Happy Easter


Easter Vigil 2014

Happy Easter to those that celebrate.  I went to Easter Vigil last night and admit sitting in the dark holding a candle was the most soothing way to begin celebrations.  I haven’t gone overboard decorating but just gathering the ingredients for the dinner had my legs weary by the time Mass began.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the movie Babette’s Feast but I feel like that is the sort of meal I am preparing – only hers is so much greater.

Easter 2014

The table is set with chocolate thrown randomly throughout.  That’s a throw back to my own childhood dreams.  Chocolate excess for a day is for me the only way to celebrate.

Easter Candy 2014

My father comes in by train.  He insisted on traveling into the city on his own.  A last push for independence and we all agreed.  With just months until his 91st birthday we know to cherish him and his wishes.  My brother saw him off and my sister will greet him at the station.  He will have 60 minutes to prove he still can do things without assistance.  Then there will be naps all around as he will be exhausted and our nerves will have been frayed.   I wish you all a wonderful day.  Spring has begun here and this year it was hard won.

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A Wing and a Prayer

Wing and a Prayer

Sometimes, I read my horoscope. It’s merely for fun or when things feel futile and I need an excuse as to why. Yesterday morning I awoke in Dallas and the Blood Moon was reported on the news with a hint of magical wonder. Captured by someone who had stayed up late to watch and photograph the phenomena, the photo was beautiful. I remembered with dread that this moon was supposed to wreak havoc in its wake and then proceeded to find facts to substantiate this theory. It wasn’t hard as after a day of meetings, I was headed home by air. In retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t ponder staying an extra day. My initial flight was delayed 3 hours so I changed my ticket for a flight leaving a bit earlier. My seat was way in the back of the plane and I sighed sadly as the plane pulled back from the gate and then then parked in a side lot waiting for LaGuardia to call us home. Rain, high winds and 90% chance of snow were reported. I’ve been in that side lot before and it hadn’t ended well or in the desired destination. We sat for 20 minutes and then were released from detention to join the line of other planes taking off. It was the descent into New York air space that I thought long and hard about that moon. Gripping my seat for dear life, we were tossed about in jerky motions that caused me nausea and others to vocalize prayers.


Easter is on Sunday and I am ill prepared for the day. It’s my 20th anniversary holding this holiday and I’ve really fallen short of my earlier celebrations. In those early years, there were tiny pots of green grass on the table, cookies shaped like butterflies in midflight, an Easter swamp in the bathtub, a chocolate rabbit the size of my arm standing in a basket even larger on a tablecloth woven with bright ribbons. Pots of flowers in full bloom covered every horizontal surface possible causing a few allergic reactions to unwitting guests and even the host once or twice. It was a tad over the top in that Alice in Wonderland kind of way. My nieces were the perfect age to witness my bursting creativity and were delighted with every madcap addition I made. They will now have to live off those memories as I don’t think I will ever have the energy to do anything like that again. OK, I might do it one more time but the word “retired” will have to be part of my personal definition. That is many Blood and common moons from now and even then, I don’t think I’ll ever recreate the Easter Swamp as you have to be 10 to truly appreciate peeing next to such a sight.

I woke this morning in New York and will begin preparations tonight. It is in the meal that my energies are poured this year.   Most of my guests have been around that table for years and remember the days of wild exuberance. We’ve weathered many personal storms and tragedies since that time. Now it is the joy of just being together that is celebrated. At least, that’s what I hope. As of this writing, there really won’t be much more than that!


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A hint of spring


Umbrella drink 1

It was hot, sunny and simply perfect weather for this snow bunny last weekend.  I arrived in Florida on Tuesday and stayed until Sunday.  The first part of the week was work but the last half of the week I worked on doing nothing at all.  It’s actually harder than you think.

Beach Umbrellas

I was there as a reward from my company for a job well done.  These events tend to be weird in general and even odder when you’re in your bathing suits on a beach.  There are things I just don’t want to see and other things I prefer to keep hidden.  I said my hellos and then disappeared to a secluded part of the resort.  It’s a trick I learned from a friend’s mother who always made a loud entrance and then got lost in the crowd as the evening progressed.  She’d slip away quietly when she had enough of small talk and such.  It’s a skill worth mastering.

Palm trees 1Colleen came with me and by Sunday neither one of us wanted to go home.  We couldn’t bear the thought of leaving behind warm, sunny days or being lulled by the waves hitting the shore.  Home we flew though and I was wearing my boots and winter coat by nightfall.  Dare I say, it was down right depressing  standing on the sidewalk in my winter coat.  I could have just cried with woeful sobs but refrained.  After all, I have the memories and a bit of sand still falls from my shoes.  Summer will be here soon enough.

Hint of Spring

Tuesday night I went up to Central Park to see if spring had arrived.  There was a hint with daffodils beginning to bloom.  It was a welcome sight and suddenly the winter chill that refuses to leave doesn’t seem so unbearable.  Patience.


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Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows


I’ve got a trip to Florida on the horizon and just the thought of warm sunshine is making me giggle.  While a deep chill and pounding rain occupied most of the weekend, I tried on outfits from last summer.  The clothes I packed up with care in October look worn and faded now.  It’s as though my wardrobe continued to celebrate summer without me.  I weeded through the pile and packed enough for four days.  Really, I’ve overpacked for four days.  I know my dreams of what I will do and the reality of what will be are very different.  I probably need only a knapsack and not the huge suitcase sitting in my living room.

I still have work to do but can’t really concentrate.  Luckily, I’m not negotiating any large contracts.  I fear I might just give everything away with the mood I’m in.

Enjoy your week everyone!


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A trip to the dentist

Beekman Tower
Chinatown is where my dentist has his office.  It’s a tiny place that I’ve been going to for 19 years.  An oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of that area of town.  I had an appointment there this morning and even with the dreaded chore at hand, I’m still in awe of all the buildings in lower Manhattan.  I never get tired of such visual wonder.   I take the 6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge stop and then a brisk walk into the heart of Chinatown. It’s during this walk that you will find the buildings pictured in this post.   Beekman Tower is a Frank Gehry building that plays with light throughout the day. It’s unusual and I have yet to really capture the beauty of it.

World Trade Cnt

This lovely grouping has the Woolworth building in the foreground with the new World Trade Center building behind it. At least, that’s what I think they are calling the new building. My favorite is the Woolworth Building.  Inside, the lobby it is just beautiful.  One of my client’s used to have an office there and I just adored going to meetings with him.  His offices weren’t anything special but the journey getting there was.

I digress.

My dentist doesn’t believe in Novocain. He drilled my teeth again today without it. I clasp my hands, close my eyes and whispered Hail Mary’s in my head as the searing shrill of the drill drowns out any of the kind words my dentist might be saying. The first time he dared not to use any numbing agents it was a week before my mastectomy.

“No, No Mae, I’m not giving you any drugs that could interfere with your operation.  It’s just too close, you’ll have to do without.”

Those were dreaded words but so much was going on I think I was too numb to fight him and I was already in survival mode.  There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t endure to have the promise of a long life.  My memory of that time is of pulling strength out of thin air.  That’s probably why I need to wear a nightgaurd now to keep my jaw from clenching.

A week before surgery, it was my friend Vita who warned me, “You don’t know what treatments you might have to have in the next six months. It’s best to have your teeth taken care of before you begin anything.”

That’s when I called up my dentist to have my mouth looked at. It had been a while and there were 3 cavities that needed drilling. When I walked in I was a bit shocked. He had just finished treatment for throat cancer.  It aged him and the scars were visible.  We talked about it as I told him about my diagnosis. The cancers are different but we seem to be in the same club just the same. It’s the “Oh Crap Club.”

He too feared what treatments I might face.  He didn’t say it but I could read the fear on his face and by his actions.   He drilled three cavities in one sitting so that I wouldn’t have to come back for a while. It was in that chair that I realized saying the Hail Mary is a calming mantra for me. I now say it in MRI machines and whenever I’m dosing off on an operating table. Still, that day still ranks in the top 5 most horrible days in my life. He doesn’t remember it that way.

“You’re one strong lady and you’re better off without the drugs.”

I beg to differ but usually can’t as my mouth is preoccupied with staying open. We’re both in fine shape these days except for a few fillings here and there..

This morning he drilled a bit and I barely got through a Hail Mary before he was done.  I’m home already ready to “battle paperwork”.  Such battles years ago would have caused me stress.  These days, I don’t even break a sweat.  It’s not worth it.

Posted in Cancer, Essay, Memories, Uncategorized, Vita | 13 Comments

Rumor has it that Spring is coming…..

6 Days

There’s a coffee shop near my home that has been posting the countdown towards spring.  This morning it was biting cold and the wind so powerful that the message declaring 5 days til spring couldn’t be posted.  I went to look for it in my down coat, pouffe super warm hat with a scarf wrapped around my head.   Yes, my usual “look” this winter.  The store owner said, “The wind was too much for the sign.”  We both looked at each other in sorrow and then I ordered a latte and we went on with our days.  I have never dreamed so much of spring as I have these past few weeks.

When I was a girl we would have spent the weekends leading up to Easter shopping.  Easter outfits were a right of passage into spring.    That was the holiday when everyone would get their very own new pair of leather shoes called Maryjanes and a “Sunday” dress.  Yes, I grew up in an era when Sunday clothes were part of any civilized wardrobe.  My mother was a practical woman and hand-me-downs from my older sister or any older cousin or friend was the norm.  A bag would arrive and we’d dig through it like a pack of wild dogs at a restaurant trash bin.  Easter was different though.  That was the day you would be wearing something brand new.  I can remember the trepidation in cutting the tags off of a dress.  Then and only then, you knew it was yours.

Shopping for these outfits was an agonizing affair.  My mother not only was practical but thrifty.  We shopped for hours looking for the prettiest, simplest and cheapest dress.  It had to be worn at any special occasion the summer months ahead held.  She knew if you searched hard enough quality and inexpensive could be found in a dusty corner of one store or another.  Since there were 3 daughters, we had to find that many more dusty corners.  “There’s a button missing here.” she would show the sales clerk.  That was the beginning of her negotiations.  My mother’s depression era scars would inflame at the thought of spending money.  “Look at this mark over here.  Are you sure there is nothing  you can do to lower the price?”  I would stand to the side, my brain numb in horror as she worked the sales staff.  It would be years before I would realize my mother’s childhood had unnecessarily scarred my own.  We weren’t destitute or poor; we were just being raised by a woman whose ego was battered by the Great Depression.  My father was amused by my mother’s thriftiness not witnessing her daily trials and tribulations.

Once the outfits were purchased, we’d savor the delight of ownership by secretly trying them on in our bedroom.  Easter Day was the moment when tags would be cut and the dresses and shoes publicly worn.  The shoes slightly large as they had to last the entire year.  Somewhere after Labor Day, we’d polish them black for winter wear.  Easter Day you could finally trash those well worn black shoes.

As I write this, I’m thinking that I should go shopping for an Easter outfit.  Maybe that would cure my winter blues.  Admittedly, I won’t shop exactly like my mother did.  The sales staff is safe from bartering in my company but I tend to only browse the sales rack.  My wallet could withstand any purchase I make but there isn’t any joy paying full price.  My mother would be pleased.

Yesterday we had a hint of the warmer days to come.  Here are a few photos I took as I walked about town.

The High Line waiting for spring

The High Line waiting for spring

Central Park still had bits of snow here and there.  Daffodil shoots breaking through here and there.

Central Park still had bits of snow here and there. Daffodil shoots breaking through here and there.

14th Street from the High Line.

14th Street from the High Line.

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Luck and Happenstance

Chair on HighlineFour years ago today I found a lump. A “perfect storm” of happenstance saved my life. My sister, using a hint of guilt, had me agree to say the rosary every day for Lent. It was a Sunday and I was tired so I lay down to “finger the beads”. There was a chill in the air so I moved my wrists up next to my breasts for warmth as I said the rosary. I was wearing a thin sweater and wrapped myself in a wool throw for warmth. I found the cadence of prayer soothing but between Hail Mary’s, my wrist bone felt something weird and a chill went up my spine.

A lump.

The lump was undetectable in mammograms, sonograms and could only be felt when I lay on my back and pressed in that exact spot. There was no history of Breast Cancer in my family. My mother and sister had benign lumps which gave all of us a false sense of security. Every doctor I met with was surprised by the results and in the end a 3.5 inch DCIS tumor was removed along with a 1.2 mm cluster of cancer. Basically, my lump could only be found on a cold day with my wrist positioned in a particular way that is perfect for saying the rosary.

I still get chills when I think of the details.

That was the beginning of a two year roller coaster ride of surgeries.  Four years later, I relish my days filled with good health.

Posted in Cancer, Essay, mastectomy, Uncategorized | 16 Comments