Friday, February 27, 2009

Mystery Woman

My friend Mary Ellen took this photo of on a recent trip to Turkey. I wish I had a chance to sit and talk with this woman. I wonder what she's thinking about, what worries her, did she make the beautiful cloth of her dress?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year"

My poet friend Mary Ellen and I lunched yesterday and she was singing this old song to's supposed to be about losing an old love. But I take the lyric very to heart literally. I had told another friend just a day or so ago that I'd climb up on the roof and jump off except the snowbanks are still too high so it wouldn't do any good.

I hate snow. I hate winter. And this has been a bad one, not just in actually weathering the nasty weather but battling everything else that has been tossed in with the blizzards and frigid temperatures. All around me people I love seem to have lives collapsing -- for no reasons you can point a finger to really -- and I feel their pain. And I've had my own pain to try to deal with. I've not been successful with that. Every time I use my left arm it's as if razor blades are slicing me I've basically stopped knitting or typing. In other words, stopped doing anything.

The good news is my husband still loves me, after somehow putting up with all the ups and downs of dealing with someone battling with constant pain and the ups and downs of pain medications.

For too many years I worked in the bowels of the health care industry and my trust in that industry is weak at best. However, now, after three months of finding out what is NOT wrong with my arm, I'm going to try another round of docs who might be able to find out what is wrong. It will turn out to be something very simple; it usually is. And then maybe I can return to writing and knitting again. And maybe spring will come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flexing My "Mother" Muscles

Sunday morning, very early, I got the kind of text message no mother ever wants to get from one of her children: I want to end my life; I need help.

I was asleep when the text message came and I was either walking the dog or had the stereo too loud to hear the next three phone calls that followed. When I finally did pick up the phone, in a good mood because Chris and I had fixed up a little tray of snacks for us to enjoy while watching the Daytona 500 later that afternoon, and heard just that one word -- "Mom?" -- in a tone of voice I'd never heard coming from my adult son before, my stomach contracted. I immediately had to sit down. I was certain he'd murdered someone.

In a matter of minutes we were in the car and on our way south to pick him up and bring him back here. I had made a couple of phone calls about facilities he might check into in the Syracuse area, on the ride down, not really knowing what to do, flying by the seat of my pants. The ride from Syracuse to Binghamton takes a good hour. About half way there, I received a phone call from the former girlfriend asking if we were really on our way, were we really getting a UHaul and picking up his things or was this just a ploy to get her to see him again? It was all news to me, but a phone call later, yes, this was his plan. She had been doing that horrible "I don't know if I want you now that you're finally out of jail or my new guy" dance and my son, quite frankly, didn't feel he needed to wait to get his life together much longer. He'd already wasted four months being in jail for no fault of his own.....if she couldn't wait for him after being with him for five years, didn't that tell him where her heart was, after all?

We moved him out, he kept his cool. I was never more proud of him than I was on sunday for the way he handled it. Chris and I were of very little with my arm still hurting from recent surgery and Chris's knee smarting (his surgery is next week). But we provided just enough moral support for the son to take the first step he needed to get the pieces of his life rearranged.

We stored his furniture (she had moved out of the apartment they had shared and into a new one, but had not given my son or anyone else the new address --- yet she'd felt free to be using all of the furniture his grandmother had given them....jeesh) in a friend's garage in Binghamton for him to use when he finds a new place and then brought him back up here with us. He's slept a ton, raided the refrigerator and romped around with Rupert. Rupert -- who has an incredible instinct to simply know and latch on to someone who isn't feeling well or in a crisis mode -- didn't leave his side, cuddling with him on the couch or bringing him toys to play with.

And we saw the son smiling again. He's staying with some friends in the town he grew up in. An old girlfriend took him out on the town last night. He's healing. We're breathing again....all except Rupert, who sits by the back door waiting for him to come back. He'll be heading back to Binghamton to start over soon.

As I said to my friend Denise, I found it difficult to remember how to be a mother through all this. It's been a long time since I've had a kid around. I wanted to just pull him into my lap and hug him, but that would have been a ridiculous sight now that he's six foot tall. I hope we did the right thing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Uncle Dick's Card

My Uncle Dick was my father's best friend. Dick wasn't Dad's brother. Dick was married to the sister of my mother. And even after my father and mother divorced after only eighteen years of marriage, Dick and my father remained close friends. My mother's sister was my Aunt Gretchen. I've talked about her in this blog all know how much she meant to me. When I spend time with my Uncle Dick, it always reminds me of how much I miss both Aunt Gretchen and my father, two of the most important people in my life, truly the two people who raised me.

Last weekend was my wedding anniversary and Uncle Dick joined us at a concert and gave me an anniversary card he had picked out. We only received two other cards, one from my mother-in-law and another from the dealer we buy our cars from who never forgets an opportunity to send a card with his business card enclosed. We always used to get cards from Aunt Gretchen, too.

This card from Uncle Dick is special because he picked it out himself, and he seemed so proud to have done so. But also because of what it says. My aunt and uncle had one of the most successful marriages I've ever had the privilege to witness. They were truly a role model for me. After my first marriage failed, I made a promise to myself that I'd not make that mistake again unless I could find a true partner, could make it work like Gretchen and Dick had. And I got lucky. Uncle Dick's card made me realize it even more, because I know he may have read through several before finding the "right" one......and it made me feel as if I was getting an "A" on a report card.

Here's what the verse said:

Happy Anniversary to a Great Couple

Taking time to understand, a tender touch, a helping hand
A lot of trust, some lucky breaks, overlooking small mistakes,
Smiling at each little quirk, sharing dreams and schemes and work,
A special marriage takes a lot, but you should know, it's what you've got.

It still makes me cry to read it. Not only is it special because it came from Uncle Dick, but because I know that if he feels that way, my father and Aunt Gretchen would have, too. Thanks, Uncle Dick. It means so much.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday Night at the Blue Frog

As a surprise for our wedding anniversary, Mark Zane graciously agreed to add a song to his show at the Blue Frog in Cortland on Friday night. He sang "In My Life", the song my brother Alan played when Chris and I were married. I was honored that he did this for us. I had expected that song to be the highlight of the evening for me. We've seen Mark perform live and on tape now, and I've listened to his CD almost every day for a couple of months now. You'd think the music would get too familiar after awhile....that doesn't seem to be the case.

His songs become "friends". I missed not hearing him perform "Ruby" at this show. And was delighted to hear my favorite tune from his "American Hunger" CD, the song "Casualty Officer" about the man with the job of coming to your door to inform you of the death of your child serving in the military. As I've said before, Mark's lyrics haunt you. In this song he forces you to consider multiple definitions for causalities of war.

His cover songs at this show included some Neil Young, Townes VanZandt, a couple of very well done Dylan songs and Cohen's "Hallelujah" again. I enjoyed watching my brother, a musician himself, delight in Mark's music, and had to laugh when my cousin whispered in my ear that she'd like to take him home and cook him a good meal, which is similar to foreplay in our family.

The surprise of the evening came for me with an original song I had not heard before that has stayed in my head. I've hummed it all weekend....on Saturday night as we sat through a dinner theatre of Joey and Maria's Italian Wedding and all day Sunday as we drove out of town to help the son in crisis-mode (at least he's out of jail) , a day that ended with renting a U-Haul, loading up his furniture, and....yeah, he's on the couch downstairs.... but more about that another post.

That song, "Is There A Banjo in the House?" is about those times when your muse arrives and you're doing something else. One verse is about trick or treating with the kids and asking someone "is there a piano in the house?" I often have this issue lucky I am to only need a scrap of paper to write down a few words......musicians need paper and something to pluck out the melody that's running through their head. I hope to hear that song again soon.

Thanks, Mark, for another great performance.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lucky Thirteen

Her husband introduced me to others attending their wedding as her "best" friend. I hadn't really had a "best" friend since Linda Mason.....that ended badly when we both dated the same boy. I had believed Linda when she said she wasn't in "love" with him anymore and didn't understand why she "hated my guts" when I went "out" with him....I think we were twelve at the time. I swore off being best friends with anyone else ever again ever. Just like I swore I'd never get married again.......

However....thirteen years ago today, as I was interviewing volunteers at the job I held then, I first met Denise. A glorious friendship grew that I know I could not have lived without. I treasure it every day. It doesn't matter whether Denise is my "best" friend or I am hers. It only matters that we are friends and that we remain friends. No matter how many miles separate us, no matter what paths our lives take. No matter what.

The journey of our friendship has helped us survive the deaths of our mothers, divorces, and the turbulence of raising independent children. We've shared the celebration of welcoming grandchildren and new husbands into our lives. We delighted in and agonized over our addiction to words. Spoken and unspoken. We "get" each other, and that's not an easy task.

I'm grateful that she left her house on a cold Syracuse morning thirteen years ago and that I was well enough to go to work that day so our journey could begin. And I'll see her again in 103 days...

February...such a long winter month here is snowy Syracuse...holds warmth for me: the anniversary of my friendship with Denise and tomorrow is my wedding anniversary (more about that in a future post)

Thanks, Denise, for always being there for me. Always. Happy Friday the 13th.

She is priceless

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Women Only"

Those were the last words in an invitation extended to me to read one of my short stories at an event at a neighborhood restaurant scheduled later this month. And because I've been saying "principles must count for something" a lot in conversation lately, I feel I must walk that talk. I will decline the invitation to read at this "women only" event.

Not because I don't love women and the amazing energy generated when they gather together, because I certainly have enjoyed such company many times. But it seems unfair to me. I would not be attending if the invitation had said "skinny people only" or "Jews only" or "midgets who left home at twelve to join the circus only".

I've decided not to do anything that excludes others.......even (gasp) Republicans. I believe it's the only way we can heal. We need to stop concentrating on our differences and celebrate all we have in common. That can't be done by holding events that focus on "only" anybody. What's that Abe Lincoln quote? "United we stand, divided we fall." Maybe we should take that to heart. I'll read my story another time, when they have an event open to one and all.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Day Off

Today is my day "off".....first one I've had in longer than I can remember. Hubby is out of town on business and Rupert the Wonder Dog in at the vet's for the day. I have the whole place to myself. I won't have to leave the laptop to make lunch or get a wet nose on my arm when someone has to pee (just to make that clear, hubby comes home for lunch and Rupert's the one with the wet nose...)

I love them both madly, beyond reason, and even though they have both been gone about fifteen minutes, I miss them already. But I need this day. My lump was removed on Wednesday and I have stitches that are healing...but much less pain than I was handling, thankfully.

My novel -- done but in desperate need of editing -- has been calling to me. And today I can give it all the attention it needs without having to feel even a second's worth of guilt. That's how I'm spending my day "off".....can't wait. Ta Ta!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


That's me.

I understand how folks become addicted to pain medication. Putting a shirt on, pulling the cover up, pouring myself a cup of tea...all of these every day movements we take for granted send blasts of searing hot pain up my arm. It's worse if I indulge myself in typing or knitting.

And I haven't fought in a war. I mourn even more for the children we send into deserts for no good reason who return to us maimed and must deal with so much more than this pain I am experiencing. I cry for them.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Music Room

This is one end of our Music Room. When I use the downstairs laptop, this is my view as I type. I have a wide choice of music to enjoy. AND...hubby's working on hooking up some new software that will allow me to burn CDs from all those songs on the LPs I still love to play....I cannot wait to begin that project!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Birthday Tattoos

My favorite cousin, Pam, and her son, Corey, have birthdays in January. She's about ten years younger than me. Her adorable son turned 22....egads, we're getting old! This year they decided to get mother and son tattoos. If you knew them, you'd know this is perfectly normal for them.

Pam is the oldest daughter of my Aunt Gretchen who passed away this past September. Corey was Gretchen's first grandchild. His first word was "Mas"'s what he called his grandma until the day she died. And that's what Pam and Corey chose to have tattooed on their wrists for their birthday tattoos.

They had it done yesterday. Pam sent me this picture with a text that said "hardly felt it being done". It made me smile. And I know Aunt Gretchen would have laughed out loud. Probably after she gave them a scolding....but she'd be smiling ear to ear.

Good job, dudes.