush "press conference." I think being forced to wacth Dobbs and listen to Bush would be the most excrutiating torture! (I probably shouldn't have just said that, huh? The airwaves have ears nowadays! ; )

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Mixed...Media, Races, Messages, Part II

I just got the most luscious pizza delivered...spinach and ricotta with olive oil and garlic over mozzarella. Yum! What does that have to do with media, race or messages? Nothing. I was just rubbing it in.

I'm fairly addicted to NPR, if you haven't noticed. Last evening, I was listening to Fresh Air, a locally produced radio interview program which (she says proudly) happens to be the most widely syndicated radion program on public radio. Terry Gross was interviewing Angela Nissel, a writer for the television show Scrubs and author of a new book, Mixed: My Life in Black and White. After just hearing most of the interview and reading her book excerpt, I just might have to start watching Scrubs. And isn't Miss Angela just about as cute as a lil' bug? Go on...go see.

Ten or fifteen minutes into the interview I was interrupted by the urgent need to call my friend, Tamara...

"Do I smell like wet dog," I asked? A long moment of silence (very uncharacteristic of Tam, may I tell you) was followed by a loud guffaw and then an earnest denial.

"No, you don't smell like wet dog," Tam reassured me, stifling a chuckle.

"But some black people say they think white people smell like wet dog, don't they?"

"Well.........yeah." As if everybody knows that!

I pointed out to Tam that not everyone knows how black people talk about white people out of earshot, and vice versa. Tamara really did think everyone knew this. I was obviously not part of the 'everybody' Tam had in mind.

Tam said, "I figured you must have heard it when you were growing up."

"No," I said, "I heard 'honkie' and 'whitie' thrown about at _______ (my alma mater) in the late 60's and early 70's but nobody ever called anybody 'wet dog' that I heard of."

Tam assured me that, even having walked with me in the rain the other evening, not a whiff of wet dog was to be smelt.

I'm fortunate that Tam is my best friend. She has remained my friend despite the ultimate betrayal, that I sold my home, a few miles from hers, and moved to another state. You see, it really is all about Tam (Sorry, Kelly!). She has almost forgiven me my transgression. She will never let me forget, though. Tam and I have known each other or about each other for over 20 years. Tam works at the same county social service agency as my mom. Whenever Tam would do something foolish or ditzy or impractical (which is, admittedly, fairly often), my mom would comment, "You should meet my daughter! You two are so much alike!"

Tam and I hit it off immediately and have been fast friends ever since. Ours is one of those special friendships where we can not be in contact for many months but just drop right back into step without missing a beat. We're also able to talk very frankly about many things including issues of race and are of a similar mind on the subject. Mine could be summed up as a "Much Ado About Nothing" attitude. I don't want to speak for Tam but I think she feels pretty much the same. Race has never entered into our friendship in a negative way.

I am comfortable enough with Tam that I can confess my anxiety about black people to her. It's not the type that leads me to grip my purse tighter when a black youth gets on the elevator with me. At least not any more than when the young white kid with the 134 piercings, black/blue/purple hair and huge, baggy pants shoves his ring-laden hand to hold the elevator door open and hops on. It's anxiety about saying something really stupid and coming off as that "tiresome white woman," then being referred to as someone who smells like a wet dog once I walk away. I don't like people rolling their eyes at least not behind my back. You want to do it to my face, fine!

Oh, there's much more water in the well but I'm so distracted right now by This American Life, on (surprise!) NPR. It's an episode about mind games and deceptions. Since I'm trying to shape a new persona, I could use the pointers. ; )

m & m's

There are few things more succulent than hard, cold butter on a warm cinnamon bun, NJ style, with walnuts and raisins on top. The cold fattiness and warn, soft sweetness. Ahhh, my! And, if you microwave your sticky buns, the underside of the butter melts, giving you 'butter juice' to be sopped up the sticky bun crumbs or scooped up with fallen raisins. Cinnamon rainsins in butter! Does it get much better?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I've been a busy bee since I returned home from my month-long 'haitus' at Mom and Dad's. I unloaded the car and put the trunk back to its usual state. Inspected all of my recent clothing purchases. If I don't get that job, there'd best be a lot of weddings or funerals for me to attend in the next two years! I've done a little grocery shopping and completed some home/errand tasks that had been waiting. I did not yet 'stoop' to cleaning the bathroom. As usual, that can wait!

I had high-speed internet, new cable and phone services started before I went down to South Jersey to be with the folks. This means my phone and cable lines now come in through different jacks in the LR and so I have an opportunity to rearrange the living room.

This is exciting for me. I love to rearrange rooms. I used to rearrange my bedroom every couple of weeks when I was a kid. I guess it gives the child of an alcoholic a sense of control over something, huh? I found it interesting this evening to recall that, I'd be most likely to change my room layout following a fight in the family, usually between my mother and father. When I was 16, they talked of divorce. I was a rearranging fool!

Isn't it interesting that I should have such an urge to change my LR around now? I've not only begun considering different layouts, tonight I actually measured the dimensions and drew a mini blueprint. Now, I'm in the process of measuring the furniture and cutting out little diagrams to try out different positions. It's a good thing the apartment beneath me is vacant right now. Up at two o'clock AM and hitting every piece of squeaky floorboard in the space, with Sadie thinking we're playing a game with the measuring tape!

Bottom line: not only do I revert to old, familiar and comfortable coping mechanisms during or following times of stress, my compulsive tendencies kick in as well. It's a good thing I'm not partnered or I'd be driving someone absolutely nuts right about now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Speaking of stress, I go back to work next Monday, something I'm both dreading and looking forward to. There are a lot of terrific people, primarily women, where I work and I've missed the regular support of some of these fine folks. The down side is that I realize I'm very close to the flash point with bedside nursing. I keep feeling as if I'd have less and less to lose if I just said, "Screw it," ( or a facsimile) and walked out. I know I need to
soon leave either bedside nursing or leave the ED where I've been practicing for almost 3 years. So, keep your fingers crossed for me about the EDIS position!

~ ~ ~ ~
Once again, two Lunesta and here I am so I'm soon heading for the third.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Great music selections tonight:

Etta James' Seven Year Itch
Priceless Jazz Collection Sampler
with: -Billie Holiday---Ella---Louis---John Coltrane---Sonny Rollins---Charles Mingus---Duke---and Chick Corea-
Nina Simone's Saga of the Good Life and Hard Times and
The soundtrack from Warming by the Devil's Fire

So, even though I'm not yet alsep, it's been a relaxing evening and there really is no place like home.

Oooo! Oooo!

I found this, too!

National Novel Writing Month.

Very cool!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Check out what I just found!

Philly Future

More to come but I'm very excited about finding a place with local bloggers, familiar stories and settings I can picture!

Happy evening!

I Said I Couldn't be Serious Tonight

So here's a little funny:

Get in shower
Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and Pumice stone.
Wash hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.
Wash hair again, just to make sure it's clean.
Condition hair with grapefruit mint conditioner enhanced with natural avocado oil, leave on hair for 15 minutes.
Wash face with crushed apricot facial, scrub for 10 minutes until red.
Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.
Shave armpits and legs.
Turn off shower.
Squeeze off all wet surfaces in shower, spray mould spots with Tilex.
Get out of shower.
Dry with towel the size of a small country.
Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.
Check entire body for spots, tweeze hairs.
Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.
If you see husband along the way, cover any exposed area.

Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed.
Leave in a pile.
Walk naked to the bathroom.
If you see wife along the way, shake knob at her making woo-hoo sound.
Look at manly physique in the mirror.
Admire size of your knob and scratch your ass.
Get in the shower.
Wash your face.
Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.
Wash your armpits.
Make fart noises (real or artificial) and laugh at how loud they sound in the shower.
Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.
Wash the soap from your butt crack, leaving those course hairs on the soap.
Shampoo hair. Make shampoo Mohawk.
Rinse off and get out of shower.
Partially dry-off.
Fail to notice water on floor.
Admire knob size in mirror again.
Leave shower door open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.
Return to bedroom with towel around waist.
If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake knob at her and make woo-hoo noise again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ I just took one of those showers...the female version, that is.
Here was my version:
-shampoo hair twice, Garnier Fructise
-condition with Fructise conditioner
-wash face, ears, neck, personal bits and feet with scented Shea Butter soap.
-wash face to feet with Avon Tranquil Moments bath and shower gel on one of these...

I never know what they're called. To me, they're 'scrubbies.'
-pumice stone on feet
-Olay Regenerating Lotion around eyes and mouth
-foot massage and moistening
Am now off to do my Mary Kay hand treatment.

There was a reason for that kind of shower, which is not my normal one. As I scrubbed and scrubbed, I felt I needed to wash death away. I needed to cleanse myself before I could resume my ife here.
It was, strangely, like a purifiication ritual. That and the fact that my water pressure is so much better than Mom's.

As I walked Sadie a couple hours ago, I realized that I'd had to say good-bye to Dad many times in the last month:

To Dad, as I cared for him on his hospital bed in the living room.
To the dad who carried me on his shoulders out into the ocean so far I was afraid, yet not really afraid, because Dad would always make sure I was okay.
To the dad who would moan, as I would apologize, while cleaning him.
To the Dad I fought to medicate that last week or so.
To Dad when he was no longer so responsive
Through family I hadn't seen in years, who'd known Dad for 60 years.
Through neighbors and friends who loved him.
With my mother and brother. The only ones left who've been significant in my life, for all of my life.

And tonight, when I came back to my spce, I had to say good-bye to Dad again. This is the point at which I must put my life back together, a life which will never again have the benefit of Dad's physical presence. It is another saying good-bye.

It was a very difficult place in my life to lose my Dad, from a therapy perspective. I had finally worked through my anger with Dad's drinking most of my life, with my mother's co-dependence. (Okay, maybe I'm still working on that one.) I had finally gotten past the bitterness to a palce of appreciation. I did everything I could, while Dad was still in command of his senses, to make sure he knew that I'd forgiven him, that I would never love another man as much as I love him, that he was special, that he mattered. I just wish we'd had more time. I wish we could have related to each other more throuh my new perspective, as two adult who love and appreciate each other. I wish I could be certain that my messages got through to him. I l ove you, Dad.

Damn, it almost HAS taken a sledge hammer to get me sleepy tonight. It's 5:00 AM. Time to put the AC on 'fan.' Good thing Sadie went out to walk around 2:30 because Mom's not likely to see the morning again tomorrow.

(I've added thoughts I wanted to in the wee hours, when the Lunesta finally kicked in with a wollop. I don't know if this violates any blogging rules but it really doesn't matter. I've got to do what I need to do.)

It's got to get easier. I hope being back in my own life and space facilitates that.

Interesting Article on

The Bryan Winter of Our Discontent

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nothing Big

I know the world is waiting with bated breath for my next installment on the issue of race. ; )

I've got no time for anything serious tonight, though. It'll just have to wait until tomorrow. Have I mentioned that I'm a Pisces? And I'm no cusp version...I'm smack in the middle of the sign. Nothing wishy-washy about my Piscean procrastination. Why do tomorrow what I can put off indefinitely?

I left Mom and Dad's today and headed home. While it's good to be back in my own environs, it was very stressful nonetheless. Why should it be so difficult to return to my own space? It's not as if Dad ever lived here. I think my folks visited maybe three times in the 2 1/2 years I've lived here.

I'm afraid my folks and I became a somewhat estranged when I started seeing a woman in 2000 and came out to them. Ultimately, only my father, son and daughter-in-law ever met the woman I moved 100 miles from "home" to live with. Dad was always very accepting that way, of everyone. It's not that he really wanted me to be a lesbian. He just took things as they came. For Dad, it was, "Okay. So you fall in love with women. We'll deal with it."

A cute story about my dad: We were driving together from Reading to South Jersey shortly after I came out to my parents. Midway, Dad asked, "So, which one of you is the "man?" That was my dad. He could accept, at face value, a concept he so little understood because he loved me. I explained to Dad that it wasn't like that, unless the women wanted it to be that way. I reassured him we did not have a "man" and "woman" character in our relationship. I wonder which one he was afraid I'd be...

My mother cried. Of course, I started therapy around the same time (with a different therapist than the one I'm seeing now...the first was totally ineffective, or else I just was totally unreceptive at the time). I'm sure I had a lot of anger. And I admit I presented it to them as a "like it or lump it" proposition. By the time GF #1 was out of the picture, Mom was much better. By the time I'd been dating GF #2 for a couple of months, we went out to dinner together. After that, she was also invited to holiday celebrations. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

I was hyperkinetic in an anxious sort of way when I got home. I spent the first hour or so jumping from one thing to another...emptying the trash, straightening up, going through mail. I didn't feel satisfied by any of the tasks, however. I finally called Rowena (current therapist...happy, almost two-year relationship! ; ) to see if she had anything left this week...she got me in for Wednesday. This will make three Wednesdays in a row, but I feel like I need it right now. Funny, I was a lot less anxious after I set up that appointment.

I've therefore spent the evening playing around with my HTML. I put the link there just so everyone knows I'm not doing anything dirty. I am so very tickled with my blog and myself! This stuff is very fun and (I think) I seem to be catching on fairly well for someone with no training. Tonight, I learned how to indent things so I no longer have things hanging halfway into the blog section. Then I went down the script for my sidebar and tidied it up...evened up all the lines, got rid of script going off to the right into the ether. Does this mean I'm becoming a geek? Will I have a pocket protector soon? Do geeks still have pocket protectors? I do have a jump drive. Are jump drives the new pocket protectors?

So, my theories on the races and contemporary American culture will have to wait until another day...

Leave 'Em Laughing

Larry calls his retired, widowed mother in Boca...

L: Mom! How are you?

M: (heavy Brooklyn Jewish accent) Oh, alright. Everything is good except for the weakness.

L: Why are you weak, Mom?

M: Why? Because I haven't eaten in 35 days, that's why!

L: (becoming concerned) Mom, why haven't you eaten in 35 days???

M: In case my son should call...God forbid I should have my food in my mouth!

(Having been raised by a mother who is very likely of good German Jewish stock, I think I may rightfully use this one! ; )

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mixed...Media, Races, Messages, Part I

I've always had a thing for media. By that, I don't mean network television, per se. I'm primarily interested in other sources ...advertising, music, movies, popular literature, magazines, newspapers...and the effect they have on our culture. I did my English term paper in college on Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage, an amazing read from an author with a unique perspective. I highly recommend it and think I'll have to soon read it again for myself. I read my "local" newspaper, a very good one, on a semi-regular basis. I'm having anxiety attacks about what is going to happen to my precious Inquirer now that their parent corporation, Knight Ridder, has been bought by McClatchy, which plans to lop off both the Inquirer and its sister paper, the Philadelphia Daily News, along with ten other US newspapers.

It's all intertwined, you know...government, business, advertising, news media, war, economics, art. This is not some psycho, conspiracy theory. They are inexorably connected and, of necessity, both shape, and are shaped by, our culture.

I worry about monolithic media conglomerates sucking up news outlets like giant vacuums. I fret over the possible (likely? inevitable?) homogenization of the news we are fed. I worry about the chilling effect these buyouts and mergers might have on real freedom of speech and expression in the US. I fear Big Brother has moved in. I'm especially paranoid after watching V for Vendetta last evening. Kind of makes me want to go out and buy again all that George Orwell I read as a teenager. I worry about the direction our nation has been heading in, but that's for another post.
I thank God for the free internet!

I subscribe to Alternet via daily e-mail and through an RSS feed (I think that's the term for it...I'm really a virgin with this stuff.). Any news outlet that carries Molly Ivins is fine by me! I don't read every article they send along but some things capture my attention, such as Merchants of Crap, a very interesting Frontline page which outlines the largest media conglomerates and their holdings. That's what started me on this media and culture thought thread and harkened me back to my McLuhan-loving days.

Also through Alternet, I found a page for this Frontline documentary. I remember hearing about this teacher's sociological experiment years ago, with little understanding. I found the PBS/Frontline documentary, A Class Divided, in the 80's or early 90's. If you'd like to watch it for yourself, here's that link. Here is the blurb from Frontline:

"One day in 1968, Jane Elliot, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups and gave them a daring lesson in discrimination. This is the story of that lesson, its lasting impact on the children, and its enduring power thirty years later." (Editorial note: Since I couldn't cut and paste this, any resultant typos are mine.)

I still find the concept and the program fascinating, having just watched it again myself.

Some of my thoughts on watching A Class Divided:

It amazes me that this experiment was allowed at all. Imagine, in this age, a teacher having such leeway to create and implement a lesson on social acceptance, cultural indoctrination and discrimination (pick you flavor there). I'm not a teacher, but I don't see how that would be possible in today's educational climate.

I am flabbergasted and appalled by how rapidly the children, little 9 year-old sponges that they were, were inculcated into acceptance of the fact that one person was better than another solely based on the color of their eyes, how readily they bought into the myth. In a span of half a day, the interaction between the children degenerated to the point of name-calling based on eye color. By the afternoon, the children were commenting that, "they always call us that...brown eyes," as if this had been their lot since birth.
Intellectually, I understand this indoctrination but my heart cries out against it.

I recall, with a certain sense of shame that I; as a grade-schooler, junior high-schooler and full-fledged teenager; found such displays of contempt and discrimination abhorent but lacked the fortitude, at the time, to speak out against it.

I recall how
much I loved my HS best friend because she did find the courage to openly oppose belittling or denegrating speech and behavior. She was my heroine.

I wonder if Mrs. Elliot received a PhD based on her experiment. If not, she should have...or a sainthood!

I am sorry we don't have every teacher, business leader, politician, health care professional, lawyer and judge in workshops like this on an annual basis. I am sorry there hasn't been, to my knowledge, a Jane Elliot revolution in educating children about discrimination of all sorts.

I hope I'm not sorry about expressing my feelings along this train of thought. This is only the start and there's much more I'd like to think about and express here. Please be gentle? ; )

::clicks "Publish Post"::

Sunday Afternoon Musings

Yep, I didn't think I'd manage to see the morning today and I was mostly right. I woke up at 11:35-ish then spent the next 40 minutes pretending I was still asleep or was going to go back to sleep. Damn, two Lunesta at 3 AM and I was still up until 5:30. Do I need a sledgehammer or something to get me to sleep? But, it was damn fun, heading out at 4:30 in the afternoon and spending a full 9 hours with Tam. She and I are truly sisters under the skin. So, I'm feeling a bit foggy today and am praying the coffe will kick in soon. These are desperate times so it's Chock Full O' Nuts, my favorite canned coffee. I didn't have the faculties to make a more in-depth coffee selection the night I was at Walgreen's making copies of Dad's pictures for his photo collages.

Being up surfing the 'net last night while having a conversation with Kelly, my favorite multi-racial friend, led me to some interesting sites:

Girl With a One-Track Mind, who sounds like she's right up my alley!
Susie Bright, who Kelly brought back to my mind. Kelly, so like the much younger sister, told me during our Messenger conversation in the wee hours, about Susie's site, believing she would be of interest to me. Little did Kelly know that I've known about Susie Sexpert for over 15 years! She was one of my heroines around the time I came out but was still living as a very closeted, celibate lesbian.
Annie Sprinkle, my idol. Very sex-positive, former porn star and, I believe, sex worker. You've just got to love Annie whether you're straight or as gay as they come! Now, if she'll only write that book about tantric sex for lesbians, I'll be all set!...

Ken woke up about half-an-hour into my conversation with Kelly. By the time they headed off to bed, ::wink, wink:: I told them I had 6 tabs open on my browser, half of them sex-positive soft porn sites! I think they both owe me one today! I didn't save the convo Kelly and I had, but it was hilarious, as it usually is, and geared toward sex, as will often happen when she chats with me. What can be more fun than laughing and chatting about sex? Kelly, if you saved that convo, you have my permission to publish it, in whole or in part. Oh, and send a copy to me, will ya? ROFL!

So, having two very good friends who are either African-American or of mixed lineage, along with some sites I found on the 'net and conversations I had with Tam yesterday, I've come up with an idea for an entry about race. Oh no!!! The white girl's going to talk about race! I think the topic is too large and complex to fit into one blog entry, though, so I do believe I've now got my first series going. I hope I do not offend anyone. I just shoot from the hip and don't usually pull punches.

Oh, and if anyone knows how to create blog categories on Blogger, please fill me in???

To be continued...

m & m's...again, already with the m & m's???

Just a snack pack, not a one-pound bag.

I promised myself I wasn't going to stay up all hours tonight on this thing but I do believe I just settled myself in for a long, early spring, early morning blog. I just stretched my legs out on the twin bed in the "guest room," covered them up in Dad's mulberry throw and am wrapped up in a truly horrific Alfred Dunner polyester fleece zip-up Mike and Jen got me several years ago. Why on earth would they think I was Alfred Dunner material when I was 43 or 44? I'm getting cooler as I get older, not the other way around! It is, however, one of my favorite things to bundle up in at's warm!

I had a great day today. Well, I had to help Mom with the thank-you's for the service and things and that was painful. It never ceases to amaze me the things I'll come up with to avoid doing something unpleasant, uncomfortable or painful but that's for another post I think.

I practically hijacked Tam for the evening. Damn, but when she and David are on the outs, my social life sure picks up! We went to see V for Vendetta, which we both enjoyed. I'm no movie critic and there was some gratuitous gore, but the plot was timely...just the same kind of personal nightmare I've been living since December of 2000. But, I digress...

Tam and I then went to Delaware, to the Tri-State Mall, the home of tax-free shopping. Well, the whole of Delaware is tax-free shopping but... Had a blast there, looking at wigs (not nearly as expensive as I'd imagined. I might have to keep that store in mind for future reference.), chatting it up with the girl in the trendy African-American bookstore/boutique. Tam bought two scratch-off lottery tickets and won on both of them! Then again, I think I'd rather be lucky in love. Ended up the night on South Street in Philly. A tasty pesto, tomato, mozzarella and garlic pizza with a Stella followed by half a slice of cheesecake with chocolate accoutrements. As if that wasn't sinful enough, we sidled on over to Tower Records before getting out of Dodge...for my indulgence purchase:

Kate Bush's Hounds of Love
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' 'Round About Midnight, Vol.2 f
or $7.99
Happy Christmas
by John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band for $3.99
Peter Gabriel's

Pizza and drinks at La Fourno: $26.00
Indulging myself at Tower Records: $42.00
An evening with Tam:

We drove through snow on our way home! Snow flurries on March 26th. It's unusual, if not rare, but still interesting.

I recently added Google AdSense to my site. These ads are supposed to be geared to the topics and tenor of my blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw an ad for Pro-GWB paraphanelia on my very own site! Maybe I need to post a blog about the GOOD bush and the BAD Bush. I clicked on the ad at the time and was appalled, but didnt save it for a future post, but it looked something like this. Ugh! I guess I'll just have to hope it shows back up on MM&M to really complain, or hope that it doesn't!

And isn't this in interesting referral URL? I bet the individual beat it out of my site pretty darned quick! Icky! Princeton, in my wonderful home state of New Jersey, is a breeding ground for right-wing republicans! I know, I know. It probably always was...but I wasn't formerly aware of it!

already, with the blog! So much for not the wee hours! And so much for my morning. But my evening was sure great!

Sadie has finally settled down. She's not used to having her mom come in at 1:30 in the morning unless she's got a real scowl on her face from a lousy day at work! She didn't quite seem to grasp the concept, "It's the middle of the night and Nan might be trying to sleep. Clattery clack...down the stairs. Click, click, slip, click..across the kitchen floor to the door. Out for a walk, pee and short run around in the rain then upstairs for one of her favorite things...getting dried off after walking in the rain! She was jumping and chewing on her hedgehog toy, running from one end of the room to the other, laying her head right next to my laptop and generally did everything she could to get me to lavish my attention where it rightfully belongs...on Sadie! SADIE! SADIE!

Sadie, at her most precious! Also in the pic is the left sleeve of my toasty Alfred Dunner zip-up! : )

Saturday, March 25, 2006


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Feeding my Soul

I'm helping my mother write out thank-you notes for tributes to my dad and gifts for the family during our bereavement. I had to take a break. This is tough shit, you know? Maybe you don't. Maybe you hope you never do but I hope you do someday, in a far distant future, when a parent dies, preferably of very, very old age!

It's tough to say good-bye to your dad, to someone who has known and loved you all your life. I may have said this before, but no one will ever love me the way Dad did, I will never be that special in anyone's eyes again. This doesn't discount the fact that I will likely (hopefully) find a mate, a partner at some point in my life. It's just not the same as the love of a parent.

I've spent the better part of the last month seeing to it that everyone important to me is 'fed.' I've soothed, cried with, aided (and abetted, in some cases), hugged, been myself...all for the benefit of those I love. I continue to feed my mother by staying around until the beginning of next week. But I've also started the process of feeding myself. It is, but is not limited to, physical feeding. I haven't cared much recently what I put in my mouth, as the recent five-pound weight gain evidences. Now, I'm eating Double Chocolate Milano cookies because I'm hungry and they taste awfully good! That's very removed from using food as self-medication.

Today is the first day since Dad died that I'm going to try to get through without any self-medication. No Xanax, no Flexeril, no nothing. Just me and my raw-ass feelings out there in the big, old world together. It's been hard. I woke up and started a blog entry while drinking my coffee. That will be coming later, maybe this evening or in the wee hours. Coffee is good.

Then I showered. Yes, I have neglected myself in the week since Dad's service to the point that I've only been showering every other day. I think today was actually two-and-a-half. (Warning: gross subject matter ahead!) I sat on the toidy today, with a scented tissue to my nose, and reminded myself of the incontinent butts we try to pretty up with lotions and powders at work. When I realized that my own aroma was reminding me of work, I knew action needed to be taken! So, although I didn't shave my legs, I am freshly scrubbed with no need of artificial perfumes except for the scented soaps I love so much.

It's hard, walking around out here with all these emotions just below the surface and no protective chemical barrier. ::wonders if Wellbutrin and Lexapro count:: But I know I'm going to have to get back to a "straight" life eventually, and soon, if I am to return to work. I miss many of my co-workers. I guess I even miss smelly butts, though I know I don't want to do that much longer.

Oh well...I only managed to write out one card my mother dictated before I had to come seek the solace of nicotine. Could be a more-than-a-pack day at that rate. I suppose I should go downstairs and get it done. Then I can go about the business of continuing my on the internet, chat with distant friends, get out for a movie and a trip to South Street (still where "all the hippies meet), Philadelphia. Maybe a drive to the Italian Market...something to expand my horizons, get me out of the house, return to the business of feeding my soul...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Honda S2000

Low maintenance, fast but not flashy, reliable...all wrapped up in a candy-apple red ragtop!
Yep, that would be me. : )

I'm a Honda S2000!

You live on the edge, and you live for the adrenaline rush.
You don't need luxuries, snob appeal, or superfluous gadgets.
You put your top down, get your motor revving, and take all
the curves that life throws at you at full speed. So what if you
spin out occasionally?

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Ban on Funeral Protests

Once again, NPR has got me thinking. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, I'm not sure. ; )

The state legislature in Maryland is drafting legislation to ban protests at military funerals. This is in response to the "Reverend" (and I use the title very loosely) Fred Phelps and his followers at Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. Phelps and his cohorts, though they say they have never protested at a funeral in Maryland, have been known to present themselves at the gravesites of young men and women (such as Matthew Shepherd...for WBC's take on that matter, click here.) with such uplifting signs as Thank God for IEDs, Thank God for AIDS and the ever-popular, God Hates Fags. The legislation would bring to 15 the number of states considering or having enacted such laws.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Yes, this is a group of...something that rhymes with "quick ducks." On the other hand, our nation was founded primarily on the principles of free speech and freedom of religion. But, why should the grieving families of service men and women killed in battle have to deal with such crap? But, isn't this precisely what many of these young soldiers believed they were fighting, and ultimately died, for? But... But... But...

It's not unlike the KKK rally in Indiana or Illinois a number of years ago. Where was that? I believe the case went all the way to the US Supreme Court but I'll be darned if I can find it anywhere right now. Not unlike burning the American flag, which I consider a rightful expression of free speech in our country. I am not a flag burner, a KKK member nor a member of Westboro Baptist Church but I would argue fiercely for the right of anyone in this country to present a dissenting opinion to me. Darn shame our culture seems to be taking the position that, if my opinion differs from yours, I should be muzzled.

I'd love to hear from anyone else with thoughts on the idea and reserve to right to revise, following a long-overdue afternoon nap...

End-of-Life Issues...Death Row Style

Yesterday, I heard a very interesting piece on Here and Now, a daily news show produced at WBUR in Boston. I admit it...I am addicted to NPR.

The piece coincided with yesterday's publication of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about doctors participating in executions. Dr. Atul Gawande presented his argument against health care providers' participation in lethal injections. I abhor the death penalty. Beside the fact that it seems to be completely useless as either a punishment or a deterrent, I believe it violates the Golden Rule, is inhumane and cannot be retracted in the presence of exonerating evidence. You can't exactly say, "Whoops! We were wrong...let us make it up to you," once someone is six feet under in the prison cemetary.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the dissenting opinion of Dr. Carlo Musso, a prison physician in Georgia who is a former ED physician. (If you prefer to listen to Dr. Musso's interview, please follow this link.) I've worked in Emergency Nursing for nearly five years now and have come to have a great respect for most of the physicians with whom I've worked. Dr. Musso considers caring for a patient prior to and during executions an issue of end-of-life care. This intrigues me, largely because of his background in Emergency Medicine. I believe he's right. You doesn't get any more clearly end-of-life than when one has a predetermined date for ones demise.

I care for people at the end of their lives. It comes to me in the form of the 40-something who has overdosed on one substance or another, the 89 year-old whose family must make the decision to discontinue life support, the young trauma victim. It's come to me recently in the form of my father. Some of my most gratifying moments in nursing came early in my career, when I worked in Gyn/Gyn-Onc.

(Aside: Please take note of the following non-discrimination policy on the nursing employment opportunities page from Cooper University Hospital's website...
It is the policy of Cooper University Hospitalnot to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, familial status, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical heredity cellular or blood trait, liability for military service, or mental or physical handicap."
... I am the reason the term, "affectional or sexual orientation" in now included in Cooper's non-discrimination language. During the negotiations for our local's first contract with The Cooper Health System, in the fall of 2000, I fought tooth-and-nail to have that language added to Cooper's policy. I didn't win at that time...they opted for more benign terminology about compliance with all relevant local, state and federal non-discrimination laws. I was very happy and proud, when I hopped on over to Cooper's site for a citation for this post, to see my exact language in their current policy. It's nice to see ones legacy continue.)

Back on track now...we were talking about end-of-life care. I miss developing a relationship with the women on my Gyn/Gyn-Onc floor who would ultimately pass away in my care. I got to know their families. I got to know my patient's desires and was instrumental in seeing they had what they wanted, as much as was in my power, at the end of their lives. The woman, with metastatic ovarian cancer in her abdomen, so extensive that she could neither eat nor drink, had a naso-gastric tube in place - through her nose into her stomach - because she had no room for anything else in there due to the size of the tumor. All she wanted was to drink...a Coke. Why not? I arranged that. She had a fizzy, fountain Coca-Cola with ice. I made sure of it. She died within hours of that, with her family at her bedside. She died on my shift. Her family hugged me when they left, in the early hours of the morning. Her name was Pat and this was 20 years ago. Pat was 43 years old.

Why do my patients deserve more than the men or women in prison who are at the end of their lives? Shouldn't death row inmates also receive care that is compassionate? Why shouldn't they get their fondest, simple wishes granted before they die? Why shouldn't they have their IV put in by someone who cares about them, not a detached, anonymous executioner? Are they any less important than Pat?

It's an interesting perspective.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

m & m's's that time again! Now that I'm not sooooo craving comfort food, I guess I have to get my sweets in other ways. Peanut m&m's...the best. You can have your chocolate and pretend you're getting nutritious protein! Kind of like a Jewish mother without the guilt! ; )

Wandering aimlessly on the internet tonight...well, not entirely aimlessly but from one interesting blog to another...I stumbled across this. Mind you, I have no idea who CPO Tyrol is, but he sure is cute! I don't mind being him if I can be his cuteness equivalent in a middle-aged, grey-haired dyke, especially if we get all the hot women. So, my heart gets tramped a bit along the way...that's life!
You scored as CPO Galen Tyrol.

You never wanted to be a glamorous Viper pilot. You are happy knowing that without you to fix their birds, they cannot fly. You fell in love with the wrong girl, but is that so wrong? Maybe, but you don't really care.

What New Battlestar Galactica character are you?
created with
I guess I've found another fun timewaster, a la Blogthings and The Harvard Implicit Association Study. Ooooo! Ooooo! I've got to add them to my sidebar!

I spent much of the evening tooling around on the net while watching the original Law and Order on tv. It was a good night on TNT, with back-to-back-to-back-to-back Law and Orders! Let's see what I found while Lennie and Ray or Mike and Phil wrap the conviction up for the prosecutors. (I remember as far back as Ben Stone and Paul Robinette.)

This evening's fishing expedition included:
Stephanie's, aka Nerd Noir / been there a few times. It took the white girl a while to understand what "knee grow" meant. I really am very naive.
The Lesbian Lifestyle / I was only there briefly. I'm putting it on my Worthy of a More Thorough Pereusal list.
The Adult Novelty Company / Adding it to my Christmas wish list. Think my mom would get me a nice dildo, harness, vibe? I know, probably not. Maybe I should get her a gift certificate from there. Could ease my Christmas shopping woes.

That was my evening, pretty much. At least I had some interesting things to see.

Finally, my friend, Tam, came over tonight. You know, the one who never checks her email and hasn't been on her computer in a month or two. It's always so good to sre her. Hopefully, she'll get around to clearing out her inbox and can actually come out and play!

I showed Tam my last blog entry and she decided the hand shot I uploaded earlier reminded her too much of death, with its pasty-looking hand against a black backgrond. It was MULLBERRY, Tam!

So, in Tam's honor, and to soothe any others who were disturbed by my funereal hand shot, here is another shot. I think my at-home American manicure shows up well enough against Sadie's brindle underbelly. And I will admit the coloring
look a little more lively. Is everybody happy now?

This Post is *All* About Me, Me, Me! Don't say you weren't properly warned.

Okay, so Dad got sick, tried treatment (which failed) and came home to die. I went to a few doctor's appointments, lent emotional support and offered professional judgments, usually couched in the aforementioned emotional support. I presented myself to the family as a primary caretaker, confessor and facilitator. I have now come as close as I hope I ever will to having a nervous breakdown. (I couldn't resist coming back here a couple of days later to post this link for the term, "nervous breakdown!")

Now, it's time for me to claim what is rightfully mine! It's my turn in the limelight, my time at bat, time for me to get my props! Sorry, Tam (milk chocolate) and Kelly (cafe au lait, of course)...for appropriating your terminology and for stealing your spotlight for one post! I am, after all, about as lily white as it gets and understand that it's not really all about me. I'm just pretending for the day. It's my day to be chi chi frou frou...I don't ask for it often!
; )

I saw my therapist and family doctor yesterday and am taking some more time off from work, this time fully paid, in order to recuperate following Dad's death. Since I'm not rushing back to work, I've decided to hang out at Mom's for a few more days...she would appreciate the company and I could use to not have to think about anything for a while. The proverbial feces hit the fan yesterday. I've gotten everyone important in my life to as healthy and accepting a psychological place as is possible for now and am now focusing all my energies on facilitating my acceptance of Dad's death. MY TURN! Or me, Me, ME, ME, ME! ROFL!

So, I'll spend the next few days sleeping as much as I can/want/choose, playing around on the computer, doing a very tiny bit of assisance with the business end of Dad's death and paying attention to myself and what I need! Today, I've spent all day on the laptop. Here are some of the interesting things I've come across:

Online Etymology Dictionary
...what a great site if you like words and their origins.
NursePam's take on fat in America.
Jenn's, via NursePam's site rant on fat in North American culture.
The free, full text of this article in The New England Journal of Medicine on the ethics of health care professionals participating in executions.
The interview with a prison doctor in Georgia who does care for patients up to and during execution.

I've also deleted pictures from my camera; transferred some photos, including my new profile photo, to my laptop; eaten fruit from the fruit baskets we've received, including the one that came today from a nearby Incredibly Edible Delites (another good reason to hang around a few more days...there's hardly a speck of food in my apartment); answered a few e-mails and made sure my boss knows I'm not getting back to work until late next week, at the earliest. I sure hope I don't screw up my chances for the EDIS RN potision with my recent absence but my philosophy is fast becoming, "Screw it" with regards to my job, nursing and my place of employment! By the way, I challenge you to pick out which is me and which young man is my son from this, my new profile photo ; )

I've also done a little (just enought to get by) laundry and given myself a manicure. Not a bad job for a non-pro, I think. Please bear in mind that I am an ER nurse, not a hand model!

(Next Day Addendum: My friend, Tam, stopped by last evening and I showed her this blog entry. I wish I could introduce you all to Tam...she's wonderful and has been my bestest friend for a couple of decades. Tam thought this picture was tooooooo creepy, looking like the hand of a corpse lying on a black cloth. In truth, it's my living, though winter-roughened hand lying on my mulberry throw. With respect to Tam, I am posting a new hand photo on today's blog entry. Sorry if I gave anyone E. A. Poe flashbacks!)

Feels great! I've spent the whole day in some comfort clothes (today, that means: old, navy sweatpants with white paint stains; a powder blue Life Is Good "Dream" long-sleeved tee; a comfy velour (I know...I can't believe I just admitted I own a velour shirt, even an old one!) shirt over the tee and my bright red Keds slipper socks. I've been wrapped in my mulberry-colored chenille throw all afternoon. No, I never did make it to that nap, as I've been diligently trying to hone my nascent HTML skills, but that's okay. There's time for a nap early this evening and, hopefully, another good night's sleep overnight.

So, if anyone has the script for wrapping text around pictures on Blogger or where I can find that in Blogger's help files, please, send it my way!

Okay...going to lay down and rest, at least, until my friend, Tam, shows up for a short visit after work. Who knows, she may have to come wake me up. With any luck, that will be quite difficult!

I leave you with a favorite photo of Dad from his earlier years...

My father's family...sister, Dot; Dad; sister Grace; their mother, Minnie.

And It All Came Tumbling Down

Tonight was the last gathering of the clan before the California members head home. I started out the day rising later than I'd wanted due to staying up far later than I'd intended, as has become my habit of late. By the time I got to bed last night, around 3 AM, I'd already decided to skip a trip to the diner and make the nearly two-hour drive to Reading with Wawa food and coffee. I mean, one needs at minimum 5 hours of sleep, no?

Well the proverbial feces hit the fan on that drive. I couldn't get comfortable. I'd left so little time that even a trip to Mickey D's was out of the question so it was Wawa coffee (better) and a Wawa sandwich (much worse) on the road for my brekkie. I had to take my jacket off, had the heat on with all the windows cracked because my face was so hot and flushed, needed to change sunglasses because they were uncomfortable, was annoyed by NPR on the radio yet equally annoyed at the silence.

For most of the past month, I have survived on 6 or less hours of sleep per night, far more comfort food than a 49 year-old's hips can reasonably bear and have subsisted on the "Eens," caffeine and nicotine, along with the comfort staple, chocolate. I've gone out of my way to prepare my mother, son and brother for what some part of me could not deny was my father's impending death. I made peace with my dad and with myself in regard to him. I've been separated from my home, my usual surroundings and my rhythm, my routine. I've nursed and analyzed and forgiven and asked forgiveness. Thankfully, I haven't had to cook or clean but, as I don't do that at home either, that hasn't been much of a break.

What I neglected to do was really prepare myself for this, emotionally. Whoops! Minor omission.

Well, it all hit me this morning on the drive to therapy. Everything since the memorial service has been so surreal. The service was lovely, as I mentioned. But, now that the build-up is over, I seem to have completely run out of gas. I've been told on several occasions that I was running on fumes. Is this what they meant?

I'm heading back to my place sometime tomorrow. There's no rush now because, after my therapy session, I managed to get an appointment with my primary physician to ask for a note for work covering the rest of the week. When I asked, he suggested (rather strongly) that I just take off until April first. I really must look like hell right now! So, I'm going to play hookie for a few days, recuperate, return to my routine, spend quality time with Sadie and generally recharge my batteries. (I like the concept of me as a hybrid so very appealing!) I may just bore you to death over the weekend!

Since the meds are kicking in and I am utterly bone-tired, I'll leave you now. As usual when I'm writing when this tired, I reverve the right to republish in the cold, hard light of the morning...or afternoon, as I dearly hope will be the case tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blankies and Treasure Boxes

My dad died 4 days after my 49th birthday, 10 days before my son and daughter-in-law's 2nd wedding anniversary and 6 weeks before his first great-grandchild is due. He died 10 months after he first began to feel ill with what we all thought was 'merely' emphysema, 10 weeks after the definitive diagnosis was delivered to my mother, less than two months following the start of treatment and only 11 days into home hospice care. Am I the only one who believes there's something about all this that just sucks?

We seem to have really come together as a family since all this began. My son has grown into manhood during these past months. My mother has touched her humanity, never something she does easily or without struggle. I hope I have been able to help her do that and that she continues along that path. I've rediscovered my uncle, Ed's, family...what a treasure chest of joys and wonders they are. There will be more to follow about my extended family once I get home and have the cable that connects my camera to my computer! How could I have forgotten that?

We pitched in and sent Dad off with the kind of celebration on Sunday that would have made him proud. It made me proud to see all the people who came, hear all the lovely thoughts expressed. My Uncle Ed's wife, Sue, stood up and read a short, prepared statement about how much she'd loved my dad and how he'd affected her. She could barely get through it, she teared up so much. God bless was just what we needed, those of us closest to mother's family and her brother's. And I learned a few things through Sue's eyes...that someone besides me really did see what a gem Dad was...about how very much he loved my mother...about what a romantic he was by nature. I'm glad others could see that in him as well, not only that he was an excellent electrician and talented craftsman, loyal friend and loving father.

My father was an alcoholic. That should probably be considered up front. I love my dad but the truth is the truth. Dad never accepted that he had a problem with alcohol. You understand he only drank beer; he seldom missed a day of work because of the drink. In his mind, he dealt with his drinking. In my mind, his drinking raised a multitude of issues in the family when we were young. I can't remember where I heard it but this has always been my favorite definition of alcoholism...if alcohol causes problems in your life, then you have a problem with alcohol. But we simply didn't face these things in my family.

Dad quit smoking and drinking cold turkey following a hospitalization in 1994 with a cardiac arrhythmia. He had smoked up to 3 packs a day for more than 40 years. My best estimate would be that he drank 4 to 6 cans of beer almost every evening. To the best of my knowledge, he only drank during his workweek. He didn't seem to drink (or at least to the point of being drunk) on the weekends. Still, that's considerable. Maybe not cirrhosis of the liver drinking but significant. A couple of years ago, I started therapy and almost immediately glommed onto my dad's drinking, because it was one of the most significant factors in shaping who I have become. Alcohol does that. I purchased The Complete ACOA Sourcebook by Janet Woititz. If there's anyone out there who struggles with being the adult child of an alcoholic, I highly recommend it!

My son, Michael, and I discovered the wonders of the world together as he was growing up. We would wander in the woods around home and find the most amazing stuff...small, brown snakes or, better yet, their skins after molting; a bleached box turtle shell; a strangely twisted twig or an unusual rock. We collected more shells and water-tumbled stones on the beach than you could count. Dad once found a mouse skeleton and brought it home for Mike. Treasures, all. I loved that Dad shared our sense of wonder in the simple things of the world. I look forward to seeing that wonder revitalized in my son as he and Jen become parents.

My father gave Michael an old cigar box to keep his trinkets in. Mike reverently hoarded every tiny marvel he came across...bits of brightly-colored plastic; a shiny, broken toy he found, a feather, a bottle cap. When Mike was quite young, four or five, His grandfather conceived the idea of making him a Treasure Box. I don't know what kind of wood it is but, knowing my father, it probably came from his stockpile in the basement. He was born in 1932 and raised during the Great Depression. He wasn't cheap but he didn't like to waste. He saved everything! He had piles and piles of wood...2x4's, plywood, strip molding. You could barely walk through the basement; it was so overloaded with this "junk," his treasures. His whole basement was my father's treasure box. He was far from stingy, my dad. In fact, he was generous to a fault at times. He just liked to use what was on hand. He loved to improvise. If you needed anything to create something or complete a project, it was probably on hand in Dad's basement.

Over the intervening years, Michael's Treasure Box became the stuff of family lore and jesting. Before the cancer struck my father last spring, my parents had begun to clean out and organize Dad's "treasure box," their basement. Fifty years of married life and over thirty years in the same home can lead to the accumulation of a lot of treasures, especially in a family of pack rats! So, the treasure box was unearthed, long after Mike had a genuine use for it, after he'd already gone off to college and out in the big, bad world. Its only use now was sentimental. Sentiment became much more important this winter.

I presented Michael's Treasure Box to Dad after his affliction was confirmed to be mesothelioma. "I'd like you to work on this, Dad," I said at first. "It would mean a lot to me to know you made it and finished it. You could give it to Mike, finally, and he can give it to his son for his treasures. I'll bring up the things you tell me you need from the basement and set you up at the kitchen table or here, in the living room, on a tray table. You just tell me where the things are and I'll get them." Already, in mid-January, Dad was so affected by the cancer that he couldn't manage the basement stairs anymore. And, finding what he needed would not be an was pointed out at Dad's service, you could think a backhoe was buried under all that flotsam, but Dad could instantly go find anything you asked him to! Madness and method??

Mid-January became early February. There were trips to the oncologist, the pulmonologist, the cardiologist, the family doctor. There was a struggle to believe that it could happen, a fervent hope the drugs were working. There was the undeniable evidence, to me, that they were not. I tried to ignore that. I coped. By the second round of B-12 shots, Procrit and Neulasta, the offer had changed. "Tell me how you'd like to see this finished, Dad, and I'll do it. You can do your favorite thing and supervise me!" Truth be told, supervising was not my father's thing and we both knew it. Dad liked to roll up his sleeves and dive in. He liked to take charge in a hands-on manner. Dad liked to do. Now, Dad would have to do through me.

But the disease progressed so rapidly, even supervision was more than Dad could muster. The pain was distracting but not nearly as brutal as I've seen in others, thank God. Percocet handled it for a couple of weeks when Tyleonl no longer did. Morphine wasn't needed until hospice started. If I had to choose between quick or painful for my father, I'd choose quick every time. Very quickly, Dad was sapped of the energy to stay awake for longer than 15 or 30 minutes at a time. And his comprehension of things outside of loving you and feeling his pain became questionable. Then he got to a place where he was only awake when he needed to stool and was so upset that we couldn't help him out of bed to do that. It just wasn't possible...even in a wasted state, my father was more then my mother and I could easily manage and would surely have had more pain if we had gotten him up to the commode. Then we would clean him and tuck him in, tee-shirt pulled ll the way down in the back and pj bottoms stretched out over his long legs. Then it was Morphine and Ativan and sleep, blessed sleep.

Mike and Jen came to town the weekend before Dad died and the project fell to Mike and I. Thankfully, Mike was able to lead the way, because I just didn't have it in me to coordinate. Dad died before we could do anything more than find the hardware he's bought for the project (a real extravagance). In the week following Dad's death, we sanded and brushed on stain/polyurethane and sanded and examined and perfected. Mike put on the hinges and hasp lock since I couldn't seem to figure out how this simple mechanism should attach to the box. My ability left me and I didn't trust myself not to screw it up.

On Sunday, Michael's Treasure Box was the first thing in the display we created to commemorate Dad's life. I found a lovely, mulberry-colored chenille throw at Bed, Bath and Beyond which I draped over and fluffed up inside the fine wood box. Our family had a whole week to select the contents...a photo of the work Mike and I had done in the shed, that Dad never got to see because I couldn't transfer photos from my digital camera to my laptop; a beautiful copy of my sister, Lisa's, graduation picture; the Wawa coffee mug he used for work for years before he retired; old fishing lures; various tools; a father was never without a penknife in his pocket. Snapshots of my father's life, his most precious "treasures" on display, to share with those who loved him, those who will miss him terribly and those who wished they'd known him better.

I started this post on Monday, the day after my dad's memorial service. It's now 10:40 PM on Tuesday. Time is fast ticking away...I go back to work on Friday, I promised myself I wouldn't stay up too late because I have a therapy session at noon...Yet I dawdle. I read and respond to e-mails, I surf the web, I decide now would be the ideal time to categorize my e-mails. A little avoidance, do you think? Surely not!

Since Sunday, the mulberry chenille throw that graced the Treasure Box has been as constant a companion as my laptop. Maybe that doesn't mean a lot to those who stumble onto my hasn't seen a lot of activity the last few days. I am all about quality over quantity, in all aspects of my life, and I'm happy as a pig in slop about that! This throw is the softest, warmest thing I've ever wrapped myself in. It's just like the arms of my father are wrapped around me, just like the bear hugs of his aunt, in whose honor my lovely Sadie is named. It is all the loveliest, warmest memories spun into thread and softly woven just for me.

Oh, I wax poetic, meaning it must be time to take the dog out and head to bed. Therapy beckons on the morrow, joy of joys!

A sign attached to Michael's Treasure Box told the tale of its conception, creation and final preparation. It held a place of honor at the service, as it does in our hearts. It will become a family heirloom, like the pocket watch my father "picked out" for the baby from the bed on which he would breathe his last breath, like the child's rocking chair my dad's father crafted for him. The throw will remain mine, until it finally disintegrates in the washer. I hope that's not for many years. I have a lifetime of memories of my father to reminisce about and I want to be warm while I do that.

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