Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas is coming....

How do I know? The trolls, and the goat, and the horse, and the Tomten told me so. It's almost time! This is the best time of year - the time before. Before Advent, before St. Lucia Day, before Christmas. The planning time, the thinking about it all time. I love the time before MORE than the time of. I love looking ahead, waiting, working for. It's over all too soon, which is why I like the time before best of all times. It's the best part of all holidays. Stay tuned for more about trolls, horses, Tomtens and straw goats. They are the best part of MY holidays.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mom's birthday would be today, if she were still alive. She would be 86. I am currently 46, born in February, and that same year I was born, in November, my mom turned 40. I was a surprise baby, born nearly 9 years after my last brother. She thought I was the flu, and when she finally went to the dr, apparently he kidded her that she, as a nurse, should have known better, especially after having been pregnant three other times. I love that story. I also like the fact that I know my mother's real birthday is November 17th, even though her birth certificate says it is the 18th. 86 years ago, most babies were born at home, as she was. It was late in the evening when she finally came into the world, and as it was storming, the doctor who delivered her waited until morning to go back to his office. When he did, he recorded her birth as the 18th, even though my grandmother said my mom was DEFINITELY born before midnight on the 17th. For some reason, as a child, I found that story fascinating, and always tried to celebrate my mom's birthday with her on the 17th. She didn't care either way.
My mom died four and a half years ago, in a nursing home a few miles from me, of Alzheimers. I was there that night, and held her hand as she went. I don't know what she really died of - pneumonia? I honestly can't remember. She broke her hip in January of that year, her second broken hip, and I remember the very, very kind hospital doctor coming in to talk to us, to me, as I was sitting there with her in the hospital, and telling me that it really didn't matter if we didn't have surgery to repair the hip (her health really wouldn't have supported a surgery at that time, so it wasn't much of an option, which bothered us) because with a patient of her age, and with her medical conditions, a broken hip was really the beginning of the end, and he would give her no more than 6 months. That might have seemed cruel,but it wasn't. It was a reassurance that we were doing the best thing for her by not having surgery, by just keeping her comfortable and medicated, and it gave me a time line within which to begin saying goodbye. In actuality, I had already begun saying that long before. My mom had had Alzheimers long enough that to me, she was no longer my "mom." She was always, right to the end, a beautiful person I loved, and took care of, but the "mom" who had loved me, and taken care of me, and loved my children, the "mom" who had given me advice, helped me, listened to me, that "mom" had been gone for many years.But having someone tell you that the misery that had robbed my mom's mind, and so much of her strength (she had diabetes, had had several heart attacks and strokes and open heart surgery, had broken her collar bone, her hip twice, etc.)would soon be over for her, was a relief, actually. I was not sad to see my mom die.It was a blessing, at long last. Her life, for at least the year previous to her death, was just not good, and it was hard to watch someone you love, just exist. It was hard to watch what not having my mom at home did to my father on a daily basis. So her passing away was, at long last, a relief. I didn't cry much. I didn't really even feel terribly sad for very long. I have not spent a lot of time feeling sad, or really even missing my mom a lot in the past few years. Really, it has been more like the past 16 years that she has been "gone," so it's hard to feel like it's only been a couple of years. I've gone through all the feelings of "this isn't fair" and the anger, and all the other emotions when we first began to realize things were not right with her. I've "been there, done that" and don't need to anymore. What I have left of my mom now are the random good, and funny, memories, mostly. Like the fact that my mom was many, many things I aspire to be, but a good cook was not one of them? Fishsticks. Box potatoes, or, real-but-lumpy-watery greyish potatoes. Buttered beets, stewed tomatoes, liver and onions on Monday nights when my dad was at Rotary. Ugh. Looking back at my childhood, wonderful wonderful meals was definitely NOT a part of it. Thankfully, it WAS a huge part of my husband's childhood, as both his mom and his two aunts are fantastic cooks, and he inherited both the love of cooking and the ability, and has passed much of that on to me,so my own kids should grow up with a warm and fuzzy view of the food that filled THEIR childhoods. (As long as they forget the fishsticks and tator tots I fed them when they were little and I didn't know any better. But only on the nights when their dad was at Lions Club.)
I do miss my mom. Some times of the year are harder than others. I miss her on my birthday. I especially miss her at Christmas time. And there are always days, moment, when for some reason, or no reason at all, I just miss her really hard.I guess that will always be true of anyone you love, and lose.
I don't remember the date of her death, but I will never forget the day of her birth. Or date. Happy Birthday, mom. I love you still.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Baby is Growing Up!

BRAMBLE, LAST NIGHT at about 6 months old
BRAMBLE THIS PAST SUMMER, at about 3 months old

Indian Summer Evening

The weather here has been unseasonably warm the past few days. Much as I love winter, and look forward to snow, and cold, I also don't mind the last few days of left-over Indian Summer warmth, either. It was the perfect temperature to take the dogs for a walk Sunday, and we did. Normally, when we walk for human exercise, we walk three or four miles, on one of several different routes around or out of town. But this time, my goal was not my own personal fitness, which it should be every day!, but to tire out the Bramble puppy. On weekdays, all four dogs are hooked to runs outside where they could, if they so desired, get enough exercise to wear them out. I'm sure they don't. I'm sure they pretty much lay and soak up the sun, and bark occasionally, and get up to get a drink, and then go lay back down. On the weekends, however, I keep the dogs inside with us, letting them out in the fenced back yard to do their business, sniff around, bark at the neighbors, chase the cats, etc. for a few minutes many times a day. But I KNOW they don't get 7 hours of fresh air and sunshine, like they do M-F, so they are also not very tired at the end of the day. Well, ONE of them isn't. Not sayin who, but the three older couch potatoes are 7, 6 and 5, and all appreciate a nice carpet to snooze on during the evening, and then don't seem to mind going upstairs to sleep away another 8 or 9 hours on their comfy doggy pillows, while the 6 month old Border Collie?
Not so much. Sleep? WHat's that about? Who needs it? Not me, not me!!! At least, that seems to be her humble opinion. I have to say, it has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with, in having a puppy again. I need sleep. A LOT of it. I like to sleep uninterrupted for a good solid 9 hours every night. And more on weekends. Some of us just need more sleep. And Bramble is like a baby-turning-toddler at this stage. She is no longer pooping and peeing every night in my bedroom, thank goodness, but now she barks at my bedside, or whines, once, to let me know when she needs to go out. If I go upstairs between 9 and 10, I can count on getting up to let her out 3 times a night. Somewhere between 11 and 12, then again about 3-4, and then again between 5-6. She seems to only be able to go about two to three hours at night. Now although it does seem to me she should be able to last longer than that at 6 months old, I'll take it over having to clean up poop and pee in the mornings. Anyway, I digress. I do that a lot. My whole point is, I really try to tire her out more on the weekends, so that she will be SO tired she will go to sleep when we do, and hopefully, sleep longer than 3 hours at a stretch. And although it didn't work so well Sunday (we didn't walk the whole 3 miles with her- probably only 1 1/2 - because her legs are so short), it WAS a nice day for a walk. The sun was just going down as we crossed the bridge over the Genesee River on our way back to town, and the sky was all kinds of wonderful golds and reds. MY legs were tired, and I slept well Sunday night!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Seriously, this will be a post where I force myself to think about what I am thankful for tonight. It has to be. Because it has been the kind of a day where I am mad at EVERYONE for EVERYTHING. (If I didn't know better, I'd swear I was simply PMS'ing today. I have one day a month, every month, where I feel like this, and then later, I look back and go, "Ooooohhhh. THAT'S why." As though it was some new event in my life that hasn't been occurring for the past too many years. It is, no joke, the only day my students end up with detentions, or that I yell at them in class, or I can't stand the sight of my husband, and everything that comes out of my children's mouths seems destined to make me angry enough to wish, only momentarily of course, that I had never given birth. And there is still that possibility I suppose, since that time of life, "the change," seems to be upon me. Things like calendar dates can't always be counted on anymore. So although I don't THINK the reasons for my anger and irritation today are due to hormones with minds of their own, I suppose it could be. Only time will tell. REGARDLESS, I think it far wiser, on a Friday night, to think of things I am thankful for, rather than to dwell on what made me angry today. Even I am smart enough not to wish to ruin a weekend in front of me!!! And if it continues next week, there will be time enough to vent then!)
OK, so... I am thankful for
  • homemade cranberry wine that turned out fantastic, and a husband who, judging the quality of my day, opened a bottle, poured me a glass, and brought the rest of the bottle to me along with the glass!
  • big children who are both coming home from college tonight, just for the weekend, to visit
  • looking forward to sleeping in past 6 tomorrow - it's SATURDAY!
  • looking forward to next Wednesday off from school for Veterans' Day - four day weeks are always good!
  • getting the vacuuming done tonight, and the kitchen floor mopped last night. I am trying to get at least one "major" chore done each night so I don't have to spend all weekend in a dirty house, or every single second cleaning on the weekend. Don't worry - there are still dishes to do, laundry to fold and put away, a chicken coop to clean, etc.
  • getting my desk cleaned off at school today, and all the piles of papers and books and whoknowswhatall sorted and cleaned up, so I can come in Monday morning to a clean desk and work area
  • the generosity of people at school who bought many raffle tickets today for my neighbor who was diagnosed with lymphoma
  • beginning to plan and order and make Christmas presents. For me, the planning is better than the day itself.
  • Bramble seeming to be almost housebroken, finally - knock on wood. At least it is WAY better than a month ago. Frustrating, but so much better, finally. And thankful that I did NOT have to use a crate for it.
And, by the way, why do they say wet hens are mad? My hens have been wet a number of times, since it rains so much here, and all they do is fluff themselves up, shake themselves like a wet dog, and go on about their chickeny business. They don't SEEM like they are mad.