Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Ringing In The New Year

It's hard to believe that it's New Year's Eve morning and we're about to bid farewell to 2007 and welcome in 2008. I wish I had some brilliant philosophical insight into this annual event but sadly it's not to be...waxing eloquently is just not my "thing."

This evening Rick and I will go over to Lynn's home to celebrate the New Year with family. We call this "New York New Year's" since we watch the New York Times Square TV feed at 9:00PM Pacific Time, blow our horns, sip our phony champagne, kiss each other and then head on home well before our West Coast midnight. It will be a quiet evening with food and entertainment of our own making. I'm bringing chocolate chip cookie dough fixings so that I can teach Elle (my 13 year old niece) how to make and then eat the yummy cookie dough right out of the bowl. She thinks I'm "cool."

So on this New Year's Eve, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2008. May the New Year bring you and your families peace and joy.

Update (11:00AM): they say - "The best laid plans..." Lynn just called to tell me that she was up all night with our family's version of the stomach flu. She's been fighting sickness for the past two weeks and I think her resistance finally gave up. I feel so badly for her since I was exactly in her place a few weeks ago and I know how draining it can be. Anyway, our New Year's Eve plans are cancelled so Rick and I will spend the evening at home...just the two of us. That's OK with us...we can eat sensibly, watch a movie, sip our non-alcoholic champagne, watch the Times Square ball drop and then head off to slumberland at a reasonable hour. Happy New Year's!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Didn't I Listen To Myself? yesterday's post, I talked all about the new scale I bought and how I wasn't going to open it up until after New Year's just in case it was too accurate. curiousity got the best of me and this morning I took it out of its box, removed the little plastic tab so the battery would work and then placed it on the floor. How could I not get on it and take a peek? Ouch...bad idea. As I suspected, the very large digital display revealed a number that was several pounds more than my old scale. And, to add insult to injury, Rick got on the new scale and declared it pretty accurate since he weighs himself everyday on the "medical" scale at the YMCA. So here I am facing 2008 with several more pounds to lose. Sigh...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

On A Scale Of One To...

Happy belated Christmas to me. My friend JAM and I went out shopping Thursday and what did I decide to buy for myself??? Well I've been talking about buying a new one for months and I've finally gone and done it...I've bought myself a new scale. Yep...a new digital scale. Are you impressed? Here's what it looks like:

Ever since I started my diet months ago, I've wanted a new scale. The one I currently have is the old fashioned dial kind which you can finagle by adjusting the dial up or down. It's just too tempting when the numbers aren't kind to me to move that little pointer back just a wee bit. Now I have a digital scale which won't allow me to do that and which is, according to the packaging, "within .2 lbs accuracy." And I made sure I got one which doesn't have a memory. The last thing I'd want from a "perfect" scale would be to allow Rick to see how much I weigh by pushing the memory button. No how! Oh...and the weight displayed in the photo is not my current me.

So where is the new scale? It's sitting in the box on the floor of my den with all the other gifts still to be put away. Today is diet "Weigh-In" day and I'm afraid to step on the new scale. I haven't lost any weight now in weeks (OK, maybe months) and I haven't been a very good dieter during this holiday season so I'm worried that this new accurate scale might reveal a number I don't want to see. So I'm thinking I'll use the old scale this week (just in case) and then open up the new scale as a way to start the new year. Yep...2007 was a pretty good year for me...why ruin it at the end.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Aftermath's over. Nothing's put away, of course, but Christmas is really over. We had a lovely time at Rick's sister's house on Tuesday and, as always, we experienced Christmas chaos...wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, ribbon flying everywhere, thank-you's shouted out, camera flashes popping. We got home, after dropping my mom off at my sister's, and then promptly fell into bed exhausted. Rick was actually feeling kinda punky and is now recovering from his version of our family flu...thank goodness it's not the "stomach" variety.

Then yesterday I went over to Lynn's at 6:30AM so we could make it to the mall by 7AM. Last year, we did amazingly well with lots and lots of goodies at incredible savings. This year we were not so lucky. I'm not sure if the sales were so good before Christmas that all the best clothing was sold out but we found very little and the items we did like were not listed at an incredible discount like last year. I did manage to buy (using store coupons, of course) 3 long-sleeved T-shirts, a black sweater top and a small purse while Lynn found a few items as well. I guess I should be happy. At least my already over-flowing closet won't be burdened with more "stuff" I really don't need.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's A Wrap!

Yeah...I'm done! All the gifts for Rick's family are wrapped and labeled and are now sitting in front of our hearth in boxes ready to be transported tomorrow. I even managed to wrap the big flat-screen TV (for Rick's mom) all by myself and bought a huge red bow for it. Now I can take a deep breath and relax.

Later this afternoon, I'll get myself showered and dressed and then we'll go to church for the Children's Christmas mass. When Rick and I were younger, we'd go to Midnight mass but those days are long gone. Now we go to church for the 5:00PM service and then it's home for a simple dinner followed by our annual Christmas tradition of watching the 1984 George C. Scott version of "A Christmas Carol." Then it's off to bed.

Since I'm sure tomorrow will be a very full day for all, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very joyous and merry Christmas. I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday filled with love and laughter.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Smile For the Camera

Yesterday I took Mom for our pre-Christmas haircuts and then out for lunch. We've been going to our "new" hairdresser since September and I am so happy to have finally found someone who cuts hair really well. I booked this appointment four weeks ago to make sure Mom and I would look extra special for the big day on Tuesday when we celebrate Christmas with Rick's family.

Anyway, our haircuts look really nice and I made sure that we gave a holiday gift to our hairdresser to express our appreciation. This haircut is particularly important because I just got a letter from our Dept. of Motor Vehicles reminding me that my driver's license is expiring on my birthday in February and I need to renew it ASAP. For the past few renewals, I've been able to do it by mail but now they want me to come in and have a vision test, a thumb print taken and a new photo. Yikes!

Now I'm not worried about the vision test since I just got myself a new pair of glasses and the thumb print is no big deal. But the photo is another story. I actually love my "current" license photo since it was taken 15 years ago and I look so much younger. Now I'm going to have a new one and I'm not a happy camper! At least my hair will look good and maybe I'll just apply tons of makeup before going into the DMV. Oh well...I guess it could be worse. At least I don't have to take the written or driving tests again. Now that would be scary!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I've Got the Jingle Bell Blues

Wonder where I've been? Me too. I've been hiding out, so to speak, for nearly a week and I'm not too sure why. I think maybe I've caught a really bad case of the holiday blues. One week ago, I was humming "Jingle Bells," dashing through the store aisles excitedly looking for the perfect gifts, listening to the all-Christmas-music radio station, happy as a lark. Now suddenly I can't seem to face the whole holiday concept.

I'm thinking that, as we fast approach Christmas, I'm suddenly realizing that all the joy and merriment of the holiday season will be gone suddenly next Wednesday. It's always such a build-up to the wonderment of Christmas and then it's over in a flash. Yes...I know...I should be taking it all in and enjoying it while it's here. But, for some reason, I'm already looking ahead past December 25th. I can't explain is what it is.

Of course, this may all be a result of the guest bedroom which is filled with bags and bags of holiday gifts. Maybe the thought of me crouched over all these gifts until the wee hours of the next few mornings, with Christmas wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, tape and gift tags by my side, is just too much to bear. Shopping is the fun part of the Christmas season for me...wrapping gifts is not. Who knows...

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Healthy Cup of Coffee

Okay...I must be feeling better. Last night I managed to have pasta for dinner without any ill effects. This morning, I finally had that much needed morning cup of coffee. There wasn't any question about it...I was going to have that cup if it killed me. I was desperate. Thank goodness I take mine with lots of artificial sweetener and flavored milk. That seemed to help tame the acidity so it was nice and smooth going down. Now I finally feel like a human being again. Ahhhhhh...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Things Keep Rolling Along

I just don't understand it. I take my vitamins; I wash my hands constantly; I'm careful around sick people. So can someone explain to me why I'm the one to come down with our family's version of the stomach flu? First was my mom, then my brother-in-law and now me. It seems that, when there's sickness to be caught, I always manage to catch it.

Mine started Tuesday evening right after a delicious dinner from our favorite Greek restaurant. Sadly, I'll probably never be able to face Greek food again. My distress lasted well into the wee hours of the morning when the over-the-counter pills I took finally did the trick. Yesterday was spent in bed sleeping and eating a wonderfully bland BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast).

This morning I'm feeling much better although now I'm cranky because I haven't had my morning cup of coffee in two days. And, as much as I want one, I think I'll give it one more day just to be sure. I'd hate to get sick again, this time over coffee, and then never be able to enjoy a cup again.!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Adventures In the ER

Okay...I've had enough of our HMO Emergency Room. Friday night we spent 4 hours there attending to my mom's gastro-intestinal distress. Last night we spent more than 8 hours there after Mom complained about a "heaviness" in her chest during the afternoon.

I spent the morning and afternoon with Mom while Lynn was at work. Around 1:00pm, Mom began to mention that she felt a "heaviness" in her upper chest. It wasn't a sharp pain...just "heaviness." She then began to belch occasionally and I wondered whether this was all a part of her "recovery" from her weekend siege. My only concern was that she'd used the term "heaviness" in 1998 to describe the pain that eventually turned into a heart attack.

I continued to monitor her for distress and, when Lynn came home from work, we decided we'd bring her to the ER as a precautionary move. We arrived at 4:30PM and so began our 2nd "adventure" there. She was immediately seen by a triage nurse who took an EKG and determined things were not immediately life threatening. Then they parked us in the ER hallway (all the rooms were full) until eventually they found one available. Mom was hooked up to monitors and an IV and eventually blood was taken for her lab work. Finally an ER doctor found his way to Mom's cubicle and we were told that, while all her initial lab work and EKG were good, he wanted to admit her to the hospital for overnight observation and a stress test the next day. And then he left us to wait and wait and wait yet again.

I'm not sure how it works in other ER's but, in our HMO, once the ER doctor sees you and determines you need to be admitted, you must be seen by a hospital Admitting doctor before they look for a room for you. And that's where I just don't get it...if an ER doctor determines it's necessary to admit a patient, why is it necessary to be seen by yet another doctor? Aren't the ER doctor's medical degree and experience just as valid as an Admitting physician's? This HMO policy only delays things and adds to the discomfort and stress of the patient who is already anxious and concerned. There were 2 Admitting doctors on call last night to handle the entire Emergency Room and they were no where to be found for Mom. After several hours, we finally got testy with the nurse and he went off in search of any doctor to handle my mom's case.

Finally a Hospital doctor stepped into the cubicle and examined Mom and went over her lab work and history with us. The bottom mom's problem could be heart related or gastro-intestinal related...they just didn't know. It was up to us to decide whether to have them keep Mom overnight or release her. This was a pretty big decision for two extremely sleep deprived daughters to make but we decided to have them release her with a promise that we'd return if the symptoms returned. By then, it was after midnight.

I'm at Lynn's this morning while she is off to work for an important meeting. I'm worried about her health too since she's taken the brunt of this for the past several days since Mom lives with her. She's promised me she'll leave work immediately after her meeting and come home to sleep. I'm counting on that. The last thing I need is to nurse not one but two family members back to health. Florence Nightingale I'm not.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

If It's Not One Thing...

I came back from Georgia hoping for some peace but that's not the case. My 86-year-old mom has come down with gastro-something-or-other (better known as the stomach flu) and the 3 of us (Mom, Lynn, and I) spent 4 hours in the ER late Friday night making sure that's all it is. I feel really badly for Lynn since Mom lives with her and my sister has taken the brunt of the responsibility for Mom's care. I don't know what I would do without my sister. I went over there yesterday to help and Mom seemed a little better as the day wore on so we're all hoping she will recover quickly.

I want to thank all of you for your supportive comments about my cousin Frank's passing. While it's been a difficult time, your kind thoughts and prayers have certainly helped make our healing easier. Hopefully, things will calm down soon and I'll be able to get back to reading and commenting on your blogs. Until then...thank you all.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Returning Home

I'm home. Ina and I returned from Georgia this morning exhausted and weary. What should have been a time of sadness, mourning and healing for us turned into a time of anger, disillusionment and frustration. I went to Georgia with an admittedly idealized view of my cousin Frank; I return with a much more realistic and, sadly, somewhat disapppointing opinion of him. In Georgia, I watched helplessly as Frank's "adult" son displayed complete disrespect and disregard for his father's memory as he abandoned his responsibilites as Frank's son and heir, leaving Ina to take care of all the necessary arrangements and financial aspects.

This is not to say there was nothing positive about this trip. Frank's girlfriend of many years and two of his closest friends at work, grieving themselves, were incredibly kind and helpful as we waded through the "business" aspects of death. We were overwhelmed by the number of Frank's friends and co-workers who attended his memorial service and spoke so highly of him. Ina and I were greeted with "Southern hospitality" everywhere we went...the hotel, restaurants, airport, car rental company, stores.

With one day to ourselves, we drove to Warm Springs, Georgia and wandered through the quaint shops in town taking in the beautiful Christmas decorations and spirit of the season. We visited FDR's "Little White House" in Warm Springs, strolling through the grounds on a gloriously sunny and crisp day. And most of all, we had each other to help us get through this five day journey.

I'm happy to be home. This is the longest that Rick and I have been separated in our nearly 25 years together and I missed him terribly. Although we talked many times on our cell phones during my trip, I missed having Lynn close by my side to share in all the turmoil. My mom was constantly on my mind wondering how she was doing during my absence. And the trip, showing an ugly side of what "family" can be, only reinforced my belief in how blessed I am to have such a wonderful, close-knit, loving family.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Love You Too Frank

Today has been a difficult one for my entire family. I am writing this on a break from packing my suitcase for a trip to Georgia tomorrow with my cousin Ina and her nephew Brian. This morning Ina received the phone call we all dread...a family member has died. In this case it was Ina's beloved brother, Brian's father and my first cousin Frank.

There are no words to describe our grief. For me, Frank represented the older brother I never had. Although separated by time and miles for many years, his infectious laugh and bigger than life personality was always with me. And, when he would call my mom, she would giggle and laugh as he told her one story after another. We always said that Frank was her favorite.

So now the three of us will travel to Frank's home in Georgia tomorrow to make arrangements and take care of the necessary business which comes with death. We will cope as best we can and hopefully do what Frank would have wanted.

Rick reminded me today, after hearing the news, that Frank always said exactly the same phrase whenever he would call and one of us would answer the phone. Immediately we'd hear "I love you" followed by that laugh of his. What man starts a conversation like that? One who was full of life and love. And so today, I just want Frank to know that, wherever he is now, I love him too.

Whew...It's Over

Thank goodness it's now December. November has come and gone and NaBloPoMo is finally over. If you're not familiar with NaBloPoMo, you can go here and read all about how more than six thousand bloggers made a commitment to publish a post every day in November...yes...every day! And I'm proud to say I actually managed to do just every single day...30 posts in a row! And now I get to proudly display this little graphic on my sidebar.

It wasn't always easy and sometimes I had to grope for something to write about but I managed. I admit it helped that my insomnia was in full swing in November so that I had plenty of time in the middle of the night to sit at my computer and write so I can't take 100% credit. Okay...maybe I can. Anyway, it was a fun and exhausting exercise in blogging. My only question what?