Friday, May 17, 2019

Dogs Make Everything Better

If you haven't been a follower of my blog,
you may not have met Dixie...
I chronicled her early years in the blog

And, this is Dillon; Dixie's younger brother by 8 months.
He had his own blog too...

When the time constraints became too much to write
two different blogs I created
which I honestly haven't written in since April of 2016.
And, yes, these dogs have traveled to all of the places
listed on the side bar!

Most recently as part of my grief therapy, I took them
to one of their favorite places:  the beach....
To say I haven't been in a while is an understatement.
We live five miles from the beach, and I haven't been in over 6 months.
And, the only reason we went that time was because our guests
wanted to see the beach.

Another thing I haven't done in a while is 
go to the beach with my camera.

I love photographing tree trunks on the beach...

I like to shoot pictures of waves...

And, I almost forgot how much I love to shoot
pictures of my dogs in action...
Give them water to swim in and a place to run and they are so happy.

Maybe add another dog they can run around with and it adds to the fun...

What do you think, guys?
We need more beach days...

Sunday, May 12, 2019

TYOFWM - Mother's Day

Boy have the last two weeks been so hard.
Everywhere there were reminders that Mother's Day was approaching.
Emails about gifts to send to your mother.
Commercials about where to take your mother out to eat.
Restaurant signs advertising Mother's Day Brunch.
It's really hard to be reminded about not having a mother
to celebrate this year.
About not having to find the right card...
About not having to think about flowers...
About not having to wonder if she'd like some more earrings,
or a sweater, or a new purse.

Momma would have said, "All of the above!"

It's hard living so far away from where she's buried as well.
To not even be able to take flowers to her tomb.
I don't know that I've ever felt so separated from my mother
and so alone.
A part of me wishes she might have been cremated...
to have some of her ashes here...
to have a sense of a part of her still around....

I worked today.
A very busy busy day in the ED,
but even then my thoughts turned to her.
People wishing "Happy Mother's Day!" just reminded me
that I don't have one over and over again.
At least I made it to the bathroom before I broke down
and cried for a few moments...
Very few because I knew others were waiting.
Others who needed my help today,
and I had to be strong for them.

There'd be plenty of time for tears later on at home...
still grieving...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

TYOFWM - One Monthaversary

It's hard to believe it's been a month since she died.  Sometimes it's still like a dream.  I wake up some days and imagine hearing the door to her room creak open... the sound of her walker as she got it over the door jamb... the slight rolling sound as she hit the kitchen linoleum... then the teapot brewing the water for her instant decaf coffee which she drank steaming hot... the refrigerator opening and closing... her special frying pan for her one egg... the toaster with her one piece of toast... then the roll back to her room and the creak of the door closing...

Then I really wake up as tears come to my eyes remembering that she's dead.  At times it's surreal walking around the house.  Remembering that today I don't have to take her to dialysis... that today I don't have to worry about a doctor's appointment... nail appointment... hair appointment... thinking that tomorrow I'll bring myself up to sorting through her clothes and shoes and jewelry... or maybe the next day...

On my first trip to the grocery store I stood for a few moments lost as to where to go first... you see, I did all of her grocery shopping, so I was used to shopping based on making sure I didn't forget her diet cranberry juice in the small bottles... her favorite wheat bread... her fruity bagels... her favorite ice cream... her stuffed crust mini pizzas... her Mocha Mix... Suddenly it was hard to think of what I needed to buy for myself because I'd always made sure I had her things first and foremost and my groceries came second to that...

Even driving back to LA and around Orange County was hard because I saw all the places we used to go to... I thought getting away would be better, but I almost lost it at Chicago O'Hare... an airport I have been to many times... there was Garrett's Popcorn - I always brought her home a bag on every trip and we'd been to Garrett's often when she'd come out to Chicago to visit... there was Chicago Dog - another of Momma's favorites... pictures of the Miracle Mile where we'd shopped at Christmas time... Giordano's Chicago Style pizza and so many other memories of times with Momma in Chicago during my med school years and the year I lived there as an intern.

And the thoughts that interrupt my day at times when I forget - I wanted to ask her about some paperwork I received in the mail.  I wanted to talk to her about planning our summer travel.  And, most of all, I wanted to ask her if I was doing the right thing with all of the decisions I suddenly had to make in her absence. She was my greatest council.

And, as I grieve and cover the 5 stages (sometimes all in one day) I get angry... angry that she died before her 81st birthday on the 17th... angry that the week I had taken off in anticipation of a road trip once she was cleared to walk again and would be coming home I instead spent working on her funeral Mass and burial.... angry that I never got to ask for the answers to so many questions that are now coming to light once I've started going through her papers... angry that despite 51 years of having my mother always by my side, on my side, on the other side I now have to go through life without her... and that still hurts worst of all...

*TYOFWM = the year of firsts without Momma

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z is for Zilch

Well, another year has come and gone
and another A to Z Challenge is put to rest.

Why did I pick "zilch" as my word...?
Because today I had zilch to talk about.
Next month will start for me the
"Year of Firsts without Momma"

Actually, that started on April 9th which was my
First Day without Momma
And April 17th which was
Momma's First Birthday in Heaven

The last three weeks have been painful,
and I know that the initial grief will pass.
However, there's still times when it all seems so surreal.
Times when I wonder if I'm in a dream.
I knew it was going to be hard, but I never imagined
it would be this hard.

It's going to be a long year.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Y is for Yesterday

I had some odd choices in music as a kid.  Like the song "Yesterday" by the Beatles.  I mean, what 8 year old is attracted to a song about a failed relationship...?

"Why she had to go, I don't know

She wouldn't say
I said something wrong
Now I long for yesterday

Love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday"

Seriously...?  And one of my other favorite songs was "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago.  That came out when I was 15.  Ironically, it was more relevant to me years later in college when I saw the movie "Summer Lovers" with my then dream guy who then, obviously, broke my heart.

"Hold me now

It's hard for me to say I'm sorry

I just want you to stay

After all that we've been through

I will make it up to you

I promise to

And after all that's been said and done

You're just the part of me I can't let go"

Was I just melancholy as a child or what?  Or did I have some weird attraction to songs about people who subsequently leave?  I can't say, but thinking about Y today for this blog brought up some really weird memories and the melody of "Yesterday" came to mind... so there it is... 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

X is for X-Wing Fighter

Anyone else want to fly one of these?  "Star Wars" came out when I was 10, and my dream in life was to be a fighter pilot.  I knew that one day, these would become a reality.  Of course, I changed my mind multiple times about what I wanted to be when I grew up, but a part of me would still love to be a fighter pilot.  Especially flying one of these through the starry skies of space. "Pew! Pew!" indeed!

Friday, April 26, 2019

W is for Wanderlust

the national parks I've been to so far - 43/61
I think I've mentioned in the past that I am a National Parks fanatic.  And, I sort of have to thank my DH for this, although don't let him know because he'd never let me live it down.  You see, when I first met him, I couldn't wait to show him all of the places around the world where I had been: Australia, Italy, France, Spain, etc.  But, he being the practical one said, "Why should we go out of the country when there's so much to see here in the US?"  Hmm..

So we started doing a lot of road trips.  And, I started making National Parks some of our stops.  Here's the first video I made of one of those first trips....

Along that trip, I bought the book you see there, and I started collecting NP stamps.  And selfies.  And magnets. And stickers.... It's become a bit of an obsession.  Collecting parks.  Trying to plan trips around hitting the ones I haven't been to yet.  And, I tell everyone I know about the beauty to be found in our own "back yard."  I have converted a lot of people into National Park Geeks.

Given all the parks we've been to, to say our refrigerator is full of magnets would be an understatement.  But the fridge has magnets from our world travels too... you see, DH found a love of cruises.  It started off with a week in the Caribbean.  Then a 14 day Panama Canal Cruise from Miami to Los Angeles.  Then another 10 day Caribbean.  And now, anything less than about 14 days at sea seems "too short" for him.  I'd stick an eye roll emoji here if I could.  But, I have always had an affinity for the ocean, and I don't mind the long passages.  What we've seen of the world has been off the side of a ship.

Last year we did a 40 day trans-Pacific cruise.  That was incredible.  People ask if we weren't bored, and to be honest, our days were so packed full of activities that there was no time to be bored.  It's funny how even on road trips you settle into a kind of routine.  And, that's what we did.  We met lots of people on board and got into having meals with them, or playing ping pong, or pickle ball, or gambling at night.  It becomes a small community.

And, you don't even need to know the language.  My DH made ping pong "friends" with some people from Germany.  They'd come up to him, swing their arm and say "ping pong" and then point at their watch.  He'd point at the time on the watch, they'd give each other a thumbs up and a smile, and then they'd meet at the pre-set time.

My mother gave me this love of travel.  I think I inherently had a sense of wanderlust so it wasn't that difficult to always want to be on the road.  Wondering now if there's the possibility of being a wandering doctor... I'll be the one on the side of the road holding up a sign saying, "Will diagnose for ride to....." so watch out for me...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

V is for Vamonos

I can't even begin to count how many times I heard "vamonos" "let's go" in my lifetime.  And, even now, I occasionally tell my husband to "vamonos" as I try to get him and the dogs out the door for another road trip or adventure.  It's when I switch to Spanish that he really pays attention.  Then he knows I'm really flustered or perhaps on the edge of getting upset.

Actually, I just like to say it... it's like tradition in a way... the rallying cry to "let's get this show on the road..!  VAMONOS!!"

Today it was all about getting on the road to start the 12 hour drive from SoCal to NorCal... hey, at least there's In-N-Out on the way...!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

U is for Unknowns

So many questions...

Who was this "cool girl" that would be probably be voted "TJ queen?"

Who was this "sweet and deserving gal" who someone wished that her "future be bright and full of happiness?"

"Lots of luck and happiness to a real cool kid..."

Who's the girl that Steve teased, "oh, and don't drive so fast you'll kill some one especially you. you woman driver..." 

There's also a possibly serious marriage proposal..?  Who was that guy and what happened to him...?

So what did happen at that party...?  Wait, driving around with boys in cars...? What?!? Beach rides and football games...?  Who is this woman..?

So many questions I wish I could ask her.... I wish I'd found her yearbook sooner...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

T is for Time Machine

If you had access to a time machine, where would you go?
I guess, more correctly, when would you go?

We drove down to Orange County for my mother's services
and funeral.

They were beautiful and near perfect.
My eulogy was on point.
It was great seeing my cousins
and friends.

There was a lot of
"remember that?"
"what happened there?"
"wonder what they were thinking?"
as we poured over several photo albums which people 
had brought to the wake.

The older ones in the crowd identified
black and white photos of distance relatives.
We laughed at clothes and hairstyles.
We shared a lot of memories.
Which left me thinking,
if I had a chance to go back to a certain point in time
when would it be...
what experience would I love to relive...
or maybe, just be a fly on the wall to...

Monday, April 22, 2019

S is for Silence

The utter silence.
I think that's what got to me.
After a week of machines and alarms,
of raspy breaths and the hum of the oxygen
it was suddenly silent.

I had sat by her bedside, holding her hand
during those last couple of hours.

She received her blessing from the priest.
Then she took a couple of deep breaths
and that was it.

My husband came in the room
and I asked him to turn off the oxygen
and then it was suddenly 
just quiet.

Even all the fowl in the yard seemed to sense the need for silence.
No sheep bleating in the distance.
Just nothing.
For a few moments.

We sat like that in silence,
tears streaming down our faces.
We held her hand.
And then it was time to let go...

Saturday, April 20, 2019

R is for Reflections

photo by Blog Author

My mother passed away on Monday April 8th, and this weekend I have been preparing to make the trip south to SoCal for her services and funeral.  I'm putting together a slide show of various photos so I've been doing a lot of reflecting on her life, our life, a life.  Writing will be sporadic, but I hope you'll come hang in there... I'm already thinking of a slight change to my blog... at least, temporarily.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Q is for Quiet

I think I've written multiple times before about how
we're superstitious in the ED and there are certain
words we don't use...
like slow...
or quiet...

Tonight is definitely not quiet...
It's a full moon Friday night and the crazies are out in force.
So I better get back to them...
someone must have said "quiet..."
I'm sure they did.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

P is for Patience

This is my white peacock Prince.
He'll turn two years old this year.
 I got him as a 1 week old chick
along with three other peachicks.
He was the only one who made it.

I kept hoping for a white male.
It was a dream bird for me.
So when he made it to a year old and started showing
signs of being a male, I was so happy.

That first year he didn't have much of a display.
This year, though, he's got a lot of Y-feathers.
Next year, he'll finally have his first rows of eye feathers;
you know the ones... the ones peacocks are famous for.

Three years waiting for his display to finally be complete.
Three years of keeping him well fed and safe from predators.
Three years of hoping he doesn't get ill or decide to wander away.
I'll let you know if we make it to next year...

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

O is for Ocean

"They say the Pacific has no memory..."
That's a quote out of one of my favorite movies:
"The Shawshank Redemption."

I, on the other hand, have a lot of memories about the Pacific Ocean.
I grew up in SoCal, and some of my first memories are about
playing on the warm sands of Huntington Beach.
My uncle took me fishing off the coasts of Dana Point and Newport.

In high school, all the cool kids laid out on the beach between the Newport
and Balboa piers.
Then I went to college...
in San Diego...
and spent a whole LOT of time on the beach.

I learned to sail in the Pacific.
I did a grunion run.
I kissed a lot a few boys on those warm beaches.
I've flown kites, ridden bikes, and played volleyball.
I've seen a lot of sunsets, and a number of sunrises, over the Pacific.

I've seen the Pacific from the locks of the Panama Canal
as I sailed underneath the Bridge of the Americas,
and have sailed the coastline all the way north to the shores of Homer, Alaska.

Last year, we did the ultimate:
a 40 day cruise from Australia to San Diego.
There were so many sea days,
and we saw the Pacific in all of its moods - 
stormy, calm, sunny, gray, bright blue and deep black.

I have wondered in the whales who breached alongside my boat,
watched dolphins swim along in my wake.
I have swum with rays and sharks,
followed a turtle along the shore,
fed garibaldi and angel fish.
I have collected shells of all types.

It may not have a memory of me,
but I certainly have a lot of memories of it and all its wonders.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

N is for National Parks


I can't talk enough to anyone about how much I love the National Parks.
I've been to 43 of the now 61 National Parks.
From California to Maine,
from Alaska to Hawaii,
from the rocky badlands of Theodore Roosevelt NP
to the beautiful waters of Dry Tortugas NP,
I've been to 43.

If 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything,
I've gone up one to the next level.

I'm trying to figure out how to get up to 50.
Then up to 60.
Then that final 61.
However, this may be a bucket list goal that will
keep on changing over the next several years.
It was 59 when I started,
then they added Gateway Arch NP
and now I just read about Indiana Dunes NP
just designated by an Act of Congress
on February 15th of 2019.

I better get to planning another road trip soon...!

Monday, April 15, 2019

M is for Movies

I've written many times about how much I love movies.  As a kid, they were an escape; a view into a life so different from my own.  As I grew older, they were inspiration; a way of seeing how I could and would later change my life.  As a young adult, they were a way to make time pass.  If I knew I had to be ready in 90 minutes, I would put on a 90 minute movie.  The time would pass, and I would know when it was time to be doing whatever came next.  During med school and residency training, they went back to being an escape.

Now they are a little bit of everything: they help pass the time, they help to inspire, and they are a means of escape.  Here are a few screenshots of my favorites.... can you name them all?  What are your favorites?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

K is for Kite Boarding

So my hubby likes to kite board.  It’s where you get on a flat board and get pulled along by a large kite across the water... or snow... or sand... depends on the weather and your terrain.  He’s a bit of a daredevil... or was.

One thing about getting older is those things you loved to do to be challenged somehow seem scarier, and it’s more of a challenge to even think about attempting them again.  Like hang gliding... yeah, my hubby used to do that too.  But after a somewhat serious crash, he hasn’t quite gotten up the nerve to try again.

Oh sure, he pulls his hang glider out, wipes it down, checks all the lines, makes sure all the mechanical parts are working well, and then he puts it back up again. No plans for a trip. No, hey let’s join the group over in Lassen, or Woodrat, or along the coast.  Sure we stopped at Point of the Mountain in Utah last summer to watch the hang gliders and paragliders, but he didn’t think about bringing his hang glider, nor has he talked about making another trip out there.

I’m like that too.  I have a snowboard I haven’t really used since before I left residency in Buffalo... almost 9 years ago.  Sure it’s in the attic... along with my boots, helmet, day bag, etc.  I think about going sometimes.  I think about the challenge of the mountain and how fun it would be to be standing on top of Heavenly again looking down at the lake... and then I think about my knees, and my feet, and how I’d probably be out of breathe getting off the chair lift...

Getting older sucks...

Thursday, April 11, 2019

J is for Journalism

A few people know that I actually started off life as a journalism major.  I wanted to write about other people and their life’s stories.  What ended up happening is I ended up as a doctor writing charts about other people and their current events.  I always said I enjoyed the back story as much as the actual medical reason they came to the Emergency Department:

 - like the couple who got into a car crash... they wanted to start over so they packed everything they owned into a U-Haul and started driving across the state. They didn’t quite reach their destination because he fell asleep at the wheel.

 - like the man whose “date” stole his car while he was in the ED and then held it for ransom so that he had to run out of the ED and write her a check so that he could get his car back.

 - like the son who crashed into his dad’s car because he discovered that his girlfriend was, um, getting to “know his dad” in the biblical sense in the car.

 - like the patient who crashed their car into various road signs, was given a ride home after which they got into another car which they crashed into a mail truck then backed up onto a curb, thinking the car wasn’t driveable they got out only to have the car run over them.

 ... and on, and on, and on... seriously, some times you can’t make these stories up... 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Catching up on F - I

F is for Fall....
She fell...
Stupid stupid fall...
I should have been watching her more carefully...
It had been raining and her hand slipped on the car,
and the next thing I knew she was down.

G is for new Gear...
She went to surgery...
He (the surgeon) didn't want to really do it, but he did...
and she did great!
Came out of the surgery, made it through her 4 day
hospital stay...

H is for Healing...
She went to rehab...
Spent two and half weeks learning
how to do things with one leg...
Building up strength in her arms...
Working to get back home...

I is for Inspiration...
I could never get her to smile for photos,
I don't know why...
I've been looking at her high school yearbooks,
her wedding photos,
photos of her life,
she actually photographed very well,
and she had a great smile...
But she wouldn't smile for me when I took her photos...

I could make her laugh, but then I was laughing too
and not thinking about capturing that moment...

I should have videotaped her then...
I wish I had...

I wish now I had them all back...
All of the travels, all of the fun...
All of the letters, and cards, and phone calls...
All of the love and support she gave me...

I carry them with me... 
I carry her memory...
But, most of all, I carry her inspiration...
Her challenge to always do your best,
Her challenge to always take responsibility for my actions...
Her challenge to travel, to explore, to go beyond what I know...

It's ok, Mom, I'm going to remember that one
most important thing you always said
as I was walking out the door,
"Be nice..."

Friday, April 5, 2019

E is for Emergency

Not much to say tonight.
I'm dealing with my own family emergency at home.
Maybe tomorrow I'll be up for writing more...
It's hard when you know that you can do nothing more;
that all of your training never prepared you
for doing nothing...
but waiting...
for the inevitable...

Thursday, April 4, 2019

D is for Dreams

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

 - Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

C is for Casino

It's weird to say, but I can't really remember a time when I didn't know about casinos.
My uncle, who was basically my father figure, was a member of a golf group
that took a yearly trip to Vegas for a convention and golf.
My mother and grandmother would go along, and, of course, I would be brought along too.

As a child, I knew which casinos had the best shrimp cocktails.
I knew all about how to play Keno, even though I legally wasn't old enough.
I knew that if I picked up a house phone, the operator would page my mom
in Circus Circus and I would get another roll of quarters so I could play more games.
In fact, most of the stuffed animals in my room were from Circus Circus.

Once I was older than 12, even Circus Circus lost its shine, and Vegas wasn't quite as exciting,
but we still went... and went to Reno... and went to a new development call Laughlin.

Once I turned 21, it was a whole new world.
Of course I played slots. But now they were no longer nickel and dime.
They also were no longer real money.
But it was still fun and exciting, and my mother always told me
"You bring a certain amount and that's all you play.
If you win, great. If you don't, that money was for fun
and that's what you came for."

As I've gotten older, slots no longer do it for me.
I learned Texas Hold 'Em and most of the poker games.
Then I met my Southern Baptist husband who really
had never seen the inside of a casino.
He doesn't understand gambling at all...
can't find his way around a slot machine...
feels intimidated at the poker tables...
but Craps...there's his game. 
It makes more sense to him.

I play craps along with him from time to time,
but I usually pull off to play poker...
and sometimes you win big...
like the pile of chips I won on a straight flush...

Gotta love the winning...!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

B is for Babies

This year, hubby decided that we should try our luck at raising sheep.
So in June we bought a small flock of 5 ewes and a ram.
Starting on Boxing Day, we had our first lamb.
Almost a month later, twins.
Two weeks after that, another set of twins.
About two more weeks, and a single lamb,
Then finally our oldest ewe had the last set of twins.
Five ewes... 8 babies... 
And they’re evenly split - 4 boys and 4 girls.
Not bad for the first year...

Monday, April 1, 2019

A is for Airplane

Hello! Welcome to my little corner of the webosphere...

It’s the first post and it’s going to be a quickie.

I love to travel, and I love to fly. So I love airplanes. I first flew at the age of five... of course I threw up because I was so excited.  I don’t throw up any more, but I still get excited.

For me it is the journey as well as the destination.