Saturday, January 31, 2009

Adult Babysitting

Today is my first experience with Barbara-sitting. My husband went off to services at Temple Micah today and left me in the capable hands of my friend Deborah. He had already arranged “sitting” with our good friends KC and LR, but this is when Deborah could come play music, so they will get their turn next week, possibly when he has to go out again.

You may have noticed the absence of photos lately on my Blog. It seems my camera somehow disappeared either in the ambulance ride or in the ER or somewhere else in the hospital. I’ve missed being able to pull it out of my backpack and take pictures, even though most of my pictures are amateurish at best.

Given that we didn’t have to spend money on a recliner or on other equipment, I persuaded my husband to buy a replacement camera for me off the Internet. I hope it comes today so I can resume taking pictures.

The refrigerator is stocked with countless leftovers from good cooks who have shared with us over the past week. A beautiful white box of the best chocolate chip cookies, made my none other than my favorite female rabbi, sits on the kitchen counter.

Cut flowers and the most beautiful double orchid ever from Blogger buddies Gewels and Bulletholes adorn the house.

The level of dog hair is no worse than usual. Some things don’t change.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Adaptation and Rediscovery

There was no doubt that life would change dramatically after my accident when I was allowed to go home. My worst fear had been that I would exist sitting in a chair downstairs or lying in bed at night to sleep.

When my condition at the hospital seemed so grim, I even had thoughts of putting a hospital bed in our dining room and/or buying a recliner, something we’ve never felt we needed. I also had great concerns about toileting and showering, things that are a necessity. I thought we might need a chair or bench for the shower.

But this is a case where procrastination paid off. People loaned us a motley assortment of toilet seats (to raise the seat level) and walkers and we bought a pair of crutches.

From the get-go, the walkers seemed rather unwieldy, needing so much space, so I moved on to crutches and now to a single crutch.

One of our dining room chairs with arms is where I sit when I am downstairs and I feel like sitting. I’m actually quite mobile with my single crutch. And having a hand freed up allows me to carry a cup of tea to the table or my dirty dishes to the sink.

And I’m becoming more and more independent. I managed finally to unpack my suitcase that I had taken on the fateful night of the fall. I made my own breakfast yesterday. I’m up and downstairs a few times and I sit at the piano and play for an hour or so each day.

But perhaps the biggest change is moving more or less to my husband’s schedule for life, which has always been a couple of hours later than mine. I have learned to be a night owl and to sleep in in the morning. We share all three meals together, something that hasn’t happened in many years. I have learned to enjoy a movie and to split a smoothie with him late at night. It’s almost like we go on a date every night!

Sexy scenes stir something in both of us that must wait a while, but at least it’s still there. We’ve always been compatible, but this accident has really pulled us back together in a very positive way.

It will be interesting to see what happens when I am freed to really be on my own again. I can imagine we might want to keep some of this new-found togetherness.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Begging to be Invented

I’m convinced that the best inventions for people who are in some way disabled are probably by people who share their disability. I’m starting to come up with some things that need to be invented.

My crutches have become my constant companions since I sort of skipped the walker phase of recovery from hip surgery. When I stand at a counter or sit at the table I need some place to safely park them. In several instances they have fallen over, striking fear in my husband in another room when he heard the crash.

I haven’t quite come up with the answer, but what is needed is a crutch hook or a big clip of some sort attached to the crutch which would allow it to be safely secured. This would save coming up with an ingenious way to fish it off the floor with the other crutch or a reacher.

The second thing that begs to be invented is a truly portable toilet riser. For a long time I am going to have to sit on an elevated toilet in order to keep at least a 90-degree angle in my right hip joint. Low chairs and toilets are a no-no. This makes going places outside my home difficult.

I have a 4" white thing that sits on top of a toilet, but it would be unwieldy and embarrassing to carry around. What I’m looking for is a blow-up seat that could quickly be inflated and deflated to hide in a small bag. No one would ever need to know.

I haven’t been able to find either of these things on the Internet, but if you have seen them anywhere let me know. Meanwhile maybe I’ll get into the invention business!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shower Date

I’ve never enjoyed long soaking tub baths. I’ve come to shower several times a week, with sponge baths in between. If I think about it not too hard, I could say it’s genetic because my father seldom did more than “wash up” with the door closed, so I never really knew what that meant to his dying day.

But when faced with the limitation of only taking sponge baths for the past week, I had begun to long for the warm water running down my body.

We thought the only option was to get a shower chair or a tub bench, something that hadn’t happened over the past week. When I visited the surgeon yesterday to find out that I did NOT have a blood clot, he told me I could take showers and suggested my husband and I shower together, something that hadn’t happened for decades.

So today we had a shower date. The water felt so refreshing as it coursed over my body. His presence in the small bathroom was about as close to sexy as I will probably be able to feel for another month.

After the shower, I sat on the bed and he carefully dried my legs. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? We both agreed that it was good my libido had been left in tact when my hip was replaced!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love of Drugs and Fear of Falling

I have always been so resolute about not taking any drugs that weren’t absolutely a necessity. Until my thyroid removal, I took nothing other than vitamins on a regular basis.

But with this surgery and its accompanying pain, I have come to realize how much more comfortable and pleasant I am when I take my little Percocet pills 2 or 3 times a day. I hope I don’t get addicted to them since they are a narcotic, but for now I’ll take my chances in the interest of getting rid of the pain.

I find myself thinking about, even dreaming about, falling since the accident. I replay in my mind over and over the split second when I took my fall. And I worry that it could happen again. People say things without thinking like, “You really can’t fall again,” which turns out not to be helpful at all.

I dreamed last night of going splat, but my bionic hip actually bounced and left me good as new. I don’t think it actually happens that way, but it was good that in my dream I wasn’t crumbled into a quivering ball.

All I can do is use good sense and try to avoid situations where I would be more likely to fall. The alternative is not to move around and to let all my muscles atrophy. I’ll save that for 30 years from now. There’s still a lot of (level) ground I want to cover!

Monday, January 26, 2009

RAK Revisited

Taking a break from my broken hip saga, here’s an update on how I ended up spending my RAK money this time.

For any of you who haven’t been reading for too long, here’s a little background on the neighborhood project we affectionately call RAK -- Random Acts of Kindness. We have a neighborhood group that gets together monthly with the intention of making the world a better place. At each meeting, every person throws $20 into a basket. The money is divided between two people at the end of the meeting, who will be charged with spending it in the following month. Meanwhile, those who spent during the past month report on what they did. There are very few rules imposed and as a result there have been a wide range of projects, ranging from buying specific items for specific needy families to randomly paying for gas to providing massage for those in eldercare.

January was my month to spend. I had been thinking all year long about what I would do and nothing had really clicked until I read in Angela’s Blog about the work being done by people like Val and Sharon and Karen in the southern countries of Africa. I determined that I wanted to support a day care center in Botswana, which is run solely on donations. Fellow Blogger E stepped up to add to my RAK money and we had a whopping $220 to donate.

The problem was how to get the money to the right people. Then I heard of Kristin’s trip to Africa and appealed to her to be my courier. She managed to talk her tour leader into making a couple of deviations that would allow her to visit the daycare center and see firsthand how what our money would be used for.

Kristin graciously agreed to make a guest appearance at our RAK meeting last night to talk about her experience. She described the Kamadine Daycare Center in Kazungula, Botswana, a place dedicated to help children with HIV or those orphaned by parents who had died of it. For much of the week, these children are provided life’s essentials in a happy, healthy setting, where they can feel safe and at home. Here’s a link to Karen’s Blog describing Kristin’s visit and showing you some great photos of the daycare center kids and their visitors.

I felt so good about supporting this worthy cause halfway around the world and am determined not to end with this single donation since there is a continuing need for help. This is definitely the furthest our RAK money has traveled in its efforts to improve the world.

I’m eternally grateful to Kristin for helping me pull this off and to Angela and those mighty women in Africa for caring for a continent that cries out for help.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Adjusting

There is something very familiar in this whole ordeal that reminds me of the adjustment we faced when we came home with our first (screaming) baby. In both instances the first thought was whether life would ever again be the same.

Which brings me to something I failed to share. Just 28 years ago to the day I was in the very same hospital on Inauguration Day (that would have been Ronald Reagan’s) in a considerable amount of pain giving birth to my son, who took quite a while to make his appearance. There must not have been much of a crowd because we zoomed into town in no time since there was no rush hour traffic and obviously no bridges were closed. Sort of ironic, yes?

For the first three months, our new baby refused to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time. I tried valiantly to have a routine, but there was none. I felt angry and abandoned as my husband cheerfully left for work each day and I stayed home with more of the same. But eventually as I became less resolute about exclusively breastfeeding and our son grew a little, life got better again. Different from before but better.

I discovered coping skills, like after grocery shopping putting the baby in a playpen while I unloaded the groceries from the car and put them away. God forbid he should stay too long in a playpen! I learned how to work outside in the yard, leaving him to roll around on a blanket in the grass. And he finally slept through the night, making me feel like a totally liberated woman. At some point along the way I even remembered about sex, something most women want to deny completely for quite a while after giving birth!

And so it’s already happening with my latest life trauma. As much as a total disaster our first night home was (D saying YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO REHAB), last night was totally different. My wise friend Deborah was over last night and recommended that I take a Percocet before going to bed. (I had determined not to take anything other than an occasional Tylenol from that point.) So I took the little pill. Not only was the night less painful, but I slept a deep happy sleep and woke up feeling so much better. She is so smart in so many ways.

The healing process is simply amazing. I can already feel the muscle strength returning to the bad leg, giving me a lot more stability when I stand and move. The home-care PT guy’s advice for getting into and out of the bed were of great help. Yesterday I managed to go up and down stairs 2 times all by myself (with crutches), water the plants, cut up the bok-choy stir-fry ingredients for dinner, and make a cup of tea. Baby steps, right?

I’m due for a hair appointment in a couple of weeks. At my wonderful piano teacher’s suggestion, I’m going to do the color one more time. She said, “Your face is too young to have that gray in the front.” She has lots of wisdom that goes beyond music. Did I say she is related to Frank Rich of the NYT? Anyway, I touched base by e-mail with my wonderful hair stylist who thought they could figure out how to deal with me on the first floor of the salon. He even offered to come to my house if needed. Aren’t these people great?

So a new routine emerges and I start to settle. It’s not where I had hoped to be today as I visited a dear friend in SF, but it’s OK. I’ve turned the corner. What’s ahead is different but just fine. And people never fail to amaze me in their willingness to help.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sleep Challenged


Who would have ever thought the bed would be my biggest challenge? Even my Sleep Number Bed can’t live up to a hospital bed. And sleeping on my back has never been my preference.

Getting into and out of bed requires moving my bum leg with this long blue device with a loop at the end which hooks over my foot. It is a very slow process. I loved it in the hospital when the nurses would give you praise for being able to scoot your butt even 1/4" to get out of bed. But no one is usually cheering for me as I struggle with the bed stuff.

Actually I never said enough good things about my hospital stay. It was quite a contrast to my last experience in that same facility when I had my thyroid removed and subsequently had the radiation from hell treatment. But apparently the orthopedic department shows the hospital at its best and it did that for me as well. The staff were attentive and forever encouraging. They always came to help me when I called. As a nurse washed my back yesterday, I realized it had been a long time since anyone had washed my back.

The PT group were all young and extremely positive. Their job is to make sure you are ready to resume your life in your home. So when they asked me how many stairs I had in my house and I said 14, they took me to a fire escape with crutches and said, “Let’s go up”, and then we went back down. Not so bad. I thought stairs would be my nemesis, but instead it’s sleeping in a bed.

I went to bed at 10:30 last night which I already knew was a mistake since I live with a night owl. By 3:30 my body was extremely tired of lying in the same position. Even though it’s somewhat controversial, we tried putting a pillow between my legs so I could sleep on my good side, but it was somewhat painful. So I just elevated my upper body with that pillow and managed to sleep until just about 6:00. At which point I had to get up.

I made my way with the walker, my reacher, my sock putter-onner device, my discarded clothes from when I had gotten too hot in the night, and a glass of water to sit down in front of my computer, one very confused dog in tow.

A little while later I called my husband on my cell phone to say that if he brought me something to eat and drink he could certainly stay in bed a lot longer. So that’s where we stand at 6:40, as I sit here eating raisin bran and continuing the one activity that has gotten me through many a tough time.

I’m probably good for at least 3 hours, or until I have to go to the bathroom, which happens to be currently parked next to our bed. (Not all porta-potties were sent back!)

I’m already wondering how I will spend the day. A good friend may come over to help me wash my very gross head of hair. Another friend who knows all about PT may show up about 5:00. But there are a lot of other hours to fill. Time on my hands is a very new concept for me.

I would give a whole lot for a good night of sleep right now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lots of Questions

It wasn’t turning 60, but rather it was breaking my hip that may have forever changed my life. The cute young intern who assisted with my surgery just popped in to tell me that I had graduated from therapy and I could go home today. I asked if I could ever again shave my legs and he said no one had ever asked him that question, but that he would think about it.

Usually getting sprung from the hospital is a cause for celebration, but in my case it throws up a bunch of unanswered questions, like

-- How will I deal with the fact I no longer have a hospital bed with things to hold onto?
-- What will my daily routine be like? Thanks to the little Mac I can still Blog and check my mail like a crazy person all day long, but it will probably not be running up and down stairs to do it.
-- How will it feel to play the piano?
-- What of all the exercise equipment in our basement “gym” can I safely use?
-- When can I drive?
-- Does my Sequoia Specialized bicycle need a new owner?
-- Will Jake have the good sense not to jump on me?
-- How do I shake my legs? Wash between my toes? Cut my toenails?
-- When can I stop sleeping on my back?
-- Sex?

Ugh! With that thought, I face the more immediate issues of how to even get dressed, given I’ve worn a hospital “gown” for the past 4 days. I did pass the PT course on socks, but nobody talked about shoes or pants.

I actually did wake up today with a sense of marked improvement in the pain department, refusing the early offer of drugs. If I don’t tense up, I can make the quads in my right leg do the necessary heavy lifting to move it.

But there are just so many details of daily life that I had taken for granted. It’s going to be a huge learning process. I’m just glad I don’t live alone. But at the same time, I run the risk of driving my husband crazy with all the additional work he will not have to do to take care of me and the house.

I hope there will be a time when I look back on this and it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Right now it’s still looming very large.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hard Work



Now the real work begins. I tell my right leg to move and it just lies there looking at me. Today at PT they gave me a thing to loop around my foot so I can pick it up and move it.

The day after surgery they have you get up, walk as far as you can go with a walker, and then sit in a chair.

Every so often somebody makes your recite the big 3 precautions, as if they were a catechism:

-- Thou shalt not cross thy legs or feet.
-- Thou shalt not bend to more than a 90 degree angle.
-- Thou shalt not twist at the hip.

And what happens if you forget? You dislocate your brand new hip and return to GO without collecting any money. In fact you pay a big price.

So with the terror of a dislocation hanging over my head, I went to PT and OT today to the “gym” where they taught me how to use crutches, climb stairs, put my socks on with a reacher thing, and get into a bathtub.

It was slightly overwhelming, but I could pride myself on the fact that I was doing better than anyone else in the gym, probably because they were not native English speakers.

I still immediately tense up when someone says to put weight on my right leg. I can’t tell if it’s because it really hurts so much, or I am still so fearful.

As for the incision, it’s about 4 inches long and neatly held together with staples. The first dressing removal seems to have taken some skin with it.



Today all the tubes came out, so that means I have to get out of bed any time I need to go to the bathroom. My greatest triumph today was doing that all by myself. Baby steps it is, just baby steps.


Everyone says the secret to a full recovery is PT, so I determined to work hard, even when it hurts. I can’t let those muscles atrophy while I am waiting for the pain to subside. In truth, my new titanium hip is probably the strongest part of my body right now. I just have to convince all the other parts to cooperate with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here's the Real Scoop

Not exactly how I planned to spend Inauguration Day, but Barack and I got a fresh start just about the same time. As he was being sworn in, the top of my right femur was being sawed off.

It now seems ironic that I was spending the night with Deborah -- my friend, musical partner, and internist -- who lives just blocks from the Capitol in the hopes of heading down to join the millions in the celebration of a lifetime. I had had an excellent day on Monday -- a piano lesson where I was relaxed and played as I never have before, a 90-minute massage from someone with magical hands, an evening pot-luck dinner with Deborah’s neighbors. We had gone back to her house to amuse everyone with piano 4-hand duets. She had 11 people staying at her house in anticipation of the big day.

It was around midnight when I was coming down the stairs to tuck myself into a sofa bed in the living room when I simply missed the last step, landing directly on my right hip. I have fallen many times, but I always go through a quick inventory of all my moving parts and breathe a sigh of relief when nothing is more than bruised. But this time was different. My right leg seemed unconnected and I couldn’t even straighten my leg. I knew my falling karma had run out.

A couple of pathetic calls to Deb brought her downstairs to assess the situation. When I growled that no one could touch my leg, she called 911 and prepared to meet the ambulance. She quickly moved her expensive bass out of the way so the rescue squads could do their thing.

I cannot tell you how impressive the firemen and EMT’s were. They had a commanding and assuring presence as they strapped me to a board and immobilized all parts of my body. Deborah insisted on coming with me on my first ambulance ride. Despite the fact that it was probably the worst possible night to be driving anywhere, she made sure they took me to Washington Hospital Center. No one could quite understand why I was accompanied by my doctor, who could use their computers to show them the dates of my latest shots, blood test, you name it. She helped me get out of my clothes and into a hospital gown, one of the most painful things I have ever had to do. She was encouraging as they put in IV lines and gave me a catheter.

David’s challenge was getting to WHC with all the Virginia bridges closed. But after a while he showed up and we all hung out in the ER waiting to see what would happen next. The person in the next cubicle had been thrown out of moving car by her boyfriend; the one after that was from out of town and was obviously suffering from alcohol poisoning. They finally took me for X-rays and confirmed that my hip was indeed quite broken. It was clear I would need surgery. Deborah made sure I was assigned to the head of orthopedic surgery.

Finally about 5:00 Deborah’s husband picked her up and she went home where she slept for an hour and a half and then got up to make waffles for all her house guests.

While we waited for my surgery to be scheduled, my wonderful techie husband wrote the first guest post on my Blog, by far the easiest way to let people know what was going on.

By this time I was experiencing the most excruciating pain of my life because I couldn’t take most of the possible narcotics without throwing up.

It was not until about 11:30 that I was wheeled into the operating room where I met my surgeon before being knocked out. He then decided to go for a full hip replacement because of signs of arthritis on my X-ray. I learned today that the saws they use in this type of surgery cost about $225,000. Not exactly Home Depot.

As I came to in the recovery room I could hear the buzz around me of people excited about the day’s events. In a hospital where many people are African American, the mood was especially joyous.

I remember waking up and noting that my hip no longer hurt. Little did I know that I had been given some serious non-narcotic pain meds.

Yesterday as I was being wheeled to the third floor, Ted Kennedy was moving into the Penthouse after his seizure. The press immediately camped outside my window. I hear he went home today and so did they.

The food in general here is pretty gross, with a lot of unrecognizable meat, but I have no other complaints. The people taking care of me are an international crew, coming from Kenya, Ghana, and Sierra Leone.

Today I began occupational and physical therapy. The operational therapist gave me 3 real no-no’s: no crossing my legs, no bending to less than 90 degrees, and no twisting. In each case there is a possibility of dislocating my new hip. That means starting all over again.

That initial trip off my bed was with fear and trepidation and quite a bit of pain. They kept urging me to put weight on my right foot as I tentatively took those first steps with my walker. Once I relaxed, it wasn’t so hard. The therapists are very encouraging and with each session, they add a few new challenges. By the middle of the afternoon, I had managed to walk to the end of the hall an back, to collapse into my chair, which is actually better than my bed.

One of my biggest disappointments was at not being able to make my trip to SF this week. I was looking forward to seeing my daughter and several people I had met only electronically through my Blog. But there will be another time for that trip.

I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of concern and well wishes from the Blogging community, from my neighbors, and from Temple Micah. It was interesting to hear the voices of people like Pauline and Bulletholes, who are real people! There’s nothing like an accident to remind one about love and friendship, and about how much we take for granted with our miraculous bodies.

I will have a lot of time on my hands over the next few weeks and months, so I may well become a Blogging maniac! At least I will be able to visit my wonderful friends with greater regularity. I welcome your comments, your e-mails, and your calls as I slowly return to normal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If you get a chance, give Barbara a call

The hospital's phone # is (202) 877-3627. They should be able to get you to her room. She'd love some phone calls!

Hip Update

(by david diskin)

Barbara is out of surgery. They did a total hip replacement. The procedure went very well. She should be coming home in 3 or 4 days! Will need a walker and elevated toilet seat and stuff like that for a while. But, the surgeon is optimistic for a full recovery!

Not the way she wanted to spend inauguration day

Guest blogger this am - David, barbara's husband. Barbara fell and
Broke her hip early this am.



She's in washington hospital center awaiting surgery. Should make a full
Recovery the resident told us.



San FRAN trip will have to be postponed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Feliz Cumpleanos


It was just a year ago that I was rushing my little Guatemalan friend to the hospital so she could have her baby. Today as we celebrated Angeli’s first birthday, I realized that both baby and mom have grown up a lot in this past year.

I met the mom when I was trying to figure out how to spend my first RAK (random act of kindness) money. I had determined that I wanted to buy a deserving mother a sewing machine. I ended up doing some work with an Arlington program for teenage mothers, where I met the perfect recipient, who was 8 months pregnant.

The gift of that sewing machine introduced me to the extended family of the petite, pregnant 19-year-old. My neighborhood organized a baby shower for the young mother-to-be. I found other gently used baby items that every mother needs, including a breast pump (with new tubing). For the first few months, I provided rides when they were needed. I helped the family move to a bigger apartment when they got kicked out of their original apartment. I watched baby Angeli get a good start.

Then we sort of lost contact. I always felt a little guilty when people would ask how the baby was doing.

I was delighted when I got a call earlier this week inviting me to the baby’s first birthday. I consulted with a friend who has a 1-year-old about a useful birthday gift. I had fun visiting Kinderhaus Toys and choosing among the many possible gift ideas.

I was happy to have chosen an old-fashioned wooden shape sorter with only 6 pieces in 3 shapes. The baby was quick to discover what to do with the pieces and do it over and over and over again, each time looking for approval when they fell inside the box.

The picture below is of Angeli with her 4-year-old aunt. They both dressed for the occasion!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Free Food

Yesterday I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. A good friend who doesn’t own a car was accepted into a CSA which operates year-round. She offered me a chance to split her weekly share for FREE.

My only responsibilities will be to pick up our food each week, deliver her half to her, and twice a year to help package the food for everyone in our Capitol Hill CSA. Sounds like a win-win to me!

I’m intrigued by the pick-up point: Timor Bodega (pictured above) in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of DC. Looks like an unlikely place to find pesticide-free food. But apparently this little grocery story has a long-standing reputation. (I nabbed the photo from this post about it.) I will get to see first-hand this Wednesday when I make my first pick-up. Then I can replace the photo with one of my own.

My friend and I will have to work out the details of how to split things that don’t come in multiples of 2, like a single loaf of bread. But I’m sure we can figure it out. We’ve meditated together for years and are both fairly laid back and logical when it comes to things like sharing.

In the absence of my former CSA, which takes a 3-month break in the winter, I have been going to the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market each week to find local produce. It will be nice not to have to make those decisions about whose beets, whose apples to buy, especially when the weather is uncomfortably cold. I much prefer letting someone else decide.

Who knows? Maybe my adventure into the world of new vegetables will continue as I discover what the Spiritual Food CSA has to offer. I like the name of my new organization, don’t you?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Song of Freedom

At Temple Micah we have in our midst a singer-songwriter who has turned out some remarkable pieces over the years. He’s a friend of Peter Yarrow and was quite active in the Civil Rights Movement. We sang this song of his today in honor of Martin Luther King’s upcoming birthday, the Presidential Inauguration, and the story of the parting of the Red Sea, coming up soon in the Torah:

**********************************
Make Those Waters Part by Doug Mishkin

Let us recall the story of our struggle for the promised land.
Let us remember how freedom is won so our children will understand.
Once we were slaves in Egypt. Our people and our land were apart.
But when Moses stood before that troubled sea, he could make those waters part.

Once we were slaves in America. We were given white men’s names.
They scattered our families, they scattered our lives while they kept us bound in chains.
Then we marched strong in Selma. We looked the racists right in the heart.
And when Martin stood before that troubled sea, he could make those waters part.

Somewhere tonight lives a free man. Somewhere else freedom’s just a song of the heart.
We must find the river flowing between them, and we must make those waters part.

Now we are slaves in our own time, the many at the hands of the few.
And we who’ve crossed the sea of slavery before must remember what we must do.
In the name of the falsely imprisoned, in the name of all the homeless at heart,
In the name of all the history that binds us, we must make those waters part.

Somewhere tonight lives a free man. Somewhere else freedom’s just a song of the heart.
We must find the river flowing between them, and we must make those waters part.

Troubled seas rising around us, sometimes the promised land seems hidden from view.
So we retell these stories, that’s how we start to make those waters part,
To make those waters part,
To make those waters part.
**********************************

I just realized it’s not nearly as effective without the music. But it’s especially nice to sing a piece in English (as opposed to being in Hebrew) and to have it be so appropriate for what is happening in the country and in the world.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Können Sie Englisch?

Do you know anyone who wants to study English in Hamburg, Germany? Times are as tough there as they are here and my son could use some business.

How does one go about advertising when life is already on a shoestring budget? My husband created a website for him and with the help of Angela translated it into German. Hopefully it may draw some potential students.

I’m sure he’s a really good teacher. I watched him plan several classes while he was home and was quite impressed. He manages to teach vocabulary and grammar while talking about what's happening in the world. He currently teaches for a couple of language schools, but he seldom has more than 20 hours of work a week.

I was tempted to refer a couple of those people we attempted to talk to on Skype to him. It was not easy negotiating for a long-distance birthday surprise.

If you have any other ideas, leave me a comment!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anticipation

Everywhere you look in downtown DC, you are reminded of the upcoming inauguration. It’s a huge effort to prepare the city for the onslaught of people who will be crowding in for some glimpse of the festivities next week, or at least to be able to say “I was there.”

I think they must have ordered enough porta-potties to have one for every 100 people. They are everywhere. It’s as though they are winter flowers sprouting up along most every stretch of sidewalk. (MC – Take note!)


Miles of portable chain-link fencing have been rented. It would seem there is an effort to force the hordes into certain preconceived paths. I wouldn’t hold my breath.


When I saw the green “fencing” around much of the East Wing, I was reminded of the efforts at the National Zoo to keep the giraffes from eating the trees. Do they really thing for a minute this flimsy plastic mesh is going to keep people off the grass?


I looked somewhat longingly at the Capitol, as it stood draped in red, white, and blue with thousands of rented plastic chairs neatly set out for the paying guests or other dignitaries. I quickly came to the realization that was the closest I was going to get for quite a while.

I will spend Monday night with friends and then walk toward the tsunami of spectators gathering on the Mall for Obama’s auspicious beginning. I’m fairly sure I’ll never see him in more than a big screen image, but I’m excited about the possibility of being there with all those people as the anticipation of change becomes a reality.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Birthday Wishes


Another Capricorn Blogger is turning a year older today. Can you guess who it is? Go wish her a happy birthday!

In the 6 months since she started her Blog, Adrianne has introduced us to her household of pets, shown us a glimpse of her novel in the making, regaled the Congressional Cemetery, and challenged us to think about a number of issues that confront our society. She’s also shared with us a few personal struggles and how she is dealing with them.

I hope she will continue to hold her own in the Blogger community both as a writer and as a reader!

Happy birthday, Adrianne!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Musical Clothes

How many times have you gotten rid of a piece of clothing not because it was worn out or the wrong size, but simply because you were tired of looking at it, embarrassed to wear it yet again? What if you could simply pass it along to someone else and at the same time get something gently used for yourself?

As my friend M and I talked over coffee yesterday, she offered me the chance to acquire any of the things she is going to get rid of in an upcoming move – things like cashmere sweaters! She commented that we were about the same size and she would love to see them used by someone else instead of sitting unworn in her closet.

I threw out an idea for a continuing clothes exchange that wouldn’t cost anyone a cent, but would result in a constantly changing wardrobe. It would require a handful of people with a similar size and compatible tastes. At the beginning of each month or each season, each person would choose 5-10 pieces of (clean/laundered) clothing or jewelry and pass them along to the next person. It would be like getting an infusion of new things on a regular basis.

There are good clothes in my closet that get little wear these days. But I’m not quite ready to part with them. With this rotational scheme, they could remain in the “system”, but just be “in circulation”.

For someone who never had a sister from whom to borrow clothes, this seems like making up for lost time. What do you think? Any size 8's out there who are game to give it a go? (This need not be restricted to locals!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Interview Me


Adrianne recently invited anyone who was interested to be interviewed. The idea was that you would receive 5 questions from her and post your answers. Sounded easy enough. But she posed some tough questions that made me think. So here goes:

1. What is your favorite work of art (any medium is fine, and the work can be famous or not)?

My daughter’s love was art. From the time she was old enough to hold a pencil, she was always drawing. Her second love was dance. In high school she took an AP art class. Her project was 12 variations in acrylics of these pointe shoes that had carried her across many a stage. Three of them now hang in my living room, where they remind me of her in so many ways every time I pass by. If you look hard at the left-most picture below, you can see my piano reflected!


2. You often mention your fondness for playing the piano. How did you come to play that instrument?

From my early years, I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother’s house in Minnesota. It was one of those old-fashioned houses with crocheted chair arm covers, which always smelled of the homemade bread that she baked daily. But one of the best parts of my visit was getting to sit at her piano and pick out songs. By the time I was 11, I begged my parents to buy a piano so I could learn to play. I never really thought of any other instrument, although in retrospect something like a flute would have been far more portable. We went to the only piano store in my little town, owned by my kindergarten teacher’s husband, and bought the first piano we looked at. My blond Baldwin Acrosonic served me well, having followed me when I moved north, to be traded in just last year for my grand piano. (The trade-in allowance was just about the same as the price my parents initially paid.) Interestingly enough, my husband had the identical piano in a darker wood in his childhood. Maybe we were star-crossed even back then!

3. What living famous person would you most like to have as a dinner guest, and why?

This is definitely the most difficult question. I considered Jane Goodall, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Friedman, Billy Collins, and quite a few others, including my favorite female rabbi Toby, but she is not yet so famous.

I settled on Michelle Obama. She could bring her husband along. But I am really most interested in talking to her. I would like to talk about how she pursued her career while raising her children. I want to talk about how she pushed her career aside to help her husband realize his dreams. I want to talk about what SHE wants to accomplish while HE is the next U.S. President. I want to talk about what she foresees as her legacy to this country. I want to talk about the evolving role of race in our society. But most of all, I would love to convince her to make a guest visit to read to the children at Freedom Place, the homeless shelter where I volunteer. So what would I serve for dinner? I hadn’t gotten beyond the topics of our conversation yet!

4. How did you meet your husband?

When I first moved to Washington, I did a brief stint at the FBI. It quickly became apparent that I had chosen the wrong job. When they urged us to snoop on our roommates, I realized that I had to get out. I met a wonderful man on my bus who was quite high up in the Commerce Department. He arranged several interviews for me in an effort to help me along my career path. One of those was at the Census Bureau.

I am reminded of what I wore to that interview: a very short blue wool jumper (short enough that my fingertips came blow the hem) and tall red boots. The first face I happened to see was that of a long-haired, mild-mannered guy about my age with a big mustache. (I would later learn that he often worked late because he never got to work on time, even then being a night owl.) His office was in the same section as that of the man who would become my boss, so he could probably hear everything we discussed during the interview. I got the job, and with it a $3,000 raise, for a whopping $9,600 a year salary.

We worked together for at least 18 months, often socializing with the other young people in the office and sharing lots of lunches together at places like Dino’s, The China Sea, and Suitland Restaurant, all of which had cheap mediocre food. One day as we sat at Lum’s, which later became a funeral parlor, he asked to go to an Orioles game, my first professional baseball game. I wasn’t sure if it was really a date or not, so I brought my $5 just in case. That was the beginning of a relationship we kept well hidden for several months. When faced with the possibility of working directly for him, I opted to move to the International Division of the Census Bureau. After a couple of years of spending a lot of time together and reconciling our religious differences, we got married. The rest is history!

5. Of all the places to which you've not yet been, where would you most like to go, and why?

In the mid-70's, I had the chance to work in Chile, giving technical assistance on various censuses. This was an interesting and frightening time of unrest when people often disappeared never to be seen again. Many of the public buildings in Santiago still carried the pock marks of stray bullets. There were armed soldiers on the street corners. Tanks often rumbled through at night after we were all inside in compliance with the 10:00 curfew.

One weekend a friend and I escaped to the lake country south of Santiago, taking a train and then a bus to travel the 500 kilometers. The urban unrest was totally absent in the small lakeside town of Villa Rica, which sat under the watchful eye of a volcano.

People said the country was even more beautiful in the far south in Tierra del Fuego. I never had a chance to find out and have always longed to travel there to see for myself, also going to Patagonia. It’s high up there on our travel priorities, so I think there’s still hope. I have such fond memories of Chile and I would love to share with my husband the places I’ve been, as well as to explore the far south.

That concludes my interview, so now it’s your turn if you want to play this game. Here’s how it works:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Those Relative Superlatives

How many times have you thought life couldn’t get much better or much worse only to find out you were wrong? 2008 had both of those extremes for me. But the past month has been a steady climb in the positive direction. So many people went out of their way to make my birthday special. And I sense genuine kindness coming from multiple directions right now.

Just yesterday,

– I had an unsolicited offer from a person with years of experience to help me come up with an exercise program to address my “neuromusculoskeletal” needs.
– I continued an ongoing productive discussion with someone halfway around the world.
– I explored music and cooking with someone else who has become my electronic best friend and confidant.
– I learned the identity of my long-time reader SF and started making plans to meet her when I go out to see my daughter.
– I was invited to have tea with someone this afternoon.
– I kissed and was kissed by my lover.

As I luxuriate in all of these very positive relationships, I find myself toying with the idea that at some point we might look at our life on earth as just a warm-up for whatever happens next. Now wouldn’t that be something? I can just imagine projecting back to today and saying to myself, “And I thought that was as good as life could ever get!”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wise Thoughts

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.”

– Marcel Proust

I found this little gem at the beginning of “Buddhism Without Beliefs” by Stephen Batchelor. I hope his writing is as profound as that of Proust.

Another profound thought, this one from "The Sabbath" by Abraham Joshua Heschel:

A thought has blown the market place away.
There is a song on the wind and joy in the trees.
Shabbat arrives in the world,
scattering a song in the silence of the night:
Eternity utters a day.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Legally Renewed

Yesterday I was reminded of the importance of reading the fine print. When the notice from the DMV came a month or so ago, I took a quick look and then threw it into THE DRAWER – you know that catch-all place where everything seems to go?


I happened to pull it out yesterday, thinking I had until the end of my birthday month to renew my driver’s license, only to be reminded by my husband that I had been driving illegally for the past 3 days.

So instead of going on a leisurely long walk with Jake, I rushed off to the DMV to make myself legal once again. I must admit they have moved the bureaucracy in the right direction, now issuing each person who comes in a number and calling you to a window when it’s your turn, instead of the old holding pen where everyone waited forever in suspense.


But after I was called to window number 1 (an auspicious start I thought), I was told that I would need either a passport or a birth certificate to prove my legitimacy, since on my birthday I had been “deleted” from the system. I knew there was no sense in arguing.

The clock was ticking and I had only 35 minutes until they closed the doors. So as I got in the car to speed (no, make that drive safely) home, I called my husband and asked him to find my passport. I got it and returned with 15 minutes to spare.


Number C221 was called almost immediately. I did the perfunctory eye test, got my picture taken, was issued my license, had my passport returned, and was out of there.


I had for about 10 seconds considered waiting until I washed my hair today so I could have a more glamorous photo on my license. But I decided to go with slightly oily hair in the interest of correcting my legal status ASAP! Unfortunately I will be looking at this mug for the next 8 years. Hopefully I can keep it out of the hands of the law for that long!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thoughts on Gaza

Just 2 years ago, I was there at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Even then there was this ominous feeling in the air as we sensed the building powder keg of unrest just a few kilometers away.

Now as I read each day about what is happening, I can’t help but feel a rising anger for all the senselessly lost lives on both sides of the border. I am angry because

– Hamas has relentlessly continued to send rockets into Israel, with longer distances and better aim, resulting in the random loss of life.
– Iran is keeping Hamas well supplied with munitions.
– Israel has killed innocent civilians in the attempt to bring Hamas under control.
– The Palestinians in Gaza have not figured out how to extricate themselves from this group which continues to hide among the civilian population, thereby exposing places like the UN-run school to attack. (See video below of children being used as human shields.)
– Israel may have blocked the Red Cross from giving humanitarian assistance to the wounded in Gaza.
– Much of the world simply lays the blame on Israel, not for a moment thinking that they too would fight back if pushed long and hard enough.

I am reminded that many people in Israel and in Gaza are living through the current hell, hoping it will end and looking for the lasting peace that always seems so elusive. We received the following e-mail message from a friend in Israel:
***
It is a hard period in Israel. 5 km from where we live the schools are closed.
25 km from us bombs fall. You know Israel is so tiny.
But the civilian people in Israel are so brave and behave wonderfully.
In Sderot 8 years they are under fire!
So the war is inevitable.
Liron's husband is a doctor and he is in Gaza.
It is hard for me, and as long you are older it is harder.
We do not know how it will end. We hope for good news!
***
I saw the following comment on someone else’s Blog:
***
I live in Israel and let me tell you, don't worry. We had enough of all the world's fake concerns. My friends live in the Gaza Strip and I call them every day to check out what happened and if something is wrong. It is hell. But please, mind your own business. And it's not with bad feelings, but all the world is against us. Do you know how it feels? Likely not.
***
I’m encouraged to hear of the upcoming talks in Egypt to include Israel and the 2 Palestinian entities. But part of me wonders if they will ever be able to achieve a lasting peace, or whether any cease fire will simply be a time for Hamas to rearm itself and prepare for a fresh assault.

Meanwhile the death toll on both sides continues to rise and people on both sides of the border live in perpetual fear for what will happen next. Most of us have no idea what it would be like to live through this day in and day out.

video

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cheap Date

All that talk of gift certificates yesterday made me remember that we have quite a few of those we have never cashed in. In my effort to find things for my husband and me to do together that don’t cost much money, I proposed yesterday that we dig them out and go on some cheap dates sometime soon, hopefully before any more of them expire.

We could go shopping at Nordstrom’s to spend the $100 gift card we won in a raffle at the Temple Micah auction.


We could buy $100 in books at Politics and Prose with a gift card I received from my office when I retired.


The real adventure would be the hot air balloon ride some other coworkers gave me at my retirement (certificate above -- nonexpiring WHEW!).

There’s a certificate for tickets to Arena Stage (with an expiration date in 1988), which might take some convincing to make good. But then they might think it was somewhat cool that we kept it all these years, as though it might appreciate in value like a fine wine.


But alas the certificate for movies at Skyline Mall will go unused because the theaters were closed many years ago when Target moved in.


I am very anal and Type A about filing all these certificates away in categorized envelopes. The unfortunate thing is we never seem to remember to use them.

But in these hard times, we have a treasure trove of freebies to call upon while we wait for the stock market to rebound.

I’ll bet I’m not the only one with a pile of gift certificates, some of which are no longer usable, right?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Birthday Books


I’m passing the birthday hat off to my son, the next in line in our tightly packed family birthdays. (Jake, with his summer birthday, is the only one that doesn’t fall between December 29 and February 22.) But once again, what do you get for someone who lives so far away in Hamburg, Germany?

I already discarded the idea of shipping birthday cupcakes. I used up all my cupcake karma on the Best Buns cupcakes I sent to my daughter in San Francisco.

My son has always been an avid reader, often hanging out at places like Borders for hours. Work is tight in Germany these days, so I know there is nothing left over for an occasional new book after the rent is paid and the subway card purchased each month.

I remembered a beautiful bookstore we had visited when we were in Hamburg and actually managed to figure out the name of it – thanks to Google. There was no English option on their website, so I attempted to navigate the German and send them an inquiry about how I could purchase a gift card. I got the perfunctory “We’ve received your inquiry” message in German right away, but nothing since then. I can’t imagine that bookstores aren’t hungry for business in any part of the world!

I’m trying to be patient (which is hard for me), but the clock is ticking as January 21st approaches and I have no gift to give as yet. I may try to call Thalia today to see if I can do something over the phone. Otherwise, I may need to invoke the help of a German angel, AKA Angela, to make this happen.

I can’t imagine anything worse than being thousands of miles away from home and having no birthday celebration whatsoever.

Too bad I can't just send him my gift card from Politics and Prose (above)!

Let me know if you have any other ideas!

Monday, January 05, 2009

O Ancient One

Have you ever noticed how with each birthday you redefine OLD? It’s happening to me again this year as I turn 60 today. At one point in my life that would have been ANCIENT! However, OLD now is somewhere between 75 and 80.

Today may actually be somewhat anti-climatic after the weekend celebrations. Friday’s storytelling extravaganza was actually a pre-birthday evening. Last night my husband pulled off a semi-surprise party. Semi because I knew something was up when he made a 6-pound brisket the day before and then set the table for 10. The surprise was who was showing up to celebrate.

It turned out to be a delightful evening with people who easily got along with each other. No one monopolized and yet there was never a moment of silence. They each brought delicious food to accompany the brisket, including my very favorite java cake. The presents were obviously chosen with me in mind.

This morning I came down to the kitchen somewhat bleary-eyed to dash off to meditation at 6:30. There I found a homemade card including an original poem and the announcement of a watercolor class I am now signed up for beginning in March.

Friday is yet another celebration with neighborhood friends over lunch and a movie.

I've already heard from numerous Bloggers and Blog-readers.

So even if this really is bordering on OLD, I rather like it. I feel very loved and special.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Meme Time

Cyndy tagged me for this meme, which is not the standard “list 7 things about yourself” type of meme. It may require some real thought.

All About Me:

10 years ago – I was a total workaholic, sometimes putting in 60 hours a week. My son was away at college. My daughter was into serious partying and was avoiding a lot of direct parental contact. I did have a new puppy to worry about, but at that point he spent a lot of his life outdoors with our other dog Dylan and hadn’t yet learned to dig out or open gates. My husband hated his job, so I threw myself into my job. A really great life, yes?

8 years ago – My father had succumbed to lung cancer rather quickly. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay in Florida the whole time since I had a family and work demands here, so I was recovering from a bout of severe guilt over his passing. I had gone through a lifetime of his (their/my) stuff, noting that he was probably the most serious packrat I had ever encountered. I ended up almost giving away his house, where nothing worked any longer, including the plumbing. I gave some money to the church he and my mother helped start. I headed on up the road with his car packed to the gills and more boxes in transit. Exactly 8 years ago, we were completing a major renovation to our house, courtesy of my inheritance.

6 years ago – I was still working hard. Both children were away at school. By this time my son was in law school. We were becoming quite involved in our new synagogue – singing in the choir, starting a prayerbook Hebrew class, going to lectures and services, making new friends. We were enjoying entertaining with our still newly renovated kitchen and family room. I had started going to yoga classes. Even though I was fairly bad even at level 1, I realized it was a good thing for my body and I continued to go.

4 years ago – I received my first massage and launched a new era of my life in which I discovered acupuncture, osteopathy, meditation, manicures, pedicures, regular exercise, and daily writing, in addition to the joys of massage. I rediscovered the use of makeup, seeing my waist, and playing the piano. It was like an extreme makeover that took place over a couple of years. Along the way I learned how much I value the people around me and made a lot of new friends, both in person and electronically.

This was also the year I had my thyroid removed with a malignant tumor. It seemed traumatic at the time, but now I never miss it as I pop my little Synthroid pill every day.

2 years ago – I retired from the Federal Government after working hard for 36 years. It was not exactly when I wanted to leave, but circumstances made up my mind and I have no regrets. It was probably a good thing my personal transformation had occurred prior to my retirement or else I might not have had anything to do in retirement. As it turns out, I stay quite busy between music, volunteering, and social engagements.

5 Yummy Things:
– A salad chock full of interesting things, like beets, capers, olives, and sunflower seeds, and dressed with a homemade Balsamic vinaigrette.
– Cheese with flavor – hard, sharp, blue.
– Dark chocolate of any variety.
– Raw oysters with spicy cocktail sauce.
– Mac & cheese – homemade or from Logan’s Tavern.

5 Songs I Know by Heart:
– The Star-Spangled Banner
– Norwegian Wood
– Bridge Over Troubled Water
– Sunrise, Sunset
– Red Rubber Ball

5 Places I Would Like to Escape to:
– Villa Rica (in southern Chile)
– Kauai
– Paris
– Sogn Fjord (Norway)
– San Francisco

5 Things I Would Never Wear:
– Flip-flops
– A wet suit
– Spike heels
– A fur coat
– A bikini (well, maybe)

5 Favorite TV Shows:
(since I don’t watch TV at all, I can only comment on shows I once watched)
– Dallas
– American Dreams
– The Days of Our Lives

5 Favorite Toys:
– My piano (is this a toy?)
– My bicycle
– My sewing machine
– My camera
– Something mailed to me in plain brown paper wrapping by Velvet-in-Dupont a couple of years ago

Now I’m supposed to tag 5 people, but here’s where I draw the line. If you are reading this and feel so inclined, have a go at it!



(Photos: The top picture is my little lavender plant in the planter on my deck. The geraniums died with the first cold weather, but the lavender seems to be liking the cold, even though I never got around to taking it out of the pot.

The other photo shows my favorite cut flowers, which always seem to last for weeks. They brighten up my kitchen any time of the year.)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Once upon a time


Storytelling is a lost art in our society. We read books, but we rarely tell stories even to our children. Last night I was reminded of just how much fun it can be to listen as someone spins a tale.

This was probably one of the most unusual birthday presents I have ever received – an evening with an experienced storyteller followed by a delicious dinner for 12.

It probably would have been ideal to be outdoors looking up at the stars, but it was cold last night and there weren’t so many stars in evidence, so we were inside, where we simply had to use our imaginations.

Since the beginning of time, man has been intrigued with the night sky, the pattern of stars and planets that is predictable as the seasons change. For every point of light up there, there is a story of how it came to be.

We heard stories of Orion, the Pleides, and so many other mythological figures. They involved themes of love, intrigue, betrayal, but the end result was inevitably being cast into or out of the sky for eternity.

There was even the equivalent of “Eve and the apple.” Only in this case it was a forbidden turnip. It turned out that digging up the sacred turnip revealed a hole in the floor of the sky which showed life on earth and thereby ruined the harmony of the world above. The offending digger was banished to the earth with her child.

As I sat there listening, I couldn’t help but think of the countless audiences through the centuries who had sat around a fire listening to stories as their dinner cooked. It made me wonder who it was who initially made up the stories that would forever explain the night sky.

I think the storyteller could easily have gone on all night, but after an hour or so we were all ready to eat. It was almost like breaking a spell to go from the world of the stars to dinner with good friends.

What a nice way to start my 60th birthday celebration!

(Image from www.sorosy.com)

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Myth of Guilt-free


The year boundary is always a time for making plans and promises for the coming year, many of which never come to fruition. But it inevitably is also the time for considering the many ways we screwed up during the past year, thereby invoking guilt and remorse, unfortunately adding to a lifetime of failures that simply compounds with each passing year.

My great propensity for guilt and remorse made me highly qualified to be a Jew. My guilt goes all the way back to when I was a child and I did things like spill an entire glass of milk in a drawer full of family photos. It includes a bullying incident in the 7th grade when I made another girl cry. It includes lying to my parents about my whereabouts. It includes my inability as a parent to understand certain issues facing my children. It includes my failure to adequately care for my parents in their last months and days. This past year I have guilt about things I still don’t even understand. I am so sorry about all these things, even now. And you notice I didn’t even touch on unfulfilled new year’s resolutions.

So how does all this guilt and remorse fit in with the old adages like “You can’t cry over spilt milk,” “It's just water over the dam,” and “Que sera, sera”? If we really lived by such a philosophy, we would simply put these unfortunate things behind us and look to the future with dry eyes.

For most of us, it’s not quite that simple. From an early age, we know the difference between right and wrong. We sense when someone’s feelings have been hurt. Our minds even set up endless loops to replay incidents where we have failed in some way.

If only there were a magical pill to rid us of the considerable baggage of guilt and remorse that seem to be part and parcel of our daily lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if on January 1, we could simply jettison all those negative feelings and start with a truly clean slate?

Unfortunately GUILT-FREE seems to exist only in the world of food, and most of that is false advertising!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Heading West


I have been invited to spend a long weekend with my daughter, the recipient of the birthday cupcakes, in San Francisco. It will be a time for mother-daughter bonding. I can imagine us walking all over the city together, cooking together, just hanging out in what has become her world.

I’m excited that this also gives me the opportunity to connect with some old and new friends in the SF area. If you are reading this and would like to arrange a rendez-vous, send me an e-mail at barbara.diskin@verizon.net. I’m sure we can meet at Peet’s over coffee.


I would absolutely love to connect with my long-time faithful reader I have affectionately named SF. In all this time of reading almost every day, she has left me exactly one comment after an extended absence to assure me she was OK and was returning home the next day. I promise to protect your identity if we do get together.

I’ve always liked to anticipate a trip. It suddenly becomes real when you purchase a non-refundable ticket. I now have such a ticket to leave DC on January 22 and return on January 26.

I’m so looking forward to the sights, the food, the hills, but most of all the people on my San Francisco adventure. I will get to experience my daughter as an adult and hopefully hook up with several others while I am there.

My bags aren’t packed, and I’m not ready to go, but I will be soon enough!

(Photos from our November 2007 trip)