Saturday, February 14, 2015

Surviving a New England Winter

Up to his nuts in snow
So this has been an interesting winter in New England. We already have about three feet of snow on the ground and they're predicting another blizzard this week - dumping another foot of snow.

My front walk looks like a luge.

Early in the season, I bought a cover for my shiny stainless grill. It lasted exactly 1 day before it split and dissolved into a puddle around my grill.

Before the next storm, I went to Home Depot and bought a heavy duty tarp. I thought I was pretty clever (the tarp cost $8). I tied it around my shiny stainless grill and smiled, incredibly pleased at the pretty blue shroud.

When the storm was over, as I was shoveling, I was almost blinded by the sun reflecting off my shiny stainless grill.


I figured it probably flipped off and was under the snow close to the grill. So, in a fit of pissed off redheaded pique, I shoveled a space about 4 feet wide around the shiny stainless grill - no pretty blue tarp.  It is apparently somewhere in the half acre of back yard, under three feet of snow.

*big sigh...

And now, they're predicting another foot of snow.  So, today I decided I am not spending another dime on grill covers - and I improvised.

Trash bags 'n duct tape

Universal truth - Duct tape is like the force - light on one side, dark on the other and it holds the universe together.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Make a Promise

Merry Christmas!
On December 16th, during a routine visit, my doctor informed me that he found a lump in my left breast.  I didn't want to ruin the holidays for the family so I kept it to myself and was scheduled for a mammogram and diagnostic ultrasound - after the New Year - how stoic of me.  No time for tears, the holidays are busy times.

They say you should have your first mammogram at age 40 - I was busy.

All through my 40's I found excuse after excuse to avoid it - I was just too busy.

Every once in a while, I'd do a self-exam. - pressing in concentric circles - and anytime I felt something unusual, I'd quickly switch to check the other boob - my rule of thumb was as long as I have a matching set, I'm good.

Very scientific. Who needs a medical degree - I'd know if something was wrong - right?

So, yesterday I went to the hospital and had my very first ever mammogram. It wasn't comfortable, but it's not painful. These boobs were ironed horizontally and vertically.  Then they were drenched in a gallon of goo and ultrasounded thoroughly.  I watched the screen as if I knew what to look for.

When it was over, I asked the Radiologist, "Well, did you see anything?"

"The doctor's going to look at these now and then she'll talk to you about what your next steps will be." .

I realize that's a stock answer but those are some terrifying words.  And then she left me alone.
Did you know...
Over the next 20 minutes, I  tried to recall all of the women I knew who'd been touched by breast cancer - the aunt in Florida who had a mastectomy about 10 years ago, a friend who had a lumpectomy. Both still here, both survivors.

Then, I remembered Judy.  We met as co-workers when I was in my early 30's.  Judy was about 15 years older - a vibrant, funny woman with an infectious laugh. You couldn't find two more different women.  Judy was a southern black woman raised in South Carolina - now a single Mom raising her teenage children in a small apartment in downtown New Haven.  I was a young white suburban wife living the dream as a new homeowner and the mother of a toddler.  We shared the same last name and quirky sense of humor - we bonded instantly.

Judy was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer while still in her 40's.  By the time they found it, it had spread to her lungs.   The last time I saw Judy, she told me she knew the lump was there for a few years.  She didn't feel sick, so she ignored it.

She was too busy.

By the time she began to feel sick, it was too late -  6 months later, she was gone.

And now, I was trying not to panic as I waited - wondering how long this thing had been inside me while I'd been too busy.

When the Radiologist came back, she was smiling. "You're all set - we reviewed the mammogram and the ultrasound and we didn't find anything."

That's when the tears came.  And being the perennial optimist, I asked, "Are you sure?"

She laughed and said "Yes, we're sure - we're very sure. You're all clear."
Ladies -

We put so much effort into taking care of everyone else, that we often set aside our own needs for the sake of family, husbands and children.  But the very best thing we can do for them is to take care of ourselves.

I have a son whom I adore. And I plan to be around to embarrass him for many years to come. I make this promise to him and I advise all of you Ladies to do the same for the ones you love.

I love you, Son O'Mine - and because I love you - I promise to take care of me. 

Make that promise - and keep it.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Universe was testing my patience.

I have never been a patient person.

However, I have found that even at this age (I prefer the term "seasoned" rather than "mature"), I am capable of learning.

This week, the family plan on our phone contract was due to expire. So, Son O'Mine and I discussed this and decided to form a smaller "family plan" with just the two of us. Since our phones were both due for upgrades, we took a spin to Best Buy last Saturday to test drive some smart phones (our previous phones were semi-smart).

Like Johns at the Bunny Ranch, we looked them all over, and he decided on the Iphone, while my heart was taken with the Samsung Galaxy. OK, decision made.

Next we headed over to the Verizon store where we originally set up  the family plan two years ago. The day after a new Iphone release, it was understandably busy - so we waited - patiently.

When it was our turn, we were told they cannot change the plan there. We have to call a special secret phone number - actually my ex had to call since he was the only authorized user on the account. And - he had to call with me in the room - he would release our two numbers at which point I had to grab the phone from him, claim those two numbers and set up my new account. If not, we would most likely lose our numbers.

Could they make this more difficult?

You want what?
Well, the ex was at a football game. Over FroYo, Son O'Mine and I decided that we'd just go back to Best Buy and upgrade our phones - we still had a week to straighten out the service plan.

Back to Best Buy we went - chose our phones, and the girl began to enter all the data into her computer. Over, and Over, and Over again. Apparently, the Verizon database was trying to upgrade three phones instead of only two and it kept giving her errors. So she called over a manager (Megan - my new BFF) and she began the process again.  She called Verizon on her cell phone for assistance. She shut down the computer and restarted. Called Verizon again. We all moved across the store to the Customer Service computer and began again. Called again. At this point, she was speaking to a Supervisor at Verizon who couldn't help. The Sup eventually disconnected the call and would accept no further calls. (Have I mentioned that Verizon has hands-down the absolute WORST customer service in the world?)

How badly do you want that phone?

So... after 3 1/2 hours, and a valiant effort by Megan, we left Best Buy - with our old phones. Three and a half hours in which I did not swear, I did not raise my voice, I did not lose my shit.

You're welcome, Best Buy. 

Sunday morning, Son O'Mine took his father hostage and we called Verizon's special secret phone number to release - claim - the rogue phone numbers. Done.

Back to Best Buy we went, Megan actually met us at the door and we began the process all over again. As she was ringing it up, I saw her eyes widen - Sweet Mother of God, what now???

She leaned over the counter and whispered to me - "Your phone just went on sale this minute - for half price!!"

I can only believe that this was the Universe's way of rewarding me for not having a melt-down the day before. Or perhaps it was because Thursday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day and it was a test of my "Argggggggggh" reflex.

I was unBearably patient - and it paid off.

Go figure.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A sighting in Connecticut

"It might seem crazy what I'm about to say."

So the other day, a strange, nondescript gray minivan pulled into my driveway. Since I wasn't expecting anyone and our neighborhood is infested with Jehovah's Witnesses, I did what any normal, mature adult would do.
I slipped into Ninja mode, dropped to the floor and crawled under the windowsill to scope it out.
The van had no signage on it, so that narrowed it down - either someone looking for directions or Jesus was off the leash again.
From my vantage point under the window, I saw a skinny dude with a tall hat and a neon green vest get out of the van and jog up my front walk.
As I stumbled to the front door, I heard a *thump* on the porch.  I opened the door just as he jumped back into the van and drove away.
I opened the door and looked down and that's when the magnitude of what I'd just witnessed hit me. 

Drone Droppings
That's right. 

I had just seen with my own two eyes, the mysterious and elusive Amazon Drone! 

This is epic. This is the technological equivalent of Bigfoot, Yeti and the Chupacabra. This is like the Terminator only better.

They took something that originally looks like this:


And they camouflaged it to look like this:

Happy Drone

So keep your eyes peeled and listen for the clapping.  You just might spot him too.

This has all the makings of a blockbuster reality show.  I need to organize a drone-tracking team.

"I hear claaaaaaaaaapping..."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Faking Football No More

For the past 30 years I faked football.

You see, I married into a family that enjoys sports. Correction: they do not enjoy sports, they obsess over sports. In all those years, I can't recall more than a handful of conversations that didn't revolve around football, softball, baseball, basketball or someotherkindofball. And those conversations that were about other topics quickly turned into a sports analogy followed by "did you see that game...?"

And we're back to sports.

So I learned to fake it.

When my 9 year old son played football it was relatively easy to fake it. There are very specific rules that Moms of football players must follow.

  • Once he has the uniform on absolutely no touching. Don't fix his hair, don't tuck his jersey in and under no circumstances do you tie his shoelaces. 
  • Absolutely no public displays of affection.
  • Refrain from vaulting over the other spectators to jack up the kid who tackled your baby. 
At this stage, you don't need to know the rules of the game, you only need to learn the Mom dance:
  • Keep your eyes on your own kid at all times 
  • When he falls down - you stand up.
  • When he gets up - you sit down. 
And that's all you need to know to be a successful football Mom. 

Luckily for me, when he hit high school, Son O'Mine's focus turned to Art School and I no longer had to do the Mom dance every Sunday afternoon. 

Unfortunately, his father did not lose interest. Coaching became his obsession. And I do mean obsession.  All football, all day, all week, all year round.  And the Coach's wife isn't just watching one kid - no, she's expected to remember every kid, his number, what position he plays, his life history, his shoe size and what he had for breakfast.  Sweet Mother of God, now I had to actually pay attention to the game. And as soon as the game was over, he would recap every friggin' minute of the game in excruciating detail.  In our home, there was no such thing as football season. As soon as the last game was over, he would be working 24/7 planning plays and recruiting players for the next year. 

I think it's some bizarre genetic brain mutation  - This man could recall with perfect clarity, every play of every game he'd ever seen or played in the past 50 years, yet he could never remember where the hell he left his glasses. Go figure.

This year, I did not watch one football game all year. Not from the bleachers or the couch, live or televised. Not interested, don't care. Really, Really don't care.

But tomorrow,  I will be watching a bowl game - The Puppy Bowl. Penguin cheerleaders, puppy tailgaters, kitty half-time. It doesn't get any better than that.