The promise of blooms

Pussy Willow bud


Hey, it’s almost spring.  Yes, it’s cold and grey outside and I’m still wearing my winter coat but the pussy willow is in bloom.  My grandmother used to say,”Ja, Ja.  Za pussy villow is za first flower und spring is not far behind.”  I always laughed as by the time these little furry blooms arrived in the yard, I was more than ready for sunnier days.  Bring on those higher temperatures, I’m ready!

This past weekend I set about decorating for Easter and the Farmers Market had bunches of Pussy Willow and Peach branches not yet in bloom.  I bought them as they harbored promises of blossoms for the days to come.  I like the idea of promises.



I admit that I had a hard time this year organizing for the celebration.  I’m told there was a blood moon that was causing havoc with everyones horoscopes and blamed my disorganization on that.  When things are going bad, it is always easier to point to outside factors than own the reason yourself.  Saturday night I still wasn’t sure I’d have everything ready.  Chairs held in storage for a year seemed to be crumbling at the touch.  It was at that hour I was so happy I had delegated parts of the meal to my siblings.

“What can I bring?”

That question would have been answered years ago with a sweet, “Just yourself.”  This year I said, ” the salad course.” and “the vegetables” and of course the most important item, “Wine, bring lots of wine.”  Gone are the days when I need to do it all with that special touch of twee.  I used to be amazing and my celebrations memorable.  At least I hope they were memorable as I would spend weeks preparing special butterfly cookies and tiny pots of grass for the table.  I don’t have the time or energy for that anymore.  Branches holding the promise of buds was all I could muster this year.


I did make a wonderful leg of lamb and at the eleventh hour, it all came together.  Everyone had a seat though not all of the seats were at the table.  Another small snafu was I had more guests than there was actually room for.  We made due and it got kind of funny.   The conversation flowed punctuated now and then by howls of laughter.  The salad course was amazing as was the tray of asparagus my brother made.  In fact, all the dishes and courses were wonderful as was the wine.

Easter Table I’m hoping you had a wonderful Easter too with a seat at or at least near a table!

Next week I’m headed to Florida to visit friends and warm my frozen bones.




Posted in Easter, Essay, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

March memories and such

Highline March is a raw month.  The weather has been described at times as lion or lamb.  No matter which, it is never beautiful. My first pet, a cat named Ebony, was born on March 12.  He was taken from his mother too soon which made him very attached to us.  We used to celebrate his birth with ice-cream cakes, song and gifts of catnip.  We’d decorate for the celebration and I realize now it was an excuse to cheer up a rather dismal month.  Ebony would have been 44 last week.  Within the last 31 years, Saint has been added to his first name.  Because he was our first cat, we did not know how unusual it was that he liked to sleep in a doll carriage with doll clothes on.  Well, the clothing was my idea.   Returning home from school, he’d be waiting for us in the carriage ready for an afternoon of dresses and walks about town.  The perfect cat for a house filled with young girls. ChickThis past weekend the girls got together again at my Dad’s house.  My brother lives with him and announced months ago that he was taking a vacation this week.  Realizing my father would be alone, my sisters, nieces and I met up at his house.  It was a “chick” weekend with the lone rooster.  We cleaned and organized his kitchen a bit and talked for hours around the big oak table.  Serious, humorous or just about nothing at all.  Sometimes, my Dad removed his hearing aids as it is easier to watch us talk than actually listen.  He whistles when he is happy and this weekend the house was filled with the sound of unrecognizable song. Fifty Shades ofMy niece J. is caught up in the Fifty Shades series.  We keep asking for book reviews and it is my niece M. that gives it.  She is not as enamored as J.  I long for the days when it was Harry Potter she devoured.

Posted in Essay, Father | 9 Comments

Watch out for the icy cold wind!

Wreath at Eileen's

I came home tonight and suddenly realized my Christmas wreath is still on the door.  It’s not the one pictured above but one made of pinecones.  I somehow missed that window from seasonally perfect to outdated eyesore.


A few weeks ago a gust of wind on one of those 3 degree mornings kissed my face.  That’s how I remember it anyway.  My face burned and then a few days later the headache began.

Steam and Herbs

My grandmother was born in 1896 high up in the Swiss Alps.  She said, “Ja, Ja” a lot as English was not her first language.  She had  a home remedy for just about everything.  When I was young fevers would run through our house knocking everyone down with illness.  When it was really bad, she’d show up with potions and remedies.  Our heads would be put under a towel hovering over bowls of herbs steeped in steaming water.  Soups and special teas were conjured up in the kitchen.    I wish I could remember more of what she did for us.

I knew I had a sinus headache and tried the “old ways” for a bit even muttering, “Ja, Ja” to try and conjure the spirit of my grandmother.  I can now attest to the fact that singing “Ja, Ja” does nothing.   My head pounded and I seemed to function in a fog behind the pressure that was building.  I held my head over a steaming bowls of herbs with a towel tent overhead.  It felt good and comforting but it wasn’t a cure.


I even made chicken soup from bones in my freezer from roast chickens past.  They make the best soup base and in the past three weeks I used up my stash which I had been collecting since August.  I was down to my last handful of bones and not feeling any better when I decided it was time for drugs, real drugs.  I think there is a country song in this somewhere.

The walk-in clinic agreed I had a major sinus headache.  Drugs were prescribed and the fog has been lifting.  That’s probably the reason I finally noticed the wreath on my door.  My biggest fear now is what else I will suddenly notice in the next few days.

Tomorrow we’re expecting a snowstorm and now that I’m feeling better, I’m hoping to take the skies out for a bit of cross-country.  I will be covering my face tightly to keep any wind kisses at bay.


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Valentine’s Day to warm the winter chill

Heart cutter

Valentine’s weekend is coming to a close. I have to confess I enjoyed myself for none of the reasons you would think. It turns out jumping on a trampoline isn’t good for nerves trapped in scar tissue. That is if you haven’t bound “the goods” sufficiently. I didn’t and the pain was so intense, I thought my cancer had returned. This Easter will bring my fifth year benchmark and admittedly, I’m haunted by the thought that I will become sick again. During the second week of my new pain, my yearly appointment with my plastic surgeon came up at Sloan Kettering. While in the area, I stopped in with my breast surgeon who checked things out and explained how it was scar tissue and severed nerves causing my pain. “Calm down, you’re as clean as a whistle. I like problems like yours.” My surgeon said this while smiling broadly. It was a huge relief and a bit embarrassing all at the same moment. Still, I was told the trampoline wasn’t a bad thing to do in the afternoon. I just needed to keep my breasts and the tissue within from moving so much.

I ate too many of these.

I ate too many of these.


Fear had swirled around in the back of my head for two weeks but it also organized what is important to me right now. Seeing friends, my photography, saving for a new home and purchasing the right athletic attire. The work life balance thing I’ve mentioned before is still very much out of sync. I decided Valentine’s Day weekend was going to be devoted to the desires that demanded my focus when fear ruled the back of my head . Stop dreaming and start doing was my mantra. I had dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I also spent a bit of time at the Apple store with a genius who answered burning questions about Yosemite and other bits of technology that my creativity is dependent on. I came up with new photography projects and dropped off the last of my film rolls from the Scotland trip. It really was, the perfect weekend.

The temperature is now 7 degrees outside and threatens to dip even lower later in the night. My radiators are clanking a tune that goes back to my childhood. It’s a bit of a lullaby. I’m hoping all of you are warm and had a wonderful weekend too.

Posted in Cancer, Memories | 3 Comments

Cooking, sewing and the desire for balance


Last night the question in my little book was:

Do you need a break?  From what?

I didn’t have to think twice.  My job, the company I work for; the two so completely intertwined as one massive headache as of late.  My work-life balance is so skewed I no longer feel like I’m the star of my own life.  New corporate leadership has been making demands and fulfilling the tasks is taking up my personal time.  I admit though, I am partly to blame.  I want to be the “best” of the group and that takes time and energy.  As of this moment, I am the top sales person.  The view isn’t all that great from such a hard won height.

There is also another part of me that is frightened as I maneuver my 50’s.  My fear is that I will be eventually phased out.  Not dramatically but in an “out to pasture” maneuver corporations are good at.  I’ve seen it in those that have gone before me.  I just never considered, as I do now, that it could happen to me.  As I step up in age, it most likely will.  That is unless I can present a skill that the corporation needs.  It is what I mull over in my brain as I drive from one customer to another.  I am not a distinguished older male but an aging woman.  Let’s face it, an old woman isn’t something society cherishes let alone a corporation.  I know it’s a slippery slope from here on in.  I must market that skill, the one I haven’t dreamed up yet, that will make them want me or better yet, need me.

It’s the lack of insurance not my ego feeling deflated that stokes my fears of being sent to that unwanted pasture.  I know I must work for as long as possible.  Well, at least until I am settled well into my 60’s.  This will be the 5th year anniversary of that most horrible year and not a day goes by that “what if” doesn’t haunt me.  What if it comes back?  Insurance is so very important not only when your life seems to be circling the drain but when repairs need to be made.  I had an excellent plastic surgeon of which insurance paid the brunt of that bill.  My other surgeon, the one that cut the cancer from my flesh, was also highly skilled and costly.  My friend Vita told me, “You want only the best gardeners and surgeons.  They know where to cut to achieve perfect results.”  She muttered this as I sat waiting to go into surgery.  It was a strange analogy but one I found rather soothing.

Class at Haven

In defiance of my battle with time and balancing life, I took a cooking class at Haven.  It was on a Thursday night and I had timed it between trips from here to there for work.  I skid into class like I was stealing home plate.  The topic that evening was clean food and detoxifying.  It was better in theory than in reality.  We broiled grapefruits with honey drizzled on top for dessert.  They were delicious but I couldn’t find the calm I was seeking.



As I was leaving class, I got a panicked call from K.  A mouse had run across the room right in front of her.  She had been hearing noises all week and knew she had a problem. Would I come over and teach her how to lay the traps?

When I first met K. she was catching mice and letting them go free in the park.  “I don’t believe in murder,” she told me.  At that time, she wore ringlets in her hair, her underwear was $70.00 a pair and she was a strict vegetarian.  Sometimes, intimate details are shared in Pilates classes.

Mouse traps

I was raised to kill mice.  I still remember watching my father drowning one in a bucket of water.  He held it by the tail and I watched through the cracks of my fingers that covered my face.  I was probably 4 at the time and was entranced by the horror of it all.  That was before we had a cat and he hadn’t perfected his technique with the traps.  The mice he was drowning were caught oddly and needed his hand and the bucket to end it all.  Once he figured out the trick of sewing bacon directly to the trap, it increased his odds of a direct hit and subsequent death.  He taught me the sewing trick and there has been a number of winters when the little beasts tried to make a home with me.  Over the years, I perfected the trap by placing them on newspaper.  Unlike my father, my traps are used only once.  The paper makes for easy disposal.

I showed up at K’s apartment.  The ringlets and fancy bits disappeared around the time her daughter was born seven years ago.  In fact, it’s because of her child that murdering mice has become an acceptable practice.  I bring the bacon and together we sit and sew 8 traps.  It was while we sat there sewing that it was decided I should join a dating site.

“Try and keep you mouse skills out of your personal description.”

We were laughing as we sewed.  I have since registered on a dating site and find describing myself a challenge.  As to what I am looking for, a baritone voice at dinner and maybe a bit of balance.  Some of that will have to come from within.

By the way, four mice died that night.

Posted in Essay, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Rainy days


Rainy Days

It rained today.

Poured really.

“Like cats and dogs.”  My cab driver used this description haltingly.  I think he was trying out the term as English wasn’t his native tongue.  I agreed and he seemed very pleased.

I like rainy days.  I feel like they give me permission to be quiet and a bit leisurely.  I still did Pilates, yoga and a bit of bouncing on the trampoline but I did it in a quiet manner without having to rush things along.  Yes you read correctly, I bought a trampoline a few weeks ago.  It’s a tiny thing that folds up and can be tucked under the bed if need be.  The more professional term is rebounder and gently jumping up and down helps with moving lymph.  I’m all about moving lymph.

Secretly, I’m also hoping the added cardio helps keep my winter weight where it is now.  I  tend to gain 5 lbs in the winter and then it takes me all summer and fall to lose it again.  In truth, I’m not sure I actually lost the weight from last winter or I just got used to the numbers.

Anyway, I’m hoping all of you enjoyed your Sunday.  I’ll let you know in a few months if the rebounder purchase was a good one.  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy what is left of this rainy day.


Posted in Essay, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

I have a question. Actually, 365 of them.

Q & A

Happy New Year!

My friend Julia gave me the book pictured above for Christmas.  It’s a journal of sorts with 365 questions in it and under each question 5 lines.  The idea is to answer one question a day for five years.  I’m enthralled and feeling accomplished at day 4.  Let’s discuss again at day 465.

For New Year’s I drove to Worthington, Massachusetts.  If I had stayed in New York, I would have worked.  I am inundated with follow-up and imputing data into my computer  this time of year.   It becomes addictive as the due date for this project is January 15.  My bonus is connected to this information so you can imagine my motivation.  Still, I had no desire to start the year hunched over the computer.  I called my friend James.

Worthington Barn

“May I spend New Year’s with you?”

The building above is a shed you can see from the main house.  James didn’t miss a beat.  “Of course.  Stay as long as you like.”

Sun on Chair

The house in Worthington is perfect for reading and relaxing.  Time seems to slow down as I am finally able to enjoy the sun creeping across the room.  There are woods to walk through and a dog that teaches the art of joy.  His enthusiasm for life is contagious.

Dog in Window

We welcomed the New Year in at a local neighborhood party.  I slept late, ate well and laughed with friends who have known me for over 32 years.  The year 2015 started out perfectly.  I’m hoping it was the same for you!

Posted in Essay, Photography | Tagged | 7 Comments