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.