HOLIDAY GIFT HELPER

While waiting at the AT&T store the other day, I came across a website that has been more entertaining to me than Pinterest. You see, Pinterest is all this perfectly beautiful food, craft projects, closet organization, and lists of delightful and entertaining projects to do with your children over the weekend that include more than ten supplies you do not have on hand and will end with you feeling like a terrible parent. Who needs that? Nobody. What we need are gift ideas that don’t suck and that can be ordered online.

As I’ve been perusing my new addiction, fancy.com, I’ve come across some items I thought would either make GREAT Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. In the interest of good deeds and the brotherhood of man, yadayadayada, I’m sharing the ideas I’ve found. They’re mostly very affordable and often are not alcohol related. (Gasp!)

Except this first one. This is a carry on cocktail kit, capable of making two delicious old-fashioneds.

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Then there’s this – what guy doesn’t want a switchblade mustache comb? You can bet he won’t already have one, that’s for sure.

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Selfie sticks are all the rage, but the next big thing? The bike selfie. This can’t possibly go wrong.

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This is in honor of someone I know who apparently used to spend some time at work doing exactly this, only without the handy-dandy nap apparatus.

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Know someone who’s artsy or a Warhol fan, or both?

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Have a friend or family member who likes walking in the rain? Give them their own rainbow. Or color wheel. Whatever.

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This heart shaped umbrella is adorable. Looks like a scene from a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie. Yes, I’m old.

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Goth coffee lover? Pirate pal? Try this spoon.

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Okay, here’s another alcohol related gift. You know there had to be at least one more.

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Personally, that glass is almost cool enough (no pun intended) to make me drink liquor straight like that. Almost.

Let’s just get the last wine-o gift out of the way. In my defense, it’s also coffee related.

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Let’s say someone has had a few cocktails and is stumbling to the bathroom later that night, but doesn’t want to turn on that BRIGHT bathroom light. I give you the toilet light. The light also alerts the ladies to the potential for that horrible moment we’ve all experienced at some point in life. (Shiver.) Priceless.

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I have no idea who to give these to, but I love them and you should too.

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Everyone has that geek friend. Watch them go nuts for this. I thought it was a fancy belt buckle at first.

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Just plain silliness? Yes, please. Pizza nails, anyone?

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How about cupcake liners that tell your fortune?

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And if you just give up and don’t purchase anything for your friends and family, distract them by wearing this.

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I think I’ll buy 7 of these to wear every day of the week.

Thanks, fancy.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DONE

Well, I’m fast approaching my fourth week out of radiation. Still have some itchy skin, and some bizarre throbbing pain every now and then that I assume is a sign of continued healing. They said the radiation would keep affecting me for 2 weeks after we actually stopped, and it did. However,  I was so anxious to return to a regular schedule, I might have not been as patient as I should have work-wise. As a result, by the end of the week, I’m beat. I keep swearing I’ll sleep all day on the weekend, but I seem to live in a sports bar, with all day college football games on Saturday so that’s not really happening. Even without the sporty-sports, I start getting antsy after 9:00AM and feel as though I’m wasting a perfectly good day.

Currently, everything feels surreal. Each day I hear about something that happened since May or June, when all this started, but I have almost no recollection of it. I feel as though I’ve gone through each day sleepwalking. Hopefully, I’ve been functioning somewhat, anyway. I know I was TRYING.

I have neglected to report an event from two months ago. I just couldn’t address it until now. To add insult to injury, our sweet Daisy doggen became ill suddenly and had to be put to sleep. Cancer strikes again. We STILL haven’t recovered from THAT emotional devastation. Maybe it’s multiplied by Robert’s and my lowered immunity to bad news and almost psychotic need to have SOMETHING be normal at this point.

During that dreadful day, when the chips were down, my friends responded like they’d been waiting for an opportunity to rush to the rescue. “The Duchess” and Tony W came to stay with Gracie, the basset we adopted so she and Daisy could be little old ladies together. So much for that genius plan that lasted all of 8 months. Robert, Austin and I stumbled, bleary-eyed and in a state of shock, into the vet clinic to say goodbye. By the time Daisy drifted to sleep with Robert reassuring her and all our hands on her, I thought none of us would be able to get up off the floor, maybe ever again.

We drove home saying things to try to make each other feel better, but it was a sniffly, teary ride. Austin was so supportive. I wish he hadn’t been home to go through that, but then again, I’m glad he was. Derek was in Missouri, so he didn’t get to say his goodbyes. But if all four of us had been on the floor weeping, it would have simply been too much to bear. By the time we returned home, I thought “the Duchess” had probably pet a hole in Grace, (to comfort her.) So, once in the safety of our living room, there were five of us with red, watery eyes and a dog who was wondering what the heck was wrong with us all and WHERE had we left her “sister.”

As a result of the glorious past… 5 months(??) I get really emotional. Not sure if that’s the medication, or if it’s the experience(s), but I really want to take some time to sit still and figure out what all has transpired. Punch drunk, I guess you’d call it.

Mostly, these days, I’m looking forward to a time when my eyes stop welling up, I’m looking forward to having energy, and I’m looking forward to the END of this year.

I’m hoping this doesn’t sound too negative. I’m also grateful for the support of family, friends, readers and visitors. Also, (most importantly) my Robert has been amazing, and wonderful and has had to deal with a lot of crap. So, if I haven’t said it enough, you rock, mister.

And now, just so we can well up some more…

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Sweet Daisy doing her impression of Rose in the Titanic movie.

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TEXT EXCHANGE WITH BESTIES

This is the conversation that took place on the day of the procedure, from the time I left the room where the wire was inserted into the lump, through the surgery prep and into the evening. I hope it is worth a chuckle or two for others.        

   

   

  

  

Somehow I left out the screen shot where I say something about not thinking that was a compliment. 

  

  

  

  

  

At this point I was wheeled away for surgery. The conversation picked up again after.   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  
I edited out a screenshot where I referenced someone possibly kicking someone else.   

  
And much later that evening after some more sleep…  

  

  

  

  

  
That’s how I spent the day of surgery. I have the best friends. And the silliest.  Thanks, guys and gals. I couldn’t have done it without you. And special thanks to my husband who had to listen as I read these aloud all day. XO

   

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

A JOY-OUS OCCASION

After a slight delay for physical and mental recovery, I am prepared to share the details of the wedding of the year. Amongst those participating we’ve got a bride – the Viscountess, the groom – a Mr. Joy, the Viscountess’ ex-husband – a Spanish Viscount, and his fiancée – Carlos.

(Pausing while everyone catches up. Are we all together after that last sentence? Good.)

How could this event be anything other than fantastic? I was with royalty. Or nobility. Or titled personages. The wedding and reception were themed “The Great Gatsby.” Add in a plethora of lovely ladies, some well-groomed, dapper gentlemen who are suspiciously adept at the theme attire, and you have blog nirvana.

The bride and groom spent the week on Marco Island where they rented a HOUSE. Not some dinky beach bungalow, but an all capital letters HOUSE.

A circular drive caused some dismay and intense maneuvering for The Duchess when we arrived, but no planters or shrubs were damaged, so all-in-all, it was a victory. We ascended the steps to the front doors of the “mansion” and marched inside where we were greeted by friendly faces and a half-dozen beautifully set tables. The scene was perfectly set with an ocean view and pool. It was terribly gorgeous and well done. Another thing that was well done? The number of guests. There were less than 40 of us, including children. It was enough to feel like a real party, yet be intimate. Plus, I could always get near the wine and/or champagne without having to stand in line. (Hey, priorities.)

As for the Gatsby theme, my apologies for misjudging the men in a previous post. I assumed they’d be lost regarding attire. I obviously underestimated who we were dealing with. The men embraced the theme from the top of their newsboy caps and Panama hats to the bottom of their wing-tip shoes. These gents were owning it. The ladies were no slouches either with their T-strap heels, faux jewels, boas, beaded headbands and stylish hats. Between the house and the charming attendees, I felt I’d been transported to a movie set. Where’s Robert Redford when you need him? Yes. Robert Redford. No Leonardo DiCaprio for me.

After teetering up the insanely steep stairs to say hello to the bride and her minions, we watched as Amy’s mother fastened the pearls around her neck, and explained, “My husband gave me these. They were from Spain.”

Amy, the minx, quipped, “As was my first husband!”

This is why I adore her. She can take a moment when you are becoming dangerously sentimental and instead make you snort. A much-needed talent, as the group of ladies was swinging from an emotional zipline, careening from laughter and hugs to tears in the blink of an eye.

Luckily, with almost no prompting, we became way too excited about taking pictures of our footwear. Seriously, the rest of the evening would be interesting indeed if we were THAT excited about taking pictures of our feet so early in the festivities.

Downstairs, we watched our dazzling Amy approach her smiling groom on the verandah as the sun set. Although the wind had been blustery all day, it seemed to calm remarkably throughout the ceremony. Either the wind actually DID die down, or the obvious affection of the friends who formed a semi-circle around them invoked a protective barrier.

I’m going with protective barrier. I’ve met those people now and I believe if anyone could do it, they could.

The group in attendance was made up mainly of people Amy has collected throughout her life. (Dave’s turn is coming at a party in the U.K.) I must say, Amy is an excellent friend collector. She does so wisely and with considerable flair. Those people LOVE her. Madly. It was written all over their faces. It was also evident that same brand of fierce devotion has been extended to Dave.

Following the sit-down dinner, Amy’s mother, Liz, stood and explained (quite eloquently) the pattern defining the friendships and family in attendance – from childhood to adolescence, young adulthood, and more recent adventures that revealed how we all fit together – like threads in the weaving of Amy and Dave’s lives. It was lovely. And touching.

Just when we thought our hearts couldn’t get any more full, the shade of a friend glided into our midst and squeezed our hearts until we thought they’d burst. (Or that we’d become watering pots and have raccoon eyes for the rest of the evening.) It was bittersweet, the realization that if not for certain unpleasant realities, we (The Duchess and I) would have known OF Amy and Dave, but would probably not have accomplished the level of friendship that led to our being guests at the wedding.

But enough of that. As I said, emotions were swinging wildly.

After dinner, the dancing began. I could go on to describe the first dance of Amy and Dave Joy, but as I am not a judge on “Dancing with the Stars” OR “So You Think You Can Dance,” I’ll not offer a description other than to say the guests sighed with pleasure, applauded, then joined in.

Instead, I offer you the unexpected entertainment for the evening. Leah’s boys, Oliver and Wyatt, had reached the point of exhaustion/excitement that resulted in a break dancing frenzy. Enjoy. (Wyatt and Oliver.)

To Amy and Dave – I wish you every happiness in the world. I cannot tell you how much it meant to be included on your guest list. You’re never getting rid of me now. No, really.

This next part may test the accuracy of my spelling skills, but the important part is, I DID NOT MAKE THIS UP.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Viscountess Magnificant… Joy and husband, Dave. (That’s Mr. and Mrs. Joy, thank you very much.)

For real.

Aren’t they lovely?

HURRICANE SANDY ATTENDS A WEDDING. OR NOT.

Tomorrow I travel with The Duchess to attend the wedding of Amy (the Viscountess) and Dave (not titled, but we forgive him because he’s a prince of a fellow.)

Potentially making a surprise appearance at the romantic beach/Great Gatsby themed event is none other than Hurricane Sandy. This is particularly amusing/ironic because the non-hurricane Sandy, my Wales traveling companion and all around great human being, could NOT attend the wedding because of her regretful, but much appreciated (I hope) work ethic.

I think we can all agree that “work ethic” Sandy would be more welcome.

Regardless, a little wind and rain (or a lot) will not dampen (sorry) our enthusiasm for the celebration. In fact, it will no doubt be an excellent adventure and hopefully provide blog fodder for days to come.

Tomorrow evening we have a pre-party warm up at the local pub. Saturday, we rest, relax, beautify and imbibe until the evening, at which time we stroll to the beach (if it is still there), and solemnly view the ceremony. Okay, probably not too solemnly.

Afterward, it’s the reception, or as I call it, “who are these people and why do they all want a drink at the bar at the exact time I do?”

Please, please, do your anti-rain dances and regroup here in a few days for the low down. Oh, and join me in raising a glass to Amy and Dave, a couple of the loveliest people on the planet. I promise, they will toast you in return.

Regardless, at some point or another, we will ALL be toasted.

AN ALTER EGO EVENING

After the vacation posts, I’ve had trouble getting back into the regular swing of writing. Work is insanely busy. The boys came home from their respective colleges for a visit. Work is insanely busy. Did I say that already? Really, really busy.

So busy, in fact, that we (the marketing and graphics team) went to dinner and drinks last night to celebrate basic survival and sanity. Things for which we have a whole new appreciation.

A good time was had by all and we only embarrassed ourselves a dozen times or so. I don’t know what happened to my normally professional, yet fun group, but I think someone put something in their drinks. Okay, OUR drinks.

It started out innocently enough, at a table in the bar over a pre-dinner cocktail. With dry ice.

Then, we moved into the quiet, elegant dining room where only a few other tables held diners who spoke softly to each other as the soothing sound of the water feature lulled them into a delusion. The delusion that five women could sit at a table together – not working late for the first time in weeks – and not totally lose their minds.

My breakdown began when I was told by the waiter that my favorite items at this restaurant (which I had been bragging to the girls about for DAYS) were no longer on the menu.

“No giant onion rings?”

“No,” the mellow voiced waiter, Jordan, answered. “But we have a new item. Corn.”

“Corn?” My eyebrows scrunched together as I tried to make sense of this.

“Whiskey creamed corn. It’s excellent.”

“Jordan, do you see that no matter how excellent it is, it’s not a giant onion ring?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. What about the bacon wrapped cheese stuffed shrimp?”

Sadly, Jordan admitted, “We don’t have that anymore.”

“I see.”

“Well, just bring us some of that delicious bread I’ve been craving all day.”

“The ones that come in little six packs?”

“Yes, those.”

“Yeah, we don’t have those anymore. We have baguette now.”

“Kill me.”

As I inelegantly rested my forehead on the table, proud of myself for not banging it against the surface over and over, a strange thing happened.

The marketing team’s alter egos came out to play.

We had the F-bomber, Madame LOUD, the Spiller, the Instigator, and my mother.

The F-bomber was in rare form and seemingly unaware of her ferocity, or the fact that we were the only people speaking loudly enough to be heard in the whole restaurant.

Also suffering from some sort of inner ear anomaly, was Madame LOUD. Normally, at work, when Madame comes close to discuss something “privately” her volume level is so low I have to lip-read. Not that she is unusually quiet all the time, but the volume knob typically doesn’t get stuck at 11. It usually hovers around 5-7. At our table near the front door, in a quiet restaurant with a handful of people, she was determined to include the kitchen staff in our conversation, lest they feel uninformed.

At this point, I started channeling my mother, who continued to “Sssshhhh” people with a hand gesture reminiscent of an agitated sock puppet.

It didn’t work.

The Instigator managed to keep herself out of trouble, but offered encouragement to everyone else around her. Mostly by laughing.

The Spiller doused herself in red wine, which she tragically thought had only stained her skirt, but had in fact sloshed all over the white blouse she wore. The pronouncement of relief as she dabbed at her black skirt – completely unaware of the giant red stain virtually under her nose brought on a fresh burst of laughter from the table and scowls from those near us. And an MF bomb.

Somewhere around this time, for some ill-conceived reason, the general manager brought us complimentary bottles of red and white wine. (I think to make up for the onion ring and bread disappointment.) But REALLY? What was he thinking? Were we not loud and obnoxious ENOUGH? He was GIVING us bottles of wine?

The red was gratefully accepted, but the white FREE wine was rejected by Madame LOUD on my behalf. Too sweet. With a look of complete confusion on his face, the poor GM went away and came back with something oakier and more buttery. (Like the missing bread used to be.)

He also agreed that the wine he tried to foist on us (for FREE) was pretty sweet for a Chardonnay.

The Instigator giggled.

Jordan rolled his eyes and wished us far, far away.

I shushed everyone. Again. Unsuccessfully.

Today, the Instigator has a bruise on her shoulder-blade. (Madame LOUD became Madame I Don’t Know My Own Strength.)

The alter egos have not been seen since.

IN ANTICIPATION OF THE VISCOUNTESS’ WEDDING

Today I begin the countdown to the wedding of the century. Why today? Because I’ve been back from France for over a week and I need something to live for.

Okay, maybe it’s not the wedding of the century, but it is definitely THE wedding for the month of October. My friend, the Viscountess,  a real one, mind you, is marrying a lovely British bloke. They are traveling to the states from their home in England, and the nuptials will take place around Naples, (Florida) basically. The theme? Great Gatsby, of course.

If it were just a tad cooler, I could wear a mink stole along with a long strand of pearls,(knotted), and a headband of rhinestones. Maybe an ostrich feather. Rumor has it that boas will be making an appearance. The feathered ones, not the ones you tend to find in Florida swamps. At least, I hope that’s the case. If not, I’ve read the wrong Great Gatsby.

So how is it that I’ve come to know a Viscountess? Through my late friend, Leah. Leah could always be counted on to introduce me to all sorts of things that could get me into trouble and/or be way too much fun. Or both. The vodka luge, for instance. Cosmo’s Bar. Mid-afternoon movies. Allowing her too many martinis, thus engaging the “grab your face when you’re not paying attention and give you a quick smack on the lips, Leah.” So, it just follows that she would be responsible for the Viscountess and her fiancée.

Well done, my friend.

We are very much looking forward to what promises to be a highly entertaining and moving event. A love story in our midst. An ocean, a house party, and Great Gatsby.

I feel like Walter Weinschel, ready to get the scoop on the fabulous guests.

Will other royalty attend the wedding?

Will there be drama?

Will we get tipsy and go in search of boas?

Only time will tell. And only if I get the okay to “report” from the bride and groom. They SHOULD have some say in this after all. Otherwise, I cannot be the official gossip columnist of the wedding of the month!

Meanwhile, I better book my flight or I’ll miss the whole thing.

THE OLYMPICS AND OTHER DIVERSIONS

I am writing this for the moment instead of doing the work I should be doing over the weekend so my work week doesn’t kill me. But what I really want to do is watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. I caught a glimpse every now and then last night while visiting with the Duchess and Max, and was giggly each time I was able to identify a place I had been while in London. “Look!” I’d squeal and jump up and down (carefully, so as to not spill my chardonnay) waving toward the TV, “I was THERE!” I would turn toward where the Duchess and Max were hunched over a computer screen at the kitchen bar and stare at the backs of their heads while they ignored me completely, or looked up long enough to say “What?” Then went back to what they were doing. I was not feeling the Olympic love.

The Olympics – you either love them, hate them, or feel “meh” about them. Kind of like Angelina Jolie. At my house we have a sort of Olympic war. Robert despises the Olympics. I think he actually used the word “hate.” He hates the sob stories. He hates the announcers. He hates the sports. He clicked past the ping-pong competition today and looked at me disdainfully, “Oh look! We can watch some ping-pong.” I have to admit, I felt embarrassed.

Due to his deep-seated animosity for the event, and my “meh” attitude about many of the areas of competition, I have become accustomed to skipping them. But this year is different. I am really interested in the games because… well, after visiting Wales and London last year, I now feel a sense of ownership. Or companionship. Something like that.

I recorded the ceremony that re-ran at 1:30 AM and am looking forward to popping open a bottle of champagne this evening and saying witty things to amuse myself in my empty room. This morning I went on Facebook and couldn’t believe what I’d missed. Sandy was in her usual rare form, as was her friend (and my Facebook pal because his sense of humor is unmatched), Doug.

Sandy has decided to start her own country so she can march in the parade. Watch for Sandonia in the next opening ceremony. Perhaps Sandy will let me be on the curling team, as that is the only sport I believe I could do while holding a glass of wine.

I have to say the gold medal for FB commentary goes to Doug. I can’t wait to watch and see if I agree with some of these classics: “Ukraine wins the silly hat award,” “Nicaragua is dressed as Sigma Chi fraternity, circa 1987,” and “Estonia looked like they were all dressed as Absolut Vodka.” My favorite: “Liechtenstein looks like they picked up their uniforms at Penney’s on the way to the stadium.”

Ouch. And I thought the best part of the ceremony was supposed to be all the hubbub at the beginning, with the skydiving Queen and such. Silly me. I’ve just never watched the parade portion with the right crowd before.

The right crowd being people I’ve never met in person before, but who crack me up.

I better start practicing my curling now so I’ll be ready for the Winter games.

WHY WE HATE JULY

I know people are going to get tired of this, but it is that time of year again when Ann goes dark. I don’t mean that I’m getting too much sun. I mean I’m getting introspective and “judgy.”

The second anniversary of my father’s death is the 25th of July, and my friend Leah passed away at a terribly young age from breast cancer on the 26th. It would be great if and when those dates slide right by me and I realize afterward that I missed them completely, but for now, it’s still too new and I still catch myself making a mental note to tell one or the other of them something funny before I recall I can’t.

On July 23rd of 2010, Eric, Leah’s husband, was posting this on Caring Bridge – “Leah is holding on. Her strength is still keeping her going. She is much the same as she was this morning. She has zero pain. She is sleeping well. We still expect her to pass at any moment, but it could be another day or two I guess.

“Teagan,” (side note from me: Leah’s 5-year-old daughter) “stopped by today. I was concerned that this could go horribly wrong. It didn’t. It went well. Teagan gave her a few hugs and kisses. She seemed to be okay with the fact that Leah is not really here anymore, and will not be here at all soon.

Guess what else? You won’t guess it, so I’ll tell you. The room that Leah is in was also Tom Landry’s room. Tom Landry was the first coach of the Cowboys, and stayed the coach for 29 seasons, winning two of the Cowboys 5 super bowls and inventor of the 4-3 defense. Tom Landry is idolized in this part of the country, and a stretch of Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth is called Tom Landry Highway. Also of note: he was interred at Sparkman-Hillcrest, which is where we will have Leah’s services. So, Tom led the way, and is probably waiting to guide Leah. I told her this. Perhaps that is why she is holding out. She would rather it be a Redskin-affiliated angel.”

It’s amazing that Eric was able to find any opportunity to make light. They are lucky they have pages and pages of notes on Caring Bridge – from 2008 until 2010 – of Leah’s (and Eric’s) experiences and hopes. (Although still having Leah would be far superior.) Those who choose to can go back through the full two years of posts and hear her voice in every line and wisecrack.

Frustratingly opposite of that was my father, who departed so quickly there wasn’t a chance to prepare. What we did wind up with is a mystery that still fascinates and frustrates me. My father always jotted things down or doodled. Apparently, after his stroke, as they were wheeling him into the ER, he was unable to talk but was signaling my stepmother with his hand – moving his thumb like he was holding a pen and clicking it.

My stepmother handed him a pen and notepad. What followed was 11 pages of testimony to his rapid deterioration. I have stared at these pages a hundred times and still can’t decide if he knew what was happening and was frustrated by his inability to communicate it, or if he was – I don’t know – just trying to ask for his eye glasses or medicine out of the tote bag that he mentions. From what I see on these pages, it looks as though he is writing the word “brain” a lot. Several notes repeat “VOF tote bag.” That’s a bag with the Voices of Freedom logo on it. I think he asks for a pencil. Perhaps the pen wasn’t writing well upside down?

At one point he seems to give up writing and starts drawing. I can see a head and an arrow pointing to the back of it. Maybe that’s where he felt the stroke had taken place? There was also some supposition that he was trying to write DNR.

It doesn’t matter how many times I review them; they aren’t going to tell me a story, or explain what he was thinking or feeling. What they amount to is frustration. I’m looking for clues where there are none. What could he possibly have conveyed at that point that needs additional study?

I’m just glad he had a chance to try to communicate. I don’t even carry a functioning pen in my purse, much less paper. If I’d been with him, he’d have been scribbling with a tube of lipstick on a deposit slip – or an old receipt. (Note to self: start carrying pens and note pads.)

Who knows – maybe someday we will find someone who can break apart the layers of writing and they’ll find something that really surprises us. Like the number of a bank account in Switzerland…

Hmmmm. Maybe that’s what is in the VOF tote bag.

In conclusion: Everybody keep it together out there. We’re almost through the month.

SUPER

Since superheroes are in the air lately (The Avengers), I started thinking, which is often dangerous, and realized I know enough superheroes to make up my own band of Avengers.

First, there’s The Viscountess – (Not a nickname, but a real Viscountess.) The Viscountess flew thousands of miles back and forth from the UK to Dallas, eventually sitting vigil virtually around the clock at the side of her dearest friend as she lost the battle against breast cancer. The Viscountess acted as protector, keeper of sacred confidences, guard, and eventually as the voice for our Leah when she could no longer speak for herself. This was not a glamorous job, nor was it easy. It took strength, courage and determination. I also believe, had she the power to fly, the Viscountess would have circled the Earth at such a speed as to reverse time.

Next, we have The Duchess – (Which IS a nickname.) The Duchess doesn’t even like to be tagged in Facebook status updates.) If you love animals, The Duchess is the superhero for you. The woman has rescued more dogs than I can count. And I don’t mean by adopting them from a pound. I mean, she is driving down the street in her “alter ego” costume – designer suit and heels, when out of the corner of her eye she sees a four-legged furry critter darting through yards and headed directly toward a traffic-heavy street or highway. At this point, The Duchess slams her SUV into park and with superhuman speed, chases down the dog, (in her heels – through rocky terrain, sometimes across fields, and several times through a cemetery.) After snagging the cavorting canine, she contacts the grateful owner, and with a wave of her manicured hand, drives off into the sunset leaving a relieved owner and happy dog behind. Most recently, the rescuee was a 17-year old basset hound – almost completely deaf and blind – that was trotting steadily down the street at dusk. The Duchess admits her superhuman speed wasn’t needed in this case, as Humphrey wasn’t particularly spry, but still… a rescue is a rescue.

(Not actually Humphrey, but she was too busy rescuing to snap a pic.)

My mother is on this hero list. She drives back and forth – over 30 miles each way, at LEAST once a week and often more, while still not 100% recovered from a broken pelvis, to see to the care of her 95+ year-old mother. My aunt and uncle are similarly engaged in witnessing, managing, and trying to somehow ease the winding down of their mother’s life. And as you know, superheroes don’t always work that smoothly together. Even in the best of times. And this is a process that is, as one would imagine, emotionally exhausting, frustrating, sometimes unbearably sad, and underappreciated. At other times, it appears Grandmother must be a superhero herself, who will outlive us all.

I also have a mother-in-law who volunteers at the homeless shelter when she could simply write a check and not get personally involved. My father-in-law does his part by allowing her to smile upon these downtrodden souls. She also tutors kids who probably don’t have anyone at home who cares whether they complete their studies or not.

The littlest superhero of all has been undergoing chemo since January. He is doing well, and the prognosis is as good as it can be, which is a 90%+ chance the villain will not be seen again. While battling cancer he has managed, at the age of three, to master bike riding (sans training wheels), and to maintain his charmingly happy personality.

There are plenty of other superheros I know. In their alter ego existence that are taking the first tentative steps into the caregiver role for aging parents. Others are squaring off against depression, loneliness, health problems, or loss. Thank goodness they have the super powers of optimism, humor, grace under pressure, and loyalty in their arsenal. (Not to mention STYLE.)

If I could, I would have a cape made for each and every one of you.