Chevy Update-Adopted!

I never knew until that moment how bad it could hurt to lose something you never really had. ~From the television show The Wonder Years

It’s one of those lessons you learn over and over again.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving I am grateful that our little Chevy has found a forever home. I’m also sad as hell that it wasn’t with Aunt Tootsie.

In a series of funny, happening at the same time, one of us lurking one way while the other was lurking another way texts, our Thanksgiving holiday unfolded something like this:

Me to Toots:  There’s a video of our little Chevy on his 11th Hour page.  He’s got a foster home. Thought you should know.

Toots to Me:  LOL Thought you should know his foster family couldn’t “handle him” so we are taking him home for the weekend until 11th Hour reopens after the holiday.

Me to Toots: LOL that little dog is going to wind up with you yet.

Toots to me et al:  He’s back!!!!!!!!!!

And their holiday unfolded with joy and two dogs playing and the family getting to know him and snuggling on the couch while watching the game, and falling asleep to the sound of small doggy snoring.  Thankfulness all over the place.

Come Friday, you hear the news you think you were hoping for all along and suddenly you’re taking that same damn ride to Mt. Olive again to meet a possible forever family.  Aunt Toots was asked to do the second meet and greet with the prospective forever family.  They passed the application criteria.  They have a puggle girl (according to Toots not as cute as Chevy). They know the breed.  Now the only thing that remains is for the two dogs to meet.

Toots to me et al: Chevy is adopted and has a sister Lulu! I met the family and they are thrilled.  Me…Not so much, I’ll miss the little fella.

Me to Toots:  You did a wonderful thing Toots, your status in the universe is permanently cemented, love u

Toots to me et al:  ….It’s all good.  Lots of tears…again! Mark is taking me for a Bloody Mary.  Love u all.

So in the scheme of things the Bloody Mary will help for a minute but lessening the imprint left on Aunt Tootsie’s heart might take a minute or two more.  It’s what we want for any shelter dog, the opportunity to have a forever home of their own.  The trick is not to get attached in that shadowy period between you’ve got them until they’ve got a good home and you’ve got them and don’t ever want to let them go. Nearly impossible to do unless your heart can be dragged out and tucked back in with the greatest of ease.  Only after many foster dogs can the ache be minimized but I assure you even the strongest of foster Momma’s shed a tear.

As for our darling, Tootsie I meant what I said about her status in the universe. As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma. ~Sri Guru Granth Sahib






Future Considerations

So many terrific things happened in the past week (there were a few pain in the ass moments too) that I felt compelled to make a list of future considerations.  Points that have somehow wound their way through this past week to make it what it was and how to capture them to create circumstances that will continue the trend.

10.          Opinions – I’ve got them, shocking I know. One’s personal opinions are never wrong by virtue of the fact that they are opinions. Completely ignore anyone who says your opinions are wrong because their ignorance of the concept of opinion is self-serving and ignorant. Even if their opinions are based in incorrect data you are not going to change them and they are entitled to their view.  I want to base my own opinions in well-rounded fact finding, openness to varied views combined with personal experience and strong emotional links.  In other words, stay current, well read and open to new ideas.  I’ve also learned that it is not always necessary to share ones opinions…so much more on that later.

9.            Plan B –I’ve been there done that, living in perpetual Plan B isn’t healthy, soulful, or fun in any way.  However, shit happens and sometimes the best of intentions can get thrown under the bus.  Learn to distinguish when plan B is just an excuse for laziness, blatant disregard for me or when any number of real life factors intervenes to create an unavoidable and unintentional slight.  Recognize those who continue to force you into Plan B and get them out of your life quickly, at the very least demote them to arm’s length status to avoid any further pain in the ass moments.

8.            Exercising –It can be mind-numbingly boring…..I really want to find more ways to exercise that are fun.  They’re out there, so I’ll open myself up to seek help, ask, join, enlist people who can rally round my quest…and find a way to make exercising something I want to do on my own and with like- minded buddies. You know the ones that need to be pushed and prodded to get going.

7.            Posture –It’s important, you don’t want to look like your Grandmother, and you can easily look 5-10 lbs. thinner just by standing up straight. I need to find a way to recognize the slouch and picture my mother giving me that poke in the back to make me stand up straight. Catching that off handed glimpse in the mirror is getting frightening.  Agghhh

6.            Eating –Do not use food for anything other than for what it was intended, nourishment and joy. Read and reread Peter Kaminsky’s Culinary Intelligence.  Value the flavor per calorie (FPC) concept.  Never beat myself up for enjoying anything wonderful (i.e. Haagen Dazs Carmel Cone Ice Cream, Rispoli’s sfigliatele) and always try to use food for energy, nutrients and love.

5.            Laughing –This is an essential part of daily, yes daily, living.  It should be done often, loudly, and with abandon.  It should be done alone and with others.  This is a fundamental piece of my living. Thank you Willa for your ever insightful and hilarious mini FB blog posts.

4.            Companionship – Can you find joy in every day?  Those with kindness, humor, common interests, loving and patient ways need only apply.

3.            Friends – Facebook has it pretty well covered when it comes to categorizing and required actions. New friends are not immediate close friends, old friends are unimaginably more valuable than close friends and require a list of their own, and an acquaintance is not any less for their limited prominence in my life.  The need to establish settings/boundaries is important and to recognize when one must unfriend someone is immeasurably beneficial to one’s own well-being.

2.          Family, family, family.  One does not have to have been born into to be a family member.  My family is everything to me.  My extended family is everything to me.  Family, family, family.

1.            Health – Be your own advocate, take the time to know your body, do not procrastinate and be not afraid of anything.  Be kind to your body, it will take you far into your crotchety old age if given the chance.

These are my future considerations. Define your list, be it consideration, bucket or f**k it.  Know where you’ve been, learn from your experiences, and create your future.  This list has been a long time in the making and will morph and grow over time.  In each of these considerations a bit of legacy will take shape and carry me well into my very old, need a sippy cup for my wine, pastry loving old age.   I know like I know.

Veterans Day

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.

It means we can look to our left or to our right and thank a veteran in our neighborhood, our workplace, our church, our gym, and our schools and all over our country.   They are alive, they are working, they are setting examples through ordinary lives being well lived.  They seldom discuss their service and shy away from the spotlight but make no mistake they are among you and even now impacting your lives.

The numbers of veterans I know and love are many.  They have taught me so many things, most recently how to raise two little rescue girls from Arkansas, thank you Shawn, the value of a good long walk, thank you Alan, the value of education, thank you Rawleigh, how to truss a roast, thank you Paulie and how to keep my Aunt Millie’s Easter Bread a valued tradition, thank you Jack. My thanks are heartfelt for the patience and generosity these men have shown over the years and I’m glad they are still around and among us to this day.

The veterans that I’ve lost are forever in my heart and memory.  The strength and legacy of each of them will far outlast their being among us on a day to day basis. Although I wish my father and my friend Cookie were still here, I make it my business to keep their names on everyone’s lips.

This is the first year that we will no longer have a living veteran to honor from World War I.  Rest in peace knowing that your honor follows you and we remain grateful for your service. Give thanks today for all that you have, it is yours because of a Veteran.  Let them know their service was appreciated.


Hurricane Sandy

I’ve had a personal meteorologist for many years.  My sister can truly attest that I am, indeed, a hurricane.  She’s been living in the eye of this hurricane forever and only ventures to the gale force winds on occasion.   So the least they could have done, if they were going to name an official hurricane after me, was spell my name right.

Frankenstorm, superstorm, up until Sunday many believed I’d make a right and head out to sea.  I’ve been known to do that at least twice a year.  By many I mean the been fooled before, won’t get fooled again brethren.  Never the less with skeptiscm in my heart I picked up milk, cleared my deck, filled my tank, stashed some extra cash and waited to be proven a fooled again one more time.

Sunday confirmed the path and we hunkered down.  The winds began coming up Sunday night.  The girls had been out and done their best synchronized poop on command, “hurry up/good girls” (bless you yet again Shawn Stewart for advocating the “on command” part of life with a dog) and we were in for the night.

Monday morning we completed the remaining odds and ends; pulling soup from the freezer, making a tiny little lasagna and a peach upside down cake (God forbid there’s nothing to eat) were completed.  Candles ready, flashlight, Kindle, phone, Ipad fully charged.  Finished all the work I had brought home and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.  Took a long hot shower, have some dinner, pour a glass of red , check the storm coverage and at 9:15 we’re dark.  Ok. The girls had already been “synchronized” so we’re good.

Coinciding with the dark came a call from my dear friend Edith in Georgia.  I would know the sound of that voice anywhere and was thrilled to hear it coming through the dark.  She was doing what she does, checking in, praying and handing her love over to us right as the lights went out.  Some light comes from a cherished thirty five year friendship not the power company.

Not much to do now but pile in the bed with the girls and wait out the brunt of the storm which was in full swing. By now you all know that my Lina is a scaredy Mary Pit mix.  Every howl of the wind and she scooted a little closer.   The sound of the limbs snapping in the enchanted forest was distinct, heart breaking and very close…we managed to sleep and woke only a few times during the night.  I throw a hell of a storm.

The early morning brought torrential rain and then a drizzle…let’s go girls.  7:15 out the door, synchronized, back in the house and the rain and wind pick up again.  Of course we got a tiny reprieve to poop, let the blessings begin.

Terri, Muriel, Mom and I had been in almost constant contact through the mess.  Everybody was safe.  The number of people texting me to see if we were alright was heartwarming and welcome and reassuring.  My text replies to all at this point:  No power, no damage, old school coffee, could be worse, we’re fine.

It’s no surprise to anyone that I love my coffee so you won’t be surprised to find out I was the only one on Stowe Lane with an old school aluminum, stay cool handle, two cup, percolator and ground Starbucks (thank you Bill Sides, I adore you for keeping me stocked).  I call it my Father’s coffee pot (my Mother says it’s hers but everything above the basement was hers) because he used it to make a pot of coffee each day around mid-morning when he came home for “coffee and…”  I think he was forbidden to use the glass pot at one point when parts became difficult to get and extinction wasn’t far behind.

As the coffee began to perk on the stove the sound and smell transported me back so many years that it brought tears to my eyes.  Today in the eye of the storm I would be having coffee with my Father.  There is an art to making perked coffee that I was lucky enough to learn and master long ago and remember to this day.  You begin with a medium flame and as soon as the coffee starts to perk you turn it down to low.  The smell is intoxicating.  How long do you let it perk?  Well my Father timed it this way; turn it down, go to the bathroom, set the table, get two cookies out of the cookie jar, pull the milk out of the fridge and it’s ready.  The things you remember from a hundred years ago.

Text to Muriel: I have coffee.  Soon my Stowe Lane family was gathered at my table having coffee, yet another blessing.  It takes a certain kind of person to drink perked coffee; it’s stronger by virtue of how it’s passed through the grinds.  Needless to say our energy abounded for the rest of the day.

The girls and I took to our front room, our office, for a day of reading.  It’s the brightest room so we wouldn’t require flash lights, candles or lighted battery powered devices.  I warmed chicken soup on the stove, made crostini in a skillet and more coffee, then more reading.

A calm in the weather gave way to a walk around the neighborhood.  The damage seemed minimal so we felt blessed again even though we had no power.  More synchronization and we headed back home out of the snap in the air.

While I was enjoying my home, albeit without power, many others were in total devastation.  I had only the minimum contact with the outside world through what people were sharing on Facebook.  I didn’t have a battery powered radio and frankly I don’t think I would have allowed myself the total absorption that most people feel compelled to do in these circumstances.  I prayed for them, I wished speedy recovery, but I didn’t really know anything beyond my own little family.

My mother was also without power but her building is a senior housing building so their generator kept the heat on at a minimum and they had hallway lights.  Clever woman that she is, she perched herself in the doorway of her apartment and read by the light of the hallway emergency lights.  I thank God for her recent cataract surgery to bring back her love of reading over anything else.  And bless her for instilling that love of reading in both my sister and I.  The blessings continue.

My sister, on the other hand, was sitting in a parking lot staging area awaiting our friend, her best friend, Maria’s family’s rescue from their home in Little Ferry.  A dam broke in Moonachie and reached all the way into neighboring towns creating an emergency evacuation situation.  Maria now resides in California.  My sister did what we do; I am in awe of her and so proud of our family.  My mother was lamenting about feeling so helpless wishing she could do something.  She’s spent her whole life “doing something” she can sit down now, we got this.  Brava, Terri your friend Maria could not be more grateful that you got her family to Uncle Gus in Bergenfield.

Our evening meal was the left over lasagna warmed in the skillet.   Pour a glass of red; put a log on the fire and bursting through the door comes Muriel for a check-in…and a bottle of wine…and a can of Coke for Martina…and D batteries for the downstairs neighbor.  Another evening without power safely tucked away on Stowe Lane.

Halloween is cancelled.  The New York City parade can’t make it through the village because the village seems to be gone.  There is no access.  Our Governor has rescheduled Halloween for November 5th.  I am not a fan of our Governor but I must say he handled this situation with decisiveness, tough (and sometimes quite funny) talk, common sense and candor.  He doesn’t believe in many of the things that are important to me but I applaud his crisis management.

By day four my Mother is asking, What day is it?  I had to actually look at my phone to find out.  It’s Thursday Ma.  That there is more reading and more coffee and more reflecting is an understatement.  I take a little ride each day just to charge my phone and remember what it feels like to be out and about.  There isn’t much open and the desolation seems very Cormack McCarthy in areas.  I can see how people get to a point where they don’t want to leave their homes.  You start thinking 56 degrees isn’t that cold just put on another layer.  I don’t light the fire until it gets dark.  I’ve begun walking the dogs each time I feel a bit cold and it seems to do the trick.  We are indeed synchronized in this household.

Second round of texts:  Still no power, got hot water, got firewood, gas range, the now envied by all percolator, all in all quite blessed.

My friend Ev packs up her kids and brings them up for showers and breakfast.  They have no power, and since their house is all electric they have, well nothing.  Ahhhhh, there is nothing like a good hot shower to make a person feel human again.  I venture out to the store for non-refrigerated items and just to keep my driving skills and my phone charged.  I’ve cooked off some of the items in the freezer that have started to thaw and discarded most of what remains in the fridge.  The beauty and the blessing of a new refrigerator is that the seal is perfect.  Much of the food hasn’t even begun to thaw yet.

When the lights come back on I actually gasp as if it is the most wonderful gift I’ve ever been given.  My eyes fill up as I realize that so much is happening in our state that is devastating that it’s hard to keep up.  People have lost their lives, some are still missing, and the damage to homes and property will keep us busy for quite some time. There are gas lines and bickering, I can’t be the only one who remembers 1974 for crying out loud.  Much of our childhood’s memories have been washed out to sea with the boardwalk institutions.

Through this I remain grateful, for my home, my girls, my family, the Aunt Ms, my friends, neighbors and my colleagues who are all safe.  For the piece of nostalgia that has grounded the “it’s just stuff/it’s just cars” mantra.  To be able in all this mess to have coffee with Thomas has been a priceless moment brought about by a hurricane name Sandy.

Final text:  Power back, thawed out nicely, feeling pretty damned blessed, love you

To all of you who checked in and stayed in, I love you.  Terri, Mom, Muriel, Martina. Edith, Kyle, Kate, Nicole, Sandra, Marge, Barbara, Ev, Bill, Justin, Matt, Nancy Lynn, Tonine, Ki, Bev, Ally, Marlo, Jeanette, Fran, Penny, Linda, Corrine and Mick.


Hurricane Sandy reading list:

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,  Robert Fulghum, Ivy Books (or anything by Robert Fulghum)

La Bella Lingua, My love affair with Italian the world’s most enchanting language, Dianne Hales, Broadway Books

Walking Wisdom, Gotham Chopra with Deepak Chopra, Hyperion Books

How to Hepburn, Lessons on living from Kate the great., Karen Karbo, Bloomsbury Books