Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mom, Christmas's Expiration Date, and New Year's Eve, Part the First EDITED

Thank you for the waterfall of loving wishes that cascaded over me after my last post. Everything has worked out pretty much perfectly. After four-plus hours of nonstop phone calls and information-gathering, Mom added a new option to the mix: Merit Medi Trans, a non-emergency medical transport service operating in Northern California, which could get her from the airport to Chico. We talked through the merits of "stay in SoCal and heal before flying" vs. "Get home to Chico and heal there," and when it was laid out that baldly Mom picked option the second. So I went to MMT's website, saw that I'd have to call them . . . and promptly did this:

At that point, I realized that I could not make one more phone call and handed the reins to Little Brother. And God bless him, he connected the rest of the dots, getting Mom an airline ticket, arranging airport transport with the hospital, booking MMT, and making sure that Mom had a room at rehab.

She called me from the Merit Medi Trans van on her way to Twin Oaks Rehab yesterday. Success!!!!!!

I have also talked to Mom's besty, Tia Gabi, who promises to take Mom to the gym for weight-lifting. She has promised this before (she is Señorita Super Agreeable/Super Unreliable) but I think this was a come-to-Jesus moment for all of us, and maybe now she'll follow through.
Or she won't. I am very clear on how much control I have over this matter — and quite frankly, I don't make all the right health decisions for myself either, so who am I to judge someone else on this particular topic?

(On other topics, though — sister, get out of my way, I have some serious judging to do!!)

In other news, we "took down Christmas" yesterday. Husband expressed some surprise at the earlyness of this event, believing that "everyone I've ever known and currently know and have ever heard of waits till after the New Year" (I think that's an accurate quote. That's definitely the gist of it, anyway). And while I'm reasonably sure that I could cover Husband's eyes and he couldn't name more than 10 of our 10,000 decorations, so his sudden and deep interest in anything relating to the decorations struck me as curious, I was nonetheless intrigued and took a quick poll among some of my pallies. Brunie's response was the funniest:
The day after Christmas,  Mr. Brunie and I jumped over each other to tear that thing down. The boys came into the living room after waking up and said, "So Christmas is over then?" We were like, "Yes, please stop feeling joy now." It was lovely. And I now have my living room back.
The bottom line is that it doesn't matter when anyone else does it, we can do it whenever we want, yesterday we had a free day, we have other slightly un-fun events scheduled for the next few days (turning mattresses, writing thank-you notes), and I am always an advocate for "work first, play later" — so, voila! Time to take down Christmas.

Which we did, and it only took an hour. Bye-bye Christmas! See you next year.

Our New Year's Eve tradition is to buy appetizers and desserts at Trader Joe's, play games all night, watch the ball drop, and make a joyful noise (we open the front door and bang some pots and pans together). I think we're also going to see movies today; the boys want to see "The Interview" and Mimosa and I may see "Birdman." Fun!

This morning, I plan to clear some things off the counters (we broke some stuff yesterday while un-decorating, including the Spock nutcracker — oh, that poor guy — so I have some hot-gluing to do), write an angry letter to Kohl's, and put out lovely decorations for the New Year: silver candles in crystal candlesticks, bowls of pine cones and red berries, crocheted snowflakes hanging from my ficus, twinkle lights along the curtain rod in the living room. Things that are clean and sparkle and catch the light and make me feel happy about the coming winter. And then I'll go to the movies and eat popcorn and blue Slushee, and come home and eat and play with my family. A great day!

I also have some library books to read:

Plus some fun rereads:

Entertainment Weekly picked their favorite Agatha Christies, so I'm rereading all of their picks.

One book I will not be reading:

I tried one chapter . . . not for  me.

Time to start finishing 2014. Reflections and resolutions to come later — my day is already full.


— Lady C


I'd originally written Husband's quote as "everyone I've ever known and currently know and have ever heard of waits till after Christmas" to take down their decorations.

Well, yes. One would hope they'd wait until Christmas before dismantling the tree. My bad!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Curse of "May You Live in Interesting Times"

On Christmas Day, my mother — visiting Dad's family in Southern California —  lost her balance, fell, and broke three ribs. She's being treated at Palomar Medical Center, a brand-new facility in Escondido, and for the first couple of days it's all been pretty straightforward: no real treatment beyond Percocet, she just needs to heal.
But now she's about to be discharged and things are getting . . . interesting. Escondido is about 600 miles from Chico, where she lives (alone). The million-dollar question: How shall we get her from here to there?

So here I am in Boston, making phone call after phone call (and being constantly second-guessed, in the most loving way, by my sister-in-law who works for a medical technology company), and learning more about long-term health care options than I ever wanted to know. The funniest wrinkle is that Mom is having me investigate private medical transport by air; I said, "Where did you hear about this?" and she said, "I read it in a Dick Francis novel." Gotta love it. I'm looking at airlines, train travel, private van + gurney + EMT, travel with a medical escort, and, yes, a private plane – and I'm also talking to her doctor at home, her social worker at the hospital, and two different rehab places, one in Escondido and one in Chico, since we don't think she can stay alone yet.

And in the course of all this, I've learned a valuable phrase: "medically necessary." These are the key words to get Medicare to cover the costs. "Will this meet Medicare criteria?" That is my go-to question.

Another fun wrinkle in all this is that major airports don't fly into Chico; the closest we could get her is Sacramento, which means a drive of a couple of hours, which means that she has to get into and out of a car, which was hard for her even without broken ribs. I've mentioned that my mom has the strength of a kitten, right? And now it's come to bite her in the patootie.

Youngest brother (with the "helpful" wife) is a big fan of "tough it out" and wants Mom to get on a Southwest flight and take the airport van home to Chico. Older brother hasn't offered an opinion beyond a cheerful e-mail saying, "Thanks for keeping us in the loop!" Youngest brother and I are done with him.

The family she was visiting has their own issues: Aunt D's husband was in the hospital and might have died, though it looks like he's going to be okay, and Aunt V, who's done the bulk of the driving and caring for Mom, even with her two children visiting from across the country, is down with the flu. Uncle S's mother-in-law just died, at his house, on Christmas Day; Aunt N has volunteered to come stay with Mom but has a bad back herself and can't really help Mom in and out of chairs.

Anyway.  Lots going on! And it will all work out, one way or another. And hopefully this is the wake-up call my mom needs in order to start taking her health and fitness more seriously — or she won't, and she'll end up in assisted living in her 70s. Que sera sera. She is a big grown-up girl in full possession of all of her marbles and this is her choice.

Which is probably why, of the three kids, I end up dealing with all of this — because while I do argue with Mom, I also respect her decisions. Plus, frankly, I'm the only girl. Youngest brother questions everything and gets huffy and cold when you don't agree. Older brother smiles charmingly and does nothing. I told a friend recently that these are our titles:
  • The Bossy One Who Pulls Her Weight and More
  • The Lazy One Who Coasts and Gets Away with It
  • The Stuffy Sarcastic One Who Is Always Right, to Hear Him Tell It
Ha! This reminds me: As I was flipping through the community ed catalog the other day, I saw a class called "Coping with Difficult People" and read the course description aloud to Husband:
Coping means tactical intervention, not passive acceptance or hoping to change the personality of the difficult person. The seven types are the hostile-aggressive, the indecisive, the complainer, the negativist, the silent-unresponsive, the know-it-all, and the super-agreeable/super-unreliable.
He gave me a look. I said, "Don't you think I should take it?" He rolled his eyes and said, "If you think you need it." I said, "Thank you, Mr. Super-Agreeable/Super-Unreliable!" He said, "No problem, Mrs. Know-It-All."

We know each other so well.

I've talked to a million people so far today and now am waiting for folks to call me back. Did I mention that I woke up with a migraine and have barfed quite a bit? What can you do.

But I think I'm going to sit quietly now and just be still for a bit. Husband is bringing me a Big Mac (migraine treatment food) in a while, the house is quiet. Being still sounds very lovely. As Will Rogers once said:
Never miss a good chance to shut up.
— Lady C

p.s. Mr. Bacon and Monsieur Tofu have joined our nativity scene. Bacon looks like he's sneaking up on Mary, and Tofu is lecturing the Wise Men. Too funny.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Lists, and My Slavish Devotion to Them. Sorta

Brunie and I were talking about our favorite Christmas movies, and she convinced me to watch Last Holiday starring her ladywife Queen Latifah — and it is delightful! Check it out if you'd like to enjoy a light holiday romp, or (especially) if you're a lady who loves cool James. I'm just saying.

Hotttttt . . .

The kids and I saw Night at the Museum: I Think We're Done Now yesterday for Li'l Martini's birthday, and that was also a fun romp, though every single line uttered by Robin Williams seemed to have double meaning, which was bittersweet. But it was lovely to see all those old friends again, and we laughed a lot. Plus there's a surprising cameo that was especially delightful to me — I'll say no more, because half the fun is the surprise. Anyway, we liked it, even though Martini seems to have caught my cold (which I continue to hold at bay, but it's still lurking at the edges, waiting for a crack in my medical armor) and spent the two hours sinking lower in his seat and curling up against my shoulder — which was very sweet because even at 14, long and lanky as a colt and with an ever-deepening voice, he is still MY BABY!!!!

I'm officially On Vacation right now, though today I'm doing my very last Christmas shopping. I think. And then I'm invited to Good Neighbor Anne's for tea and cookies, which sounds lovely.

But even On Vacation, I still have projects I hope to get done before the New Year:
  • Tack down my living room rug (it had been in my bedroom for years; it took me a few months to decide I liked it in the living room)
  • Get the 242 freaking e-mails in my Inbox down to fewer than 50
  • Clean out the game cupboards; ideally get it down to one cupboard
  • Read and sign a bunch of financial forms
  • Finish my basement filing project
  • Write our Christmas letter
  • Deep-clean the dining room carpet
  • Clean the dining room chair cushions and tighten the chair screws
  • Do a bunch of things for my church committee
So fun, right? I don't know why I don't hop to these right away.

Here's a funner list:

Movie Scenes That Always Make Me Cry
  • The opening of Breakfast at Tiffany's (Oh Audrey)

  • Fred Astaire narrating the wedding of Kris Kringle and Jessica in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (don't judge me)
  • The scary old guy next door hugging his redheaded granddaughter at the end of Home Alone
  • Meryl Streep painting her daughter's toenails before her wedding in Mamma Mia!
  • The "La Marseillaise" scene in Casablanca
  • Burt Lancaster stepping across that line in Field of Dreams
  • All the toys bravely joining hands and preparing to die in Toy Story 3
There are probably more (Husband will know) but I'm a little weepy now and need to blow my nose.

Why is my throat sore? It is time to be well, dammit!! I need some drugs. And a hot shower. And a hot toddy, maybe, but that will have to wait. Sister, I've got a list to tackle!

Off to it.

— Lady C, icon of determined wellness

p.s. Here are my latest holiday nails:

I was going for a jewel tone thang — ruby, emerald, etc. — topped with glitter. Alas, what's most evident in this picture is that my cuticles are still inflamed. Another thing to add to the list, I guess.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Putting the "Ho" in "Holiday"

OK, not really. But I was a happy flirty party girl all day yesterday, which was great fun. I felt like crap for most of the week — some kind of bronchial malaise, plus migraine, plus exhaustion, plus persistent holiday stress that insists on creeping in through the cracks even though I am very very good at staying relatively chill this time of year (for Jesus!). But I got stuff done in the mornings and spent the afternoons sipping tea and resting quietly, and plus I brought in the big guns:

I swear, this is the best cold drug in the entire world. If you can catch your cold early and faithfully take these meds, your symptoms will be bearable and your cold will be gone in two days.

NOTE: This isn't the actual drug. Mine is called "CVS Severe Head Congestion Cold Relief Daytime," but I can't find an image for it. Weird! The box is red and teal with a yellow stripe, if that helps.

We're still having lots of fun here at Chez Chardonnay. I had hot lunch dates with Husband on both Monday and Tuesday, even though by Tuesday I was feeling sick and spent much of our lunch sinking lower in my seat. Husband was very solicitous, and we had yummy food and great talk.

The kids performed three times in the last two weeks (I got tired of going out at night, but the music was glorious). Mimosa sang with the Madrigals last week (stunning!), and Li'l Martini sang with the Boys Chorus on Wednesday (he had a solo!!!! e-mail  me privately if you want a link to the video recorded by MY NEW BEST AND FAVORITE FRIEND Writer Jenny, who is not the Worst Mother In the World, unlike moi) and played his glockenspiel on Thursday.


In the midst of that we watched the Survivor finale and cheered when our favorite, Natalie, was declared the winner. (Well, actually, our favorite was Josh, but he was voted out early.)

Speaking of Writer Jenny, she saved my bacon earlier in the week as well, and then she and I had a brush with death. But let me back up:

Mimosa's school pictures weren't offered in a package that I wanted; I need very few pictures, and I don't want to spend $40 for a bunch of extras. So I ordered only a handful of wallet-sized, figuring I would use the photo machine at Walgreens to blow them up to two 5x7s, which is all that I need.

Which is also against the law, because the photos are copyrighted.

Which you can get around sometimes if (1) you can get the machine to work yourself or (2) a bend-the-rules kinda person happens to be working the photo counter.

Unfortunately, neither item went my way that day, so I grumpily trudged into the aisles to find photo paper so we can scan and print them at home, and there I ran into Writer Jenny:
  • Me: I'm looking for photo paper.
  • WJ: I have tons. Want some?
  • Me: OMG yes, thank you. Oh, and happy Hannukah!
  • WJ: Thanks. I'm making latkes tonight and trying to think what to serve with them.
  • Me: Sour cream and applesauce?
  • WJ: Main dish.
  • Me: Ah. How about a great big ham?
  • WJ: Ha. My kids would actually love that. Nah, I'm thinking lentil soup but I don't have lentils.
  • Me: Ooh! I have lentils! I will trade you a bag of lentils for some photo paper, just as they did in the Old Country.
An hour later she e-mailed me:

We narrowly missed being hit by an 87-year-old man who apparently thought that Walgreens' front door was a drive-through window. Li'l Martini asked, "Is the driver in jail?" I said no. Thoughtfully, he considered this, then said, "What do you have to do to get put in jail?" Good question, my friend!

(The Registry is "reviewing" the driver's record to see if he should continue to have a license. I do have an opinion on that . . .)

Yesterday I felt much better; the spring was back in my step and the ache was gone from my throat. I got some shopping done at Target, then had a glorious our-vacation-begins-NOW lunch with Mrs. Cynicletary:

(This is her drink. You know what I drink.) We were very happy and flirty with our adorable waiter, and I came home with a huge bag of foccacia and garlicky bread dip for Mimosa.

Then it was time for an evening with Brunie! First we drank sangria and got gussied up for Sister Hart's party:

Brunie let me put make-up on her. Isn't she pretty? I wish you could see her manicure, which she calls "bondage Santa."

And then we drove to Nashua, New Hampshire, on a lovely winter's eve, with minimal traffic and a song in our hearts!
  • Brunie: You know where we're going, right?
  • Me: Well, I know which exit to take. Not so much after that. But I think we are good at figuring it out.
  • Brunie: I think that we are not.
  • Me: So, we disagree.
We did eventually find it, thanks to the wit and wisdom of Brunie's GPS, "Lady." (We were in a driveway when we turned her on, and Lady said, "Head southeast down wherever the heck you are, then turn left on Nowell." Something like that.)

Sister Hart throws an excellent soiree. As my Constant Readers know, I am usually awkward at parties, but I've gotten to know her friends over the years so I feel more comfortable. And her food is sublime. She made a sliced roast beef that was so tender you barely had to chew it, served with a mouth-puckeringly delicious horseradish sauce . . . how I regret that my stomach is a finite space. And I enjoyed many glasses of my signature drink and then finished the evening with a hearty cupful of rum-spiked eggnog — oh my. So so so good!!! And we laughed and chattered and had a very jolly time. Great party!

(I told two funny stories, one involving my son and duct tape, and one involving a particularly unsavory plot twist in the play my friends Mrs. Cynicletary and Handsome D recently starred in — and then repeated these stories for the rest of the night, as every time a new person came in someone would say, "Tell your duct tape story! Tell your Barbie head story!" I began to feel like I was on continuous loop. But it made for easy conversation, which is not a bad thing for the socially awkward.)

Today is Chore Day, of course, and I have a few things to gather and wrap for Li'l Martini's 14th  birthday tomorrow and a gift certificate to buy for Kind Tina, but otherwise it should be a lovely chill day. I'm reading an excellent book:

And I've fallen in love with this show, which I'm watching via Netflix:

I've only seen Season 1; don't tell me anything.

Oh, my — how did it get to be 10:35?? Time to start my easy, restful day! Because: I'm on vacation!!! And I'm so glad to finally be feeling it!!!

Happy day, my friends.

— Lady C, party girl

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Beethoven's Birthday and Other Things to Celebrate

Today would have been my dad's 81st birthday. He didn't go in much for personal celebrations (Father's Day meant next to nothing at our house); he didn't like "hoopla" or "frippery," and he always insisted that we delay the Christmas decorations ("frippery") until his birthday had been celebrated. He disliked cake. He was hard to shop for, saying that the best present would be for us kids to simply be good all year.*

(Keep dreaming, Dad. You're getting a tie.)

But he got older and I got older. He mellowed a bit and I got better at (1) choosing creative presents and (2) standing up to him. I reminded him that he had taught his children to be gracious in every situation and that when someone hands you a present, you smile and say thank you, Mr. Grinch.

On his 70th birthday, I bought seven $10 gift certificates from his favorite stores and restaurants in Chico, wrapped them in different gift wrap, and arranged them like a fan. Cute! The one place that didn't sell gift certificates was his beloved Chinese dining destination Egg Roll King** — so I simply taped a $10 bill to a card with a picture of an egg roll and a crown glued to it. Dad loved it. Later, I found the card in a box of his special things.

I know that I will miss him forever, but I'm greatly encouraged to hear from all of you that the pain does eventually diminish. He was a great, awesome, fun, funny, loving dad, and I am a very lucky girl. And today I very happily celebrate the fact of his birth and the 80+ years he spent on this earth. He is definitely someone who made the world a better place.

In the meantime, I just finished a HUGE ENDLESS editing job, 320 pages about the HIV response in Botswana, hunched over my computer for two straight weeks and doing my best to reinstate my dowager's hump. It felt so good to stop!!! And now I'm going to try not to take on any new work (but continue to be a squeaky wheel for some of those still-outstanding paychecks, grr arggh!) and just enjoy getting ready for Christmas.

Shopping! I always vow that I will do lots of shopping in Arlington and support the local merchants.

But instead, I usually do a lot of this:

Also, cookie-baking! Starting today — we've been asked to bake Christmas cookies for the guys doing the renovation at our church. Sure, why not. I've got time!

I'm making a tunic, cape, and hood for Li'l Martini out of a thin blanket and a thin bedspread that he bought at Goodwill (he wanted a LARP — live action role-play — costume) and watching lots of holiday movies while I sew. On Sunday I watched Come to the Stable (love!!) and last night Husband and I watched The Lemon Drop Kid, which we'd never seen before and was lots of fun.

 My decorations are up (except for the outdoor lights, Husband)***, but our Nativity scene continues to evolve. This isn't ours but it gives you a good idea of what we've got going on:

It's a week of festivities — two concerts, four lunch dates, a holiday party at Sister Hart's — and on Sunday, my baby turns 14 and I have a birthday to plan! Happy happy joy joy. Sincerely.

And since my new pal Fresca asked, yes, I sported a lovely holiday manicure all last week:

But it's beginning to fade, so it's coming off today or tomorrow and I'll switch to something equally festive and glammy.

I'm about to meet a church friend for coffee, then do some holiday shopping at Walgreens, Trader Joe's, and Starbucks (the complex at the bottom of my hill, where I might as well live). My plan is to wrap and package everything that I'm mailing today (including a set of junior golf clubs that I sold on eBay; I packaged them yesterday, and the resulting bulky entity looks like I'm mailing either a sawed-off shotgun or a human leg). I'm also having a hot lunch date with Husband, where we'll price new sofas and do some more shopping, and tonight Mimosa and I are attending a play written and staged by one of her pallies. A fun busy day, which is what Dad would have wanted.

But somewhere in there I'll call Mom, and we'll probably cry a little together. Dad would not have wanted that but he would have understood.

These are the days of miracle and wonder — not the least of which is my period, which showed up after 123 dry days. At least I didn't throw away my tampons.

Hey, if you think of it, drink a toast to my dad today, will you? It will make me happy to know that people are thinking of him.


Lady C

* My thing lately has been to contemplate how easy-breezy my life would be if the other three Chardonnays just did what they were supposed to do, without my having to stay on top of them all the time. How much extra time I would have! How much freed-up mental space! How much serenity!! But then I wonder, is this my version of "just be good all year"? Ah, well. A Lady can dream!

** He often took Mom to Egg Roll King for their wedding anniversary. Seriously. His commitment to no hoopla was legion.

*** Husband just finished his own gargantuan job – grading – so I only quietly murmured about the lights up till now. But his grades were turned in yesterday, the volume on "quiet murmur" goes to 11 today!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Strong Christmas Spirits

 (Those aren't my nails, but you had better believe that I'm doing mine like this tonight!!)

Oh, how I love this season! Love love LOVE.
(Even the parts I hate.) ☺︎

I am so full of the Christmas spirit, I burst into tears just looking at a fruitcake. (That quote is not original to me, but I bet I've said it more than the original author, Ms. Betty MacDonald, did. And if you've never read anything by Betty MacDonald, get yourself to inter-library loan right this minute and request The Plague and I or Anybody Can Do Anything, two of the funniest books ever written.)

Yesterday was lovely, even though it was Chore Day, which usually has me gnashing my teeth and muttering over the filth-wallowing debris-strewing sloths I live with. But I poured a glass of wine at a relatively early hour (Christmas spirits!!), which is a good coping strategy for me, and I stayed mostly serene and mostly merry and bright, and all was well.

Then I went to hear my girl sing with the Madrigals at Barnes and Noble. It was a slightly rainy afternoon, three Saturdays before Christmas, and as you might imagine the parking lot was a jungle. But I employed my parking karma (I also have the gift of unseasonal-weather-whilst-vacationing karma; natives are always commenting, "It's never this warm/lovely/dry this time of year!" when I'm there — it's a gift) and got a spot almost directly across from the front door. The singing was lovely; a B&N employee commented that the group sounded "practically professional," which is always a nice thing for a proud mama to hear.

My girl has been a bit blue this season; she told me a week or so ago that she just wasn't "in the Christmas spirit," so we had a little heart to heart yesterday about the words "should" and "have to" when it comes to Christmas. I urged her to do only the things that sounded fun to her; this season is about celebrating the birth of a baby who grew up to change the world, and nothing else. All the other stuff is frippery, and if it isn't fun, there is literally no point to it.

Whether it was my wise words** or the irresistible joys of the season, I dunno, but after she sang, she and I had a nice dinner at Legal Seafoods and then did some Christmas shopping at the Burlington Mall — and that perked her right up. The mall is magic!!! God help us.

Everybody come and play
Throw every last care away
Let's go to the mall today
Let's go to the mall, everybody!

I wish Mom were still here (I've washed her sheets and towel and washcloth and the shirt she borrowed from Mimosa because she didn't believe me when I told her how warm it gets here on some days — winter weather in Massachusetts is a mix tape of delights — but I forgot about her napkin, and I teared up when I reached into the placemat-napkin drawer the other day), but I'm having fun re-decorating the tree (the kids hang ornaments right in front of each other, were they raised in a barn???) and lighting my Christmas candles at night and sipping eggnog and eating Trader Joe's Christmas cookies and thinking about what to buy everyone. Soon it will sink in that Christmas is three weeks away and I only have a handful of presents in, well, hand . . . but that day is not today.

Dad's birthday is in 10 days. He would have been 81. Mimosa and I are seeing a play that night; I'm glad I have something concrete and fun to look forward to. 
My tummy is happily full of homemade chili and cornbread and salad and applesauce; I'm going to go sit in my comfy green chair and read my mystery and have a cup of coffee and go to bed early. (And paint my nails, of course!)

A perfect weekend!

— Lady C, Christmas queen

** B&N had a 10-percent-off sale for teachers yesterday and a store employee asked me, "Are you an educator?" I said, "Well, I say wise and instructive things all the time, but no one actually pays me for it; I consider it my gift to the world." Without batting an eye, she said, "Tell me about it."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ready to Muster My Wits

Mom left yesterday. I was up at 5 a.m. to drive her to the airport. Yeah, there's two things I hate: getting up and heading out when it's still dark (and it astonished me to see how much Boston traffic there was; whatever job requires you to be driving in the city at 5:45 a.m., I never want that job), and saying goodbye to my mother. I cried and cried, like a baby — but only after she left, so she wouldn't feel bad. About my pain.


It was wonderful to have her here. We laughed a LOT, and my house is gorgeously decorated for Christmas. Once Husband puts up the outdoor lights (usually after his grades are turned in), Chez Chardonnay with be an icon of dazzling holiday beauty!

(OK, no, we don't decorate the toilet. But — ideas!)

We saw many of my besties during her visit, which was awesome; Good Neighbor Anne came over on Thanksgiving afternoon, and Mrs. Cynicletary and Handsome D were here for drinks and games and dessert — so fun. On Friday, Brunie and her pretty mom stopped by to enjoy tasty leftovers (Husband looked at my lovely table and said, "Am I invited to this lunch? It looks . . . girly") and drink Planters Punch and talk a few; on Saturday, Nurse Kathy joined us for cocktail hour (I finally remembered to serve my homemade limoncello! and boy howdy is it good!!), then, after a simple sandwich supper, we all headed over to Superdad's for a dessert buffet. On Sunday, Mom saw many of my favorite church friends, including Kind Tina and Mrs. Professor. Mom gets along so well with all my friends, and I know she likes knowing that I'm encircled by good people, so far away from home.

I've been eating and gorging and drinking like I'm going to the Chair, and it's time to do something different. Two things happened recently that made an impression on me:
  • My Alterna-Husband and his nice wife came to dinner a couple of weeks ago; I haven't seen them for a while, and he in particular has lost so much weight, he is almost unrecognizable. Over the last year, he's lost 50+ pounds and she's lost 40 some. Their approach is to eat five times a day, to stay within 250 calories per meal, and to include 5 grams of fiber each time, for a total of 1,250 calories and 25 g of fiber every day. He also takes a daily walk; I'm not sure about her, nor what else they do for exercise. But as we all know, eating makes the biggest difference, and they have clearly found something that works for them.
  • I read an article titled "5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes" (which, longtime readers may recall, is the disease I fear most, as I am the overweight daughter of a diabetic mother and maternal grandfather), and it also suggested multiple smaller meals, along with very specific guidance on what a snack should comprise:
(1) A fruit or vegetable (ideally both)
(2) PLUS a protein (e.g., cottage cheese, Greek yogurt)
(3) PLUS a complex carbohydrate (e.g., whole-wheat crackers, popcorn)
A week of cheese, sugar, bacon, and hooch was delightful, but I'm feeling ready to try both of these approaches.

Since my cortisone shots, my knees have progressed through feeling 90 percent healed to acting a little wonky again (though better than before the shot); my right knee hurts when I walk for a while, and my left knee suddenly buckles for no good reason, all of which makes me nervous about taking a walk away from home. Now, have I done the physical therapy I promised I'd do? Ha.

So, that's something I definitely need to start, plus get back into weight-lifting. Watching my weak, weak mother try to get up from a seated position, or try to pull a seatbelt across her body, has inspired me. Strength is key. Stronger muscles will protect me. Use it or lose it.

I have some editing work to do today, but I will do something muscle-y before I take my shower. This is my vow! And tonight I'll do physical therapy before I go to bed. (It's mostly lying-down exercises, so my bed is a good place. I'll do it while watching Jeopardy! This is Kids Week, I can watch with half an eye.)

Final thoughts:

I wish I lived closer to my mom.

Time to work.

— Lady C

p.s. Thank you, all of you, who sent such nice, supportive notes on the day I posted about being so sad and missing Dad. The thing that I keep coming back to is this: Dad was so stoic — definitely a grit-your-teeth-and-get-through-it kind of guy. I feel like he'd be disappointed in me.

BUT. Dad and I almost never had the same reaction to almost anything. Why should this be any different?!

I appreciate your kindness very much. You are good friends.

A fruit or vegetable (or ideally both) A protein like low fat cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, lean meat (turkey, chicken or tuna), or a hard-boiled egg, AND A complex carb like whole-wheat crackers or pita bread, or popcorn. - See more at:
Snack more. Eating a healthy, balanced snack in between smaller meals helps to control blood sugar and quell your hunger so you don’t overdo it at the next meal.  Healthy snacks should consist of:
  • A fruit or vegetable (or ideally both)
  • A protein like low fat cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, lean meat (turkey, chicken or tuna), or a hard-boiled egg, AND
  • A complex carb like whole-wheat crackers or pita bread, or popcorn.
- See more at:
Snack more. Eating a healthy, balanced snack in between smaller meals helps to control blood sugar and quell your hunger so you don’t overdo it at the next meal.  Healthy snacks should consist of:
  • A fruit or vegetable (or ideally both)
  • A protein like low fat cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, lean meat (turkey, chicken or tuna), or a hard-boiled egg, AND
  • A complex carb like whole-wheat crackers or pita bread, or popcorn.
- See more at: