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A Small Sacrifice for Our American Heroes

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One of the units which received boxes from Operation America Cares

One of the units which received some of the boxes from Operation America Cares

Operation America Cares

I had known about the monthly packing events for a few years.  I meant to get around to it, time after time, but never had.  Then my great-nephew joined the marines in late June, and suddenly what they were doing jumped further to the top of my list.  I put it on my calendar, made a few phone calls, and showed up.

When I spoke to Linda Milimaki she told me to come about 8:45.  I pulled up at 8:50, because, once again, I had pulled away from my house without my cell phone, and needed to go back for it.  When I pulled up to the beautiful Escondido neighborhood that Linda lives in, I saw a flurry of activity.  Cars were lined up and down the street, the driveway was filled with tables, and her  3 car garage  was wall to wall tables and people in an “assembly line” filling up boxes.

This simple little hand lettered sign greeted me as I walked up the driveway, already bustling with volunteers diligently at work!

This simple little hand lettered sign greeted me as I walked up the driveway, already bustling with volunteers diligently at work!

The organization I had come to help on that Saturday morning is Operation America Cares. The organization was the brain-child of two sisters who found out that many of our troops never receive a care package or mail from home. They wanted to change that by providing a little ray of sunshine into the lives of some of those troops.

The Start of Something Great

They packed their first 35 boxes for Christmas in 2008. Since then there have been over 24,000 boxes send out of Linda’s home, with the help of donations and monthly packing “parties.”

I was first introduced to this endeavor through my local Realtor Caravan meetings a few years ago.  Every quarter we choose a local charity, and collect weekly donations. At the end of the quarter a check is presented to the chosen charity.  After hearing about Operation America Cares, I invited one of their volunteers, Cheryl Sutcliff, a local lender I know and trust in our community to come and speak to my Kiwanis club.  I was president of the club, and wanted my members to know about the need.

When Cheryl stood in front of our group with one of the boxes filled with the items sent off monthly, I felt like I was watching Mary Poppins pull things out of her magical carpetbag! I couldn’t believe how many goodies were stuffed into that small “Priority Mail” cardboard box!  Each and every item had been well thought out for the wants and needs of a young military hero.  There wasn’t one inch of wasted space, and nothing that wouldn’t be appreciated and enjoyed, by at least one young man, and most likely shared among a number of them!

This is just a small portion of the items organized to go into boxes each month. I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole process!

This is just a small portion of the items organized to go into boxes each month. I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole process!

One of the things I found most fascinating about the boxes was the fact that they send a little zip-lock sandwich bag filled with some spices.  One of them is taco seasoning from Del Taco.  It turns out, as I was told that the MRE meals lack flavor, so the taco-seasoning is a HUGE hit with the young men!  When told that their hot sauce was the one the young men preferred the most, the Del Taco at 9822 Magnolia Avenue in Santee, CA volunteered to donate enough to be sent off every month! Kudos to them for repeatedly stepping up to the plate for our military!

When I pulled up to Linda’s Escondido home that Saturday, it was a bee-hive of activity! I couldn’t believe how much was already happening by the time I arrived. One of the first things Linda did was to pray for the people working and for the military who would be receiving the boxes. She then read a few letters that had been received from some of the recipients of the boxes.  You would have thought that the boxes held the greatest treasures in the universe when you heard the heartfelt thanks for them!  It brought tears to my eyes to think that the simple little “shoebox” size boxes would bring such joy!

This letter and a handwritten note went into each box that we packed for our servicemen.

This letter and a handwritten note on a greeting card went into each box that we packed for our servicemen. Often, pictures drawn by schoolchildren in the area also go into the boxes. Because school was out of session, we didn’t have any of the children’s drawings to put into the boxes this particular month.

I approached one of the women working, who seemed to be knowledgeable about the procedures,  and she gave me a brief  “assembly line” walk through, and  set me to filling up boxes.  I went through the assembly line process and filled a few of the boxes.  It was then time to “repack” the boxes, and I was instructed in that.  Because there are toiletry items, and food items, they are separated into 2 different zip lock bags, so that if something should leak, everything isn’t ruined. There is a real science to packing the boxes so everything gets there safely, usable and fitting in the box. Everything is boxed in a Priority Mail box, which is $16.75 for all you can fit in the box, no matter what the weight.  And fit it in, they do!  Toilet paper, socks, a book, a magazine, numerous snacks, both salty and sweet, talcum powder, eye drops, toothpaste and toothbrush, lip balm, crossword puzzles and other assorted items fill the boxes to the brim! Every box also gets a hand written note, and often pictures drawn by children.

A few of the volunteers of Operation America Cares, preparing the monthly boxes to be sent to our Military Heros who don't get recognized personally by family or friends.

A few of the volunteers of Operation America Cares, preparing the monthly boxes to be sent to our Military Heros who don’t get recognized personally by family or friends.

After I had helped fill a number of boxes it was mentioned that they were very short with hand written notes this month, so I went into the house to sit down and write out some cards to our Heroes!  This was right up my alley!  I LOVE writing letters, notes and cards! When I was younger and moved away from home, I used to hand-write up to 60 letters a week to friends and family!  (Obviously, that was Pre-email and Facebook days! I still miss handwritten letters updating us on what our loved ones are doing!)

We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.

We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.

I had the pleasure of sitting at the kitchen table in Linda’s house and write out notes with a few other volunteers.  The time flew by, and before I knew it, packing was done, and it was time for a photo with all of the packaged boxes and the volunteers from the day.

The boxes go to Military in all four branches who typically don’t ever get any care packages from home. Linda works closely with the Family Readiness officer at Camp Pendleton, and he gives her names and addresses of chaplains and commanding officers who have requested boxes for their men in the field.

I was happily surprised to see Liz Beach Hallin, who I've known since she was a small kid. Although Liz is fighting her own battle with MS, she was there to do her part to help our military. Liz was there with her husband Micah, and her mom Sarah Beach. Liz has a brother, Kenneth, who is in the Army. My son and Kenneth were friends as small boys, and Kenneth always said he was going to go into the military!

I was happily surprised to see Liz Beach Hallin, who I’ve known since she was a small kid. Although Liz is fighting her own battle with MS, she was there to do her part to help our military. Liz was there with her husband Micah, and her mom Sarah Beach. Liz has a brother, Kenneth, who is in the Army. My son and Kenneth were friends as small boys, and Kenneth always said he was going to go into the military!

The Starfish Story

 

What two sisters put in motion 10 years ago is awe inspiring!  I’m so glad to have been a part of it! What I can’t help but think though is HOW MANY MORE young marines could use one of these packages each month!  Probably, literally THOUSANDS!  Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am in ANY way putting down Operation America Cares.  Heavens NO!  What I’m saying though is that we could use 50, 100, 500 more “chapters” of this charity across the country, doing what is being done here for our young military heroes!

It makes me think of the Starfish story.  There are a few versions of it, but the gist of them are all the same.  The story goes something like this……..A little boy is walking along the beach, and thousands of starfish are washed up on the shore, going to die.  He leans over as he walks along, and continues to throw in one starfish after another.  He is walking with his grandpa who says to him, “Why bother? You can’t make a difference, with all of these starfish dying on the beach.” The little boy’s response is “It makes a difference to this one.”

That’s what Operation America Cares is all about.  It’s making a difference to that marine who receives a package.  Hopefully, that package puts a smile on his or her face, knowing that someone they don’t even know has thought about them, and making their day better as they serve our country. It is a very small drop in the bucket, but it is a drop that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for this amazing organization!

A picture of some of our young military Heros receiving one of the packages. Look at the delight on their faces, over something so simple!

A picture of some of our young military Heros receiving one of the packages. Look at the delight on their faces, over something so simple!

A Job Well Done!

The packing is down to such an efficient routine that it was over quickly! When we were finished, Linda took a photo of that months’ volunteers behind the 150 boxes we had prepared to be shipped off.  It takes a number of vehicles to get the boxes to the post office, so I volunteered to fill my car up.  I wanted to see the process “start to finish” so to speak.  One van and two cars filled to the brim, and off we went to get the boxes on their way to our well deserving military in the field.

The volunteers who worked at the July packing day, with the completed boxes ready to go off to the post office!

Some of the  volunteers who worked at the July packing day, with the completed boxes ready to go off to the post office! What a great group of people, doing their part to say “Thank You” to our heroes out in the field!

You Can Help Too!

You may wonder how you could help this worthwhile cause.  Go to their website. Make a donation, if you can to c,over postage, or to purchase items they may be short of one month. Perhaps, think of starting a similar organization in your area.  I don’t think we could possibly over saturate the “market” of needy Marines! If you are in the local area, purchase some of the supplies listed below,and get them to Linda for future packing dates.  Write some notes to marines to be included in future boxes. Arrange to come and help pack boxes one day.  Whatever you do to be a part of the this endeavor, you’ll be blessed by being a part of it, I’m sure!

Please, go and check out the website, and do what you can to help!  http://OperationAmericaCares.org

The back of one of the volunteer's shirts. She is a proud marine mom!

The back of one of the volunteer’s shirts. She is a proud marine mom!

 

Are you local to Operation America Cares, and wondering what you might purchase to help the cause out? Some of the goodies that go into the well planned out boxes are listed below:

What’s In a Box?

ITEMS INCLUDED IN THE CARE PACKAGES
(MOST OF THESE CAN BE PURCHASED AT A DOLLAR STORE!!)
  • $$ for postage (currently $16.75 per care package)
  • Socks crew or athletic (no shorties please)
  • Eye drops (any brand) The wind, sun and desert sand hurt their eyes!
  • Triple anti-biotic ointment/Neosporin or other anti-biotic cream w/pain reliever
  • Advil/ibuprofen/generic pain relievers
  • Insect repellent – no aerosol spray cans
  • Sun screen – no aerosol spray cans
  • Full sized baby wipes/body wipes (80 count or larger)
  • Hand santizer – individual size
  • Chap sticks
  • Kleenex – travel size
  • Gold Body Powder (available at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 each)
  • Disposable razors
  • Shaving gel – no aerosol cans
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrushes/dental floss
  • Toothpaste – regular size tubes
  • Toiletries from your hotel stays
  • Soap – any size
  • Gum – individual packs
  • Mints – individual packs
  • Single serve drink sleeves – for adding to bottles of water
  • Single serve coffee sleeves – such as Starbucks VIA
  • Top Ramen – no cup of soup (to big for care packages)
  • Canned soups, stews, fruit
  • Jerky – all flavors
  • Energy bars and snack bars
  • Nuts – individual bags or small cans
  • Sunflower seeds – individual packs
  • Dum dums, tootsie roll pops and hard candy.  Must be individually wrapped
  • M&M – individual bags ( they melt in your mouth, not in Afghanistan)
  • Cookies  – individual packs
  • Condiments – small giveaways from fast food restaurants and such – any kind!!!
  • Peanut butter/jam – individual servings
  • Crossword books/word game books/travel games
  • Magazines – no older than 3 months – please focus on men or social mags such as People
  • Paperback books – no romance novels please
  • DVDs – can be recycled
  • Blank paper, envelopes/pens – for them to write home
  • Thank you notes – written from us to them!  If you include your name and address, you may get a letter!
  • Pictures and notes from kids
  • Zip lock bags – gallon, quart or snack size
  • One more picture of a happy recipient of one of the boxes. You can see that by the time they receive them, the boxes look like they have been through the ringer!

    One more picture of a happy recipient of one of the boxes. You can see by the time they receive them, the boxes look like they have been through the ringer!

    Feel free to contact Operation America Cares directly, or get your donations to me and I will be happy to put them in Linda’s hands when I go over to volunteer for the next “packing party!”

No Plain Jane………

Adventures With Attitude!, Family Time, Health = Happiness!, My Humble Opinion, Serious Shit, You Can't Make This Shit Up!
Close up of mom at her Open House Reception. I still keep this picture up to this day- almost 40 years later. Who would think it would be the last time she would sit on that chaise lounge?

Close up of mom at her Open House Reception. I still keep this picture in my home to this day- almost 40 years later. Who would think it would be the last time she would sit on that chaise lounge? My mom really understood that life is short, and made each day count!

Life…Is…Short!

I had intended to write this article and publish it for Mother’s Day this year…….. But alas, we were wrapped up in travel plans, then travel for most of April, and the thought, the time, and the writing never took place…….

I could wait until next Mother’s Day, and release it then… but if you know me, you know my saying… “You never know when they are going to call in your chips.”  Hell, we don’t know what tomorrow brings, so you’ve got to do things today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

You may think that is a morbid way to live, but it’s just the opposite.  I do more, accomplish more, enjoy more and live more than many people combined. Why?  Perhaps it’s because I know how short life can be.  I have now outlived my own mother by 3 years. LIFE…IS…SHORT!  I never want to look back and say “I should have.” “I could have.” Or “I wish I had.”

I believe FULLY in taking life by the tail and getting the most out of it EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I often have people look at my schedule and ask me if I ever sleep.  Often, when I have exciting things to do, a lot on my plate and a busy schedule, honestly—— I don’t sleep much.  I can go weeks on end with 3 or 4 hours sleep.  I figure that at some point I’m going to have an extremely long time to sleep… as in eternity…. so I’ll catch up on it then!  For me, typically, every day is a busy day.  That’s how I love to live my life. After all—-as I said previously—- you never know when they are going to call in your chips!

A few months ago, in sorting through some things after our move, I came across a photo album I keep with mementos about my mom. Jane Clark. Her birth name had actually been Jane Hatheway, until she married my father at the ripe old age of 18. To say my parents had a tumultuous relationship would be putting it kindly! YIKES- those two fought like I’ve never seen anyone fight……. (But that’s another story for another day.  Getting married at 18 probably isn’t the #1 best idea in life either….)

My mom died when I was 22, after fighting cancer for about 8 1/2 years.  I remember when she came home one afternoon, while I was in Jr. High and told me the doctors had told her she had cancer, and only had a few months to live.  Of course, my first thought was “what happens to me?”  (Thank you teen age years for putting myself before everyone else!)

A Long and Difficult Battle….

That is when the fight began. Mom began a long, difficult and painful fight with cancer. The cancer she started out with wasn’t the cancer that ultimately killed her.  She was originally diagnosed with Lymphoma, but she picked up a second cancer, Leukemia, along the way, and that was the eventual ending battle of  her life.

Throughout those last years though, my mom helped SO many others in their last stages of life.  38 years ago, hospice wasn’t allowed into hospitals. Dying was treated differently.  We had to “buck up” and take care of one another.  No matter how sick she was herself, my mom was right there, making certain that WHATEVER her friends needed in their last days, they got it!

For one friend, it was important that she had some nice lingerie and a sexy nightie.  Jane provided those things. Some may have thought that at that stage of the game lingerie and nighties weren’t important.  She didn’t question it.  It was her friends’ desire, and that was all Jane needed to know. For another friend, it might be a specific dish they wanted to eat before they died. She made sure they got it, even if she had to sneak it into the hospital.  There comes a time when needs are far more than “medical.” Those needs are often more important than the medicines, the treatments or the “rules.”

The “Dress Rehearsal”

This was my mom at her Open House Reception. She went into the hospital the next day for the last time.

This was my mom at her Open House Reception. She went into the hospital the next day for the last time.

My mom had been in and out of the hospital so many times in the 8 plus years that I couldn’t even begin to count them.  In October 1979 I went on a last minute 1 week trip to Hawaii. While I was gone my sisters told me that they were giving an open house for my mom the day after I returned from the trip.  I wondered why they couldn’t just wait a week, so that I could help more with it. My mom insisted that it happen THAT Sunday. She went in the hospital the day after the party and never came back out.  SHE KNEW it had to happen then, or it never would.

When the end was near for our mom, we wanted to make sure someone was with her all the time so she didn’t die alone.  One of us always spent the night at the hospital for the last few months she was there.

My mom longed to see a local hospice in the area – which could help people like her in their last days.  I remember attending talks by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross with my mom, learning about the 5 stages of death, and what other countries were doing for their dying. Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the hospice movement in the United States back in the ’70’s.  Our country was, and still is so far behind how other countries deal with death and dying.

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. “ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Because of my mom’s frustration with the lack of hospice care, she started the ball rolling to get a local hospice formed.  After my mom’s death, my two sisters and I helped to bring to fruition a hospice to the Fox Valley. That hospice served my dad a number of years later when he died.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree…

 It’s often said by people that knew my mom that I’m a lot like her. Jane was a talker………. (sound familiar?)  Oh, she could talk!  And you always knew where you stood with my mom. She didn’t beat around the bush………… and this app;e didn’t fall far from THAT tree!  My mom would do anything for anyone, but cross her, and watch out! She would do WHATEVER it took to make things right!  If there was YELP in her day, Jane would have had 2,000 reviews on it, I’m sure! I’m my mom’s daughter there!  I’ll help the underdog any way I can, and when things aren’t right, I’ll let WHOEVER needs to know, until things are made right.

In the album of mementos I have poems and stories written about her.  Reading them, I thought how great it would be to write an article about her. And of course, Mother’s Day would have been a fabulous time to publish it.  Or perhaps her birthday, which is September 16th…. or perhaps, just whenever I get around to getting the damn thing done… Yes. That’s probably EXACTLY when I’ll get it out.  Whenever it is finished. Because THAT is the kind of organized I am.

No Plain Jane

In the memento book is a poem. I have no idea who wrote it, or if it was, indeed, written expressly about my mom. In trying to find it on Google, I can’t, so I assume someone wrote it about my mom. Sorry I can’t attribute it to the right person! Here goes:

No Plain Jane

I know a Jane,

Who isn’t plain

As any heart should see…

She’s more fair than a rose

That in Springtime grows

Yes, she’s beautiful to me.

For Beauty is in the face of love

And lovely is beauty’s name….

And ti’s love that lights the smile

That shines in the face of Jane.

Call other Jane’s plain— if you insist

But please don’t include our Jane.

For many a lovely thing is she

And one thing she isn’t is “plain.”

 

During the years my mom was ill, we were very involved in an organization called Make Today Count.  It had been started by a man named Orville Kelly, who had Lymphoma. He formed a support group so that people could find support among others who had long-term or life threatening illnesses.  Family members were also encouraged to attend.  I don’t know how I would have gotten through my mother’s illness and subsequent death, if we hadn’t had this resource at the time.  (At the time of my mother’s illness there were at least 140 chapters across the United States.  I believe that a handful are still active, one of them being here in San Diego.)

In our Make Today Count chapter, there was a woman I befriended named Kay Catlin. Kay’s journey was just a few months ahead of mine.  Her mother, also a cancer victim, died about 6 months before my mother did. I would often talk to Kay to see if my feelings, my emotions and my journey were unusual—- typically to be told that she had experienced exactly the same reactions to her mother’s illness.

Kay became a writer, and wrote a story about my mother, which was published in the Chicago Tribune on May 7, 1980. Kay wrote the story and gave it to our family at my mother’s memorial service, just a week after my mother’s death, which was December 21, 1979.  We felt so honored to have this wonderful story about my mother published in a major newspaper.

Having lost contact with Kay many years ago, when I found the article I contacted Kay and asked if I could publish it here in this blog, and she graciously gave me permission. Ties that are made in a situation like we were in many, many years ago still hold, as was demonstrated when I contacted Kay.

This is the front cover of the scrapbook I keep that has articles about my mom, marriage cert, birth cert, death cert, etc.

This is the front cover of the scrapbook I keep that has photos, articles about my mom, marriage cert, birth cert, death cert, etc. There was a store that made these scrapbooks many years ago, with your details on the front cover. I really liked them!

Following is the story as Kay originally wrote it and gave it to us.  It was edited some, and the tenses changed for the Chicago Tribune final article.

The Dying of Jane by Kay Catlin

The screen door ricocheted shut one final time. The party was over: the last guest had left. But before the weary hostess could call it a night, there was one more thing to do.

Jane draped her tiny frame across the painted rattan chaise and slipped her hand int the “everything” basket lying next to her on the floor. As she pulled out the tattered list of name and numbers, the freshly signed guest register was brought to her.

Methodically, Jane compared the “invited” names to the “attended” ones. By the time she was finished, it was clear triumph was in her corner.

“Look at that, would ya’, just look at that,” she said turning to her youngest daughter. (That would be me, by the way, just sayin’!) Look, only eight didn’t show. That’s pretty good…. real good.”  Jane was satisfied.

But in spite of her social coup, Jane’s, thought turned quickly back to the eight no-shows. One by one she recited their reasons for being elsewhere. The first had to work.  The next two had previously scheduled meetings, and besides the family of four who lived too far away, the only other people who couldn’t make it had car trouble. That settled it then. Everyone was accounted for.

Things like that matter to Jane. She is the original party person. Even mere acquaintances know she’ll be at any function someone bothers to call a party.  It doesn’t matter what the reason or where it’s held. If there’s a party, Jane will be there even if she’s dying.

And this time she was.  Dying, that is.

Dying is nothing new to Jane. Her doctors say she has been doing that ever since she was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer seven years ago at age fifty.  As a matter of fact, Jane was handed a less-than-a-month-to-go death sentence in 1973 only moments before she was advised not to take a scheduled Florida vacation to visit her parents. The doctor said she’d come back in a box.  Jane went anyway, and looking back, glad she’s glad she did. It was the last time  she saw her mother, who, at the same time was dying from cancer.

Jane didn’t come back in a box, and the doctor who told her not to go has since died himself from cancer.  Instead, Jane enjoyed her trip and, upon returning, decided the one thing she had to do was learn how to live with her disease so if one of her five children ever got cancer, “they’d know how to handle it.”

That was a mighty big order for someone recently divorced who had to keep on working in spite of pain, exhaustion, radiation treatments and chemotherapy. But she says she was too busy living to be bothered with dying. Besides, she had some pretty fail-safe logic going for her.  she figured it was a lot harder to die standing up.  As long as she could stay off the couch and on her feet, she had the odds beat. No one was going to catch her lying down long enough to die.

And they didn’t.

Between her once a month trips to Mayo’s from her suburban West Chicago home and her accounting job, Jane was terribly busy. She’d fly up to Rochester, Minnesota, on a Thursday night and check into the clinic Friday morning.  Saturday afternoons she’d fly back, and by Monday morning it was business as usual. Jane would make up time lost at her job by working Saturdays and week nights. Then, when she got caught up, the whole cycle would begin again. But she never missed a day’s work, and that’s something she’s still quite proud of.

The way Jane tells it, the whole first year was more like a piece of cake than the parcel of hell it really was. Pressed, she will relate stories of the many nights she and her only still-home child would stay up trying to temper the excruciating pan of muscle spasms. She will talk about the days she would pray for the phone not to ring, so she wouldn’t have to reach for it. But those aren’t the things she likes to concentrate on now. Jane would much rather tell someone about all the things she did do, the good times, than dwell on the horror of  it all. Even under pressure, she is an artful dodger of gloom. Any further questions about the endless nights and uncertain, painful days, she brushes off with, “I didn’t worry about any of it.  I’d just call my sister-in-law and tell her to start praying. Then I’d turn the rest over to the doctors and let them do their thing.  It worked every time.” And somehow, it did work…….. every time.

No, it hasn’t ever been Jane’s style to worry about herself. In the face of hardship, she is more likely to light up one in an endless chain of Newports, lean back, and give vent to another positive thought. She even has a pat answer for all those cigarettes.  “Well, they can’t tell me I’m going to get cancer anymore, can they?” So, I figure if I’m going to die, I might as well not be nervous about it.”  Good ol’ Jane!

In-spite of her logic, Jane was doing well until 1975 when her boss quit. A new comptroller took over who was bent on getting rid of everyone.  Not a person to be trifled with, Jane saw what was coming and got rid of herself.  “I couldn’t take that ass one more day, so I blew” is how she puts it.  (BTW- side-note, I can STILL remember my mother venting about the new boss and what an unreasonable and horrible jerk he was! That was my senior year of high-school!)

As she told of quitting her job, Jane suddenly looked down and then slowly turned her gaze upwards again. Pointing her finger to punctuate yet another point, she said, “THAT hurt me more than anything.”

She couldn’t get another job.  It didn’t matter that she was well qualified or willing to work, or desperately needed insurance. What mattered was that Jane had cancer. As far as the job market was concerned, Jane was already dead.

In spite of the fact that she faced rejection almost constantly, Jane continued to look for a job, any job.  She needed reason to stay standing up. Once, she even came close to getting employed. The owner of a marketing firm didn’t so much as blink an eye when she told him, as she told everyone, that she had cancer. She  would be employed and insured anyway.  No questions asked.  But the man died  before the deal went through. It was cancer that got him.

Jane didn’t work again until March of 1977. She had heard about a CETA job and, when she found two bosses who were willing to look away from her illness and toward her qualifications, she was hired. The job instantly became like new life blood to her.  She still feels if she hadn’t landed that job, any job, she would have lain down right then and died.

She worked well and steadily until July. Then she became inexplicably weak, unable to wash or dress herself. She went back to Mayo’s for a check-up and two days of transfusions, but came home having received even more.  A new diagnosis: Chronic Leukemia.

That’s not to say Jane had been undergoing treatments for the wrong disease all along. She just had them both lymphoma and leukemia. Snake eyes.

Jane went back to work almost immediately and tried to keep up. She had to. The doctors’ bills alone were breaking her financially even when the paychecks were steady. But there were intermittent hospitalizations, days off here and there. By March of 1978 the word had filtered down.  Any more days off and she would be out.

A few weeks later, Jane was in too much pain to report for work. She had reached too suddenly for something; that’s all. Two ribs, brittle from years of cancer therapy, snapped, and with them went everything. (I can’t tell you how many times my mom broke a bone by simply riding in the car and hitting a bump, standing up from a chair, or other simple things we do on a daily basis.  It was awful!)

Or so she thought.

With her body literally hunched in pain, Jane had someone drive her to and from job interviews when she wasn’t in the hospital. She knew she needed to get out of bed or she would die.  All she wanted was “to push a pencil somewhere.”  Her mind didn’t have cancer, after all.

On February 15, 1979 she landed her last job.  Each day, one of her children would take her to work and pick her up again in the evening.  It was tough going, but she was needed again. There was a reason to get off that couch.

That lasted until April 6th.  Jane went back into the hospital then and wasn’t released until July 6th.  Two days later, she was back at work.  For a few weeks, she pushed her pencil until on Friday afternoon when she found herself breathless from pain.  It was all over.

During the past months, Jane has only been out of the hospital for a few days at a time.  Each reprieve from doctors’ whites and intravenous drip coincided with one thing and one thing only—- a party.  She made them all. (Again, I told you this apple didn’t fall from the “Jane tree!” My mom never missed a party and neither do I!)

But her party days are dwindling and she knows it. When her leukemia turned from chronic to acute over Labor Day and her disability and Medicare benefits were cut off in October because she had worked three days too many the year before, she was beaten. Forced to apply for Public Aid, this fiercely independent woman was given two choices one afternoon by her doctors. She could either die outright or go through a painful bone marrow transplant, isolation and Chemotherapy program and probably die anyway.  What to do….

Jane decided she was going to go out trying and endorsed the treatments  Then she went home to make her funeral plans.

Already having donated her body to science when she was first diagnosed, Jane worked calmly and methodically on all the other arrangements. She secured the church, talked to the ministers, and had someone come over with sheet music.  Together they looked for “A King is Coming” and “He Touched Me.”  Because she wants those two songs sung by everyone at her memorial service, copies had to be made ahead of time.  Jane knew where she could get it done cheap.

She then named a charity for donations and instructed everyone she met not to send flowers.  “That’s like getting buried,” she said.  “Never could see throwing money away on being put in the ground and having a bunch of flowers around.”  I want the kids to take what I give them and blow it.  I want people to have a good time with what they got.”  And no one argued.

Jane then called her family together and worked out the nitty-gritty plans for the party afterwards,  They were to feed everyone and then go back to the house and have a family party like they always did.  “I want them to play poker, do some charades, and laugh a lot. If they have to sit around reminiscing, I want them to remember the crazy things, the fun things.” Then a devilish grin spread over her emaciated face as she added, “And they all know—- I’ve told them ever since I knew I was dying— that I’ll come back and haunt them if they don’t do what I say.”

With the family still around, Jane parceled out her promised possessions. She took pictures off the wall, rings off her fingers, and held a drawing for her remaining treasures. She sorted out photos and mementos, and gave each adult child his own picture laden history book. She signed over her stocks, gave away her car, and then took out the insurance policies. Each had been carefully studied, filled out, and stamped.

Then Jane sat back in relief ready to reminisce. Since she had sold her home to one of the children a while back, all she had to do was die.  Everything else was done.

That’s when the idea set in.

Jane’s eldest daughter thought as long as everything was taken care of ahead of time, they might as well have a party now, the kind of party people usually have after the funeral, but this one would be before while her mother could enjoy it.  After all, Jane wouldn’t want to miss a good party for anything. Why should she have to die for one last reason to celebrate?

So, while she was home for a brief, uncertain stay waiting for her body to become strong enough to give her at least a fighting chance to survive the treatments, her children called together 80 or 90 of Jane’s closest friends.  People came steadily from late afternoon on to pay their respects, say their goodbyes and share a laugh with the still living.  Jane was clearly on a mental high through the tiring, day-long affair.  She was having the time of her life playing the queen once more.  (Interesting, isn’t it that this was nearly 40 years ago, and my mother was referred to as “the queen.”  Now, here I am- The Queen of Damn Near Everything!”)

A week later, she herself would call the party a dress rehearsal for the memorial service and casually remark that only eight people didn’t show.

Now Jane waits to return to the hospital, knowing she probably won’t come out alive. She exhibits fear only when she refers to the painful, “worst ever” treatments she has to face.  It is not difficult to believe her when she says, “Some things are worse than dying, you know.”

(Jane Clark of West Chicago, Illinois, died December 21 1979, without having undergone the bone marrow transplant. The rest of the details are unimportant. She just died with the same dignity she had known in life.  That’s all.  End

There were a few things very interesting about my mother’s last weeks (about 9 of them), while she was in the hospital.  My mother was a feisty little ball of fire, and you ALWAYS knew where things stood with her. She wasn’t technically “in a coma”- but there were weeks where she basically laid and slept, not really talking to anyone.

We told her sister, my Aunt Pat, that if she wanted to see mom again, she’d better get here for a visit.  I never thought of my Aunt Pat as weak, but my mom must have understood her in a way we couldn’t. When my Aunt Pat came into the hospital room for her visit, upon arrival, my mom sat up, had a conversation with her, then laid back down.  The next morning Aunt Pat came back in, mom had another lovely conversation with her, and my Aunt left for home, saying “She doesn’t look too bad to me.”

We were all mystified at how amazing my mom looked and sounded while Aunt Pat was there.  Later we understood that mom knew that my Aunt couldn’t have taken seeing her sister in an almost “vegetative” state, and did what was needed to help Aunt Pat get through it.

From L-R: My niece Kelly, Sister Sharon, Mom, My niece Michelle and my Sister Dianne. Not long before my moms death. Who knows where the hell I was for this? It looks like Kelly was dressed up for a school dance, corsage and all!

From L-R: My niece Kelly, Sister Sharon, Mom, My niece Michelle and my Sister Dianne. Not long before my moms death. Who knows where the hell I was for this? It looks like Kelly was dressed up for a school dance, corsage and all!

There were also a few times that my mom sat up, called out “Mom” and reached for someone unseen, with such a peaceful look on her face

Then the story that some people think is “just horrible”- but was my mom’s and my personality to a T…… Mom hadn’t spoken for weeks—- probably since Aunt Pat’s visit, and I went to the hosipital after work, just days before her death.  I was wearing Tabu perfume, a heavy scent popular in the 80’s.  As I leaned down to kiss her, out of the blue mom mumbled, “What’s that perfume?”  I told her and she responded, “Don’t ever wear that again, you smell like a French whore.” That’s the last thing my mom ever said to me!  I laugh about it, and let me tell you…… when I get into an elevator with someone wearing that perfume….. to this day, do you know how hard it is not to repeat that line to them????? Often, when I share that story, people are absolutely AGHAST that this would be our last conversation. Not me though!

The other great story about “The Dying of Jane” was that it was UBER IMPORTANT to my mom that she not be buried. She wanted to donate any organ possible, then donate her body to science so that others might learn from her body and prevent others in the future from enduring cancer such as hers. (Once you’ve gone through all the cancer treatments my mom went through, not too many organs are viable, unfortunately. We had learned that the only organ which could be donated at that point were mom’s eyes.) My mom had always been ADAMENT that not one cent should go toward a burial. Back then, not too many people got cremated.

Well, the end was obviously VERY close, and we happened to call the family friend who owned the funeral home, and was going to help us with my mom’s details.  When we spoke to him, he told us that if my mom didn’t die that afternoon by about 4:30, she’d either have to hold out until the next Wednesday, or her body and organs wouldn’t be able to be donated, due to the weekend and holiday.  (Can you believe it?  Back then, organ donation was more of a 9-5 Monday through Friday kind of business.)  I think it was about 3:15 when we got this news, so we leaned over my mom and said, “Hey mom, we’ve got some bad news we just found out. Bruce told us that if you don’t die today by about 4:30, you have to hold out through Christmas, and wait until the day after, or they won’t take your body and eyes. You will need to be buried.” My mom died at 4:30 PM that day.

When Jane had a plan NO ONE was going to screw it up if she had anything to do with it!

Again, when I’ve told that story to some people, they can’t believe we would tell our mom she needed to either die or hold out.  Let me tell you, you didn’t want to cross Jane Clark, and had she not been told once we knew the details, she probably WOULD have come back to haunt us for not getting the body donated!

My mom lived a certain way, and she died the same way—- parties planned and attended and details acted on, down to the last detail!

When we had my mom’s memorial service my oldest sister Sharon read a beautiful poem that pretty well summed up my mom, and the way she chose to die. I’ll share it:

“To Remember Me…”

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.

When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my deathbed.  Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of a woman. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager  who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.  give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.  Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary and let them grow so that, someday,a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil.  Give my soul to God.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked I will live forever.

—- Robert N. Test in Cincinnati Post

 

Would you like to leave a legacy after you are gone?  You need to plan ahead.  Here are a few interesting articles that might help you figure out what would work best for your desires.

For info on donating your organs, go to: https://www.organdonor.gov/about/process/deceased-donation.html

For info on donating your body to science check out this article:https://www.wikihow.com/Donate-Your-Body-to-Science

 

 

 

 

 

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The Last Straw!

My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

A Sip From A Straw Could Mean Jail Time!

The Last Straw! Where has our common sense gone?

Seriously?  What the hell has happened to common sense in our country?  ESPECIALLY in my state of California?

A new law California law has been proposed which would cause a server to be fined $1,000.00 OR 6 months in jail if they put a straw in a drink of a patron without first asking.  COME ON PEOPLE!

I’m just as concerned over our environment as the next person, but for the love of Pete!  (At this point my daughters always ask me- “Who is this Pete guy and why do you love him?”)  But I digress………. Again I say, “For the love of Pete!” This is ridiculous!  This is the “last straw” in the lack of common sense in the US.

Have you ever been a server?  Do you know how crazy it can get being a server during the rush of lunch or dinner?  And you are going to tell me that if they forget to ask if you’d like a straw, and put one in your drink automatically, they are going to be fined $1,000.00?  Or worse yet- go to JAIL?

“What’s your mom in for Jimmy?”  “She got 6 months for doing the crime. She put a straw in a customer’s drink.” Heaven forbid!  Cuff her and remove her from society!  In fact, let’s protect little Jimmy from such a horrible person and put him in a foster home!

Common Sense Has Left The Country

Holy Shit, are you people kidding me? Common sense has left the country.  I think about the time Elvis died- so did ANY sort of common sense. Maybe he took it with him.

Sure, we can all cut down on our plastic consumption.  There are many ways to do it.  And, yes, servers could ask if you want a straw.  Or, we can, as consumers say we don’t want a straw…… But does every damn thing in this country need to become a friggin’ CRIME?????

Our court systems are overburdened.  Our jails are bursting at the seams. And we are now going to prosecute AND jail people over straws??????

For the love of Pete.  Again, I’m saying it. Whoever this Pete character is, for the love of him, STOP THE NONSENSE!

I hadn’t even heard until about a month ago that this straw issue was a big deal.  Now, suddenly, it seems to be a problem of epidemic proportions.  The whole world is going to come to a screeching stop if we don’t start arresting servers, charge them huge fines and end the use of straws……

Ughhhh…… Reusable Straws……

A San Diego restaurant is using aluminum straws for it’s patrons.

For the love of Pete.  Since the whole nonsense started I have now seen ads for us to purchase “reusable straws.”  That sounds like a great and sanitary idea…… said no-one-in-their-right-mind-ever. Come on people! Imagine THAT catastrophe! I’m going to pull out this little telescopic straw at a restaurant, use it, and put it back in it’s little case…… YUM…… Mold, spores…… oh the possibilities are endless!

I brought this up on Facebook when I saw the ads, and people said, “You’ll wash them!”  Well, even if I did take a stroll into the restroom of the restaurant, and wash it (which, believe me, might happen about… not at all) ……. you are putting it away in a little carrying case WET…… shit is STILL going to happen that is not healthy while it’s buttoned up, in the wet darkness of its little plastic, unbreathable case……….

For The Love of Pete…….

These aren’t really straws, they are glow sticks from a kids’ event we were at last night, but they looked kinda’ cool, so you’ve got them here folks! Of course, they too are made from plastic, so common sense says that the days of glow sticks are numbered!

Common sense.  Let’s just use some.  How about going back to paper straws?  I don’t remember feeling suicidal when paper straws were in common use.  They seemed to work just fine at the time.  I’ve even seen articles that there are, believe it or not, pasta straws that work well with just about anything other than cola products.

A friend of mine went to a restaurant in San Diego recently and they are using aluminum straws.  Again, I wonder how sanitary the straws will be.  How in the world are they getting into the middle of them and cleaning them properly?  The other concern I have with aluminum straws is that we have been told that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s.  I’ve read that drinking from aluminum cans should be avoided.  So now we are going to drink out of aluminum straws, which probably aren’t too sanitary? At least later in life, due to the aluminum, we won’t remember what the problem could be….

Another alternative is glass straws……….. what could POSSIBLY go wrong with a glass straw? Oh for the love of Pete, let’s not even DISCUSS what could possibly go wrong with a glass straw.  If I need to discuss it with you, you are too stupid to live.

There is a solution. There are a number of solutions.  I’m not sure WHAT the right solution is, but I’m sure we can solve it. For awhile anyway.  Until we decide the solution is another problem we have created.  For the love of Pete………. it never ends!

There are alternatives to plastic straws! Where is our common sense?

The last straw here, for me, is jail time and large fines for servers.  Seriously?  A number of servers I know could end up on the street if they had to pay a $1,000.00 fine!  Imagine what 6 months in jail would do to them?  Aren’t the consequences a bit excessive for the crime?

Yes, we need less use of plastic.  Yes, you could cut down on straw use.  Yes, we need to work on helping the environment…….. And YES-  people need to get some common sense, and stop making everything in our country a damned CRIME!

That’s my 2 cents worth, and I’m not even charging for it!

Check out this related article: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/01/29/plastic-straws-illegal-unless-requested-under-california-bill/1074610001/

Want to find some reusable straws?  Here is a great article: http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws

Here is a reusable aluminum straw you can keep in your purse.  Just in case you feel the need. (I’ll be checking in at the nursing home in 20 years to see how the Alzheimer’s is faring…. https://mfhousehold.com/products/straw

I just came across this article about how absurd the whole “plastic straw” controversy is, and how the numbers basically got pulled out of the air by a 10 year old kid!  Interesting!

Here is another video about the law which could arrest servers in California who give out straws…….

 

 

 

 

Faded Photographs…….

Family Time, Household DIY, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, The Queen's Castle- DIY, Uncategorized

Out With “The Old?”

There is no doubting that in our lives, time passes, things change, people come and go from our lives.  On my computer, my screensaver is a constantly changing round of all of the photos stored on my computer.  I have never gone in and purged photos from the years past, so, undoubtedly, photos from past relationships show up, my children’s past relationships, sometimes family or friends who are no longer with us, or aren’t any longer a part of my life.  My daughter has expressed shock that a picture of an old boyfriend of hers will pop up on my screen. “Mom, why do you still have THAT on your computer?”  I’m sure there has been the occasional time my man has walked past my computer to see a picture pop up of me with one of my ex’s.

You may wonder why I don’t “purge” those photos from my computer.  Time. Or lack of it may be one reason.  However, even if I had the time to go through dozens of files of photos to take out those from past relationships, I probably wouldn’t do it.

This silly picture is me, my daughters, Alyse and KT. We went up to Long Beach, to see my sister who was visiting from Illinois. This was New Years Eve Day, and who could resist these glasses? (I still have 2 pairs!) It’s one of those memories of a great family day, filled with silliness!

Memories of Days Gone By

Each and every one of those photos are a part of me.  Although a breakup happened, those photos typically represent a small snapshot of time, a time that I was enjoying the day, the person, the event.  To purge those photos would be purging a happy memory.  While a relationship, in “the whole” might not have worked, the day at the beach was a good one.  The family trip may have been a special one.  The wedding we attended was a beautiful day for the couple involved, even if that couple’s relationship- or mine- may not still be intact.

Seeing those pictures from years past often give me a brief spark of memory of what redeeming quality  I did see in that person at the time, and make the “mistake” of the relationship a little less piercing.

And if you know me, you know I’m a bit vain, so seeing myself as I looked a few years back is a fun kick in the pants too!  “Damn, I looked pretty darned good at that family party, I must say!” “What was I thinking wearing that Christmas sweater?”  “Look how young the kids were there!”  “That was such a fun vacation! I remember that we did (this or that) on that trip!”

Traces of Love… And Friends No Longer With Us

If you are old enough, you may remember the song, “Traces of Love”, which had the lines, “faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases, tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces…traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right….. traces of love with me, tonight.”  Our digital photos no longer fade and crease, but our memories often do.  The constant replaying of those photos helps me to remember those days, those moments and those memories.

I love the feeling of looking at my computer, and chuckling over a particularly silly time, or feeling that little “tug” on my heartstrings when a photo of a friend who is no longer with us pops up.

My lovely friend, Sharon Freed. So gorgeous, so much fun! When we worked together, we would laugh so hard our stomachs would hurt. Gone too fast, and too young. When this picture pops up, although I look like a complete DORK in this picture, seeing my friend makes me smile every time! Yes, it’s bittersweet, but memories of our times together are nothing BUT sweet!

Life’s “Before” and “Afters”

I have photos of the first home I purchased as a single woman, about 5 years ago.  At the time, I had recently come out of a marriage to a financially reckless man who left my finances devastated, my credit score well below 500, and no credit cards to my name.  The ability to purchase this home was totally unexpected- kind of kismet, you might say.  So, as I remodeled this home, doing vast amounts of the work with my own two (manicured) hands,  not only did I build myself a new “home”- I was in the process of building a new life. Reinventing myself, and reinventing this dated mobile home into something I was proud of.  I can remember the nights I worked at that house until 2 or 3 am getting it ready to move into. I loved that home, I shared it with numerous friends, having many events there. The sweat equity I built into that home became  a springboard to purchase my second home as a single woman, the home I currently live in.

This was the “before” of my bedroom at the home I redecorated.

Here is the same bedroom after I worked on the house.

Looking at those photos when they randomly pop up- whether it is one of the “before” photos of a dated, worn out kitchen, or the unpainted 1970’s dingy, dark paneling, or the “after” pictures of the fabulous 1940’s style black, white and crystal bathroom I created, I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having made my way through what could have been a dark time.

Here was the kitchen when I took possession of the house. Yes, all of this junk was left for me!

Here is the after on the same kitchen. I LOVED that kitchen! I did it on a shoestring- pulling out the old cabinets myself, re-using the stove, and getting a refrigerator free from a friend! This picture wasn’t taken ‘staged’- so ignore the stuff on the countertops!  You’ve got to remember, many of these photos were taken for “memory’s sake.” I had no idea I’d have a blog where I was sharing them!

There is no rhyme or reason to the order my photos from my past show up.  Some pictures will have rotated 20 times through my screen, when others don’t seem to appear for months, but whatever is on my screen, there is ALWAYS a memory sparked.  Often a smile.  Sometimes a shake of the head and an eye roll, along with “What the hell was I thinking.”  But no matter what the reaction, I know that what I am seeing is a snapshot of my past. And every one of them add up to having made me the woman I am today. The unique me that I am.  Every one of them is a treasure to me, and to my ever fading memories of my past.  Will I clear out those photos of my ex, my daughter’s ex, even the “friend” who might have turned out NOT to be such a great friend?  Probably not.  Because every one of the memories that pop up before my eyes are there for a reason.

My darling grand daughter Nell and me at Disneyland. We were attending the “Princess Lunch” and you can see she was thrilled! (So was I, obviously, because I was wearing a tiara….. Once the Queen, always the Queen, and don’t you forget it!) Nell is 10 now, and she was only 4 here!

The “Bees Knees”- Restoring my Knees!

Fabulous After 50, Health = Happiness!, Serious Shit, Uncategorized

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That! Aching Knees Are NO Fun!

You’ve GOT to Take Care of Yourself!  No One Else Will!

I’m about the most active person I know.  I dance a few times a week, exercise fairly regularly, and go, go, go!  I fit more life in a week than many people do in a month.  Maybe two months.  So…….. imagine my surprise when, without notice, my knees went from fine to completely fucked within a matter of about 2 months.  Seriously, I’m not exaggerating about this. Everything was A-OK, when I went on a cruise last Oct 1.  I tend to take the stairs between everywhere I go on a cruise, just to avoid the elevator crowds AND to try to burn a few of the excessive calories I am consuming while cruising.  About 4 days into the cruise my knees were stiff and hurting worse and worse every time I took the stairs.  I finally had to give up doing the stairs before the end of the cruise.  From there they just got increasingly worse through the holiday season.  I couldn’t even THINK of going to the gym- it was not only painful, but it was impossible to do any sort of class.  This may be TMI- but by Christmas I couldn’t hardly get on or off the damned toilet!  The pain was about 25 on a scale of 1-10, and the “hinge” movement that lifts you out of a chair wouldn’t even work.  If there wasn’t a handicapped stall in a bathroom I was a gonner!  At least with the handicapped bathroom I could pull myself up on the metal handrails!

Not only was I in pain, and nearly immobile, but then I started feeling like I was getting whacked in the knee with a metal club when I walked.  That was excruciating!  And it was causing me to stumble and fall. Very attractive I must say.

Dancing is my “Drug of Choice

(When you click on the link above, you’ll see a video of Don & I dancing at Kingston Mines in Chicago this past June.  My daughter shot this unknown to me at the time.  Not the best lit video, but just a typical night dancing for my man and I!)

Anyone who knows me, knows that my “drug of choice” is dancing.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if you are barely ambulatory, you aren’t doing too damned much dancing!  So, I was quickly becoming an unhappy girl!

Do you know that when your knees don’t work, you’re almost unable to get up from any restaurant table?  Few restaurant chairs have arms, and most tables only have a center support pedestal, which makes leaning on the table for leverage impossible.  The whole situation is far less than sexy and attractive, I have to say! It was a struggle every time I went anywhere. I quickly developed a keen sense of empathy for anyone going through physical challenges!

Let me tell you, I definitely have new found respect for people with knee issues.

I went to the Dr., got a check up and x-rays, only to be told I had arthritis, and would probably be needing a knee replacement STAT!  GREAT NEWS!  Just what I wanted to hear! Part of me felt like- do it now and let me get it over with, and the bigger part of me said “HELL NO!”

I refused to just take the word of a western medicine Dr, and decided to do all a could to get my knees back to as normal as possible, before resorting to letting someone take a saw and cut out the supporting members of my legs!

Another deciding factor on dealing with our “western medicine” practitioners came after I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic specialist.  Let’s just leave it at this— after waiting a combined time in both the waiting and exam room of about an hour and a half, I left, never seeing the Dr.  I could hear him visiting with the patient in the next room for 45 minutes, discussing the holidays, family vacations, work, their favorite ski resorts, blah, blah, blah.  I called to the assistant, and explained that I worked, and this was the middle of my work day, but no one seemed to care about me as a person, or as a patient……… I decided I deserved better treatment than this Dr. could provide, and left.

That is when I started doing a little research. I looked into stem cell therapies a bit.  Hard to decipher what is legit there, and what was “snake oil” in the stem cell field. I couldn’t get enough “real data” to figure out what was what with the stem-cell choices.

Tart Cherry Juice Was My Lifesaver!

I started looking into supplements, and started taking a few things.  The one that sounded the least like it would help came from a helpful neighbor.  He suggested I drink Tart Cherry Juice.  It had helped him considerably a few years ago, when he thought he was in line for a knee replacement.  I’ll be damned!  Of all the things I tried (and I’ll share what they were), this is the one that I felt had the greatest impact.  Within about 4 days I saw CONSIDERABLE improvement!  The Cherry Juice helps with inflammation.  It tastes great, and it’s fairly inexpensive, so there is no down side that I can see! (An interesting side effect, is that I was experiencing TMJ symptoms, and realized a week or so after starting on the Cherry Juice, that my TMJ had also diminished to almost nothing.

I also started taking Hyaluronic Acid in a gummy form.  I don’t know if that has had any impact, but for about $30.00 per month, I’m not taking the chance of stopping it!  Besides that, the brand I take tastes really good, and looks pretty cute, so it’s like a free “treat” every day, that I can totally justify!

Pain Free Knees are Happy Knees!

Look Into “Alternative” Solutions! They Just Might Work!

I have two other, slightly pricier things which I tried, and, and believe helped to get me beyond my pain.  I was recommended  a “sports medicine” guy, Ryu Kawajiri at Body Craft in San Diego, and he gave me a combination of exercises, manipulation and a machine he used on me.  The machine is an acuscope. The theory behind the acuscope is that it applies low voltage micro-currents to reduce pain by stimulating the nervous system of the body. It detects the abnormal electrical tissue responses and adjust its own response to produce a balancing effect.  You don’t feel anything  when you are hooked up to the machine, you just lay on the massage type table, and relax.  Some of the manipulation of the muscles that he did was a little uncomfortable, but not too much.

The most interesting thing about this treatment, is that Ryu had informed me my biggest issue, and why my knees were hurting is that I breathe wrong, have too tight of muscles in part of my legs, and not enough in others (hello high heels) and my core was too weak. The exercises he has me do build up my weak areas, and the core, so that I am walking correctly.  Who knew you could breath wrong?  You are supposed to breath in through and out with your stomach, and your shoulders shouldn’t move at all…….. go figure!  So, I am now lying around in strange positions, breathing in and out through a balloon……. And feeling SO much better!  My treatments started out as once a week, but very quickly were spread out to a few weeks apart.  After only a handful of treatments, Ryu informed me that I didn’t need to come back, unless I started experiencing some discomfort again. Was it  worth it?  Damn right it was!  I can see the difference! I am still doing my breathing and stretching exercises, because I never want to go back to the pain I had.

The last major part of my therapy has been Bowen work with another amazing healer, Sharon Edmiston. How or why this therapy works is beyond me, but, once again, it DOES work and that is all I care about.  After discussing what is going on with your body and your life, fully clothed you get on a massage table.  My practitioner comes in and touches you very lightly in a few places, walks out for a few minutes, and then repeats the same process on a different part of your body.  I can’t figure it out, but then, do I really need to?  All I know is that it is helping, and for the little it costs it is well worth the expense.

I’ve done a few other minimal things, such as making bone broth and drinking it occasionally.  But just occasionally, like when I have a chicken in the house to do so!

Real Time Pain Relief has been the best product I could imagine finding for my knee pain!

Pain Relief in A Cream!

I went to a health fair and went by a booth with some “pain creme.” I stopped to talk to the woman at the booth, she asked if I had any pain, and I mentioned my knee problem.  She sat me right down, began to rub the pain creme in, and I walked away a few minutes later.  Believe me, I returned about 10 minutes later and bought the largest bottle of it she had!  I couldn’t believe how much better my knees felt, almost immediately.  I am still using Real Time Pain Relief daily!  It relieves pain, not only in my knees, but in my feet and legs when I need to stand for long periods of time.  I like it SO much, and turned so many of my friends on to it, that I actually became a vendor for it. I’ve tried other topical cremes, but none can TOUCH this stuff!  It’s effective, it’s made from natural ingredients, and you don’t smell like your grandmother when you use it!

My Arthritic Knees Are Restored!

I don’t believe it’s been any one thing that has turned my knees around, but in about 3 months I was back to about 90% normal in one knee, 95% normal In the other.  I have actually, almost completely, had my Arthritic Knees Restored! It certainly beats the alternative, I have to say that!  I know that if my knees had continued along the path they were taking, I’d probably already have had at least one knee replacement by now..  No doubt in my mind!  I’d have had months more of pain, and then the surgery and recovery period.

My dancing would have stopped completely months ago, and it would be many more months before I could have looked forward to dancing again.  I’m not so sure my personal psyche could have dealt with that outcome!

Instead, by taking my own destiny in my hands, exploring alternative procedures, and being willing to put a little of my own money on the line, I am almost completely “back to normal.”  OK, that’s a lie.  I’ll never be normal, but the use of my knees is back to where almost where they were last fall when this started!  I have a bit of stiffness in my left knee some days, but that is it!

You CAN Take Control of Your Health!

You CAN take control of your health, I have no doubt about it.  I’m not some sort of crazy over-the-top health fiend.  My diet is fair to good, on a good day.  I enjoy my foo-foo martinis whenever I entertain, I have my fair share of desserts.  BUT, by doing a few special exercises and drinking my Tart Cherry Juice, my life has been given back to me.

Research  your alternatives before simply taking the word of Western medicine doctors!  Take a few minutes on Google to see if there is an alternative to the medications, surgeries and  the extremes  the Western doctors want to give you!  You may find a natural way around your problem.

If your insurance doesn’t pay for a procedure, consider what the “cost” really is to you.  One of my procedures is about $100.00 each time I go.  Another $50.00.  However, I can cut back on a few frivolities to make it affordable. AND, I had to look at what the cost was if I went the other way?  Unproductivity due to pain.  The inability to do what I love in life.  The time that I would have been out of work if I had a surgery and needed to recover…………..  A bit of money out of my pocket FAR outweighed the alternative.

Put Yourself First!

Put yourself first when t comes to your health.  DON’T just take the word of the first professional who tells you what is going to happen with your health. Talk to people who might know alternative methods, and be open and willing to try something new.  After all, do you really want to be put on medications, and have your body cut open?  Do you really want fake body parts, which are going to eventually wear out again, put inside of you?  Aren’t you worth taking the time to find the very BEST FOR YOU?  I am, and I did!

A great example of WHY taking the time, putting out the money and making the effort to get my knees better happened about a week ago.  My grand daughter Nell was in town, and we did a “girls day” at the water park.  I wasn’t sure how many of the big water slides I’d be able to do.  If you’ve ever been to one of those water parks, you know, the water slides entail, literally, hundreds of stairs to get up to them.  Stairs seem to aggravate my knees more than ANYTHING!  If I’m going to feel pain, it’s on stairs.  Guess what?  We were there from 10 AM until they closed at 6, and I conquered every slide in the place, WITHOUT A TWITCH OF PAIN!  I couldn’t stand the 3 stairs into my house over Christmas, without almost crying, or literally having to have help into and out of the house!

This is where you play the old Frank Sinatra song…….. “I Did It My Way!”

3/19/2018- BREAKING NEWS!  KNEE UPDATE!

I just wanted to give an update on the success of my knees 6 months after originally publishing this blog.  My knees are doing EVEN  BETTER than they were at the time of the blog!  I am still drinking the tart cherry juice and still taking some of the supplements.

I make a point of staying with the cherry juice when I travel, even if it means shipping it through Amazon to where we will be staying.  I can feel the difference in my knees  when I miss drinking it for more than a few days.

Since that time I started going to a gentleman who bills himself as a “massage therapist” near where I live.  However, I’d call Robert Sherman a miracle worker!  He works on my knees if I feel they are a bit “creaky”- but he also works on anything else that may be giving me a little ache or pain!

My right knee is “as right as rain!”  I’d call it 99% PERFECT.  The left knee very occasionally gives me a teeny-tiny ache. I’ll give it a 97% score- still not bad for a 60 year old who is uber active!

Since the time I wrote the article, we have moved into a 2 story home, (with the steepest damned staircase you have EVER seen!) I traverse the stairs with no trouble, I am back to doing Zumba without any problems, and I regularly walk and take Body Pump.  I DO listen to my body, and in Body Pump I still avoid doing lunges, because I can feel that it isn’t a good move for my knees.  We dance at least once a week, and I have no limitations there.

I wanted to give an update to show that this wasn’t just a “temporary” little fix.  Taking my health and my care into my own hands has made all of the difference in the world!

Tsk, Tsk, TSA!

My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, Travel and Adventure, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

If you’ve done much traveling over the past few years, I’m sure you have experienced opening your suitcase to find a white card, about 3 1/2″ x 8 1/2″  to inform you that TSA has done a “safety inspection” of your suitcase.  I have had it happen.  On more than one occasion. (The picture below shows the lovely little form they leave in your suitcase. If you’ve been so lucky to have your bag inspected you will recognize this.)

TSA Safety Inspection…….You may note that nowhere does this say that TSA has been given permission to go on a “search and destroy mission.” Only that they may inspect your items………https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening

I’m the first person to vote for taking necessary precautions to keep our country, airports and aircraft safe.  By all means. I’m sure there is not another American who would want to see a repeat of the awful events of 911.

But the people at TSA obviously have no regard for your items in your suitcase, or how they handle them.

Explain to me this—- does an inspection of your bag result  in your bag looking like it was ransacked by orangutans in the jungle searching for bananas?  Or perhaps an 8 year old frantically searching for his iPad so he can play his favorite video game?  Do you remember the old luggage commercial, where they had an ape throw the suitcase out of the airplane, then stomp on it a number of times to prove its durability?  Evidently, the same apes are still employed at the airport, only they now work for TSA.  Someone told them that the bananas are stored at the bottom of each suitcase, and if they look hard enough, they may find them!

That is the condition my bag has been left on in  more than one occasion.  We just flew up to San Jose, a short 1 hour flight.  My bag was just slightly larger than a carry on size, and I had all my makeup, lotions and potions in it, so of course I checked it.  (Anyone who has traveled with me knows the makeup bag is about 18 pounds alone.  So I’m a bit high maintenance, what can I say?)

When we arrived at our destination, I quickly needed to change for a meeting we were attending.  I opened my bag, to find everything in it jumbled about.  This particular bag is very deep on both sides of the zipper, so there is a zippered panel which separates both sides to keep everything neat. On the bottom side of the bag is an elastic thingy that clips to keep your hanging clothes in place.  The zipped separator was undone, as was the elastic thingy. (In case you are wondering, elastic thingy is the technical term for this apparatus. Just sayin’….)

Believe it or not, this had previously been a neatly packed suitcase. When I opened it, the strapping was undone, the zipper compartment on the other side was undone, and my clothes spilled EVERYwhere when I opened it up. SERIOUSLY TSA? Is this REALLY the way to do things?

I was a little shocked, because I knew this was not how I left things when I packed my bag just a few hours before.  Then it began to hit me………. I’ll bet TSA has had their grubby little hands in my suitcase……… SURE ENOUGH!  There was that telltale white notification.. “Notice of baggage inspection.” While telling that TSA is required by law to inspect all bags, and that some bags are opened and inspected, it’s the second paragraph which is interesting.  The notification states, as follows: During the inspection, your bag and its contents may have been searched for prohibited items.  At the completion of the inspection, the contents were returned to your bag.”

Seriously TSA?

Nowhere in that statement do I see it stating that the contents will be thrown into a giant mixer, tossed around for 15 minutes then thrown back into the bag by gorillas.

The strangest and most disturbing time TSA “hit” my suitcase was a few years ago, when I was……. uh….. single, and going to meet a male friend (OK, a “friend with benefits” if you must).  I opened my suitcase to find it totally in disarray, as described above……. with one exception.  Evidently, Mr. TSA wanted to give his vote on his favorite garments in the suitcase.  In so doing, although he had destroyed the folding and organization of everything in the suitcase, he had layed out, EVER SO CAREFULLY, my red bustier, matching panties, garter,stockings and matching shoes!  COME ON YOU FUCKING PERV!  Really?  You have to riffle through and destroy all of my clothes in the name of “national security” and can’t take a moment to check the suitcase’s contents carefully— YET you have time to lay my lingerie out in a nice little “Flat Stanley” type of ensemble on top of everything, right along with the  card?  Seems to be going a bit far, don’t you think?

It doesn’t end there though. He had even gone so far as to go into my cosmetics bag and get out the lube and condoms. SERIOUSLY?????? They were also laid out with the outfit.

Nice touch TSA!

Nice touch TSA! Not only did he lay out his favorite outfit, but he went so far as to go into my cosmetic bag and take OUT the KY and put it with the outfit! I think he had a hard time deciding between the gold shoes and the red shoes with this outfit, so he gave me the option of deciding!

I even took the time to snap a picture of it, and send it off to TSA.  Never did get a response.  They probably have the photo of my red lingerie ensemble up in the men’s john there, with TSA agents wacking off to it daily!

My advice to you is to be careful what you pack. You just may provide the fodder for some TSA perv to get his jollys at work that day!

PS…….. Don is convinced that my publishing this article will result in me no longer getting the “TSA Pass” when I travel.  I somehow get it every time I go through the airport.  I don’t think enough people really read my shit that TSA is going to put me on the “most wanted” list at the airport.

 

 

Please Flush The Toilet!

Comedy, Mimsy Whimsy, My Humble Opinion, Pet Peeves, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Excuse me, can you please just flush the damned toilet?

Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves, we all have them.  Sometimes, they are legit.  Sometimes, you are just plain fucking crazy.  MY pet peeves are all reasonable.  Anyone and everyone would agree with them, I’m certain.

Park on Freemont

I love the  humor on the sign in the ladies room at this restaurant (Park on Fremont in Las Vegas)!  So many signs in restrooms are ridiculous and boring…and say the same ol’ shit you’ve read 100 times!  If we don’t know by now we need to wash our hands, I think it’s just plain too damned late!

The one that is my #1 Pet Peeve-leaving the toilet, toilet seat or toilet stall a mess.  Listen bitches, when you walk out of a public restroom, before you leave the stall, look back, and make sure that anything you left in or ON  the toilet is gone once you flush.  It SEEMS like such an easy thing to me.  I do it, and never once have I been worn out from the effort. I actually don’t even remember a time I had to take a nap immediately after due to the stress of such tough work. I make sure the toilet paper has flushed, the pee-pee and pooh-pooh have flushed, ass gaskets have gone down the toilet, and no drips are on the seat.  It’s a pretty simple task, in my estimation……

Bathroom Sign

Seriously, should we have to have a sign to tell people this shit? It seems simple enough to figure out, doesn’t it?

Why, oh why, oh why then is it that about 3 times out of 4, I walk into a stall to find one or more of the above mentioned gross situations,  in or on a toilet???? COME ON LADIES!  I’m willing to bet that at home, these same women don’t have huge wads of toilet paper building up in their toilets!  They’d have a fit if their husband left a single drip of urine on the toilet seat. And yet, it’s OK for me to walk in the stall they just walked out of and deal with their filth!

 

The one that REALLY frost my ass is the person who uses an ass gasket (the little paper thing that is supposed to keep you from getting some sort of life-threatening disease) and leaves it on the toilet when they walk out. The tissue thin paper has now soaked up the water/urine/whatever from the toilet being flushed, so that while THEY have chosen not to touch a dry toilet seat previously, they have left a sopping tissue and urine soaked toilet seat for the next victim using the same stall.………

I wish this was a rare occurance, but unfortunately, it just isn’t! Come on- why do I now have to handle YOUR ass gasket?

What About the Golden Rule?

Who the hell thinks this shit is A-OK?  What about the golden rule?  I really don’t understand the thought process of these women, but there evidently are  a huge shit-load of you out there!  I’ve been known on occasion to call someone out when they have just evacuated and left this sort of mess.  “Excuse me, would you like to finish the flushing and wiping process from the toilet you just walked out of?”  Typically, all I have gotten in response is a rude look, as I decide to use another stall.

And, while we are on this shitty topic- how many people REALLY need a reminder, every damned time we are in a toilet, that all that is supposed to go into the toilet is toilet paper?  I honestly think I’ve seen the request made any number of different ways: cute, pleading, bitchy, formally, silly.  All, however said, basically say the same thing- Don’t put anything that didn’t come out of your body naturally, or was used to wipe the same part down the toilet.  Simple.  Seems simple.  Seems uber simple. Can’t we just be told this once in life, and have the information stick?  Evidently there are a lot of people out there breaking this common sense rule too, or they wouldn’t be reminding us of it every time we shut the stall door.  SERIOUSLY?  Come on people, this isn’t fucking rocket science!

Bathroom signs

Again, this isn’t rocket science. Is there any female who hasn’t figured this one out by the time they are 12 years old- and may really need to USE feminine products?

Singapore Does Things Right!  Big Brother, And Sister, Are Watching!

I don’t know if you are privy to this, but in Singapore, you can place someone under citizens arrest if they don’t flush the toilet and leave the stall properly clean and tidy.  I’d add one more layer to that rule, and make them clean the whole damn bathroom.  With their tongues.  I realize, I’m a tough task-master, but anyone who knows me, knows that I just don’t abide rudeness well.  They would remember if they did THAT shit, I’m sure.

This is the type of Bathroom PSA I appreciate. Ones that remind me what to flush and not flush seem redundant…..Club Fox has it right!

Toilets would be flushed.  Ass gaskets would be flushed down the toilet completely and neatly.  Urine drips and God forbid, blood drops would be wiped up, and the wiping tissue placed neatly where it belonged.

A word of advice, should our bathroom useage cross paths….beware, if I’m in the bathroom, and you leave it gross, and I happen to be the one walking in as you walk out….I’m calling you out in front of everyone, so be ready!

Bathroom performance sign

This is painted on the wall of Peggy Sue’s Diner in Yermo- on the way to Las Vegas. Kind of cute. I love it when bathrooms have clever signs in their bathrooms or on the door to tell whether it is a men’s room or women’s room!

If I had a Hammer…..

Giving Back, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, Uncategorized

The famous “pink safety hat” that Habitat gives out to the women who raise over $500.00 for the Women’s Build Day.  SD Habitat for Humanity

Many of you remember the old song, “If I Had a Hammer.”  After working with Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build for a day, helping to build a home for a local San Diego family, I’d definitely finish the line by saying, “I’d replace it with a nail gun or a power drill!”  Hitting nails in the old fashioned way is just not all that easy, nor all that fun!  There is a VERY good reason why, when you walk past a construction site you hear the clacking of nail guns and the whir of power drills. They are one HUGE leap up in productivity from the old fashioned pounding in of the 8 penny or the 16 penny!

Of course, there is plenty-good reason why they don’t give us once-in-a-lifetime types of volunteers nail guns.  Because society would be full of one eyed previous volunteer type people wandering around!  As it was, it was damned good we were all wearing hard hats at this event!  More than one of us was hit in the head by dropped hammers, pieces of wood and other debris!

I have wanted to help with a Habitat for Humanity build for years.   I never really knew how to go about it, until the opportunity presented itself a few weeks back.  A friend of mine from a networking group I belong to put out the word that she was trying to put together a team of women for a local build day.  I immediately jumped at the chance, even though I was already committed to another volunteer opportunity that evening.  I knew I might be bone tired for my volunteer ushering with some friends, but I wasn’t going to miss this chance.

Part 1 of volunteering for the build is you need to raise a minimum of $300.00. Raising money for these types of volunteer events used to be pretty easy.  Now that there is some sort of MS walk, Breastcancer walk, Brain Cancer walk, Alzheimers event or other needy-cause event nearly every weekend, I find it’s much harder to raise funds.  I volunteer for these events 5-10 times a year, and you can only put your hand out so many times before people just don’t even notice any more.  Therefore, raising the $300.00 in about 5 weeks wasn’t as easy as I had hoped! I knew that if needed I could donate whatever hadn’t been raised.  And my man also offered to put up anything needed, so it wasn’t going to be a deal breaker on participating in the event. The biggest chunk of donations came in over the last couple of days. We only had to kick in about $100.00 total.

Our team at 7 AM, meeting at a Starbucks to caravan down to our build site, in the Logan Heights area of San Diego. Left to Right: Darcy Wolfe, Tonya Dubrish, Lisa O’Hearn, Kim Lombardi,  Patti Phillips, Hadley Wood

The morning of the build, Saturday, May 20 was bright and sunny. Our team met up at a Starbuck’s coffee, located near where most of us lived, so that we could caravan down to Logan Heights, where the build was to take place.  We had 2 cars, because I needed to find a YMCA to shower and change at immediately after our build, to go on to event #2!  All 5 of us grabbed a coffee and piled into 2 cars to get to the build site before 8:30 AM.

The minute we arrived, we were given our tee shirts and those who had raised over $500.00 were given pink hard hats or a pink tool belt- their choice.  I was feeling a little jealous that I had neighter, but, what’s a girl to do?

There were coffee, drinks, croissants and bagels to help ourselves to, until the kickoff announcements took place.  We were all chomping at the bit to get the building started.

The site we worked on will eventually be 11 homes for low income families.  They are attached- 4 or so to a building, and our assigned unit was Unit #1, a handicapped friendly unit. (Not sure how that’s going to work, as all of the bedrooms are upstairs, but this is not my monkey, and not my circus.)

We all grabbed hammers, tool belts, safety glasses and hardhats and were assigned our 2 male “supers” for the day.  And away we went……   One of the first things I noticed was that hammering a nail is just wasn’t as freaking easy as I had thought it would be.  Then I was told, we didn’t have big enough hammers, go outside and find some bigger hammers.  Unfortunately, no one had mentioned that the buckets held 2 sizes of hammers when we chose our tools, and the big ones seemed to be gone.  I was sent to ask Dale, one of the long timers who works on all the local Habitat builds, where to get a larger hammer.  After investigating, Dale let me know that none of the large hammers were still available, and after promising I could be trusted with his own personal, FAVORITE hammer, he entrusted me with it.

Patti & Dale- Habitat for Humanity Build

Here I am with Dale at the Habitat for Humanity Build. He let me use his “big tool” that day, and let me tell you- size DOES matter! Don’t let them kid you!

Let me tell you something.  Size does matter!  Hitting in a nail with Dale’s big tool was 100% easier than it was with the previous hammer.  But now I had to shlep 2 hammers, because I had a pinky swear with Dale that I would not use his hammer to pull out any bent nails.  A girl has to live up to her word, so one hammer to put the nails in, one to take them out.  (Yes, sometimes the nails just seem to have a mind of their own, and decide to give this wet-noodle performance.  they have to go.)

And not to brag, but this lefty found out that she’s ambidexerous when it comes to wielding a hammer!  Yep, I can use the left, the right, or when needed BOTH hands to get the job done.  My abilities just never cease to amaze me!

I got to use a power saw to cut a few of the beams, and we quickly came to realize how damned heavy a 24 foot beam is!  Holy Shit, lift a few of those puppies in place and you know you’ve lifted something.

My first try with a power saw. And dammit, I want one of my very own now!

Our team of women was great. There wasn’t one whinner or wimp amongst them! Everyone worked the whole day, the only complaint was that we wanted a shorter lunch hour, and wished we could have worked a bit longer!  Team “Carlsbad Cares” rocked it, I must say!

Patti & Kim at lunch. We took a bit of razzing from our team, because neither one of us had removed our safety helmets or safety goggles while we were eating! Hey- we are professionals here, people!

It got hotter than hell out there by afternoon, I must say!  I have a newfound appreciation and respect for construction workers now, no way around it!  Geez, when you are up on scaffolding and you are so hot you think for a minute you might faint, it’s not fun!

H4h nails

I took a bit of razing about the fact that my nails matched the hard hats, and tool belts exactly. Only trouble was- I didn’t earn the pretty things! I need to raise more funds next year! The Queen needs to be decked out!

The most surprising part of the day was when we found out that this job site will take Habitat about 2 years to complete!  I had no idea that the jobs take that long. There is a good chance that we might be back here working on the same project for next year’s build! I am going to find out how I can do another day on this building.  I would love to see it when it is closer to being completed, and perhaps do some of the finish work or painting!

On site, along with breakfast and lunch, there are volunteers who give each volunteer a 10 minute chair massage.  Believe me, those were much appreciated by all! I didn’t realize that I had a few sore arm muscles from hammering, until she started to work them out of me!

At each build day there is a playhouse which is constructed and given out to different community places.  The wood is pre-cut, so it is basically assembled and painted.  This is the one that one of the teams put together. It turned out really cute!

The playhouse which was created by one of the teams on our build day. Just darling! It will go to a local playground, school or boys and girls club.

I was UBER impressed, when at the morning kick off they announced the person and team who had raised the most money for the event.  A darling, trim blonde, Kay Grimes had raised over $7200.00 and her team, “The Riveters raised over $17,000 between them.

 

Kay Grimes

Kay Grimes was the top individual fundraiser for our build day! I have to say, I was REALLY jealous of the pink tool box she got as an award! I think that looked like it was “made for a queen”— don’t you?

I was curious as to how this team got together, and how they raised such a phenomenal amount.  Kay shared with me that their team leader, Kelly Mercado, put together a group of friends who all work in the building industry.  Kay said that raising the amount she did had actually been easy.  Here is a quote from her email to me about her fundraising.  “There’s no great secret to my fundraising, actually.  My job puts me in a position the people (1) open my emails, (2) read them, and (3) want to make me happy.  That’s it in a nutshell, so I don’t have any amazing tips, other than always being very appreciative of those who support me.”

The Rivetors Team

The Rivetors! Top fundraising team! Here they are, enjoying a beer at the end of the build day! You go girls! (You’ve gotta love the girl who has tennies matching the t-shirts!

It’s great that Kay and her team both had the support they did. I’m sure a big part of the support was because of relationships Kay and her friends have cultivated in their communities. It is good to hear that our local building industry is so supportive of the Habitat endeavors.  I know that most of the supplies were donated to this site, quite a lot of them by Home Depot and Lowes.  I am looking forward to seeing Kay, The Rivetors and all of the other friends I made this year, again at next year’s event.  I know that I will be there!

So, my friends, please consider donating to the cause next year when I put out the plea for donations for this event.  It’s certainly a worthwhile event.  Not a hand out to a family, but a hand up.  The families that are able to purchase the homes give 250 hours each to the building of a Habitat home. They have some skin in the game, and they are able to achieve the great American Dream- home ownership!

You Can’t Always Trust “BOB”

Comedy, Fabulous After 50, Mimsy Whimsy, Serious Shit, Sexuality, Sexy After 60!, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!
Spying Vibrator

Spying Vibrator! Watch out ladies!

You can’t always trust BOB  (Battery Operated Boyfriend)

A friend of mine mentioned to me that she doesn’t need a boyfriend.  She already has BOB.  BOB it seems, is a battery operated boyfriend.  (For those of you who are really slow, this is a vibrator.)  I thought that a great play on words.  After all, men can let you down, but BOB won’t.  Right???

Wrong!  It turns out that not only could BOB let you down, but he could severely disappoint you.  Make you feel the fool.  Use and abuse you!  You might wonder how in the world THAT could be possible?

The big story broke in the news mid-March.  Evidently, the company who makes a vibrator known as the We-Vibe got caught spying on their buyers’ personal vibrator use!  Yep, that’s right people!  You could buy this vibrator, and then download an app which allowed it to be turned on through your smart phone remotely or whatever you wanted…..

Let’s recap this.  If you haven’t seen this vibrator, it’s a little c-shaped number, that I guess clamps right into the ol’ vagina and on your clit.  So, I’m not understanding this.  Are women walking around with this thing, and just for shits and giggles the hubby hits the on button from his smart phone while he’s busting it out earning a buck at the office?  I’m pretty damn forward thinking sexually, but this whole thing just isn’t making sense to me…..Maybe one of you who read this blog will fill me in, because I’m a bit mystified here. Truly I am….. I just can’t imagine that I’m going to spend my day hooked up to my little We vibrator………  I mean, wouldn’t it just want to fall out?  Now THAT could be an embarrassing moment in your day.

Clit-Gate… Someone’s Watching!

So, as the story goes, the folks that be, at We Vibe’s parent company, Standard Innovation, went into the records of all the sexually active users, to determine how long and at what frequency said customers used their little sex toys. You could think of this as “Clit-Gate.” The app was called We-Connect.  I guess that people didn’t realize that the WE who would be connecting was going to be the manufacturer, checking in on YOUR vagina! This is worse than the spying Russians! Worse than the spying microwaves!  These spys are right in your bedroom, and hooked up to your Va- Jay-Jay!  It doesn’t get any more personal than this!  The only spy I’ve know who was this intimate was James Bond, and he had to at least don a tuxedo and talk his way into a ladies bedroom before he turned on the “spy mode!”

You’ve Can’t Trust These New-fangled inventions!

Interesting Data Research Project…

Now THAT must have been some interesting data research going on there!  Can’t you see it?  “Hey boss, Mary Smith in Wasco, Illinois uses her vibrator 8 times a day, for an average of 16 minutes each time.  Do you think I could google her, and give her a call?  I’m all about helping out a girl in need!”

So, however the beans got spilled, the powers that be found out that women’s clits all over the United States were being spied on, without their knowledge, and it resulted in a HUGE settlement from the sex toy manufacturer.

A New Meaning to The Phrase “Your Money-Maker”

In fact, if it turns out that you are one of the people who downloaded this app, it was worth a whopping $10000.00 to you!  Holy Shit!  I’d have bought one of these puppies had I known I could use the money maker to make this kind of money!

And if it turns out that you bought the We-vibe, but didn’t download the app, so your sweetie could turn you on remotely?  Still worth $199.00 buck-a-roos.  Not bad. I guess it’s about the amount these things cost when you purchased them, so they are paying you back for their fuck up.  Good deal, you can still use the original We-Vibe, and visit the sex store to buy some new sex enhancing items.

Just watch what you download on them, you never know who might be watching!  Just in case you think I might make this shit up- here is an article to prove that I am a girl of my word! Google and you will find numerous other articles discussing the lawsuit.  Interesting reading, for those nights you don’t have BOB to entertain you……

Meanwhile,  I think I’ll just stick with the good ol’ fashioned boyfriend that I have at home, and forget the new fangled, remote controlled BOB!

Afternote on this blog.  I looked up to see how you are supposed to use this wonder of sexuality.  It turns out, the “spy factory” produced a film.  If you want a REAL laugh, I’d suggest you watch the “how to” film.  The use of this object is only more mystifying to me at this point.  Between the petting the couple are doing to each other, and the hand used to exemplify a woman’s vagina……. I am thoroughly confused.  And Amused…….. (We-Vibe How To Video)

You Did the Best You Knew How!

Mothering 101, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, Uncategorized
Kids & Patti 1991

My kids and me, 1991 Gotta love my clothing and hair selection!  Every Day is Mother’s Day!

Mom, You Aren’t Perfect

It’s the eve of Mother’s Day.  A holiday that touches every one of us in some way, no matter our religion, our age or our status.  If we aren’t a mother ourselves, every one of us had a mother.  Our mother may or may not be alive. Some mothers did a better job of it than others. We may have a close relationship with our mother, or we may not have a relationship at all with them, but when Mother’s Day rolls around, we are all aware of it, no matter what the situation is.

A few days ago, I saw a facebook post about Mother’s Day which struck me, as it spoke to my “mother’s heart”, and I decided to share it. I have been amazed at how many of my friends shared it, and how many of THEIR friends have continued to share it.  I was also stunned at how many people took the time to comment on the post, and actually thank me for posting.  One “friend of a friend” actually posted that he was amazed at how many people cut and pasted this sentiment, and asked if our society can’t think for themselves, and come up with their own unique sentiments, posts and feelings.  Her response to him was that sometimes, someone else can articulate better than we can, and that this piece speaks our feelings as a mother rather profoundly.

The Best Gift

I’ll share the original post, before I go on with my own thought on Motherhood and Mother’s Day:

“Every year my children ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give them my real answer:

What do I want for Mother’s Day? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job and your worries.

I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Hearing you laugh is music to me.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work.

Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I want you to spend your money making a better life for yourself, I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Mother’s Day, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.
If you feel the same way, feel free to copy and paste… I did!  ❤️❤️”

If you are a mom, I’m sure you can fully understand the sentiment that was in this post.  We don’t want “things” from our kids. We want THEM, their time, their presence, their love.

Jane Clark, Patti Phillips mom.

My mom, Jane Clark. What a great woman! Gone far too young.  She left us when I was only 22 years old.

A few years ago, when my firstborn was small, I met a woman in a Mommy and Me group who had a beautiful necklace.  On a simple disc was inscribed, “Always remember, you did the best you knew how at the time.”  When I asked her about it, she told me that when her first daughter was born, her mother presented the necklace to her at the hospital.

“This is the best parenting advice I can give you,” her mother said.  “It’s inevitable that throughout your parenting years you’ll look back and wonder if you did the right thing, if you should have done things differently.  This is what you need to always remember.  Don’t be too tough on yourself.  You did the best you knew how at the time.”

I’ve never forgotten that necklace. Never forgotten that sage piece of advice her mother gave her.  By the time I had my son, my firstborn, my mother had been gone  over 6 years.  She wasn’t around to give me her advice, so I adopted that wise woman’s advice to her daughter as my own belief.

50['s party 1994

My son and me at Our 50’s Party 1994.  One of my favorite things other than motherhood, is dressing in costume!

What mom did it perfectly?  Who hasn’t thought of things they could have done better, done differently or not done at all?  They say that with age comes wisdom, and when we look back, we sometimes shake our heads in wonder that we all made it quite as far as we did in life, without the whole damn thing unraveling and coming to a stop.

50's paty

Alyse & me at our 50’s party 1994.  I had fun making our skirts for this party!

But for the most part, unless we are some sort of abusive, drug addicted, psychopathic nut-case, we probably did a pretty darned good job of it. There is not doubt in my mind, we did the best we knew how at the time.

The thing we don’t have control of, so often, is our children. Years ago, I would speak to groups of young moms, and my advice to them was to not take too much credit for how their children turn out, whether they turn out stellar pillars of society, or at the bottom of the societal heap.  Unfortunately, this is the truth in the matter.  I’m sure that if you dissected any number of families, whether you looked at the immediate family of a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a president, a top athlete…….or you looked at the family of Jack the Ripper, a mass murderer or Hitler…….. if any of those people had siblings, some of them turned out average, some of them turned out well, and one sibling was outstanding and became famous.  Whether that “achievement” they were known for is for the good or the bad, those parents raised their children all with the same basic set of rules, the same parenting skills and the same environment.  Therefore, we can’t take too much credit- good or bad, for how they turned out.

I have two of my own “natural” children, and have raised many stepchildren throughout my lifetime (and some of that is another story for another day……).  The relationships I have with my daughter and my son are two very different ones.  I’m not nearly as close to my son as I’d like to be.  Why?  I wish I could say. My daughter and I are very close.  Is it that they were raised differently?  No.  Would I like it to be different?  Yes.  Just as the facebook post says, I’d love to have my kids in my life on a daily basis.

The Choice Becomes Your Children’s

The discussion my man and I repeat over and over about our relationships with our grown children is that we have to do the best we can.  We reach out.  We extend the invitation to join us in our lives, at events, in our home. We extend those invitations with love, sincerity and a desire to spend time with the people we helped create. What those adult children choose to do from THEIR end is their choice.

What I DO know, is that, as the sage piece of advice stated, I did the best I knew how at the time.  My best may have not been the best ever done in the world.  But, it also is far from the worst.  I happen to think I did a pretty damn good job of it a good amount of the time.  That’s all we’ve got to give. Our best.

Meanwhile, I get to spend Mother’s Day with my family this year.  The plan is for all of my “ducklings” to be together for the day, my own two, and my step-daughter who I had the privilege of raising for many of her years.  And that, for me, is the best Mother’s Day present a mom could ask for.

And by the way, if you want to share the Facebook post that inspired this on your page, feel free.  If you want to share this whole darned article on your FB page, I’d be honored.

If you are a mom, Happy Mother’s Day to you.  Thanks for doing the best you knew how.