Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yes, We Add Fun to Funerals

We started innocently enough. My brother's urn was engraved with some of Bruce Springsteen's lyrics from Born to Run. It was suitable for my brother, who lost his legs a few years ago, to have "We're gonna get to that place where we really want to go and together we will walk in the sun... Baby, we were born to run."  It was sweet and made us smile.

Ten days prior to the funeral I got an add in the mail for a company in England "Mr Stanley's" confectionery. Stanley is my brother's name. One of the candies is called Mr Stanley's Walking Sticks. . . . which cracked me up. I sent the photo to my sister and a few minutes later she had contacted the company in London and had them air-ship boxes of the Walking Sticks to her in time for the funeral. (funeral favors are a thing in our wacky family). 

As the day approached, we started to get some interesting texts from people to let us know they could not attend. Texting a funeral excuse: what you do when you are too chicken-shit to call.  Family members who do that seriously, are chicken shit. 

I will say that some were valid, VERY valid. One cousin, who flew 1200 miles just for the funeral two days before the service, took a day to check on her old home, fell down a flight of stairs, was knocked unconscious, got 10 stitches in her head and has a concussion.  She still tried to make it but the concussion would not allow her to stand up without puking. She had not seen my brother in 30 years and yet she still tried until doctors stopped her. That was a pretty good excuse. Then my husband was to fly up on the night prior to the services. Based laid plans were ruined by a smoking duffel bag at one of the airline gates. Orlando Airport was evacuated because of this smoking lithium battery incident and 26 flights were canceled, including my husband's. He waited at the airport 4 hours but next flight he could get on, going in the direction of NY, was at 8:30am the next morning, which meant he would miss the funeral. 

The day before the service we stopped for a snack at a pizza shop while waiting for my niece of arrive via Amtrak and on the wall of the pizzeria was a poster from the Stanislaus Food company. That is Polish for Stanley and our family is Polish. Stanislaus was my great-grandfather's name. Now this next thing is very interesting coincidence. You may or may not know this but I am a Starbucks customer of the 1st order. If I skip a few days they send out a search party. I have more stars than Hollywood Blvd. I am also an observant person and I know when new merchandise is on a shelf in Starbucks. Driving back to my sister's on the morning of the funeral, I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee. I was in that SAME Starbucks for the two days prior to that day. Waiting my turn each day, I studied the various items for sale on the shelves. New items were identified. Things like cups and mugs, pots and canisters. On that morning they suddenly had a *NEW* item which was introduced at THAT location on THAT day: the STANLEY.

I turned all the reasons for missing the services into a Family Funeral Excuse Bingo game. We jazzed up the real explanations and added some wild made up excuses, made the middle free space the bull shit square, and waited to see if excuses would win us a round of BINGO.  In the end, we missed BINGO because no one gave us the I've been Incarcerated excuse. However, we did win 4 corners when someone else had a death in their family that week and we could fill in the square for "copycat funeral." 

The day after the funeral my daughter and I went to Rye Playland amusement park without a mission. I just wanted to drive past a place where my brother spent very happy times. Stanley did horror make-up there at Halloween and he and his girlfriend and children performed several years at the Rye Playland fright nights every year. The paying guests could never figure out how he 'hid' his real legs during the act.

Well, in my bag, I had one of his prayer cards so I got out and left it on the windshield of the haunted hearse still set up at the entrance of the park from the recently ended-season. My thought is the wind will grab it and next season it will turn up again . . . in the haunted exhibit where Stanley used to perform his bit of 'man eating his own leg'. 

Stanley would have approved.

I was doing well food wise until the last evening in NY. Someone went out of their way to hurt me with such spite, the shock absorber in my brain couldn't handle it. Working to get back on track now. Stanley would approve of that, too.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Still Not Back to Normal

Heading north tomorrow for my brother's memorial services. Yes, he died three weeks ago. Our family does things this way so that anyone who wants to be there can have time to make travel arrangements, work arrangements. It is a tradition that we started when my father died at Thanksgiving and I was not able to travel until Christmas. Then, when my mom died, we had to wait for the coroner to release her body so we had to delay anyway, might as well make it when everyone could travel and now with my brother, we waited 3 weeks so all who loved him could be there and we could support each other. The weather is supposed to be bitingly cold on Friday and Saturday. Well, we will have the love of family to keep us warm and that will be enough.

I am maintaining right now. That is fine. I am not gaining and I am not eating sugars or most flours. I am not binging. I am looking forward to coming back home and getting more exercise in now that I am past a very busy work period.

I'll write again soon. My sister and I know how to put the 'fun' in funeral. My brother would have accepted nothing less than humor.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Long Shadow, Short Life

My brother passed away on Sunday morning, at 2:30am. My 6-year-old nephew fell out of his bed at 2:30am and his mother, my sister, was consoling him when she got the call three minutes later.

I was nine years and three months old on the day he was born. He was my baby brother. I remember my mom's pregnancy. I went with her to the obstetrician several times. Fourteen years later, that obstetrician delivered my first daughter. I knew my father was hoping for a boy. He was due to be born on New Years and he was almost 3 weeks late. He weighed almost 9 pounds.  I occasionally fed him a bottle, changed a diaper or two. I got peed on in the process. I remember the day his umbilical cord fell off. I remember his christening, the first time he walked, the time I came home to hear him screaming, blood all over the floor because he had just fallen and hit his forehead on his child-size rocking chair and my parents were trying to hold him still so they could wrap him up and take him across the street to our pediatrician. He got five stitches. That pediatrician is still in the same office. He is 91 years old and his son is the doctor now.

I remember the day I taught him to swim and the day he first saw JAWS, the day I took him for his first bike ride. I remember teaching him about the alligators that lived under the storm drains (New York fables). I remember his first friend. That friend and HIS brother are STILL my brothers BEST FRIENDS. They consider him THEIR brother. They are devastated he is gone. They were friends for over 40 years.

I remember when he was a junior usher at my wedding, along with our cousin Alex. Alex had a bad heart and died barely 3 months after his third open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, at the age of 39. Another short life.

I remember when he found the love of his life and she came with a ready-made family. He instantly had two sons to love and raise and he tried his best to be a good father.

He was a great son to our mom. He made sure she had anything she needed after my dad died. He bought her books all the time. He loved going to estate sales and finding little things Mom would love, or for my husband, or me, or for his nieces and nephew.

He loved to cook and entertain. He loved to take people out to dinner, always insisting on paying, no matter what. I remember when he helped my daughter move her dorm room one spring. I remember that even with two artificial legs, he helped me move my daughter back into her apartment after she had healed for six months from her broken leg. He drove and his two boys did the carrying everything up three flights of stairs.

I have seven years of emails with story ideas he started and shared with me. I hope I can complete the stories he started. I have photos. I have many, many more memories. Many more than I could ever share.

He is missed.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Death is Pissing Me Off

My brother is gone. His heart is still beating. A machine helps him breathe. His brain scan shows almost no activity. Brain-stem is functioning. He does not respond to any stimuli. As a diabetic kidney dialysis patient without a spleen, he is prone to infections. One got into his blood, into his heart, and infected blood was stuck there, forming a globule (a clot mixed with yuck). This then broke apart and two pieces went to two different areas of his brain, causing the severe damage.  That part of his brain is dead. Doctors say to wait 48 hours. They will continue medications, dialysis and in 2 days they will have a better idea which way he is going. I know he is going towards the light.

MRI shows blood clots all over the brain, like a meteor storm, the doctor said. There are other blood clots in his body. His heart still beats. It does not know how to stop. Stanley has been fighting his physical maladies for many years. Three times over those years, we were told to prepare ourselves for the end and three times he proved he was stronger than death. This time we are sure he wants to go, that he is already gone. The papers are being signed today. DNR/DRI. No more dialysis. He will go naturally and with all the dignity we can give. His body might let go today or it could hold on for a week or two. His kidney failure is a level 4-5, so it probably will not be that long.

Even though I know he is really gone already, I asked my sister to hold her phone to his ear so I could tell him he is the toughest SOB I have ever known. He is strong and I am so proud of him for fighting all these years, but now it is time to rest and let us take up the work. He has places to go and people to see. Pop is waiting for him on the other side.

Knowing my zany brother, Friday the 13th as the Date of Death on his Death Certificate, would make him happy. If his body does not let go today then Halloween, just because he would have really loved that, but I don't think it will be that long.

He is only 46 years old. Death is pissing me off.

I did not overeat today. I did not eat the foods that bring me to my knees.

It doesn't matter, but really, it does.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Paris Day 2 plus 18 months

Wow. I wrote this 18 months ago when we returned from France/UK and I never posted it.

I was traveling with someone who never sleeps past 5:00AM even when changing time zones. She and I sleep until 10:00AM. I wore her out on day 1.5.

We get up, have tea in the room and get out of the room all within 30 minutes. Quick American breakfast of egg, ham and cheese, no bread. Today we are taking the Big Red Bus around Paris. It is a hop on/off bus tour with two loops around Paris. We opt for the short loop first so that we can go to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

We get off the bus and walk three blocks north as in compass heading and north as in elevation. These are steep hills. Then we reach a park . . . with steps, lots of steps, all heading toward the Basilica. We decided to climb up the right side. Up one staircase, two, three, four, five . . . I stopped counting and pulled out my cell phone to check the altitude stats at this location. It read that this would be the equivalent of climbing 15 stories. So I kept stepping. I know I made the right decision. The view from the top was beautiful. The interior of the basilica was beautiful. There is a funicular on the left. The Montmartre funicular. We could have ridden to the top and skipped the stairs. When we were leaving it was drizzling and I did not want to risk falling down 15 flights of stairs. We were going to take the funicular but didn't have exact change and the change machine was on its wine break. We could have waited but I said 'the hell with it' -didn't I just leave a church?? - and we walked down, down, down.
Walking several blocks to where we could get back on the bus, we passed countless numbers of baguette shops, cheese shops, scarf shops and handbag shops. I bought a bottle of water and, if memory serves, a piece of fruit.

We took the second bus loop and drove to all the sights for the next two hours. I took this photo and became obsessed with it. It screams PARIS to me. Back at home I had it enlarged and put on a stretch canvas. My neighbor, a professional photographer, moved to Paris three months ago. I asked him to please return to this spot and take a photo with the exact same prospect. Google Maps allows me not only to pinpoint the exact spot, their street view mode allows me to see it.

Back to that day: Later, when we passed the Effiel tower we exited to walk a few blocks and found a nice little brasserie Cafe La Place at 3 Place Cambronne, Paris. This restaurant gets a mention because of 'the Manager.'  That is the name they have for their cat. Yes, in Paris a cat lives inside the restaurant. There is a narrow circular staircase inside the restaurant. It leads down to the restrooms and up to . . . I have no idea.  Sitting on the staircase was a beautiful cat. Every time a waiter walked past the staircase, within reach of the cat, the tabby reached out and smacked the waiters on the head. I loved it.

After this meal, we decided to walk back to walk back to the hotel for a break before the night tour. I don't think we had dinner (again). Paris is very exciting. I literally forget to eat.

Even with on and off rain, we enjoyed the night tour very much. Everything we saw during the day tour but at night. We exit the bus somewhere on the Champs-Élysées and walk some of the same places we walked the previous evening and then back to the hotel to find that the hotel is out of order and we have to walk up to the fourth floor (which would be considered the 5th floor in the US). No dinner - forgetting to eat . . . .Paris is keeping the pounds off.

Next Day: The Louvre.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 5, 2017 UPDATE

I am okay. I weigh less but not as less as I would like. I have not needed any follow up on the abdominal issues I was having last November/December. My tendinitis has reduced to the point that I am able to walk a mile or two without dying. I am imperfect and I am trudging because it beats the alternative. I do not like what happened when I went backwards. Forward is better.

I haven't had the desire to post. At least that is what I told myself. When I decided to write this today I saw that I have a few saved posts I never finished and some are from the Europe trip last year. Now I am excited to do some writing because it is already half done.

A few months ago our beloved Bichon, Keeper Quaffle Cartelli, passed away. Even extreme medical measures did not save him. He was ill less than 24 hours. So grateful my husband and I were awake with him when he passed at 3:30 in the morning.

I committed to waiting 5 months before seeking to adopt another dog. Well, in doggy years, five months is 3 weeks. . . . SO, 3 weeks later we adopted Peanut from the Orlando Pet Alliance! Peanut is a rescue and the sweetest of 3 year old puppies! We suspect he is part Schnauzer and part Bichon. DNA test for Christmas. I thought because he was so small he would need a doggy stroller for long walks. I have not reached that point with him yet. he is happy walking a mile and a half. I have to try the two mile walk with him next.

My next post will be something I started 18 months ago. I'll post it next week.

Vickie: I cannot get into your blog to read it. It says my invite has expired. I hope you are well, too.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Like Baltimore

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine de Bourgh observes
"This must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening, in summer; the windows are full west.''
I have only good things to report so far in this moving and settling experience for Family Member (FM). The apartment is eight stories up and on a hill. The apartment gets great light all day long without the heat of a full west exposure.

From the apartment windows, I can see the lovely pool area, Penn Station, at least 8 church steeples, (3 are Episcopal), and the University of Baltimore. Penn station is a 10-minute walk. Subway is a five-minute walk in other direction. The Light Rail station is across the street and down half a block.

Building security is very good. The electronic fob is used for entry and working the elevators. All doors in the building require a fob to gain access, plus keys for the apartments. Even if you follow someone into the building, you cannot just get an elevator. You need the fob. If they hit floor 9 and you want floor 6 you cannot go to 6 w/o the fob. If you have a guest you go down to the lobby to let them in. Guests can enter the elevator to leave the building without a fob as the elevator will return only to the lobby w/o fob. Security cameras are everywhere. The gym is all glass so no dark corners. Instead of a doorman, there is a concierge on duty in the lobby.

I am insect-phobic. In 10 days I never saw a single bug or evidence of such. In an apartment building, in a city . . . . of course there must be bugs, but this lack shows me how well this building is being cared for at this time.  Even the laundry and trash areas, at night, were free from signs of infestation.

We food shopped in Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, and Target. Harris Teeter veggies were subprime, imho. The various Starbucks in Baltimore do not offer stevia, yet.  The Starbucks by the waterfront has the new nitro cold-brew coffee. It was incredible.

There is only one movie theater downtown. Landmark theater. They sell whole bottles of wine and crab-stuffed hot pretzels. The amount of alcohol being consumed during Beauty and the Beast is . . . disturbing. People came into the theater quite late. Some families just sat on the floor, rather than find seats together. People got up half way through the movie and came back with more wine.

Except for this theater-in-need-of-a-recovery-program, it's all good. 

Finding nothing else lacking at this point, the transition has been smooth. I am returning home to face the afters . . . those feelings that have been kept in check by activity and denial.

Awareness helps.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hello Baltimore . . .but I'm not staying.

A family member (FM) is moving to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and I have been busy, busy, busy helping out. Took a trip to apartment hunt and check out the city. Left 2 days before the storm. I put myself in charge of the moving process, which includes making reservations, packing, trucking it up to Maryland and then unpacking. I was financially able to hire professionals to unload the truck once there (thank you God). I took this upon myself to smooth the way for FM and I must be honest: I am friggin' exhausted and I am never, ever volunteering for this again. In fact, you couldn't pay me to do this again. 

I have enjoyed shopping for all the necessities that come with new households. My food has been pretty clean. I notice I have not been eating enough veggies and have not been drinking my 80oz of water every day. I corrected my water consumption when I noticed the drop. Winter weather does that to me. The unexpected cold weather in Florida last week caught me off guard and I stopped drinking. 

I'll share some Baltimore experiences soon. Still keeping the pounds off. Talk soon.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Quick response from Sugarboo@Co to the call out on their fat shaming plate! They responded on Sunday to my daughter's instagram and today to my posts: They are pulling the plate off their shelves and off their website store.

I appreciate their very quick response and decisive action. I will be checking in at the store tomorrow to make sure the plates have been removed.

This weekend I tried a vegan, soy free alternative butter replacement spread. Good taste but I think it is triggering. I woke up thinking about pancakes. Looks like I am better off without it.

Have a good week!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Don't Buy Shame or Sugarboo

Sugarboo, a store at Disney Springs, is selling fat-shaming dishes. I have taken a few minutes to write their corporate office, Disney's guest services, and my clients for whom I shop. Now, I put this here: I will not purchase anything from Sugarboo while they sell this product. 

If shame worked, no one would be (1) fat, or (2) drunk. . . or (3) stupid. If the buyer or designer for this company does not see how shame does not work for the first two, they won't be smart enough to realize they suffer from the third. To quote the writing on the small size plate. They have made a "Big mistake." 

Tweet #Sugarboofail 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February 2nd Again

I watched Punxsutawney Phil this morning. They had him prognosticate in verse. Here is my response.

Punxsutawney Phil shadow sees
Six more weeks before the bees
sniff the pollen of buds in trees
Woe to my arthritic knees

In other news, I was able to do two sessions on the treadmill today for a total of 30 minutes.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bad Feet and Legs

There are no other words for it. I have bad feet. Not bad like my grandmothers and mom had to deal with. They had toes that grew wrong and bunions and outright deformed feet by the time they were in their 50s. My feet just hurt. For a whole six months they hurt as I gained weight. (duh). I thought as I lost weight the pains would go away, the way my knees got better when I lost all my weight and exercised to strengthen my legs. Nope.

The worse pain has been the front of my ankle, where foot meets leg. Agony in both legs if I stand still for too long and painful if I walk more than half a mile. I have a current first diagnois of severe tendonitis. I was ordered to stay off my feet for two weeks. Keep them elevated, take anti-inflamatories, rub them with Aspercreme and ice them on and off. Two weeks. Who has two weeks to sit with their legs elevated and do nothing? I sure didn't but the pain was such that I chucked everything else and planted myself in a recliner for two weeks, feet up, on meds, used ice. It did NOTHING.

I go back to the doctor on February 6th and I will be seeing a specialist after that. Enough of this.

Now, back to keeping the pounds off:

I lost 5 pounds over Christmas. Then I spent two weeks doing absolutely nothing. The only change in my food plan was to take out the daily protein bar. Two weeks of nothing: I lost another pound!

I truely thought I would gain. Seeing a loss was a big bonus.

Back to feet/legs:

I alternated between asprin and Advil. I detest taking drugs for anything but I can tolerate asprin well so I take that for headaches but it did not help with the inflamation. Advil helped a tiny bit so I stuck with that. Aleve does not do anything for me. Don't you love the warnings on these products?
Taking this medication may produce a greater risk of heart attack or stroke than existed before taking the medication. WTF??

Enough, let's go back to keeping the pounds off:
Pain or not, I am back to work and trying for gentle exercise. I am trying not to be depressed that I cannot just go out and walk without worry that I won't be able to make it back home. With any luck I can lose some more weight with the gentle exericse. No changes in my food. I am still sugar, milk fat and binge free and hope to celebrate six months in less than three weeks.

One day at a time