Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

"When black cats prowl

and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween."
Author Unknown
My day started out at 5am. I awoke to a strange sound - a kind of kathumping coming down the hall. By the time it got to my room, I was fully awake, but it was dark and I still couldn't tell what I was seeing. Turns out it was Boy Cat doing somersaults and banging off the wall. I cornered him under Sweetie's side of the bed and was able to pick him up. I'm not sure who was more scared ... me or the cat. I don't know what a cat seizure looks like but I'm pretty sure that's what had just happened.
I called the ER vet, asked a few questions then made the decision to wait til my vet opened at 8:00. It was a long couple of hours. Somehow all of us were able to settle down enough to sleep a little. I put the very worn out kitty into a carrying crate. As I loaded him into the car he seized again. Only this time his flailing around was contained in a small box. About all I could do was cry for Sweetie ... think Prissy in GWTW. By the time I got to the vet, he was having a hard time breathing. Whether from the seizure or nerves, I don't know. The cat's guardian angel was working overtime. The vet's waiting area was empty. The vet and 4 techs were available to provide care and each went into well rehearsed action. Within minutes the cat had an oxygen mask over his snout, was x-rayed, had an IV in his leg to provide liquids and Valium. He quickly settled down, not even reacting to the continuing needle sticks.
I love my vet. She is cool, calm and quickly on top of things. Each tech treated my baby like he was their own. He looked pretty pitiful but I knew he was getting good care. For a moment I saw dollar signs circling in the oxygen filled room. Mostly, I wanted to see this sweet feline get better.
One of his many names is "Scaredy Cat". He would rather run in the other direction than let me pet him. However, if I let him come to me on his own terms, he'll sit with me and purr. His sister, Baby Cat has decided I should not be allowed to go to the bathroom without a chaperon. If she thinks she is alone in the house she'll wonder around crying til she finds someone. Then just like our 2 year old visitor, reaches her arms and insists on being picked up. Scaredy Cat is much more discerning about his interaction with humans. He might not be too happy when the Valium wears off.
The tentative diagnosis has something to do with having too many red blood cells. I had to leave him at the vet for the weekend. No real surprise there. Hopefully by Monday he'll be hydrated, oxygenated and feeling much better. Until we know exactly what has caused this rare affliction we'll have to treat the symptoms, for the next few weeks.
The good news, if there is any, is that this condition makes him a perfect candidate to be a blood donor. He's got more red blood than he needs and it can be pulled off and used for surgery, etc. According to the technician, this will pay for the debt that he is incurring this weekend. Poor baby. It doesn't sound like the greatest of futures.
The sun is going down. It won't be long before the neighborhood goblins start knocking on the door. I must go stir the candy bowl. If I work it right there will be plenty of Snickers bars left over for you know who!
Merry ME

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Grandchildren are God's way
of compensating us for growing old."
Mary H. Waldrip
Ompa and G.G.
(Luther Reynolds, 92,
and the youngest of his great-grandchildren,
Giana Garcia, almost 2)
Blessings can be found in the most unexpected places,
Merry ME

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Idea ????

Back to wondering just how crazy I think I am.

I am not so sure, cool as I think it is, that that whole hand thing is going to work. Wouldn't it take forever to collect enough for a whole quilt? Maybe I should just collect peace sayings in the comment section here.

Should I make a whole quilt or just something to hand on the wall? Hmmm....much as I like walking into a room with hanging quilts, I prefer wrapping them around me. What do you think?

Sweetie says he knows all about EBAY. Is that the best way to go? How does auction compare with raffle?

The deciding what to do and how to do it might take longer than making the quilt!

Thinking out loud,
Merry ME

Crying (can you hear Roy Orbison in the background?)

"Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it."
Albert Smith

I've jest read my daily blogs. I have tears running down my face. In each post I read something that touched me deep inside. And let's face it, I'm just in the mood to boo hoo. Lot's of emotion going on in my world this week. Yesterday I stood in the shower, hot water running down my back, and told my inner ME that I'd take care of her. I told her again on the way to the airport. Then I think I got lost in the busy-ness of company. A two-year old visitor has really sparked some excitement in "this old house"!

Sweetie wondered if all 2 year olds are like that. Like what I asked? A ball of energy that can't talk! Yup! I think that would pretty much sum it up! They make their needs known without words, stand tall and independent but are never too far from mama's leg. Just watching and wondering makes me want to cry! It's been so long since a little one has stood at my knee and raised her hands in the universal sign to be picked up.

I'm not sad particularly. Just tired I think. Dani wrote that she wants a week away. As I read each word of her post, I was thinking, yes....
Yes, that's what I want.
Yes, can I come with you?
Yes, how did you know?
Yes, I think one week away might just do the trick.

But life goes on. I've learned how to function with tears on my cheeks. If they drip into the soup, oh well, they just add a bit of flavor. I made peace with my tear ducts a long time ago. I have stopped trying to control them; they run over whenever they feel like it. Tears are a part of who I am.

However, tears or not, I must get up and moving.
Like the blogs I read today, I wish for you memories of times past, gratitude for today's blessings and excitement for what the future is sure to bring. All that and some rest, too!

Merry Me

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


"An idea that is developed and put into action
is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea. "

I'm in a bit of a funk. I'm tired and crabby. My hip hurts even when I do my stretching exercises. In fact, despite what the doctor tells me, it hurts more when I do the exercises. I'm uncertain about the future. It makes me feel kind of scared.

The weird thing about this poopoo mood is that I also feel kind of creative. Words aren't coming the way I'd like them too, but I hear the call of fabric that has been locked into a closet to get it out of sight because my sister is coming to visit.

"M-a-r-y," the blues and greens whisper to me but I can hear them loud and clear.
"M-a-r-y," the holiday fabrics yell louder to remind me that any project I want to have ready by Christmas is already going to take a speed demon to finish.
"Just do it," my heart tells me because it knows I need a creative outlet to turn my mood around.

"What? Are you crazy?" my anti-muse asks. "Don't you already have enough on your plate? And what about that tea party you've been planning since May? And do I need to mention that uncompleted project in the back yard, oh you creative one? Why don't you just grab your screw driver and get that done before you mess up the dining room?"

I'm almost convinced that this is not the time to start quilting again. But I have this idea ....

If you go to most of the blogs on my sidebar you will find stories about creative people with big hearts making things to raise money for some of the world's most needy. Maithri and Tessa are working to build bridges in Swaziland. Terri has opened my eyes to the plight of women who suffer from cancer and or unconscionable violence. Sorrow contributes some of her profits to organizations that help women, horses and children. Firebryd is helping wounded warriors find a way to let their war personas go and enter back into society feeling human again. Jon Katz takes pictures and gives talks in order to call attention to dying libraries and farms. All of these people are doing this charity work on top of all the ordinary day-to-day things they manage in their lives - mothering, working, broken legs, feeling blue, exercising, moving, etc.
I also have a charity I want to contribute to. It is a Baby Shower ministry I started at my church. In line with the Millennium Development Goals #4 and 5 the shower is a way to promote maternal health and hopefully decrease the high rate of infant mortality. The numbers of infants who die right here in Duval County where I live are staggering. They are coming down, but not fast enough. And wouldn't you know, with the down turn of the economy available funds for organizations who cater to moms and babies are diminishing too. So for the last three years I've asked people at the church to donate baby clothes, formula and diapers which will then be given to local charities. Last year we made over 100 shoebox layettes. One Saturday before Christmas we turned our parish hall into something that looked like Santa's workshop. Is there anything softer and more cuddly than a newborn's brand new undershirt or nightgown? The 2010 Shower will be held in January at the feast of the Epiphany when the church acknowledges the visit of the wisemen (women) to the Christ Child.

With all those good causes in mind I want to do something to raise awareness and money. Writing is something I do for me. Quilting is what I do for others. I always come back to quilting. Quilts are pretty and warm but mostly they say in a special and unique way "there, there, everything is going to be okay" when your wrap one around your shoulders. What I'm not sure about is how to use my quilting skills to "build a bridge."

What I'd like to do is make a couple of quilts to be raffled off. One for my local charity. One for the others mentioned. Here's what I'm thinking. Anyone got any other ideas?

I found some fabric that is blue and green with globes and doves on it. In the magical way that fabric speaks to me it says "Peace". The particular pattern is still in my head (when it comes to quilt patterns, I'm a traditionalist.) But my minds eye pictures hands stretched around the world offering love and peace to those we know and those who we'll never even see. Anyone who reads my blog can help by doing a few different things:
A. Trace your hand on a piece of paper and send it to me via snail mail. If you want to participate just leave a comment. Along with your hand send me a "Peace" quote or favorite saying. Of course it is okay to send either or!
B. If you participate in Step A, you will automatically be entered in the drawing for the quilt.
C. Beyond that I don't know how to set up the exchange of dollars for chances. I am not set up to receive funds on PayPal and I don't have a clue about the legalities. However, any money raised would go to a charity of the winner's choice so long as it is promotes peace and well being to the marginalized people of the world.
If there is one thing I'm not good at it is fundraising. I'm much better at giving than asking. So I am way out of my comfort zone here. If any of you out there have some guiding light to shine on me I'd appreciate your help. I'm a fool to think I can get this up and going and a quilt made by the New Year but that is my tentative goal. If not then, when the time is right.
My prayer is that together, in some small - or grand - way we can make a difference. As Maithri says: "Together we will find ways of making a change."
May Peace prevail,
Merry ME

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shed Making, Part 2, 2.5, and 3

"If the seams are showing,
there is something wrong with the performance
or the construction of the piece."
Esa-Pekka Salonen*
I was standing on a rickety wooden ladder today. Phillips head screwdriver in one hand, bolt and washer in another, nut in my mouth. The man-sized electric drill somewhere close by, probably on the ground behind me which in essence made it of no use whatsoever, and my big ol' Sweetie sitting in a chair with an ice pack stuffed into the elastic waist cincher he wore to try to put his back into alignment. (That is another story!) I know I should have been concentrating on the engineering problem at hand, or going over in my mind what I was going to say to the EMT's when they asked what in the hell I thought I was doing, but instead, it dawned on me if they added a construction segment to the Amazing Race it would separate the wheat racers from the chaff in a big hurry.
On day two of the great shed construction, things between the man I love with all my heart and I got a little tense. This was the day we put the back and sides on the metal braces that we'd already put together so beautifully. Lining the sheets of metal up wasn't so hard. Securing the sheets at the top was a little problematic, but not undoable. Sweetie and I traded off dropping screws, losing washers and swearing like sailors. An almost immediate problem became clear to us in that the shed sits pretty close to the fence and both Sweetie and I are not so thin that we can squeeze into the small space or stand on our heads and apply the needed torque to the screwdriver. Hell, let me be honest, we could barely even see the little x that sits on the top of the screws, let alone apply torque.
Forgetting that I've just spent 3 weeks in physical therapy and a number of dollars that has yet to be determined, I squatted down and got myself into a position that was kind of a cross between Indian style and a Yoga pose. It was not graceful, but seemed to get the job done. Until I had to bend over myself to see the bolt. Apparently I applied torque to the iliotibial band of my left leg and a pain shot through my leg to my ankle. Somehow, like the pioneer women in my family before me, I bore the brunt of the pain and kept on going. It was a long and labor intensive process. When I couldn't breathe or sweat dripped into my eyes, Sweetie would take over. We were a team - perhaps not well-oiled but a team nonetheless.
Then, as if an answer to a prayer, young Mr. Cook appeared on the scene. He walks over to the shed, looks down one side, inspects the screws that just took his father and I hours to install, asks for the screwdriver and a couple of screws and washers and proceeds to finish up the final wall zip, zip, zip. Damn! How did he do that?
At that point we closed up shop. We weren't giving up, mind you, just taking a little break.
This morning as I was doing my Monday morning chores, Sweetie went back to work. I won't say he snuck out, but he didn't announce his intentions. My mind was on other things so I didn't pay close attention. My mistake ....
After about an hour I went out to say I was taking Dad to lunch and please don't get on the ladder while I'm gone. I noticed that Sweetie had a peculiar tilt to his upper body. The tilt that says, without any words, he-stretched-way-past-his-limit-and-now-his-back-resembles-a-question-mark. Without even admiring the fact that the shed that now had half a roof on it, I shook my head and left. Sadly, there are times that I can be rather cold and callous.
When I got home from lunch I knew just by looking at my man that he was hurting big time. I will write some other time about my reaction. Suffice it to say it wasn't pretty. But after blowing off some steam, I wrapped Sweetie in ice and we headed outside to tackle the 6x8 foot project that was beginning to take on the proportions of the Trump tower. Now it was my turn to attempt roofing. Where, I asked to myself, is Key West Johnny when I need him?
Sparing you the gory details I can tell you that a)except for a whole row of holes where the roof and the support beam don't exactly line up, I screwed that sucker down tight, b) I didn't fall off the ladder and c) I'm offering a $50 gift certificate to Carrabba's to anyone who will finish this job.
I know I should feel proud of what we've accomplished. But honestly, I will be happy if I never see the damn thing again. Even after we get it built, we still have the fun of filling it up with all the stuff we should probably just throw away anyway. Ooooh, I can't wait for that.
I have suggested we paint the thing to look like a gingerbread house dripping in vanilla flavored icing and covered in candy treats. I really think it would give the thing a little more character than it has right now. But what do I know?
What do I know? I'm sure by the end of this project I'll be able to write a book. Stay tuned.
Merry Me
*I Googled Esa-Pekka Salonen thinking he had to be some famous architect. Turns out he is the
Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and Conductor Laureate of Los Angeles. I'm guessing he never heard about the sticky silver tape I was instructed to put over the slight gap in the gables of the roof panels. Weatherstripping, Sweetie called it Ha! I think it is really just a fancy way for the Arrow shed people to let you know they aren't quite as exact as their directions say!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Ghost in this House

"When you remember me,
it means that you have carried something of who I am with you,
that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are.
It means that you can summon me back to your mind
even though countless years and miles may stand between us.
It means that if we meet again, you will know me.
It means that even after I die, you can still see my face
and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart."
Frederick Buechner
"I'm leaving," she said in a raised voice that sounded like this time it might be for good.

In my memory she carried a small suitcase. I had to have been 10 or eleven. We lived in Jacksonville but I was still small enough to curl myself into a ball. And that's what I did. I hid. I squeezed into the space between the china cabinet and the wall in the dining room. Worried about what was going to happen next, I listened for more words.
Was mom going to be gone forever? Who was going to take care of us? Why was this happening?
I was too young to know that sometimes couples get really mad at each other and one or the other needs a time out.

That's what my mother did. She took a time out. It wasn't the first time (I learned as I grew up) or the last either. Perhaps she did nothing more than drive around the block - maybe once, maybe 100 times. Perhaps she headed south to Green Cove Springs looking to her own mother for comfort. And on the days she did not walk out the door she went to her silent place ... where she wouldn't talk but could slam a kitchen cabinet door off its hinges.
Not knowing if she was going to stay gone or silent unnerved me. Both scarred my inner child into believing that it is impossible to love and be angry at the same time. Smiling and hugging represent love. Slamming the door as you leave or sitting in stony silence can only mean I-don't-love-you-now-and-I-might -never-love-you-again-in-my-life.

When I was in my 40's a therapist told me that it is possible to have two emotions at the same time. That people can, and do, get angry but it doesn't mean that they stop loving the object of their anger. I thought then, and sometimes still do, that she was speaking nonsense, or Greek, or both. Like the quadratic equation, I just don't get it.

This has been a hard week for me. My father has shown some strange behaviors and (re)attacked with an old and painful song. I've been so mad that I wanted to walk out the door and not look back. I have struggled with loving and caring for a man that seems hell bent on hurting me yet professes to love and need me. Big ME is just about fed up; Little ME is confused. And sad. With the clear vision that comes from hindsight and lots of work Big ME is beginning to see, if not completely understand, why these love/hate roller coaster rides are so hard on me.

I guess I need a time out. One day last week I seriously considered trying to scrunch my body into the dining room corner. If I had gotten in, it would have taken a fork lift to get me out. Yet for some strange reason that corner comforts me. Which is weird because here's the rest of that story ...

I must have fallen asleep, or maybe I just zoned out to my own private Idaho. My mom came home which, of course, I don't remember like I remember her leaving. I wonder why it isn't the other way around. Anyway, I stayed in the corner. People went looking for me and I stayed quiet. When I was found my parents were mad at me! Go figure! At least they weren't mad at each other anymore and, in my little girl way of thinking, I was glad that the focus of their anger had changed.

Friday was the 7th anniversary of my mother's death. I was reminded again of the other times she went away. When she died, she went away for good. Sometimes, especially at this time of year, Little ME still waits for her to walk in the back door and act like nothing happened.
Like her leavings and returnings my mother was a mixture of opposites. On Friday I remembered the times when Mom:

Ate Lobster, juice dripping down her chin and off her fingers, and
Ate nothing more than a small glass of milk and Saltines (or popcorn).

Gently rubbed my back with alcohol to bring down a fever, and
Got really angry because she had to pick me up from school when I was sick.

Looked beautiful with a red hibiscus stuck behind her ear, and
Looked quite scary when she gave me that black-eyed stare.

Would go silent with anger, and
Didn't have to say anything for me to feel loved

To paraphrase Buechner, by remembering my mom - the good mixed with the bad - I am carrying her with me; she is never far away.

Hoping that your memories are good ones,
Merry ME

Thursday, October 22, 2009


"Who needs astrology?
The wise man gets by on fortune cookies."
Edward Abbey

I'm sitting here laughing. Which is a good thing. I've been weighing heavy, dreary thoughts all morning. Day 2 of an emotional blowup is mellow on the outside, roiling on the inside. I haven't kicked the dog or cussed at anybody so I'm probably going to come out the other side of the funk.

For some reason, before checking my email a few minutes ago my online horoscope came up. Here's what it says. I think, after reading yesterday's post, you'll have to agree that it's pretty funny. Or is that maniacal laughing I hear in the background?

"Your love-hate balancing act with an authority figure is most definitely tipping in the love direction right about now. Even with the current hectic pace of your life, you two can find the time you need to clearly communicate what you expect from each other. Rely on your solid communication skills to ease any potentially rough spots that may appear in the near future. You two are developing an excellent relationship."

I highlighted the laughable words. Of course, I must assume that the stars are referring to my father. He is now and always has been THE authority figure in my life. The one I measure all authority by. The one whose opinion counts the most and the one who can cut me down to size with a swipe of his tongue.

After the last few days we've had it is really hard to imagine that we are tipping the scales in the love direction. Of course I love him, and I think he loves me. The question that must be asked is what does love have to do with it! Maybe neither of us really has a clue what love is. I think communicating clearly and honestly is important even if love isn't involved.

Perhaps, in the end the stars will be right. Much as I fantasize about walking out the door I know I will not/can not leave before the last chapter of our book has been written. So my prayer today is that we are building an excellent relationship. In order to get the foundation to lay nice and smooth, I guess we have to get rid of a few - okay a lot- of big ol' boulders. After that it should be smooth sailing, right!


Wishing for you a night full of stars and a hand to hold,
Merry ME

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stream of Consciousness Rant

doing the same thing over and over again

and expecting different results.”
Albert Einstein

As you know I like to start off my blog with a quote. I love googling a subject and finding (usually) the perfect something to go along with what I want to write. Sometimes it's a bit of a stretch, sometimes I am on the same wave length as some of the great minds of the world.

I knew there would not be a quote for how I'm feeling today. Something along the lines of: "My father is a complete butt head and I don't know why I let him get under my skin the way I do, and I wish I could just hop on a magic carpet and ride away to the land of Kettle Chips and Coca Cola where only happy people live and crying is a misdemeanor punishable by listening to continues rewinds of "Don't Worry Be Happy" or enter the FBI Witness Protection Program and be reinvented to a girl who doesn't care so much."

Nope, the wise people of the world have not yet come up with a quote to match that one. Instead I googled "insanity" which is pretty much how I'm feeling. I have heard this saying many times over the years. In church, 12 step meetings, from my beloved. I never knew it originated with Albert Einstein.

Later that same day. ...

I was feeling insane. Now I feel kind of a combo of anger/sadness/overwhelming weariness. This is not new. I recognize the pattern. It is how how defend myself emotionally. It is a prelude to stuffing my feelings and perhaps if I don't get over it, depression. It is a hangover from past behavior that I know doesn't work. Yet, insanely, I don't know how to be different.

I would like to go somewhere and scream, but really does screaming do anything but let the booger man out of the bag? Sleep is a kinder/gentler release.

You may be asking what brought this on. You may be shaking your head, like the hospice nurse. Ill give you a little taste of my last 12 hours.

Dad took a nap in his chair after going out with my brother-in-law (the guy he didn't like depending on when he was living here, but now relies on for companionship, gun buying, understanding, and haircuts). When he woke up he couldn't stand up without help. He wobbled like one of those toy people my kids used to play with. They had rounded bottoms. They fell over but bounced back up. Dad teeters, but if he falls I doubt seriously he'll rebound as nicely as Mr. Weeble. After watching him, Jack got him to sit in the wheelchair and pushed him to the table. He drank part of his nightly cocktail but didn't eat much. For dessert he ate dog biscuits instead of the oreos put in front of him. He was very confused. He tried reading the blank white napkin. I asked him what it said and was told he couldn't make it out. Huh? I rolled him back to his room, helped him get undressed and into bed. I asked that he not take any pain medication in order that it work its way out of his system in case that was the cause for his confusion. He complied with my wishes begrudgingly. I should be glad he did what I asked, but I get hung up on the fact that he doesn't think I know what I'm talking about and says things like, "you're not the nurse". Which of course I'm not, but then again, neither is he and his mean voice always sends my little girl underground and my adult girl into a rage. Every two hours I helped him out wet underpants and into dry ones. In between I lay in bed and worried. For awhile I tried writing his eulogy. I couldn't get much past, "My father was an asshole. Thanks for coming." After 3am he stopped calling me.

The social worker came this morning and, as if touched by Benny Hinn himself, Dad could walk without dragging his leg. He told the SW that I thought he was an addict so I left the room. I didn't go far enough away. Even though I was tying furiously on the computer keys I heard him say things that I thought had been cleared up. He told what I think are lies. And, of course, he filled her in on what a great guy he is because he forking over $$$ every month so I can live here and take care of him. He has no clue what it would cost to have "real" help come in and do what I do. The insane person I have become refuses to give him the opportunity. Instead I let him say his stuff, get upset when Sweetie comes to my rescue, get scared when Dad responds to Sweetie like a pit bull on steroids. Then I end up in my bed.

The visit with the nurse came next. We had a 3 (sometimes 4) way discussion on pain medication. I was told (it felt like a reprimand but I think that was because I was already too sensitive) that it is better to let take narcotics before the pain gets so bad it is harder to control. Dad was told it would be a good idea for ME to administer his medications so I'd have a better idea of the exact dosage he's taking. He doesn't think that is necessary, i.e. Luther is in charge and don't try to change it. He through out some kind of bullshit that he is really bothered by the fact that I argue with him when he thinks I should just accept his will. The fact that I am his healthcare surrogate, was of little significance. He also made a statement that he never argued with his bosses when he worked. I admit that I may not have heard him correctly and I may hiave misunderstood, but that sure sounds like he expects me (the employee) should not argue with him (the employer). No mention of being a daughter in that statement. I have to tell you I feel screwed.

And who is in charge of whether or not I lie down and take it or not? Ummm, that would be me. I have no clue how to have a conversation with this man that does not turn ugly, where both of us hear what the other has to say, so as in time pas t my inclination is to run as far as I can run. Usually this is not a physical possibility so I go to my own little lala land.

I've been wondering lately why I blog? One reason is that I feel like I have people out there who listen to me. You don't have to agree or disagree. You don't have to feel sorry for me or take pity on him. You don't have to comment. But knowing there is a big circle of blog friends makes it easier to write out these thoughts and feelings than journaling in one of my kazillion paper journals. When I read other blogs, I find myself nodding my head, or sharing tears, or laughing out loud, or reaching out in a kind of sisterhood so I know those of you who read my stuff can hear me even if you can't hear me. There is recovery in that for me. Not a lot, but enough to make a difference between insane and totally wacho.

For those of you out there who are pray-ers, I ask that you send up a request to the great healer in the sky. Ask that He/She grant me strength, courage, and peace so that I can keep the promise I made to my father (and more importantly to myself) to stick by him til the end. I no longer know why I feel that is important. I hope it is not self-defeating. I hope I am smarter than that. Regardless of the I don't knows, it is what I feel called to do. There will be time after he is gone to figure it all out.

Thanks for listening,
Merry, with a touch of madness, ME
P.S. I should read this over before I push the publish button but it might make me throw up. Please forgive the type-o's.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bigger Is Better

" Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success."
Henry Ford

I don't think I am telling tales when I tell the you that my Sweetie's life motto is along the lines of "Bigger is Better" or something similar "More is Better".

Take for instance vegetable shopping. When I go to the store I will usually by a relatively small bunch of bananas so they can be eaten before they turn black. I buy a couple squash, or a few tomatoes. Sweetie on the other hand likes to go to the Farmer's Market and buy baskets full of cukes, peppers, squash, tomatoes and beans. He does save some money, but when he gets home there is little or no room in the fridge for it all.
[Photo: Carrots anyone? See Note]

For Sweetie, bigger is always better when it comes to hotdogs. Personally I like a good Ball Park frank that plumps when you cook it. Sweetie goes for these jumbo dogs that are already plump enough to make my sister and I laugh just looking at them. Big ol' weiners or little breakfast sausages can make grown women giggle like school girls.

Sweetie's "Big/More" theory is not just about food. He doesn't sleep with one pillow like me - he uses four. When he goes to the library he doesn't pick up one book, he goes armed with with a list of every book his author du jour has written, then picks them up and reads them in order. I must admit here that I often buy more than one book at a time when shopping on line, but only because I can get free shipping!

I discovered yet another difference between Sweetie and I today. He uses man-sized tools, I manage almost as well with my petite pink handled putter - togetherers.

We've had a bit of a backyard shed issue going on. The old one that Dad put up close to 25 years ago finally rusted through. Over dinner and a few Sat. afternoons the men discussed the pros, cons, and in-betweens of a) getting a new shed b) what kind of shed (metal vs wood) c) what size (bigger, of course, will hold more but take up more space than is currently allotted for a shed) and d) where would they get the best price. My God, you'd think they were buying a new purse! Finally they came to a joint decision, Sweetie ordered a shed identical to the old one and in two weeks sit was delivered to our doorstep.

That was in August. Since then Sweetie, his son and the house engineer discussed platforms and made plans, that for one reason or another, never materialized. I cussed every time I almost tripped over the box in the garage. Yet, I was impressed with the way Sweetie could ignore both the box and my bellyaching!

To make a long story short, Sweetie's son built the platform last weekend. I'm not usually tuned into these sorts of things - one plywood base looks like another, doesn't it? Well, apparently not. Aaron built something that we could put the Taj Mahal of aluminum sheds on and be proud to invite tourists in to see it.

Today was the first day of the Great Shed Raising. Unlike the Amish who build their outdoor structures in community, Sweetie had to make do with me. I was a little concerned that this project could be the unraveling of our relationship. Our different styles (I throw the directions away, he reads them once for information and twice for clarity) could very possibly inhibit shed production and lead to harsh words, name calling and I told you sos. [Photo: Take a look at this instruction booklet. The pictures are in Greek but at least it's written in English.]

However, I'm pleased to tell you that Phase One actually went pretty well. I got a lesson in "torque" which can be applied to automobile, airplanes and screwdrivers. Discussion of screwdrivers led to a little bit of bedroom talk which is always fun. As we warmed up, we developed a kind of groove. Either I'd hold the screw and he'd apply "torque" or I'd offer the needed bolt and its matching washer and nut like an OR nurse, or I'd do it myself. On more than one occasion I offered a suggestion and my big, blue-eyed Sweetie would look at me and say, "what would I do without you?" But he didn't say anything when I stepped on and bent a few neatly aligned and number pieces on the garage floor, not once by more than twice.

All in all I think it was a very productive day. We've still got Phase II to get through. The directions clearly state that this must only be started if there is enough time to finish. Perhaps tomorrow we'll lay aside the commandment to rest and proceed on. It will be nice to have the shed erected and all the gardening and paint supplies out of sight again.

The people who live down the street and around the corner have had professionals building in their back yard. I've watched as both a huge double-car garage and smaller mother-in-law apartment have gone up a little bit each day. Once Sweetie and I get this shed built I'm thinking we can start on a cute little Merry ME cabin to hide out in. A place where I can leave fabric all around like confetti after a birthday party when I sew, and hang my pink tools!

When it comes to spending time with your boyfriend, husband, significant other, or guy pal on a cool autumn afternoon I've got to agree more IS better.

Merry ME

Note:Sweetie did not really buy all these carrots. I couldn't find the picture I took of all the produce he brought home from the Farmers Market so I used the carrot picture which I took at the Restaurant Supply House. I'd never seen so many carrots in one place in my life. When shopping Sweetie does go all out, but not insane.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Song Remembers When

"After I'd forgotten all about us
The song remembers when ..."
Trisha Yearwood

Memory is a funny thing. I used to pride myself on my ability to remember details. I wasn't always good with names, but give me a phone number or an address and I could repeat it back to you for years on end. When I was in school I could memorize important dates in history or vocabulary words with no problem. I wasn't so good with the inner parts of a dissected frog, but I believe that was because I never really saw at it. I took one look at that poor thing spread eagle on the lab table with his gut slit from one end to the other and smelling of formaldehyde and made a hasty run for the bathroom. I had a lot of bathroom time during Biology class.

I digress ....
Somewhere in my mid-forties I noticed I was forgetting more than I was remembering. I blamed it on stress and depression. My father told me I moved too quickly from one thing to another to be able to commit anything to memory. Then I realized my problem was menopause. The dreaded "M" is way more than a cause for celebration because your "friend" stops coming to visit. Before the cork is even out of the celebratory bottle of champagne, your ovaries have shriveled up, you're all dried up "down there," and chin hairs sprout overnight like Jack's beanstalk. At any given moment a menopausal woman is either drenched in sweat or screaming like a banshee. Not to mention her memory, the thing she used to be able to count on in an argument, has all but disappeared.

Oops, I got sidetracked again.
Suffice it to say, I've experienced all that and more. But even though I can no longer recite the Gettysburg Address, when a certain song plays on the radio I am instantly transported to another place and time. Smells are like that too. The smell of turkey roasting will take me back to the days my mother spent all morning in the kitchen cooking while I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

I was thinking about this musical phenomenon this morning as I drove to the doctor's office. I just bought a $5.00 CD with some of Willie Nelson's greatest hits on it. I must say, it was five dollars well spent. When I drive I turn the volume up and sing along as if I'm one of Willie's back up girls. Midway through I hear "maybe I didn't love you quite as good as I could have...."

In that moment I was no longer driving down the freeway. Instead I was sitting in a friend's kitchen playing bridge. When our husbands were gone on an extended naval cruise a group of us spent many nights and weekends and afternoons keeping each other company. It was a time in my life when I was pretty depressed. The longer my husband stayed gone, the more depressed I got. I thought I needed him to make me feel whole. Sitting at that bridge table we drank and smoked and comforted each other. When Willie Nelson came on the radio, I laughed and told the girls Texas Jimmy had written that song for me. Now every time I hear it, I think back to that time and wonder what if. What might have happened if Texas Jimmy had been able to tell me he loved me in a way I could hear it and what if I cared enough about myself to accept that I was lovable?

Another song of that same time period was a little ditty by Randy Van Warmer (do you think that is his real name?) called "Just When I Needed You Most." The first time I heard that song I was making chocolate chip cookies. It was the middle of the day, the kids were in school and undoubtedly TJ was gone again. He was gone a lot in those days. Even today when I hear the first strains of that melody:
"Now I miss you more,
Than I missed you before
And now where I'll find comfort, God knows
cause you left me
Just when I needed you most ...."

my knees feel weak and I feel really, really sad. Not sad for me today, but for the girl/woman who was so lost back then. Thank goodness I've come a long way and no longer need to grab on to sad love songs just to feel something.

I held myself together pretty well after my mother died. Until one day, weeks later when I was walking through the grocery store. Over the loudspeaker, in the middle of the cereal aisle, I heard, "... I simply wished for one more day with you ..." I froze. I had trouble breathing. I was surrounded by people but I felt all alone. Standing in front of the Fruit Loops, I began to cry. I so wanted one more day with my mom. A day when she could talk so we could talk, and laugh and be the mother/daughter duo I always wanted us to be. How is it that all those feelings could be released by one little song?

I don't know why music has this power over my memory. I guess when I'm old and sitting in a rocking chair I'll be able to amuse myself by running through my whole playlist and remembering the people of my past since I might not know anyone in my present.

Wishing for you good memories and a song in your heart,
Merry ME

The Song Remembers When -
Just When I Needed You Mst -
Always on my Mind -
One More Day -

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I don't call it "Random Thoughts" For Nothing!

"Life is too short for drama and petty things.
So kiss slowly, laugh hard, love truly
and forgive quickly . . ."

... and perhaps buy a puppy.

The first email I read this morning included this picture. I think I'm going to blow it up and stick it on the refrigerator. It makes me smile! The dog is perfectly at peace while little Picasso does his thing. At first I thought the boy was just doodling, but if you look close you'll see he's actually re-creating the chair fabric. Look at the flowers and the lines. I think one day we'll be seeing this kid's work in a museum. Or maybe at some fashion institute. Look at that PJ combo. I love it. It makes me want to add a white dog, a little boy and some markers to my life!

Next I went on to read my favorite blogs. Look what's new over at Not long ago Swallowtail wrote a post that had "new puppy-itis" all over it. I could tell it was only a matter of time. What do you think is being said between the Alpha dog and the new kid on the block? I'm betting Luna is explaining the house rules. Little Blackie with the purple bow is paying close attention. Oh my god, is there anything sweeter than a new puppy? Well, yeh, I guess there are a few, but puppies are near the top of the list of happiness creators.

Then on to Terri's blog, Honor Yourself. Terri wrote about a story she heard from a S. African woman who is working with rape victims. It's not a pretty story, but one worth reading. I was reminded of the scar on my face.

When I was about 18 months old I contracted impetigo. Apparently not uncommon in little kids, google says this about the skin infection - a single or possibly many blisters filled with pus; easy to pop and -- when broken --leave a reddish raw-looking base. Nice! The medicine of choice back in the mid-1950's, and maybe still, was some kind of purple stuff. Not easy to hide when smeared all over one's face. As family lore goes on a trip across country I announced in each restaurant we entered that I had impetigo. Maybe that's been exaggerated over the years, because if I was that young, I doubt I could talk or say words like impetigo. I must have still been at the age when I knew I was a queen (per Dani's blog) and felt the need to announce my entrance.

The skin condition cleared up but left a small scar on my face. I say small but for most of my life it was the first thing I saw when I looked in the mirror. It was a flaw, that I was sure walked into every room before I did. I learned to live with it, but never liked it.

One day while in conversation with a friend the scar came up. I was in one of my real depressed times so finding fault with my body, my face, my hair, or my personality was easy for me to do. My friend looked at me and said the spot on my face was a perfect heart. Huh? Just like that with a kind a word the spot that had plagued me was changed to a thing of beauty. If I ever decide to be a mime I'll paint my face white and color the heart red.

After reading Terri's post, I'm reminded of the gift of kind words and people who speak love by telling a truth we can't always see for ourselves. Does it matter, Terri asks, that she holds a woman she's never met, never even seen but cares about nonetheless in her heart as she goes through her day? My answer is yes. For I believe it is in the loving embrace of women around the world that our sisters will be healed.

There is really no connection between these thoughts except that they will be with me all day as I do my ho-hum chores. An artistic child, a small black puppy and a heart-shaped blemish. Hmmm, maybe there is a connection. It all goes back to love, doesn't it?

Wishing for you a day filled with the things that make you feel loved,

Merry ME

P.S. As Paul Harvey might say here's the rest of the story .... As I've grown older I have developed age spots. One day when I was inspecting my chin for stray hairs I discovered little brown circles at the base of my cheek. What might have sent me over the edge a few years ago made me laugh out loud. It was not hard to see that the circles were put together in such a way as to form a perfect Mickey Mouse head. The last time I went to the dermatologist he offered, for a nice little sum, to remove all my moles, bumps and spots. Spots he said pointing at my face. Once I pointed out to him that I kind of liked having Mickey Mouse on my face he said he had to agree. A wise man once told me "it's all in your perspective." I would have to agree!

P.S.S. Please don't think I put my impetigo scar on the same par as the disfigured woman in S. Africa. It was the story of Terri's friend telling the woman how beautiful she is regardless of the scars that drew out my memory.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is it just me? Or is this a really dumb idea?

I see the moon,
And the moon sees me;
God bless the moon,
And God bless me!

In an effort to find out if there is water somewhere under the surface of the moon (my very un-scientific explanation) NASA sent a rocket hurtling into a lunar crater this morning.

Call me crazy, but I think bombing the hell out of the earth should be enough for anyone. While I understand the value of science, accept and appreciate it's impact on humanity, I don't believe there is any point in putting any more holes in the moon or any other planet for that matter. It seems rather ego-maniacal, doesn't it, to think we humans have the right to blast away other parts of the universe? And really, is finding water there going to be significant enough to warrant the cost and possible negative impact (pun intended!).

In a recent post I mentioned the well that has been installed in a remote area in Swaziland. Old grandmothers cried when they saw running water for the first time. I've read that Native Americans living on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona/New Mexico reside in homes that have dirt floors, no electricity and no running water. Um, excuse me, but perhaps NASA could funnel some of its moon water finding funds to the parts of the earth that need the life sustaining liquid.

In my mind there is also the "what if" factor. Yeh, I know I'm Chicken Little. But it seems to me that blowing a hole in the side of the moon, that plays an important part in the natural rhythms of the every day lives of people living on this planet, could, maybe, possibly have an adverse affect. Here's my reasoning. Take a soccer ball. Shoot a big hole in it. I don't know if it will deflate all the way or not, but it seems likely that it's going to be a little lopsided at the very least. Now, what if that soccer ball were the moon and hanging in orbit a little lopsided? Are the tides going to be messed up? If the tides get out of sync, what does that do to the oceans' inhabitants, or countrys' coastlines? What might happen to the menstrual cycle of women around the world? Does NASA really want to interfere with that? Worldwide PMS could be deadlier than earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis put together.

I'm all for the continuation of scientific research. But personally I think it should be kept closer to home and have a more lasting effect on the whole of society. If they do find water on the moon, who's gonna drink it?

Wishing you a day full of sunshine and a night full of moonbeams, untouched by human hands, the way, I think, the Great Scientist in the sky meant for it to be,
Merry ME

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Hip Hurts

"Don't judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins."
Native American Proverb
I've been suffering from trochanateric bursitis for several months. My primary care doc told me the cure was all about stretching. After faithful daily exercise routines, the pain wasn't going away and I noticed this kind of popping in my hip. A moment of sharp pain, when I thought my leg would give out. Next step was to see an orthopedic surgeon.
I did that right before I went to Seattle last month. I got a shot of cortisone and prayed for relief. My prayer was answered but not immediately and not completely. Being crammed into the window seat of a cross-country airplane for hours didn't actually help the situation.
I've been doing physical therapy 3 times a week for two weeks. It is well out of my comfort zone but I've been getting up at 6:30am and at the rehab place by 7:00. I join a variety of people with a variety of aches and pains stretching their arms and legs in a variety of poses. It's hard to say how much improvement I've made. Some, I'm sure. A lot? probably not.
Last night while making dinner, I somehow torqued, or tweaked or twisted something in my hip that sent me almost to my knees in pain. It didn't last long, but left me sore and achy. Before I went to bed, it had happened three times. Even after sleeping on a bag of ice all night, I woke up this morning sore - like I got a tetanus shot in my butt. Not horrible pain but enough to make me uncomfortable and crabby.
Feeling crabby. As I became of aware of this I had an epiphany of sorts. Perhaps if my dad is in a constant state of pain maybe that's why he's so often crabby. Low grade pain it seems is more of a nuisance than full-on-take-a-Lortab-and-zone-out pain. I don't feel like doing much of anything but sit with my new best friend the ice pack. I am sure I could break down in tears if asked for milk instead of tea. My doctor hasn't called back which has seriously pushed my anger buttons.
It's true I think that one has to walk in another's shoes to get a real feel for what that person is experiencing. I'm not 92, I don't have cancer, I'm not lonely and I don't have a slew of dollars to worry about so I can't really put myself in Dad's shoes. But I've gotten a taste of what it feels like to have a real pain in the butt. Quite frankly I don't like it.
Wishing for you a pain free day,
Merry ME

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


"The right word may be effective,
but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."
Mark Twain

Here it is the night before my writing group meets and I have not yet done my homework. I've thought about it, and considered beginning it several times. But when I look at the first question I get stumped. What word do I hate? Now that's a hard one, and they get harder still! I've got to wonder if the people on the Actor's Studio have been prepped. They spit out their answers quickly, seemingly without much forethought. Undoubtedly anyone who goes on the actor's studio knows ahead of time the questions are going to be asked. Well I've known for three weeks and I still can't come up with definitive answers. Here's my best shot.

What word do you hate? Can’t
Actually there are lots of words I don't really care for, more for what they represent than the word itself. Like gun, war, hurricane, and vomit. However, can't implies limitations that I wish did not exist.

It's a little weird that I would choose this word because I actually use it a lot. In fact, I am often paralyzed by the fear of can't. It's something I would like to change about myself.

What word do you love? Love
Love just says it all, don't you think? I love certain foods. I love to dance. I love to walk in the rain. I love Sweetie. I love falling leaves and the colors of autumn. Love is more demonstrative than like. Love means you really "get" the object of your affection.

I also believe that love is another name for whatever higher power you want to call God. I believe the last thing the Great Creator did before sitting back and admiring His/Her creation was blow a giant kiss to all four directions. In that kiss he whispered the word love to the mountains, the seas, the trees, the sun, the moon, the animals and the people. "Love my children is the key that will unlock all the mysterious of the world." Embrace it. Share it. Live it.

What sound do you hate? A baby’s cry
My baby will be 36 years old next month. Where does the time go? I was standing in line waiting for a hot dog at the mall's food court today and I heard a baby cry. It's been years since that sound would cause my breasts to leak, yet I still responded in a physical way. My mom sense needed to see that the baby was okay. I smiled as the mom and baby rushed to the exit. I'm guessing the little one was announcing its tummy was empty. A baby's cry is a simple sound but at times can be determined, furious, needy, and oh so pitiful. The world over, I think a baby's cry is a call to arms by mothers who try to stand their ground and fight back. If not for themselves, for the children. May we all listen for the sound and do what we can to comfort the one who cries. It goes back to love I think, don't you?

What sound do you love? A baby’s laugh
If a baby's cry makes me want to weep, then just the opposite is true of a baby's laugh. I'm not sure if a baby knows degrees of emotions. When it feels a negative emotion it fusses then cries. But when it feels good, and it's little smiling muscles have developed and it lets go for that first time with a real laugh. Oooh, that is heaven to me.

What is your favorite curse word? I'm not sure I have a favorite although I think I use damn, shit, and crap on a fairly regular basis. I use the "F" word some, though not nearly as much as I used to when I broke out of my 35 going on 15 stage of life. That's when I said it just because certain people expected me (told me) not to. Nothing triggers a good "FU" response from me than someone saying don't do that!

There are times when he is driving that Sweetie gets quite upset with another driver's ability to handle an automobile. He'll shout out some obscenity like you asshole. In the moment I fear a full on road rage incident. But I've learned it's fun to use the opportunity to call the other driver every name we can think of. I'll shout - windows up, of course, "dickhead". Sweetie will counter with "shit for brains" and we'll just keep going til we've used up every nasty name in the book plus some we've made up. While I don't consider myself a big cusser, I hold my own pretty well. There is something to be said about the safety of one's own private world!

If there is a heaven and you reach the pearly gates, what would God say to you?
“Well done, my good and faithful servant."

I can't tell you the chapter or verse but I love this saying from the Bible. I hope to live my life so that there is nothing else God could say to me, but welcome home. I may have to give up calling people doo-doo heads, but that shouldn't be hard because we'll all be angels!

What about you, got any favorite words? Let's hear them.

Wishing for you at the end of this day the perfect love of a child asleep in your arms. If there is no child around, then wrap yourself in love and peace.
Merry ME

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cool Clear Water

"There is no small pleasure in sweet water."
Epistoloe Ex Ponto (II, 7, 73)

There are a lot of things I take for granted. Probably at the top of that list are good health, plenty of food and good clean water. I think that must be why I cried tears of joy when I read The Soaring Impulse today. Please go there and join in the joy of people who have running water for the first time in years - maybe ever.

Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke believes love can change the world, and that's what people from around the globe did. They contributed enough money through Maithri's Soaring Impulse and Possible Dreams International web sites to make this well possible. That's a lot of love. It's proof to me that little by little people who care can make a difference.

I'm grateful to be reminded of this simple truth.

Wishing for you a great big glass of cold clean water. Drink up.

Merry ME

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Make Me an Instrument of Peace

One of my favorite church days is the feast of St. Francis. It's the day that everyone gets to bring their pets to church for a special blessing. I've taken my dog, cats and birds on different occasions. I've seen pot bellied pigs and goats in the mix of chihuahuas, turtles and retrievers.
I don't really know a lot about St. Francis except that he gave up his life as the son of a wealthy Italian merchant and dedicated his life to the poor. For those who know about saints, Francis is the patron saint of animals - thus the special service.
There is a children's picture book I try to remember to read on this day. It's called The Day The Animals Came by Frances Ward Weller. The story is based on the real-life parade of animals that takes place every year on the 1st Sunday in October, at St. John the Divine cathedral in New York City. According to the author's note, this is the world's larges Gothic cathedral. On St. Francis Day "some 3000 people of all creeds and colors - and countless animals - come to celebrate the wonders of nature and the interdependence of all life on Earth in a joyful outpouring of prayer, dance, and music."
The Day the Animals came is about a little girl, Ria, who has moved to NY from her home in the Caribbean. She misses a lot of familiar things, but none so much as the animals. One day Ria's neighbor Mrs. Blum takes the girl on an adventure to the great cathedral. Once there, everywhere Ria looked there were all kinds, shapes and sizes of animals waiting to make the grand procession towards the altar. Ria is handed a duck, Groucho, and joins the slow shuffling forward. After being blessed by the bishop, everyone began to dance, making Ria feel part of a bigger family.
It is probably evident that one of the reasons I like picture books so much is because of the pictures. This book is illustrated by Loren Long. The drawings actually make me feel like I'm at the cathedral watching the parade of animals. They are quiet delightful.
I leave you with another of my favorites - the prayer that is attributed to St. Francis. As prayers go this one pretty much says it all. Just think where the world might be if we could all be instruments of peace.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
On this October day, I wish for you to know the peace of Brother moon and the love of Sister Sun.
Merry ME
The Day the Animals Came, by Frances Ward Weller, Philomel Books, New York