mother

How to Kill Your Kid


Snappy title.  Not a murder mystery.  Consider it a medical mystery. One you may find important in your life.

Meet “Katie.”  She looks fine when you meet her. Underneath that big smile and wise-cracking exterior beats a heart with too many nerve centers so it can beat a syncopated rhythm or start going lickety-split in, well, a heartbeat. And then there’s the problem with the valves. She needs a valve job sometime in the near future. Because of these problems she has other problems – like excruciating headaches.  But there is no label saying, “I’m fragile” anywhere to be seen.

When you shake her hand you might think she’s being ladylike, but the reality is that her weak grip is a manifestation of the peripheral neuropathy that’s slowly eating away at her arms, legs, hands, and feet.  She can exercise morning, noon and night, but will never gain muscle mass.  She will however, be sore and exhausted. If you watch her hands you may see her fingers tremble.  She’s not nervous, that’s the neuropathy.

She watches her kids play, but rarely  joins them. She can’t run. She can break an ankle by tripping over a tree root or stepping down off a curb the wrong way.  In fact, she broke an ankle the first time when she was in grade school.  The last time it was so bad she had three surgeries to fix it.  It is still not fixed.  But you probably don’t notice it because she walks without complaint, although slowly. She always wears pretty flip-flops – because her feet don’t fit in shoes because of the deformation that still needs to be surgically fixed. But you are unlikely to be staring at her feet while you ae paying attention to her laugh and smile.

Katie is sick – a lot.  She’ll be out and around with a massive migraine to take her kids to sports and you won’t know. But we do. That’s the problem. To the family, Katie being sick is normal. To Katie being sick is normal. Life revolves around heart palpitations, headaches, surgeries. walkers, crutches, visits to the doctor, blood draws, CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, and visits to the hospital.

If someone else had seen Katie turning bright red all over they might have thought it was something other than having the heating pad on too high. There were signs – a hard time breathing. (Was it the asthma? Get an inhaler.  Is that better?) Hot and sweaty and red – but it went away – and then came back.  (Cold? Flu? Actually, neither.) Take a good look, because a tidal wave of misery can be coming.

Finally, Katie, who is sick of doctors and hospitals, went to the hospital. Thank God she did. There a miracle happened. An ER doctor didn’t brush her off as a chronically ill complainer. He had a hunch why she was sick. He had her transferred to a state of the art medical center where they realized that Katie was close to death.

No one has answers for how Katie got both bacteria and fungus in her blood. Was it from one of her surgeries?  There have been several recently.  Was it from the cellulitis she got from a flu shot?  The cellulitus from the foot surgery?  From the Port? (the port had to be removed). After a CT scan found the tumor in her upper spine and she started losing body function there was a surgery to remove it, but it couldn’t be removed. So they took out spinal bone instead to stop spinal cord compression.

They might never have gotten that far if Katie died from the effects of the infections in her blood. The list of complications from that is long and scary. The surgical risks were scary too. Life for Katie is a roller coaster high point to a screaming low after another.That’s why people who are used to seeing someone with chronic illness can miss things. And those missed things can be fatal.

The lesson I learned was that if a symptom in anyone else would concern me – the next stop is the hospital where they can draw blood, do MRIs on the spot, CT scans, and x-rays. Over the years it became too easy to see all problems as a chronic illness problem rather than a life-endangering acute crisis issue. See your primary care for routine medical care.

A lot of my readers have chronic illness. It is easy to feel like that super-low you’ve been facing for a few days is just another crappy day. Then again, it might be something like Katie is facing.  Want to take the chance?

I told Katie that the next time I see something that would scare me in anyone else I am taking her to the hospital – period.

I’m HoH – almost deaf – but I can see. I knew she was sick and I knew the symptoms were out of the norm.

I want you to look at yourself in the mirror – especially if you have chronic illness – and ask yourself if this is different from what is usually going on. Then look at your loved ones with health problems and resolve that if they were anyone else and you had the power to get them medical care – that you do whatever is necessary to get them that care.

Katie’s saga continues.  We’re fortunate it does, although it is a painful continuation.

Take care of yourselves. Don’t brush off pain in the chest and difficulty breathing even if you think it is the “same-old, same-old” whatever it is that gives you grief. If you start having strange symptoms like turning red all over and dripping sweat for no reason at all – get medical care, for goodness sake!

Be well. Stay well.

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Sounds


As most of my gentlereaders know I was seriously injured in an accident about a month ago – resulting in a badly broken shoulder and surgery – as well as other consequences we won’t go into now.  From the first time I saw the surgeon – three weeks after surgery – I was trying to get permission to drive (didn’t get it) and work out (didn’t get that either).

I recently had the good fortune to get permission to drive on any day I am not wearing a sling or taking anything stronger than Tylenol.  Need I say that the sling is gone as are the stronger painkillers?  I am still not allowed to “work out.”

This morning, on a lonely road in New Hampshire, I was riding along (alone) in my automobile when I started feeling rhythmic bumps and thumps that seemed to be emanating from the front of the car. Not really being able to hear what the noise was associated with it I pulled off the road and spent some time examining the tires to make sure I had not picked up a bolt or other large object.  Nope.  Back in the car, the bumps and thumps continued.  By this time I’m feeling unnerved.  Is it a wheel bearing? Master cylinder? Loose strut? Shock? I’m driving very slowly in case the car breaks down.  Finally, I turned the car onto a different road and suddenly it is fine.  Clearly, I was experiencing pavement problems.  I’ve never had that happen for miles on end.

It got me to wondering. If I could hear the sounds associated with different problems, would I have recognized it was not a tire, not a bearing, not a strut?  I mean, mechanics ask me what sound the car is making if I bring it in for service and mostly all I can describe is the feeling I get when I’m driving it. How do I know what it sounds like? The first time I ever really heard the motor I thought it was going to fall out of the car or something.

Later today my daughter, her husband, and son decided to go for a hike.  I said, “Me too!” and my daughter inquired as to whether I was permitted to walk.  “Yes!”  I had permission to walk – the right half of my upper half may be broken, but the other bits and bobs are working as well as they did before.

I put on my cross-trainers (good for anything from aerobics to weight training – certainly good for hiking, right?), got out my walking poles with the nice pointy tips on them and we piled into the car to head to the hiking trails.  The kids learned something new – there is a calorie free/carb free version of Powerade Zero to be had at the store.  And I got to walk. (Big cheesy grin)

We went to Willard Brook State Forest and started out on the Friends Trail, then veered off on a Yellow trail.  I’d guess we walked about a mile or more before we headed back.  The trail was sometimes broad and flat, sometimes rather steep and narrow, filled with standing water, rocks, and even a couple of fallen trees.  I never slipped, tripped or stumbled even once and never needed to depend on the walking poles. I’m very sure footed except on extremely slick surfaces – where almost anyone will have a problem – or if I am tangled up by wires or ropes.

I had a blast. My grandson and I often outpaced the grownups (I guess this means I am not a grownup).  I could have gone twice as far, but I suppose it is good to start slowly. My only gripe is that it costs $5 to park and who can pay THAT every day?  I’d like to go back, but I need to find a way to get in without paying that amount of money.

I saw movement by the trail and pointed out a tiny brown toad – probably not the size of a quarter – to my grandson and daughter.  I’m good at seeing things. Hearing? Meh.

All the time we were there I kept hearing rushing water, like a waterfall.  Finally I asked my son-in-law where the rushing water was.  He told me it was the wind in the leaves of the trees.  There was wind overhead but not much near the ground – more is the pity, as there were lots of gnats. Again I wondered what the difference is between the rushing of wind through the leaves of the trees and a distant waterfall.  I guess I will never know.

Often I hear a sound and guess at what it could be. Sometimes I’m right.  Sometimes I’m wrong.  Environmental noises are sometimes really tough.  I visited my friend, Domi, yesterday and I kept hearing little noises that sounded like the bubbling mud pots of Yellowstone as I remember them. It was her dishwasher.

Mabon


Today is Mabon, the second harvest.  The first was Lammas (Lughnassadh).  It is an equinox festival.  The fruits of the field are coming in.  We’ve got locally grown pumpkins, peaches (sort of small this year) and other fruits.  The corn of various types have been harvested.  The early veggies are all picked unless there was a second planting during mid-summer.  The next major time of year for farmers is in the fall when the slaughter of animals took place.

When I lived on a farm in Idaho I was more in tune with the cycles of the earth.  I still don’t need a calendar to tell me the season.  I look to the world around me.  The trees are now tipped with scarlet, orange, and gold.  The hydrangeas are starting to turn myriad colors.  The crops – vegetable and fruit – are largely in, although some still linger.

When I was a child this part of summer was filled with work. Mom and I harvested peas, beans, raspberries, carrots, corn, and more from our garden.  We canned and froze for the winter ahead.  I went to the orchards and collected windfall fruit for a pittance and we turned it into jams, jellies, and preserves.  I climbed the peach tree on the back ditch and got all the peaches I could.  We traded tomato jelly, jam, and aspic for the cherries (earlier in the year) from a blind friend’s tree – and we were all happy.  Neighbors cringed to see me coming with baskets of squash – they always produce too much.  (laughter)

I was a bit less enthusiastic about harvesting our chickens.  I was the head holder while Dad was the neck chopper.  I was the one who hung them on the clothesline to bleed out or chased them around the yard if they got loose headless.   Man, those birds could run!  I learned to dip the carcass in scalding water and pluck the feathers before we processed them for the winter.  The turkeys – they were mean and they were big – I never got to participate with thanksgiving dinner.  We wintered over the quackless ducks 🙂 I loved those ducks!

I miss being a part of the circle of the year.  Today we’re so disconnected from the land.  I’d love to raise chickens in the back yard, but no-go where I live.  I’d love to have all sorts of critters and plants.  But plants take water and water costs money and we all live crammed together and people today think food plants are ugly, because they are stupid used to getting everything at the store.

Even as a HoH little kid I could easily get along on our little farm. It wasn’t much, mostly Mom’s garden, the horses, the birds and the field out back, but I loved watching the polywogs in the ditch grow into frogs, loved feeding the horses the white bases of the bulrushes, harvesting the bulrushes and corn stalks as decorations.  It was another world.  My daughter and grandkids will never know it – and that’s sad.

May you have a blessed and joyous Mabon celebration!

Maybe I am just a wee bit less energetic


I normally think I am up for just about anything. I go to the gym, walk the dog, work at starting a law business, run thither and yon. So taking the grandkids to visit Mom at Mass General Hospital was a walk in the park, right? (I hear parents laughing quietly up their sleeves.)

So, I grab the car and drive about an hour away to where the kids are. Run to the school to pick up the art project, realize the kids have to take the bus because the art project takes up too much room in my car. Stop by the local donut shop and get myself what amounts to a Caf-Pow and a dozen very large donut holes – three kids/four donut holes, right? (Stop laughing, parental people.)

Meet the eldest one at the house, get the project in, spill coffee on my car hood as I’m cleaning it out for the little ones. Get the booster seat, organize toileting, gathering drinks (after all, I have those 12 large donut holes) and then load the highschooler, gradeschooler and kindergartner into the car and head to Boston on Route 2 guided by the GPS. Did I mention, I don’t usually take Route 2?

Remember my math? 12 donut holes – 3 kids. When the teenager gets the donut bag back from the peanut gallery there are no donut holes. The gradeschooler ate 9. So I’m scouting around for a donut shop or something – fast food of some kind – to feed the starving teen (who is not pleased). Can’t find a blooming thing. Run into traffic jams. Bumper to bumper stuff. Isn’t everyone supposed to be heading OUT of Boston for the weekend? Two hours later we make it to Fresh Pond Mall, by which time the little guy is sitting in lemonade and all the kids want food. Stop at a Dunkin and get milk, bagels and another donut for the little guy. Why a donut for him? Because I’m too worn out to tell him no.

Finally make it to the hospital. By this time I’ve been on the road for 3 and a half hours since I left my office. The kids are bored, need to use the bathroom again and about this time I find out the teenager had a study date – has to do projects and her finals are next week. So she’s peeved at having to go. Meanwhile, the gradeschooler is supposed to be at a sleepover that we’re not going to make in time. I feel so used…

So we make a mad dash to Mom’s room and spend a little over an hour at which point I dash the kids to the car, and take off for their home. It’s been a long day, so of course, the tired kids in the back seat start biting, punching and yukking like the Three Stooges – alternately swinging between mayhem and hysteria. It is a darn good thing I am half deaf or I’d be entirely deafened by the noise level. Periodically the teenager and I attempt to restore order in the back seat. I ponder putting the big kid back there and the gradeschooler in front, but she’s not big enough for the front seat yet. We hear the sounds of ripping, which is the kindergartener turning his homework and projects into confetti. (Sounds of grandmother beating head on steering wheel.)

We actually make pretty good time to Woburn as I am NOT taking Rt. 2 again, where we stop at Wendy’s for dinner (this is not a low-cal day for me, it seems) and then cut through the back roads to Rt. 3 and off we go as fast as I can manage without getting a ticket. Meanwhile, the little kids have turned into little hooligans and are totally out of control. The teenager threatens to make them walk home. I think of the fact their father considered taking them to Montreal and realized he would not have one black hair left on his head if he did – or maybe any hair at all!

Drop the oldest off for her study date – sort of late, but she stays up late on the weekends. I take the little ones home. Dad is looking sort of fried. I know the feeling. He’s been shopping for Father’s day for his Dad and getting things for the kids as well. I tell him the kindergartener reeks of lemonade and spilled milk and offer to take the gradeschooler to her sleepover. First he says, no, no, you’ve done enough, it’s so late…then he realizes he is overwhelmed too. I take the gradeschooler so he can take care of the kindergartner.

On the way home I recognize that I still have the booster seat and the kindergardener’s toys. Small problem – ignore. Get to my abode about 9 hours after I left my office. Drag in and stagger over to the couch where I am greeted by the dog who desperately needs his own toileting. Take dog out, come back in, collapse.

Okay, I admit it – I can no longer keep up with three kids who are on overdrive on a Friday afternoon just days from the end of the school year. They need someone younger – much younger – with better hearing and more stamina. Holy moly. Beatles song about being 64… fade to black.

A Love Story


I love my Mom. Until recently I don’t think I realized how truly blessed I am to have had her in my life.

On a women’s forum the question came up as to whether we wanted to be like our mother or not and how successful we’d been in that goal. I responded that if I were half the woman my Mom was that I’d be a remarkable human being. Over the next couple weeks others posted their observations about their mothers poor decision-making, angry personalities or other decided failings.

Laughter:  So many times Mom and I laughed until we cried, the tears of laughter streaming down our faces like rivers of joy. Sometimes we had to hang on each other or risk falling down and rolling around on the floor. I can’t think of one other person in my life I’ve shared that sort of laughter with. I guess she took that particular form of joy along with her when she left.

Renaissance Woman:  Mom sewed clothes, tailored, founded and ran her own business, did her own bookkeeping, handled all the production schedules, did all the record keeping and ordering, did the production work and the delivery and did it looking like a classy Western businesswoman. She cooked, cleaned, organized the house, raised a garden the size of a small Eastern state – canning and freezing food – and sending me door to door to give away all the food we overproduced and couldn’t eat.  Mom played the piano, taught me the joys of the Polish musical genius, Frederic Chopin, and accompanied me when I was studying voice. If it wasn’t for her I might never have beaten dyslexia. She found ways to help me before there was any treatment for something she didn’t know I had. She was amazing in what she could do. I am still astounded by her capacity for being able to do seemingly everything she turned her hand and mind to.

Gifts:  Mom was warm, loving, positive, genuinely caring, kind, compassionate, the kind of person who invested in making the lives of others better. She gave of herself in so many ways to so many people. She taught me it is not the words we say, but the acts we perform that make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others. She practically fed another family who were having hard times. Mom was truly humble; she never sought any recognition for all her good works – which were legion.  She is the reason I ended up in social work – helping others one life at a time.

I’m sure that there were times she must have shaken her head over me, but she never made me feel as if I was a screw-up.  She had endless patience with me – and as an ADD/ADHD, dyslexic hard-of-hearing kid with dyscalculia I bet I was a handful.

Mom did tell me once I was the hardest kid to raise because I watched my older sister and brother and in trying not to make the same mistakes I made all new ones she didn’t anticipate.

I think this illustrates her point: I remember one night I picked up a bottle of Strawberry wine that was on the counter. My sister-in-law’s mom had made it for them.  I peered at it because it looked like tomatoes “working” (spoiling) to me.  Just then the top blew off (thank heavens the bottle didn’t explode!) and shot rotting strawberry wine all over.  I was trying to get it over the sink while it geysered – slipping and sliding as the rotten wine spurted through my fingers.  It was like trying to hold warm, shaken soda in a bottle.  I’m not sure I managed to get much down the drain because it was everywhere on Mom’s bone-white kitchen walls and ceiling – and me.  It was running down my hair, dripping in my eyes, and I reeked of rotten wine. I tried to get it cleaned up as best I could and stripped off most of my soaked and stinking clothing.  Then I had to wake Mom up because it was such a disaster.  She opened her eyes and groaned, “Oh, my God, you’re drunk.” It took the better part of the rest of the night to clean the kitchen. We found rotten strawberry drops for months.  It is like confetti – confetti lives on in shag carpets forever.  We could not clean the stain off the walls. I had to primer them – twice – and repaint them. My clothes never did come clean and I smelled like rotten strawberries for a couple of days even after repeated scrubbings. That’s what she meant, I think, by the kind of things I got into.  And no, I was not drunk.  I was sober as a judge.

I can’t remember one time she lost her temper with me. There must have been at least once, but I don’t remember it – or maybe she really was the Saint I remember her to be.

And I can’t remember ever being really upset with her except the time she ran over my foot with the car. It was the only time I ever remember yelling at her.  Of course, I was hopping around holding my bruised foot at the time. I did apologize later.  She didn’t mean to run over my foot, after all.  And we both learned something from it – like the fact I needed to get out of the way when she pulled out of the driveway.

If there is an after world – something none of us will be able to ascertain for sure until we are dead – hers is the first face I want to see, the first arms I want to fall into, and I want to laugh until the tears run down our faces and we have to hold each other for eternity to keep from falling down and rolling around on the floor in helpless laughter.  Later, I’d like to meet her father, but I want to spend the first few eons with her.

Mom… Miss ya.  Mean it.  You’re my hero.  You always have been. You always will be.  I have done my best to model my life on yours; avoiding the few potholes you fell into during your life journey.  Our lives might not have been able to be more different if I tried, but I’ve always put my actions first and words second. I hope you approve. I could not, in any reality, wish for a better mother than you.  It is a love story – I love you  now and forever.  If there is one thing I have learned it is that love never dies.

Banana meatloaf


Yea, verily, I say unto you than in the land of Idaho there was a housewife of German extraction who made the best German food.  We are talking dumpings so light they had to be held down lest they drift off.  (Yes, I still have the recipe.)  However, her husband did not care for German food so she toiled day and night learning American cuisine with some remarkable results.  We shall, for the nonce, pass by the over-cooked soggy spaghetti made with cream of tomato soup (shudder). This trip down memory lane is more along the line of the (for the time) weird.

Said Germanic extraction housewife loved getting recipes from ladies’ magazines.  Lady’s Home Journal.  Redbook.  You know the drill.  And there came a day when she proudly presented: Banana meatloaf.

At the best of times meatloaf has always given me an Alka-Seltzer moment.  I had the same relationship with any meat mixed with bread or breadcrumbs until I had stomach surgery.  It wasn’t that it tasted bad, simply that I was really good friends with Tums, Mylanta, and old plop-plop fizz-fizz until it passed through my miserable stomach (thanks for the lousy stomach, Dad.)   So I was ready to endure the pain on a more or less weekly basis – that is, until the meatloaf with the banana down the middle with mustard glaze on top.  

The crazy thing is that there is now an actual recipe for something akin to it, merely involving mashed banana meatloaf.  But in days of yore the husband decided to eat out with friends that night and the daughter of the household begged off saying she was not hungry.

It was not until years later that I realized the recipe likely called for plantain – of which we probably had none in rural Idaho. What I do remember is said housewife doggedly eating her way through an entire meatloaf one week so as not to have it go to waste.  It was really doomed from the beginning since a sweet mustard sauce (gag) added just one more layer of shudder to the concoction – at least for the teenage daughter in the family.

Odd what we remember.  If she were alive I wonder if it would even be a blip on her radar screen?  Or if it would rank right up there with the time my brother threw a handful of dried hot peppers in the chicken soup, fishing them out before we noticed, and it was so hot that he was the only one who could eat it.  In fact, our intrepid cook thought the soup had rat poison added to it. I think my brother had a gallon of soup to eat and that time the cook and the little kid went out to eat.

One hand clapping


What is the sound of one hand clapping? Of liquid turning into droplets and expanding through space with a sound something like “Kerfloof!”  Is there a name to that sound?  I’d be satisfied, I suppose, with the science behind the event.

I used to be a diet soda addict. Now I rarely drink one. Last night I opened up a can of Diet Cherry DP. (You’ll see why this is relevant soon.) I tend to drink everything at room temperature, so I just popped the top and was running around, moving laundry and stuff from the ground floor to the top floor. On the last trip I took a few hand-held items and the recently opened room temp DP.

I swear, I just grazed the dog gate with the can.

Visualize a cartoon explosion.

The can made a strange sound which defies description – sort of like a wheeze and cough – and flexed like a wild thing. A mist of droplets erupted, filling the air around me, shooting up the walls and staircase raining on the floor, attacking the walls behind me, splattering the front door, shooting across to the oxblood leather recliner. All in a heartbeat.

I just stood there as the mist settled around me.. dripping off my glasses. The dog raised his head and looked up at me as if to say, “Whatever happened, I am NOT responsible.”

This is a white on white house. Beads of Diet Cherry DP (which, by the way, are a lovely sort of translucent claret color) trickled down the walls and pooled on the light wood of the stair treads.

While I was washing walls, doors, floors, stair treads and almost anything else in the eruption area, I noticed the soda can’s little pop-top lid buckled outwards. Apparently that scrape had set the warm soda’s bubbles into geyser mode.  The remaining sip was flat as distilled water.

This, plus the color, put me in mind of a time when I was in my late teens and came home rather late one night. I noticed a bottle of strawberry wine made by a relative which was sitting on the counter. As I eyeballed it, it seemed to me to be “working” like I remembered home canned tomatoes could be “working” (spoiling, rotting, turning to poison with botulism) and I picked it up to get a better look at it. Was this what wine was supposed to look like?  It was a mystery to me.

Just as I was holding it up to my nose to get a really good look, the cork popped out in a rotten strawberry wine geyser.  Please note, my mother’s kitchen was bone white done in an eggshell finish.  I smacked my hand over the top of the bottle (but not before the wine shot up to the ceiling and over the entire kitchen) and it shot between my fingers like Old Faithful. While saying, “Shit! SHIT! SHIT!” I’m trying to get the bottle over the sink, while slipping and sliding in the strawberry wine all over the floor.

Once I was able to towel off enough that I would not leave a boozy trail through the house, I tiptoed to my mother’s bedside and whispered rather urgently, “Mom. Mom! We have a problem.”  She rolled over, inhaled the scent of horrific strawberry wine and groaned, “Oh, my God! You’re drunk!”  Not hardly, Mom, not hardly.

It took hours to clean the kitchen. My Dad ranted and raved that the bottle could have exploded in my hand and killed me. (Who knew?) In the end we had to repaint the kitchen, using sealer to keep the red wine stains from bleeding through.

However, Diet Cherry DP does not permanently stain walls!  And since there’s no sugar in it, there’s no sticky residue. And the bottom stairs are now squeaky clean.  As are the walls and the floor and the door and the …

So what is the sound of liquid gone mad?  Is it something more than the sound of one hand clapping?

The Sand Castle


A story of love…

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her Mommy and her Grandma and Grandpa. One day she gained a Daddy of the heart and a Nana and a Poppa of the heart.  She was very happy.

She loved her Grandma’s little sand castles made of glittering sand. Especially the big black one with the curving road up to the front door and all the rooms. One day, the little girl – a little princess in oh, so many ways – told her Grandma that she wanted to live in the sand castle for ever and ever.

There was room there for everyone, she explained. Mommy and Daddy. Grandma and Grandpa.  Nana and Poppa.  Room for her and even rooms for a little brother or sister – or one of both.  All this little princess knew is that you can never have too many people who love you and you’re happier and safer if all the people you love care about each other and are together forever. It makes life so much better, you know. The little girl – a princess, in so many ways – was also a very, very wise child.  Quite often children are much wiser than we give them credit for.

Grandma agreed that would be wonderful. And each time they looked at the sand castle the little girl pointed out where her room would be.  Where Grandma and Grandpa would be.  Where Nana and Poppa would be.  And she dreamed of love everlasting.  Such a precious thing to have – love and acceptance and safety and warmth and joy.

Grandma always remembered that day. Every time she looks at the black sandcastle that glitters in the light, she wonders if…  If Grandpa might still be in one wing, happily watching little children after the tutor let them go for the day. Or if the Nana and Poppa and Grandma and Grandpa might have been able to make the castle such a happy and loving place that the King and Queen and both the Princesses and the little Prince would be happy forever.

It used to be that little Princesses and Princes had extended family to take the pressure off the King and Queen who were busy running the Kingdom. There are never too many people to love you. Grandma cannot help but wonder if dividing all the kingdoms into little pieces means the future Kings and Queens just don’t get all that they need and the Kings and Queens have to work too hard.

It is easy to say that things happen and we should all just buck up and accept that life is hard, at best, and kids must learn to cope.  But my sandcastle says otherwise.

When dreams die, when the sand castles fall apart, it is a sad thing. For children. For parents. For grandparents. Perhaps it is time to dream, again, of sand castles in modern form and love and respect and joy and acceptance. And hope there is, somewhere, a wizard of great power who can make it so.  Or maybe, next time, it can be a lighthouse – something that exists in this world.

It’s all my daughter’s fault :^)


I remember the day clearly.  I walked into my daughter’s home, looked at her and said, “Wow!  You look GREAT!” She looked dewy and fresh and yet she was not wearing a speck of makeup.  Then I looked again.  “You look like you’re not wearing makeup.  But you HAVE to be wearing makeup because I’m not seeing those angel wing freckles across your nose.  Tell me!”

And thus it began.  My love affair with Bare Minerals aka Bare Escentuals, probably aka a lot of other names.  First it was just the basic kit.  Now I have an antique commode drawer full of the stuff. $20 here, $40 there, gift cards from friends to feed my addiction.

My oldest granddaughter wears it.  My daughter wears it.  I’ve converted at least two friends.  It’s all her fault, you know.  If I’d never seen her looking so fabulous I’d never have gone there. And darn it, she continues to look wonderful!

We talk about how parents influence children.  It works both ways.  Children influence parents as well.

Last night a student said, “You look like a movie star.”  (I figure she’s talking about a gracefully aging movie star – maybe Lucy in her later years.)  We had the makeup discussion.  Uh, huh, just see what you’ve done, daughter of mine?  You’ve always been such a trend setter and now you’ve done it again.

I’m afraid to ask how she manages to have her hair look so beautiful.  I’m not sure I can afford it.

Domestic Violence – The War On Women


I hope everyone will take the opportunity to watch this really awesome video created by Deaf Hope, Inc.  It is closed captioned for the hearing.  There’s a message there for anyone who has a woman or little girl in their life.

More women have been killed in domestic violence situations in the last 5 years than all of the American military members in Iraq AND Afghanistan during that same period of time.

I volunteer legal services for those suffering from domestic violence.  Please consider what you could do to end this problem.