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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Super Powers

When Averie was working on this show:

Yeah, yeah...I know, it's gone now.  That's another story for another time.  Anyhow...back when Averie was working on this now defunct show, she called and told us that she got some pretty cool schwag.  No, not the kind you put in your bowl and smoke.  The promo kind.  The kind that would have the name of the show, or network, or something like that.  "I think Daddy will really like what I have for him."

The next time she came home for a visit, she was all smiles as she handed Charlie a really great Columbia polar fleece pullover.  It has the name of the show on the sleeve:

Averie was absolutely right.  Charlie DOES really like it.  In fact, he likes it so much, that for the past two years, except in the sweltering summer, not a day goes by that he isn't wearing his "Cape" as he's come to call it.  "Hey, did you happen to wash my cape today?"  Yes, that's really what he says.  He loves that jacket.  When he gets home from work after a hard day, the first thing he does is walk to our room, change into comfy clothes, and put on his cape.  He says it has the "super power" to make him feel better.  The show may not have lasted longer than a few weeks, which is kinda crappy, because we liked it, but this jacket is in it for the long haul.  Much to Charlie's delight.

Usually, when he takes it off, he drapes it over the end of the bed.  It stays there until he gets home from work.  Lately, Ellie has been spending a lot of time in our room, resting on our bed.  Yesterday, I noticed that she was sleeping on Charlie's "cape".  I had a wistful thought that maybe, just maybe, it could transfer some of its super powers to her while she sleeps.   I remember the days when I thought a beach towel with the ends tied around my neck could make me believe that I could fly.  I want to believe that Charlie's cape can make Ellie feel better.  She's actually sleeping, quite blissfully on it right now, so I'm just gonna keep believing.  It makes ME feel better to believe that.  Maybe it does have super powers after all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Timing is Everything

Ellie and I have been enjoying the beautiful day.  She likes to sit on a patch of soft, green grass, just off the porch, in the shade of the eaves.  I sit on the porch stoop right next to her.  It's quiet in the neighborhood today, and I'm quite sure it's because it's a stunningly beautiful day.  Given the choice, I would probably rather be out galavanting in the sunshine too.  However, since Ellie is content to sit on her grass pillow and watch the clouds drift by, I'm content to sit with her and do the same without so much as a pinch of guilt.

It's been a pretty tough couple of years.  I had hope that 2013 would be better.  But hope and I are not very good friends these days, I guess.  It's a precarious relationship.  I'm almost afraid to be happy because for every small glimmer of joy, there seems to be a hammer lurking in the shadows just waiting to come down.  I know that's just a pained heart talking, and I try really hard not to live in the darkness of that shadow.  But it can be pretty hard sometimes.  I want to be optimistic, but currently, with regard to Ellie's failing health, I can only live in the now.  The facts are the facts, and the facts suck.  On the other hand, Ellie is still here.  That's a fact that doesn't suck.  I have to find the happy in that.  I just don't want to say it louder than a whisper because that hammer is lurking and waiting.

I've always held on to the thought that you're never to stop learning.  You're never to feel that you're an "expert" at anything.  Even if you are, you can learn to be humble about it.  It's always a journey, this life we live.  No matter how old you are, there is some lesson to learn.  I believe, with my whole heart, that when the student is ready, the teacher will come.  Today, our mail carrier delivered my lesson plan from my teacher.

For someone who has always considered herself a very spiritual person, I have been struggling massively lately.  I've offered words of hope, compassion, love and optimism to those people around me who have, themselves, been struggling with the cruelties that life has been flinging at them.  But at the end of the day, I wonder for myself the whys and the what nexts.  How can I offer hope when I struggle with hope of my own?

When I opened the envelope and saw this book from my darling friend, I smiled.  How perfect it is when you have kindred souls scattered to the far reaches that understand you?  I have three of these  kindred souls.  Their timing is always impeccable.  Today, Aub's was perfect.  Tucked in the pages of the book, a note:

My Sister Friend,

You've had a rough year.  And although you're the most grounded person I know and are one of the most spiritual, hopefully, there are some pearls of wisdom in these pages to help.  If you've already read it, pass it along!

Now here, not only does she send me a perfect gift, but she asks me to share it when I have gleaned  whatever lesson I am to learn.  That is true wisdom. Give, take what is necessary, share.  I am a grateful and lucky woman to have such people in my world.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Comic Relief

We've gone through a period of intense emotions around here.  It's been from the top of the highest peak, to the lowest point in the valley.  Sometimes, it's been a struggle to just maintain a mid-level point of "normalcy".  But we're trying.

The good part is, we've been blessed with another week with Ellie.  That's a week more than the vets thought we would have.  She's doing okay.  She just gets tired easily and so she rests a lot.  Her walks are now just a few blocks, when they used to be a couple miles.  But she's hanging in there, and she's giving us OH so much love.

The one thing that's helped to keep us (especially me) on an even keel is the comic banter between Bryson and Caris.  Over the past week there have been pretty tough, ugly moments where the fear and anxiety took over and nerves were at their most frayed.  I thought I'd need to hide cutlery.  But more often, in between those times, there have been the sinews of laughter that held us together.  Yes, they are laughing at each other's expense, but it is joyful and it is bonding.  Most of all, it is healing. 

Last night, I honestly thought I was going to have to leave the room because I couldn't take much more without losing it.  Bryson just seems to have a gift for getting his sister going.  His mother too, for that matter.  We were all in the living room watching Jeopardy.  Bryson was making fun of a contestant's name.  Caris wasn't going to have any of that:

Caris:  "Dude.  YOU have the word "son" in your name.  How stupid."
Bryson:  "Well, YOU have the sound "iss" in your name.  Like 'penis'."

I laughed the kind of laugh that is out of your control.  The kind where you snort.  The kind where you think you just might not make it to the bathroom in time.  I'm pretty sure it was my reaction that sent the two of them into their own fits.  We were all teary-eyed and out of breath.  It went on for a good five minutes.  The funniest part is that Charlie was right there, sitting on the couch, while all of this was going on, and in the middle of our hysteria, he looks around and says; "Did I miss something?"  We all looked at each other and then lost ourselves in another bout of laughter.  Only Charlie could tune that craziness out and be completely oblivious.  Bless him.

Just a few nights ago, I was lying in bed and heard Caris and Bryson laughing in the living room.  I went out to check on them.  They were watching SNL and the musical guest band was Alabama Shakes.  I stood in the doorway and watched for a moment. 

Me:  "Wow, I love their sound.  But the lead singer is kinda hard to watch."

Caris then tells me the reason they were both laughing so hard before I walked in.

Caris:  "We were watching them, and when they were done, it was really quiet.  Then Bry says; 'Dude, how many hot dogs do you think that chick can fit in her mouth at once?'  I lost it."

It's been this way for years.  Bryson knows just what buttons to push to keep things light.  Sure, there are those days when I think they're going to hurt each other because they're so mad at one another over silly things, like brothers and sisters are apt to do.  But I am so grateful for these moments of levity that keep us sane.  Especially when things have been so tough. 

I love my live-in comic relief.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quality of Life

That's the question that the vet told us we have to keep foremost in our minds.  What is Ellie's quality of life?  We had promised ourselves back in December when they told us that her tumor was a malignant cancer called hemangiosarcoma, that we would do what we felt was best for her when the time came.  They said that time might be, at the earliest one month, and at the latest three months.  Here we are, two months later and, as if on cue, the ugly cancer rears its head.  The splenectomy saved her life and gave us time, at least, to know we were going to have to say goodbye soon.  We hoped that would not be the case.  That some miracle would come to pass and save our girl from this fate.  But, as has been the constant case in our world, no miracle would come, and last Tuesday, we found ourselves back at the vet getting the news that it would be soon.  Very soon.

Once the doctor confirmed that her symptoms were indeed indicative of the cancer spreading to other parts, most likely her liver, the question then became; what now?  She asked me if I wanted to leave Ellie, go home, talk to my family and then return.  I honestly didn't hear anything after that.  I just wanted to know that they would watch her, make sure she wasn't in pain, and I needed to hear Charlie's voice.  I needed to reach out.  I needed to know, as I walked away from that hospital that I was doing the right thing.  The day was gutwrenchingly lonely.  I worried about Ellie alone in the hospital, scared, wondering why I'd left her there.  I agonized over whether she just might expire without us there and I fell apart.  Most times, during times of stress, I can find the strength to hold my shit together.  But when it comes to my pets, it is nearly an impossibility.  How much easier things would be if they could just pat your hand with their paw, look into your eyes, and say; "Thank you, Mom.  You've been awesome.  I've had a great life.  But stuff hurts now and I really don't want to live this way."  Unfortunately, we don't get that luxury.  Neither do they.

Charlie came home early.  We talked and decided to bring her home.  If she was going to leave this earth, then she was going to do it at home, surrounded by love.  The kids gathered.  We all stayed close.  Charlie brought her home.  Surprisingly, she had stabilized, looked much better, wagged her tail happily and greeted us all warmly.  She was, by all accounts, thrilled to be home.  We felt we made the right decision.  They gave us pain meds for her in case it seemed she needed them, told us what we might expect in the days to come, and gave us their blessing with the caveat that as we watch her and monitor her, that we should keep asking ourselves about her quality of life.

Here we are, five days later.  Three days past when we thought she would no longer grace our lives with her love.  She is still wanting to eat, she is still drinking, she is still able to go outside and on short walks.  Yes, she sleeps a lot, and yes, she gets tired quickly.  But she doesn't appear to be in any pain.  The only indication we had that things were progressing, is that her tummy is a bit bloaty and she has loose stools.  They told us to expect this.  Other than that, she is loving, and sweet, and appreciates our company.  She can't really get up on the beds anymore without lots of help, but she still gets a gleam in her eye when you ask if she wants to go for a walk or a ride. 

You can tell things are moving to that place we don't want to think about.  But for now, though she has slowed down significantly, she isn't in pain, and she still has good quality of life.  No, she can't run and play, but neither can Charlie and I.  So we're good there.  We know every day that it's getting closer and closer.  It is a weird, almost creepy feeling.  Like you're all safe inside and you look out the window and you can see the Grim Reaper standing out there on your doorstep...just waiting.  The one thing the vet said to me yesterday is that this weird time is harder on us than it is on Ellie.  It would be easy for us to just make the call and intervene so that we don't have to watch the daily progression of her disease.  She hugged me.  A sweet Great Dane in the lobby gave me puppy kisses.  I needed both. 

The way I figure it, every single day that she's still here is a gift.  As long as she has quality of life.  So, I am living every day, every hour, every minute, to give her as much quality of life that I can.  It is the absolute least I can do for someone who gave her utmost to give us all the quality she has to give.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pelicans, Egrets, and Kisses

There's a lot of stuff going on in my head.  The din is overwhelming.  The truth is, the only place I find peace this week is in Charlie's arms.  He's been generous.  I take that back.  He's always been generous.  This week, he's been extravagant in his generosity.  It's been a rough week, but I don't really want to think about that right now. 

In this moment, while the cacophony in my head hasn't yet taken over in the morning hours of this new day, I just want to remember what Charlie, The Grommet, and other wise friends have said;  "Please try to be happy for these days that we have.  Please enjoy what we DO have.  Don't dwell on what is sad.  We have now."

So for now, I will share my afternoon with sweet Ellie, watching the pelicans and egrets down at the back bay.  After our short walk by the water, we sat on the North Star Beach incline so she could rest.  Her nose was in the air, taking in all the different scents wafting through the gentle breeze.  Her eyes danced as she watched the birds take off and land.  For a short while, she closed her eyes and fell asleep on the blanket next to me.  I stroked her beautiful coat and cooed to her.  She flopped her tail a couple of times to let me know she heard me.  When she saw The Grommet coming towards us, she sat up quickly and wagged her tail happily.  She too, was generous with her kisses for him.  She knew it was time to go home and she was fine with that.  She slept the rest of the day, dreaming, I'm sure, of pelicans, and egrets, and kisses from people who love her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


As is often the case, Charlie and I had a long discussion last night about relationships.  I suppose one of the reasons it comes up so often is that we're both observers.  We frequently find ourselves watching people and how they interact with each other.  This is especially true of couples.  If you're breathing, you pretty much see it everywhere, whether it's in actual 3D life, or provided as a means of entertainment for the sake of Nielsen ratings.  The way television works these days, one only has to surf through the channels to find one example after another of programs specifically designed as relationship trainwrecks under the guise of "reality" television.  That, however, is a topic for another time.

So, we were sitting in our living room and I asked the question I often ask when I am perplexed as to how people handle relationship ups and downs; "Why are we still here?"  Not to sound trite, or like I have all the answers, but when it comes to the man I share my life with and myself, I DO know the answer.   For us, it comes down to ONE principal truth; No game-playing.

Believe me, we are far from perfect.  Yes, we do get pissed at each other sometimes.  Yes, I want to scream when after three decades together, he STILL doesn't put a new roll of toilet paper on the empty spindle, and I am sure he feels he told me something (when he didn't) that I should have known, or done.  Yeah, I have gotten to the point of red-faced spitting mad when I feel he's been a dumbass and said something untoward.  BUT, we have agreed from the get-go that our "stuff" is our "stuff" and we will always discuss it calmly, and when the time is right.  Like adults. 

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that we really don't fight.  There are no pissing matches.  We've both been amused when people tell us that it isn't healthy if you don't have "some" arguments.  It's apparently great for "make-up sex".  WTF?  If you need an excuse to get to the naked merriment, then your problems are bigger than even YOU know.  We've had people try to instigate arguments between us, but we're both pretty savvy when it comes to seeing manipulation at work, and again, it doesn't work on us.  We aren't easily baited into bullshit.

I will never forget a very, very long conversation we had when we first started dating.  Twenty-two year old Charlie told me flat out;

"I'm really tired of the high school antics.  I don't want to play the jealousy game.  I don't want to manipulate or be manipulated.  I hate mindgames and psychological warfare.  Passive-agressive bs doesn't work on me.  People have tried, believe me.  They just get pissed-off because I don't react.  I just walk.  I don't have time for that anymore.  I just want to have an honest, mature relationship.   I want to be free to be me and know that that's okay and I want the woman I spend my life with to know, without a doubt, that I am her biggest fan, just the way she is and that she doesn't have to act a certain way, or be anything than what she is.  This is me.  My cards are all on the table."

I nodded naively, as if I held all the relationship cards in my 19 year-old hands.  

When we told our friends, after knowing each other for a mere 17 days that we'd found our "ONE", eyes rolled, opinions were thrown, scoffing was audible.  "Babies", they called us.  "Naive", they said.  But the honest truth is that as young as we were, we both had already been through more than our share of pain.  If there is a hell, we'd both already been there, and if we had to go back in this lifetime (which we have more times than I care to reflect on), then we wanted to have each other to lean on.  The world was already going to throw shit at us, we didn't need to throw it at each other.  And so, we united our frontline.  I'd say after 33 years, it's a pretty formidable fortress.  Proven unpenetrable.  Sure, there are dings, some dings have melded together and formed craters.  I will be the first to admit that, for the most part, I'm the one that put those dings there.  My partner has put up with some heavy stuff, but that shield holds strong.  Why?  Because Charlie has been true to his word from the very start.  He has not been part and party to any game-playing.  Nor have I with him.  We just don't do it.

I always laugh when people still use that "Ball & Chain" reference when it comes to marriage.  When, after 17 days, he sincerely asked me to share his life with him, I felt the shackles of life that I was already carrying around like Jacob Marley begin to lose their hold.  Yes, some of those took time to completely remove for both of us.  But I think the point is that Charlie has never added to them.  If anything, he brought me freedom.  I have felt that freedom for my entire marriage.   So the other night, when again, we found ourselves in the middle of this conversation, and I asked him; "Why are we still here?"  He smiled and said; "Because we both put our cards on the table and we both walked away winners."  It's easy to say, but I think the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  We've been eating pretty good for 33 years.

End of games.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Wasn't Alone

I found this blog post today through the blog of one of my favorite authors.  Everything this author wrote in this post, I have been feeling for months now.  Just outside of my grasp, my brain waves cake in my face.  I see other friends who are writers just banging out the stories, one after another, whilst also carrying on another career of some sort.  Yet here I sit, staring at the blank page, day after day, waiting for the inspiration that the gelatinous mass between my ears won't let through. 

My heroine is stuck "out there".  I've left her hanging.  She's like a SIMS character, just standing there motionless with a rotating diamond thingie over her head.  Waiting for me to give her direction and bring her to life.  But, My Brain is a Jerk, too.  For the first time, in a long time, I'm relieved to know this.  With this post, this beautiful woman threw a lifeline out into the abyss.  From the looks of it, I wasn't the only one to grab it.  Thanks, Laini.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Locked and Loaded

Gun control is a constant topic of conversation around our house the last few weeks.  But it's probably not the kind of gun control you're thinking of.

You see, The Grommet has been working out in anticipation of his trip to La Paz in a couple of weeks.  He's been eating "properly", working out diligently, and he's cut back on something he loves; beer.  That last one, I know he will get back to the minute he's in Mexico, because that's what you want when you're on vacation.  Let's face it, I know my son pretty well, and he thinks this guy has the right idea:

Back to the issue of gun control.  We get an almost daily accounting of The Grommet's progress in his endeavor to shape up.  He is always quite happy to tell us he's "down to a 31" in his jeans, or that he had a chicken salad for lunch, and when someone asked him at Pub Night why he wasn't having his favorite brew, he smiled and said; "La Paz."  But my favorite part of the day comes after his nightly workout and weighlifting session, when he comes up to me and says; "Check out my guns.  Do they look bigger, or what?"  Now, the thing is, he's my son.  So I have to be honest and say; "To tell you the truth Bud, I'm not real sure because I haven't been studying them, but yeah, okay, your arms look bigger."  He breaks out into a huge grin, nods, and walks away happy with my answer.

I don't have the heart to tell him that I'll always picture him like this:

But then again, we all know he's not doing this for me.  Don't we? 

I hope he's brushing up on his Spanish.  Or perhaps he's hoping his "guns" will talk to the ladies for him.

Friday, February 08, 2013

I'm Not A Robot...Okay?

In my social media solitude, I've begun to regularly revisit the blogs of bloggers that were favorites of mine.  Sadly, as I've noted before, most of them have stopped using their blogs, opting for the instant gratification of Facebook.  Admittedly, I've been guilty of that myself.  Something I hope to rectify in the days and weeks to come.

Taking a break from the incessant babble has been hard, though I honestly don't know why.  I suppose it is much like withdrawals from a substance that you know is bad for you, but you just can't seem to break from.  While I miss the ease with which you're able to connect with those close to you, or those you truly consider actual friends, because whether we want to admit it or not, we are social creatures, sometimes it is heartbreaking to know that in the big picture, you're not really all that important "out there".

The truth is, we all want to belong.  We all want to believe that we have a voice and that someone's listening.  Why do we connect with any kind of social media at all if that's not the case?  Yes, there are those who only use their pages as a means to get their product seen, whether that product is something tangible or not.  Many times, the product is just the people themselves.  "Here I am!  Look at me!  Hear what I say!  Respond!  Comment!  Like me.  Oh please, please like me!"  In turn, we behave like Pavlov's dog; salivating to have the best reponse or offer up bits of knowledge or wisdom as if those bits haven't already been offered up in sacrifice last week, yesterday, today, even minutes ago.   

Many are the times I have rolled my eyes at something someone has posted, judging them harshly in my head, and wondering why, over and over again, I waste my time.  Then, I look over the comments and notice that the "sage wisdom" is repeated by more than one person.  Which leads me to the conclusion that even in comments, no one is reading what the prior person said.  They don't care what the prior person said, they just want to get their opinion out there.  I liken it to being in an actual conversation with someone who repeatedly interrupts what you're saying.  They aren't listening at all to what you say.  They're too busy thinking about what they want to say and they can't wait until you stop moving your lips so that they can interject.  It's a jockeying for position.  SEE ME!  HERE I AM!

So, I retreat, and again, I'm guilty that even in my retreat, I yearn to connect somehow.  So I amend my withdrawal from Facebook by saying; "Oh, well I won't Facebook.  Unless I write a blogpost.  Then I'll link it.  Then, at least, people will know I'm still alive."  I guess it's kind of a lifeline, of sorts.

Which brings me back to the original reason I was writing this post.  I noticed while revisiting blogs, that everyone seems to have this comment moderator thing.  You have to enter a captcha in order for your comment to "count".  Some number/word (if you can call it that) combination that "proves" you're not a robot.  It's kinda frustrating.  No, not kinda.  It's fucking frustrating.  I hate it.  The image is never clear, it's always fuzzy.  The letters run together, the "word" makes no sense, so you end up guessing as to what it might be.  If you don't get it right, it tells you and makes you do it over again.  *sigh*   I'd probably have better luck if I WERE a robot.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.  The funny thing is, I've got no comment moderator on my commenter.  Never have.  But then again, you'd kinda need commenters, and most of those have, as you know, moved over to Facebook.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Happy Birthday, Darling

If you know me, you know that I have "permission" to have lustful thoughts about him.  Yes, even my husband and kids know this.  What is lovely about that is that they encourage my ardor, as has been noted here, and here, and in number 19 here, and number 8 here, and also here.  I think you get the picture.

Happy Birthday Eddie, Darling.  Let them all have Cake or Death.  I'll just have a nibble of you.



Tuesday, February 05, 2013


My retreat from F*c#book has its downside.  This happened today, and while my first inclination is to reach the biggest audience I can because I'm BEYOND proud, I'm going to just be graceful and put it here.  For now.  But be forewarned that when I do end my F*c#book sabbatical, I'm gonna be hyping this shiznit ALL OVER that beeyotch.

Lionsgate/Summit Acquires "Endangered"

Yeah, that's our Ryan.  Well, he's our Averie's Ryan, but you know, it's a family thang.

Congratulations, Ryan and Jeffrey.  You're WELL on your way.  We couldn't be more proud of you!

I hope Averie already has her red carpet dress picked out for the premiere.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

I TOTALLY get Howie Mandel

If you're coming to my house for a visit, may I strongly suggest you wear one of these:

Also, don't hug, don't shake hands.  Just don't make any contact.  In fact, it's probably a good idea if you just stay away all together.  Believe me; Caris, Bryson, and I would like to stay away from here too. 

You think there's nothing worse than having viral gastrointeritis?  Oh my friend, you would be so wrong.  What's worse is being on the other side of the bathroom door while your beloved is delivering everything within his body, through both major orifices, to the porcelain throne.  All night long.  Feeling helpless while you listen to him wretch.  And knowing, all the while, that within the next 24 to 48 hours, you're next.