Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ho Effing Ho

OK, I don't really mean that. I'm actually feeling pretty cheerful and upbeat, because I've been ON VACATION for 24 hours!!!! Which doesn't mean that life gets any slower for me, per se, but I am not shackled to my computer by clients. And that is HUGE.

Things are a tad "unsettled" at Chez Chardonnay. Turns out, Mimosa had a pretty tough time her first quarter away at college, which she didn't tell us, and she was briefly in danger of flunking all of her classes (which the college legally can't tell me, because my cherub is 19 and protected by FERPA). But to my astonishment, she pulled a rabbit out of a hat and is going to be okay academically.

But while she was dealing with the crazy-stress of massive denial, her mental health took a plunge, and her party-girl roommates said "Enough!" and moved out.  Honestly, I am not sorry to see those girls go  — I vividly remember the night Mimosa texted me "There are used condoms stuck to the wall by Courtney's bed!!!!" Ohmygod, what a PIG — but still. It's a rejection, and it hurts.

And in the midst of all this, Li'l Martini turned 16 yesterday and did the thing he's been dying to do for almost two years now: went to the Registry to get his learner's permit. He's been reading the booklet and taking online tests and was so excited!

And then . . . he didn't pass the written test. And took it a second time. And didn't pass.

He is very glum. And I am out $60, but let's not dwell. Mimosa had to take the driving test twice, which I suspect will not be the case for him; I supported her and I will support him; he will study hard and pass next time. Or he won't.  Whatever. Eventually he will pass.

It's been a fun time in Martini-land too, because he caught a case of folliculitis caused by a too-tight Madrigals costume (don't ask — and don't look at Google Images, you'll be horrified) and has been Poxy Boy for more than a week. But he's practically back to normal now, thank God. It was NOT attractive.

But things are looking up for everyone.  I have five days off to celebrate the happiest holiest holiday with my family, Mimosa got into an a capella group and will get two fresh new roommates next quarter, Li'l Martini got a great part in the school play and is getting good grades in all his classes,  Husband has strung up half the Christmas lights, which are lovely, and we are having Greek Salmon and onion-jam-and-goat-cheese toasts for dinner tonight, YUM!!

I pride myself on being "good at Christmas," and this year I've been quite chill while dealing with all the family drama. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus — all this other stuff we do is frippery and hoopla. The minute it stops being fun, we must stop doing it. Period.

All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Merry merry, happy happy!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Days of My Lives

I've plotted out how I'm going to finish this giant math book I'm editing (which is actually four math books) by my self-imposed deadline of my son's birthday.* I literally have a grid of every day between now and December 21 (yes, weekends too, shoot me now), with a Herculean task listed on each day. Well, we'll see. So far so good, and I have a lot of time this week to focus; my other clients are staying quiet and non-needy (knock on wood!), which is just how I love them this month.

My fondest dearest hope is that I get so far ahead this week that I can take the weekend "off" and do all my other life crap. And maybe go to the movies, I haven't seen a movie in a theater in years.

On my plate:
  • Proofread Ruth Doan MacDougall's two latest books!!!!
  • Finalize a bunch of church stuff — fall term is ending, winter term begins, lots of things to do
  • Get ready for Christmas!
  • Ride my bike and lift weights, in prep for my upcoming major surgery
All I really do is sit and read and edit, day in, day out, but here are some random newsy bits that I found entertaining:
  • I've been very dedicated about my Deep Water class, which is so much fun. The hardest part is getting my body into a swimsuit and out the front door (it's dark, it's cold, this is exactly LAST on my list of what sounds good at 6:50 p.m.), but once I'm on my way, I'm happy. Anyway! At the end of class, I take my hair out of my tight scrunchy bun and shake it out, and everyone around me oohs and aahs. It is quite gratifying. My hair is longish right now, and I curl it on pink foam rollers, because I would love to be a 1950s' housewife. Fortunately, Husband always thinks I'm cute ("You look great!" "You are no judge of this." "What do you mean?" "You think I look great when I floss." "Yeah! So?").
So that's fun, hearing all the ladies murmur over pretty pretty me, but last night I got a rather surprising compliment after a swim class:
Swim Lady: Do you sing professionally?
Me: Uh, no?
Swim Lady: You should.
Our teacher, Badass Beverly, plays a range of music, some of which I HATE, but last night she was totally singing my life with her words, and I sang along to every lyric from the Forrest Gump soundtrack. And apparently I've found my new career! Hee.

  • My cancer prevention doc is such a cutie — about my age, I think, but a teensy little thing; she wears short flippy skirts and long jazzy earrings and is just adorable. I said that I was thrilled to be more than halfway through my Tam experience, and she said, "So, do you want to quit?" I said, " . . . ?" 
I kinda don't feel like it should be up to me! (Though, hmm, I have many years of experience as a Candy Striper. And I read First You Cry, Betty Rollin's account of her breast cancer, probably 20 times, so maybe I am very well qualified to make this decision, how do I know.) She said, "Its benefits are cumulative. We think five years is good. We think 10 years is really good. It's up to you." I said, "Well, I've come this far, I might as well stick out the five years," but I'm thinking, Oh, shit, 10 years??? No no no.
  • Hmm, speaking of cancer prevention, I believe I failed to update you on my colonoscopy. Remember last time how I had a horrible migraine, they couldn't get the IV in and I cried, I threw up afterward,** and after all that my preparation got a grade of "Fair"? 
WELL. This time, I followed the bland low-fiber diet meticulously (gross), which is much easier to do when you're freaking told about it ahead of time. I drank lots of caffeinated tea and didn't have a headache, they had no trouble inserting the IV, I felt quite well on the whole, and it all went swimmingly. And my scrupulous preparation paid off with a grade of: "Fair."

Turns out (oh, this is so lovely — I can't wait to share it with you!), "obesity" is a risk factor for Fair preparation. My body fat is keeping my colon from emptying completely. Good. God.

Next time, in addition to the TWO "cleanse agents" I have to consume, I have to be on Miralax for a week ahead of time. SHOOT ME NOW.

Well, it's many years from now, I will have two gorgeous knees by then, maybe I will have lost a lot of weight and not be so morbidly obese any more. A girl can dream. I'd like to be thinner so I can finally get an A on my colonoscopy! Hey, whatever motivates you.
  • I also had my yearly mammogram, my boobs are perfect, and Dr. Dixie shared a most interesting fact with me. My last period was in January, I'm still waiting to hit that one-bloodless-year menopause milestone, but she said, "The fact that you made it through spring and summer without a period is huge. Those are usually big triggers for women!" Which makes sense if you think about it biologically, as I try to do with all things, because I am just that scholarly.
Fingers crossed!
  • Writer Jenny convinced me that I needed to give The Women (which Brunie and I dissed during our annual movie marathon weekend) another chance, so I spent several hours with my wonderful friend in her gorgeously redone living room, watching a flawless print of this movie on a screen that's larger than my car, eating delicious appetizers. and drinking perfect Black Manhattans concocted by her magnificent husband, whose bartending skills are epic. The movie was delightful (though seriously, in those surroundings, how could it not be??), the Black Manhattans went down smoooooooth, I stayed for 17 hours, then came home and fell asleep in my own bathtub. I thought it was pretty funny, though Mrs. Cynicletary (when I told her the story) yelled at me for an hour and might have dropped the name "Whitney Houston" several times.
In any event: it was so much fun!!! Writer Jenny and I plan to do it again with many more classic movies (though, hmm, maybe at my house next time? Much less glammy than hers, for sure, but will I drink less if I have to make the drinks? Hard to say).
Freaking diva.
And I must put it in writing: Writer Jenny was RIGHT,  and I was WRONG. The Women is a perfect delight! I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially when my girls Paulette Goddard and Marjorie Main showed up. I "entertained" Jenny by telling her stories of what a diva Norma Shearer was and how mean she was to Carole Lombard, whom I adore, and Jenny patted my arm and said, "I think you need to let this go." Such a fun night! I can't wait to do it again. I've suggested Picnic, His Girl Friday, Idiot's Delight, and Rebecca — nothin' but good times ahead.
Probably I have more to say but I've been at this computer since 8 a.m. (it is now 6:30 p.m.), and it's time to look at something else.



*    Li'l Martini: I've decided what I want to do for my Sweet 16.
      Me: Uh — become a girl?

** Every time we drive past that Starbucks now, Husband notes that that's where I threw up after my colonoscopy. Every. Single. Time.

After this one, he said, "Want me to take you to that Starbucks where you like to throw up?"

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sated, Satisfied, Seriously Happy

YUM. That is my take on our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing was terrible and most things were delectable. And the best part, of course, is being four at table again. So happy to have my girl home where she belongs!!!!

Sexy Em was supposed to join us but begged off at the last moment, which was fine — and we still miss Arty Jenny, our longtime Thanksgiving companion of many years, now in Portland, Oregon. And I'd mentioned to several friends that they should stop by for cocktails on their way to their (boring) dinners, but no one did.

It's really okay, though! I truly, truly love having just my three favorite people in the world around the table with me. Friends joining us is great, friends not joining us is great. I'm happy either way.

Here's the food report, from worst to first.

  • Salami Chips with Mustard Dip: These were my biggest disappointment because I thought they sounded AMAZING — I guess I was imagining a salami-flavored potato chip. (AMAZING.) But they were just okay. The first batch tasted kinda burnt (though I followed the directions), and the second batch, which I cooked for two fewer minutes, weren't quite crispy enough, and neither batch was particularly exciting. Husband liked them a lot, though.
  • Zucchini Fritters with Tzatziki Dip: The fritters were bland and the dip was way too spicy (too much fresh garlic, I fear) — but I'm still calling it a win, because frying a fritter is not part of my kitchen skill set, and yet these were lovely, crisp and golden, AND I didn't know you could make a good tzatziki without cucumber! I love tzatziki as a dip, and now I will make it more often. (I don't mind the cucumber, but Husband loathes it and I am a Good Wife.)
  • Candy Cane Puffs: I will definitely try these again — I cooked them too long, and next time I will flatten them a little; right now they are rock-like in both shape and consistency. But the flavor is very good — a basic sugar cookie brushed with melted white chocolate and dipped in crushed candy canes. Pretty and toothsome!
  • Pilgrim Pineapple Sunrise: Pineapple juice, lime, tequila, powdered sugar. Yum! I tinkered with the ingredients a bit, because I like a slightly tarter taste; the first batch was a little sweet. But a delightful drink.
  • Pineapple-Ginger-Lime Mocktail: I shook this up for Husband, and he said it was delicious! The sip I had was mighty nice.
  • Shrimp Tomatillo Cocktail: The shrimp, which I boiled myself with lemons, peppercorns, and dill seeds, are fantastic! And the tomatillo sauce is fine, but it doesn't beat regular cocktail sauce, which I adore.
  • Someone's Aunt Annabelle’s Crab Dip: I took one bite of this and burst out laughing — it tastes exactly like something my grandma would have made. A very 1950s' recipe — and white white white. If I make it again, I will add some color. But it was (as the heading says) quite tasty.
  • Candied Bacon Sticks: These are usually the kids' favorite, and Li'l Martini thought they were as good as ever, but Mimosa and I  were less impressed this year. I bought thicker breadsticks than usual, and I think it makes a difference — thinner is better. (A life lesson.) But still: broiled breadstick, bacon, and brown sugar — what's not to like?
  • Asparagus, Pepper, and Prosciutto Roll-Ups: Nice flavors and textures, and especially yummy when dipped lightly in the mustard dip.
A note on the salads: We always serve at least one salad at Thanksgiving, and for a few years now I've been doing a selection of three small perfect salads (Tre Belle Insalate) — but I think I am going to stop doing that. They're a lot of work — all that dicing! — and none has every been SO fantastic that I'm tempted to make it again. One salad is plenty. That said, all three salads this year were very nice.
  • Edamame Succotash Salad: I liked the look of this recipe because it used edamame instead of limas and had fresh corn and lots of herbs. It was very nice — a bright and fresh-tasting salad.
  • Green Bean and Mushroom Salad: Very simple, very tasty.
  • Broccoli Salad: We've had this before, and it is divine! (Yes, Lady Darcy, I hear you retching.) Raw chopped broccoli, red onion, bacon, raisins, sliced almonds, and a creamy sweet-and-sour dressing. I think I didn't put quite enough dressing on it tonight, which is the only thing keeping it out of the best-of-the-best category. 
  • Glazed Orange Pound Cake: Perfectly tasty, but not as good as my regular orange cake. I never really love pound cake, I always find it a little dry — not sure why I can't seem to remember this!
  • Dark Chocolate Mousse: Again, perfectly tasty, but very dark, and I have another chocolate mousse recipe I like better.
  • Rosemary Cashews: So so so so good. A fantastic recipe.
  • Apple Julep: My surprise favorite of the cocktails I made! So simple — bourbon, cider, and a dash of cider vinegar, garnished with an apple slice — but deceptively delicious! They went down smoooooth.
  • Raspberry and Citrus Martini: A little workier, because it involves muddled raspberries, and then I had to strain it to avoid a drink full of berry bits — but a wonderful combo of flavors.
  • Chicken Enchilada Dip: Never disappoints!
  • Onion Jam and Goat Cheese Toasts: A new recipe this year, and the surprise winner! Everyone LOVED these. Toasted baguette spread with soft goat cheese and topped with sweet onions that were cooked down with lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar. Sophisticated and delicious!!!

As is our annual tradition, I forgot to make Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes, a recipe I've trotted out for years and have yet to concoct even once. We're not hurting for food, believe me! Maybe tomorrow night, while we watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

We concluded our evening by watching Lars and the Real Girl (love that movie!) and playing spirited rounds of Scattergories, Speed Scrabble, and Consequences.

A perfect holiday! I hope yours was as well.

lots of love,

Lady C

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Any Second Now . . .

. . . my beautiful daughter will walk through my front door!!!

I haven't seen her since we dropped her off at college in mid-August. A friend at church seemed startled by this, and I realized – the reason it's been so long is that she lives in New York City and I can't walk. If I were spry and healthy, I probably would've gone down in October, explored my girl's 'hood, taken in a show, treated her to yummy meals and hot drinks, been a Mom. But all I can do is sit and look at her, and while I would find that very satisfying, I imagine she'd get a little tired of it.

Anyway. I told her that I planned to come live with her in April, after my surgery, and she said, "Great! You'll be the best roommate I've had so far."

(Her roommates are . . . okay enough. But she did not exactly win the Roommate Lottery, I fear.)

I miss her so so so SO MUCH, and I am so excited to have her home for a few days!

In other news: I've been cooking up a storm all day and am very excited for tomorrow's most excellent meal. Report to come!

And my readers will be happy and relieved to know that all three cocktails I've chosen for this year are delightful.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Still Looking for My Extra Hour

I seem to be so busy all the time lately. I was hired for a huge editing job, two giant books that each have a giant stack of accompanying handouts, and when I'm done I will get a ridiculous amount of money. But I will be at this for a couple of months — and since I can't go two months without any money coming in I keep saying yes to my other clients, who have been needing me on a steady basis for a while now.

And church is busy-busy; in these times of declining church attendance, my weirdo church continues to grow like Topsy, which means more kids in Sunday school, which means more work for Kind Tina and for me, her committee chair and confidante. And also, the families of Arlington, Mass., are in extra need of comfort, community, and succor this week, right at the time of year when we have lots of Big Programming already planned. Last Sunday the place was packed, and I think people really wanted to sit in a huge virtual hug and have our minister reassure us, but it was Music Sunday, the musical groups had been practicing for weeks, we couldn't postpone it. And this Sunday is our annual all-generation Thanksgiving service; the kids are with us all morning, we do a cornbread communion (which I cannot stand), and there is a (usually lame) play.

(This year's play is no exception. I rewrote it heavily, so it's a little better than it was, but as I said to Husband, "If you're a flower planted in dung, no matter how beautiful your blooms are, you're still a dung flower." Feel free to quote me.)

(Husband and I will be playing the key roles of Washer Woman and Washer Man. I expect we'll bring down the house.)

The leaves fall and must be raked. Things come in the mail for Mimosa that must be forwarded. People have birthdays, people die, all of which must be acknowledged. My family continues to eat on a regular basis.

And am I doing what I vowed to do — getting stronger pre-surgery? Hardly. Though I am being very dedicated about going to my deep water class, partly because I think the universe punished me for blowing it off last Tuesday by electing Mr. Trump.

No. I sit at my computer and work and work and work until I can't stand it any more, and then I chip away at my endless pile of things to do. And somehow, I don't seem to see "ride bike" and "lift weights" as a to-do item.

Today, after working for three hours, I finalized our Thanksgiving menu and put the lawn mower back in the shed (after wiping it off because it had been left out in the rain) and attempted to fix the broken spoke in my pink umbrella with duct tape and put my laundry away and purchased snacks for tonight's subcommittee meeting and gave the cats lunch. Once I post this I'll go back to work, though what I really want to do is climb into bed and sleep for three years.
(I have found an amazing soporific: The Mortal Storm, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. I was asleep two seconds into the opening credits!)
This is really all I have to say. I would like to get back into the habit of blogging, I think it is good for me, but I suspect the next few weeks' worth of posts will sound a lot like this:
Hi, today I worked some more. And did some other stuff. Bye!
Mimosa comes home for Thanksgiving a week from today. I am beside myself with joy.

But now I must return to work. And do some other stuff.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trying to Make Sense of the Senseless

For me, Tuesday evening could not have been off to a better start. My pal Brunie came over to watch election returns with me. We had electoral maps and crayons, cold white wine, and yummy Chinese food. We also dropped by my neighbor's house to sample Nasty Woman cocktails — for science! (Verdict: not so great. But it was still fun to try them. And Brunie loved building a Lego White House.)

The polls were predicting a relatively easy win for my girl Hillary, whom I fell in love with in 1991 (I always say, "She had me at the headband") and have been voting for since 2008.
All the ingredients for a perfect night!

But then Brunie left and suddenly America started turning red, a giant hemorrhage oozing all over my electoral college coloring sheet.

And you know what happened next. I guess I've had my head in the sand, because I truly didn't believe it was possible.

As a dear friend wrote to me today, "We've had repellent nincompoops in the White House before, and we've had charming nincompoops in the White House before, and America has endured. But never a nincompoop of this caliber."

And yet, and yet. As incomprehensible as I find it, people I love and admire would be feeling just as bad as I feel right this moment if Hillary had been elected — shocked, appalled, frightened, angry, nauseated.
As we learn in preschool: "You get what you get, and you don't get upset."

(Though the cocktail-sharing neighbor says her daughter has always heard this as, "You get and you get, and you don't get upset"!!)

But here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, we are upset indeed. The principal sent a note to the parents, acknowledging that a lot of the kids are suffering:
We have seen degrading language increase during this election. We need to reassert our community norms and reassure students that this is a supportive and safe environment.  

Many in our community voted for President-elect Trump. In Arlington, Massachusetts, they were in the minority. They have a right to their perspective and to be respected. We can learn from each other by listening and trying to understand different points of view.
Tonight, my church is offering a "post-election service of healing and recommitment":
People feel deep spiritual needs after such an acrimonious election season. We seek healing as well as a recommitment to the values and vision of beloved community. Today we remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Is it just Arlington that is feeling so bruised and battered? It's hard for me to believe that, say, my hometown Chico, California, is reeling in quite the same way.

I also wonder: How will we ever heal this divide? If, for example, you truly believe that abortion is murder and that gay marriage is a moral abomination (or that the federal government has no business sticking its nose in either matter), how can you possibly vote for someone who will fight to the death to keep both safe and legal? Maybe we really do need to become two Americas: East-West America and North-South America. It would divide just about that neatly, wouldn't it?

Mimosa is reeling from the aftermath of her first election:
I'm still trying to deal with all of this. A lot of kids cried in class today, and everybody is really scared.


Some things I wrote to her:
  • The United States is blessed with a number of democratic processes that make it impossible for one guy to do too much damage.
  • Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believe the bigoted things that he has said this year. Many of them voted for him because they feel frustrated with the economy, they feel socially left behind, and they are exercising the one power they have.
  • I absolutely believe that Mimosa will have many more opportunities to vote for female presidents in her lifetime. We have several superstars right here in Massachusetts — Elizabeth, Katherine, Maura, and Michelle, among others. Who knows what the future holds?
  • Barack Obama is still our president, for weeks and weeks and weeks.
Husband wrote to her today, too, and he concluded his sweet note with these wise words:
The most important thing is not to give in to despair. So much political history has been made by one-time "losers" who found the seeds of eventual victory in their initial defeats.
It is not my nature to live in gloom, so I will keep my head up and look for rays of hope where I can find them. (Mr. Trump said some nice words about my girl Hillary in his victory speech, which I appreciated. That's all I've got for now, but stay tuned.)

Yes, I will keep my little flame burning bright, but first I'm going to finish this wine. I will never get to vote for Hillary Clinton again, and tonight I need to have a little wallow.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Prep Girl

For some reason I scheduled an appointment with almost every doctor I have for this week and next. Last week I met with a knee surgeon, had my teeth cleaned, had a mammo, and saw my boob doc. Next week I see my cancer prevention doc and have a colonoscopy — hence, the "prep" reference. This picture shows all the colon-friendly foods I bought. Truly, it makes me shudder. Canned fruit? Egad. I cannot have a raw fruit or vegetable, or a cooked version of either that contains seeds, from Friday through Wednesday.

This is not how I eat!

Tonight's dinner will be a turkey and cheese sandwich on white bread, with potato chips and a cup of Mott's Granny Smith applesauce. Egad.

Nonetheless, I am sticking to this diet with a will of iron. Longtime readers may recall how outraged I was to get a grade of "Fair" on my prep last time — when they sent me the directions for how I was supposed to eat three days too late. Jerks. But this time I will get an Excellent! Or an Excellent Plus!  I will be the poster girl for colon prep!

I can turn anything into a competition. Even one that no sane person wants to win.

(Years ago, we were making clementine pomanders at a Betsy-Tacy party, and our hostess commented how nice it was to do an activity that wasn't competitive. I promptly said, "Mine's cutest!" and Thecla said, "Mine's roundest!" and Alice said, "Mine's orangest!" Our hostess sighed. Silly girl.)

The big news is that I have a hot date for my double knee replacement surgery, which is: February 1. I wanted it to be sooner, but what can you do.

To my surprise, I got a little teary looking at my x-rays. Both knees are bone on bone, and I'm developing all kinds of bone spurs; they were ugly, sad pictures. But it also became vividly real at that moment. I have truly terrible knees. I have been living in pain for a ridiculously long time. I am going to have major surgery!!

Some doctors won't do a double surgery, and indeed my pal Nurse Kathy urged me not to. But I want it done. I hate pain, like everyone else, but I am determined and stubborn and I will muscle through. My sweet Greek surgeon (who is 12, bless him) says that I seem very motivated, and he thinks I'll do well.

I'm determined to prove him right! My goal is to get myself ready by getting as strong as possible beforehand — which means riding my bike and lifting weights (and going to Deep Water — it is ridiculous how many of these classes I have to miss. Tuesday and Thursday nights are in high demand in my life, apparently!).

So, today I got back on my bike for the first time in a long time.

I had decided to ride for half an hour, but halfway through I was sweaty and tired and had an achy bum and sore knees and was ready to throw in the towel . . . and then went, "Does this hurt more than double knee replacement surgery is going to? If I can't handle this, what makes me think I can handle that?"

And this was just the tough talk I needed; I stayed on, pedaling away, for the full 30 minutes and then some, because I wanted to finish the song ("Fallin' and Flyin'" from the Crazy Heart soundtrack).

Then I lifted weights and did wall push-ups, and now I am sweaty and limp and exhausted and proud and victorious.

Time for a hot bubble bath and some clear liquids! 

Colon prep. Egad.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cherry Ames, I Am Not

I'm back from eight days in California with my recovering mother and am more clear than ever that nursing is not the field for me (not that this was ever a question). The good news is that Mom is recovering well; by the time I left, she'd been cleared to drive and was already dressing, showering, and otherwise taking care of herself (even finally applying her own bedsore cream — don't ask).

But she is ridiculously bad about remembering to take all her medicines at the right times. She does okay with the early morning and late evening doses, but she is such a scatterbrain right now, remembering her 11 a.m., lunchtime, 3 p.m., and dinnertime meds — if she's doing anything else, that thought goes right out the window. I used to have a co-worker who consistently forgot to turn in her timesheet (and thus didn't get paid that week), and I felt the same kind of incredulous exasperation. How do you not get this???

Watching my vibrant, active, confident mom transition into a little old lady (or, as she would say, LOL — what she sincerely believes the acronym stands for) is not easy, and I am not handling it outstandingly well. Her short-term memory (see pill schedule) is poor, which I found especially frustrating.

One example (of many): We visited her primary care doctor and were shown in by Nurse Candy, who took Mom's vital signs and asked her lots of questions about the surgery and rehab. Then the doc came in and Candy went out, and the doc asked Mom if she wanted a flu shot. She said yes, so he said he'd send the nurse back in.

Mom: After Pat gives me the flu shot, we can go.
Me: Is Pat the flu shot nurse?
Mom: No, she's the nurse who was in here before.
Me: You mean Candy?
Mom: Yes.
Me: Candy is Pat?
Mom: Yes! Wait . . .

Things like this happened over and over (though we always laughed about it, which is something).

Anyway. I'm back on the Right Coast now. And it is a great joy to be home, I've already taken 75 baths, though once again my editing work is on fire and I don't see a lull in sight. I also have a head cold and feel clogged and dull. I really, really, really need a true vacation!!

Ah, well. I'm home with my boys, I have paying work, Mom's doing okay — things could be worse.

(I must say: As life philosophies go, "Things could be worse" is a tad lacking in joy. I'll work on that.)

— Lady C

p.s. Here's what I read on my family "oblication" (Sexy Em):


 Who's read the latest Maisie book? I was very disappointed — how about you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Keeping My Head Above the Murky Water

Sometimes life drags you down, despite all the wits you muster.

There was a December long ago when Husband and I weren't doing well, three Chardonnays had pneumonia, one Chardonnay had to be hospitalized, Li'l Martini had just started kindergarten and was too young to spend a whole day visiting at a hospital, our girl cat Audrey was dying — and, oh yeah, Christmas. I have always referred to this as the worst time in my life.

Last week gave me a rival!

Here's why I haven't been posting:
  • Mom is here, recovering from heart surgery. The surgery went great, but recovery is a long hard slog, and it's not all a straight upward line of achievement. There are days she is sore and constipated and discouraged, and nothing much seems to be happening. And the daily hour-plus visits . . . Wow, did I not anticipate how much TIME it would all take.
  • Please be clear: I love my mother like crazy, I will do whatever she needs, I do not begrudge her anything, including my time. But this is my reality: I must shave one or two hours off my already packed days, every single day. The one day I didn't visit her since September 2, she cried.
  • And why didn't I visit her? Regular readers know that my arthritic knees are crap. On Friday the 9th, at night, I was sitting on my bed and straightened out my right leg — and SCREAMED. 
  • I had to lead a church retreat on Saturday morning, which I did from a chair, hobbling along with a walking stick from the Dollar Store. 
  • On Sunday I went to Urgent Care. The doctor's best guess (after an X-ray) is that I broke off a piece of cartilage and it lodged between the bones. (I saw the X-ray, it is truly bone on bone in there. Hideous.) I am now on crutches.
  • I have an appointment to consult with a surgeon on October 25. I begged them to let me know if there are any openings before then. I'd like to be having surgery on October 25! (so I can be healed for Christmas for sure and maybe for Thanksgiving)
  • So, I didn't see Mom on Saturday, after my church retreat, when I was in a ton of pain and could do little but lie on the couch with ice, an Ace bandage, and a bottle of Motrin. But the next day, after I'd seen the doctor, who told me that the best thing I could do for my knee was to stay off  it, and what I really wanted my mother to say was, "Honey, don't worry about me! Stay off your knee! I am fine!", and instead she said, "Oh . . . okay . . ." in a voice heavy with sadness, I knew what I had to do. And when I got there, her roommate confirmed that Mom indeed cried when she hung up the phone. 
  • I love my mother. I will do this. I do not want a medal. I am just naming it.
  • On the Thursday before I bunged my knee, my girl cat Annabel, who is deeply bonded to Li'l Martini, threw up massively, two hours after eating. Unusual. She then didn't eat dinner, nor breakfast the following day, and she seemed unwell. I called the vet Friday morning. Turns out: oh, she was a sick sick kitty. Packed with many days worth of poo, an overfull bladder that was about to explode, sick sick sick. They sedated her and emptied her out (ew) and said, "She'll feel so much better now, she'll probably eat a huge dinner!"
  • No.
  • Nor did she eat breakfast.
  • Nor did she eat a lunch snack, or a treat, or dinner the next night (when, remember, I was hobbling on a walking stick and trying not to scream).
  • Darling Husband went to the vet for me and got an appetite stimulant, and that seemed to do the trick, but this little girl needed round-the-clock care and monitoring for several days, and it was touch and go. Annabel is an older girl, and I was preparing for the worst — but God bless her, she finally rallied and is now back to 99% of her former self.
  • (Somewhere in there I also gave her a bath, because getting her poo system back to normal took time as well,  and she didn't always make it to the litter box. Ah, the things we do for our incontinent babies.)
  • And there's an ongoing motif of sadness over all my days, because I desperately miss my daughter, my buddy, whom I hear from almost never. People always ask, "How is Mimosa?" (which, of course they do; I do the same re: their college kids), and it stresses me out because I don’t know! And I think: Should I know? Do other kids call their parents more often? Am I doing something wrong? And of course there was an explosion in NYC the other night, just a few blocks from her dorm— argggh!! Worry worry, stress stress. Though mostly I try to put it all out of my mind, because what can I do? But I miss her very much, it is a constant ache.
  • (I think she is doing well. Her first phone calls were very upbeat, even as she confessed to feeling lonely and scared sometimes. But she loves her classes, she loves the city, she loves being on her own. Yesterday, though, she was getting sick, her first college cold, and she felt crappy and couldn't talk long.)
  • And I have TONS of work. I just turned down Coldwater Creek, one of my favorite clients! But there is no way. I have five jobs this week, and another new client wants me to edit a big math book in October. It's great to be in demand (and I have no explanation for why so much, right now), but there is never any down time between this, the Mom visits, the cat care, getting the church year up and running . . . I successfully chased off a head cold last week, but I am pushing myself so hard, I feel like it's only a matter of days before I'm felled by diphtheria or something.
So, I'm not blogging. And of my four health goals, I know I am not sleeping enough (no time to sleep!) and I haven't started lifting weights (though I really want to do this, and also ride my bike and do my knee PT — I want to be as strong and fit as possible before surgery). However, I am surprisingly adept at eating less — I never have second helpings any more — and I have been eating a lot of real food. When Mom was here, we cooked fabulous meals, and then my youngest brother Mateo was here with his wife Sunny Yellow, and we had a fabulous meal (so fun!!! Good Neighbor Anne and Nurse Kathy came over, and we talked and laughed and drank wine for hours), so I've had a fridge full of good leftovers, and I every day I heat up something and then have an apple or a carrot.


I've actually lost about five pounds, though I am so busy right now, I haven't remembered to weigh myself. Crazytown.

This too shall pass.

I am very lucky to have a mother that I love and adore. She will recover, and almost every day there is progress to celebrate.

I am very grateful that my cat is so much better. When you love animals, you make a commitment — but it's always hard to know what is too much (too much money, too much intervention), and I am especially thankful that we didn't get to that point.

I am lucky to have well-paying work that I love and am good at.

I am so appreciative of the wonderful men in my house, who really stepped up this week. After teaching my Sunday night OWL class (last one!), I decided to go out to dinner and let someone cook food for me and bring it to me, which I haven't done in ages, and it felt so lovely. And then Husband texted me to say that he had finished all the laundry and was running the dishwasher and making the bed with new sheets, and Li'l Martini had done his vacuuming and brought down all the dirty dishes from his room (which, yes, filled the dishwasher), and it made me so so so happy to know that I was coming home to a sparkly clean house where no chores awaited me!!!

Anyway. That is what is going on.

I am hoping to have time today to write a lovely long e-mail to my dear friend J whose birthday is today — but just in case I don't (today includes two editing jobs, a follow-up vet visit, administering kitty Valium before said vet visit, a Mom visit, a local election, and Open House at Li'l Martini's school), I'm saying here:

Happy Birthday, J, my darling beloved friend of so many decades!!!!!
I hope your day is wonderful and you are treated like a queen.

As we all should be!

I shall now don my crown and head back to the salt mines. Where there's salt, maybe there's a margarita, that's my motto.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Choosing the Theme for My 54th Year


(Wait — I just turned 54. So, this is my 55th year, right? But that feels like rushing things. I'm just going to say 54th, okay? Let's all take a breath.)

I always make New Years resolutions, and they have changed little over the years: (1) Lose weight. (2) Manage my money better. (3) Write more. These have been the Big Three as long as I can remember.

But when I turned 50, I decided that I also wanted a birthday resolution: a guiding theme for the year. At 50, my goal was "mellow," and that was the year I truly mastered the ability to stop fretting over things I have no control over. I am very very good at this.

Of course, sometimes it takes me a while to accurately assess the situation (such as the case with my daughter's mental health, where I truly believed that my efforts and vigilance were key. They were a factor, yes, but ultimately I had no real control over anything. A bitter pill to swallow, but sister, I swallowed it. And it's good to keep this in mind as I prepare to watch my cherub fly from the nest).

The theme for 51 was "standing on the side of love." I was having a lot of conflicts with my brothers over our parents' anniversary party and was almost ready to write them out of my life, I was so mad at them. I created a lot of fun documents related to our parents' marriage (a Two Truths and a Lie game, a Jeopardy board, a song list, things like that), and I wasn't going to send copies to my brothers. But then I reflected on my theme and decided to stand on the side of love and make the loving choice. And I have to tell you: it felt much better.

I don't remember 52. Dad had just died, and I was a wreck. I think I just tried to get through the year with some grace.

And then 53, last year. Do you remember this theme?

I said yes to almost every invitation I got — but please note the qualifier "almost." I respectfully declined to attend the birthday party of a crazy person from church, I said no to two kayaking parties (dear God), and I backed out of an outdoor barbecue on a 98-degree humid afternoon. But other than that, I pretty much said yes to everything. And I usually left early (big parties are just not my thing), but hey. I was there. My friend the hostess saw me and was pleased by my presence. All was well.
But I'm also glad that it's over.☺︎

And now for this year's theme. Once again I'm choosing something that scares me a little and that will be a challenge for me, and that is: health.

Yeah, I know, I just wrote a whole post about how technically healthy I am (from a blood and organs kinda perspective), and I stand by that.

Having said that, there are some things that I could be a lot better about, namely:
  1. Sleep. I get up around 7 every morning, so I should be in bed with the lights out by 11. Yeah, this happens maybe four times a year. Maybe more if I'm sick. I love to watch movies in bed before I fall asleep, and I am rarely asleep before midnight. Last night I was up till 1:14 watching Midnight Special (it was pretty good!). And guess what: I am tired all the time! Duh.
  2. Strength. I enjoy lifting weights and feeling strong, and I know that increased muscle mass will be good for me for so many reasons. I don't know why I don't do this more often. Maybe I need to move my weights out of the basement (where I work out, when I do)? I will think about this.
  3. Good food = good fuel. Though I eat a lot of healthy things (looking over the low-fiber diet for my November colonoscopy made me shudder!!), I also eat a good number of unhealthy things. I was just reading an interview with an Olympic athlete about what she eats, and she said, "I treat my body like a Ferrari, and I give it only the best fuel." I love this analogy!
  4. Stop when I've had enough. I am very very bad at stopping before I'm too full. For dinner last night I had tastes of Mexican appetizers (guacamole and salsa and queso), four spoonfuls of elote, two ginger peach margaritas, and half a tossed salad with shrimp and avocado on it; it didn't seem like a ton of food, and I thought I had stopped before being stuffed, but I was actively uncomfortable when we got home. 
 Geneen Roth says that we all have a voice inside us that tells us when we've had enough — but that voice is very quiet. If we're reading, on the computer, watching TV, talking to people (i.e., distracted), we are likely to miss it. This makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm sure there are other things I can or could do, but these feel like good starting points and also very achievable. And every one of them will improve my life.

I did sign up again for my deep-water class, and that will start in September. Will I ride my bike before then? We'll see. After we drop off Mimosa this weekend, Mom arrives the following Friday, her surgery is scheduled for September 2, my metaphorical plate will likely be a tad full for a while.

Time to start my healthy day. Let me go contemplate the Ferrari fuel we have available. I am taking Mimosa college-shopping today, at least four stores and tons of walking, I need sustenance!