Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Peaceful, Easy Feeling"

One of the best things about holidays is that "peaceful, easy feeling" you get when everything is over and done with.  You know what I mean?  Its that time that comes after the frenzy of the holiday is finally finished.  The dishes are done (mostly....I still have a few utensils that need attention), the extra chairs are back where they belong and the dining room is returned to its normal configuration.  The Thanksgiving decorations are down, packed, and returned to storage.  Just a few leftovers still lurking in the fridge, mostly condiments and the like.  The house is still clean from the whirlwind of getting ready.  Everything is in its place and God is in His heaven and all is right with the world....well, at least in my world!

There is nothing I should be doing (except for those utensils, drat it, but they can wait.)  So this evening, is a "I don't have to go anywhere, do anything, need anything" Bonus Night! 

I have plenty of evenings where I don't go, do, or need, but this is different because there is no guilt!!  The Big Guy and I can sit back and relax and know that we've survived another holiday!  Perhaps survive is the wrong word.  I don't mean that holidays are things to endure and emerge victorious from.  Its more amazement that we got everything done in time for one more year!  Also, I suppose, at least to some extent I mean, we've lived through one more holiday(literally). 

Like every other day, getting through the holiday is not guaranteed.  Studies have shown that many people in extremely poor health seem to hold off death in order to reach some goal date
....Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, their birthday, someone's wedding, etc.  The power of the mind and will is always amazing to me.  Unfortunately though, after accomplishing that goal, their reprieve is over and for their families, their death will forever be associated with that holiday.

Hmmm, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent there. 

Anyway, what I was talking about (before I so morbidly interrupted myself), was the feeling of accomplishment one has for a few days after a major holiday.  Of course, the next big holiday is practically around the corner (just 24 shopping days till the big "C" holiday)!  :-)  Nevertheless, I am philosophically opposed to start any sort of decorating, planning, or even mentioning the big "C" holiday until December!

So tonight, I'm sitting around relaxing and enjoying that "peaceful, easy, feeling" and resting on my laurels after a successful and delightful Thanksgiving.  I've got lots of time for that, after all, it won't be December until....Tuesday.  TUESDAY??!!  The day after tomorrow, Tuesday????

Oh, help!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Over the River and Through the Woods"

"Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's house we go!"  Only this is Grandmother's house and the family is coming here!  And through some sort of miraculous intervention, we will be ready (crossing fingers!) 

The carpet was shampooed (sort of), the floors vacumned, the house dusted, and polished and de-cluttered.  The fridge is roomy, the broken stove top burner has been repaired, the shopping done, the pies are baking (pecan and pumpkin).  The leek has been chopped and steamed, the beverages chilled,the table set and looks good!  It appears we are on track (crossing hopeful fingers!)

The house has been decorated, the welcome wreath is hung on the door, the silver has been polished, the stemware washed, serving pieces selected, the fireplace readied, the candles all set.  That seems like everything (crossing fingers of both hands)!

We expect Ratchlet, TA, and M-t-G around 2:30 and plan to eat around 3:30.  TA's mom and her beau will be joining us a bit later for dessert and games.  We should be able to make it with little or no angst (crossing fingers tightly)!!

So what is left??  Getting up on time in the morning, watching a little of the Macy's parade, getting the turkey into the oven, getting the rest of the food prep underway, getting dressed, it should be just fine (crossing fingers again)!!

The likelihood of making it all come out on time and together with no disasters is up to fate.  Thanks to the Big Guy, who worked like a Trojan, we've done all we could!  There's nothing further to do tonight (crossing fingers and toes)!!

Oh, yes there is!  What I must do before the night is any older, to give you all my very best wishes that your trip over the river and through the woods brings you the lovliest of holidays.  Among many, many other things, I am thankful that you stop and read my blog. I hope each of you gets a wishbone and has your Happiest Thanksgiving  ever (crossing fingers for you)!!

Hugs all around and blessings to you all! 

Monday, November 23, 2009


Holidays in our family generally means "Company" coming and company coming generally means its time to fix up the house.  I doubt that we are unique in this.  Little Sis does it.  Ratchlet does it.  Any number of friends have mentioned doing it too.  Of course, the difference comes in to what extent do you "fix up the house"?

Normal people will put away clutter, possibly polish the silver, maybe vacuum and dust, make the bathrooms all sparkly and shiny.  Just kind of spiff up the place.  We do that too, sometimes, so as not to be too embarrassed by our less than spotless house.  Nevertheless, there are times when we go way beyond normal! 

This is the time we'll shampoo the carpets or wash all the windows or even buy some new furniture!  None of that is too unusual either, except we do it in the last two days before company is due!  It is part of the phenomenon:   Improving any one thing makes everything else look shabby! 

I'm not too fond of cleaning stuff.  So I tend to let things go more than I should.  This is a fault.  I recognize it as such but ultimately I decided it was a fault I could live with most of the time. This indulgence in my own failings is what leads to the two or three days of marathon dusting, washing, vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing, scouring, and all things of that sort just before any major holiday! 

We are two days away from Thanksgiving and the clan (such as it is) is gathering here for Thanksgiving dinner.   The Big Guy and I are in our usual tizzy of trying to "spiff up the house."  Nothing too drastic this time, the most involved project will be cleaning out the fridge.  (Absolutely  must do, there is no room for a big bird and all the flotsam and jetsom that goes along with it.)  I can live with that.

This will not be the holiday that will take the prize for the most extreme example of what we have been known to do to spiff up the house.  That prize was awarded the night of Ratchlet's high school Senior Prom.  She invited 5 or 6 couples to meet at our house before the dance where photos were taken and flowers were pinned on and last minute adjustments made in their formal wear.  After the prom, there was some sort of after-party they were all going to (parent-sponsored and chaperoned!)  After that they were coming back to our house to change and head off for a day at the beach.  We would provide breakfast for them before they took off again.  A simple plan.  Right? 

Remember these were 16-18 year olds in the flush of their most exciting night ever.  I doubt they would have noticed if we lived in a barn.  Anyway, the Big Guy and I were going to have a buffet of eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, breakfast breads and a few other things, nothing too fancy, but better than an Egg McMuffin!

The kids arrived, we ooohed and aaahed over their finery, took some photos (the Big Guy did, not me) and sent them off at about 8:30 to their "Dancing Under the Sea" (or whatever it was called).  They wouldn't be back until around 4:00 a.m.  Not enough time to get a good night's sleep, cause we had to have the food ready, so we would be cooking in the wee small hours of the morning. 

Sooooo, what did we do to pass the time?? We painted the living room and dining room!!  Really!  In the middle of the night, there we were with drop cloths, paint, rollers, brushes, and tape.  When the kids left the room was white.  When they got back the room was yellow!  We had time to put up the paint, clean up the mess, get the furniture back in place and still have the hot breakfast there and waiting for them around 4:00!

Now you might say, why did you bother?  They were kids all excited about being out "all night".  What did they know from wall color??  Or care?

If you have been paying close attention, you might have been able to deduce the reason.  Any guesses??  The clue was in the fact that they were going to their Senior Prom.  Senior!  Aha! You say, "Graduation!"  Right!!  Graduation was coming up very soon and we were planning to have lots of Company to share in Ratchlet's big day!

We weren't painting for the kids, or just for something to do.  Nope!  We were in Phase One of the "OMG, this house is a mess!! mode" We had friends coming!  We had family coming!!  We had in-laws coming!!  That's why we were painting at 2:00 in the morning!  We think of it as crisis management!

And it turned out great too!  Well, it looked great, right after I got the new throw pillows to replace the ones that now looked kind of shabby....maybe I should have gotten new drapes too....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Money, Money, Money"

I must have missed the announcement, but when did everything become about money, money, money??   Morality, integrity, honor, honesty, choice and safety???  Oops, they're out the window if there is money to be made somewhere!  Business has become all about greed, avarice, and manipulation!!  I hate it!   The thing that is most bothersome about this trend, is that we are all dragged along no matter what our personal beliefs, values, and ethics might be. 

  When I retired last December I was not eligible for any COBRA benefits and who could have afforded them anyway?  I won't be eligible for Medicare for another year and a half.  (Wow, there's still something I'm not old enough for!)  So we signed me up for dependant health coverage through the Big Guy's employer.  

I should preface the rest of this posting with a disclaimer that I have always gotten overwhelmed by employee benefit packages.  They are always so convoluted and unclear and filled with little tiny print that describes the things they know people won't like.  The whole process was always a pain in the...uhhh.... neck! 

The insurance company offered by the employer is Aetna, a well-known and long time player in the medical field.  Great!  Then came the kicker.  The prescription drug plan was NOT through Aetna at all.  It was through something called MEDCO.  Never heard of it.  At first read, it seemed pretty straightforward.  Go to your pharmacy, pay the co-pay, get your meds, and go home.  Simple.

Then in that little tiny print it said "Oh, by the way, you could save money by ordering a 3 month supply from their mail-order center, delivered right to your mailbox and everything!  Cool, huh?"  Well, no thank you.  I'm just fine with getting my meds through my friendly neighborhood pharmacy.  But we signed up anyway, because no insurance coverage for meds is outrageously expensive!

I told the Big Guy  I felt safer paying a bit more for my retail pharmacy and that I didn't want to use the mail option.  And I gave him my reasons:

1.  It is an unsafe practice of medical care!  Who knows where or who fills those prescriptions??  Some grossly underpaid worker in a remote village in India or somewhere??  Are they pharmacists?  Are they even trained?  Are they committed to protecting my safety??  HAH!  That isn't guaranteed anywhere in the literature!

2.  The meds are vulnerable to theft or tampering!  Once the meds are sent, they go through the mails or some freight delivery company.  Who knows how many places they go or how many people have access to those little packets of pills??  I wouldn't let anyone touch my suitcases if I were flying somewhere, why ever would I be so cavalier about something I'm going to ingest directly into my body???

3.  Then, suppose they make it through those perils and they arrive safe and sound at my Texas!  TEXAS!!  Where the the outside temperatures can be anywhere from 15 F to 115F!  When was the last time you had any kind of medications?  Somewhere on the bottle or in the instructions it almost always says, "Keep in a cool, dry place."  In Texas???  Oh, please!

4.  Its damned incovenient to have to remember to order the refills in enough time not to run out.

So how would any of that benefit me or my health?  "It would be cheaper!"  Oh goodie, so when I'm lying on the floor in the last throes of my early demise from unsafe meds, I'll take comfort in the fact that, at least, I didn't pay full price!

Like I said, "No, Thank You!"  The Big Guy didn't like spending the extra money but I was adamant!  Okay, fast forward three months.  I've gone to the pharmacy to pick up my meds and the price has doubled!  Hey!  That can't be right.  Well, it was right.  They told me that I had used up my allotted usage of the retail pharmacy and now as an incentive to use their WONDERFUL mail order service, I would pay double the initial rate.  (Well......fu....dge...!) 

Mikey had tried to tell me, but I guess I didn't really get it.  After all, the literature all said "I could use the mail order..."  That implies a choice, either you would or you wouldn't.  Nowhere did it say that I must use it.  No, they'll just charge you twice as much.

I may not have mentioned it, but I am just the tiniest bit stubborn.  I don't like being forced to do anything.  It just makes me dig in and resist even harder.  (I blame it on the 1960s!  Remember "Hell no, we won't go"??) 

The reality was that most of my meds are generic and the co-pay was bearable, even at twice the amount, and they were still a lot less than full price!  I thumbed my nose at them and continued to get my meds locally. 

Since then about every 2 months I got a letter from MEDCO, "We notice that you are not taking advantage of the Enormous Cost Savings of our Mail Order option...."  Then I started to get phone calls!  There have been three.  Two different men and one woman have called.  "We notice that you are not taking advan...."  STOP!  Firstly, they are difficult to understand because even though they are speaking English, they are definitely from India (HAH!) or that part of the world, and their accents distort their words.

Anyway, I explained to each of them my reasons (see above) for "not taking advantage..." and that I had no plan to change my mind.  (I might have mentioned something about "Hell freezing over", but I may have dreamed that.)  They were all very polite, thanked me for my time, and I was let alone for another little while.

Today, I got their most recent "Important Announcement" mailing.  and I quote,

"Your....plan allows you to purchase your meds at a retail phamacy a certain number of times before your co-pay increases   Our records show....reached that limit.  You can MEDCO  BY MAIL to avoid paying the co-payment increase at retail."  (emphasis added)

In other words, they're raising the prices on retail to strong-arm you into using the mail option.  And God only knows how much the increase will be!

Well, okay, okay, I give!  I am out of options.  I can't afford to pay more.   I'll bite the bullet, take the risk, and start using their stupid mail order.  But I don't have to like it.  I am angry and resentful and will likely stay that way for a long time.  I will never say a positive word about MEDCO to anyone.

So was any of this about improving my health care?  No.  Was any of it about reducing my burdens, financial or convenience?  No.  Do I expect any kind of positive outcome from doing it their way?  No. Will I get some tremendous windfall of benefit to me??  No.  So what was it about???  Who will benefit??  Its all about the "Money, Money, Money"!  Their money, not mine!!  Because you can be damn sure that the mail order business is a LOT cheaper to run than paying claims directly to retail pharmacies.  Money!  That's what its always about!  People be damned!

You know, I can hardly wait for whatever final health care bill that comes out of Washington.  Oh yeah, we're all going to have lots of fun then, just like this!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I think everyone has figured out by now that I don't add a lot of photographs to this blog.  As I look at other blogs, they seem to be loaded with a ton of wonderful candid family shots, or beautiful landscapes, or even abstract photos that are mysterious or funny or something.  I'm so jealous.  "So," you say, "Why don't you add more photos of your own?" (a perfectly logical question.)  Well, there's a reason for that, Cameras hate me.  Seriously!  They do!!

It's not that I don't think I look good in photographs, or that I don't know how to use a camera.  Oh no, its much more basic than that!
Whether digital, or Poloroid, or a little point and shoot gadget loaded with "Kodachrome" film, (does anyone still use film??)whenever any camera senses that I am in a place where photos are being taken, some little cosmic polterqeist who hates me for some reason, manages to do something to ensure that no good or even passable photos will result until I am no longer around.  (Hearing your snorts in the background!) You don't believe me, do you?  Well, read on my friends!

The very first experience I had with "Dirty Tricks Photography" was by far the worst.  It was my wedding day!  (I can hear your gasps, "No, not that day!  Nooooo!   Oh yes, My Wedding Day!)  My cousin was married at that time to a really nice guy who was a professional photographer.  As their wedding gift to us PhotoHubby offered to take the photos at the wedding.  We were thrilled.  We couldn't afford a professional photographer so this would be wonderful.  How generous of them!! 

The morning of the wedding,  just after I got up, my mother snapped a quick shot of me sitting on the sofa in my nightgown with my hair still in rollers (this was a long time ago!) and looking like the walking dead.  And then a short time later, after I had taken out the rollers and sort of combed out my hair, she took another quick snap of me in the mirror, still in my nightgown, with my veil perched on the top of my head.  (I looked like I was playing "dress up" or something.)

Anyway, shortly thereafter, PhotoHubby arrived and shot, and flashed, and focused constantly the entire rest of the day.  He was Everywhere, behind the priest  on the altar during Mass, walking backwards back down the aisle with us, at the reception, cutting our cake....everywhere!  He told us that night that he had  shot several rolls and thought he had some great shots.  He said he should have proof sheets for us in a week or so.   I was so grateful and excited to see them.  And off we went gleefully to our "honeymoon" (ahh, that's another story). 

So, we're back at my aunt's house for dinner about a month later and my cousin and PhotoHubby were there as well.  No one had said anything about the pictures (we didn't want to seem pushy), but I was anxious to see them.   After the meal was over, PhotoHubby said, "I'm afraid I have some bad news."  (Oh, crap!  This can't be good!)

It seems that he and his partner in the photography business had had a huge blow-up about 3 days after our wedding, and said partner had, unbeknownst to PhotoHubby, packed up everything that was in the studio and left town.  We were properly sympathetic and outraged for him.  But then he made it clear that the jerk took everything, cameras, negatives, equipment, film.  Film??  Our film??  All of it???  Even the stuff that didn't belong to him????  Yep, all gone, and PhotoHubby had no idea where he went.  Well, there you go!  There was absolutely no possibility of getting it back.  I was heartbroken, but I managed not to cry until we got home.  We couldn't even ask for our money back! 

The sad fact was that no one else took any photos because Photo-Hubby was a "Professional!" 

So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in summation, poor little bride (me) has exactly two photographs recording her happy her nightgown with a veil on her head!  And the are no photos of the groom (Mikey) at all.  See, because it hates me, the poltergeist planted that evil idea in the mind of the partner, leaving us with zilch!

And that was the start of my ongoing devilment by Dirty Tricks!  Whenever I managed to remember to take my camera to some event or other, the battery would be dead, or the flash wouldn't flash, or a perfectly framed and enchanting photo of the ones I love, a tree will seem to sprout out of someone's head and the rest will have their eyes closed.  Or the back of the camera will fly open and expose all the film! Photos that I thought were the right distance and lighting will emerge with the figures too far away to even recognize! 

And its not just when I am the one taking the pictures, oh no, that would be too simple.  If someone else is attempting photos and I'm around, well, suddenly there will be a big shadow, or the sun which has been behind a gray cloud bank the whole bloomin' day, will abrubtly poke through the clouds just long enough to make everyone squint!  Up until Photoshop, nearly every color photo shows me with "Devil Red Eye."  Its enough to scare little children!  Those photos by others are too light, or too dark, or blurry, or double-exposed, or some damn thing!

Unfortunately, I don't seem to be a quick learner. I kept trying.  Big problem #2....

The day?  Ratchlet's Wedding Shower.  (I'm hearing more gasps, I bet)  I volunteered to take photos.  Dear God, what was I thinking??  What was Ratchlet thinking??  It was a nice shower, with good food, lots of friends, some silly games, everybody had a nice time.  Somewhere toward the end it finally hit me that I would probably need to change the film soon.  I looked in the the little window to see how many shots I had left, but I couldn't see any numbers.  Oh pooh, I must have finished the roll without realizing it.  Not to worry, I had more film, even though the party was nearly over.  So I flip open the back of the camera and....IT WAS FRIGGIN' EMPTY!!!  I had been shooting the whole shower without any damn film in the camera!   I wanted to cry, I wanted to die, I wanted to kill that damned poltergeist!!  Why??  Why was he always doing this to me???  Why did he hate me so much???  It wasn't fair!

Ratchlet was very sweet about it.  She never got mad, or yelled at me, or anything.  But now, Ratchlet's hubby, TA, takes all the photos in our family and he NEVER focuses on me.  It seems to be fooling the poltergeist so far. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"The Counting Song" -- Part ...uh....whatever

Just on the off-chance I actually get there, here are 10 Things I Hope They Have in Heaven:

10.  Flowers and greenery (that my black thumb can't hurt!)

9.   Sunshine (all the time!!) and warmth.  (I couldn't face in an eternity where I was cold!  For me, that would be Hell!)

8.   Endless Iced Tea (sweetened exactly the way I like it!)

7.   Music (real music, not just harps.)

6.   Pretty things to wear!  Something different every day that would always fit perfectly!

5.   Babies!! (to hold and play with)

4.   Wonderful scents  (jasmine, bread baking, sea air...)

3.   Books to read all the time!  New books every day from all my favorite authors!

2.   Dogs!  (All the dogs I have ever known or loved racing to meet me, crowding around me with goofy doggie smiles, wagging tails, sloppy kisses, and their completely pure, unadulterated doggie love.)

1.   And the top thing I hope to have in Heaven??  All the people I love and miss so much!  My mom, dad, Gram and Gramps, aunts, uncles, all of them, with their youth and vigor restored, free of pain, disappointment, unhappiness.  Without them, it wouldn't be much of an eternity!

Actually, there is one more thing.  I hope I understand and I hope I know!  "Understand and know what?" you say.  "Everything!  I want to know everything I could never understand throughout my life."

That would be Heaven for me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Fly Me to the Moon"

I have always been a big fan of Science Fiction from lots of different genres....novels, short stories, movies, TV (back in the days when I watched TV), whatever.  Nothing too creepy or frightening, just a good solid sci fi story set in the not too distant future.  It has to be plausible-sounding but with imagination.  A lot of fictional ideas in this realm have become an actual reality.  And I've always thought that a "Fly Me to the Moon" future would, one day, become possible. 

After the Moon landings back in the day, I was disappointed that the Moon was pretty much discarded as a destination for future space flights.  That  seemed to me to be a totally illogical choice.  The Moon is the closest celestial body to our planet.  We proved we could get there.  Why wouldn't we continue to go there and make use of its minerals and space??  If our planet is plagued with these enormous threats to our existence, like global warming, over population, shortage of resources, ad infinitum, why wouldn't we use the Moon as part of dealing with these issues and others?  I mean, where else would we go?  Its right there!! 

Okay, so I was (am??) a little naive and ignored some of the more basic realities.  Nevertheless, it still seemed like that old Moon shouldn't just be abandoned, like some old beat-up toy stuffed in the back of your closet!

I do concede that the Moon was never really discarded as an object of scietific interest.  NASA and others have always had some sort of lunar research going on.  It just didn't include actual "on-site" visits for research, at least not for human beings.  Any number of satellites and other probes have been gathering data for years.  And that data gathering has finally paid off with something that could affect the future of this old Earth and further travel into Space!!

A few months ago there were two rockets (or whatever they called them) that were sent to deliberately crash into the Moon.   The second rocket would be filming the crash of the first and sending back data and images until such time as the second camera crashed into the Moon as well.  It was predicted that an enormous "plume of debris" displaced by the rocket, would occur as a result of the crash.  What made it exciting for a lot of folks was that it was also predicted that the plume would be visible from Earth!  Wow!  Wouldn't that be great to personally see a man-made event that was happening right then on the Moon??  Lots and lots of people were ready and eager to witness this historic event.

Sadly, it didn't quite work out the way it was supposed to.  Oh, the rockets crashed, the photos were taken and sent back, but the resultant plume was more of a plunk!  Much, much smaller than expected, it wasn't even close to visible here at home even with lots of fancy telescopes and such.  Very disappointing to those who had waited and watched (and, I imagine, to NASA and other lunar scientists as well!)

I am pleased to annouce right here on my blog (Do I sound like Ed Sullivan?  Don't say, "Who?"  Look it up!) 

Anyway, I am very pleased to let you know that the data images sent back have been studied and analyzed and GUESS WHAT!!  They discovered water!!  On the Moon!!" WATER!  Imagine that!  And not just a tea cup of water, its estimated there was more than 25 gallons of water at the site.  Now you have to admit that if there was that much water in this one place, it would be extremely likely that there is more water up there just waiting to be discovered!!

Up til now, it was believed that the Moon was as barren as it looked.  Little or no point in going back.  The seeming lack of water was one of the key elements in decisions to send future manned missions to Mars or beyond and not back to the Moon.  Well, it appears that this awesome discovery could very well lead to the revival of manned missions to the Moon.  And ultimately to use, mining, settlement...who knows what could result! 

Admittedly, it won't happen tomorrow or possibly ever, still Man is too curious to not investigate it further.  The upshot of the discovery, if it is borne out to be true and not just a fluke, is that some day, just possibly, "fly me to the moon" will become reality! 

Gosh, I wish I could still around to see it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Against All Odds" Addendum

I have mentioned several times in telling her story, that Maddie is fiesty. I would be extremely remiss if I didn't tell you of one incident that occurred that shows exactly what I mean.

As I said, Maddie had a catheter which had to remain in place until she began to have normal kidney function post-surgery. Now if you have ever experieced this delightful gadget, you will know that there comes a point where it becomes extremely uncomfortable. Well, Maddie hit that point Thursday evening. 

We were all in her room just to be with her and to try to keep her entertained. (Believe me, its not easy for an active 3.5 year old to be pretty much confined for 3 days in a bed that's only 4x6! 

Somewhere mid-evening the catheter became really bothersome and Maddie was (for the first time) in pain. She began to cry and whine in that little voice that every parent knows well.) "Mommy, take it out. It hurts. Please Mommy, take it out." Ratchlet and the nurse tried to explain that it couldn't come out yet and why. Didn't matter to Maddie. "Please Mommy, take it out." Over and over, repeatedly, over the course of what seemed like hours. We could see that it hurt and she was trying her best, but she wanted it gone! It was heart-breaking!

All of a sudden, Maddie sat straight up, and in a very adult voice with no trace of tears or whine, said loud and clear, 

"If you don't take this out right now, I'll say...... dammit!!"

She was 3 and a half years old. That was the very worst thing she could think of to do. It was the only threat she had.

I have never before or since heard anything that was so funny and so unexpected. The 6 adults in the room, almost as one unit, exited into the hall outside her room and exploded with laughter. It was Maddie all over! 

Strong-willed??  Oh, yeah!  Fiesty??  You'd better believe it!!

"Against All Odds"

Part V  --  Our Second Miracle

The day of Maddie's surgery was the longest day of my life.... waiting to hear something, anything.  At that point I couldn't have told you what day it was, what time, possibly not even the month.  We just sat there Ratchlet, TA, TA's mom, Mikey, and me.  Oh we would make desultary conversation occasionally, but often it would just kind of fade away with no point.  Frequently, it was more the, "What do you think is taking so long??"  or "She'll be fine, right?" variety.  Now and then someone would start to cry from the worry.  We could have been there 3 days or 3 hours, it was immaterial.  There was only one thing we could focus on, when was the surgeon going to come out and talk to us....and even more frequently, "please God, let her be all right!"

I have no recollection the time the surgeon finally came into the waiting room.  What I remember is seeing the door open and there he was.  He told us that the surgery had gone well and that Maddie was in the Recovery Room and would be for a while. 

Then he got to the part we were dreading, what they found.  There indeed was a tumor, about the size of a small grapefruit!  They did a biopsy and it was malignant.  My stomach dropped to my toes!  HOWEVER, he went on.  The biopsy showed a Stage I cancer (extremely early stage), the tumor had been completely external to the liver, and they had been able to remove it entirely, with clear margins all around.  Maddie's  type of cancer (tumor of the liver) was called an Hepatablastoma.  It was extremely rare, happening in only ONE IN A MILLION BIRTHS!  The treatment protocols for Hepatablastoma with Stage I, complete removal, and clear margins was  NO FURTHER TREATMENT NECESSARY!  

WHAT?  No Radiation?  No Chemo? No nothing???  No, nothing except monitoring.  We couldn't believe what we were hearing.  No additional treatment at all.  I asked the doctor, "Okay, help me here, are you saying that yesterday Maddie had cancer and today she doesn't???  He answered, "Yeah, that's pretty much it."   In essence, it was over!

We were euphoric, as you might expect.  Our little girl, our Maddie-the-Great, won out over cancer!

Later, after we had come back down to earth, we learned that there would be a regular schedule of monthly blood tests and frequent ultrasounds and MRIs that would diminish over time as long as there was no reappearance of the cancer.  The blood test, we learned, would measure a protein called by the acronym AFP.  Evidently this protein is an indicator of the presence of cancer in the body.  I am unclear if it is specific to Hepatablastoma, but that was what they would watch.  In a healthy child the "normal" level is anything under 9 (of whatever unit they were measuring).  Before Maddie's surgery her AFP level was over 9,000!!  [A month after the surgery Maddie had the first of her post surgery blood tests.  The AFP level was around 7.  In subsequent months the level dropped to between 2 and 3 and has remained there ever since!]

Maddie returned to her room later that afternoon, as she still under the effects of the anesthesia, she had an IV, and a catheter and a 10-inch incision site that ran from her right side around to just under the middle of her ribcage.  Nevertheless, she wasn't in any pain, she slept a lot, and was doing fine.  She spent Thursday and Friday being monitored and receiving post-surgical care.  They got her up and walking fairly quickly. Our biggest challenge was to try to keep her from trying to move around too much.  She was getting restless but that was to be expected.  Saturday morning she was released and returned home.

It was about then that I returned to normal breathing, the clocks started moving again, and we returned to the real world.   The entire thing, from start to finish, had happened in exactly 6 days.  SIX Days!!! 

In February 2010, Maddie will reach the 5th anniversary of her surgery.  It is that important 5 year milestone of being CANCER-FREE that every cancer patient hopes for.  Today she is a normal, healthy, very smart 3rd grader who loves to read, play softball, and is a Girl Scout.  (She's also tall for her age!  Go figure!)

Now if there is anyone out there reading story who doesn't think this is a miracle, I can only say, this is the truth, and as far as I can tell, there is no other explanation possible.

Twice in her 3.5 year lifespan, Maddie had, "against all odds," overcome a serious condition which could have ended her life....but didn't!

Maddie-the-Great is our double-miracle child, and she will be surrounded by her thankful family all of her life!


Friday, November 13, 2009

"Against All Odds"

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Part IV -- The Week When Time Stopped

Maddie-the-Great hit her first birthday and discovered she loved cake.  She was soon walking and talking and learning to love words.  She hit Two and then Three getting cuter, funnier, smarter, every single day.  She was still dealing with temper and other not-so-wonderful traits, but all in all she was what she had always been...a fiesty, on the money, normal, little kid.  She was the apple of everybody's eye!!  What joy!  And boy, was she treasured!!  Life was good.

Just two months shy of her fourth birthday, she began to have some tummy problems (that ultimately turned out to be nothing out of the ordinary).  Maddie was referred to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist to check things out.  TA was out of town on tour with "Phantom of the Opera" and was gone for several weeks.   So Ratchlet took M-t-G to the doctor by herself.  It was Monday.

For me, time and life came to an abrubt standstill early that Monday afternoon.  I was at work when the call from Ratchlet came in.  The instant I heard my daughter's voice, I knew something dreadful had happened and fear descended on me like an unwelcome nightmare.

I really can't remember exactly what all she said, all I remembered were the words "Maddie" and "CANCER".  Oh my dear God in heaven, WHAT did she say???  Have you ever experienced the feeling that suddenly all your air was cut off?  I felt like that, I couldn't breathe, but I started to cry just the same and I moved directly into panic.

I rushed to the Children's Hospital where Maddie had been admitted!  My daughter and granddaughter needed me, nothing on this earth could have kept me from being with them.  I was terrified and I still didn't understand.  What had happened?  How could she be so sick? How could she have cancer???  How could it be so bad that she was immediately admitted to the Hospital?  That doesn't usually happen until much further into an illness.  This was our miracle child, we had already paid our dues when she was born, we thought.  Surely, it was a mistake.  This could NOT be happening.

When I got there Ratchlet told me exactly what had happened that morning.  They had gone to the Gastro doctor as scheduled and during her physical exam of M-t-G's tummy, she said, "It seems that one side of Maddie's liver is a bit enlarged.  That's not unusual, this happens to a lot of people." 

Then she said the words that saved Maddie's life, "Let's get an ultrasound, just to be sure." 

She was just being thorough, she didn't really expect to discover anything problematic.   Nevertheless, my family and I will be eternally grateful for her thoroughness.

When the results came back, the scan showed that there was a tumor or some type of growth on one side of the liver.  When she talked to Ratchlet, she told her about the growth and indicated that it could be malignant.  She immediately admitted Maddie, to do further testing to determine exactly what they were dealing with. 

Ratchlet had, of course, immediately called TA in whatever city he was in.  To this day, I don't know how he managed it, but he was at the hospital later that same afternoon.  Mikey had come to be with us as well. 

TA is the calm one in the family, he doesn't show his emotions very much and Mike refuses to ever believe the worst will happen.  His position was, don't panic until you know something for sure.  Whereas Ratchlet and I are exactly alike....we go immediately into trying to anticipate the worst case scenario.  (Makes for some interesting conversations in our house!)

Maddie on the other hand was a different story all together!  She didn't feel sick.  She didn't look sick.  Tuesday was the testing day. The tests were all painless, except for the sticks for the blood work, but that was over pretty quick.  So this was an adventure.  She got to go to the hospital!  She got to eat in bed!  And she got cookies and applesauce, and ice cream!! She could go to the playroom.  They had toys and books!! She got to play in a bed that would go up and down!   And they had wagons for going for a ride in!  She was having a great time.

Somewhere in there, the doctors came and said they wanted to operate!  The next day!  They needed to biopsy the growth and remove it.  Oh heavenly day, Surgery!!  She was just a baby!! By this time, I was practically numb.

Ratchlet and TA, of course, had to explain to M-t-G what was going to happen the next day.  Both of them were absolutely great with her, they were calm and didn't panic or get hysterical.  They were merely matter of fact and supportive.  I 'm pretty sure she didn't really understand, but she was OK with it, especially when she found out they had little cars that she could ride into the OR. 

So Wednesday morning very early, she jauntily waved bye-bye to Poppa and Grammy and off she went in the little car with Mommy and Daddy and an IV already attached to her arm, beeping the little horn the whole way. 

I was scared to death as we settled in to wait. 

Part V --  Our Second Miracle

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interlude (Second)

The second reason that November 11, 2009 is important is much more personal.  Today is the anniversary of my mother's death in 2003.  Six years!  And I miss her more every day.

I haven't really said much about my mom and it surprises me that I haven't.  My mom was the cornerstone of our family and she always did her very best for all of us.  She was a super mom in all possible ways.

She loved children and was a great Girl Scout leader.  We did all sorts of fun and interesting projects when she was leader of my troop. She would have made a great teacher!

Mom was a finance wizard!  She could do more with a dollar than anyone I've ever known.  We were never wealthy, or even close, but we never lacked anything we needed and very little of what we wanted.

Singing and music filled our house when I was growing up.  As a consequence I know heaps of really old songs!  We sang every night while doing the dishes.  The night of Thanksgiving was when we started singing all the Christmas songs every year.  Mom was an alto and I a soprano.  I thought we sounded great harmonizing on our favorites.

Holidays were always special.  There were always decorations and treats for every big holiday and several of the not so big.  Mom did an Easter Egg hunt every year until there were no more kids or grandkids to hunt.  Fourth of July was often a picnic.  Halloween put mom in her glory.  She made every costume I ever wore (by hand no less, we didn't own a sewing machine!)  Some of them were pretty great.  She adored having kids stop by for trick or treating. She got to act as silly as they did.  Thanksgiving dinners threatened to collapse our table every year.  All of our traditional dishes were made every year, especially the leek and the watermelon pickles, and the menu basically never changed.  But who cared, it was Tradition!  Saint Nicholas always came to our house on Dec. 6.  That was when the Christmas season really started every year.  Evry year she made Christmas cooks, including Pfferneuse, which no one ate!  There was always an Advent Calendar too.  Plus every ornament on the tree was like meeting an old friend.  There wasn't an available surface that did not have a candle, a Santa, a sleigh, jingling bells, or something.

Mom's family had followed the German tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve, so we did too!  Over the years the gift pile only got bigger.  Seriously, you wouldn't believe Christmas Eve in our family!  I think Mom, personally, kept all the stores where she shopped in business at Christmas.  Remember I mentioned that Mom was a financial wizard?   Well, one look at the stash under the tree would prove it to you. It always looked like a treasure trove.  How she did it, I'll never know.  We would frequently go to Midnight Mass after the gifts and loved hearing the Christmas music.  Christmas Day was a repeat of Thanksgiving in the menu department.  Same meal every year, and we looked forward to it every year and then games after dinner and cleanup.  We always got at least one new game and Mom made sure we each got a "toy" of some kind.  New Year's was much more laid back.  Traditionally at Midnight each one of us put a new penny outside on a window sill or something and that was to ensure that we always have good fortune and would not go broke during the year.  (Mom was a product of the Depression, when going broke was a very real possibility.)  Those pennies worked too!   Then at midnight banging pots and yelling Happy New Year at the tops of our lungs!  Oddly enough, no neighbors ever complained!

She loved crafts.  She loved listening to records of all her favorite singers (no tapes until much, much later).  She wrote letters.  She worked as a Cosmetologist after we moved back from Florida to Chicago.  She was proud of her family and their interests too.  When  we both still lived in Chicago, she would come to see any play that I was in and no matter how insignificant my part, she would always tell me I was the best one!  She loved sweets.  We teased mom every year about having more whipped cream than pie!  She would tell the silliest jokes and could make me laugh no matter what. 

When I was little I spent a great many days being sick from Bronchitis and other related illnesses.  When I was sick, I was really sick.  Every afternoon she would get me up out of bed to brush my teeth, wash my face, comb my hair, and put on clean jammies.  While I was doing that she would freshen or change the linen, straighten up the bedside table, bring me fresh honey and lemon or tea for my throat, and give me a backrub.  Even though I was feeling rotten, I loved that time of day, somehow it made me feel a little better.

Just at the time I was hitting my teens, Little Sis was born and Mom did it all again!

Mom became a widow at 57.  At about the same time her health took a turn for the worse.  She became truly depressed.  She began being besieged by a series of problem with her health that eventually lead to several strokes and pretty much complete incapacitation.  The last several years of her life were very hard for her.  She hated needing to be taken care of.  She wouldn't even try after a while.  A point was reached where she couldn't be on her own anymore.  She hated it!  That had always been one of her major fears, needing charity, or living in a "home".  I doubt that she ever fully forgave us for "putting her in there".  Little Sis took care of Mom and dealt with all the increasing problems, as I lived in Texas and they were in Arizona.  It was not an easy time for either of them.

Ultimately, Mom died at 83.  I hadn't seen her in about two years, and talking with her on the phone was nearly impossible and very frustrating.   My sister and I planned her funeral together and it went well, even though there weren't many people at the service, the people she loved the most, her family, were there. 

Mom had always said "bury me in a red dress."  Well, we couldn't find red, but she had a wonderful hot pink dress she had worn to my sisters wedding, so that was  our choice. She looked beautiful and at peace. It was the last gift we could give her.  She would have loved it!

Interlude (First)

[Sorry to have to do this, folks, but I need to interrupt Maddie-the-Great's story, but its for a good reason...two of them actually.  Today's date, November 11, is important and deserves mention here.  I promise I'll get back to the saga tomorrow.]

Firstly, it is Veteran's Day, a sort of junior national holiday, you know what I mean, banks and post offices are closed but everything else is business as usual.  Its an easy one to miss.  I used to understand the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, but its kind of fuzzy to me now.  I think Memorial Day honors those who have died for our country and not just in the military.

Whereas, I think Veterans Day is to honor any and all the men and women who have ever served in the U.S. military.  I do know that the origin of this holiday was to celebrate the Armistace ending World War I, The Great War, and was, in fact, called Armistace Day for many years.  That changed at some point in my mid-childhood when the powers that be (who ever they are!), realized that the War to End All Wars hadn't ended them at all.  In fact, every generation seemed destined to have its own war.

Anyway, it is my opinion that no matter how you personally feel about the concept of war or any individual war, whether Korea,Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and whatever history will call the current war, it should make no difference.

The truth is that thousands of men and women have served to protect and defend all of us.  We owe each of them our thanks and honor.  They were there to protect everyone.  They were willing to put themselves in danger and in some cases, in the extremes of peril, for us.  How can we not, collectively, be a Grateful Nation?  Every single day that you continue to be free to go where you want, to say what you please, to believe what you wish, you are reaping the benefit of millions of men and women who wore a U.S. military uniform for you.  God Bless Them All! 

As a personal side note, my father, and three uncles served in WWII, one uncle served in the Korean War, at least one of my cousins was in Viet Nam and Desert Storm, and some are in Iraq right now. 

One of my three uncles was a medic and was at the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.  If you don't know, this was one of the  deadliest and bloodiest battles of the war in Europe.  My uncle and I have talked about his experiences and I am in awe and very, very proud of him.  He received a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.  He suffers to this day from the residual damage done to both of his feet from being frozen during this battle.  How cold must it be to actual freeze your extremities??  Especially, when he was there giving medical help to the wounded and dying.   He is a true hero and I am grateful to him and all the other soldiers, sailors, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.  I salute them.  Because of them, we are still in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Against All Odds"

Part III:  Life in the NICU and Beyond

This is where Maddie's miracle really began to kick in.  We were all frequent visitors to the NICU, to watch the baby and wait.  Ratchlet and TA, of course, were there the most;  Mikey came when he could; and I was there about 5 nights out of 7.  I generally came around 10 p.m. and stayed until after midnight, I am a night person after all. I felt that was Maddie's and my special time.  It was quiet, peaceful, low-key, without the harsh neon lights and loud noises.  I would talk to her, occasionally touch her tiny hands, and I would sing her lullabies.  And Maddie would sleep and eat and grow.

Ratchlet and TA were allowed to finally hold their child.  It seemed like forever, but eventually the rest of us had our chance too.  Cradling that child in my arms for the first time was one of the happiest days of my life.

And she continued to grow a little bit each day, measured in ounces.  Over time, one by one the wires, tubes, and sensors went away....all except for the heart monitor.  That would be with us for a while.  She began to fill out a little and look more like a baby should look.  She was beautiful.

Preemies, especially early preemies, can have an enormous numbers of problems, from Cerebral Palsy all the way to deafness, and everything in between. All of the tests they did to identify possible problems came back fine.  Against all the odds, this baby just quietly and peacefully stayed on track.  One day at a time, one step at a time. 

Nine Weeks in the NICU seemed like an eternity but eventually, at last, she reached that coveted milestone.  Her weight hit the magic number:  5 pounds!!  Maddie could come home!

It was a little frightening in a way.  There was still so much that could go wrong.  The heart monitor would go off fairly frequently, scaring us out of our skin.  Soon we realized, that the leads could become disconnected very easily and the alarm would start screeching.  That monitor never, ever went off because Maddie was having a problem. 

Still Maddie stayed steady on the course and became the treasure that she is.  We soon discovered too, that our little angel had a temper!  Just like the doctor said in the delivery room, "Oh, she's a fiesty one!"  But that meant she had a strong will and that was something that would be valuable to her her whole life.

We kept watching for signs of developmental or physical problems.  The possibilities that did appear were non-issues, none of our worries ever came to pass.  She was healthy, smart, curious, and had her own timetable for lots of things. Most of all she was a joy!Our miracle baby was on her way!

We thought one miracle was pretty amazing and we never expected to need another one....but we did.

Part IV:   The Week When Time Stopped

See you tomorrow!


Monday, November 9, 2009

"Against All Odds"

Part II:  It's NICU time!!

When I left you yesterday, Maddie-the-Great had just been born!   Her birth weight was One Pound, 14 ounces, and she was just 13 1/2 inches long!  It was not an error.  Unbelievable!  We were both thrilled and shocked.  So unbelievably small.

[I don't know why, but I never really understood how much danger Rachtlet was in from the Preeclampsia.  It wasn't until the next day that I finally realized that she could have died!!  Wow!  How could I have missed that?  It is my nature to be a worrier.  In this situation my attention and worry were mostly for the baby.  If I had realized the danger to both of them I would have fallen apart.  Somehow, though, somewhere deep inside I was certain they would both be fine.]

Just a little alert, some of the details have gotten a bit fuzzy over time, so some of the sequence, etc. may not be exactly correct.

So the newborn preemie, M-t-G, after a very quick stop at mom's side in the delivery room, was whisked off to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where she was placed in a crib with open access.  A very large number of sensors were attached to her, each one a monitoring device of some sort:  pulse rate, respirations, oxygen levels, and temperature are the ones that I remember most. They were all being monitored constantly and should any of those levels spike or drop or anything, loud emergency warnings would start up immediately.  Let me tell you, that is one terrifying sound!   Still, the NICU staff was closely in attendance and ready for anything.  They inserted an IV line, just in case they needed to get medications to her in a hurry if it became necessary.

After several hours, we were finally allowed in to see her (after scrubbing), for the first time.  It was heartbreaking.  She was sooo tiny, there of course, was no extra tissue to fill out her little body yet.  She was literally skin and bones. You could hardly see her with all the lines and tubes and sensors stuck to her. Her color was pretty much red.  Still, she had a little light hair underneath the little cap, she was breathing on her own, and sleeping, all worn out from being yanked into the world so soon!  I fell in love instantly.  We all did.

Well, most of us did.  My darling, Ratchlet, who had been part of every single scary moment, and the one who needed to be with her baby the most, didn't get to meet her daughter up close until the next day, as she was still recuperating from the C-Section!   That was very hard on her.  Of course, she was already in love with this tiny gift. 

We were told that preemies, especially at this stage, cannot tell the difference between pleasure and pain, so none of us could hold her, or pick her up, or even touch her over-much.  Truth be told, I think we were all a little afraid of causing this child any more trauma. She was not easy for us to look at, knowing how much struggle she had ahead of her.  Nevertheless, nothing would have gotten me out of that nursery until they made us leave.  It was enough that we could be with her for however long it was allowed.

Caption:  Here she is with her Daddy's hand nearby.  I've never seen a finger so tiny!!

As I said, she was breathing on her own (which was absolutely amazing to everyone!).  When she was 8 hours old, they decided to put her on the respirator so that her little lungs didn't have to work so hard.  A bit later they added  blue light phototherapy, to head off any signs of jaundice, and I think it was the next day that the feeding tube went in.  (The littlest preemies don't have much of a sucking instinct, so this is the only way to initially get nourishment into the baby so she could start to grow.)

The absolutely amazing thing to me both then and now, was that no doctor, nurse, technician or caregiver....ever said anything to make us feel Maddie was in danger.  There was no "make or break" moment.  We never heard anything resembling a warning that she was at a critical point of any kind.  There was no backward step, no crisis.  Maddie the Great was going along exactly as she should, doing exactly what she needed to do. 

She continued doing exactly that for the next 9 weeks!

Part III:  Life in the NICU and Beyond

See you tomorrow!

"Against All Odds"

Maddie-the-Great really is great and fully deserves the designation for she is a double-miracle child!  Really!  As promised  I am happy to share with you the journey so far.  This is a long story, so in the interest of keeping both you and me interested in finishing it, I'll tell it in installments of sorts.

Part One:  Maddie's first miracle occurred when she was born. 

Our entire family was so excited that Ratchlet was expecting.  We had just decided to move to Austin and were in the process of selling our house and packing up to move when we learned we were going to be grandparents!  "What perfect timing", we thought.  "Must mean moving there is the right thing to do!"  Little did we know how right it was going to be.

We made it to Austin and settled in, thrilled to be so close to our daughter and son-in-law.  The pregnancy seemed to be going well as far as we could tell.  Ratchlet and I were having great fun preparing for the baby.

Ratchlet was only in her 29th week of pregnancy when her OB discovered that she developed a sudden and severe case of Preeclampsia, a condition which develops in some pregnant women (although no one know why!)  It causes dangerously high blood pressure in the mother, and can also affects the baby's growth.  Evidently Ratchlet's BP was through the roof and the baby didn't seem to be growing at the correct rate!  

She had gone to her OB for her regular Thursday check up, not realizing anything was amiss.  Well, the Doctor said she needed to be in the hospital, RIGHT NOW!  She also mentioned the dreadful phrase Emergency C-Section!!

TA called Mikey and me at home to tell us what was happening.  My first thought was, "It's too soon.  Way too soon."  Ratchlet was at 29 weeks, she still had at least 11 weeks more until her due date!!  That's very nearly 3 months more!! She couldn't have the baby now.  The child would never survive.

Well, it appeared there was no alternative, so we went to the hospital to be with them and do what we could.   When we arrived the staff spent 3 days giving medications to reduce Ratchlet's BP to a low enough level to do surgery and something else to help strengthen the baby's respiratory system.  It was a done deal.  Both baby and mom needed to have this C-Section as soon as possible.

They decided to do the C-Section on that Sunday morning.  Actually, it turned out to be Palm Sunday and I went to Mass in the hospital chapel that morning.  The priest was distributing the blessed palms so I took several.  The actual date was April 8.  It occurred to me a little later that April 8 was my Grandmother's birth date as well.  I chose to take that information as a positive sign. 

Only T.A. was allowed in the delivery room, of course, so we tried to find a place to settle in to wait.  Less than 15 minutes later, before we had even figured out where to go, T.A. came out of the Delivery Room.  My stomach dropped and I was sure it was bad news.

"It's a Girl!  She weighed 1 lb. 14 oz. and was 13 1/2 in. long!" Ratchlet was fine, came through it perfectly.  The doctor told him that the baby came out crying, breathing on her own, with Apgar scores of 8 and 9, and seemed to be doing great!!

Madeleine Elizabeth had arrived!

Part Two :  It's NICU time 

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Nice Work If You Can Get It"

This was a really good week in an understated kind of way.  There wasn't anything either overwhelmingly good or bad, for which I am always grateful!  There were just a series of events that I really enjoyed and was glad I was able to participate in.

**  Monday night M-t-G's softball team played the first of two tournament/playoff games.  It was the best game her team ever played!  It looked like they were finally getting it together as a team.  The crowd was on their feet cheering a lot.  The final score was 14-9 and although M-t-G's team lost the game, it was fun to watch anyway

**  Tuesday was lunch with Ratchlet!  I always enjoy the time she and I spend together, but we don't get many chances to do the lunch thing.  Ratchlet's regular daily schedule would totally wear me out.  I don't know how she does it.  But every so often we can sneak in a lunch for just the two of us. Its great.

**  Wednesday I began receiving donations for the Austin Milestones Cure Search, Walk to Conquer Childood Cancer.  This charity is near and dear to my heart because of the connection to M-t-G.  (Someday soon I'll tell you the story.)

** Thursday I had a massage from a therapist friend.  Oh my goodness!!  It was one of the best massages I ever had.  It was soooo relaxing.  It felt like my bones had melted....ahhhh!

**  Friday night was tournament game #2 for M-t-G's team.  Well, what can I say?  It was a sad little game for our team.  The final score was 13/0, and you know who's team was the one with the 0. That made it the final game this team would play.  Nevertheless losing didn't seem to faze the girls at all!  After the game and the presentation of team trophies, the Coach was standing in the midst of the whole team, all cuddled up for a team hug.  The Coach asked, "So how many of you are going to play in the Spring League?  Every girl's hand went up!  They've got lots of heart!  And I guess winning doesn't matter much to them, (which so far, is a good thing!)    Well, there's always next year!

** Saturday was a "twofer" day!  First, when I checked my email this morning I found that I was the WINNER of the Day 6 contest on 7 Days 7 Answers website that I told you about yesterday.  How cool is that?  I never win contests, ever.  Check out the site (its on the sidebar to the right) to see the winning entry.  Whoo Hoo!

Secondly, this afternoon I spent two hours telling Maddie's story to a woman who is writing her Doctoral Dissertation on "The Lived Experiences of Grandmothers When A Granchild is Diagnosed with Cancer."  She is interviewing a number of grandmothers for the study and she wants to include our family's experiences.  Cool! 

[I promise I will post the story in the next few days.]

So there is my good week.  It is so great that after a work career that required most of my waking hours to be spent working in some office for somebody else, I now have the time and freedom to do the things that are important to me!  So, yeah, this retirement thing is  definitely "nice work if you can get it!"  I should have tried it years ago!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"The Games People Play"

I admit it, I'm a games-aholic!  I've always liked board games, card games, trivia games, ad infinitum.  A get together with good friends or family is lots of fun if you get a couple of good games going.  If one doesn't entertain a lot (anymore, like me), games on the computer gives you something to play whenever you feel like it.  Its great!

So today I have added a BONUS to my musings.  Look at the sidebar and scroll down til you hit the button titled, "7 Days 7 Answers".  This fun blog has a new word game (sort of) every day and there is a winner (no prize tho, just fun!) for each day's clues.  This is a great game for writers (and aren't we all writers, otherwise we probably wouldn't be here, right?)  It isn't a classic game in the true sense of the word, but it sure is a lot "more fun than waiting for a flu shot".  Give it a try, it just might become one of your favorite "Games People Play".

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