Monthly Archives: December 2008
So, another Christmas has come and gone and reality sets back in. I had some of the morning shows on, and all they talk about is how to pack up your Christmas decorations, returning gifts, what to do with leftovers. Sheesh, people, it’s only been a few hours. Let me savor the day a bit longer before you goose-step into my house and order Christmas away!
We had a lovely day yesterday, Carlos and I. It was drizzly but not cold, so windows were left open and cats slept on the sills. Buddy, the dog from next door dropped by for a play-date with Ozzo and they raced around the backyard, playing with dog toys and sticks, pine cones and balls.
Carlos and I exchanged gifts, ate a lovely breakfast, and then relaxed, reading, listening to music, he played Spiders on the computer. We spoke with family and friends about their holidays; just a quick Hello. It was quiet and serene, after all the hustle and flow of the season, it was nice to relax.
In the afternoon we took Ozzo to the park so he could sniff something other than his own yard. He tore through the park like a madman, or like a stumpy little dog on three-inch legs; but he can run, although I don’t know how. Ozzo is a rescued dog, and he looked like a baby Lab when we got him; only his legs never grew more than three inches. He now looks like a Dachscund-Lab mix, however scary that sounds.
And since Carlos did the turkey for Thanksgiving–and I did the veggies, the bread, the stuffing, the wine, the table…and….and, well, I was the chef for Christmas. Although, since Carlos is the MasterBaker, he did make a delicious Apple Cheesecake. But back to my dinner, because I was one heckuva cook yesterday. Martha? Eat your heart out. Or, as Carlos puts it, Eat out your heart.
I made a Rosemary-Pesto-rubbed, Pancetta-wrapped boneless Pork Loin; I lovingly rubbed my loin with the pesto….minds out of the gutter, please. We had Brussels Sprouts–I love the little cabbages….mon petit chou chou–roasted with onions and garlic, then tossed with Hazelnuts. I did some new potatoes, and a delicious caramelized onion, roasted garlic cornbread. As you can see, everything has garlic in it. A lot. I either love the taste or I have a Vampire phobia; either way it’s a win-win. I guess it’s good I didn’t do desert; garlic cheesecake doesn’t sound so good. Unless you serve it as a first course! I may be onto something here….but I digress.
Now, as I do have a crazy streak, and I love to annoy Carlos when the mood strikes, which is often, or all of the time, during dinner I began speaking to my imaginary waiter. I told him that the meal was fantastic and he should let the chef know how I thrilled I was to have ordered the pork loin. I complimented the bread, raved about the sprouts. Carlos gives me that look that says he doesn’t know whether to medicate me, pour me another glass of wine, ignore me, or call 911, but even he said the meal was fantastic….well, he said very good, actually, but I think he meant to say fantastic!
After dinner was coffee and cheesecake, and some good conversation. We sat with cats on our laps, behind our heads, and a little dog running from my feet to his, and back again. We talked about taking a day trip on Saturday, either to Asheville, NC or to Savannah, Ga; we are exactly in the middle of both places. We haven’t been to Savannah yet, but we love Asheville, so it’s a choice between the mountains and the coast; cold over cool. I think it’ll come down to a coin toss.
On a side note: Carlos bought me a book for Christmas; I does loves to read, I does. It’s written by Carrie Fisher and is called, I love the title, Wishful Drinking. In it she talks about her struggles with bi-polar disorder, manic depressive behaviour, drug addiction, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, her daughter, her husband who left her for another man, and the time she woke up in bed with a dead guy…..true story. It’s very funny how she can take these situations that might send most of us reeling over a cliff, and find the humor, and the sadness, and makes it all an exceptional read. I finished the book a couple of hours later, and will probably reread it again over the weekend.
Anyway, that was Christmas: good food and quiet times with the people you love; the animals you love; good books; good music; good times. A lovely, lovely day.
Christmas means a lot of different hings to a lot of different people.
It’s a religious holiday.
It’s a shopping holiday.
It’s a day for those who shop religiously.
I’m not a big fan of either. So for me, Christmas is a day to spend with those you hold most dear in your heart. For me, it’s Carlos and my family. of course, the family is moistly on the Left Coast and I’m over here on the right, so Christmas is me and Carlos, and Ozzo, Tuxedo, MaxGoldberg and Tallulah Belle–all furry kids.
It’s a day of relaxation and together; reflection and laughter; of a good dinner cooked and shared by the two of us. It’s not a day for What did you get? or for thinking How could I have spent so much? It’s a day for How lucky am I? How lucky indeed.
Christmas is a connection we all can share regardless of faith, if we look at it as a day of Peace. A day to relax; to forgive, if not forget. To be at Peace.
Every year I get the same question from friends and strangers alike: What are you getting for Christmas? What do you want for Christmas?
And I always say, What I get is a lovely day. What I want, and I ask for it every year, is Peace On Earth.
So here’s to Peace On Earth, and the little parts that each of us play in creating our own peace. To make amends to those we may have slighted in the past year; to those who may have slighted us. To talk with the people we love just because we love them. To be nice.
Just to be nice. There’s a concept. Maybe if we all took a moment to think about how we’d like to be treated, we would find ourselves treating others the same way. It’s a small step, but an important one. A Please here and a Thank You there. You’re Welcome is good; My pleasure, is better. Hold a door open for someone; let someone with less packages get in line ahead of you. Lay off the horn. Don’t speed. Smile. Be nice.
Be at Peace.
Merry Christmas world; Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Merry Festivus. Happy Holidays.
Pro-family group stirred up over Campbell’s
The American Family Association (AFA) says Christian consumers need to know that the Campbell Soup Company embraces the homosexual agenda.
Campbell Soup bought two 2-page ads in the December and January issues of The Advocate, the nation’s largest homosexual magazine. The ads promote their Swanson line of broth, and one of the ads highlights the lives of two lesbians, who are portrayed as being married, along with “their” son. Other ads feature chefs from New York City. Randy Sharp, AFA’s director of special projects, says concerned consumers should contact company officials and ask them to stop endorsing homosexuality.
“When you specifically target a homosexual magazine, then your company is basically endorsing these activities; you’re endorsing the lifestyle,” claims Sharp. “And in one ad, which…clearly shows two lesbians who say they are married, who say they have a son together, …the Campbell Soup Company is saying ‘we approve of homosexual marriage.’ There is no question whatsoever of what the intentions of the company are.” In an Action Alert to its supporters, AFA accuses Campbell of normalizing same-sex families. “Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support,” it stated. Anthony Sanzio, a Campbell Soup Company spokesperson, tells OneNewsNow that the company reaches out to all segments of society. “We support all types of families, regardless of how they’re defined, [and have done so] for more than 100 years,” Sanzio offers. “We advertise in a variety of different media outlets that appeal to a broad spectrum of society. That’s what we’re doing here, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.” Sanzio says to his knowledge, there has been no negative reaction regarding the ads in The Advocate.
Listen up AFA!
THIS is the “homosexual agenda:”
All this nonsense over soup?
Everyone knows Fags Love Soup.
I, for one, will be buying nothing but Campbells soup from now.
Okay, so as I’ve said before, I don’t wait until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping, I wait until the minute before the last minute to start.
That was today.
I give Carlos the lowdown that I have errands to run–errands being code for ‘I’m buying your presents….I should be a spy I’m so good with codes–and that I’ll be going alone. He asks where I’m going and I say, None of your business. He wants to know why I won’t say and I tell him that if I said where I was going he might know what I was buying and that wasn’t happening. I’m spy smart, I tell you; spy smart.
So the lip came out. He has the cutest pout.
I promised to take the cell phone with me and off I went. Now, I can’t even say what stores I visited because prying Latino eyes, and all that. Suffice to say that I hit one store and found a couple of things he might like, and little something that he could give to me, even though he didn’t know it. I can’t wait for him to see my face when I open it!
I go stand in the line to pay. Now, I’m not one of those impatient shoppers; I know it’s Christmas; I know they’re busy. I don’t mind waiting.
But this woman, all scarves and woolen accessories–mind you it’s in the mid-sixties and sunny–is in front of me. Foot tapping. Huffing. Puffing. Harrumphing, is a better term. Yeah. Harrumph! Craning her neck to see when it’s her turn; rolling her eyes when someone at the counter pulls out a checkbook.
I thrive for this.
She’s tapping, harrumphing, scarving, rolling, all over the place and finally turns to me to give me one of those, Can you believe it? looks. I smile back, and her face freezes; I would have thought it would melt under so many layers, but it actually froze.
How dare I smile. How dare I be patient. It’s Christmas for cryin’out loud and there are crowds and people and traffic and cars and lines. And checkbooks.
But I smile. She harrumphed again and turned away.
At the next store, I found another little somethin’ somethin’ for Carlos and back in line I went. Only this place makes you stand at the end of what looks to be a cattle chute. And then some Beefy Moron, and I use the word moron in the nicest possible way, directs you toward a particular register.
I get up to the front of the line, and he’s lookin’at me, and lookin’at the registers, and lookin’back at me. Finally, he shouts Number 10, Number 10, sir! I swear I heard a bell ring and off I went down the chute, lookin’for Number 10.
There’s a woman ahead of me at Number 10. She’s buying a gift card. Now, I suppose some people like gift cards, and they do come in handy. But at this particular store, I think that buying a gift card is like saying I really don’t care for you enough to spend more than five minutes shopping for you. Or it’s the obligatory under-$15 gift card for the office gift exchange. Whatever. I am not a fan of the gift card. (side note: I got a gift card for my Dad, but only because the place that honors the card is in his town, and his town is 3,000 from mine.)
So she writes a check. I don’t eye-roll, harrumph, or tap. I smile. She gives me that apologetic look that says she written checks in long lines all over town and almost come to fisticuffs over it. I smile back.
Then the cash register freezes. It won’t accept her check. It won’t print a receipt. It just won’t. I’m still smiling; seriously, still smiling. The poor kid, Wendell is his name, is turning all sorts of red; sweat forms at his hairline and his eyes grow large, like the woman with the check is now holding a double-barrel shotgun instead of a Bic Clic. He’s calling for help and no one is answering. Ms. Miriam,, who took the place of Beefy Moron as line guard, is chatting with a friend. Finally, Check-Writer gets Ms. Miriam’s attention and she tells Wendell how to fix it.
At which point, Check-writer turns to me and says, with one of those sweet Southern lady smiles, : He doesn’t even know how to cash a check!
To which I reply: It’s not him, it’s the computer.
From her: Well, he ought to know how to do it.
Do you? I say, with my Christmas smile.
Check-writer goes mute.
I smile more.
I was reading on another blog, Blind As A Bat, about Beth and dealing with the loss of her mother. It brought back all sorts of thoughts about my own Mom, who died on 17 February 2007, after a year-long battle with lung cancer.
I learned a lot from my Mom, and my Dad. I learned that roles people play aren’t defined; that what you do in a relationship, the part you play, can change over time. Mom’s didn’t just bake and be a Room Mother; they weren’t just Den Mother’s or on the PTA. Mom’s went back to school to become a nurse so that Dad’s could get a teaching degree after he retired from the Air Force.
And Dad’s don’t just throw baseballs with their sons. This son wasn’t the best catch, and to this day I still throw like a girl. But Dad’s can also take their sons on bike rides; they can go to arts-and-crafts shows; Dad’s can do the dishes and cook the meal’s because Mom’s working while he goes to school.
My Mom and Dad are those kinds of Moms and Dads.
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in the early part of 2006, and my Dad did what he does best. He researched and called doctors and spoke to people. He took care of my mother every day from the time she was diagnosed until the day she died. And that is not the easiest thing for anyone to do. But it’s what Dad’s do; Dad’s who love their wives with all their hearts; Dad’s who’ve been married to Mom’s for over fifty-one years.
Carlos and I went to see my Mom and dad just after her diagnosis. It was all good spirits and a happy visit, but lung cancer casts an ugly shadow over everything. The survival rate is minuscule; surviving even two years with lung cancer is rare. But he and my Mom went through all the tests and the chemo; losing the hair, the appetite; the sleeplessness; the days to too much sleep; the forgetfulness.
In January of 2007, my Dad asked that I come out again. He was having a tough time being on-call 24/7. And he wanted a helping hand; he wanted an ear; he wanted a visitor. I stayed for about a week, and my Mom seemed in good spirits. We had fresh crab for dinner one night and Mom went crazy over hers. We told stories and laughed; we ate, we drank, we talked. And the clouds grew a bit darker.
A few weeks later my dad began using hospice care to help him care for my Mom. He needed a break every so often. It was a full-time job with no breaks. I remember he gave me the name of the woman who handled the hospice care program and he asked me to call her. I had been asking him if he wanted me to come out and he said it was decision I needed to make for myself.
So I called the woman from hospice and spoke to her; she told me my father had been working so hard caring for my Mom; she told me he was reluctant to ask for help. I told her he was stubborn as a mule–a trait all the family shares–and she said, “I can’t say that, but you can.” I asked is she thought I should go out there, and she said, “As soon as she can. Your mother really doesn’t have much time.”
Not much time. Awful, awful words.
So Carlos and I flew out to Oregon. My mother seemed all right. Alert. Awake. Happy to see us. My sister and brother had come up from California, so we were all together again, for a while.
It seemed as though, once she had her family around, my Mom knew she could go. The next few days her health began failing. She slept most of the time, but when she was awake, she would say the most wonderful things.
My sister visited the month before as well, and she told a story of having dinner, everyone around the table and Mom asleep on the couch. With the idea of death becoming more clear, she began talking about religion. We all have our own thoughts and ideas about religion, what’s right, wrong, who to believe, what to follow. My sister said something about having so many choices, what do you believe.
My Mom woke up for a moment and said, “You take all the best parts of all of them.”
Another time, in that week she died, Mom was asleep on the couch, and her legs slid off to the floor. My sister went and asked if she wanted to change positions and Mom said, “I’m just going to lay hear and let them all watch me.”
I like to think she was talking about the people waiting for her.
Another day, after we’d gotten a hospital bed for her, i was sitting by her side, and she looked through the front window and asked, “Who are all those people on the deck?”
There was no one there, but she saw them, waiting for her.
She died quietly and peacefully in her home. I was sitting in the living room, with Mom asleep across the room. I wanted her to go. I wanted her to be peaceful. I didn’t want her to hurt, or to worry about us. I wanted her to have her hair back and her smile; and that laugh; and the way she would say, “Oh Bobby!” whenever I said something outrageous–which was, and is, often.
My Dad came out of their bedroom and went to stand by her side, and she was gone. That’s a sound you don’t ever want to hear, or will ever forget, the sound your Dad Makes when your Mom has died.
So, that’s my Mom. I was glad to be there when she died; happy to hold her hand on her last day; to send her off with the sounds of her family and her dog, her husband of so many years. Not long after I got home from Oregon, Carlos and I decided to start house-hunting. Nothing seemed right. Too small; too far out; not enough trees. Then the realtor showed me another house, and I walked in the front door and you could see into the kitchen. I pictured my Mom, in one of her housecoats, sitting at a table in that kitchen with her morning coffee, looking into our backyard.
That was the house we bought. And I can still see her, every so often, in that kitchen, looking at my yard. I think of her every day. I talk to her every day. I cry a bit, like now as I remember and relive those last days with her. I told Beth, on her blog, that it will get easier, but it never really gets better
I miss you, Mom.
I love you.