Summer is near


May is nearly over.  It has been a bit over a year since Russell passed away.  I didn’t see how May 2 would be any worse than May 1 or May 3 but it was of course.  I sat in his chair and talked to him to tell him how much I missed him.

Kary and Katy came over and we took fruit and cookies to the two primary doctors who cared for Russell throughout the ordeal.  Dr. Mayeda had been his doctor and friend for many years.  Dr. Mahmood was the oncologist.  He is a gentle compassionate man and we liked him very much.

We also visited the staff, the nurses at the infusion center that saw Russell through intense chemo and radiation.  Kinder people don’t exist.  Our visit brought tears to some of them because Russell meant a lot to them.

I went to CAG in San Jose and we were productive and closed out the school year, making plans for 2012-2013.  Remember how panicky the world was at 1999 moved to 2000?  Very funny now.

The kids are all good.  Steven still running half marathons as he trains for a full one.  He and Kevin are running buddies and they did well with their times.  Kevin is going to Viet Nam to teach English for a year or so.  We are going to miss him. 

Some of the best news is that Steven has a job working for a company here in Orange County.  He will be writing and other tasks suited to his skills.  Finding a job is crazy making just now, even for kids with degrees and skills and plans.

Katy is working at Sylvan Learning Center, running  the Summer Writing Camp at CSULB and doing intern work at Bower’s Museum.  The teaching jobs are almost non existent just now but may open up as summer wanes.

The Bowers experience is perfect for her.  She will write curriculum and training suggestions to complement up coming exhibits at the museum.

Zach has finished his school year and will be attending an online high school at his school.  Juniors and Seniors have been offered this option since the private high school is going to go K-8.  He still goes to school, has social and sport experiences and teachers to talk to.  The computer lab is updated and each student takes classes they need.  He will like that option, I think.

These pictures are from his end of year award ceremony.  Amanda is registered for another year in Georgia Nurses Training.  I think the emphasis this year is radiology and other technology.  That should be very interesting.

I continue to work out and swim at the gym.  Working on strength and balance.  Cooking for one is a pain.  I try a few good things and keep track of what I like.  I’m not a fan of left overs so I need to be more tolerant.  I make a really good crock pot potato and onion soup that is very good the next day and freezes well for another day.

I keep busy with CAG, friends and my wonderful supportive family.  My Great Nephew in Georgia broke his leg in two places.  He had surgery on Monday, was back in school on Thursday and going to spend the summer in physical therapy.  His goal is to be ready to play football in late August.  He will make it, too!

Mary and Andre stay busy with their political activities in Georgia.  Mary is going to Tampa for the Republican National Convention.  What fun!!!  I always watch both conventions and find it to be crazy theater.

They enjoy it a lot and have met many interesting people over the years.

They met this gentleman from Georgia at a function a few weeks ago.  The picture is down a bit.  I’m not techie enough to figure out how to move it.

We we will be scattering Russell’s ashes on Father’s Day.  We are going to the AVI Indian Reservation in Nevada.  It is near the Colorado River.  People are coming from Georgia, Indiana, Idaho and California, of course.

We have rose petals to scatter along with the ashes.  His precious daughters and their families will be there.  Both of Russell’s brothers will be there as will my brother Chuck and his wife, Lorraine.   Just
Family.  We will all have brunch together afterwards.  We want to celebrate the man Russell was and what he meant to us all. Kary and Chuck are organizing it for me and I do appreciate that.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  When I was a child we called it Decoration Day.  It was then a time to remember family members who had gone on ahead.  Today we do that and also honor our fallen warriors.

Andre’ has a T-shirt that says this is the Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.



Where does time go?

I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I wrote.  I miss it.

Katy finished her student teaching in late January.  She did very well even though it was a tough stressful time.  The three classes were hers from the beginning and she learned by doing.  High school teaching never appealed to me but oddly enough I loved middle school kids with their terrible reputations and their tentative hold on maturity.    They seemed in tune with me for some reason.

She looks for work now but it is a hard time to be a teacher here in California. She is working for Sylvan and also at UCLB.  She will put it all together and when the jobs are open she will have a ton of experience.

I only taught kids in fifth grade and above.  I knew I couldn’t do so well with the little ones.  When I was a principal it was fun to play with them, teach them a song, but otherwise leave them with their wonderful teachers.

I continue to read, read, read.  I have a Kindle Fire and I enjoy Words with Friends.  I’m not very good at it but I’m learning.  I almost beat Don, my son-in-law last week but missed by a letter or two.  He is almost unstoppable.

I read a lot of spirit lifting books, especially the ones by Max Lucado.  I also like Guidepost magazine and some of their books.  I still watch what I call mindless TV.  There are days when that’s the answer to the still unbelievable loss of Russell.

I make a monthly visit to Bagel Mania to keep my bagel supply on hand.  This is a grand little shop with the best bagels in town.  On the day I go I get a dozen or two with freezer bags, an egg McBagel and the biggest latte they make.  I like sesame and poppy seed the best.  The Mania bagel has everything on it.

Steven is running a lot and is in training for a marathon.  He is on the right with Kevin and Alyssa at the Huntington Beach Half Marathon.  He is faithful to the schedule and on occasion he runs here which is about 7-8 miles from his home.  He doesn’t eat fast food and is following good health eating. 

I will       make a good spectator.

I have been hearing from St. Joseph’s Foundation.  I have the courtesy of being designated as a Presidential Partner.  Not sure entirely what that means but some events do interest me.  In May there is a dinner and a report on breast cancer advances at the cancer center.

I go to the gym about twice a week.  I work in strength and balance.  Those two things are the most important to me.  I have a half hour to do prescribed exercises.  Then I go to the pool and swim (slowly) for a half hour.  Then I soak for a half hour.  Good time to pray, think, and ponder the future.  The time I go usually allows me to have the pool or at least a lane all to myself.

All the classes are free at the gym for members and I’m considering yoga groups.  There is no doubt some moves would be beyond me but if I do what I can it should be good.  I just don’t want to spend hours in the health club.  Some people practically live there.

I had lunch with a former student last week.  We went to the beach and ate at Scotty’s Beach Cafe.  I had really good tomato and artichoke soup. I really enjoy my time with Laura.  She is a teacher and is fun to be with.  Most of my former students of Laura’s class are in their early 50’s.  I thank Facebook for keeping me up to date.  We even met for brunch one morning.  That was a memorable year for me and for them as well.  They were a class of identified gifted fifth grade kids who made my days, just by being who they were …..and now who they are.

I love soups.  This week I am making a vegetable soup to take to my group.  I’ll even use vegetable broth….no meat.  Our leader is a strict vegetarian.  I’ll do it in the crock pot, add barley  and serve with some gold fish crackers perhaps.  All I need to do is figure out how to get it to the meeting, up the elevator and down the hall.  I’ll think of something.

The group is still a part of my life.  Just when I think, maybe I don’t need it anymore, I realize I do.  Its only two weeks from the one year anniversary of Russell’s passing.  I can’t quite believe he is gone, let alone a year later.  The social worker from hospice said the initial emotion I would feel upon his death would be shock.  I didn’t believe her.  I knew he was very ill and would leave me sooner than later.  But shock was and is my companion even today.  Mornings are very hard.  It seems in the night I forget that I’m alone here.

I’ve been attending too many funerals.  In a short two weeks four of my colleagues and friends passed away.  All were men leaving a wife behind.  Three were in their 80’s but one was only 66.  Each service or funeral renewed the sadness and the emotions.  I know May 2 will be hard but so will be May 3, May 4, and so on.

On our 53rd anniversary I had a journey.  I wanted to be alone except when Russell joined me and he did.

First I went to the Long Beach Baptist church where we met, were baptized together and married.  The church property had expanded.  There is a K-8 school now.  I asked permission to sit for a while in the chapel where Russ and I exchanged vows.  Two side walls are all stained glass, ceiling to floor.  It seemed smaller to me than it had so long ago.  I cried for some time and then felt a calm I can contribute to Russell being there with me.  I talked and I listened.  I couldn’t believe I was there so long.  I went to the big sanctuary which also seemed smaller.

I then went to see our old apartment where we first lived.  The old house was gone and condos were there instead.  I hadn’t planned on getting out but I drove around the block and recognized nothing familiar.

I then went to an art museum on Ocean Blvd that we both liked.  Art and chamber music and it was all free….good news for a young couple with not much entertainment budget.

I went to Lucille’s and had fried green tomatoes for lunch, Russell’s favorites.  I played in a poker tournament he would have enjoyed.  Didn’t win!!!  That night I had Japanese food for dinner.  Another Russell favorite.  All in all it was an ok day.  The best part was in the chapel with him near me.

Andre’ is back to work after his horrible motorcycle accident.  He will be full-time next week.   It is amazing that he has come back in such a short time.  Seems short to me at any rate.

Mary put together a bus trip for her North Georgia Patriots group to go to Washington DC.  They went to rally and to help persuade the supreme Court to throw out the Obama Health Care law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional in part. 

People love to go and Andre’ and Zach are a big help.  Mary arranges busses, hotels, games and raffles and just having a good and productive time. They are very active in the Georgia political scene and are hoping that Mary can attend the GOP convention in Tampa later this year.

Amanda and Travis are keeping busy with school and work.  Amanda is looking at adding classes in the fall to prepare for radiology certification along with other nursing classes.  It seems to be the way medicine is going.  We sure depended on it with Russell to keep close watch on his pancreas.

Zach is busy with archery team and working on his car.  This was taken at a Cracker Barrel on their way to a match.  Zach is on the left.  Now that is a restaurant I’d love to see come to California.  Not going to happen.  Taxes are just too high here Cracker Barrel management says.

Sandy, Marge and I went to the ballet a few weeks ago.  An ABT production and it was wonderful.  I’m not really a ballet person, knowing next to nothing about it, but I did enjoy the music, the dancing and the images engendered in my mind.  The time with my friends was wonderful as well.

I am keeping busy, sometimes too busy.  I am a mystery even to myself.  I want to go somewhere for a day or two but I am then overly eager to come home.  The five days in New Orleans last November was quite long for me.  Four days with Chuck and Lorraine to Nevada was ok, but still seemed long.

The house is safe and I’m not worried about it.  I have a good alarm system, vigilant neighbors who watch out for everything.  Nothing I miss at home is monumental.  I certainly don’t think Russell will come home and find me gone.

I am going for four days to San Jose for CAG, to Georgia for 10 days or so in September and to Denver in November.  Hope I can settle these mixed emotions a bit by then.

Time is my friend most days.  Sometimes it betrays me and I am right back where I started a year ago.  I know I’m doing well and when I say I will be all right, Michael the chaplain says   “You ARE all right.”  It just takes time.  I’m pretty sure it will take the rest of my life.


A New Year and Old Memories

I am happy to be writing.  It has been too long and I missed it.

I am continuing on and hoped the New Year would be an emotional lift, but oddly enough it was a bit of a let down.  The calendar doesn’t know grief or healing.  I continue to work out at the gym, working on strength and balance.  Balance is critical for me.  Falling wouldn’t be good. I also treat myself to a massage about once every two weeks.  The massage therapist is skilled and very pleasant.  He just likes to talk too much to suit me so I have to tell him I need quiet and peace, my new goal for 2012.

He wants to talk about his kids and their education and many other issues I am unwilling to think about.  Not during a massage.

On the first Friday of each month I have brunch with colleagues from GGUSD, where I spent my career in Public Education.  We are all retired.  In June it will be 13 years retired for me.  We have a grand time laughing and remembering our years together.

I went to Laughlin with Chuck and Lorraine and we had a great deal of fun.  We stayed at the AVI Indian reservation complex and it was very nice.  Chuck talked to the tribal administrators  about scattering Russell’s ashes on the reservation.  They welcomed the idea and would charge no fee.  I am considering it.  It is about 4-5 hours from here.  I am also considering the desert near Palm Springs.  These two places were favorites for Russell.

Chuck and Lorraine and I had lots of fun, not much luck with gaming, but many good memories of the years spent on the Colorado River.  It was never my favorite but I did go often when Russ went to fish or hunt.

I am pleased to say I am beginning to enjoy cooking for one or two.  It has taken me a long time, I’d say.  I made a Denver Omlette in a big coffee cup, maple glazed baked chicken, and even a game hen with stuffing.  Yum!

I continue to find group very helpful though I am often reluctant to go.  I can’t figure that out.  I resist, give in and go and find the hour and a half with that group is very helpful.

I had a weekend meeting for CG at the Mission Inn in Riverside.  This hotel is just magnificent.  I had a little suite and a tray of fruit and wine waited in my room for me to check in.

Our meeting room was next door to the chapel.  The Inn hosts over 300 weddings a year and we were delighted to see the wedding parties for 5 weddings as they prepared to enter the beautiful church.  It is called a chapel but it is a masterpiece of stained glass, statuary and icons from early history.

We were very productive at this meeting.  It is good to be with like-minded people as we plan our conference in Palm Springs in March.  Our advocates, Barrett Snyder and Jack O”Connel were there and brought us up to date on the state of the state in Sacramento.  We need to hold firm and keep working.

Governor Brown has said that the schools will take a huge hit if the tax proposal doesn’t pass in November.  One result would be the elimination of the gifted program in California.  Our standards, our law and all our hard work over the years would be blue lined……gone.

The truth is the gifted children will still be here and according to the Golden State Constitution, every child is entitled to ” a free and appropriate” education in the state of California.  As teachers and parents we still must serve them with appropriate learning opportunities.

While I was at CAG my email was hacked and 170 messages went out as if they were from me with a link to some pharmaceutical company in Canada.  Most of the recipients didn’t open the link and for that I am glad.  I’ve changed pass words all over my internet connections.  I guess it happens all the time.  If you got it I am sorry.

When the winds were high they rattled doors and windows all over the house but none worse than my small garage door leading to the back yard. Every major rattle set off my house alarm.   Perry, my “house doctor” installed a new door last week.  It will not rattle.

While I was sweeping the garage to get ready for  Perry, a huge man came into my garage and moved way in until he saw me.  He said he was looking for work, I told him I had a house doctor.  He asked if I was expecting anyone.  Just then Perry arrived and this unwelcome visitor left in a big hurry.  Pretty scary or maybe nothing.  No open garage doors.  Tell such visitors you’ll go in and get your husband or some other male that will deter their action.

The Georgia family will be coming for CAG.  Andre’ is improving and yet still must stay off his feet.  He wears two charming moon boots now that casts and slings are off.  The wheel chair is still his mode of getting around.

Mary and Andre’ are foster parenting Ammo, Amanda’s dog.  He is a cutie and I think Amanda will have trouble getting him back.He likes to nap with Mary.  Mary and Andre’s have been in the hospital bed since the accident.  The other two dogs, Jasper and Gypsy have welcomed him to the family.  Baby the cat went to her reward under Zach’s bed.

Zach is doing well in school and enjoying archery team.  I had no luck cropping this.  One of my grandchildren will have to show me how.

I presented the keynote talk at a Saturday conference last weekend.  I was in Agoura Hills and I went up early and spent the night so I didn’t have to get up so very early.  The hotel was very nice.

The conference was for teachers, administrators and parents.  It went quite well and I enjoyed the people a great deal.  Parents are so important as we move to properly serve our youngsters.

Amanda has graduated with her first step on her way to becoming an RN.  She is certified as a nursing assistant and a certified phlebotomist.  She is well into new classes this quarter and is doing well.  Travis, her boyfriend is in the firefighter hiring process and we are wishing him well.  He passed the physical and has had an interview. Here’s hoping.

Amanda is enjoying “her” new car. She still thinks of it as my car.  She named it Luna.  Her old car was Bertha I think.  Russ also named all his cars, the most recent being Matilda.  Hmmmmm.  Can’t think of a good name for my new Buick.

It does things that are amazing.  If another car is in my blind spot, two small vibrant icons appear in my side mirror.  The back up camera is common in cars but new to me.  Every thing is just right.  I am especially enjoying Sirius Radio.  No chatter or commercials.

I am very proud to tell you about an honor Mary has received.  She was named the  Gynnette County GOP volunteer of the year.  She holds a county office and is very active in many efforts.  She worked for Herman Cain for a while and now continues with her North Georgia 9-12 patriotic work and volunteer activities.  Who knew this child would be so interested in politics and government?  Her Dad and I are very proud of her and her work.

The Parkers continue to take good watch over me.  Don came and changed light bulbs I can’t reach, put my new plates on the car.  (Maybe I do need to name her).  I’ve given her a gender, at least.  Kary gets me things I especially enjoy when she goes to Trader Joe’s.  Polenta, grapefruit and from the Parker garden I get avocado, red onions and other good healthy stuff.  I really love vegetables.  No protein but good taste.

I had lunch with Candy yesterday.  Candy lost her only child, Gregory, 16 years ago in an auto accident.  We enjoy the time together and she is enormous comfort to me.  She, of course, still misses her precious son.  The calendar doesn’t heal grief.

The hospice people are still near by.  I see the chaplain, Michael often.  Penny, a foundation worker and I are going to have coffee next week.  She says she has a little token for me.

Life seems to fly by.  It is now 9 months since Russell passed from our arms to God’s arms.  I sometimes sense him near by.  Tears are still a part of my life and may always be.  But the blessed assurance that I will see him again is a treasure.

Happy New Year.

Each new year I choose a word to guide me as much as possible.  The word for 2012 is Peace.  I want that peace in my heart and in my life.  I need to cultivate being at peace without Russell.   That’s the biggest task.  I’d love peace in the world, in our country and in the political/fiscal mess our country finds itself.  I’ll start with my heart and work outward.  My home and family are both peaceful and that makes a good beginning.

Christmas was bittersweet.  With Kary’s help I cooked a big delicious meal.  We had planned on Andre’, Mary. Zach and Amanda but they couldn’t come because of Andre’s accident and surgery.  We missed them a lot.We toasted Russell with Dom Perigone we had been saving from our 50th anniversary.  We were going to drink it when Russell was well.

We know he is well and safe and in our Father’s arms.  We told him we would always miss him and would always love him.  I think I did pretty well during the day but as the day progressed and people began to leave I just cried.  It was OK and had to be.

I fixed turkey, dressing, green beans, corn pudding, cranberries, spiced baked apples.  We had ham and all the trimmings.  Pie and cupcakes for dessert.  We decided that even 11 of us could not do justice to this much food.  Next year we will be revising the menu somewhat.  So much is tradition so you never can know for sure.

I needed help with the 24 pound turkey.  I managed to get him from garage refrigerator into the kitchen.  Once he was stuffed and in the heavy pan I was useless.  Kary came over and got him cooking.

Andre’ is doing well and has a great attitude.  Mary ended up in ER one night with hip pain and possible sciatica.  She was stressed and of course had been doing a lot, sleeping on the couch near Andre’s hospital bed.  She is better with rest and sleeping on the hospital bed with Andre’. 

Zach got his driver’s license and he has been driving his Mom and Dad where ever they need to go.  He got a car for Christmas and it he is really happy with it.

This is not his car but the car he took the driving test in.  Mary says he is a good driver and always more than willing to run errands.  I remember those days.

I had planned on at least a few trips to the gym but so far it hasn’t happened.  I’ve been enjoying my tree.  I sit in the hot tub at night and watch the lights shine through the window.  I’ve been reading, watching some wonderful TV and some mindless TV also.

I was very moved by the Kennedy Honors this year.  Sonny Rollins was one of Russell’s favorite jazz musicians.  He was honored along with Neil Diamond, Meryl Streep, Yo Yo Ma and a woman from Broadway musicals whose name has escaped me.  It seemed as if the honorees had been chosen by us.  Sonny Rollins was also featured in the AARP magazine this month also.

The Saturn is scheduled to go to Georgia today.  Andre’ and Zach were going to drive it back but you know about the best laid plans.  I am shipping it on a transport truck.  Door to door, fully insured in about 8 days give or take.  I hate to see it go but and 11-year-old car with 36,000 miles will be just right for a college girl.  Amanda’s car is ready to give up so the timing is good.

I had my last doctor’s appointment for the year and plan on seeing none of them for months.  I appreciate them all but I am well and don’t like constant visits.

I had lunch with Annie last week.  We had chowder and split a prawn cocktail.  Very good food and very good company. These young ladies are Annie and Jason’s twins, Sophie and Ava.  They are 3.  The also have a son AJ who is six and was in school that day.  AJ was a very good friend of “Mister Russell” as he called him.  They played cars together.

I’ve been very social lately.  I had lunch with the Hazelton’s, Debbie’s Mother, Jennifer and her new groom, Vlad and Sandra Kaplan.  We went to a place called Charlie Palmer’s in Bloomingdales at South Coast Plaza.  It was great fun.  They were featuring a fixed price menu for $20.11 in honor of the old year leaving.  There were choices with in the menu and the food was excellent.  The company even better.  Jennifer and Vlad are newlyweds and I really enjoyed their company and their wedding pictures.

The Kindle Fire Santa Claus brought Don and Mary is a big hit.  They both are enjoying it a lot.  I am tempted.  I downloaded Lisa Swayze’s new book ” Worth Fighting For”.  It is about the last few years of Patrick Swayze’s life before he died of pancreatic cancer.  I bought Kary a copy as well.

Steven came over yesterday and helped with so many little and big things.  My fax has been inoperable for some time.  Phone company was coming today.  Steven moved furniture, cleaned and organized wires and cords and tried a new phone jack and it all is working just fine.

He took high up ornaments down from the tree, packed up the tree and carried boxes out to the garage. He moved storage in the garage to give me more room for my new car.  He checked out the cable box and where it is coming from.  Enormous help and really good company.

This picture is old but I do enjoy it.  Andre’ on the left (on both feet), Zach who is now taller than his dad and everyone else in this picture except Steven, Russell early in his “harsh journey”, Don and Steven.  They all are very special to me.

Happy New Year to you all.  We are looking forward to 2012 and all it brings.  We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

So Much Going On!!

I am way behind in my writing.  I write to ease my mind, to organize my thoughts and to make a record of this bittersweet time.  It helps me a lot.  If you enjoy it, I am pleased as well.

I continue to attend the grief group that meets at a nearby hospital.  It is small and intimate and the people know where I am.  We have all lost spouses to cancer.  We eat (pot luck), laugh, cry and hold each other up always.  The leader, Dani is an angel and very skilled.

My window coverings are up and installed correctly, finally.  Next big improvement will be interior paint after the first of the year.  I had the Honeycomb blinds in the bed room to cut down light and they do the job.  Its dark in there.  The front blind can be lowered or raised so light is available when I want it.

I met Roger and Dana at the Mission Inn in Riverside to see the light show and have dinner.  The Inn had nearly 4 million lights on display.  The sight was remarkable.  Dinner with good friends was wonderful.  I had shrimp and goat cheese ravioli.

Last year Russ and I had met our friends Roger and Dana there and we had such a good time.  Russell wasn’t strong then and the trip was rigorous for him but he loved every minute.  We had a glass of wine called Angels Wings.  It was so bad we didn’t drink much of it.  Russell though wine that bad shouldn’t be related to angels.

My tree is up and decorated.  It was a sad task.  Steven is coming over to add some ornaments to the top part where I can’t reach.  I’m not comfortable on the step stool and have promised I wouldn’t do that.  Russell has a wonderful collection of Kachina dancers designed as ornaments and they look wonderful.

Each Christmas Russell sent donations to the South West Indian Foundation for food and stoves to be distributed to the needy and elderly in the four corners area.  Pastor Dan called to express his condolences and to thank me for continuing this tradition.  It is so cold in New Mexico.  How these folks live without heat is a miracle.

We celebrated Kary and Lorraine’s birthdays with a great dinner at a favorite Italian place in Tustin. This is Lorraine in the middle.  She is my brother’s wife and my near sister.  We all love her very much.  She just retired from her job as an enrolled tax agent and is enjoying some new freedom as she adjusts to a slightly slower pace. 

The other picture is Kary with her husband of nearly 30 years, Don.  Russell and I often teased her about being so old.

I braved Costco.  When I got everything I needed almost I left to find a HUGE downpour.  I waited for a while and then just dove in.  Dove is about right.  I was soaked to the skin but didn’t melt.  A hot shower and warm clothes saved the day.

Costco had no cranberries and no Chex.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was remarkably not as crowded as I feared it would be.  You know I just hate going there.  That was Russell’s task and he made an adventure of it I think.  His list was organized by area and when the Costco folks changed things he had to redo his route through the store.

Upon the advice of the CPA and the attorney I cashed in Russell’s savings bonds.  In 1987 his then employer required every employee to buy a $50 savings bond every week.  So I had quite a stack.  None had matured completely but the interest rate is so low I decided I could do better elsewhere.  The Credit Union took care of it all in no time.  I feared I’d have to sign each bond but they don’t do it that way any more.  I signed once and the CU has an agreement with the Federal Government to verify the rest.  There is no end to the service offered there.

I went to Lucci’s to get cookies for the bank, the credit union and the UPS store.  The Bank and the UPS store do a lot for me and for CAG so I take them cookies this time of year.  This is a wonderful Italian deli, bakery and small restaurant.  I also got a wonderful chef salad for dinner that night.  The spaghetti is really good and eggplant is wonderful.

I still find cooking for one a bit tiresome and boring.  I am trying some new things.  Last night I had French Onion Soup from Trader Joe’s.  That is easy to fix and very good.

I have a new car.  I searched and researched with the help of Andre’, Chuck,  Don and others.  We went to the LA Auto show and I sat in a multitude of offerings.  I wanted to buy American made so I settled on a 2012 Buick.  I tried to upload a picture from the internet but it wouldn’t work for “security” reasons whatever that means.

It is sllver with black leather interior and I really like it.  I thought about red but this silver is classy looking.  GPS, phone, ON Star, and a multitude of techno stuff I haven’t figured out yet.  Good driving.  Blind spot detector, back up camera, and keyless entry.  It will take me a while to get all the features in my mind.

Hey, look. I figured it out.

Amanda is doing well after some surgery about two weeks ago.  She is registered for next semester and is really doing well in nursing program.

Here she is with Ammo her puppy.  He is a cutie and so is she.

Well, as they say, the best laid plans are often completely changed with the turns of life.  The Adamski family was scheduled to arrive in waves from Georgia.  Mary would come early to help me with a booth at a conference .  Zach and Amanda would arrive two days later and Andre’ two days after that.  I teased them that the royals never flew together either.

All this changed.  Andre’ was in a horrific motorcycle accident.  His left ankle is shattered and his right ankle is fractured.  We thank God he is alive at all.  The bike rolled three times.

This is before the surgery.  They operated Monday last and he is home now.  He will be off his feet for 6-8 weeks.  He is not allowed to fly because embolisms are common.  Above the ankles he is pretty much ok except for an arm cut and bruises, of course.

This is Andre the day of or the next day after surgery.  Not much holds him down.










This is how he needs to be.  He needs to keep his toes above his nose to prevent swelling.  The hospital bed is great.  It is in their huge den or as they call it in the south, the Great Room.

Their friends have been wonderful and have rallied around.  I’ve sent some turkey and ham, some cranberries and some crab cakes.  Yummy stuff that will take little preparation.

This means of course that I need to get presents wrapped, and mailed in order to have them arrive late.  It’s too late to make it by Christmas without it costing an arm and both of Andre’s ankles.

Elaine and I had lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack.  Great cod and shrimp.  Really great company.  We have been friends forever it seems.  I enjoy her wit, her intellect is keen and her sense of humor delights me.

I worked the CAG and Foundation booth at Central Cities conference in Pasadena.

My new car and On Star got me there and home in the rain.  I shared the task with Lillian Walker a CAG colleague and long time friend.  We had a good day and I saw many friends there.  It’s a one day conference to learn and support the needs of gifted and talented youngsters.

It’s a difficult time just now. I knew it would be.  I call on my faith in God, my family and I talk to Russell always, especially at bed time.  I sense him near sometimes and almost any beautiful Christmas song lets me think of our years together.  One year we were very poor and planned a simple Christmas.

We corralled a hug tumble weed, sprayed it silver and hung ornaments on it.  We loved it!  We remembered it fondly always.  That year Russell surprised me with what he called his “rat hole fund”.  He had been putting away little amounts here and there since September.  We had enough to buy small presents and look happily to the future.  He always had good sense about money.

I wonder if they celebrate this holiday in Heaven.  We know he is well, not in that horrible pain, and not deteriorating physically as he was here.  He is whole. 



Cold, Cold, Cold

I don’t ever remember it being this cold in Southern California.  It was 39 here last night according to the paper.  My heating bill will be huge but I am comfortable.  I turn off the heater at night and settle down under the best comforter ever so the nights are warm.

I continue to go to the gym.  I am working on balance and strength and I see improvement.  Of course, I love the water, as you know so that’s a high point.  Cody the instructor and trainer is wise for so young a man and he has made fitness, for those of us working with him, a major goal.

I enjoy the other people at the gym also.  They encourage and support all of us “seasoned athletes”. There is an elderly Japanese man who I see in the pool often.  He is formal and polite and bows each time we meet.  He must be 80ish and he is working on fitness also.  None of us plan on body building competitions.

Kary and I went to see the film, 50-50.  It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Do you remember him from TV a while back on ” Third Rock from the Sun”?  This film was very interesting and well done.  It is the story of a young man who gets cancer and the interactions he has with friends and family.  Seth Rogan does a fine job as well.  He does have a “potty mouth” in this film so be ready.

I shed a few tears and laughed as well.  I enjoy the experience of a movie on the big screen.  I am still astounded at the cost of tickets, small popcorn and gummy bears.  No wonder people take their own snacks to the movies.

I am beginning to plan Christmas cooking and baking.  The goodies are traditional for me.  My version of Chex Mix, boiled cookies, and butterscotch hay stacks.

Andre will do the turkey and dressing again.  I’ll do my dressing as well.  I am going to have that yummy rotelle cheese dish for before dinner and some bbq meatballs.  The main meal is pretty traditional also. Green Bean casserole, corn pudding, cranberries by Zach, and who knows what else.  Pie, of course.

I went to breakfast with my friends from working days.  They are so special.  Margaret keeps us on schedule so we don’t miss any dates.  We catch up with our lives, laugh and remember funny days from teaching and being principals.  Everyone seems busy.

Judy’s son and daughter-in-law and grand baby will arrive from Australia for the holidays.  Fran just returned from running a marathon in Paris, Sandy played her cello with the symphony at Segerstrom Hall and Marge, God love her, is working on her doctorate.  Margaret plays golf, Kathy cares for her elderly mother, Sharon delights us all and Eileen is as busy as ever.  I don’t do a lot but I keep busy with CAG, the Foundation and my family.  We all feel so blessed to be with each other and to be enjoying life in the “senior” lane.

My window covering were not manufactured correctly the first time so I was excited when they came to install them again.  Still wrong and no rod in the package.  I was disappointed but… will be corrected soon.  My fax is behaving badly.  The phone company says it’s the fax, the fax company says it’s the phone.  There was a time when I would have been semi frantic over such small issues.  I am so much calmer since Russell died.  (I can say died now.) To lose him was the worst thing to ever happen to me.  How important can a fax or some window coverings be, now? 

Debbie and Mike Hazelton came up to see me and we went for dinner to Seasons 52 at South Coast Plaza.  This is a remarkable restaurant.  I had vege soup and penne with shrimp and veges.  All this is low-calorie, fresh and presented in a beautiful way.  I will go back there.

My Christmas tree is up.  It is beautifully lighted.  I’m waiting a few days to decorate until window people get here.  Positive thinking!!!!  It is a beautiful tree, pre lighted with 600 color lights.  The ornaments come from over 52 years together and most have special meaning.

Last night, Kary and I went to St. Joseph’s tree lighting.  Russell was honored with a light and an ornament that I can now put on my tree.  It was held outside and it was cold but the ceremony warmed us all.  We had hot chocolate, hot cider and a new drink for me….cucumber water.  It was delicious.

The Hospice workers deserve such support.  Dr. Malouf was there and Chaplain Janice was there as well.  Janice led the first bereavement group I attended shortly after Russell left us.  Carolers sang and we all had lighted candles.  The tree also honors living people.  Every year I support a light for the Parker Family, the Adamski family and my late father, Waldo Dearing.

It was bitter-sweet to be there but now after 7 months I renew my thankfulness for having such a man as Russell in my life.  I miss him fiercely and sometimes its like it happened yesterday.  We are all blessed to have had him for part of his 71 years.

December is near

The written word has always been magic to me.  Today I took inventory of what books I’m reading and where they are.  I love fiction, biographies, inspirational words and I also enjoy magazines and short stories.

Right now I’m reading on the Kindle, in the Den, by my bed and in the dining room.  I have no trouble keeping the stories separate and distinct.  I discovered Max Lucado shortly after Russell passed away.  What a blessing his writings are.  Dorothy Taguchi sent me a volume called Jesus is Calling.  I read from that every night.  Candy has loaned me several volumes from her reading.  Candy’s  only son was killed in 1995, in a auto accident.  She has read and shared some wonderful books with me.

One of the most effective volumes has been Time To Grieve by Janet Staudacher.  This is an old book but so very helpful.  I sent one to brother-in-law David when I discovered it.  Bonnie has been in Heaven 14 months now.  Time moves crazy fast for me.

While Mary, Andre, and Zach were here we went to the Los Angeles Auto Show.  We had a great time.  I am car shopping and I think I have narrowed my choice down to a Buick.   I really like the look and feel of sitting in it.  Now I need to drive it.  I’m hoping they have a good red color.

Zach had the best time of all of us looking at every car there.  Some concept cars were amazing.  I will buy American Made but enjoyed looking at the foreign models.  Honda has a new color call cinnamon and it was reddish and beautiful.

There were cars there no one was allowed to touch.  They were roped off and most started at nearly $300,000.  I require no such machine.  I want quality, gps on the console, Sirius Radio, some back up safety device and a steering wheel I can see over.  Don’t laugh!  Some driver’s seats will require a cushion.

Thanksgiving was bittersweet.  Zach and I made the cranberries, which has forever been Russell’s job.  Last year, Grandpa gave Zach lessons and he had learned them well.  They were delicious.

Andre did the turkey and dressing.  He also made dill potatoes and he made great gravy.  The bird was the best looking one ever.  His Dressing or stuffing was very different from mine but very good and very popular.

Lorraine made the pies and they were very good as usual.  At least that was the consensus.  I don’t eat pie, even cream pies.  I don’t know why , exactly.  It just doesn’t appeal to me.

We had Alma’s sweet potatoes made by Kary, green bean casserole, of course and really good rolls.  A wonderful ham was very popular and will provide good sandwiches for a few days before being frozen for split pea soup later.  We are so blessed with family and good times and good food. I think Mary has some good pics.  If she replies, I hope she will post the picture of the turkey.

I am usually the one who offers the blessing before the meal but I knew I would cry and be less than articulate.  We decided to hold hands, and say aloud what we were thankful for.  Some were funny and some were poignant and some were just as you would expect.

Andre’ was glad for family,  and that the turkey was done.  He was also thankful for Amanda who couldn’t be with us because she is doing her hospital clinicals in Georgia.  Mary was thankful for family and that we had last year with her Dad.  Some were thankful they didn’t have to go to work the next day.  Kary was thankful for family and all she had learned this past year.  Katy and Steven were thankful for family.  I was thankful that I had Russell for 52 years and that this wonderful family held me up at all times.  Chuck and Lorraine were thankful for  Mike and his family in Georgia.

We also followed some wonderful advice from Paulette in Colorado.  We each remembered and shared a memory of Russell with each other.  Some were so funny.  Kary and I noted that so many of our memories are still tangled in the last 13 months of Russell’s life.  We look forward to them expanding more and more.

There were tears anyway and Mary Camarillo said it was difficult to hold hands and cry.  We all agreed.  I am thankful that Lou and Alma live here now and not in Oregon.  That is too far away for us to feel comfortable.  Lou is 89 and Alma is 88.  Strong and independent people as they are, it’s better to have them near by.  Better for me, anyway.

Andre’ planned a good surprise for Mary on Friday.  We went to Farrell’s.  Remember that place?   It was near by in years past, disappeared from the scene and is now making a come back.

This Farrell’s was in Mission Viejo.  They served food as well as ice cream goodies.  There was a balloon artist there.  Katy’s giraffe was so cute.  Mary got a mermaid

The food was ok, not too fancy.  Mary and Kary shared a salad and Steven had a BLAT.  A BLT with avacado. Zach had shrimp alfredo, of course.  This is his favorite but he prefers chicken.  Katy and I had old-fashioned grilled 4 cheese sandwiches.  Don had a chicken sandwich.  Mary says she doesn’t remember Farrell’s being so noisy.  She must be getting old.  Time together was wonderful.

I hated to see the Georgia family leave, but Christmas is not far away.  I found Thanksgiving difficult in some moments and I fully expect Christmas to be so, as well.  I will still have family, the closeness of God and the support of friends near and far.

I need to start planning decor, my new Christmas tree and the dinner menu.  I am in charge.  That is a Christmas tradition, I can’t give up.  My cards are ready to address and my wishes are for a celebration of Christ’s birth.


Blessings on each of you.

Big Events and Tender Moments

Getting back into the routine of life after New Orleans.

Mary, Andre’ and Zach will be here soon for Thanksgiving.  Amanda can’t come because she is doing her phlebotomy clinicals in the hospital.  She can’t be gone.  She is doing well and enjoying the experience.  This is Amanda and her dog Ammo.  She will make a wonderful nurse someday.  She is caring and loving and enjoys people.  She got to hold 5 minute old twins while a colleague drew blood.  She also had to go to the morgue to see seriously premature twins who didn’t make it.  She is gaining a world of experience.

I got a new smaller crock pot.  I’ve made my favorite No Fuss Potato soup and even had some the next night.  Some left overs are ok.

I really don’t enjoy this cooking for one but it is simple.  Kary got me some Trader Joe onion soup which is really good.  She also got some polenta I enjoy.  I eat better when I eat out but really don’t want to do that all the time.

The gym exercise and the pool there are a GOD send.  I always feel better after the exercise sessions even though sometimes I think I won’t be able to do the specific exercise.  I do manage and I feel stronger.  Stamina is better.  I can go up and down the steps to the exercise mats and down and back up from the pool without stress.

I swim and paddle and walk and exercise for about an hour in the water and it is wonderful for my body and my brain.  There is an elderly Japanese man who is often there when I am.  We have no conversation except Good Morning and Good Bye but what is charming is that he bows to me when we meet and offers a big smile.  I return the bow and the smile and it enriches my day.

The big event this week was Purple Stride.  Our team, Russell’s Warriors raised over $3300 to further research on Pancreatic Cancer.  Many people were there.  I didn’t walk or run but I enjoyed the day and reflected on the event a year ago.  This is the poster honoring Russell on the Path of Heroes.  I had to weep.  Kary’s words in the paragraph were wonderful.

Many friends and family were there in spite of cold and impending rain.  My brother Chuck and Lorraine walked the 5K and did everyone on our team.

This is Chuck and Lorraine and very dear friend Kathy who came and walked and honored Russell.  She brought me a beautiful purple bracelet.  She is so artistic and talented and very loving and supportive.

Monica won four prizes on the raffle, she only won two last year.  We teased her about not being allowed to win next year.  Katy won something and Lorraine won two items.  I so enjoyed seeing all the activities.

Researchers from UCI and Chapman University spoke and about 10 survivors were honored.  A survivor is described as someone with a diagnosis but still fighting. 

Steven and Katy were there and aren’t they just delightful.  Not just Grandma speaking.  I even like Steven’s facial hair.  His Mother isn’t as sure as I am about it.

This is what I did during most of the walk.  I discovered I have no warm coats that fit so I guess I’ll do a little shopping.  We seldom need anything too warm here but it sure has been cold lately.

I won that nifty gym bag I am holding.  During the walk I re read Russell’s poster a few times.  I wrote him a note on a huge wall size banner where others have written.  I told him we love him and miss him fiercely.

Rubio’s donated lobster and shrimp tacos.  There were donations of fruit, drinks, cookies and many other things to eat. 

Kary was a volunteer and got to the park about 6 AM.  She registered people and did whatever had to be done.  This is Kary, Don and Katy and Steven. 

Steve and Mary, family and were there also.  This is Steve and Kathy.  I think Mary, Don’s sister is the photographer.  Monica and Debbie, long time friends of Kary came also.  Both of those dear ladies were in Kary’s wedding 28 years ago.  They were girls then and now Debbie has a three-year old grandson, Preston.  Ah how time marches on.

I cleaned out the entry way closet and I feel quite accomplished to have it done.  I have two bags for Good Will or Salvation Army.


When Russell died, I can say the word now, I had the need to be silent.  This is an unusual state for me.  As the weeks and months have gone by that need re cycles.  I don’t know what triggers it, or why it happens.  I just know I want to be alone, be quiet, read, contemplate and remember.  I call it hibernation.  I’m not worried about it.

Michael, the chaplain says that like a thumb print, we all have a grief print.  Each one unique, each different.  Mine just includes this cycle I guess.




A Week in New Orleans

I just returned from 6 days in New Orleans.  This is the first big trip I’ve taken in a long time.  Russ and I used to go on long jaunts around the country and in other parts of the world.  This time was very different without him.  I felt some anxiety about going, but I knew I needed to do this.

The Annual conference of NAGC was the event in that wonderful city.  I was delayed in Dallas for a few hours but it worked out fine.  I flew first class since I had so many Frequent Flyer miles.  Now that is how we should all fly all the time. Real food, large seats, attention by name…”.Mrs. Roseberry, can I refill your orange juice?”  The mixed nuts were warm and served in a ramekin, not a bag I had trouble opening.

Mary flew in from Georgia to be with me and to be support and good company.  It was a little like a slumber party every night.  I hadn’t seen her since Russell’s, memorial in June so it was a good thing.  She has lost so much weight, I hardly recognized her at the airport.

I  attended many really good sessions.  Not one disappointed me.  I heard Kaplan, Hazelton, Manzone and Hoctor present an outstanding session on differentiating curriculum and differentiating instruction.  There is a big difference.

We had the wonderful opportunity to see George Rodrique, Louisiana artist laureate paint one of his famous Blue Dog paintings as George and his wife talk about creativity,  early recognition of talent and motivation to succeed.  I must have a Blue Dog painting of my own now.

I saw many near and dear friends.  All were kind and offered healing thoughts.  Kim Dodds had been especially close to Russell and remains so with me.  She is a delightful friend and an expert in gifted education.  Many others were there and I delighted in seeing and talking with them. I’ve been invited to go to Arizona and speak with parents of gifted youngsters in the school district where Kim is in charge of the program.

We did some shopping.  I got Christmas tree ornaments in the New Orleans style for friends and for me.  I am going to get a new tree this year, one that is pre lighted.  We had biegnets and good coffee twice.  Somehow they weren’t quite as good as when Russell and I were there before.

Mary had never been to New Orleans so we took a city tour.  This tour didn’t include much Katrina damage but we did see some beautiful homes and other areas of interest.  The cemetaries are amazing.  The use of crypts is very interesting.

I enjoyed the awards ceremony.  Richard Cash received a scholarly award.  Joan Smutney was honored for her creativity, and Jim Webb was recognized for his service.

Great food in that city but a lot of it is a little too spicy for me.  Highlights were lobster and shrimp tacos, tomato bisque, shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp.  Bourbon Street was crazy with Football fever all weekend.  LSU and Alabama on Saturday and Saints and Tampa Bay on Sun day.  Russell would have loved it.  He loved that city and most of the food.  His favorite was fried green tomatoes.

Mary and I had dinner with Jessica Manzone.  She is a doctoral student as SC and is a power house of information.  Her presentation skills are excellent and she is at the seat of what I consider the most amazing teacher training in the country, University of Southern Californa.  We ate at Besh’s steak House and her fish and chips dish was a work of art with the contributing fish making an appearance on the plate.  I had grits several times.  I do enjoy that southern dish.

Sunday, we were so glad to see Rusty and April.  They live in Baton Rouge and drove down with Britney, their daughter to visit.  Rusty is Russell’s nephew and mine too.  He is a delight and we were able to catch up and have lunch together.

I haven’t seen them since their wedding in ’08 so it was a real delight to spend some time with them.  Dana and Roger joined us and we had a good time.

So I am home.  Its cold and clear.  I was so very glad to come home.  I’ve been semi lazy since getting here.  I unpacked and went through mail…..other than that, not much.  Tomorrow I need to get busy.

The trip was bitter-sweet, both professionally exciting and personally rewarding.  Russ always went to NAGC with me.  He used to tease Nancy Green, the Executive Director, that she seemed unable to find a warm city to host the annual November event.  Next year is Denver.  Cold again, I’m sure.



Venturing Out

The time seems to be flying by as the holidays come closer.  It’s been six months now since Russell died and I can’t believe it most days.  At the time I was sure I couldn’t live six weeks without him and now it is months.  This picture was taken a few weeks before he left us and it is one of my favorites.  We were at a car show and he had a wonderful time.

I am working on expanding my recipe collection to include some new things.  You know I am not a fan of left overs, but my friend Jean had a good suggestion.  Freeze what you don’t eat, pop it in the freezer and have it three weeks or so.  It’s a new meal and not a “next night” left over.

I did that this week with two things.  I found a macaroni and hamburger recipe that said it would feed 5 so I made the entire recipe.  I think it would feed 55 but I packaged up more than one freezer “new meal” and will try it in a week or two.

The other one was short ribs in my new smaller crock pot.  This included onions, garlic, pineapple and a yummy sauce to put on rice.  I will try that later.  One can’t live on Stauffer’s alone. Now I do make exceptions on next night left overs.  I make a wonderful potato and onion soup that I could eat for days.  Russ loved it and I would use my “boat motor” immersion blender to puree his a bit.  For me, I like the pieces of onion and potato.  I also will eat homemade chili more than one night.  It’s generally better the next night.

Another source of ideas are those ads I’ve seen for 100 years for ways to use Campbell’s soups.  I tried onion burger this week with hamburger patty and canned soup and cheese on a toasted bun.  Pretty good with some fresh peas.  Who knew to read those ads?  They are everywhere.

I am still enjoying the gym.  I did some hand exercises this past week designed to strengthen thumbs and hands.  I liked that and will do more of that.  I often can’t get lids off so I use a nut cracker on smaller ones.  Larger ones sometimes are work for my neighbor. Jason.  It helps to be young and have strong hands.

I spoke to a group of parents yesterday at the OCC-GATE annual conference.  The annual conference was a wonderful opportunity to learn so much. I especially enjoyed Sandra Kaplan and Jessica Manzone Cole talking about identifying gifted youngsters in Pre K-2 grades.  They are both of SC and are at the heart of teacher training.

When Russell was ill, I didn’t do much of this speaking because I was reluctant to leave him.  I was concerned that I would be rusty and out of my speaking rhythm  but it went well.  I enjoyed hearing other speakers and seeing old friends.  Most of these dear people knew that Russell had passed away but two or three didn’t.  It was not easy to tell them when they asked about him.

I had dinner with Chuck and Lorraine last night.  This is Chuck and Lorraine and Allison, my niece and their daughter-in-law.  We had coupons for Black Angus and Lorraine and I are big fans of coupons.  We had good food and good company and good conversation.  My brother Chuck has been there to support me always and especially since Russell passed away.  His wife, Lorraine is like a sister to me.

We had a long discussion about my feeling that I should be giving back in some way for all the goodness and kindness Russ and I received through this last 18 months.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t want to work with children just now if ever.  Sounds strange I know.  I am not sure I’m strong enough to help with hospice and sick people. I’m not interested in working with animals though I love almost every dog I’ve ever met. Maybe I’m not ready to do anything since I’m so scattered about it.

I need to remember to turn the sprinklers off tomorrow for Halloween and the Trick or Treat crew we will get.  It changes every year in amount but I am always ready.  Our two young neighbors, Kyle and Kaitlyn always dress up in some creative way.  They always visit and let me see the year’s new costume.

My grown up grandchildren go to parties and Katy is especially creative with her costume.  When I was a principal this was not my favorite holiday.  Sugared up kids weren’t always easy to teach.  The dentists in our area are offering books and games if children will bring in their bags of candy.  Now where is the fun in that?

I will be thinking of you all as I venture out into the world for the first big trip without Russell.  I am going to New Orleans for NAGC, the National Association for Gifted Children.  Mary will come in from Atlanta to spend the time with me and frankly to give me what support I may need.

Many friends will be there from all over the country and beyond.  I am not speaking, I am only attending and enjoying… pressure.  Mary has never been there so we will for sure take a tour of the city.  Russell and I loved New Orleans.  A daily stop at Cafe’ Dumond is a must.  Chicory coffee and hot sugary beignets  are a treat.