Monday, May 30, 2011

Whiney Week

This has been an absolutely cruddy week. I returned home from Iowa on Sunday, got sick on Monday with an upper respiratory infection and have been feeling lousy ever since. I went to the doctor and he gave me "the works"--antibiotic, steroid shot, cough medicine, nose spray--all of which helped the infection but have made me so sleepy I feel like I'm living in a parallel universe. This is absolutely the strangest feeling, like I'm walking around in my sleep, seeing the world through fuzzy glasses. My cats are annoyed with me; I have not encouraged them to play with me. The one thing I managed to get done on schedule was water my grass. I'm having some planting done and I'm following orders to water every day--we're in the midst of a drought. I spent most of the week dozing, reading, watching TV shows that did not require thinking. I hate being this way, behind on everything but without enough energy to care. Is that one year older making a difference? I hope not. Hopefully, I'll be my usual cheery self in a few days.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Books I've Read in May

Read, read, read. That's all I've done the last week while laid up with a miserable upper respiratory infection. Here's my reading for May:

Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) I haven't read an "in Death" book in a while but this is one of the better ones. Eve Dallas is at her usual peak performance as she solves the murder of a much-admired billionaire. Fun reading.

The Reef by Nora Roberts. One of her big romance novels and, again, a better one. Treasure hunting, deception, lots of hot, steamy love scenes.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I had never read this, mentioned as one of the great gothic stories of all time. Two young boys in a small town get mixed up with a sinister, supernatural carnival. I found it rather draggy. Not a keeper for me. Now, if I could locate the ISBN number, I'd list it on Paperback Swap, but for some reason, I can't.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. A fry cook with a gift for communicating with the dead tries to avert a tragedy in a small California town. Quirky characters, "different" kind of mystery. Fun.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. My serious book for the month. Winner of this year's Pulitzer for general non-fiction, it's a long but fascinating look into the science and treatment of cancer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quote for the Week by Erma Brombeck

Passing the Purple Hat to You

IN honor of women's history month and in memory of Erma Bombeck who lost her fight with cancer.

Pass this on to five women that you want watched over.

If you don't know five women to pass this on to, one will do just fine.

(written after she found out she was dying of cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you' More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it, and really see it . . live it and never give it back.

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Send this on to all the women you are grateful to have as friends.

Maybe we should all grab that purple hat earlier.

Please send this to five phenomenal women today in celebration of Beautiful Women's Month.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stones or Flowers: A Visit to my Husband's Grave

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to Iowa to visit my late husband's grave and to spend time with his family. The cemetery sits on the outskirts of the small town where Ralph grew up, across the highway from a field. The graves there are adorned with flowers, some fresh, others artificial. I don't place flowers on his grave.

It is a Jewish custom to leave a small rock on a gravestone each time you visit. It is a sign of respect and caring for the dead to place a pebble there. If you walk through a Jewish cemetery, you will see a row of pebbles on top of each gravestone. Although Ralph was not Jewish (which is why we won't be buried next to one another)I maintain this custom. Flowers wilt; rocks last, just as love and memories will last.

Perhaps Jewish graves look drab, but Jewish burial customs and funeral rites are austere. No music, no flowers, no special funeral clothes--just a shroud. The casket is made completely of wood. Not just a plain pine box--many Jewish coffins are beautiful, but no metal is used. Jews are buried as soon as possible after death, with no embalming, and the wooden casket ensures that the body will return to the earth from which it came. The service ends with the Mourner's Kaddish, a prayer that speaks, not of death, but of the majesty of God.

Ralph had a Christian funeral, as he should have, but my tiny pebbles that march across his grave are a sign that love between an interfaith couple can flourish and last.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quote for the Week

Since I'm thinking about birthdays....

Inside every older person is a younger person -
wondering what the hell happened.
- Cora Harvey Armstrong

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Year

Time slips by. Next Monday, May 23, I'll be another year older. Well, I like to think that literally I'll be only another day older, but there will definitely be a new number to add to my age. Strange, because inside I'm sure I'm sixteen. A wiser sixteen, with more patience and hopefully more common sense. I'm not as apt to lose my temper or cry at the slightest thing; in other words, I've learned not to sweat the small stuff.

What if I could live life all over again? I would be more adventurous, less shy (although I recently heard shy people are hard-wired for that trait). I'd make more savvy investments--the future comes faster than I ever thought. I'd learn to be more independent, I'd analyze situations more thoughtfully. I wouldn't worry; I'd realize worrying doesn't solve problems, just keeps you up at night.

Or maybe I wouldn't change at all. There's an old play called Dear Brutus in which a group of people are each given another chance at life, an opportunity to change the "if only's," to be better people, more insightful, luckier at love and career. What happens? Each makes the same mistakes the second time around. The title of the play comes from a quote in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves than we are underlings."

Could I change the qualities I don't like in myself? Would I? No one gets that second chance.

What would you do differently if you had a chance to do it all over again?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thursday Review: The Transition Network

A couple of years ago I was browsing through Borders, looking for nothing in particular when I came across a book called Smart Women Don't Retire: They Break Free. The title intrigued me, but what could this book do for me? Was I really thinking about retirement? And did I need another volume to add to my TBR file? No. I put the book back and went home.

In my study, my mind drifted back to the book. It seemed to call to me. Thinking "I'm nuts," I got out my car keys, picked up my purse and went back to Borders. I bought the book and that was one of the luckiest purchaes I ever made.

Not only did it have useful information, it introduced me to The Trnasition Network, a national organization for woman 50 and over looking for what's next. I checked their website and there was a Houston chapter. I attended the next meeting and met a group of dynamic women who have since become an important part of my life. These women are or have been professionals. They are thoughtful and interested in all aspects of the second half of life. Some are transitioning into retirement, but TTN isn't just about that. It focuses on transition to new careers, new relationships, new stages of life. Our group has a monthly "conversation." We've talked about resilience, aging parents, travel, bucket lists, and have even had forthright conversations about sex.

We have subgroups as well--on retirement, end of life issues, cooking. We've even written an anthology of transition stories, which will be out later this year.

Check out TTN's website at

Monday, May 9, 2011

Quote for the Week

As a speech pathologist, this is one of my favorite quotes:

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

This was forwarded to me by a friend, and I thought I'd pass it along.

It all began to make sense -- the blank stares, the lack of
> response, the way one of the kids would walk into the room while I'm on the
> phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm
> on the phone?'
> Obviously
> not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or
> even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm
> invisible. The invisible Mom.Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more!
> Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??
> Some
> days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask,
> 'What time is it ?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the
> Disney Channel?' I'm a taxi for order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
> Some
> days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock? Where's my phone? What's for
> dinner?'
> I
> was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that
> studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the
> peanut butter, never to be seen again She's going, she's going, she's gone!
> One
> night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend
> from England . She had just returned from a fabulous trip, and she was going on
> and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at
> the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel
> sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a
> beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on
> the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it
> to me until I read her inscription:
> 'With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
> (What a beautiful gift she gave me)
> In the days ahead I would read - no, devoured - the book. And I
> would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which
> I could pattern my work:
> 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their
> names
> 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see
> finished.
> 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
> 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God
> saw everything.
> A
> story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral
> while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the
> inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so
> much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No
> one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
> I
> closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if
> I heard God whispering to me, I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every
> day, even when no one around you does.
> No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no
> cupcake you've baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small
> for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you
> can't see right now what it will become.
> I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of
> the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on
> something that their name will never be on.
> When
> I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing
> home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and
> bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses
> all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a monument to myself.
> I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to
> say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're
> gonna love it there...'
> As
> mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it
> right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at
> what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the
> sacrifices of invisible mothers.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thanks to

Many thanks to Melissa Kline for the Versatile Blogger Award. I'm displaying it proudly. Please visit Melissa's site--see link above.

Now I'm passing the award on to the following bloggers (Note that I'm not including the 26 I listed from the A to Z Challenge. Everyone should have a chance for an award, don't you agree?\

And here are my secrets. That's part of the deal. If you get the award, you direct traffic to the person who gave it to you, pass it on to 15 other bloggers, and tell 7to 10 secrets about yourself. I listed 25 facts about me, so I think these secrets have to be different. Here goes:

1. The only time I played hooky in school was when the art teacher said the next time we came to her class we had to draw something besides a house and a tree, and I knew I couldn't. (Still can't.)

2. I can't eat chocolate; it gives me migraine. (My life is tragic, isn't it?)

3. I once spent the night in the deserted Minneapolis airport when my plane got in past mightnight.

4. I know the capitals of all 50 states.

5. I have been in 44 of the 50 states. I haven't visited Rhode Island, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, or Montana.

6. I caught chicken pox from a child the first year I worked as a speech pathologist and had to cancel my New Year's Eve date. He didn't believe my story and called at midnight to be sure I was home.

7. My favorite class in high school was Latin. Our Latin teacher was so beloved that her students raised money to buy her a ticket to Rome, to fulfill her lifelong dream.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thursday Review:

Here's one of my favotie sites on the World Wide Web. If you want to be healthy--and who doesn't?--this is the place to go for tips on what to eat, vitamin supplements, exercise videos, games to keep your brain young, recipes, latest healt info, and, of course the Real Age Test.

Maybe you were 40 on your last birthday, but your "real age" might be 35 or 45 or even 50. Take the test--be honest--and find out. Get tips to take months or years off your chronological age; you can have them sent to your email.

Stay healthy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Quote for the Week

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly,

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams go,
Life is a barren field,
Frozen with snow

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on the A to Z Blogging Challenge

What, no more letters? Nothing past Z? I've gotten so used to crafting my blog posts around letters, I hardly know what to do.

The A to Z Challenge was amazing! I spent all my free time in April exploring the blogosphere. I feel like I've been on a mega-vacation, with over 1200 destinations and now I'm back, jet-lagged and spacey, my brain overflowing with memories of all the places I've visited.

I worked hard. I learned from other bloggers, even got my blog re-designed. I've met fascinating people. I've gained new followers. I'm addicted--can't wait until next year.

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