Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A sad end to the Holiday weekend

The house phone rang on Monday morning and my hub's first words to me were:

"Sit Down"

My heart jumped into my throat....both our parents have died in the last three years so it was not one of those calls....but in the next nanosecond I thought....."the children!!!!"

But it wasn't one of our children.

My husband's co-worker and friend....a man in his middle 40's was found dead in his home.

I was stunned but perhaps not as stunned as my hub who had worked with him for 9 years and went out to lunch with him most days.

Having seen both my parent's die, I knew deep in my bones you can not change what happened....but you can at least be grateful for how the end is experienced.

It appeared John died quickly....he hadn't struggled with a long illness .....he was single but had family visiting so someone was there who cared about him and could convey the news appropriately to family members.....he had updated his will recently so people would know what to do and how he wanted his legacy and belongings cared for....he was good at his job and up to date on his projects so the people who relied on him for decisions wouldn't be too affected...and someone could step into his shoes and finish the necessary work he did in his life.

Of course I thought of how young he was, how he had hoped to marry one day, how many projects he had on several burners.....but the future is untouchable and the present is real....

I felt very sad after I hung up the phone.....but in the course of how death can catch you.......I also felt a small sense of relief that the crossover for John was quick and John was wise enough to make plans....

My heart went out immediately to his family who are in pain....and especially to his brother, who was visiting and was also the executor of his will.....Closing an estate is so much many papers, so much to sort and touch and look through....lawyers....IRS.....documents documents and more's a gargantuan job that will probably take him many months .....especially since he lives out of state. Been there...done that....once you've walked in those shoes you will always empathize with the survivors.

Today I tackled some paperwork on beneficiaries on our stocks that I had put off put off put off....

I tackled it because John's death reminded me that one of the nicest things you can do for your loved ones ...the to make sure things are organized and you've followed through on the gnarly details of having possessions in the modern is a small gift to your loved ones as they work through your passing.

It sounds weird but knowing what your loved one wants is a gift....I knew my mom and dad wanted to be cremated....because they told me in front of a lawyer when we were signing power of attorney papers....that was such a relief to know.....but they didn't tell where and how they wanted their ashes handled. Did they want to be buried in the same plot? Did they want their ashes mingled? Did they want their ashes here where I live or there were they had lived their lives?

I did the best I could knowing who my parents were as individuals... but sometimes I carry a small nagging doubt...did I do things right? Is this what they wanted?

If your wishes are written down....the relief would be are able to do you job as a "loved one" to the best of your a way.... it facilitates your ability to show your love for someone because you can, in the fog of grief, make good decisions...which you don't second guess or regret.

So the envelope goes right into the mail in the morning.....and I probably should tackle another problem I haven't taken care of.....just face it ...get all those fucking papers out and read the legalese and figure out what needs to be done and then be done with it....and set myself free.

I'm not planning on exiting the world soon but modern life is complicated.....and the complications get compounded a zillion times when the original owners don't do their work.

LOL......damn .......was this supposed to be a humor blog?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Thanksgiving

One cat napped through the whole thing.

One cat spent the morning stealing decorations.

The table was set for 8---our family plus my son-in-laws immediate family.

The unexpected hit of the dinner was a Banana pudding with a thin layer of dark chocolate on top of a cookie crust....a recipe my hub invented. Wow. This was one leftover we were grateful for.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Time

My daughter and my new son-in-law arrived last weekend to spend Thanksgiving with family. Fortunately his parents live in my city coming home for the holidays is easy since we only live about 5 miles apart.

I wasn't sure how we were going to split the kids.....would they sleep here would we coordinate time....but it slipped into an easy arrangement....I set up the extra guest bedroom in our house and people could come and go. My son-in-law has mostly stayed with his folks and my daughter spends most of her time with us....and in the next coming days we will join families for Thanksgiving dinner plus some visiting on Friday before they leave for home on Saturday.

To get the week daughter and I scouted out the the new upscale Mall near my house to window shop and browse. We didn't have a shopping list or any objectives but we seemed to be on a mission.

Viola....we knew what it was when we saw it!

Giant comfy coffee mugs........sturdy ....holding about 2 cups each and pretty enough to start each day at our house with a good kick of caffeine.

Knowing the week would hold a lot of eating and some shopping......we loaded up the car with the family the first day and headed out to the river to walk around the new pedestrian bridge....a niffy structure created from an old railroad bridge.

I have to compliment the city fathers....we have a wide river that runs along side our city and they've been making some quality improvements over the last few years....creating bridges and bike paths along the banks.

After this tourist stint, it's been all business....heading to the jewelry store to get a pearl necklace fixed ( she tried on a 36,000 ring....and I tried on a 22,000 necklace but alas we left them at the store!)......and a bit of bargain hunting. Yesterday....she scored 80.00 pants for 19.00 and I got a 200.00 winter jacket for 40.00....yeah for us!

Yesterday we spent the day getting ready for Thanksgiving.....a warm and comfy and pleasant tradition.....putting two tables together in the dining room....trying to figure out which table linens to use.....decorating the table.....pulling out Emily Post's Etiquette book to settle a question about the wine glasses....and doing the girlie prep stuff that is soothing to a woman's soul.

I probably wouldn't have enjoyed this setting the room if I was also cooking...but my husband is the cook in the family....and really gets to do all the hard sweaty work. In fact, the house looked like it had a split personality last's my daughter and I in pretty dining room smoothing linens...setting out the silverware...and walk into the kitchen and there's my on....stove top filled with pots and pans....the counters covered with recipes and groceries and knives and bowls.....but as much as I like decorating....he likes to we each had our own work zones.

And speaking of work......I am on kitchen clean-up duty this morning ......and there's where I better be heading off to...........

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another rite of the season.......

With grunts and son and I brought the plants in for the season.

It's another rite of passage for fall.

The big palms, sturdy and
wiry, went to the garage. They're able to take a few months of low light and cool temperatures.

The soft fleshy houseplants each found refuge in a bathroom.

The spiny cactus was moved to its usual spot in the
laundry room.

And the bird of paradise plant... which is tall and wide and for some reason ...weighs so much we can only slide it across the deck versus picking it landed this year in our family room.

Usually via a handcart, it rests at the back of the garage under a light and far enough from the cold to survive. This year, handcart broken, my son and I could groan it into the house and then we gave up.

It looked wild and big against our blinds....Wildcat ran away from the mega leaves swaying gently from the wind of the ceiling fan and watched it for hours from the safety of her hiding spot under the couch.

The first frost arrived last night.....which split our house in half....the annuals on one side withered with the cold....the annuals on the other side of the house looked weak but alive...probably a difference of a degree or two....enough to equal survive or die.

Now that everything is safely tucked into the house .....the waiting begins over the next few days.

What else came into the house hidden in those huge pots?

One year I found a bright green frog in our toilet bowl.....he was met with a lusty scream..... as I was still early-morning-sleepy and almost peed on him. I presume he hitchhiked in the lush foliage of the lily plant in our bathtub.

Last night I heard a cricket.....but I'm sure my cats will track it down and have a small wild protein treat.

A few spiders might emerge....maybe a gnat..or two (they never seem to travel alone)...hopefully nothing my hunter cats can't handle.

It's strange to see all the vibrant green in the house and to side step huge palm fronds in the garage....but the inner green means that the outer green is almost spent outside.

Fortunately the warm part of the house shielded my geraniums....hooray.....beautiful pink and red flowers blooms for Thanksgiving...and maybe for a few more days afterwards.

The bringing in of the plants....and the turning up of the heater ....means it's late fall and the beginning of winter. I ignore what the weatherman says.....and listen to my plants.

Such a comforting ritual.....the greening of our house with the first frost.....even if it starts with groans and the inevitable questions from the men folks as to why I am growing such large plants in such big

How else would we know the season changed?

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I was Googling things Roma....because I may be going to Rome this summer.

A picture of actress Sophia Loren came up. I thought she was quite beautiful.....her figure such a perfect hourglass....amazing ....considering this was taken before plastic surgeons could remake any woman into an hourglass.

Viva Sophia!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You've got to be Tough

I go to a gym twice a week......where Chuckie puts me through my paces.

Chuckie is my 68 year old personal trainer.

When I injured my hips a couple years ago, my doctor told me I better get to the gym and improve the muscle strength in my extremities or else I'd never be springy again.

A few people recommended Chuckie because he is a former physical therapist....and he takes no shit.

Chuckie looks like a slightly toned down Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has massive muscles in his arms, a tight torso, and thunder thighs. All muscle...all lean mass. If you looked at Chuckie you would say he might be 52....maybe 54.....certainly not 68.

Sometimes I think Chuckie must be on some kinds of drugs....because I can't believe all those big muscles could be sustained by exercise. Steroids? Growth hormone? I don't know....and Chuckie is not the type who would tell you.

Chuckie just turned 68 so plenty of people where congratulating him last week. Lots of back slaps....lots of remarks.....but no birthday cake. Chuckie would never eat cake...."that stuff is just bad for you."

My training day was a day after Chuckie's he was still a bit philosophical. He put me on a machine.....and started yakking.

Chuckie often talks to me when I'm groveling on the machines .....probably to take my mind off how much weight I'm tackling.

I was straining under a particular leg lift machine which I don't like ....when I caught a phrase......"it's tough to age".....or that's what I thought I heard him say.

I nodded my head because my mother said that....actually she said something much worse...she would order me 1000 times a year, "Don't ever get old."

I would roll my eyes and sigh in frustration. It's not like anyone has a choice....days and years are cumulative .....and you don't get to say...."oh, I'll just shave 6 years off my body and life" and you don't get to stop the aging process even when you reach a point where you would like to say...."okay I'll stop right here now."

So, Chuckie's "its tough to age" line....didn't phase me. I nodded my head and looked up at him.

"I can tell you're not listening to me." Chuckie said...with a particular smirk on his face..... as he looked down at me.

"Yes I am, you told me it's tough to age."

"That's not what I said."

I have now grunted through 15 legs lifts ...change position ....get the other leg ready and start regrunting.

He shakes his finger at me.

"I didn't say it was tough to age, I said you have to be tough to age well."


"You have to be tough to age well."

"People who don't actively take care of themselves fall apart and get sick. You have to exercise, get checkups, do what the doctors tell you to do, eat right, have a positive attitude and keep moving."

"Oh" but I wasn't sure I got it.

"You've got to be have to say okay this is different or I'm having trouble with this or that and either face it, accommodate for it or actively fight it."

"You sit you die."

I looked at Chuckie for a minute but I hardly had time for this nugget to enter my head before he handed me a 10 lb dumbbell and ordered me to extend and then press it up.

He shook his head at me. "Think about it," he said.

I finish my time.....walk a bit....then wave goodbye to Chuckie.

The other day, as I was walking in the beautiful fall sunshine, I thought about what Chuckie was trying to explain to me.....and I actually got a glimmer of his point.

As you age, things change.....and sometimes people react by withdrawing....doing less.....sitting back....getting complacent.

Chuckie is saying it's work to age's work to accept that your body is changing... work to keep those changes in to move forward with what you got even if things don't all work the same anymore. "It's work to age well."

Today when I went to the gym, I asked Chuckie if we were going to have a vacation day on Friday after Thanksgiving.

"We'll have the day off," he said, scribbling into his workout calendar.

"Yeah," I said...happy for a day off.

"But you're coming in Saturday at 8am."

"What???....You're not going to give me a day off?"

"Not you still haven't learned to be tough on yourself.....and dammit that's the one thing you absolutely need to learn here."

I meekly nodded my head......only because I knew Chuckie was right.