Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Unpredictable Brawler

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
1:30 p.m.

In addition to dealing with increasingly frequent periodic emotional waves, I've also been experiencing bouts of physical distress.  Nothing life threatening, at least as far as I know, that is.
But, I am battling a worthy opponent for sure.  This mysterious combatant, who attacks me at his (or I guess it could be her) will, has literally taken control of my life.
He (we'll go with the he) selects the venue, when the starting bell is rung and how many rounds we go.
He is wily and catches me off guard with sneaky sucker punches.
This unpredictable brawler, who sometimes chooses to lay dormant during the brightness of day, seems to gather strength from the shadows of pre-dawn darkness.
Although, what I contend with may not be emergency room serious, it has affected the quality of my life.  I feel that making plans is no longer an option for me.
Oh, of course, I have sought medical advice.  I have even had body parts removed.  Okay one body part removed.
To prepare for future skirmishes, I have adjusted my lifestyle to the barest of minimums.  I have eliminated the consumption of all toxins or those I have been advised to eliminate, anyway.
I confess that I crave some of the things I have had to give up.  It is painful to think that they may forever, now only be recalled through blurred sense memories.
Yesterday, as I followed my usual, early morning routine of sipping my tea and gazing out at a glorious sunrise, I found myself actually looking forward to the day.
But, within seconds, my adversary made his presence known with a powerful jab to my weak spot, leaving me wounded, dazed and down for the count.  Well, down and out for the rest of the day, anyway.
He got the best of me, that whole day, he got the best of me.  I gave in and gave up.
This morning, after a restless sleep, filled with writhing snake nightmares, I awoke to another day.
And, this day, as I followed my usual early morning routine of sipping my tea and gazing out at a glorious sunrise, I noticed that the sky was too blue, the air too crisp and the shimmer of the dew on the red and orange leaves too brilliant to give in and give up.
Then, I caught a glimpse of Joe smiling at me from his frozen-in-time photo.  I thought about how he never gave in, how he never wanted to give up and how he always, always had hope.
This is when daydreams of Southern California vacations and visits with my beloved grandchildren replace the nightmares.
And this is when I believe I can beat this palooka, knocking him out with my famous LG's one-two, left hook, straight right combo.

Other stuff

A couple of times, while out for a car ride, we have come across what looked to us like a burial ground for old telephone poles.
This last time I had to stop and take some photos.

We couldn't figure out what this was.
But I did know where we were.  So I googled "Ocean Gate NJ, Telephone Poles."  Ahh the power of Google.

Turns out that:

"Ocean Gate was a high-frequency (shortwave) radio transmitting station providing telephone communications to ships at sea (high-seas service) and to overseas locations, under call sign WOO. In addition, the June 1958 List of Coast Stations issued by the International Telecommunications Union identifies Ocean Gate Radio (WOO) as "open to correspondence with aircraft", one of 19 US coast stations so authorized."

Ross, to read more about this, go here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Wait Is Over Once Again

Friday, September 13, 2013
7:00 P.M.

Rico hopped out this morning and injured his leg.
After a visit to the Vet, and a shot of pain meds, he has been in la-la land all day.

Yep it's Friday the Thirteenth

Rico's Friends Making Sure He Is OK
(And Yes That is a Doggie Stroller)

The Wait is Over

Jen called me at around 10:30 last Sunday morning to tell me she was in labor.  After I hung up the phone,  I  brushed past Ross, leaving my words indecipherably hanging in the dust cloud I had kicked up as I transformed into a whirlwind of activity.
"What?"  "What did you say?"  Ross was following closely behind me trying to catch a word here and there from the phrase bursts I was calling out over my shoulder.
Clearly he and I were not on the same page.  I impatiently couldn't understand why it was not obvious to him that since I had just gotten off the phone with my nine months pregnant daughter and was now hastily throwing clothes into an overnight bag, he wouldn't automatically be executing  plan A part 1.1
Plan A
    Part 1.1: Call Lucky's Bed and Bisquit to secure a cabin for Rico.
"You want me to walk Rico?"  He asked.
At that point I realized that he had no idea what was going on.
"Jen is in labor!"  "We have to go!"
I suddenly stopped what I was doing.  I reminded myself that this was Jen's third child.  And by the way, since her pregnancy had been normal and her first two deliveries were fairly quick and without incident, I shouldn't expect any difficulty with this one either.
But we were over an hour away and I am her mother and a worrier, therefore my rational pause in the midst of this panic mode was brief.
So, even though the plan, with parts A-G fell by the wayside, we quickly managed to gather ourselves together and surprisingly were able to get out of the house within 30 minutes.
The first stop was Lucky's.  When Ross called (as per Plan A, Part 1.1) he informed the staff that we were in a hurry and explained the reason why.  The check in person was sure we must be so excited and wanted to know if this was our first grandchild.
When I told her that it was in fact our sixth, she remarked that we must be old pro's by now.  While I paced back and forth in front of the desk, she proceeded to tell us the most bizarre and long story about her mother.  I wondered why she hadn't noticed the puzzled expression on my face.  For the life of me I couldn't figure out what relationship her story had to the impending birth of my sixth grandchild.
Which, I thought, I was probably going to miss because of her mother story.  We never did find out the end of her story because Ross politely cut her short and we made our escape.
While all of this was going on, my son-in-law was texting me, giving me updates.  First, they were on their way to the hospital with the kids.  Next, Emily was going to meet them there to take the kids to her house.  By the fourth text, they had arrived at the hospital and she was 9 cm dilated.
Ross missed the turn to get on the highway.  So we had to backtrack taking us past our house again.  I suddenly realized that we hadn't eaten, so I suggested we stop at the house and make sandwiches to eat on the way.  I guess you could say this was unplanned Plan B.
With sandwiches and mugs of tea and coffee in hand, we were finally, actually and really this time on our way.
We got to the hospital, made our way up the West wing elevator, and got there with just a minute to spare to say a quick hello to Jen and Derek before the nurse was announcing that it was time.
About forty-five minutes after we arrived, at around 3 p.m., Jackson (Jax) Joseph was born.  He weighed in at 8 pounds nine ounces and grew to be 20-1/2 inches.
He is the most beautiful fifth grandson in the world!
Later that evening my nine year old granddaughter was telling me how anxious she had been when they were on the way to the hospital.  When I asked her why she was so nervous, she said, "You all have been through this before, this is my first time."
Yes, I am a grandmother for the sixth time.  And, Bella, it's just as wonderful (and nerve-racking) as the first time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


September 4, 2013

Now I know who has been eating my strawberries

I am a former member of the Tuesday Morning Ladies League. I bowled with them for about nine years.  After a few years, though, I began to realize that I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I did when I first joined the league.

I found that I was not as enthusiastic about the game itself as some of the other members.  I always tried my best, though.
When Joe became ill, my interest in many things waned, including bowling.
I tried to keep up with it, but as Joe's illness progressed and his health declined, I eventually quit the league.
Each August, though, I would get a phone call from the league secretary.  She would gently try to persuade me to come back.
This August I gave in and agreed to join once again.
Yesterday was the first day of the new bowling season.
I gathered up my old pock marked ball, the faded engraving of my name barely visible now, my 12 year old, no longer bright white shoes, and packed them into my large, heavy red and black bag.
On the drive over to Thunderbird lanes, I thought about the first year I bowled.   The league consisted of about 12 teams with four women on each team.  The average age of the women was probably around 60.
The long metal cafeteria size tables, which were set up on the floor above the alleys, each displayed as much of a diverse and unique personality as did the women who occupied their space.
Each team seemed to have its own common little quirks.  Members of one team would have weekly advertising circulars spread out on their tables and they would use the time between their turns cutting out coupons or checking out local sales.
Another team seemed to be the breakfast club, with bags of bagels and egg sandwiches set up on their table.
Team number four’s table was easily recognizable by the constant smoke curls rising from long filter tipped cigarettes resting in dollar store ashtrays and forming thick ashy clouds which hovered above their heads.
Decks of playing cards laid face down on the table of the team in charge of the poker game.  The game was one of skill and chance.  Those who participated would get one card if they made a spare and two cards if they scored a strike.  The winner would be the one who had the best poker hand at the end of each bowling game.
I was always interested in the craft table.  That’s where the knitters and crocheters hung out.
A large empty coffee can and rolls of yellow tickets occupied the table of the team who managed the fifty-fifty lottery.
Not every team sat at a table, mainly because you had to arrive early to get one.
The ladies who were with me on team number 7 usually sat in the chairs down in the pit.
We would sometimes get annoyed when we had to wait for the smokers or the crafters to put down their cigarettes or knitting and amble down into the pit to take their turn.
Once bowling got underway, the noise level rose with sounds of rolling thunder balls and loud cracks of crashing pins.  Outbursts of laughter, cheers, clapping and high fives filled the room along with the muted moans and groans of missed shots.
During the nine years I was with the league, as each year passed, significantly noticeable changes took place.
We began to trade in our 12 pound balls for lighter ones.  We didn’t approach the lanes with the same spring in our step.   Our ages were inversely proportional to our bowling averages.  When once averages of 150 or higher were the norm, by the time I resigned, averages of 120 were more likely.
Illnesses and injuries took their toll and the league got smaller and smaller.   When I left about two plus years ago, the number of teams had dropped from twelve to nine.  Some of the teams had only three members instead of four.
It was much easier to get a spot at one of the tables.   Smoking was no longer permitted inside of the building.  The fifty-fifty lottery was no longer allowed.  The cheering and laughter became quieter and somewhat subdued.
Even though these changes were already taking place when I left the league, I was not prepared for what awaited me when I walked through the automatic glass doors on my first day back at bowling.
The number of teams listed on the white board was now only seven.    The quiet sound of hushed voices made me feel as though I had walked into a library instead of a bowling alley.
When I looked around the sparsely filled room, I saw only a handful of familiar faces.  I did not recognize most of the women.
As I walked down towards where my new team was settling, I  overheard snatches of conversations.   I heard illness words like cancer, and heart valve replacements, injury words like knee replacements and rotator cuff surgery, caregiver's talk of "finding someone to stay with him" while they bowled, and widow's talk of grief and loneliness.
I was reminded of the last time I bowled and memories of Joe and his illness came flooding into my not so healed heart.
While I waited for practice time to be announced, I spotted an old team mate of mine. She was leaning on one of those therapeutic walking canes and I wondered how she would manage to bowl.  She wore pink and blue plaid capris which hung loosely on her now thin frame.  Wispy white hair framed her beautifully lined face.  I noticed a man helping her get her bowling gear out of her bag.
After the man left, I walked up to Louise.  She smiled at me and I smiled back.  I said hello and she said hello back to me.   I asked her if she remembered me.  She leaned in close to my face studying me with  cloudy blue eyes.   In a barely audible voice, she said, "No, dear, I really don't know anyone anymore."
I told her that I used to be on her team.  She asked my name.  When I told her, she just smiled at me. I knew then that her memories were of long, long ago and not of me.
At that moment I was overwhelmed with sadness.  I had a strong urge to run back through the automatic glass doors.  I wasn't sure I could hold back my emotions as I felt tears stinging my eyes.
As I sat there trying to re-gain my composure, I felt someone's arm on my shoulder.  She bent over and gave me a hug and told me how happy she was to see me.  She said she was very glad I decided to come back.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Just Waiting on Jax

September 1, 2013
7:00 p.m.

Even though I am sure there will still be plenty of warm weather during the next few weeks,  the start of  September means an end to the summer season, especially here at the shore.  For those of us who live here year round, though, it is the start of the quiet season with plenty more opportunities to spend spectacular days on an almost deserted beach. 

Vacationers spending time at the shore this year have not had the best weather.  There were more days that it was "too hot", or "too wet", and not enough days that were "just right", Goldilocks. 

We did manage to squeak out a few glorious beach days.

In this beach community people carry out one of the quirkiest rituals I have ever experienced. They kick off their sandals or flip flops and leave them strewn at the top of the beach. They then proceed to their favored spot, sometimes walking a good distance, barefoot, in the hottest sand.  It's very odd.  But perhaps it's what separates the toughened locals from the tender footed weekly vacationers.

It has not been a terribly eventful summer for us and honestly, that's okay with me.

In July, we took a boat ride from the tail end of New Jersey.

 Last week we  took a car ride to the highest point in New Jersey.

I breakfasted with an old friend and we had lunch with a favorite cousin.
 I had a tear filled and so emotional visit with my long ago lost brother.  I am still haunted by that visit.

September also means we are on immediate any day now baby watch, impatiently waiting for our new little guy to make his grand entrance.

I continue to struggle with the difficult daily sadness of missing Joe.   My attempt to find a counselor with whom I feel comfortable and who also participates in my insurance plan has not been successful.  I feel that having that particular type of support is crucial, but I have not had much luck with that.

In the mean time my distractions include baby knitting,

mind numbing knitting in circles,

watching the albeit mindless but still fascinating Big Brother reality TV show,

 playing Words With my Friends and trying to "Clear All The Jelly" in that stupid Candy Crush Saga game.
I hate that game!

I like to think of September as the beginning of the year.  It's a time when I choose to reflect back and look forward, all the while reminding myself that I can only be sure of the present.

A promise to myself for this new year is to write, write, and then write some more.