I’ve discovered over the years that I have a high pain tolerance – I don’t say this is a good thing – it’s just a fact.  I’m not sure if this is something you’re born with or if you develop it over time….. I’ve gotten migraines since I was a child – as an adult at one point I would get two per week and they would last three days at least.   Having small children, there was no laying down – I’d put on my huge, dark sunglasses and it was business as usual.

It really became evident during my first delivery, a C-section.  The epidural wore off around the time of the actual delivery.  Let me tell you that is one big ouch.  I had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to feel ANYTHING, so I didn’t say a word.  I just wanted to get it over with.  The doctor noticed that my tissue was twitching – my greater omentum – which signaled that feeling was returning to the area.   This was the first day on the job for the anesthesiologist…. and probably her last.  My doctor wasn’t very happy with her.

It also served me well during the pulling of my wisdom teeth.  All four wisdom teeth in one day, wide awake, ineffective novocaine (which finally kicked in on the way home), no painkillers, walked home after and went to pick up my daughters at school.  I never thought anything of it until my daughter had her wisdom teeth out.  Her doctor took a much more humane approach.  Thank God.

Emotionally my pain tolerance has always been decently high – or at least I could contain it until an appropriate time to let loose.  I have been able to pick myself up, prioritize what needs to be done, and move forward.  I wouldn’t “lose” it until everything had been dealt with.

A couple of years ago things started hurting more.   The bouncing back took a little longer… the tears flowed more readily.

Last Memorial Day my precious Golden Retriever, Zeus,  took one last stroll around my flower beds and then strolled over the Rainbow Bridge and out of my life.  At that second something broke inside me.  He was my best friend, my confidante, the man in my life.  He loved me completely and unconditionally, as only Goldens can.   He had been with me for almost twelve years – years of major life changes – painful divorce, moving, going back to work, the death of my Dad.  As long as I could wrap my arms around him and look into his loving eyes, I knew everything would be okay.  When nobody else loved me, he still did.

And in a second he was gone.  And it was unbearable.  It is STILL unbearable.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are worse things in the world… and many people have much bigger tragedies.

But I had been through a lot…. one thing on top of another.  I know you understand – it’s not like one thing goes wrong and then everything in life ceases while you deal with that one thing.  The reality is that when things are going wrong, there is no break – more things cave in on you before you can struggle to your feet.

In no way does my life compare with that of Mother Teresa, but I do love what she said; “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”

I think He trusted me a little too much last Memorial Day.

But I learned something from this to use in this redefining of myself at 60.   Love unconditionally.  Be Loyal.  Be supportive of your loved ones.  Be tolerant when someone is having a bad day.  Words aren’t always necessary.   Make time for hugs.  Greet people with happiness and friendship.  Avoid those that can’t do the same.

And always take time for one last stroll around the garden.

Posted in 60, Aging, c-section, Children, death, dentist, Dog, Dogs, emotions, epidural, Family, Golden Retriever, Life, life lesson, Love, migraine, Oldage, Over50, pain, pain tolerance, Rainbow Bridge, stress, Uncategorized, unconditional love, wisdom teeth | Leave a comment

Admitting My Weakness….

On the road to self-improvement, it is important to be able to honestly assess one’s strengths and weaknesses.  If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we ever improve our lives, and overcome our foibles?

It’s never pleasant to acknowledge our faults.  (I also am not comfortable finding good qualities in myself… but that’s a problem for another day).  However, as I’m working my way through the spring cleaning of my home and myself, one glaring weakness came to light…. I have a serious problem…..a major weakness.  You might even call it an obsession.


I cannot resist yarn.

There, I’ve said it.  Admitting it is half the battle,so I’ve been told.  So I’ll say it once again.

I cannot resist yarn.  I crave it.  I can’t pass it in a store.

PHEW!  I’m glad I got that off my chest.

As you know, I am now 60, so we have to assume that at least half my life is over (haha) – unless I have amazing genetics about which I know nothing.

If I live another 30 years, I would have to knit nonstop to use up the stash of yarn I have at home.   I’m not talking a few bags of it.  I’m talking big rubbermaid bins… several of them… yarn in all colors and weights…. lovely stuff….

And of course, with my yarn collection I also have a sub-collection of knitting needles of every size and material.  The same with crochet hooks.  The madness just never ends…..

Sometimes as a treat, I will go to the local craft stores and just wander through the yarn department admiring the array of colors and textures.  At one point I would never have been able to leave without making a purchase, but I’ve gotten better – now when I feel my palms start to sweat, I make a beeline for the door.   A few minutes in the car breathing into a paper bag, and I’m good to go again.  I’m only at risk when there’s a sale….. my vision is blurring just thinking of it….

I learned to knit as a very young child.  It took me a while to master casting on, so my Mom would do that part for me.   But I could knit and purl with the best of them from an early age.  I could read and follow a pattern as easily as I read my Nancy Drew books.  It got to where I’d memorize the stitch sequence in the pattern so that I could knit while watching television.

I used to knit year round – I always had a couple of projects going at the same time.  I just had to be careful not to knit with angora in the summer – too delicate to hold up in the heat.

Now my knitting is hampered not only by time constraints, but by my “winter hands” – which get dry and begin cracking in early October.  They don’t recover until May.

None of that stops me from loving yarn…. craving yarn….buying yarn.

The good thing is that, for the most part, it is a harmless obsession.  The bins take up space, but that is the only real drawback as far as I can tell.

It is beginning to look like the obsession will die out with me… my children have never learned to knit or crochet… it is a lost art…

I’d better get knitting and work my way through a bin or two….. I think there’s a yarn sale at the craft store next week……

Posted in 60, Aging, Children, craft stores, crafts, crocheting, Daughters, Family, Home, knitting, Life, Love, memories, Mom, Mother, obsession, Oldage, Over50, Parenting, relaxation, soothing, Uncategorized, yarn | Leave a comment

Spring Cleaning My Life

Things move too fast in my life.  I constantly feel like I am running a race… and losing.  It seems to me that I can only stop and smell the roses if I have a bouquet in my hand as I race along.  It’s physically and emotionally exhausting.

So what to do about it??  SPRING CLEANING!

That’s right.  It’s not just my home that needs spring cleaning – it’s my LIFE.  As surely as I have closets that have to be emptied and sorted, so too I have feelings that I have to sort through as well.   My basement needs an overhaul and so do my emotions.   I have clothing to sort by season, still wearable, donation, and trash.  I have to do the same things with my memories, and the stressors of my life.

How to go about this Spring Cleaning?

Well in the case of my home, I am trying to take it one room at a time.  Of course I get sidetracked when the room contents overlap, and I end up having to clean part of another area to relocate something from room one.    But for the most part, the plan is to take each room and work my way through it.

Take the kitchen:  a really good cleaning here requires the cabinets and refrigerator to be emptied.  Unusable or expired things have to be disposed of.   The empty spaces have to be cleaned – shelf liners, refrigerator drawers, freezer.  The contents have to be replaced with an eye towards putting the most frequently used items where they can be easily accessed.

As I’m cleaning, I can apply these same techniques to my life.  I am sorting through my emotions and my memories.  As each memory pops to the surface, I test it out to see into which category it falls;  happy, nostalgic, painful, toxic.   From there I compartmentalize them.  The happy compartment I keep in the forefront, so I can sort through it frequently.  This is filled with my children at all stages of their lives.  My pets also occupy this compartment.  My parents are here, my sisters, happy holidays, happy memories, filled with laughter and love.  All my hopes and dreams for the future are here.

Nostalgia has the next compartment – these are the memories and feelings that are linked to happiness, but have a wistful, sometimes melancholy overtone.  This compartment is one that I will open from time to time when I take a trip down “memory lane” and remember loving moments I’ve enjoyed, and loved ones that I’ve lost.  These memories overlap that first compartment; memories of holding my babies, bedtime stories told, first steps, first words, Christmases past.  Memories of my own Mom and Dad, and being a little girl again – safe and loved.  Happy thoughts that bring an ache to my heart because they were over too soon – times and events that I would love to revisit.

That third compartment is where I tuck the painful memories – and there is a small overlap here as well.  In here are the memories of sitting with my Dad in the cardiac care unit – how dear he was – how his face lit up when we arrived to spend time with him, how funny he was sitting in his bed watching Dancing With The Stars and applauding.  The times I left him at the end of visiting hours with assurances that he should buzz the nurses and I would come immediately if he needed me, and how I stopped at the nurse’s desk to say goodnight and watched his call light come on as he tested the buzzer “just to make sure I’d really come back”.   In here is the last conversation I had with my Mom; the last time I told her I loved her, the last cup of tea we had together, the last time we watched “All My Children”.  In this compartment are also the memories of the beloved pets that I’ve lost – memories of holding them in my arms at the end of their lives.  Those memories all overlap because of the love behind them.   Other painful memories exist here too wedged in the furthest corner; memories of hard times and harsh words – terrible things that can’t be unsaid or undone, but they need to be remembered because they have shaped who I am, and to remind me never to let this happen to me again.   There is no love behind those.

That last compartment is for the toxic emotions.  This is the compartment that needs the most Spring Cleaning.  In here are the things that are excruciatingly painful, frightening, filled with stress, the gut-wrenching tears, bitterness, sometimes even hate.  Emotions that I need to clean out of my life – or at least downsize.  All the real effort goes into this area – and this compartment should only be opened when I am emotionally strong enough to handle sorting through it.  I am not a big enough person as yet to forgive the pain in here, but I need to make this compartment as small as possible, and not let it take over my life.

As I work my way through my home, I make room for sunshine, flowers, fresh air, free space.

As I work my way through my life, I open the doors for more happiness and love, an appreciation of who I am and how far I’ve come, and a peaceful and contented future.



Posted in 60, Aging, Christmas, Dad, Daughters, death, Dogs, emotions, Family, healthy changes, Home, Life, life lesson, Love, memories, Mom, New Beginning, new me, Oldage, Over50, pain, Parenting, peace, relaxation, spring cleaning, stress, Uncategorized, unconditional love | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Sweet 60???

You don’t see it coming….you are too occupied with other things – with the minutiae of life…. you just aren’t paying attention.

60 crept up on me.  I remember my Mom telling me that she didn’t FEEL her age.  I didn’t “get” what she meant from the ignorant bliss of my teens, but I sure as heck get it now.  It’s not the word FEEL in the literal sense – I have the aches and pains, the reading glasses, the foods that no longer “agree with me”,   I bargain with my various joints in the morning if they will just help me get out of bed.

It’s more FEEL in that I laugh and talk with everyone I meet, I still want to play games, I am enthusiastic and excited about silly things, in fact I frequently get the “sillies”, I hold doors for “old” people who are in reality younger than I am.  In my heart I FEEL young.  It’s the nuts and bolts that betray me completely.

And things hurt more….. I used to be so optimistic… I was invincible!  When did everything begin to hurt so much?  When did I begin crying on a daily basis?  I don’t even know….  I’m just tired of hurting.

But here I am and 60 has arrived in all its glory!  And after objectively assessing myself, I have a few changes that need to be made.

  1.  Weight loss – as I’ve said before, I’ve been on a diet since the womb.  The number of pounds I’ve lost is legendary.  Unfortunately they all reattached themselves to various areas of my body.   I need to get rid of them now…. the arthritis in my knees and my blood pressure would certainly appreciate it if I’d lighten the load a bit.
  2.   Exercise – goes hand in hand with number 1.  The problem is that I have to find different ways to exercise.  There are certain motions I cannot do.   I’ve been Sweating to the Oldies with Richard Simmons for 25 years.  Love that guy.  But now some of those slick dance moves of mine are a bit of a challenge.  Got to work on that.
  3.  Career(s) – Since I’ll have to work until they carry me away, I want to enjoy what I do, and I want to be adequately compensated for it.  That all becomes more of a challenge as you get older.  The corporate world claims that there is no ageism in the workplace.  The corporate world lies.  I’ve seen it happen, I’ve experienced it myself.  There is no respect for age…. for experience.  It’s a youth oriented world, and a lot of valuable knowledge and great people are lost because of it.
  4.   Stress – I’m drowning in it.  From all directions.  And I’m tired of it, as are many of you.  This is NOT where I should be at this time in my life.  I’m resigned to some of it – but the rest has got to stop.  Somewhere along the way I deserved better.
  5.   Happiness – in theory this should not be that difficult.  It takes so little to make me happy.  I never needed expensive things.  Kindness, love, compassion, laughter, loyalty  – those are the things that make me happy.  Knowing that just once in a while I come first to someone.   The littlest things make me happy.  I set the bar too low – I should have tried for more.

So what am I going to do about it?   Well I’ll tell you….


Here is my self-proclaimed Declaration for Me;

  1.  Eliminate those extra pounds – but don’t try to do it all at once!  Eat healthy and sensibly.  Avoid those foods that make my body turn on me like a snake.  Allow myself a small treat once in a while – everything in moderation – dieting and treats!
  2.   Sensible exercise – long walks with my best fella (the man in my life is my Golden Retriever), weeding my flower garden, raking my crabgrass – and when I get those aches and pains under control, Sweatin’ to those Oldies with my buddy Richard Simmons!
  3.   Work at what I need to survive – but add something in which I take pride!  Yes, I must have that job to provide benefits.  But I can try my hand at other things too – those things that make me feel good about myself.  Show the world that I am more than just 60.
  4.   …. well I haven’t worked out what to do about the stress yet…. stay tuned for that one….
  5.   If it truly takes so little to make me happy (and it really does), then be happy in the little things.  Find happiness for myself…. be kind and compassionate to myself.  Show myself loyalty – and don’t take less from others than I give to them.                                                                                                                                                                                I can’t change myself completely – and I don’t have to.  So what if I cry at beautiful things…. and painful things…. and sad things….   I’ve earned the right to cry – for the many times that I swallowed my tears.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m 60…. I’m going to give it all my best effort and make the best of ME….                                                                                                                                                                               Check back in and I’ll let you know how it goes!
Posted in 60, Aging, Arthritis, Diet, Dieting, Dog, emotions, Family, Golden Retriever, healthy changes, healthy living, hiking, Home, Life, life lesson, Mom, moms, New Beginning, new me, Oldage, Over50, peace, relaxation, Richard Simmons, stress, sweating to the oldies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Memory of Christmas Snow


There is a lot to be said for living in the home in which you grew up.  Everything is familiar; every creaky floorboard, every squeaky stair tread.  You know which windows rattle when the wind blows.  There is a feeling of comfort and warmth and safety that can’t be equaled anywhere else.

Of course your home is full of memories.  You meet yourself at every turn – different ages, different eras.  The furniture in the living room is in the same basic position that it was in fifty years ago.  I realized the other day that I was sitting in the same spot watching the same episode of “I Love Lucy” – only fifty years later.  It was a thought-provoking awakening.   Either I was a total loser, or very lucky.  I still haven’t decided which.  Two nights ago I was watching “Petticoat Junction” reruns, and I could have sworn I smelled stuffed peppers – the meal my Mom made every Monday night.  I actually would not have been surprised to hear her call me to set the table.  I was saddened when I realized that wasn’t going to happen.

The holidays are especially rife with nostalgia.   As Christmas approaches I am reminded every year of one particular Christmas – the Christmas of 1966.

That was a turbulent time in history in many ways, and a lot of local boys were spending their holidays in the jungles of Vietnam.   But I was eight years old and full of the excitement of the holidays and having my sister, Beverly, home from the hospital.

Bev was sixteen years old and very much the big sister of our family of three girls.  She was the best big sister – she was always willing to play games with me (and she didn’t let me win – or at least not so that it was obvious), I could tell her ALL my secrets, and my Barbie dolls had a full wardrobe that she sewed for them at our new Singer sewing machine!  She never made me feel like the pest that I probably was.  Even at eight, I appreciated that.  She was also a genius at designing and drawing her own paper dolls and I had shoe boxes full of them!

Beverly was not just MY favorite… she was our middle sister, Allison’s, favorite as well.  They were at Girl Scouts together, in CYO together, and in high school together since they were only two years apart.  And she was definitely Mom and Dad’s favorite – the eldest, so dependable, and the sweetest and most even-tempered person on the planet.  Everyone loved her and no envy was possible.  It was her divine right to be loved by everyone – she deserved it, although she never saw it and wouldn’t have believed it.

So here we were, Christmas Eve of 1966 and beginning our celebration.   Christmas Eve for my family was tree trimming day for as long as I could remember.   The cookies were baked, the gifts wrapped, and my letter had been delivered to Santa.   I had begun that year’s list with my usual “St. Bernard Puppy” that topped my list every year until I was 29.  (I never did get that St. Bernard, but who knows?  Maybe Santa will bring him at some point).

Beverly, on the other hand, just had three things she wanted.   First on her list was that she be asked to her prom.  She was now a junior in high school and she was concerned that, because she was out of school so much, she wouldn’t have a date to the prom.   Even I knew this was ridiculous.   As I said, everyone loved her.  Literally.   Especially the boy that had given her a Valentine’s card every year since fourth grade.   I knew that someone would find a way to ask her, even if she didn’t know that.  And I was mildly interested in the pretty dress she would wear and the possibility of me playing dress-up in it after the event.

Second for Bev was that she receive her class ring.  Those rings had been ordered at the beginning of the year, and she was eagerly anticipating the arrival of her size four ring.  They weren’t due in for a little while, but the anticipation was getting to her!!  Anyone who has had a high school ring, knows the excitement of its arrival and the thrill of wearing it.

Last, but not least, Beverly wanted a white Christmas.  She wanted snow.  We had had a few flurries, but she had been in the hospital at the time and had not had the bed by the window.  So the snow on the ground when she got home already was “used” – dirty from tires, plowed out of the street, tracked with footprints.   Bev wanted fresh snow, Christmas snow.   The kind that only falls on Christmas Eve.

Well the weathermen had put the kibosh on that with their forecast of unseasonably warm weather and clear skies.  But I sympathized completely so I wished for snow too, as did our entire family.

All things considered, it is incredible to me in hindsight that her wishes were so few.  Beverly had been in and out of hospitals for months with increasing frequency.   On her last trip home, a wheelchair came with her.  I could tell she HATED it, but in no time at all she had accepted it and was whizzing around the house with her pug, Tiffy, in her lap – ears flying and tongue lolling (his, not hers).   I only heard her question once why God was doing this to her.  I wondered myself at the time, but being a child, could not come up with an answer.   The words “bone marrow” and “transfusion” had become commonplace around the house, but I had yet to hear the word “Leukemia”, and wouldn’t have understood it…… and I never would have connected it with my big sister.

Back to Christmas Eve…..  Dad had the tree in the stand, and had only scraped the ceiling a little bit when he stood the tree up and belatedly realized that he hadn’t trimmed enough off the top.  At least the Christmas tree top hadn’t broken this year.   The lights were lit, and the wax angel from Germany was on the tree.  Dad’s job was finished.  He disappeared to the kitchen to concoct his secret obligatory eggnog (another Christmas tradition, although I’m not sure that any of us actually LIKED it).  Mom had the hors d’oeuvres ready.  Tiffy was in his chair in the front room next to the tree so he could reach the candy canes on the bottom of the tree and the hors d’oeuvres on the table with equal ease. The ornament boxes were all accessible and opened.  Time to trim.

Mom and Allison had the top of the tree.   Beverly was responsible for the middle of the tree which was easily reached from her wheelchair.   That left me with the bottom of the tree which was just fine with me since that also included the Nativity under the tree.   I could spend all the time I wanted arranging the animals, and they would be rearranged continuously on a daily basis throughout Christmas vacation.  I never tired of handling them.

Dad returned with the Eggnog and stopped at our new Hi-fi stereo to change the record so we had new Christmas music to listen to.  Bing Crosby began singing about a “White Christmas”, and Dad sang along.

We all dug in, but each ornament had to be admired and exclaimed over.  The beautiful, colorful ones from Germany, the beaded ones from Czechoslovakia that Dad had bought the first year that he and Mom were married, the flying Stork from Lord and Taylor in Manhasset, Long Island, and all the other ones that had a million memories attached; each one carefully chosen for beauty and significance.

The trimming took a while, but in between hanging ornaments or moving sheep and camels, I would sneak a peek out the window to look for snow, and then glance around the room to find everyone doing the same thing.  But the sky couldn’t have been more clear – not a cloud in sight.

Eventually the eggnog was finished, the hors d’oeuvres disappeared (into us or the pug – who knew?)  and the trimming was done.   The dishes and glasses were whisked out to the kitchen, and the ornament boxes were packed away.  Beverly rested in her chair by the picture window admiring the beautiful tree with a sleepy (and very full) pug in her lap.

Suddenly we heard her calling us, and from all parts of the house we came running.  Her calls were never to be ignored.   She was sitting bolt upright at the window staring out into the dusk.  “LOOK!  It’s SNOWING!!”

Dad said, “It can’t be, it’s not cold enough!”

“It IS Dad!! IT IS!!  LOOK!”

SO we looked…and there it was, drifting silently past the window.  Snowflakes by the hundreds!!  Not just flurries – a full blown snowstorm!   The most beautiful one I had ever seen – or have ever seen since.

Beverly couldn’t take her eyes off it.  “Oh Mom, it’s SNOWING!”   My Mom just hugged her, with tears in her eyes.  No words were necessary… or possible.

It snowed all night, and by morning we, indeed, had a very white Christmas, as Bing Crosby had said.   Beverly spent the day pretty much glued to the window admiring the untouched, crisp, white snow which blanketed our lawn, our street, and our driveway.  For once, my Dad didn’t go out and shovel  right away.

The weathermen talked about it on the news.  It had not been a very widely spread snowstorm, and it was completely unexpected.  I’ve never seen so much snow fall on Christmas Eve since then.  But it came that year when it was needed most.

That Christmas of 1966 was Beverly’s last Christmas.   She left us on February 10 of 1967.  She was invited to the prom, but when the prom came she was already gone.   Her high school ring arrived the week after her funeral.   My Mom had called the jewelry company and tried to explain the urgency, but they didn’t understand.   Her ring is here now, completely unworn and tied with a faded ribbon.

But the Christmas snow arrived when it was needed most and made that last year a beautiful one.

As Christmas approaches this year, I will be looking for Christmas Snow.  And if it comes, I will know that my big sister is still with me.

Posted in Aging, Barbie Dolls, Big Sister, Christmas, Czechoslovakia, Dog, Dogs, Family, Germany, Girl Scouts, Home, I love Lucy, Leukemia, Life, life lesson, Love, Mom, Mom Eyes, moms, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting, Petticoat Junction, Pug, rescue, Sewing, Uncategorized, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I’ve always wanted to rescue an animal – to make a difference in some innocent baby’s life …. I’ve held my breath  through the stories of people climbing down cliffs to rescue stranded puppies, firemen carrying family pets out of burning buildings, brave souls crawling out on icy lakes to break stranded animals out with their bare hands, the fleet-of-foot dodging traffic on speeding highways to reach scared creatures on the median.   My life has been so changed by the loving pets that have owned me, that I wanted to pay this forward and change the future for another.

The reality is that I don’t climb cliffs, I dislike the cold too much to be near an icy lake, and I work five minutes from home – all on side streets.  As for firemen , there is a level of courage in that career which defies all description.  It seems I am pre-ordained to a life of “ordinary”.

The other reality would be that I have five cats, as previously mentioned.  And it’s not that I don’t have room in my heart for many more…. it’s the other places that I am full up – like my home, my bank account, my lap…..

But I digress….

Let’s rewind this picture to this past April – a Sunday specifically.  My daughters and I arrived for a late lunch at a local restaurant – one of those train station restaurants…. right by the tracks and partially composed of old train cars.  Can you see it in your mind?  Good.

As I was trailing them up the outer stairs, one of my daughters said “Oh look!  A kitten!” I turned my head and made eye contact with a little white cat… filthy, laying in a patch of sun right next to the train car, and meowing at me.  Direct eye contact, mind you.   None of that side-eye stuff.

I couldn’t get her out of my mind all through lunch.  The food was hard to swallow and turned to lead in my stomach.  I kept picturing her out there… a couple of feet from the tracks….inches from the parking lot… ugh.

Finally I spoke to God. “God”, I said, ” if that kitten is still out there when we leave, I’m going to do something about it.  I’ll leave it in Your hands.”   (I didn’t hear the thunder clap, or witness the bolt of lightning, but after uttering those words I know that they happened.)

I didn’t spot her at first as we exited the building…. but then there she was.. relocated slightly under a bush, but still meowing plaintively at me. Apparently God’s decision had been made. I dropped to my knees, put out my hand, and made that all-encompassing ‘psspssspss’ noise at her to which all cats through the ages have responded.  She trotted right over and  I was permitted to pick her up and wrap her in my jacket for the car ride to the SPCA – which was closing in 25 minutes.  God definitely had a plan for this one.  She made herself at home in the car – exploring the back seat before settling down companionably in my daughter’s lap for a snooze.2-img_1643

We arrived minutes before they closed and left her in good hands, on the proviso that as long as she wasn’t Feline Leukemia positive (because of the five at home), I wanted to adopt her.  She had been placed in my path for a reason.  Evidently five cats was not enough and there was still room at the inn….3-img_1644

Here we are seven months later.  Elsa is a beautiful girl.  Not a kitten at all when we found her, but at least a year old.  Who knows how long she had been on the street – long enough to be hit by a car at some point because both her upper and lower jaws were broken on one side and a bone was protruding through her chin.  Considering the amount of pain she must have been in, it’s a testament to her trust in us that she allowed us to help her.

No one had looked for her.  She had not been microchipped.  Yet 22-img_2029this beautiful, pure white cat was not feral at all.  Clearly she had had a home at some point.  How sad.9-img_1956

It took a while for Elsa to get used to the other cats…. and the dogs.   She accepted my senior elsa-zeus9Golden first…. naturally since he is the most gentle and he took the time to approach her slowly and sleep outside her cage at night until she trusted him.

Eventually she stopped ducking below the window sill elsa-sit1whenever a car drove by outside our home.  She no longer panics about meals, although she still likes to eat a little removed from the rest of the hoards.

Elsa likes to play with her sisters and brothers now… she loves toys, and she loves warmth.  I like to think that she has forgotten the horrible time she had – she sleeps very peacefully so I trust her dreams are happy ones.

I’ve only been back to that restaurant once since… and my eyes definitely strayed toward the train car…. but no one was there.  I guess six cats is enough for now.

Changing the life of an innocent creature is a wonderful experience, and Rescue comes in many shapes and sizes – and sometimes takes the form of a little white cat…..



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The Wonder of Pets


Growing up with pets is a wonderful experience for children.  They learn to be gentle, caring, compassionate, and responsible.  They have the wonderful experience of receiving the unconditional love that only a pet can give.  They learn patience, and the value of sharing one’s life and caring for another being.


At no time should parents expect or anticipate that a child will be solely responsible for the care of a pet.  Any parent thinking that needs shock treatments, and possibly incarceration.  Do not get your child a pet unless YOU are willing to accept the responsibility for the care yourself.  Animals are not disposable…. they are not there for our convenience or to teach lessons.  They are living beings with feelings and emotions.  They have a right to happiness, a home, food, good health care, love, and a family – FOR THE DURATION OF THEIR LIVES.  If you can’t provide this, do not get a pet.


All the wonderful experiences that pets provide for children, they also provide for adults.  My pets are companions, friends, loved ones, family.  They have provided unconditional love when I am not lovable to anyone else (I know you all understand that feeling).  They have listened to my complaints and my heartfelt thoughts…. the real benefit to this is that they cannot type or text, so my secrets  and innermost thoughts go no further.  They have soothed heartache, and heartbreak.  I can literally feel my heart rate slowing when I have one of babies snoozing on or around me.


As I’ve often said, I am a dog person.  I love them, I understand them, I relate to them, I trust them…in fact, I prefer them to most people.   However in the past seven years, I have added cats to my list of loved pets.  People often speak of how aloof cats are…how they don’t want to be petted, and they only emerge at mealtimes.

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Where do you get cats like that?  As I lower myself into a chair, they get into position…..by the time my butt hits the seat, cats are jumping into my lap from all directions.  They then go through the “kneading” process, and settle down for the duration.  I have frequently woken up with three or four of them asleep on me, from my neck on down to my ankles.  Good thing I’m tall and wide – I don’t know what they’ll do when I finish dieting and am half the woman I am now.  Maybe that’s why they keep trying to feed me cookies….


Loving pets adds quality to your life.   It is a huge commitment, but for those that love them, it is well worth the effort required.

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But as with loving anything, there is worry and pain involved.  I have cried on my pets, and I have cried over them.   I’ve run to emergency rooms with them, visited them in hospitals, given medications, administered injections, and held them in my arms at the end of their lives.  Eye drops, ear drops, vitamins, special diets – these are all part of reality.  When you take on a pet, you take on their whole lives – their babyhood, childhood, old age, health problems, behavior problems, bad habits.   If they are not trained, it’s YOUR fault – not theirs.   If they chew on your belongings, put your belongings away and crate your pet till they learn.   Same with housebreaking.   Some pets take longer than others – some breeds take longer than others.  (I have one little guy here that I hope “gets the hang of it” before I die)

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As I’m sitting here, within four feet of me there are four dogs and four cats sleeping peacefully.  The fifth cat just climbed down off the back of my chair – over my shoulder, down my right side, and onto the keyboard of my laptop.   By the way, she can’t spell.   As I typed this, she looked knowledgeably at the screen, then turned, gave me the stink eye, and bit my arm.   Why?  who knows.    Obviously she didn’t think much of what I wrote.   This is the cat who is probably the most “cat-like”.   She wants to be handled and petted when SHE wants it.  She will recline in my lap purring happily, and I can pet her 4.7 times.  After that, she will bite at any given moment with no warning.  Imagine if she didn’t like me!!   Having proven her superiority over my right arm, she is now doing a victory lap across the top of the piano.  She is one of our first cats – she feels that gives her the right to exhibit her temper upon occasion.  Just often enough to keep me in line.  The only ones who have never been on the receiving end of her ill humor are Zeus, our older Golden Retriever, and Lou-Otto, our senior Basset Hound.  She loves them without any trace of the ire that the rest of us bring out in her.


So much for dogs and cats not getting along…. another myth dispelled!


To sum up; some of my best friends are four-legged.   There have been low times in my life when the loving eyes of my boys have kept me going – when their love has dried my tears.   I am grateful to them, I love them, and I would never want to be without them!

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It’s That Time of Year

For me, “that time of year” is whatever is just beginning.  I love WINTER- the first snowfall… snowmen…. toasty warm fur lined boots, and hot steamy radiators.  Christmas lights shining in the darkness, warm mittens, hot chocolate, long icicles off the roof sparkling in the sunshine, and warm quilts to cuddle up in.

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But just about when the snow turns to muddy black slush and I think that if one more snowflake falls I will personally impale myself on one of those icicles, a patch of green appears and the first snowdrops peak out of the ground.  SPRING!!   Just in time!!!   The first robins appear;  crocus, tulips, hyacinths all show their faces, Spring rain replaces those damn snowflakes …. the lilacs fill the air with their beautiful fragrance.  Even the forsythia heralding the return of allergy season is not enough to dim my excitement!  I hop around as happy as the Easter bunny – and it takes a while for the sneezing, watery eyes, and muddy dogs to wear me down.


At some point, I begin haunting the garden centers and planning out my vegetable and flower gardens…. and I am champing at the bit for it to be warm enough to plant.   When I can’t hold back another second, SUMMER arrives in all its glory!!   Turning the soil, planting those seedlings, staking tomato plants, feeding the roses.  The heat of the sun makes me move a little slower – but that’s okay, it’s summer – time to relax!   Even mowing the crabgrass that I pass off as “lawn” is okay – it just become a matter of timing – mow early before it gets too hot – or later when it cools down.  The bees are lazily flying from blossom to blossom, and I’m lazily moseying from lawn chair to barbecue grill to air conditioning.  Lovely time of year.


Let’s face it.  There really isn’t any point at which I get tired of summer.  What is there to get tired of??  Too much sunshine?   Too many flowers?  Too much good weather??  Please.  It’s a constant source of joy!

However Summer ends of it’s own accord – whether we like it or not.  School begins for the children.  The days start getting a little shorter.  And Autumn arrives.

That’s where I am now.  The air is getting a little cooler – at night it’s good sleeping weather!  I am anticipating a few weeks from now when the air is crisp – the dry, cool bite in the breeze – still the warmth of sun, but with the promise of the winter that is yet to come.   It just makes you want to bite into an apple!   The Pumpkins and the gourds are out ….. the Indian corn is ready to be hung on the door.  Fall is here!


I am lucky to live in the Hudson Valley where we embrace our “Fallness” wholeheartedly.  We are minutes from the home of Washington Irving, and the village of Sleepy Hollow.    This whole area comes alive now with The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor, Apple and Pumpkin picking all over the county, Tours of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  Ichabod Crane doesn’t stand a chance around here, as the Headless Horseman rides again!


At this point I begin craving something else too….  my holiday lineup of cartoons.  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is first on my itinerary… Linus and Sally are waiting in the pumpkin patch, and I need to go join them.  I also have to sneak along the battle lines with Snoopy after his Sopwith Camel is shot down by the Red Baron behind enemy lines.  Afterwards, I’ll need to go visit “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and watch Ichabod attempt to court Katrina Van Tassel, until that fateful night he meets the Headless Horseman in the race for the bridge!

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I’m ready for it!   I’ve dusted off the giant black spider and the inflatable pirate ship for the front of my home.  I have my favorite pumpkin pie recipe in hand.  I’ve begun shopping for the dogs’ Halloween costumes.  (I tried costumes on the cats one year…… have you ever heard the expression about fur flying?…. yup….not doing that again…..hopefully my scars will heal eventually……)

From here on in it’s a smooth slide till year’s end.   Halloween…… Thanksgiving…..Christmas….. one great holiday accompanied by great cartoons after another!   I’ll be loving every minute of it!

Until…..that muddy black slush that is awaiting me in February/March……

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MESS 2 – My Diet Update

WOO HOO!! I found my cheek bones today!!! I always knew they were there, because whenever l ate something REALLY cold my teeth would hurt right up into where my cheek bones used to lurk. But they haven’t been out and visible in a while! It’s like finding an old friend… or two 🙂

Twenty-two and a half pounds down – that’s the diet update. Twenty-two and a half pounds!! It’s not enough YET, but it’s a tidy sum with which I am moderately pleased. I’ve been good about the yogurt… I’ve been good about the rabbit food…that is to say, endive, carrots and cherry tomatoes…. I’ve been good about the healthy cereal, fat free milk, berries, I’ve been good about the grilled chicken. I’ve even been good about the fat free cottage cheese (small curd, of course – I couldn’t be good about large curd!)! I did sneak in a slice of cheese pizza twice, and a peanut butter cup once, but my diet success just proves my own theory that the rare “cheat” does not ruin real progress. In the past, if I cheated once during the day, I would call the whole day lost and eat whatever I wanted. Now I recognize that one momentary lapse is not enough to call it quits for the day. In fact, I think the occasional lapse helps. That one peanut butter cup was enough to satisfy a sweet tooth for a month – and the pizza was delicious, but I realized that one piece of it was not worth ruining my diet for on a regular basis. Win win! 

I definitely feel a difference – I have more energy, and I can walk at a faster clip – almost as fast as I used to go when I had a child by each hand flapping in the breeze behind me as I raced along! I have not reached the point where my knees don’t hurt – but I would say they are cautiously enjoying the lighter load that they have to lug around! They haven’t said as much to me, but there is a lot less complaining when I have to get up out of a chair. (Yes, my knees have been known to talk to me….a lot of it used to be in expletives, but osteoarthritis coupled with overweight will do that to a knee) My right hip is still angry…. but remember, hips don’t lie – and mine have been cranky for a while. Not only have they been hurting, but they haven’t even looked nice in a dress. A double insult that any self-respecting hip would find hard to swallow! 

Some of my clothing is starting to hang on me a bit…. right now I’m wearing an old pair of shorts that will be hitting the ground in another five pounds. These are the only shorts I own because I threw out all the tight ones that no longer fit in a paroxysm of frustration last summer. So these will be the virtual yardstick against which I will measure my progress. I actually own two pairs of the same shorts – because when you’re overweight and you find shorts that fit comfortably, don’t ride up too alarmingly on your inner thighs in the summer, and are machine washable; you buy as many as they have in the store. I will never throw these shorts out….although I may use them to slipcover my sofa…..

Of course if you are picturing me as an older lady walking around in baggy old shorts and t-shirts, ratty sneakers, and talking to herself you would be correct. I have become that woman that talks to herself in stores; holding conversations with persons unknown and unseen (I occasionally give encouragement to my knees and hips), who looks like she found her clothing in a secondhand store and it was all she could afford. I am okay with this. There is no one out there I want to impress. I am doing this for ME. Well let me amend that slightly… me, my daughters, and my multitude of well loved pets – none of whom I want to be forced to leave behind anytime soon. 

I do have clothing for work that is in better shape…. just as old as the shorts, but it hung in there better. My work clothing is that wonderful rayon/nylon/polyester blend that feels like it has elastic running through all of it, and gives and stretches like a champ. I’ve had a few of these dresses for more than ten years – through every weight fluctuation – and they just expand and contract as needed. In one or two of them I feel like the years are starting to take their toll on the fabric, though. Have you heard the expression “the elastic gave out”? Well for me that is inaccurate. I don’t think my elastic gives OUT. I think the elastic in my clothing gives UP. There have been times at my heaviest when my waistbands have said to me “listen chubby – put the hanger down and step away from the closet!” On a couple of mornings, my underwear looked at me and whimpered. Have you ever seen pantyhose cower in the back of a drawer? I have. It’s not pretty. I haven’t seen my bathing suit all summer. It is hiding somewhere in my room – I searched for it one day but gave up when I realized it probably wouldn’t fit anyway. As I left the room, I heard a sigh of relief coming from my closet, but I chose to take the high road and ignore it. I don’t need to deal with a sassy swimsuit. I deserve better. My clothing should just come out and take it like a man. 

So my diet is still going well. I’m rather proud of it – it hasn’t cost me anything, it is all my own invention, and I still haven’t joined a gym (which is why I’m not in traction or hobbling with a cane). Of course I break one of the cardinal rules of dieting – don’t weigh yourself every day – the theory being that you then won’t see the daily fluctuations up and down, just the overall progress. 

I, instead, weigh myself at the same time every morning. I am not discouraged by the fluctuations of a pound or two up or down. But I do use the daily weigh-in to “tweak” my diet as I go – a pound up and I am a little more careful or I take an extra staircase or two instead of an elevator. In this way, I feel more in control of the whole process. My body can’t betray me by sprouting five extra pounds in the weekly weigh in. I’ll have seen it edging up a pound at a time and done something decisive about it long before that one week mark comes along!

I’m looking forward to the next twenty two pounds. Those will make a big difference – not only will my shorts fall off, but probably my bra too. (See earlier blog post on dieting for this :)) I am even toying with the idea of getting out my Sweating to the Oldies DVDs! They popped into my head the other day… but my hip said to me “not yet, Lady. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves !!” So I let it go for the moment…. Maybe I’ll revisit the thought again in another ten pounds….. by then my hip may feel as optimistic as my knees seem to be….hurting, but not violent! Pain I can handle…. it’s outright rebellion that is out of the question! 

So stand by… it’s onward and upward from here!! Through Mom Eyes, I’m doing pretty well! I’m on the path to good health and fitness!! I’ll report back soon…… 🙂

Posted in Aging, Arthritis, Cat Lady, Cat Lover, Cats, Children, Cockapoo, Daughters, Diet, Dieting, Dog, Dogs, Family, gardening, Golden Retriever, Life, life lesson, Love, Maine Coon, Mom, Mom Eyes, moms, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting, Physical therapy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Forbidden Pet Store


I have always had an iron clad rule in my home:  we do NOT get dogs from PET SHOPS.  I left no doubt on this rule – no room for discussion.  I was secure in the knowledge that, as acting head of the household, my word would be law.  With the respect and esteem that my children had for me, I just knew that no one would break this solemn pact.

Are you with me?  Good.

I even went so far as to make them take an oath with their right hands on a vet bill that they wouldn’t even ENTER a pet store lest they lose their minds and their will and succumb to the temptation of a caged puppy.  I was certain they wouldn’t break this sacred oath.

You know where I’m going, don’t you…..

There is always that one child…. the one that likes to test the bonds of parental authority.  The one who flounts convention and hurdles the constraints of house rules.   Actually she’s a great daughter…..  But even as a child she liked to test the limits of the restrictions.  She was also the master of the understatement.  When she would come and ask me for a band aid, I would need to go see if she really required a tourniquet, or if a simple ambulance trip would suffice.  (She got this from her Grandfather, but that is a story for another day)  So it is not too surprising that I felt a pang of unease when she came home one summer day and said “Mom, I saw the cutest puppy in a pet store today!   What would you have done if I’d brought him home?”  I cocked an eye at her, but her arms were empty and I couldn’t hear an extra set of breathing, so I threw caution to the wind and considered my reply…. “well,  I wouldn’t have killed you….”  BZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!!  Wrong answer!!!

Maybe a week or so later, I came home at lunchtime to feed the four legged family and found both my daughters hovering in the dining room with what my Dad would have termed “shit eating grins” on their faces.  You know the look.   I just knew.   I literally said “where is he”, when RIGHT ON CUE, a fuzzy face, bright eyes and two paws popped up on my knee and a happy little face smiled right at me.  Duncan had arrived.

Never one to fight a losing battle, I acknowledged defeat and lifted the little newbie into my lap.  The girls buzzed around telling me how much “we needed him!”  The words “like a hole in the head” ran through my mind but I kept my mouth shut and let them gush.  My daughter told me how she had called the store so many times to see if he’d been purchased, but apparently while the puppies around him came and went Duncan was left behind.  Fate?  Prophetic?  Who knows.  He was ours now.  He had found a sucker… oops, home.   My daughter’s boyfriend had gone in and haggled over the price (the little guy had been there way too long already).  A bargain was struck and the pup was secured.

Duncan left the pet store with an iron clad health guarantee – as well as a double ear infection and severe case of worms.   He was the poster child for why pet stores should not sell puppies.   He had been taken from his mother way too soon.  His medical care had been grossly inadequate.  He was behind on his vaccinations despite assurances that he had everything he needed.  He was a mass of insecurities and fears.  He had been kept in a cage so long that it was difficult to housebreak him.   During his infrequent walks, he was on a cement sidewalk outside the store.  Because of this, he was afraid of grass.  He could barely be persuaded to put his paws on it at all.  The same was true of fresh air and the outdoors in general.   He still gets carsick.  While I realize many dogs have this problem, most of them wait until the car is running and has left the driveway.   As soon as Duncan’s  paws hit the seat, the foaming commences.  By the time the key slides into the ignition, he is in full froth.


Duncan has proved to be a special little fellow in every possible nuance of that word.   He is sweet, silly, very eager to please.   In obedience school, he learned surprisingly quickly, although he is still timid and slightly high strung with other animals, strangers, and noises.  He runs happily out into the garden with the other boys now, and stays on the grass for at least 45 seconds before hauling ass back onto the deck and jumping convulsively up and down at the door until we let him back in.   He plays frantically with the gang in the house, and then suddenly realizes what he’s doing and that he’s perhaps having fun.  He then immediately and quickly seeks the highest ground possible (my end table is a favorite) and puts himself on a time out.  He’s made friends with the cats, and the dogs all love him – with the exception of Lou, our senior Basset Hound, who hasn’t forgiven me yet for giving Duncan houseroom.  Lou has added this to his list of grievances against me which he airs from time to time (he is the master of the stink eye).   Like my father, Lou is also a story that needs to be told another time.

I have since reiterated the pet store law around here, adding the codicil that no one is even to drive past a mall that might have a pet store in it!  Any reputable breeder will not sell their puppies through a store.  They want to meet the prospective parents and screen them thoroughly.  The sire and dam have health screenings, and one or both of them are on the premises.  These puppies come with a REAL health guarantee and come from a real home.  They are bred for health, beauty, companionship, service.   So called breeders that sell through a store, breed for one reason…money.  The dogs are in-bred, the mother and the puppies are badly treated.  The words “AKC puppies” and “health guarantee” mean nothing from a pet store.  It would be better to adopt from a shelter, rescue, or if a particular breed puppy is wanted, find a reputable breeder and go through the process.

It’s three years now that Duncan has been with us and he is one of the family.  I am very glad that he came home to us – he is a little love and it is rewarding to see how healthy and happy he is now.


As an added precaution after my new set of rules, I’ve fitted my daughter with one of those electric fence collars used on dogs.  If she goes anywhere near a pet store, the collar will zap the heck out of her…

That should do the trick……

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