Friday, December 31, 2010


Southwest Airline used to delight and amaze me.   Used to being the operative phrase, as after a particular, apparently humorless, passenger complained, the flight attendants were no longer allowed to reveal their Joan Rivers/Johnny Carson persona's.  Though it remains my number one brand of transport over long distances, it's simply no fun anymore.

It is now, after being subjected to ultra-high security measures - and not without good reason, I might add - simply to enter the bowels of the airport itself, that we could use the humor, and to the person who filed a lawsuit alledging offense was taken at a one-liner (years ago, no?),  take a pill, or stay home, you've ruined it for everyone.

Fortunately I have unearthed an envelope of gems.  Before one flight, I had been determined to transcribe  as much as I could of the flight attendant's one liners to put in the scrapbook of that particular trip. They came so fast and furiously that, in between insane cackling, along with the rest of the passengers, my writing was far too hurried and large.  I had to continually search for more scraps of paper, even resorting to a perfume sample card.

Thankfully I managed quite a bit, and so, for posterity and hope the New Year will usher out a bit of doom and gloom, and usher in the return of humor, and yes, even in the commercial sector, I record those comments here, and applaud SOUTHWEST for their attempt to keep it fun.

The  "instructions" came from a few flights so though they may appear redundant, they are not, every monologue was different and simply hysterical.

"Attendants will make sure your socks match your shoes, and check your seat belts."

"Leave your seat belt fastened until the plane reaches a complete stop for the safety of the people you are going to fall on... and comb your hair."

"Should a drop in air pressure occur, color coordinated yellow masks will fall, let go of your neighbor and place the mask over your face."

"There is a $2000.00 fine for smoking.  If you had wanted to pay $2000.00 for a ticket, you could have flown DELTA."

"FREE LIQUOR....   just kidding but now we know who the alcoholics are."

"Designer Martha Stewart masks will fall, if you are traveling with more than one child, decide which one you love the most and attach the mask to that child's face.  If you are traveling with your husband, we're deeply sorry,  attach your mask, look over at him and say, "Har, Har!"

"If we go water skiing, your seat cushion can serve as a flotation device and life preserver."

"Should we experience a drop in air pressure, stop screaming and attach your mask."

"Attention K-Mart Shoppers, during take-off and landing, if you brought along cell phones we are very impressed, but you can't use them."

During a full flight....

"If you are in a jump seat and do not wish to be, please let an attendant know, we will tie you to the wings."

"We will be landing shortly, please turn off all children and cell phones."

"Smoking is allowed on the wings only"

And after a particularly long, non-stop red-eye from L.A. to Providence.... and a really fast landing, to which one of the female attendants couldn't resist,  "Whoa Cowboy..."

"10 minutes and we're outta here."

"Please stay seated in the plane until the Captain says it's OK, no not yet....  No, not yet.     No.    Not.   Yet.....   OK.....   GET  OUT   !!!!!"


Monday, December 20, 2010


During this holiday season may we all remember the important things.

"The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Life is sacred, that is to say, it is the supreme value, to which all other values are subordinate."

                   Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Not Sure What He Does Back There...

Behind the curtain all day...

But every once in a while he gets tired, and has to rest...


Evidently my computer is just being finicky, as I was able to download and upload.  I updated pictures on the last post due to the solar charger.  I am positive long after I am gone, someone will dig it out of a moth eaten box and say "What the...?"    As I did with this little number...

...about thirty years ago while unpacking a moth eaten box of my grandfather's things.  It was passed down to him.  There was quite a Civil War history on his side of the family.  These were not only used in hospital's of that era, but on the battlefield as well.  The little oil lamp, when lit, served to heat the metal dish above it, making it easy to cook morphine for syringes. The shallow metal dish is not attached and I simply cannot believe I have managed to keep the piece intact all these years.  Evidently it was meant to survive.  But it took some digging to unearth it's purpose when I first came across it.  Ending up finding it on some 'primitive medical devices' site. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Если я Был Переплетен На Необитаемом острове...


 If I Were Stranded On A Desert Island...

These are the things I simply could not live without.  

I am giving the Desert Island a bit more than a nod due to the down right nasty  inclement weather we are experiencing today.  I walked out of the house this morning, put my  (luckily flat-soled, UGGS shod)  foot down on the pavement, and was instantly  skating.

The world was clad in an inch of solid ice. The other foot had not caught up and remained outstretched behind me.  After a perfectly executed triple selcow I crashed into the hood of my car.  On the other side of the driveway.   Ever so slightly downhill from the steps I had left mere moments ago.  While rain dripped off the hood of my  parka, I tried to do the  Inch-Back-Up-The-Ice  dance. You know the one. Under no circumstances attempt to remove either one of your feet -  no matter how much trust you have in them as individuals -   from Mother Earth, or your back end will be the victim of gravity, and with such velocity you will be regretting lifting that darn foot for days. 

A few hours little while later, after safely negotiating the traverse, I was sitting in the living room watching the news, when my peripheral vision caught a swift movement outside the window.  It was another HUMAN VS. ICE battle. 

Evidently what had caught my eye was a person -   must have trusted a foot without looking beneath it - who had done a butt-plant-slide   (awarding a 10 for speed, as I did not witness the slide itself)  across the sidewalk, over the little grassy meridian, and was stopped about two feet into the street, where the road treatment the night before had actually worked.   

I grabbed my coffee and raced out to the front porch.  You just knew this was going to be great! a difficult return to the steps.   After nearly a half an hour of struggling to get up, the woman gave up, remained on her hands and knees, and did a combo of inching forward-sliding back until she was near her front steps. I feel justified (since I had indeed just suffered the same fate) in confessing I was in silent hysterics.  Instead of skating she was doing the balance beam.  My eyes teared up and I needed a Kleenex.  Just when I thought the show was over the woman's husband emerged from the house, carefully edged his way to the corner of the porch, and said to his wife, who was within inches of her goal, still on all fours, " We're born naked and hungry, and then it gets worse."    

Thought I'd die, I was wheezing, I slumped in my lawn chair doubled over waiting for her less than cataclysmic reply,   "Shut-Up and throw me a rope Einstein." 

Simply precious.  I imagine someone else had a great guffaw at my admittedly more graceful adventure as well, at least I hope so, an escapade like that is a terrible thing to waste, ahem....

Hence today's Desert Island Dream.  

CALGON Take Me Away,   Please?

Well, apparently my computer is not totally repaired.  It does not want to read my SD card therefore my list will have to suffice.

Things I need for my grass hut...

My glasses, with gradient lenses.
My reading glasses, due to unfortunately reaching that 'certain age.'

Because someday I fully intend to set foot on Russian soil, the most horrific, tragic, yet beautiful love story through letters to each other,
A Lifelong Passion, Nicholas & Alexandra - Their Own Story  Letters edited by Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko

Spanning the past two hundred years of Russian history, Echoes Of A Native Land by Sergi Schemann

 And because every time I read these I discover something new about my own mind,
The Griffin and Sabine series by Nick Bantock
Hippolyte's Island  by Barbara Hodgson

In case I discover something, I will need to know that those who have gone before have not laid eyes on whatever it is, aside from never tiring of this book,  The Origin of The Species by Charles Darwin.

My solar electronic device charger with every adaptor known to man, for the new E-Reader my kids are going halves on and buying me for Christmas ( with an extra large storage card, yippeee!). 

 But I don't know that...   No, I wasn't eaves-dropping.  I will be a mother my entire life, much to my chagrin, even though my 'kids' are grown.  It still gives me the chills when I hear whispering.  In fact it makes me downright nervous.  Especially when I know they are conspiring talking to each other.  I merely made popcorn.  In the kitchen.  Just outside my son's bedroom door.  After he told me he was calling his sister and asked me not to bother him, just before he shut his door.    It was then he began to whisper.

Oh, and a case of the Russian red wine introduced to me by friends associated with the AMERICAN FRIENDS OF RUSSIAN GEORGIA charitable organization. And one wineglass.

To quote Naven,   "And that's all I need!"

Friday, December 10, 2010



Helen stays in the kitchen where there is the most light, as she is nearly totally blind.  She is able to discern shadows advancing towards her in the kitchen, but in darker rooms she bumps into things when the kitten in her takes over and she runs.  She has Dead Beat Dad's head, and her mother's soft, silky body, she rolls over and does tricks, and is simply too sweet. She is over six months old and only three pounds.  One of the last two before all the Farm Cats were fixed.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010


My father, and his irrepressible grinning.
Trying not to grin.  A rare photo.
(Showing he has made it through his first year in the Navy and has no tattoo.)

Evidently his own father had been quite the card.  My Dad's father had disappeared long before we would ever know him, but in gazing at the only photo of him that survived, one has to imagine that this man, dressed like a mobster, and taking his three adult children out for this picture, simply had to be a scream to live with.

It's also quite evident that the girls (my father's two sisters) were not quite as amused with the situation.  They obviously were under the influence of their mother  (That's not a smile on the oldest to the right, she has a horrendous case of bucked teeth.).

Mary Celia (Carter) Kelley
Serious As A Heart Attack

My father's family would never quite get over his marrying a WASP, but they took my mother into the kitchen - uncharted territory for her - and taught her to cook the things my father 'liked.'   It all involved throwing  meat, vegetables, and lots of potatoes into a huge pot of boiling water sometime around noon, and forgetting about it until everyone decided they were hungry.   Which is what my mother taught me, and I still cook that way. It's really easy and I like a path of least resistance.

My Dad's father had come here from Ireland  in search of the American Dream.  He succeeded.  He began his trucking business in Manchester N.H. with this truck, moving pianos.

He graduated to dairy product delivery when his in-laws , who owned a dairy farm, proposed a deal. His truck morphed into a fleet that included this truck.

At a time when the city was full of Irish immigrants looking for work in the mills, while children were laboring in the factories for pennies a week, my father and his siblings were wearing leather shoes and attending private Catholic schools. 

 But in the afternoons when school was over, my father would play with the other kids in the little neighborhood by the river.  He would tell my sister and I stories of how most of the kids he played with weren't around until seven or eight o'clock at night as they did not go to school, they worked in the mills.   One Christmas he went through all the closets in his families' home, dug out everything he deemed 'extra,' left everyone in the house with one pair of shoes and one winter coat, so that he could distribute the things to the families of his friends who had shoes with holes in them, or no coats to wear during harsh New Hampshire winters.   The next winter his mother started knitting early in the fall.  And one snowy Christmas Eve, in 1928, my Dad's father drove to Canterbury, loaded the truck with dairy products, and delivered all of it, along with warm hats and socks to the families my father had named. 

Before he entered the Navy, Dad was still borrowing trucks to help out neighborhood residents. They never forgot him.

With a 'baby' brother of one of his childhood friends. My father's family was odd in that there were only three children.

 My Dad never forgot the suffering he had seen  his  friends endure.  No matter what country he was in, he was always helping the kids he ran into, whether it was a little girl trying to sell paper flowers for the sailors to send home to their 'sweethearts', or a little boy shining shoes.

  Dairy products provided by this man...

Uncle Joe

My mother not only loved conspiracies, she loved a juicy scandal. She used to sigh and say that since Uncle Joe left this earth, nothing really interesting ever happened.  Uncle Joe had come from Ireland as well, and instead of following his family to Vermont, stayed in New Hampshire where he would build a large dairy farm and become extremely successful.   So successful in fact, he hired a Swedish maid to work for his wife.  You know where this is going.  One fine day Uncle Joe's wife would arrive home from her visit to relatives in the city to find Uncle Joe in the sack with the maid.  The wife stomped out, went back to the city, and was hit by a truck there, where she died.  Uncle Joe married the maid.   My mother simply adored the maid, who would entertain for hours with stories of the mountains in which she grew up.  Years later Uncle Joe died, the maid sold everything, packed up and returned to Sweden.  Broke my mother's heart to see her go, but she visited when she was in Sweden, and they wrote to each other until the maid died.

My Dad's father, straight off the boat Irish, had an alcohol problem.  Shortly after one of the national magazines of the day (LIFE or LOOK, one of the photo mags) showed up to do a story on him, he went over the edge.  They featured him as an American Success Story, put his photo on the cover, and as the sterilized version story goes, he promptly fell off his truck, hit his head, and was 'never the same.'  He allegedly went back to Ireland to drink himself to death.   My father joined the Navy and started sending money home to his mother.

He met my mother while on leave one year, at the ski jump my father would drive over 50 miles to use, and my mother lived one town line away from .

Um, yuh, this is one sport neither parent was able to rope my sister nor me into trying, but they both loved it.



Somewhere in Italy

Dad sent pictures home, some taken at professional photo shops from ports all over the world,  and eventually he and my mother were married during a three day leave.

The Wedding Party

It only made sense that all my mother's friends loved my Dad.  He had been around three women who, quite simply put, never - according to my mother who was a witness - stopped talking.  Hence my father would just hang out and smile. Or outright guffaw at something one of us had done. 

When he retired from the service, coming ashore for good, my mother would discover my dad had more one-liners than Henny Youngman.  They had never been around each other enough for this to become apparent until his becoming a land-Lubber (as opposed to Land-Lover, which he never was).  This was an added bonus my mother cherished.  The sailor had a sense of humor, and when he could get a word in edgewise, he was quite funny.  He was also extremely handsome.  In a picture that has not surfaced yet, my dad is dancing with an unknown female, on the back, written in my mother's hand, is this, "THIS IS NOT YOUR MOTHER!"

He was like Sean Connery, the older he got, the better looking he was.  My sister and I met at my parents house one night ( they were the halfway point) to attend a Bingo event my father was calling the numbers for, at the local VFW.   A little old lady approached us and said slyly,   " I understand Jim Kelley is your father?"   My sister and I looked down at her and replied "Yes," to which she continued, "And is there a Mrs. Kelley?''   We advised her indeed there was, and she wandered off mumbling the lipstick was for nothing......  Then my sister and I raced back to tell my mother. She laughed for years over it. 

My Dad was lost after my sister left us , my mother three months later, then  I was diagnosed. 

I knew when I recieved this after my first operation he was just not all there anymore, but needed me to know he was thinking of me.  His normally neat address placed in the middle of the envelope was way off kilter, he couldn't remember the street address of the hospital,  and he no longer trusted the US Postal Service, so he put the date in the corner to let me know he had sent it the day before my operation. He could bear to think of no other option than I would make it through to recieve it immediately after my surgery.

  He gave up when he was diagnosed with cancer after my second surgery and died January 5, 1998.  What he left behind was a legacy of love and care for others;  no matter who they were, where they came from, or their situation in life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dear Paulette...

At the risk of embarrassing myself worldwide, in sheer awe of your gorgeous little creations, this is pour vous.

Sad, I know, which is why, when I look at your work, I search my brain for the place that loves your things, trying to find even one small wrinkle filled with an ability to create beautiful things, but it's like looking in the dictionary under incredible creations and finding this...  . 

Precious and Edgar were entranced by your Christmas music yesterday, and although Edgar chose to gaze out the window and dream while listening, Precious insisted on staring at your page.   I suspect he is choosing my present. 

Ignore the 'planitarium' curtains. The farm kittens loved them...

Later Precious needed a snack -  busy morning -   so he went to the kitchen garbage snack basket and tried to race under my son's bed with his acquisition...

Step Away From The Bed And No One Gets Hurt.

To my credit, I am capable of making certain things with sticks and string...

It may take me absolutely forever a while, but I manage simple things.  When I give these things away I always advise the recipient that in cases of extreme boredom -  such as doctors appointments -  while wearing, they can amuse themselves by searching for mistakes, sort of like the 'Whats Wrong With This Picture' game in the Sunday funnies.

And soooo, today I salute you and your brain, with it's inherent creative genius.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


My computer has been cured of it's most recent illness, and is home where it darn well belongs.  I downloaded all the pictures that had been crammed on my camera since Thanksgiving, and so I share with you, Elliot, all Paris-Hilton-E and very Matchy-Matchy...


The bombing of Pearl Harbor.   I find myself asking, "What have we learned?"

It would appear that for a time the wars bred an empathy in the general public that unfortunately did not not endure. 

 I watched a documentary on WAR over the weekend.   One Veteran made a most compelling statement. He said,  "In a world without Evil, there would be no need to construct Gods."    I don't think one can confine the 'need' simply to Evil, but it still forced me to think.  The Veteran went on to discuss the impossibility of the eradication of Evil, simply due to the fact that humans are, quite frankly,  inherently animals. Animals, I might add, most certainly with an consciousness that has a tendency to be influenced by Nature,  Nurture, Society, or all of the above.

I thought about the horrors wars have visited on families throughout history, I thought about the Nazi War Trials, which never cease to confuse me.  Granted, those men who went to trial had visited unspeakable horrors on innocent victims.  Yet when one witnesses the blood lust of the public en mass, demanding death for these War Trial Criminals, their behaviour has a tendency to echo the criminals actions.
Echoing,  without being under direct orders to carry out instructions or be shot on sight, tried for treason if you will, consequences the War Trial Defendants had to measure.  The animal always chooses survival as a priority.

As anyone who has worked in a military, or para-military environment will tell you, the deal of the day -  each and every day -  is  'follow orders, no matter the consequence, or your personal feelings towards them;  question later.'  With the exception of the few, rarely officially reported, cases of direct insubordination to either mechanically or morally flawed 'orders,'  following the orders ensures the survival of the individual.

Which is why when I see films of the War Trials that never cease to include scenes of the public outrage at the time, I cannot help but be sickened.   The consciousness of the groups appear to melt into one barbaric animal demanding death to the offenders.   The question has to be asked,  "What does that cry for the punishment of death make those who ask for it?"    For the objectors of death, the question will always be asked, "What if it - whatever it may be -  occurred to a relative or child of yours?" 

No, I don't believe in my heart of hearts, no matter what has occurred, I could turn into a barbaric animal demanding death, an eye for an eye if you will, no matter who or what the crime entailed.  That would make me into something less than the criminal, as I did not inflict the act, nor suffer through it,  simply one who was  connected in some way, or made a moral judgement concerning it.

This is not to say that I do not demand justice in it's entirety.  I am of the belief that unlike insane asylums of old, prisons should not be pleasant, bearable, comfortable places for those who have inflicted horrors on others.  Prisons should not be places mimicking society in a microcosmic version.   Criminals have violated their victims 'rights' to live in peace.  Criminals should have no 'rights.'  Prisons should be simply that.  No libraries, no computers, no on-line access to obtaining 'jailhouse' law degrees among others, no TV, you get the drift.  A cell with four walls, a place the offender is forced to confront his own mind, the only conversations he is able to have is with his own conscience, if he has one.

Which leads me to the horrific home invasion that occurred in this state last year.  A doctor's wife and two daughters were brutally murdered after enduring unspeakable events.  The court room was packed for the trial of the first defendant. Crowds outside screamed for the death penalty, en mass.  Individuals that were interviewed by reporters were nearly feverish in their miasmic wish for 'death to the criminals.'   I certainly do not condone the languorous attitude of  'forgiveness' either.   But I refuse to be drawn into the crowd clamoring for 'death to the offender.'    It is reminiscent of the abortion protesters, killing doctors who perform abortions.   Today the husband,  -  the only survivor of that home invasion - will be on Oprah's daily program.  He has endured the first trial, has yet to endure the second.  He is still in shock and loss mode.   He sincerely believes the death penalty is warranted.  I wonder what he will think in twenty years?  What will the jurors think of themselves, and will they remember they too, will have blood on their hands?

On a day like today, as Veterans of all the Wars past are dwindling in number, along with the Patriotic Fury that enabled them to survive to this day, I not only think about them, but the innocent immigrants, Japanese and otherwise, who were placed in internment camps here, until the end of the war, simply due to the mass paranoia.  Many of those individuals had fathers, husbands, and sons fighting for our side in the War. Thankfully they were, for the most part, treated humanely.

When I visited the site of the Arizona, as well as the National War Memorial, I left my father's name in the guest book, for without him, and all the others like him, I seriously believe the lust for power and supremacy would have taken over back then, backed by the group behaviour we are all able to witness now, under one circumstance or another.

And so, today I pay my respects to all those who died defending Freedom, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, as well as those around the world at the time, whose soldiers were fighting as well, for something they believed in. Right or Wrong. It makes no difference to those following orders.   

THANK YOU to Veterans around the world still among us who fought for their country, no matter what country.

What does make a difference is that we are free to make choices, thanks to those who have fought. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It took me a while to find the letter from my mother, typed by her shortly before Thanksgiving in 1984.  I knew it would, which is why I am writing this post well ahead of THE DAY.    The primary reason however, is that I still try to cook a turkey ever year. 

 I have probably mentioned in the past, my mother was not a cook, chose not to be.  She had way too many other things she was interested in, and one only had to consume enough calories to keep the machine going.  Her theory on the whole thing was,  it took more energy to cook all those fancy-schmanchy numbers that would qualify as gastronomical delights, than it did to eat them.  That would put one way behind in the energy intake column.  That would also mean fading fast on the BLACK DIAMOND run later in the day, or dragging the sled up the hill for a few more runs after dinner had been consumed.  Hence my sister and I had always attempted to cook more interesting meals, with not a lot of success I may add. 

Age has not improved my understanding of the chemical reactions of butter at certain temperatures,  though to my credit,  I can get out my little box of science equipment and tell you the specific gravity of any stone you may chance to find.   I know, sounds a bit strange but my kids and I always wanted to know exactly what that rock was we were bringing home just 'cause it was pretty.' 

We love to eat, though always in a hurry, on the way to something far more exciting,

which doesn't explain why I am descended from an extremely long line of chubby children.....

My Grandmother

My Mother

My Sister

My Sister Holding Me
(She would later say it had taken far too long for my mother to take the picture and as a result, due to my enormous weight on her thighs, her legs had gone numb and it took her ten minutes for the tingling to go away, which is when she could walk again.)

So every year on Thanksgiving, my mother would set the table for breakfast...

I still use her ruby red/clear glasses, my sister's ruby red vase, my grandfather's drink mixer, and my grandmother's glasses with little clear glass balls forming the bases.

We all always loved red, making up for not being able to wear it in every other way imaginable  (with the exception of red vehicles, show the dirt too fast).

...and make pancakes from a boxed mix, my sister and I watched the parades on TV,

while my father (if he was lucky enough to be home on leave) would finish up any paperwork he had brought home.

We'd eat breakfast, finish watching all the parades, and race off to my grandmother's house,

where we would feast on a perfectly baked turkey, along with all the fixin's, right down to homemade cranberry and orange sauce, on her embroidered tablecloth.

Later in life, my parents, my children, and I would migrate to my sister's house where her husband would do the dirty work ( AKA COOK), and loved it.  He was a great cook (he had even made his own trail mix to take with him on the A.T. for his last hike).

And soooo, when the time came that I would be baking my very own Thanksgiving dinner, I called my mother and asked her to send me not only the specific directions for stuffing and cooking the turkey, but the recipe for my grandmother's cranberry and orange sauce.

This is what she sent me....

"Remove Swanson's Frozen Turkey TV Dinner from freezer, then from box, in that order.
Place in oven at specified temperature on box.  Set the timer per directions on box, however, do not remove from oven until you see bubbling.
Remove from oven.
Eat the red stuff between the potatoes and peas while arranging other items in an attractive manner on your best china.

Do you have Christmas plates? I saw the prettiest set in Jordan Marsh for 50% off.  You ought to go look.  Will you be skiing Thanksgiving afternoon?    Your sister will be in Vermont at her sister-in-law's so I have made reservations.   Talk to you soon.          Mother "

She followed up with a short phone call.  "Are you still planning on cooking?  I taught you how to make reservations.  Your father and I are going to the Radisson for their buffet, would you like to drive up and join us?"    "No, Thank You, I am still cooking."     "Oh, well, make sure the fire extinguisher your father gave you is handy..."

I have since learned to cook a passable Thanksgiving turkey (Thanks to the Butterball Turkey Hot-Line ), as well as fit in all the other traditional activities.  The least of which would be saying a silent Thank You our ancestors John Alden, and his wife Priscilla Mullins.  If they had not gotten on that boat with John's father heaven only knows where I'd be now. I need to reside in a country where one can call for help  (specifically help that arrives in either pretty blue cars, or big red trucks....) and expect it to respond in a reasonable fashion.  

I have already had my first accidental fire of the season this afternoon while baking my mincemeat pie ( controversial pie, I know, ya either love it or hate it, I simply cannot live without it on Thanksgiving).  While attempting to remove the pie from the oven, an advertising flyer flew off the counter, into the oven, and landed perfectly in the bottom of the electric oven.  Directly on the element.   I thought I distinctly heard my mother saying "I told you to make reservations," while my sister was howling in the background...

When I get up at 4 AM to put the turkey in the oven (yes I am one of those, perish the thought the thing does not fully cook  (Thanks Mom, for instilling the fear of salmonella in the very heart of my being...), I will be watching my favorite dysfunctional family Thanksgiving movie...

...  and saying my silent Thank You's for all the things I am truly Thankful for, which includes you, dear reader, for your continuing encouragement in my quest to save the odd bits and pieces of my family and my life, for my children and my grandson. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

DECEMBER 29, 1995

It was a year of catastrophic events for me, so while I was preparing for my first very own - hopefully - lifesaving operation for cancer, I tried to prepare.   I tried to memorize this quote by Marcus Aurelius,

"As for pain, a pain that is intolerable carries us off, but that which lasts a long time is bearable, the mind maintains it's own tranquility by entering into itself, and the ruling faculty is not injured.  If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing which disturbs you, but your own judgement about it."

Yup, that's all well and good until you are consumed by an enormous controlled trauma like abdominal surgery.  The notebook I brought with me tells an altogether different story of consuming physical pain, combined with morphine... 

They call the day of the operation DAY ZERO.  If one survives, the next day is DAY ONE.  By DAY THREE I had not only watched the First Night New Year fireworks from my bed in a drug induced haze,  I had listened to a woman die across the hall from me, been awakened by the PA every time a doctor or nurse was needed somewhere in the hospital, my doctor - sweetheart that he was - had snuck in a cup of coffee with cream and sugar (absolutely VERBOTEN!), and my friend who was to drive me home on DAY TWELVE said there was an enormous snow storm due in on DAY FOUR.  

I told my doctor I needed to go home. They removed the large metal staples holding my abdominal cavity closed, replaced them with superglue and surgical tape, gave me a pillow to hold onto for the forty-five mile trip home, and wheeled me and my catheter out to the curb. 

THANK YOU RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE in Providence R.I. for the hospitality provided to my friend who came to be with me every waking moment.]

The next few weeks would be interesting.  Four hours after arriving home a nurse from my doctor's office called to make sure I had made it and was OK.  " I hear water running in the background, were you taking a shower? Should I call back? " she asked.    "No, I am cleaning my oven, its OK."  That's when they started calling me their miracle patient.   I spent a lot of time looking like I was nine months pregnant and ready to pop due to the swelling.  I owned no sweatpants so I rolled around the house with my jeans undone and covered with shirts.  My son dragged wood in and I sat in my sister's chair throwing logs into the old, non-air-tight Franklin.

January 1996

I tried to think of spring and did some really incredibly lame mediocre watercolors in my notebook.

My dad sent me funny pictures of himself in his Santa hat with one of his fellow Veteran friends volunteering to ring the bell for the Salvation Army.

In February I went to a wedding my daughter was a bridesmaid in, fueled by vicodin and slouching, it helped keep the pain somewhat at bay,  and ran into my surgeon at a basketball game in Providence in March.

My daughter is actually holding me up in this, notice her shoulder stratigically placed IN my back.

Thank You John A. E. Mattson, for taking me to the game, and running out during overtime to fetch more Pepsi.

At last I would return to work, flowers arrived...

A minor celebration, complete with fake champagne...

My partner of twelve years and I.

By the time spring and summer rolled around, I would be amazed at the journey I had gone through, one that was controlled by levels of pain, diminishing over time to be sure, but pain none the less.  It became obvious in years to follow, just how controlling that pain had been when I look at the photos of me, and the ones I took that summer.

Impossible to sit on hard chairs, still is, I sit on my feet.  I'm told it's common after abdominal surgeries.

Finding Peace in my surroundings.

My son humored me and took me for a ride in my sister's car he had inherited,

 to my favorite place, Pickery Place in Mason N.H.

I might add my kids were loving the pictures. They had always wanted to be as tall as me, if not taller.  My mother, had been mortified by the heights my sister and I attained.   [After we surpassed her 5'7" frame, she refused to be seen with us,  handing us the charge cards. "Go get your school clothes..."  oh, and  "How's the weather up there..."]    I have been six feet since I was about nineteen.  I was slouching right down to about five seven due to chronic pain, so they actually looked taller than me.

By the end of the summer I was back in the pool, getting ready for my diving vacation in Hawaii that coming  January.

So now, on the fifteenth aniversery of that adventure, I once again renew my vow to continue volunteering, helping others whenever I can, and by surviving, reasuring others there truly is hope.  In celebration, I am driving to my favorite seafood joint on the shore to have lobster, and their incredible lobster bisque.

And remember, no matter what befalls you in this unpredicable life, there is power in the mind, believe in it, and mind over matter will triumph.