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

Plane

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.

grapefruit

 

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

Decorating in style

AngelsMy mother’s angels sit on the shelf.  She used to have them prominently displayed during the holidays.  So much so, that one year Colleen accidentally knocked one over while reaching to turn a light on.  There was a bang and then a little head rolled across the room as our eyes grew wide in terror.  A holiday disaster on the move.  My mother was ill and those little statues gave her solace.  We knew once the beheaded statue was discovered, she would cry out in rage, “I can never have anything nice.”  That is an unfortunate truth after having 4 children even when they are fully grown.  Still, we hated hearing that line especially now that she was ill.

Even though it was Colleen’s arm that committed the crime, we’d all suffer the consequence.  Not a word was uttered as we fell into action.  My mother was busy in the kitchen blissfully unaware and we intended to keep her that way. The head was retrieved from under the piano and a triage team converged armed with glue.  We whispered in horror and laughter as we erased signs of the accident.  The head stayed in place as the glue dried.  Peace reigned over that holiday and she never knew what had happened.  To this day, I look at the fine line along the angel’s neck and smile.

Truck with NutcrackerSince my mother died, the angels collect dust in the corner.  Little concern would be paid if I snapped all of their heads off in an accidental sweep of the arm.  Now, we decorate with trucks.  My father is buying replica’s of  the vehicles that drove him to the moments in life he cherishes.  The army truck is his latest.  It is funny to think that the army would be the backdrop of one of his favorite times in life.  He was 20 when he drove that truck.  Even in war, 20 is a fun age.

Over the weekend, he regaled us with stories of sleeping on top of the truck and how much candy he could hide under the seats.  Things a 20-year-old would enjoy.  He doesn’t wish anyone to go through what he did but wouldn’t trade the experience.

Basket of Crackers

This year I was challenged with incorporating the trucks into our holiday decor.  I think I did a fine job considering the design element.  A bit of ribbon here and a bow there…  My father is pleased as my sisters and I roll our eyes.  This is a season though of giving tiny bits of pleasure to the ones we love.

Posted in Memories | Tagged | 4 Comments

Merry Christmas

Tree topper

We traveled through the pouring rain this afternoon to my Dad’s house.  Traffic was slow and red tail lights glared before me the entire trip.  I admit I was grumpy until the moment we walked through the door.  He was so happy to see us that weather problems and forgotten gifts don’t really matter.  We’re all healthy and still here.  That’s the most important thing.

I’m still tweaking the decorations.  I will until the very moment everyone arrives.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday!

Posted in Father | Tagged | 6 Comments

Winter Solstice

Wreath at Eileen's This is a season of short days and long nights.  Winter Solstice is tucked neatly between the beginning of Chanukah and Christmas this year seemingly balancing the celebrations filled with light. I chose to spend the longest night of the year writing Christmas cards.  I confess, the task made the night that much longer!  It has to be done though as there are so many more that need to be addressed. This is the time of year of numbers and tasks.  Pricing letters need to be addressed, year end sales figures tallied and then there is the shopping, baking and the actual act of gift giving.  My head is swirling with the need to accomplish so much in such little time.  It is no wonder I didn’t have a drop of Christmas spirit last week.  I called my sister Colleen and a friend that lived nearby.  I was driving past their homes in Connecticut and asked if I could stay the night.  I knew between the two, they would be able to infuse me with the holiday spirit I needed. Riccio tree We had dinner on Friday night.  There with a roaring fire and a meal that was perfect right down to the ice cream dessert.  We laughed until we nearly cried.  It was almost magical how the worries and tasks that haunt me daily were lifted.  Friendship and family, they really are such a gift when it is right. Ice Cream with Applesauce

Saturday Colleen and I drove to Farmington to visit the Hill-Stead Museum.  After a fun evening, this was the perfect spot to visit.  The house was decorated for the holidays and before I knew it, my heart was filled with good cheer.

I am still scrambling to get things accomplished and the next three days will prove to be a challenge.  Still, a weekend in the country filled with laughter and good food does wonders for the soul.  I am wishing all of you a Happy Winter Solstice and for those that celebrate – a wonderful holiday with family and friends too.

Posted in Essay, Friendship | 4 Comments