Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quiet Times

This is a short update as not a lot has been happening....certainly nothing as fun and exciting as friends visiting!  So, I've been enjoying a break; but, even so, found myself dithered - overwhelmed with minutiae that I had imposed on myself.  So, I sat myself down, thought about it, and just let a lot of stuff go.  Things have really improved since doing that.  Rather than starting the day with a long list of things to do, I have a short general list of the major things I want to accomplish.  If I do get everything done, it's great.  If I don't, that's okay, too - none of it is life or death!

Speaking of death (how's that for a segue!), I've contacted funeral homes here and in NC to have as much prearranged as possible when anything happens to my mother.  They are in touch with one another and should be able to coordinate as needed.  For myself, this week I'll finalize my will, advance directive, etc.  Once that is done I'll arrange for my cremation, and I'll be taken care of, too!  Isn't this uplifting!!

Other than that, my hermit side has enjoyed lots of time at home, but I've also been out with friends.  Chris and I just went to a new Lebanese (yes! Lebanese in South Carolina) restaurant, which was very good.  We had falafel, hummus and baba ganoush sampler platter.  It was very tasty and I took enough home for dinner.  They also had shawarmas and it was really the first time I've been tempted to have meat in 6 years.  It brought back memories of the vendors in Khobar.....and lots more.  It was good.  We followed lunch with an art exhibit, where we chatted with several young people whom we really enjoyed.  It was a good afternoon!

We (Chris and I) have also joined Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry, which is a group that meets monthly at Indigo Run.  It is a whole new group of politically informed ladies.  They have some interesting speakers at the luncheon and the table discussion is always informative.  So now I'm involved in three political groups that meet monthly....that gives me my political fix.

I'm almost back into my walking routine...when the weather cooperates.  Summer storms in the South are typical, but over the years they have changed.  Years ago, they were predictable and welcomed - to break the heat and give a respite.  Now, they are torrential, with sheets of rain, swirling, heavy wind, crashing thunder and lightening!! The photo below shows what has become typical.  It's only recently that I realized that everything flows down into  my yard, so I'm hoping the storms don't become more virulent.  This is about the third or fourth time my yards has looked like this. There have been times that it has rained so heavily that I couldn't see the trees on the other side of the golf course.....scary!

About the only other thing happening was Caribbean Day at Mama's place.  Several of the CNAs there are from the Caribbean and they enjoyed sharing their food and music.  Unfortunately, I had to leave before the food arrived, but it did smell great...and there was lots of Bob Marley that day.  You can tell from the photos that my mother is nearly, if not completely, blind.  All things considered, she is doing well, though lately she has been somewhat distressed.  I don't think she's in pain and she can't articulate what the problem is.  I'm hoping this is a short phase that will soon pass.


My apologies for the difficulties with the notification note AND the site.  It was up last night when I wrote the bulk of it, but it was down this morning and half of it was missing.  So, I'm getting worse instead of better!!  I'm going to stitch with it though, and I hope you will, too!  Thanks to those who let me know of the problem.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer is in Full Swing!

Summer is in full swing and I'm asking my usual question....where has the time gone and what have I done with it???  The Fourth of July has completely slipped up on me and I'm unprepared to celebrate. I did go over to have lunch with my mother, which proved to be a very festive affair.  There was live music and everyone was in good spirits.  I could hear the music when I entered the building, and my first thought was, "Oh, my Lord, Mama is having a fit, wanting to get out of that loud music!."  Little did I know that she had been up dancing!

But, before that, there was my friend David's birthday.  Last year on his 60th  birthday, he suffered a major stroke. His brother came down from Connecticut and spent weeks while David was in hospital in Charleston.  When he had to go home, his local friends took over.  He lives neat me so I took him grocery shopping, to appointments, etc......nothing major, but it was when Allan was dying and there would be days when both David and I would be in tears.  Even so, if you are single and friends step forward to help you, it means a lot.  So, on his 61st birthday he gave a very nice party and invited those who helped in his time of need.  It was a nice event...and a nice thing for David to do.

 On my way to David's party I picked up Cheryl, who has been fostering Moonbeam, a baby kitten.  She has been posting videos almost daily of this cutie and all of her friends are wondering how/why she will relinquish him.   He is such a cutie....and totally spoiled by three adults.  He will be in shock when he gets to a normal household that doesn't record his every move!  In any case, I had to see him before he went to his adoptive family in Charleston.


Two days after David's party was my mother's 93rd birthday.  As you can tell from earlier photos, she is in a pretty good place at the moment.  They seem to have sufficiently adjusted her pain meds and she has a routine that helps her get through the day in reasonably good spirits.  So, we both have a lot for which to be thankful. 
In addition to these events, I've kept in touch with friends and Living Liberally.  I also attended "Moms Demand Action" against gun violence.  While I'm only a kitty-mom, it is an issue that
concerns me and I was interested in what they had to say.  Those of you in liberal and reasonable states might be surprised that this was not highly publicized.  They didn't' want a lot of gun nuts showing up!!  What a sad and pathetic situation.  The squeaky wheels in our society seem to be totally nuts.....and those who lead them have no scruples, only their own well-being in mind.
In that vein, my next task today is to email Speaker Boehner and tell him exactly what I think of his suing President Obama (we don't know why....he's still trying to manufacture the reasons!).  I began the note last night and consider it my patriotic duty to do this on the fourth of July.  I hope he appreciates the he will pay no attention to the content!

Well, in writing this entry, I know why the time has flown and why I get nothing of consequence done.....although there is lots of time left to do more than I do.  It is just that my "To Do" list is so long I don't know where or how to start.  There are also so many things I'd like to do for my own interest that it's difficult to do those things that "need" to be done.  Oh, well, I guess it will all come out in the wash!!

Happy Fourth
To those on this side of the Pond!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June: A Whirlwind Month So Far

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earthI've just been enjoying the company of friends and having a great time.  Shortly after Ann's visit, I received an email from Jim saying that he and Anthony were in need of a get-away.  He has recently retired from his hectic job in DC and moved to Florida.  They had been busy, cleaning, repairing, renovating, and doing all those things it takes to make a house a home. They had planned to visit his aunt in Atlanta and wanted to come by here, which was great.  They came the first weekend of the month and we had a nice visit.  They brought tiny Deva with them, which delighted Mama to no end.  We all visited her, but Deva was the focus.  It's always nice to see her and the others light up as they do with animals.

We went back to the infamous beach parking lot where I lost my car keys.  This time, too, proved to be calamitous, though not to the degree as Ann's visit.  It was a beautiful morning, with a nice breeze, making for a pleasant walk.  We went to the Westin for lunch.  The lunch was very good and it's a nice spot to sit, chat and enjoy the ocean view.  We noticed that the wind was picking up, and soon the sky began to cloud over.  The staff scurried around to collect cushions, secure umbrellas, and make the appropriate preparations. By the time we finished lunch, the sky opened and it poured.  Now we are over a mile from our car and it's pouring.  We were contemplating our options when I spot the Westin shuttle, so I go over and ask where he goes.  There is no one in the bus and the driver, an older man who has been doing this for some time, asked where I need to go.  I told him that my guests and I walked up for lunch and had gotten stranded by the rain, and he said, "Well, jump in and I'll take you real quick".  His random act of kindness made our day.  As I approached him, I thought my chances were slim and none, but he fooled me.  He was delightful, and Jim said we should have gotten his photo for our album, but it didn't cross my mind at the time. In any case, he came to our rescue.

Our time together was as enjoyable as ever.  We always have a lot to talk and laugh about, which is refreshing.

While Ann was visiting, I received an email from Sandra saying that they were taking a road trip and would be in this area around June 12....and they would like to stop in if I was available.  I sent her a quick reply saying that would be great.  When she realized that I had company (Ann), she asked if it would be easier if they stayed in a I didn't tell her that I'd be having more company between Ann's visit and theirs!

They arrived on schedule and were the easiest company ever.....they had their own car and Sandra had lived here for years, so I didn't even have to plan an itinerary!! I just tried to make them comfortable, which was made easier since they were coming from a week in NYC and were happy to be in a quieter, more mellow place!  It was great to see Sandra again (not since about 2007) and a real pleasure to meet Howard.  Sandra and I gabbed non-stop and he handled it very well!  The next day Sandra took Howard on a grand tour of the island, while I did a few things I needed to do.  The following day we went to Palmetto Bluff for a leisurely morning and a very light snack at Buffalo's.  Evenings were spent at home, chatting.......very relaxed and comfortable.  

Though I was pooped at the end of it all, it was that pleasurable exhaustion that only comes from a series of wonderful experiences.  I am so glad everyone came and I would not have missed a minute of it!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cold Turkey and Cabbage Soup!

Enough time has passed for me to recover a bit from Ann's visit, which was fantastic....though there was a lot of recovery required!  I worked frantically to get the house in order and some food in the fridge, and all worked out well with a little help.  I received a very good housecleaning deal (two cleaners for two hours for $79) from Living Social.  I had also received a coupon from them offering 25% off my next purchase, which made it too good to pass up.  The ladies we nice, efficient and did a great job, which made everything easier for me. I was so glad I did it.

The day before Ann was to arrive, Bloom had their annual Mother's Day party at 2PM.  So, I took time out for that.  The food looked great, the music was nice; but, by the time it was to begin, my mother couldn't stay up any longer.  She is to that stage where she spends a lot of time sleeping.  From time to time she will have a good day when she is awake and more alert, but they are becoming fewer. When they happen, we make the most of them.
Ann's plane was slightly late, but not much.  We went straight home and began the catch-up.  It was a fun evening of too much to catch up on at one time.  The next morning we went for a long walk on the beach.  It was the beach I usually frequent because the parking is easy and it in a good walk up to the Westin, which makes for a nice break.  We walked as far as we could go past the Westin and came back for lunch, which was leisurely and delicious.  We then walked back to the car.  As we were approaching the car, I felt in my bag for my keys....and NO KEYS!!  There really was no way to retrace our trail, so I used Ann's phone to call AAA as I was pretty sure I had an extra key in my purse, which was in the car.  As I was talking to the AAA lady, she asked where we were and I said, "Not only have I lost my keys, I don't know where we are!"  I couldn't remember the name of the beach, nor the name of the was either Bradley Beach Road or Singleton Road, but I wasn't sure which.  Then she asked the phone number on which we could be reached, so I asked Ann.....who said, "I don't know!"  By that time we are almost rolling on the ground and the lady on the phone seemed amused!  I give her credit for not haning up on us or thinking it was a prank call.  Instead she looked at her map and, while I couldn't give her names, I could tell her that it was the first left turn after the light at Folly Field Road.  When she said Bradley Beach Road to Dreissen Beach, I know they would come to our rescue.

We only had to wait about 15-20 for AAA and he did open the car; however, no spare key in my purse!  So, the plot thickens.  We walk to the restaurant on the corner and ask the hostess if she would call a cab for us.  After three tries, she did find one willing to take us back to my house.  While she's making the call, an owner or manager comes over to ask if he can help and we explain that the hostess is calling a cab for us....and he said, "Oh, had a little too much to drink???"  We both laughed and said, "Nooooo....we don't even need drink!"

Eventually we got home and after a short search found the spare key.  We called another cab to take us back to the car.  The good thing is that everyone was helpful, prompt, cheerful and supportive.  As the story developed, everyone along the way seemed to be amused by the right kind of way.  So, all's well that ends well (though I haven't had the key replaced yet...)

We hoped that would be the most excitement of that type for the rest of the visit.  We had thought of going to Charleston, but we decided to stay close.  Our activities for the week included the following:
  • Beaufort
  • Palmetto Bluff and Bluffton
  • Harbourtown and Coligny Beach area
  • Shopping
  • A movie - The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Drinking Liberally
Ann will have to remind me of anything I've left out, but we did lots of walking every day.  I'd just lost 5 pounds with the Cabbage Soup diet and only put one back on.....not for lack of eating an drinking!  It was the walking that kept the balance.  Lois and Tony encouraged our delinquency by sending some cash with Ann.  It came with explicit instructions "not to be spent on anything frivolous.....alcohol only!"  I had stockpiled wine and thought I had enough; but, three days in, I fell woefully short  So, we visited the local wine shop and followed instructions!  Reminiscing requires lots of wine...Thank you Lois and Tony for helping the cause!

I was also pleased for Ann to meet the Drinking Liberally crew, and for them to meet her.  Their response to learning that she was from Liverpool was, "Oh, we know Liverpool....the Beatles!"  She was made welcome and peppered with questions.  Many in the group had careers working for the government in DC and were surprised by our exploits in Saudi.  We also think we identified someone in the Witness Protection Program!!  He was there with his wife, and when I took photos (which you'll see below), he made a concerted effort to be out of them....even when we wanted one of him on his bike!!  He wasn't in the background - he was not in sight!!  Draw your own conclusions!

I'm sure I've left things out, but it was all lots of fun and like no time had passed since our last meeting.  We were both touched by Lois and Tony's thoughtfulness, just another reminder of those strong Aramco ties. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about good friends and good times.  It was a joyful week and one I won't forget soon.....just what I needed! Thank you, Ann, for was great!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Another little box of ashes....

I expected to be too busy to write before Ann's arrival, but today has been nothing like planned and I've lost another kitty!  Around 3AM this morning, Chloe had a seizure and a second one several hours later, with a lot of heavy, erratic breathing in between.  I had her at the vet's by 7:15AM and they thought they had her stabilized, but she had another seizure and died at that time.  It all happened so quickly that it's hard to take it in, and it has tapped that well of sadness I can manage to keep calm most of the time.  So, I'm taking the time to give her the love and remembrance she deserves

Cat owners know that each cat is unique, with some spark that sets one apart from another.....and wins a spot in your heart  Chloe was my hippie child, dancing to her own drummer...when you least expected.  She had hip dysplasia, which caused her to have a funny gait and to walk with her tail down.  But, as soon as she was within a few feet on me, up went the tail.  With it being a long, thin tail, she was often called Rat-tail Girl.....all with affection.  For no reason whatsoever, she would dart from the kitchen to the hall, stop suddenly and look around, and dart someplace else.  She would also do that on the bed, skating around like a water bug.  We usually commented that she was glad to be alive!

She maintained a kitten's face and skinny legs with small little feet.  Everything in between was fat and bulbous, which also gave her the contradictory name of Tinsy Little Girl.....or Tinsy Little Rat-tail Girl!!!  She was also known as the kitchen gestapo and developed this knack of herding Smokey away from me as I prepared the breakfast food.  She had it down to a science.....and Smokey knew it!

She loved being near Gabby and every night they would groom each other's head before going to bed.  It was a nightly ritual. The dining room table was part of her domain and she could survey her territory from there.  She intuitively knew when it was 7PM......treat time!  And she didn't hesitate to remind me if I was late with treats.  She loved to help with chores, especially changing the bed.  as soon as the bottom sheet was on, she would get smack in the middle of the bed, lie on her back and squirm.....she loved a clean bed!  She was truly a character in her own right. 

In no time flat, I've gone from 5 cats in the house to now only two.  Tonight I'm likely to have the whole bed to myself.....not that I ever complained about having it full of cats.  I have not even gotten accustomed to being without Gabby, and now I have to do the same with Chloe.  Until they are gone, you/I don't realize how much their presence fills the house and adds love and joy to life.  I can't tell you how much they will be missed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April Showers and Other Things

Not a lot to report.....and, in my case, no news is good news.  It's sometimes better to have nothing to report than to always have something bad.  I'm pleased to have a break from all that!  Things have slowed enough to be able to catch up with friends, Living Liberally, and another painting class.  This time my neighbor joined me, so I wasn't the only one in class.  We both enjoyed it and hope to do another one next month.  This is my best one yet, though it still looks like a grade school-er did it!  I don't ever remember having an art class of any kind until college (though I probably did, just have no recollection of it) and, even then, everything I did looked so symmetrical, structured.....nothing the least bit fluid, creative, natural.  So this is a real improvement for me.  My goal is only to create some things I like, even if they're amateurish and simple.

If you saw any of the Heritage Golf Tournament, you know that last weekend was rainy and crummy.  I enjoyed being able to indulge my hermit nature, especially since I'd not felt well for about a month.  I wasn't ill, but I felt like my head and body were trudging through quicksand.  Everything was an effort as I had NO energy.  There was nothing specific, but I'd felt bad long enough to begin wondering what could be wrong.  Then, after the three days and nights of rain on tournament weekend, I awakened on Monday feeling 100% better!!  And, I've felt better all week.....a clear head, more energy, and out of the quicksand!!  Thank goodness. The conclusion is that it was all of the pollen, which has never affected me this badly before.  I'm hoping the worst is behind me.

After the rain, our weather has been more consistently spring-like.  Today when I went over to visit my mother, they were all sitting outside, which was nice to see.  I've also been...still...trying to get back into walking.  Before my routine was interrupted, I was doing 3-4 miles a day.  Now, I'm stuck at two.....but that's better than nothing.  With the break in walking, I've put on about 10 pounds, so when I do walk, there are things moving and shaking that shouldn't be!  In an effort to re-establish better eating habits, I'm on the fourth day of the Cabbage Soup Diet.  A hundred years ago I 'd given it a try, but that was before the internet and I just ate nothing but cabbage soup, which got old quickly.  Well, now on the web you can get a more fleshed out program that is not bad.....a 7 day program to jump start weight loss and cleanse.  For a vegetarian, it really is easy to follow and stick to due to the variety of foods in addition to the soup.  My hope is that it will get me away from the breads, sweets and wine that I added to my diet when my mother was with me.  I became accustomed to keeping breads and sweets in the house for her, and we know who the wine was for...and why!  So far, I haven't craved any of them nor been hungry, with only three more days to go.  Tomorrow I begin to add protein so the remaining days shouldn't be's hoping!

Okay, fellow Boomers, two items to share about aging....a topic about which I've learned a lot through personal experience and observation of my mother.  The first is a very nice ad done in the UK (though I'm not sure I agree with the last comment, especially in our society!), which you can see HERE.  The other is an article comparing Millennials and Boomers, drawing lessons each can learn from the other....very interesting.  It can be read HERE

And last, but certainly not least, I'm excited that Ann is coming for a short visit mid-May, which should give me just about time enough to clean the house if I really get to work!!  This is the first time in a long time that I can look forward to something like this and feel that my mother will be okay as a 92 year old can be.  It's also a real treat to be with a longtime friend and look forward to catching up.  Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to it and have begun to check out activities and events to occupy our time.  It's nice to look forward to something fun.

On that very pleasant note, I'll leave you with a cartoon for dog/animal lovers, rock and roll fans, and anyone with a funny-bone  I occasionally send "Off the Leash" cartoons to Paula and Neil, who have two dogs.....and this is one of my favorites.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April is Here....

I know I lament this from time to time, but I don't know where the time is going.  I've totally lost the first three months of the year, just trying to keep my head above water. I received a note from Paula saying that it is almost a year since Allan left Saudi for Spain, and it only seems like yesterday.  In May my mother will have been in Bloom for a year - a year that has lightened my load a bit, but I'm still swirling around for one thing to the next.  That's life!

April brings tax time and I got wolloped this year by withdrawing three times as much as usual from my savings for my mother's care.  I knew I would be hit hard but didn't expect as much as I got!

As though I don't have enough going on, I received a call from my credit card company saying that my credit card had been compromised. At first I thought it might be a scam, but she did have access to recent purchases....and, even though there had been no fardulant charges,  they closed my credit card then and there and sent a new one.  The lady who called was very nice and helpful, but that still meant that I had to provide my new card info to everyone who had automatic monthly payments charged to my old card.......not fun!

All is not doom and gloom, though.  We were finally approved for the increase in Aid and Attendance Benefits for my mother AND it was retroactive to the time I first applied for aid. So, that is a real plus and I'm delighted to be able to check it off the "follow up" list.  It also should not impact my taxes as much next year.....Inshallah!

Our weather is improving and we're all liking that.  I've walked, but very randomly.  That is my problem.....I'm a concrete, sequential kind of person.  If I can maintain a schedule, I'll enjoy it and do it forever......but if it's interrupted, it's gone....over!!  I'm trying to change that, but you know what they say about old dogs!

Cheryl and Nancy rendezvoused with me at our usual spot as they traveled to Cheryl's sister in Camden and then on to a road trip to Ohio.  As usual, the time went much too fast, but we had a great time with lot of laughs...just what I needed!  Cheryl has become quite the gadget was she who turned me on to the joys of the iPad!  So, we had a show-and-tell...she shared her new external iPad charger (which I really need!) and her Fitbit zip, which is a high tech pedometer.  I shared my online discoveries, most of which involve streaming current events.  Nancy looked at us in amazement....but it was fun! 

I've also been able to catch up with friends, including my friend Chris, whom I hadn't seen in a while due to my not being able to attend Drinking Liberally and she having lots of company. So, we had a long leisurely lunch, with both of us coming away totally over stimulated.  I told her about Livestream and all it contains.  She told me about Coursera and EdX, sites that offer fabulous, free online college courses out of major universities.  I came home and immediately signed up for Buddhism and Modern Psychology (out of Princeton U).....and other courses through January's that for optimism!!  Anyway, it's a great course and I'm really enjoying it. The lectures are online videos and there are social media threads for questions, discussions, etc.  Once a week the instructor has "office hours" when he answers questions, comments on discussions, etc.  It's really informative, interesting and enjoyable......we may have discovered why I'm overwhelmed and under-accomplished!!

In that same vein, last week I attended, via iPad, the Women in the World Conference in NYC.
  This week I saw the Civil Rights Summit from the LBJ Library in Austin.  Seeing these things as they happen is absolutely fascinating, informative, and so inspiring. The women's conference reinforced my feeling that this world will remain a mess until women get our act together and do what needs to be done.  But, in the meantime, there are already women out there doing wonderful, unbelievable things, often with few resources and requiring much courage . The Civil Rights Summit gave me a whole new perspective on Lyndon Johnson, what he sacrificed and what he accomplished.  Like the March on Washington, this was a 50 year look-back and often things look very different with the perspective of age.  There is just so much out there to know and learn.....not enough time in the day to do it all.

A special thank you to all those who commented about Gabby. The house is certainly quiet without him.  Quiet isn't the right word because he wasnt a noisy kitty, but he definitely had a presence that filled the house. Sue very rightly pointed out that he was a poser.  While I have to take many photos to get a good shot of the other kitties, Gabby just seemed to look right into the lens and wait for me to get my act together.  Many years ago when the Cameron girls were here, they commented that in the kitty world Gabby would be a model.  Eileen recounted a running fit Gabby had when they were here, sending rugs flying and delighting her in the process..  This may be more than you want to know, but some of these wild runs were "poop runs"!!  When I was still working, Gabby would be the first thing I saw when I got home.  We would do our welcoming routine and then he would disappear....going to the litter box to do his business.  On his return, he would fly through the house - careening off furniture, sliding around corners, jumping on anything in his path - a kitty happy to be alive!!  It always tickled us and I told him he could poop anytime, but it seemed to bring such pleasure once his Mama was delighted his Mama, too!

I had Gabby cremated and got his ashes back this week.  I had not done this before and didn't know what to expect.  I went online and found a lovely ceramic urn with cats on it; but, sensibly for once, I didn't do anything until his ashes were returned.  As it turns out, they were enclosed in a nice, wooden box.  It also came with a notarized certificate and a lovely card.  The vet and his staff also sent a card, which was nice.   I'd much rather have Gabby doing poop runs through the house, but this is a good closure.....not that I will ever forget that kitty.

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