Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The International Bank of Karma

I wonder if there is one.
I mean karma is whatever you send out to the universe is what you receive, right?
Isn't it time for me to be receiving?
Here are my deposits:
1. I didn't give my parents any grief - nothing. I was the good girl and even went to the nursing school of their choice, not mine. I went 200 miles away from home - where they wanted me to go. Hmmm? Now that I think of it, maybe they were trying to distance themselves from their fat daughter. Another blog subject all together.
2. I was (am) a good nurse - maybe even a very good nurse - compassionate, caring, professional - even though I hate being a nurse, I am a good one.
3. I took care of my mother-in-law (who didn't like me and made no bones about it) when she was dying of cancer. It was even MY idea to take her with us to Disney World when Heather was five.
4. I didn't drag my ex through court for child support.
5. I bought Christmas presents for him to give our daughter - even when he spent all of his money on his nephews instead of her.
6. I supported (and still do to some extent) my daughter alone - no other means of financial or emotional support.
7. I took care of my fiance while he waited for a heart transplant - and hands-on care of him while he was in the cardiac care unit of U of P Hospital
8. I took care - hands-on care - of my mother when she was dying of cancer.
9. I was the only one who routinely visited our widowed father until his death and I was with him when he died.
10. I love completely - and evidently, not wisely.
11. I do "little" things, like shoveling a sidewalk, cleaning off a neighbor's car, looking in on a neighbor's dying sister.
12. I donate to charities. I give cat and dog food to the local SPCA. I donate to the Wolf Preserve. I've volunteered for the Alzheimer's Association, the Heart Association and the Cancer Society.

I'm sure there are other instances of good karma that I'm missing - but those are the highlights - the major deposits.

But now that I think of it, maybe the Universe has been making withdrawals in my name all along. I'm relatively cancer-free (after two bouts of thyroid cancer and at this moment). I haven't been killed on the turnpike going to Pittsburgh. I haven't been in a fire and a piano hasn't fallen on me. Maybe those positives are all part of my withdrawals - of course, without my signature, it seems.

I just want one more thing from the Universe - I think I have enough good karma left to get it.
I want someone who loves me for me - not for my salary, not for what he wants me to be if I lose weight - just me. Chubby, stretched-marked old me.

One more withdrawal, please.

Monday, December 27, 2004

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"

So, I thought, "What can I do on Christmas since I'll be alone?"

I didn't want to go back to Pattie and Gary's where I'm reminded that my sister has what I'm missing - nice home, a man who loves her, etc. . . Nope. Had that on Christmas Eve and even though she asked me over for Christmas Day dinner, I declined.

I didn't want to sit in my apartment and brood.

I should get out and DO something. Volunteer - do a good deed.
I should go to one of our nursing homes and do something with the Activity Department. What a great idea! Well, at least I thought it was a great idea.

I was at Easton Nursing Center on Christmas Day, helping to hand out presents to the residents - many of whom wouldn't have visitors or gifts on Christmas. The Salvation Army was very generous with stockings for each resident. There were also many wrapped gifts - new items bought by the staff for the residents - sweaters, cologne, stationary - nice gifts.

I spent almost three hours playing Santa's helper. I paid for it the next day - I could hardly get up from the sofa - my back and knee pain was so great. I had to push myself up with my hands and then press my hands on my thighs, still bent over, to slowly straighten up.

I took two Aleve for the pain so I could move - get out of the house and buy groceries. I know all about Aleve - I figure that I'll get rid of my back pain with Aleve now and when I have my heart attack they can give me freakin' morphine in the ER. I need to be able to move NOW - not worry what's going to happen to me in the future.

I soaked in a hot tub last night and took my Flexoril as ordered. So the pain is a little better this morning. But I'm waiting for the return since I had to shovel snow this morning.

Christmas Day delivering presents to the residents and the subsequent pain made me recognize a truth - never back to nursing - not general duty nursing - I would die from the pain.

I guess it's time for a new career - one where I don't have to sit, stand or walk for long periods of time. One where I don't have to drive long distances or lift anything.

Hmmm? When I find a job like that, I'll let you know.
Until then, I guess I'll just suffer and take Aleve - at least until they pull it off the shelf.

Christmas and Aftermath

Christmas Eve was lovely - fun and good food at Pattie and Gary's. I saw my nephews and their ladies - gave out gifts and received gifts.

The Christmas Eve service at the Unitarian Church was inspiring. They lighted a cauldron at the beginning of the service (that touched me deeply). There were readings from the Christmas story in the New Testament, singing of carols and harpischord music. At the end of the service, cauldron was extinguished and a minister said, "Blessed Be." I felt that my belief system was part of the service.

I was up early on Christmas morning - cinnamon buns were made and I had two with coffee. Oh, well - it's a holiday. I was showered, dressed and ready to go to Easton Nursing Center by 8:45. I was there by 9 but there was only one Activity aide there (two had called off sick)- and he wasn't quite ready for me. So I went to WaWa and bought pastries for each nurses station at Easton and Praxis. By the time I was finished handing them out to each unit, it was time to hand out presents to the ENC residents. There were a lot of presents - at least one for each resident in the building. There were wrapped gifts for many residents - gifts bought by the staff for residents who may not have families or residents whose families are distant - in miles or caring.

I spent almost 3 hours passing out presents - until my back started to tell me to stop. I'm still paying for that time with back pain (more on that later), but it was worth it to see how happy the residents were and how surprised they were - surprised to be getting gifts on Christmas.

For my afternoon entertainment I went to see "Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events." Run, do not walk, to see this movie. The artistry is remarkable; the story dark and brooding (hey - it's Lemony Snicket!); the acting superb. Jim Carrey is a master of many characters. I looooooooooved "Count Olaf." And I got to see one of my favorite people, Billy Connally.

The day was rounded off by the cats and I having a Christmas dinner of scallop scampi.
All in all - not a bad holiday. Just a different one.

Now if I could just get rid of the back pain. . .

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve - 2004

I am really trying this year. Really.

Last night I even had a glass of wine while I wrapped presents for Pattie and Gary. I watched Reginald Owen play Scrooge for the umpteenth time. I did so many Christmasy things trying to get my heart into it. But I just have to resign myself to a "different" Christmas this year - not a "bad" one - just a different one.

With that in mind I've decided to go to church tonight. Whoa! The witch is going to church? I'm going to the Universalist Unitarian Church on Center Street in Bethlehem. When Frank lived across from it, he called it "The Church of What's Happening Now." Good Catholic that he is. I call it universal - hence, the Universalist name. The Unitarian church welcomes us pagans because they hold to no doctrine other than we are all creatures of God/Goddess/Mother Earth/Father Sky.

I'm going because I feel the need for ritual - larger than I can do tonight. Church service is no more, no less, than a ritual.

I'm going because I need to take another step forward - to do something different.

I'm going alone.

Such is this Christmas and maybe many more to come - maybe all of them to come. I need to find my path in that future.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Ghost of Christmas Future

The things I want next year and every year:
1. Health and Happiness for my daughter - no matter where she chooses to live
2. Health and Happiness to my sister and her family
3. Health and Happiness to all who have touched my life
4. Love, peace and tolerance
5. Make me and others good stewards to our Mother Earth and all Her children: two-legged, four-legged, winged and finned

If all of that is fulfilled, what more could I ever want?

The Ghost of Christmas Present - Part 2

I played "Santa" today at the office - giving out gifts and candy for everyone. I had a wonderful time, clapping my hands when people were surprised and happy over their gifts. They weren't expensive (needless to say) - just person-appropriate.

One of the best moments for me this season came when I gave Lorraine (a Depp-head), her present - a "Pirates of the Caribbean" poster (framed) with the face of Johnny Depp taking up most of the space. Lorraine is not much for sentimental displays - that's just Lorraine - but she was so pleased she hugged me. A little thought and a little expense and I made her so happy.

That's the joy of this season: showing people how much you know them - how much you care for them - in small ways. That's the message that should be remembered all year - showing gratitude to friends and family. And so that will be my big resolution - to have that Spirit all year round.

Even witches can say it: Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


With the waxing of the moon this week, I have decided to start anew - meditating and "journeying".

The stories of my journeys will be on a different blogsite - one dedicated to a Crone's growth; however, the first of my latest journeys can be told here.

Journeying is done in conjunction with meditation and is actually a guided meditation - with someone telling you where you will be going on the journey. What you learn from the journey is usually a life lesson. A journey can be done with someone else doing the spoken guidance or with the guidance of your own internal "voice."

I begin all my meditations, be they silent meds or journeys, the same - by drawing a circle. Drawing a circle creates sacred, protected space. I draw my circle by calling to the Four Directions: East for Air, South for Fire, West for Water and North for the Mother Earth. I then call upon the Ancient Ones (the Ones Who were here before humankind) and my Goddesses to be with me in my circle. Next I "ground" - a small ritual that connects me to Mother Earth and Father Sky. I then sit before my altar and light a candle to the Goddess, asking for power and protection. The circle, the grounding, the candle all are parts of ritual to mark the sacred and to protect me - I only want Beings from the Light to be in my sacred space.

I go into my med and then my internal voice takes over, guiding me around the Sun, through the fire and to a meadow. My meadow is vast with yellow-green grass and blue wildflowers. At the edge of the meadow is a forest with a winding path. I "walk" through the meadow to the path, then down the path to a clearing in the middle of the woods. In the clearing sits a stone cottage with climbing roses, gardens, birdhouses and a cat sitting on each deep window sill. In each journey I am met at the cottage by my guides and/or people who have been in my life or who are in my life. Each journey is a lesson I need to learn or a revealing of a path I need to take.

One of my guides, a grandfatherly type who calls me "Daughter", has been with me as I traveled around the sun, through the fire, across the meadow and down the forest's path. He's been with me because of who I was to meet at the cottage. Standing in front of the cottage was Mark, smiling at me. Silently he leads me around to the back of my cottage to show me a colonial herb and flower garden that he has built for me - a garden just like the one I always told him I wanted. Still without saying anything we walk back to the front of the cottage; he hugs me and waves goodbye, walking away.

I'm standing at my cottage door with only "Grandfather" who asks me, "What have you learned from this lesson, daughter?"

I think for a moment and say, "That Mark left me a garden of memories to cherish and nurture."

Grandfather seems to be happy with that answer. "People come into and go out of our lives. Instead of mourning their leaving, we should celebrate the time we've had with them."

I leave Grandfather standing by the cottage door, walk down the path through the woods, and across the meadow. I walk through the fire and around the Sun. I find myself in front of my altar, staring at the Goddess candle, remembering my lesson to cherish the memories.

Some people reading this may not believe in guides; they may not believe in the existence of the meadow, the forest or the cottage. But I believe and that's all that matters.

"So mote it be."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Move On.Mitzi . . .

. . . as opposed to ""

I'm trying - I'm really trying. But this time of year is very difficult.
I promise that I will work harder at moving on . . . I'm just not ready for another relationship. I'm not ready to go through all the agnst of meeting someone new, his family, his friends, etc - just not ready to be put on display again, maybe even to be judged and compared. Just not ready for that.

So I'm moving on by spending time with me - I will do my meditations daily; I will journey; I will write the stories.

I had thought about going back to England this spring but the practical Mitzi said, "Nooooo. . . the dollar is so weak, you may be able to afford a room but wouldn't be able to eat." Maybe I should head west - to the Four Corners; rent a car; do my own exploring. I wonder if Joe Leaphorn is free (another obscure reference- one that only Tony Hillerman fans will get).

I once thought about moving out west - not California, not that far west - but to Arizona or New Mexico. I had thought about working on a res. Yep, and once I had even filled out an application for the Peace Corps. All altruistic ideas that had fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. Now I wouldn't pass the physical for the Peace Corps - but the res . . .hmmmm?

Now that's really Moving On. . .

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Ghost of Christmas Present - Part Two

Well, I called him and he wants me! Yea!

Oh, right - I didn't say who I was calling. . .
I called Earl at Easton Nursing Center - Earl is the Director of Activities and an old friend. So, I have a job on Christmas Day: I will be one of Santa Earl's elves handing out Christmas presents to the residents. I'm smiling just thinking about it.

Why should I sit home, thinking about how lonely I am on Christmas Day? I should be doing something useful, something for someone else.

So Santa, if you're looking for me on Christmas, just go to Easton Nursing Center. I'll be the cute, chubby one in the red hat.

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Continuing in my Dickensian theme:

I am slowly getting into the Christmas spirit. At this rate I should be singing carols by Valentine's Day.

However, I admit that Scrooge-Mitzi does have a very festive weekend planned. Friday I'm meeting my sister Pattie and our good friend Lorraine at a local restaurant. I have a great surprise gift for Lorraine who loves Johnny Depp - unfortunately Johnny is busy tomorrow, but I have a stand-in.

Saturday morning I'm meeting MaryEllen for a breakfast of champions - pancakes and waffles - maybe either, maybe both. I'm officially off healthy foods until the end of the year and ME is joining me in celebrating carbs. After breakfast I think I'll go to Chriskindlmarkt in Bethlehem and look for some little one of a kind presents.

Sunday is the Yule Celebration at Thom and Maryanne's - a circle and spell work to close out the old year and bring in the new. I'm "calling" North - Mother Earth - my very favorite direction. So I must write something to call her at the beginning and to say farewell to her at the close of the circle. I have to write something. . .oh, dear. . ."oh, pleeeeeese don't throw me in that brairpatch." (Obscure reference for any gentle readers raised on Walt Disney; see "Great Expectations" for more of that). After the circle there will be feasting and festivities (usually lots of talking and giving of gifts and great witchy community). I will get home late, exhausted but very happy.

The week before Christmas at PennMed will be a pleasant one. I may go to a couple of buildings just to spread "cheer." During the week I plan to take two more large bags of cat and dog food to the SPCA and ask about volunteering.

Christmas Eve is for family and Pattie's wonderful baked ziti - a "new" tradition. Pattie, Gary, Chris, Tony, Alyssa, and Aimee (if Chris doesn't have to work) will exchange gifts after the ziti. We may even watch "A Christmas Story" for the umpteenth time - another "new" tradition.

I even have Christmas Day planned - Pillsbury cinnamon buns for breakfast (an old tradition - I have them only twice a year - Thanksgiving and Christmas). I may go to the movies to see Lemony Snickett or The Aviator. The cats and I will dine on scallop and shrimp scampi as our Christmas dinner. I'll call Heather to wish her a Merry.

I have one more thing I may do on Christmas Day . . . . just have to make a phone call and see if he wants me.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Not Settling?

Mark once mentioned an ex-girl friend and I asked what happened to the relationship. He said she told him that she didn't have to "settle" for someone like him.

I just wonder if he decided the same thing about me. I never, ever thought it about him - never once thought that I was "settling" for anything less than what I deserved.

But maybe I was. I shouldn't settle for someone who doesn't love me.

Still working through it . . . .

Great Expectations

I must be stuck on Dickens - well, it is that time of year.

I've been thinking about Great Expectations - not necessarily the Dickens' novel - just the phrase and how "great expectations" set us up for great disappointments.

This thought came to me yesterday after watching "Moonstruck." Now for those of you who've been concealed in closet for the last twenty years, "Moonstruck" is the film starring Cher and Nicholas Cage. It's about a young widow who accepts a proposal of marriage from a man she doesn't love and then proceeds to fall in love with his brother - almost love at first sight. There are wonderful scenes of Cher's transformation from dowdy (as if a few gray hairs and shapeless clothes could make her dowdy) to gorgeous. Granted, the brother fell in love with her dowdy but still - she IS Cher. The movie takes place over two or three days and by the end of the film, Cher's character has her true love, Nicholas Cage. I guess that's why it's called entertainment - it's a fantasy, fiction, not real, can't happen, don't even think about it.

But why do we (actually "I") buy into it? I'm certainly old enough not to believe in fairy tales any longer; however, I love that movie. I loved "Sleepless in Seattle." I love any story where love conquers all - love at first sight - happily everafter. THAT's another one I love: "Everafter" - the feminist-take on Cinderella. ANOTHER ONE!

I'm a child of the fifties - more than the sixties. John Lennon may have formed my view of the world but it was Walt Disney who formed my view of love.

I was a princess and my prince would somehow find me, sweep me off my feet (more difficult to do as I chubbed up), and together we would ride off into the sunset - or am I getting my fairytale metaphors confused with my western ones? Whatever. The fact is this: the story, be it Snow White, Cinderella, Everafter or Moonstruck, was imprinted on me as a child. It's probably part of my freakin' DNA (here's where I hope - maybe - that I haven't passed that genetic code on to Heather).

Somewhere in the back of this fifty-seven year old mind is the belief that my prince, my Nicholas Cage, will come. Great Expectations.

Great Expectations that never happen, leading to Great Disappointments.
A series of Great Disappointments.

Even though my head tells me differently (as in: you can buy your own diamond ring, honey, you don't need a man to do that), my heart says something else (as in: a diamond ring from a gentleman shows that someone other than you thinks you're valuable).

Damn you, Walt Disney.
Damn you, Moonstruck.
And while I'm at it: Damn you, Charles Dickens. Because now I think I will always be Miss Haversham.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Ghost of Christmases Past

The first Christmas present that I can remember was a large, walking doll with red hair that I named "Rita." She was almost as big as I was and when you held the doll's hand she could "walk" with you. Those were the Christmases above the barbershop and down the street from the Methodist Church - the Christmases of the children's party in the church's activity room, the Christmases of sitting on Santa's lap and believing.

I think those Christmases ended when we moved to the little house on Lyon Avenue. I was eight and that was when I became more aware of my father's drinking - of his coming home late, not that he had worked late at the barbershop, but he came home late after stopping at Denny's Tavern for a drink or two or three. Mom would wait supper for Dad; Pattie would take her supper into "her", actually our, room to eat. But I would wait for Dad - most of the time. These were the Christmases that I remember Dad (he hadn't become "Pop" yet - our Pop, Dad's father, was still alive) - I remember Dad sitting on the sofa in his underwear, visibly hung-over and saying, "Merry goddamn Christmas." The presents had progressed from the Rita doll to a chemistry set, then a microscope, a typewriter and finally a TV set for both Pattie and me - that was the set - a portable black and white - that played President Kennedy's funeral and Ed Sullivan's introduction of the Beatles.

Then came the Christmases when I took a long bus trip from Easton, PA to Baltimore so I could spend the holiday with my family and not alone in the nurses residence at the nursing school.

The first Christmas with Heather's father was bittersweat - we had no money, but he did surprise me with a tree. The next year we had Heather - that may have been the best Christmas. The worse one was the Christmas Eve when her father beat me - that was when I decided on divorce, but I had to wait for five years - until I had a salary good enought to support Heather and me - he never paid child support and for many Christmases, I bought gifts for him to give her.

Another good Christmas was the one I had with Rich - I only had one. He loved me so much and it showed - it was heaven. A wonderful Christmas.

I loved the ones with Mark - I felt as if I had brought him into my family. But those have also ended.

Christmases Past - never really were as good - or as bad - as our memories. They just were.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Resolutions never last for long - at least not for me. I make them in good faith and even work on them for a while but by February, they're as cold as last night's mashed potatoes.

So maybe if I start on them now - at least thinking about them - in the middle of February I'll have ownership. The thing is not to have too many, but have ones that mean something.

I think resolutions should also reflect lessons learned in the past year. So these are the ones I'm considering.

1. Lesson Learned in 2004: Never, ever, ever, ever fall in love with a man who will not move near you. Once you tell him you would give up family, friends and the place you've known for almost 40 years, he has you right where he wants you. When he dumps you, you would have wasted all that love, all those dreams.
Resolution: I will not love someone who does not love me as much as I love him.

2. Lesson Learned in 2004: Never, ever, ever, think that only you can solve the problems of your job and that said job is nothing more than a means of support. In other words, it does not define who you are.
Resolution: I will continue to delegate stuff out to others. I will not assume responsibility for duties unless I am asked. I will continue to write in my spare time.

3. Lesson Learned in 2004: Never ever, ever, ever let anyone put me down because of my weight. Even at my present weight I'm cute and personable. I've been propositioned when I weighed more than I do now.
Resolution: I will eat sensibly and exercise sensibly and will not attempt to overdue either. And the exercise may include sex - if I find a man good enough.

I think that's a damn good start on the New Year's Resolutions

Lost Weekend?

No, not like the old movie staring Ray Milland - I don't even have any wine in the apaprtment.

I have a cold - must be a bad one since I had an asthmatic-type attack this morning - bad enough that I got out the nebulizer and Allbuterol from last year - plugged in the little machine and puffed on it as if it there was something happier than Allbuterol in it. Scary, those I-can't-get-my-breath-attacks.

There's so much I want to do but i just have no strength - slept for hours - forgetting to eat supper - there! you know I'm sick when I forget to eat.

I want to go to B&N but I don;t want to hack my lungs out either - which seems to be happening each time I try to do something.

I love doing nothing - but not when I HAVE to.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Strawberry Fields Fields Forever

"Let me take you down 'cause we're going to Strawberry Fields. . ."

I was sitting on a bench along Central Park West yesterday (December 8). I had walked down from Central Park and needed a moment to rest the aching muscles in my back and legs. I sat near a woman with a lovely Benjii-type dog, who ignored both me and lovely dog while she talked loudly on her cell phone - about how she didn't want to be responsible for the stranger who had collapsed in the Park - just because she had called the information into "911". Several people passed, taking no notice of me, sitting alone. The sun was bright; it wasn't cold; and I was just enjoying being somewhere with no phone, no computer, no fax.

I saw a pretty young woman, twenty-something, nicely dressed, long blonde hair, walk by me and look into the park entrance. She seemed hesitant about going in - even in broad daylight. She walked a few steps up Central Park West and then turned around and walked back in my direction. She looked at me, smiled and said, "I like your pin." I was wearing my John Lennon picture button. I smiled back and said, "Thanks."

She again walked towards the park entrance and then stopped, turned around and walked back to me - the old lady wearing the Lennon pin and sitting on a park bench. All I needed was a bag of birdseed to attract the pigeons and I would have been the stereotype. She smiled again, "Maybe you know. What's the easiest way to get to Strawberry Fields?"

I told her it was best to just walk up Central Park West to 72 Street and make a right into the park. But she didn't leave. She wanted to talk to me.

"When I was in elementary school, every year on December 8, I would wear black," she said looking down at me, young, pretty, and very very earnest.

"You couldn't have been born then," I said.

"I was one year old when he died," she answered. "My daughter was ten," I said.

And then as if she had to explain why she loved John Lennon, she said, to this stranger, "I'm not very religious or anything. I just think that there are some people in this world who shape values. I think he was one of them who shaped mine."

"Mine, too," I agreed. After discussing our and what would have been John's disappointment in the recent election, she left me, walking up Central Park West to Strawberry Fields.

I watched her quick walk up the street. I was once young and could walk that fast. That was when John Lennon was still alive, still singing, still protesting injustice.

I just hope somewhere John realizes that his legacy lives on, not just in song, but in values.

Strawberry Fields Forever.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Getting into the Spirit

Why I wasn't in the mood for Christmas this year.

1. This will be the first one in thirty four years without my daughter (who was my Christmas present on December 10, 1970) because she moved to Seattle and is looking for a job there.
2. I will also be missing a gentleman who was with me last Christmas (and for three previous Christmases) - we broke up two months ago.
3. Money is tight (see #1).
4. Work is difficult - my department was "downsized" when one of my Regional Nurses (and good friend) resigned and wasn't replaced. Of course, we still have the same amount of work to do.
5. Work is difficult - our nursing homes will soon be under Department of Health Surveys, there is a huge shortage of nurses causing us to use agency just to care for our residents, reimbursement from the government is always a problem and occurs after the fact.

How I got myself in the mood for Christmas:

1. Counted my many blessings starting with the fact that Heather is in Seattle and not Iraq.
2. Further blessings included wonderful friends who don't mind if I give them a Mitzi-thing, something from one of my many collections of books, music, jewelry, instead of buying a present.
3. Even more blessings includes my sister and her family who love me no matter how I look, feel, act.
4. Additional blessings are my sweet cats who love me no matter how I look, feel, act - as long as their dishes are full
5. I have a job that gives me some autonomy and benefits - especially benefits

Then I turned my car radio to the station that plays all Christmas music. This weekend I got out all my Christmas decorations. I decorated inside and out. I put up my little tree. I listened to Dean Martin sing Christmas carols while I worked. I bought exchange presents for the company Christmas party this week. I spent some time with a good friend.

And I remembered the real message of this time of year:
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All


We were sitting at lunch today when Pat, who sits facing a huge window, said, "There are robins outside!" What the hell?

We counted six robins outside the small conference room - trying to find worms that have burrowed themselves down into the ground for winter. This weather is getting weird - chance of snow today (and there was rain with a bit if icing already) and in the 60's tomorrow.

Do robins really fly south for the winter or do they hide? If they fly south, these guys are for a rude awakening.

I know what happened- they were stranded when Soutwest Airlines went out of business - like lots of other snowbirds.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Old Man in the Giant

That title sounds like a Grimm's Fairy Tale. Grim it may be - fairy tale it isn't.

It was Sunday morning and I found myself in the Giant grocery store at 8 AM - I was hungry for pancakes - not that I was going to make them from scratch or even from a mix; I was going to get Aunt Jemmima's frozen pancakes, which are really pretty good. I would have gone out fro Sunday morning breakfast but had no one to join me since my usual breakfast date, my daughter, now lives 3000 miles to the northwest.

So my stomach got me up, showered, and dressed early Sunday morning. I had decided not to waste a potentially empty store at that hour. I had come armed with coupons - including the ones in that morning's paper. I was prepared! I methodically went down each aisle, breezily picking up what I needed, matching items to coupons, checking pounds and prices. The only slow spots were in those isles where Giant employees were stocking shelves for the usual mad after-church grocery store marathon.

I was feeling as if I had the entire store to myself until I came to the paper products - you know: the paper towels and bathroom tissue aisle. In "my" Giant this isle also includes some smaller items: light bulbs, nails, plugs - little household stuff that you don't realize you need until you see them displayed right before the Brawny.

I thought this aisle would be a cinch since I already had T.P. as mom used to call it on her shopping lists. I just needed a 3-roll pack of Brawny to match my buck off coupon. As I turned the corner to get down the aisle (you see, the quicker I got done, the quicker the Aunt Jemmima hotcakes would be on my breakfasat plate) - anyway, as I turned to go down the aisle, I hit a road block. A Giant employee, a cute middle-aged lady, was stocking the small items from a cart. Next to her, with his cart facing in the opposite direction (and you know those aisles are only wide enough for two carts) was an old man - no, correction - a grizzled old man with an empty cart trying his darndest to start a conversation with the woman who was trying her darndest to do her job. From the brief bits I heard, they knew each other - vaguely - or they each knew the same people. She graciously answered his remarks but kept right on working.

I was a little less gracious with my "excuse me" and did manage to get by them and scored a Brawny 3-pack as was my mission.

I went on my way for one more aisle and forgot about the old man until I reached the frozen food. He was slowly pushing his cart down that aisle. I really noticed him this time. He was unkempt - no old man odor - just not neat and it looked like he hadn't shaved for at least a week and hadn't seen a barber in more than a month or even two. And his cart was still empty. Maybe he just couldn't make up his mind, I thought. Or maybe it was something else.

As I continued my modern foraging, I forgot about the old man. I had almost forgotten about maple syrup. I could NOT have pancakes dry! So, before going to check out, I retraced my steps to the maple syrup aisle. Quarry captured (reduced calorie to make up for the fact that I didn't get low fat pancakes), I headed to the cashier. And there, coming the wrong way through the cashier area was the old man with the empty cart. He must have been in the store for at least 30 minutes and his cart was still empty.

And then I realized that it wasn't only his cart that was empty.

How lucky am I to be in a hurry because I'm meeting a friend later for a movie?
How lucky am I to have to get to my sister's to drop off a nephew's birthday card?
How lucky am I to have to wrap and mail a box of Christmas presents to Seattle?
How lucky am I to have some place to go almost everyday and people to talk to - people who at least listen to me at times?
How lucky am I?

Damn lucky.

Pop's Feet

I know that's an odd topic; however, yesterday I did a lot of thinking about his feet. I have my mother's face and hands. I have my father's widow's peak and eyes - but I am coming to believe that I also have his feet.

I'll start with what I did yesterday: I walked - a lot. In the morning I cleaned; in the afternoon I did Christmas shopping; in the evening I decorated - tree and all.

In the end my feet hurt - a lot. Achey, old-lady achey.

That was when I remembered Pop complaining about his feet hurting. It got worse as he got older. If he sat with his legs dependent (hanging down) his feet would turn a lovely shade of blue. "Must have been all those 25 mile hikes in the army and standing behind the barberchair for all those years" would be his excuse - ignoring his years of smoking (up until the end when, dying in the VA hospital we wheeled him outside where he could bum a cigarette from "that old guy over there" - Pop was 80 then). And there were the years of drinking - to excess.

But in Pop's defense, those feet not only did twenty-five mile marches in the army, they also landed on Normandy, marched across Frnace and supported Pop while he supported his family. They had worked hard.

Maybe that's why I wasn't upset when the day came when I had to redress the ulcer on Pop's foot. He usually did it - up until the end. But whenever I would visit, I did it - just to check it and make sure it wzsn't getting any worse. It would just never get any better. His circulation was too poor for that.

I remembered that when, finally resting after a long day of Christmasing, I slipped off my shoes and noticed a small dark spot on my sock - dried blood. I had a small open area on the side of a toe - small, tiny, nothing to worry about. But right away, Nurse Mitzi checked the pulse on the top of her foot, then checked the capillary pooling of her toes (check of the circulation) and all was well. I must have nicked the toe on something - something I don't even remember doing. I washed the area, used Neopsorin ointment and put on a bandaid - all the time thinking of Pop's feet.

I've never smoked (aside from some cigarettes I had while dating my ex) and hardly drink (a bottle of vodka in my apartment lasted as long as my last relationship - 5 years). My circluation is much better than his ever was. But my feet still hurt.

I guess they're telling me to take better care of mine than Pop did of his.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


This are very famous initials. Many young people - Christians - wear a bracelet with those letters. They mean (in case you don't know and if you don't, where HAVE you been?): What Would Jesus Do.

I'm all for wearing a symbol to remind you of your values. But let's really look at those values. Are we practicing what He preached?

Let me say just one thing before I go any further. Those of you who have been reading my posts know that I'm a witch, pagan, Wiccan - whatever term is okay by me. You may question why I capitalized the "h" in he when refering to Jesus. Make no mistake about my beliefs, gentle reader, I believe in Jesus; He may even had been the Son of God/Goddess. If nothing else, He was a valuable teacher and loving leader. It's what Christianity has done to His message that bothers me. I can honor Him and still not need Him to be my Savior - only I can do that. .

I hope that the people who wear the WWJD bracelet would honor Jesus' words: love thy neighbor, blessed are the peacemakers, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Those are just a few of His teachings. Unfortunately I don't see those teachings being followed by many of the people who would wear WWJD.

As for me, I could wear WWJD but it would stand for: What Would John Do - as in Lennon.
"And so it is Christmas and what have you done?"

Well, John - probably not enough. So many years after your murder, after your work for peace, so many years later, there is still war, hunger, greed, hate. I don't think you'd be happy with this world today. And, you know what? I don't think Jesus would either.


Mitzi and the Animals - Part 2 (and maybe religion,too)

"I read the news today. Oh, boy. . ."

I just finished reading an item out of Arizona. A professor has been studying prairie dog language - yep, they have one. What he has found is rather astounding and seems to raise the bar on inner species communication. He claims to have proof that these little critters have very specific "words" - their own chattering clicks, yeeps, and barks - for very specific things - even to distinguishing coyote from owl. Not only that but they as individuals in different prairie dog colonies, they can come up with the same "word" for a new object.

To show this the professor used three black cutouts: one of a coyote, one of a hawk and one of oval and ran them through the colonies - there are few black ovals in the desert. All colonies had the same "word" for the first two and then developed the same word for the oval.

What does all this mean? It seems to go beyond the ability of a gorilla to learn sign language - a human language - and show that animals can develop their own communication - not just calls for conditions - like hunger or danger - but language. Give them opposable thumbs and we humans may be in trouble.

What does this mean to mankind? Let's hope it means a step towards being able to communicate, listen to and learn from the other beings that occupy Mother Earth. Let's hope it leads to a different value system - honoring Mother instead of using Her up.

What does this mean to Snow White, the Later Years? Another step to my vegetarian diet. And maybe even. . .a short story. How about a fantasy: How a prairie dog colony saved a wagon train? Maybe how animals saved the humans? Nah - they've been doing that for centuries and no one has really cared - we still use and abuse them just like we use and abuse each other.

There are many lessons to be learned from animals but are we humans smart enough to listen to them.

I wonder what Sneaky Pie Brown would have to say? If only I could understand cat.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Mitzi and the Squirrel and Religion

There's a reason why Heather calls me "Snow White, the later years." I love animals - totally adore them. In the words from an old Looney Tunes cartoon: "I wanna hold him and squeeze him and kiss him and hug him and call him George." Hence the four cats that occupy my apartment. I also automatically gravitate to any dog within sight. I love birds and if it weren't for the cats, I would have a couple of them, too.

My office at PennMed is small and right next to Frank's, the president of the company - not always good to be in close proximity to Frances (is that an "i" or an "e" - always confuses me). However, my office does have a large window and glass door that look out over the little bit of greenery that surrounds the building's parking lot. For months last year I fed the birds and the squirrels outside my door. It was wonderful to look up from the laptop and see these critters. I even had a bird book in my desk and started to mark down the different types who visited.

Then one day a memo was circulated around the office: No more feeding the birds and squirrels. The ladies in the billing department in the back of the building had also been feeding them - but I was the only one in the front. It seems that some squirrels had been inside the engines of several of the cars, decimating their electrical systems. I'm not sure how it was determined that it was the squirrels in this industrial park who did the dirty work and not the squirrels any where else. I'm positive I didn't see anyone from CSI hovering around the lot. Trust me: if Gil Grissom were here I would know it (he'd still be locked in my closet).

So the proclamation was sent out to all the land: Don't feed the animals.

I did listen - for a while.

Then, in an effort to lose weight (an ongoing battle), I brought nuts, almonds and peanuts, into work for snacking - hoping to stay away from the bowl of candy in the billing department. After a couple of days I noticed a little squirrel outside my door snuffling at the ground - maybe sensing the remains to the feasts that I'd been forbidden to provide. I watched him for some time and then decided to do a minor act of civil disobedience. I took out a handful of almonds and delivered up a thanksgiving meal to him. Somewhere Henry David Thoreau smiled.

This also leads me to mention a "new" writer I've discovered. She's really been a successful writer for many years. Actually I should have said "they" have been successful writers for many years: Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. This is an unusual collaboration because Sneaky Pie is a cat. I'm listening to the Browns' "The Tale of the Tip Off" - my first Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie book and I'm enjoying it immensely. There are lots of animals in the story - cats, dogs, horses and even a 'possum - and all the animals talk - not to the humans but to each other. Rita Mae Brown makes something that could be too cutesy, into a metaphor for human foibles - as the cats and dogs together wonder about the strange doings of their "humans."

I just finished listening to a scene where two cats and a Corgi discuss their spirituality and view of death as opposed to the humans'. One cat says, "When the big cat in the sky pulls your string, it's time to go." The Corgi, of course, disagrees and a lively discourse on religion, as seen through animal eyes, continues. The dog has the last word, saying, "All I know is that I feel better when I think of a big Corgi."

I think that explains a lot of what may be happening in today's world. We humans have the tendency to want to see "God" in our own image - literally. Many Christians can't imagine Jesus as a darker-than-me Jew. Of course most of us - no matter what the religion - believe in god as a man - Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed. The feminine was ignore. And now if your god doesn't look like my god. . . .

Me? I'm content with the idea of the Big Cat (or Squirrel) pulling my string when it's my time to go. I'd be happy in that heaven.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

It's My Depression, damn it. . .

. . .and I intend to freakin' enjoy it! Did Leslie Gore have a record about that?

I'm back to the gentleman who was afraid I was "despondent" because of some of my posts and offered to be "my soft place to fall." Now this came from someone I had just met. When I rebuffed (I think that's what he called it) him, he was offended. Hmmmm. Yeah and your point would be? You hardly know me, dear sir. How can you make a judgment call on some of my posts (did you read all of them) and meeting me once? I'm not despondent.

And I really do have a large circle of friends - from my witchy ladies to my writer ladies to my work friends (including a great bunch of nurses that I "supervise" - as if they need to be supervised). Then there's my daughter - even though she's 3K miles to the west - and my sister - my great younger sister (I've decided to be nice to her since I DID dump her out of her baby carriage 50 some years ago). And then there are my four furry, loving kitties. Right now these people are my "soft place to fall."

However, I want a closer soft place to fall - one that is with me, lives with me, loves with me, cries with me - one who knows me almost as well as he knows himself. I don't want a man to rescue me - just to give me his arm ever so often when the steps are steep or the road is icy.
And yes, I do want a man who can take over the things that I'm tired of doing - fixing the car, changing the oil, shoveling the walk, putting together something. If that's sexist - so be it. I'm sexist after 23 years of doing everything alone. In exchange I will scrub your floors and toilet, I will make your favorite soup and cookies. I will make a home for you and me. I will be there when you're sick, when you're sad, when the world is harsh. I will be your soft place to fall.

So I'm sexist - so sue me.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

It's That Time of Year. . .

. . . no, not Christmas. It's hunting season.
I know because I just spent two days driving on the turnpike and I 80 in the Poconos. Cars, SUV's and pick-ups were parked all along the highways. At first I thought, "Geesh. Did all these people break down?" Yeah, right.

I stopped at a turnpike rest stop before getting to Rt 80. I walked quickly (I had to Gooooooo!) to the doorway and thought there was a clown in the building's foyer. Nah - just a guy in funny looking orange hunting pants - camouflage orange pants, I kid you not. Like the brown part of the pants will fool the deer and the orange part of the pants will keep him from getting mistaken as a deer.

There are some things I will never understand. I think I'll root for the deer this year.