Monday, March 25, 2013


Time for some lightness of being for a change.  I know I could use it, I bet you could too. 

As I sat trying to think of what I wanted to write, I turned to my Pinterest Pal, Another Pinner for some blog post inspiration.  Another Pinner has always proven to be Genius! Brilliant! Epic! and those other overused Pinterest superlatives.   Forget Wikipedia, I have Another Pinner to guide me through life. Want some proof?  Allow me to copy and paste their pins and my reactions for you:

Another pinner said "AMAZING Homemade Crescent Rolls! I will never make another roll for the Holidays again. AMAZING". Need to try it.  (Please note the  use of double amazing in all caps designed to entice you never to whack that tube of unhomemade crescent rolls on your counter again.)  Which won't happen.  I LOVE whacking that tube.  That sounds dirty.

Another Pinner said "This is how our pit bull, Roxanne was when I was growing up! Dad couldn't spank us around her! Lol"  Hmmm.  Dad's spankings make me and the crescent roll tube feel much better about our relationship.

 Another Pinner said - Did this tonight with a ball between my inner thighs and another one behind my back.. down an inch and up an inch. RESULTS!!!    I suspect you have a visual all made up for this, don't you?  Now you're feeling dirty too. Let's just say that at this point I am totally at peace with the crescent roll tube.

 Another pinner said, "I've made pouches before but this one is just adorable! Perfect for all my scraps!"  (Wow, a pouchmaker.  I missed that one in the "useless degrees you could have had"). 

And let's not forget Another Pinner's Coup de grace, feeding the Churchies.
Another pinner said she made this for a Church event, and people raved! 

Anyhoo, we are back to my regular typing in a normal size font and I am here to tell you that one click of the Pinterest header and Another Pinner was right there for me, ready to dispense inspiration for my boggy writing brain.  Under the pin Journal Prompts to get you writing I found the following gems; which I have answered truthfully for you:

1. What is your favorite color,place, food, song and movie?

Cerulean blue in Key West eating milk chocolate with Prince watching Sixteen Candles.

2. What do you like to do?  How does it make you feel?

 Well, I like to drink.  I like to drink vodka.  It makes me feel 100% better. 

3.  What is something you're good at?  What makes you good at it?

Karaoke.  Vodka.

4.  What keeps you up at night worrying?  Is this realistic?  Can you do something about it? What can you do?

My dancing skills. No. Yes. Vodka.

 Another Pinner, this is not working for me.  This is not journal inspiration, this is more like the questionnaire notes I got passed in tenth grade.  I fully expect to turn around and see Jake Ryan sitting behind me.

So here I am, still fairly uninspired but intent on giving you something light.  

Thank God we need new tires, for now I have my very own journal prompt.

Because we need new tires I "get" to shop for them.  Like any good consumer I called around for prices, and like any good consumer I spoke to a ratio of one normal person to four idiots.  My favorite idiot conversation went down like this:

me:  Hi, I am calling for prices on a set of tires for my 2010 Saturn Outlook.  It's an XE base model (because we're poor) front wheel drive.

Discount Tire Idiot:  OK, well let me just check here (clickity click of the computer keys) uh OH, did you know that they no longer make your vehicle?

me:  Yes, I am aware that they discontinued Saturns.

DTI:  Well, that's a problem.  You're vehicle is no longer being made.

me:  Yes, I believe we have established that.

DTI:  This is a problem.

me:  We've covered that, too. So, you don't have tires for my car?

DTI:  Well, they don't make your car anymore.

me:  Perhaps you're suggesting I trade it for a car that you DO have tires for?

DTI:  (clicking on his computer again)  Are you SURE it's a 2010?  It's not a 2009? 
(and then; the kicker)  "Maybe you'd like to put your husband on the line?"

At this point, I remove the phone from my ear, ready to press the "end call" button and obliterate this imbicile from my day.  Then, mercifully, my inner warrior kicked in.

me:  Why yes, yes sir, let me get my husband on the phone.  That way, you can sit there diddling yourself while he walks out to the car and attempts to figure out what color it is, let alone what size tires we need.  Let me assure you sir, that despite my unfortunate possession of an X chromosome and  functioning uterus, I can identify the year, make and model of my vehicle.  Now sir, I am going to let you go because surely you are late checking on the little lady at home rolling out AMAZING homemade Pinterest Crescent Rolls while barefoot in an apron.  Send her my best wishes and thank her for enabling you to be the condescending turd that you are today.

Disclaimer:  Bill knows what color car we drive (I think).  And he may or may not know what size tires we have.  More than likely, he does not care.

I should wrap up my light hearted, happy post now.  I'm off to Belle Tire where they recognize that in order to get me to buy ridiculously overpriced tires they need to treat me like a chick who knows what P255/65/R18 means.  Even if I don't. Or don't care.  Or both.  Pass the vodka.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fly Me Home.

Memories are funny things.  They can make you suck in your breath with wonder, make your stomach drop like a roller coaster ride, or they can make tears run down your face before you have time to think about swiping them off with your fist. They can be subtle and sweet, or hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it.

I think about her often. It's been a week now, and she's still an automatic reflex when I do things like turn down the frozen food aisle and stand in front of the Lean Cuisines, habitually ready to pick the requisite five or six boxes she considered "her dinners".  Then I remember, she's gone.  She doesn't have to decide between Sesame Chicken or Stuffed Peppers ever again.  And suddenly, I am the idiot in the frozen food aisle who appears to be crying because Hollywood Market is out of Salisbury steak.

I suppose eventually it will get easier. My friend sent me some words today that I treasure.  We both lost grandmothers that were larger than life and we long ago decided we were friends because we don't feed each other sugar coated cliches in times like this.  His words were perfect.  Here is what he wrote:  "I wish I could tell you that things will be okay, things will be alright, the pain of losing someone special will eventually lessen or that time heals all wounds. All of that is crap and the truth is that when we lose someone that has loved us unconditionally their memories will always make us laugh, make us cry, make us yearn for the days past and make us look forward to the future and seeing them again."

His words make me ponder something I can't always make myself think about.  The "what's next" part of death.  For Nana, and for me, too. During those "what's next" times, I watch as people with strong beliefs take solace in all the things they have been taught, surrounded by their church families and lifted up in their worship.  My non-conforming Catholic childhood is not giving me a lot of assistance at this dark time.  Instead I work to tap into my spiritual side, preferring to cut to the chase and simply talk with Nana, knowing fully well she isn't going to answer. I ask her how things are going in her first week on not-Earth, who she has seen and if she has found my dogs yet.  I tell her about my day and firmly believe I am telling her things she already knows.  I am pretty sure she's watching as I pick my way through this whole grief thing.

After Nana died, a young man came to Hospice House to pick her up.  His name was Levi, and he could not have been much older than my Travis.  He made such an impression on me;  the old, bereavement obsessed nurse who demands her coworkers leave the room if they "can't handle" a grieving family.  Levi asked me if I would like to help get Nana ready for the ride.  Memories of my Gramps getting wheeled out of his bedroom in a bag make my stomach turn even to this day, but I pushed that thought away and told Levi "of course, I wanted to help." Together Levi and I picked up all 85 pounds of Nana and wrapped her in a soft sheet.  I reached for the blanket to put over her and looked for the body bag that I knew had to be hiding discreetly under it.  No body bag.  Levi smiled at me as he said "we don't need one, she will be fine".  Levi gave me space as I pulled the blanket up, kissing Nana one last time and telling her how much I loved her.  Together we clicked the seat belts over her and tightened them up around her little body.  He maneuvered her gently out of the room and out of the tasteful bay-jeh walls of Hospice House.  I spun on my heel and grabbed my things and walked into the bright morning sun to drive home, swiping the tears off my cheeks with my fist.

As I pulled onto the road, I had the wintery waters of the Black River on my left and the memories of three months of long drives, nursing homes and tears on my right.  Neither option appealed to me so I looked ahead.  I sighed, wondering how those three months came spiraling down to end like this; no Nana riding shotgun, no errands left to run, no panicked reminders that the light in front of me "might just turn yellow any second".  The realization that an enormous chunk of my life was now traveling the opposite direction in a hearse hit at the exact time I looked up to see them:  two swans, flying along over my car for five, maybe ten seconds before they broke off for the river.  Two swans who were not the cardinals I always swore represented my Gramps.  Two swans who knew that cardinals would have been too small to see through my tears and who wanted me to know that finally, almost twenty years later, they were together again and would always watch over me. 

I drove home to the people that are my world, ready to continue making memories. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saying Goodbye.

As it turns out, the laptop is a good investment.  It's 10:30 on a Sunday night.  I woke up this morning planning a lazy day of laundry and being with my people, having celebrated Casey's twelfth birthday the day before.  I planned on driving up to see Nana next weekend.  I planned on a nice glass of red with Bill after dinner.  But then the phone rang and plans be damned. I'm 300 miles from home sitting in a Hospice House with Nana as she fades away from this world.  And all I can think of as I sit here is "write something".  Because I am with Nana.  And there is so much history.  So many laughs and lately, so many tears with no doubt more to come.

When I spoke to Moe earlier, I told her it is oddly peaceful sitting here in this beautiful facility, designed to allow people to die with dignity and free from pain.  Nana does not open her eyes.  She doesn't have a snarky remark or a reprimand for my absence.  She just lies there very still, her purpose now to take the last breaths her body has rationed her for 96 years.  I take her hand and fold her fingers around mine, so they stay locked.  So she knows I am here, despite everything that was designed to keep me at bay.  We are "real good", she would say if she could. We always have been.

Someone had turned on a radio in her room.  Christian music.  For some reason, this doesn't annoy me like it usually would.  I am not sure what I feel about religion, and I certainly don't have any Christian music on my iPod but for some reason, it seems right to have it playing very quietly.  Nana used to sing gospel songs.  I know Nana can't hear it, she doesn't have her hearing aids in and she is quite busy dying, so I suppose this music is meant for my ears instead.   

I take in Nana's room here at Hospice Home. Beige walls.  She would love that.  She pronounced it bay-JEH. Her whole house was beige, and she never understood why I wouldn't want my walls the same french vanilla ice cream color.  "Beige walls look nice and clean, Kimi.  You can never go wrong with beige."  

Beige walls aside, I am going to miss about a million things about this person.  I will never be able to make a kick ass pie crust from scratch without her to help me.  I will never again have a perfectly ironed tablecloth returned to me after Christmas dinner, packed in white tissue paper ready for the next holiday.  I will never eat deviled eggs that compare to hers.  I will (probably) never get told I should "get that weight off so everyone can see your pretty face" again.  I will not get to watch her delight in Halloween as the littlest trick or treaters struggle up to the door.  My life will be so much emptier.  No more hair day.  No more Comerica Bank and fighting over the pneumatic tube that will "steal her money" at the drive through.  No more scrambling to cover her as she lets an insulting remark fly in public.  What will I do now?

A few paragraphs written and ninety minutes later, we're still real good, thank you.  Just breathing and breathing and Christian music and the fan humming white noise.  My fingers tapping on the keyboard as my mind floods with memories.  Scotch and water before Saturday grocery shopping.  Lawrence Welk on the TV and Englebert Humperdink on the hi-fi. My Gramps painting her nails for her and laughing as she waved them in the air like windmills to dry them.  Alfred Dunner slacks in "petique" because they fit just right.  Gold "tongs" from Hawaii that she wore on her feet in the summer.  The bellow: "My kitchen is closed for the night!" as my Gramps and I raided the freezer for ice cream.   Monday was warsh day.  Warsh - not wash.  She was born in Mizz-or-rah.  Her birth certificate says her first name is Lola.  She loved my dogs.  She worshiped my daughter and bragged to everyone about my son.  My husband is "the only one who does right by her".  She was the most meticulous person I ever knew.  Heaven is about to be a hell of a lot cleaner.

It's 3am now. Her legs are cool and mottled. I wonder what is happening in the place she's in right now? Is she seeing the people she loves? Is there really no pain? Is she reliving the moments that made up her life? Her breathing has become more shallow. I catch myself holding my own breath, willing her to go and be at peace.  She looks so tiny in this bed.  The sheets are soft, and for that I am grateful.  No one should have to die on crappy hospital sheets.  I finally put my iPod on so I can hear Roxy Music instead of Adult Christian.  I knew that station would wear out it's welcome eventually.  It's hot in here, and I wish for the millionth time it was spring so I could open a window.  The moon is gorgeous and full, and Beth would be the first to tell me that Mercury is in retrograde.  I didn't even need the website to tell me that.  I will miss sharing our daily horoscope with Nana. I will miss her telling me I was the best birthday present she ever got.  I will miss our wine and wheat thins.  This is a friend that is so hard to let go.  

This is a life well lived.  This is a person well loved.  I will miss her more than she will ever know.  I will treasure this night alone with her for the rest of my days.

I will be real good again someday, because that is how she would want it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Words that suck.

Once a month, I have the honor (privilege, utmost joy, anticipatory glee) of four hours of art with five fabulous women.  Our evenings have been dubbed Luna Night, as we hold our summits on or around the full moon.  It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things in the universe.

We are a diverse group who, without even trying, simply connected.  It's a rare subject that is taboo with the Luna Crew.  It's a given that I will drive home with cheeks that hurt from laughing and a brain full of ideas to pound out on the keyboard.

That's when I thank the stars for Evernote, a snappy little app that allows me to temporarily dump my thoughts into a vault, thus reducing the number of expletives that flow from my mouth when I have forgotten yet another good idea.  On the way home from Luna Night, I babble away into my talk to text and marvel as my words are magically transcribed onto a cyber notebook for lock down until I am ready to write.  Evernote: my little helper, and highly recommended for the "over 40 everyone has sucked my brain cells dry" set.

I'm sure there are women out there whose Evernote is loaded with reminders such as: "Call Bitsy from the Junior League about the Spring Fling" or "Look for Swan's Down flour to make that cake Another Pinner says is genius".  My Evernote, however is streamlined into: write this, hear this, see this, and do this.  I have no patience for cupcakes and The Lunas are my own personal Junior League and in all honesty lately the "to-do" that is peck-peck-pecking at my brain is "go write something".  So, in honor of Evernote and the downward spiral of the Luna's last conversation; let's visit: Words I Despise. 

Have you ever noticed that you have an aversion to certain words?  As the Luna Crew huddled around Moe's fireplace at our last meeting, someone mentioned the word Hubby, then laughed as I cringed.  "What's wrong with Hubby?" I was asked.  And as I stared blankly into the fire, I realized I couldn't even come up with a rational reason.  I just plain hate the word. 

I am pretty sure Facebook sealed the deal for me.  Posts like "Ooooh, love my Hubby, he just ran a bubble bath for baby Everdeenkatniss.  How precious is that?" make me want to barf in technicolor.  People think they're jacking it to hipster level by saying "The Hubs", but that term makes the bile rise for me too.  The only person on Earth I allow to say "Hubby" around me is Nana, and that is only because she has dementia and I love her and she can say whatever she wants.  Please, everyone except Nana, can we just say husband?

Moist. Do I even have to explain? What a vile word.  Anything that can describe a cake and your underpants at the same time is wrong on every level.  The End. Which leads me to:

Panties. Ick ick ick.  I am 100% certain a man invented the word panties.  I am 95% sure he was a pedophile.  When a 60 something year old woman asked me to "help her off with her panties so she could make a potty" I practically peed my own scrubs.  Underpants.  So. Much. Better.  Utilitarian. Practical.  Wear them or not, your call, just don't say panties to me if we are going to take them off and...

Make Love. What is wrong with me?  Isn't that supposed to be a beautiful thing? Yet when I hear the term "make love" all I can think of is being 8 years old and drawing fifty sloppy hearts over a picture of my parents for Valentine's Day.  I titled it:  Make Lots of Love on Valentine's Day.  I could not for the life of me understand why it disappeared from the refrigerator door, never to be seen again.  Scarred for life, I prefer the down and dirty term that starts with F. 

And if I am going to get down and dirty, I refuse to do it with my "soul mate".  Now there's a term coined by a desperate woman if I ever heard one.  In the immortal words of Carrie Bradshaw "I don't know if I even believe in soul mates".  Husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover - all encompassing, solid words.  No soul mates allowed in bed taking off my panties and making love to me, please.

Hey!  Let's hit up the Pinterest Pinheads for my next one, which is actually a two-fer. "Upcycle" and "Repurposed".  The red wiggly line underneath these words as I edit is shivering in word-correct fervor, desperate to remind me that THESE ARE NOT REAL WORDS! And I could not agree more.  Throw those two in the compost bin along with the always inane "Mani-Pedi" with your "Bestie".  All I visualize there is a couple washed up giddy cheerleaders annoying the hell out of me while I try to have sixty minutes of peace and a cute set of toes. Have we become so lazy that we cannot even take the time to enunciate an entire word?  I fear we have.  And a nation of grammatically lazy children are coming up fast on our heels. To me, that's a tragedy.

Time to shut it down.  I know there are more words and phrases out there just waiting their turn to make my list, and the play we got from Moist Panty Cakes on Luna Night was well worth the nails on a blackboard effect in my head.  The moral of the story, for me anyway, ended up being "Don't have a Big Hairy Gazebo over Moist Panty Cakes".  But that's another story. 

Long live the Lunas, kicking Junior League Ass from coast to coast.  You girls are my soul mates  besties the bomb.

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Open Letter to My Children...

Dear Travis and Casey,

I am an old mom now.  My facebook walls are loaded with pictures of babies, sometimes ad nauseum, yet I  understand.  I remember back when you were tiny, how I wanted to share you with the whole world. How your blank, milk-drunk stare was different; cuter, better than the other babies. How I used to stare at you and wonder what in the world could be going through your mind?  What were you trying to accomplish? What hurt?  What made you happy?  What the hell was I going to do with you?

I like now.  Now is better for me.  Now, I just look at your face and I know.  I know when you are happy, when you hurt, and what you are trying to accomplish, although I still sometimes question what the hell I am going to do with you.  I know you.  And I like you, which is all I ever really wished for.  Every mom loves their children, but not every mom can say she likes them.

There are different types of moms all around us.  There are Pusher Moms.  They push for achievement. They push for the best grades, the best coaches, the best teams and they put themselves front and center to earn their kids a coveted place in the world they believe their child is entitled to.  There are the Whirly Moms, hovering constantly over their kids. They don't allow them to ride on the scary bus and are involved with every school function, reminding us that they're always there and so in touch with their child.  Let's not forget the Martyr Moms, who complain about the endless driving and fundraising and practices and money that they pour into their kid's activity.  (While their kid confides to friends that they hate the activity but aren't allowed to quit).  There are the Couch Moms, who light another smoke and flip to another channel while their kids wander the neighborhood, eating homemade cookies in the Whirly Mom's spotless kitchen, wondering how they drew the short straw.

So many types of Moms.  Yet you ended up with me.

You tell me I am not like the other moms, and I suppose I take that as a compliment.  I didn't sign up for this to be your pal, or to put us in the poor house attempting to make you the next big thing.  I am willing to take the hit and be the Mean Mom, especially if my actions will ultimately make you a better person.  I have bit my tongue to not swear at the coach who disregarded you in favor of a showboat.  I have sat on my hands to refrain from punching those who made you feel scared instead of welcome.  I already suffered through primary school, so I temper the amount of time I spend there.  It's your school, not mine, and I wonder how will you ever learn to take pride in it while parents are busy posturing there.  I burn stuff.  I oversleep.  I make mistakes.  I watch you fall.  Sometimes I help you up, and sometimes I hold back while you find your own way back to your feet.

I do this because you are my world.  You are my world in a world that I am not sure I like very much, so I look to you to help change it.

I watch you both growing up and walking a path that your dad and I tried to prepare you for.  I beam with pride when you look my friends in the eye and carry on a conversation with them, instead of skulking down the stairs without saying hello.  I marvel at your grades and your commitment to school, something that I never had until I was an adult and my hand was forced. Yes, you make me proud while at the same time I go ballistic over the ridiculous amounts of snack food I vacuum from the couch cushions.  If Dad had a dollar for every time he endured a rant about The Pig People We Made I would be writing this from my palatial estate in Belize. 

So, Travis and Casey, here we are.  One of you in the middle of college, one of you just starting Middle School.  You like each other.  You like us. You like life.  This is more than I ever could have prayed for.  You are what keeps me going when I am exhausted and beaten down by the things around me.  You are what I think of when I put restraints on an angry teenager hammered out of his mind.  You are what I think of when I care for the suicidal 14 year old with cutter lines road mapping her arm.  I don't know how they got to the place they're in, and I am not blind to the fact that it could happen to me, which is why I never stop trying my best for you.  You are my refuge from the sorrow in this world.  If  every kid out there were shown the feelings we have for you, the world might be less despondent. To that end I challenge you to be a friend to someone who may not be a part of your circle.  Show kindness to someone who doesn't normally get to experience it.  You are smart enough to know what works, and we like to think we are smart enough to back your choices.  We made you, and that made the world a better place.  Now it's your turn to pass it on.  Go now, and be amazing.

Love and Snack Food Crumbs,


Disclaimer:  This post does not give you permission to make new people.  New people are costly, stressful and not an option at this juncture.  Also, if either one of you ever show up for an audition of the Bachelor or Bachelorette, I shall cut you.