Sunday, December 31, 2006

A New Year

This is my view of the first couple hours of the New Year. The guests have left, the bottle of champagne (and a couple bottles of wine) are empty, the sink is full of dishes. I have the lights off, the tree still twinkling, and the candles glowing. I like it. Inspite of it being an hour and a half into the new year, I'm not tired. I called my boyfriend at midnight London time and he called me back just a bit before midnight here. At least we got to talk a bit. It wasn't what I had planned but I was able to ring in the New Year with a group of friends around my table, a wet snow fall outside, and a place to call home. For those things, I'm thankful.

Happy New Year everyone!


I'm frantically cleaning my house in preparation for a last minute New Year's Eve dinner gathering at my house!

I arrived home from Christmas vacation in mostly one piece, which is saying a lot because I caught the stomach flu on steroids that is invading the country. I puked half way through Christmas Eve mass and continued to do so every 15 minutes from then on until 3:30 am. I didn't know the human body could do what it did that night for hours on end. But I survived. Didn't get Christmas dinner until the day after Christmas but oh well. It still tasted very yummy.

I drove home from South Dakota on Wednesday and was exhausted by the time I arrived around 7 that night. I called my boyfriend and we talked for a while but agreed I should just go to bed and we would see each other on Thursday night. Plus we had an amazing romantic weekend planned in Minneapolis so one night wouldn't kill us. Romance package for two nights at a French suite, play tickets for Triple Espresso front row, center seats on Saturday night, reservations at an exclusive restraurant downtown New Year's Eve, and a party at a friend's house to follow. Three days together to celebrate a great year together and the start of another. We don't do Christmas presents, we do the New Year's Eve escape instead.

As I went to bed on Wednesday night he IM'd me that a company south of London was having software issues. "Don't worry," he said, we'll get it fixed, "worse case scenario, I have to go to England." I went to work Thursday morning and at 10 am my secretary paged me and had him on the line. "Uhm...babe, I'm flying to London at 4:50 today". I didn't cry. I kept it together. My team let me leave a bit early so I could see him before he left. I got him to the airport on time, called my best friend who didn't answer and at that burst into tears.

I cried my way through Thursday night and on Friday I started planning. I found a co-worker to go to the play on Saturday with me and put the wheels in motion to have a few friends over for dinner at my house. The boy's company is fully aware of all the plans which were canceled and he will be comped the vacation days so we will plan something different. The friend and I made it to the play last night and laughed until we cried. Went to a nice dinner afterwards and chatted for a couple hours. It was great.

So even though my plans were completely and totally foiled by a nasty software glitch in England, I have recovered and have a house to make festive! Now to the grocery store to put together a feast :)

Happy New Year's to all of you!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

HNT...Favorite of 2006

This was my favorite HNT of the year. I like it because it was both my most revealing and yet my most secretive HNT picture. It told you many many things about me and also kept a lot hidden. When i posted it I was angry, scared, frustrated, and lost. Not all of those things have gone away, some things are more certain now than they were before but this was a truly honest picture and post earlier in 2006.

This is me at my most vulnerable...

For a few reasons. First because I think it is the most revealing picture I have ever shared with HNT but also because of what it means. I have mentioned a rant is on the way. I'm not sure if it will get published and those closest to me have already heard it. Instead of a rant, I think I'm going to rename it a "release" and this might be enough.

My mom is dying of cancer.

She has been for five years so one becomes numb a bit to the reality of it when death has been hovering for so long. Well, this past Friday her main oncologist called me at work to ask me if I could talk to her about why comfort care/hospice might be the best option at this point. I have medical training, I have a "good" understanding of the science behind treating or not treating an illness. But, my God, he just asked me to explain to my mom they why you should "give up".

I use the phrase "give up" because if my mom decides to NOT have any further chemo that is what she sees it as. Giving up, giving in, letting it win. However, you look at it. It no longer allows her to be involved in her care. So, how do you tell a strong, faith filled woman with a Midwestern grit that all the medical treatment in the world won't treat her cancer anymore?

So...I feel vulnerable. I have cried more in the last five days than I have in a long time. Remember, I don't cry a lot anymore. I have had "the" conversations with my mom and dad about life. I don't want to be the responsible, strong, educated, level headed one in this situation but it's falling on my shoulders somewhat. Someone has to do it right?

Well, over the last few days with people very close to me I have allowed myself to not be that person and to completely breakdown. Completely exposed my true emotions about the choices to be made. Tonight...I did that in front of a complete room of the middle of bible study tonight I completely and totally fell apart talking about something unrelated to my mom's health and healthcare choices. Then as we were closing after I had finally composed myself, our group leader asked the group to pray for me and while they were praying I was blubbering, snorting and bawling my eyes out. I don't "DO" vulnerable well...

When I'm most vulnerable and feeling the most pain, I curl up with a stuffed animal and attempt to disappear within. I can outline a different stuffed animal for each of the most stressful or emotional low points in my life. This poor little guy has been stuck with a big task....the little panda bear just joined my collection after the boyfriend went to the San Diego Zoo. Poor little guy didn't know he was going to have to curl up in the arms of a scared, vulnerable woman.

I don't know what my mom's treatment choice will be. That's for her to make. I'll tell her what I think. I'll tell her why. But I can see both sides of her personal choice too. Cancer sucks! In her eyes, I will try to pull it all together. But this is what I'm really doing....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Three Christmas Wishes

Robyn has had a rough year. This young lady not only lost her mother, but she pretty much single handedly walked through her mom's last months with her. Not just as her mother's daughter but as her companion through her last days. She handled with the grace and composure of someone twice her age. Now, as the holidays get busy and hectic for most, there are many that are remembering. To help Robyn remember, I would like to give her the Mirror of Erised, from Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. With this mirror on days when she misses her mom the most, she can gaze into it and see her mom, happy and safe.

Lime just got dismissed from Physical Therapy. Most of the last months have been spent getting Juanita to work again. Juanita was horribly mangled earlier this year in a zip line accident in her own backyard. Now that both Lime and Juanita have been give a clean bill of health I want to grant her the ability to safely go back to living life as she does so well...with an energy and an enthusiasim that is infectious. BUT...I wanted to first give her a new Zip Line Safety Harness.

Sandi is taking a big step. She just completed her college placement exams and is heading back to school. The decision wasn't an easy one for her, she thought long and hard about it as she isn't the typical 18 year old who can just pick up and start school. Sandi is a wife, a mother, and holds a job too. But, she made the decision to do something for herself and I'm very proud of her. If I could, I would give her a full ride scholarship to get her through the tough times ahead. I know her determination and heart will get her through the "study", the "funding" will be tight. If I could, I would help you all the way.

For these three and all my blogger friends I wish the very best of whatever it is you wish for or don't even know you need just now. Peace, love, hope, and joy...whatever it is you seek. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One more to go...

Everything is wrapped, stacked, and ready to be put in the car except one gift. Tonight I am going to make my Grandma a stack of every day/all occasion cards to use throughout the year. She moved to a nursing home this past year so Christmas will be a bit different. No Christmas Eve at Grandma's house after church. Plus she doesn't have a lot of room in her room now. She likes to send cards and such so I figured this would be something useful. My aunt and I were going to do a bouquet a month for her but it was just too expensive. This will help her out and put a smile on other people's faces, figured it works.

Last night was the hard push to really get things done. Why do we do this to ourselves? And I say ourselves, because no matter how much any one of us says we love or hate the holidays, we all have a list of tasks we sat ourselves too...whether to avoid the holidays or striving to make them "perfect". Whatever the case for me; we end up busy, stressed out, and frantic the week before Christmas. When I figure out a system to do otherwise I'll let you know. Funny thing is, it usually all works out in the end.

Have fun doing all you need/want/or have to do this week...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Elf'd out...

I've been shoppping, wrapping, stamping, tying, running since Thursday morning and I'm elf'd out. So I'm taking a bit of a break before I try to get one more project started tonight and then off to bed.

I've made a few changes on my blog recently. Make sure to feed Griz every once in a while, he'll wobble for you too. I also updated to the new "google" whatever and I'm not sure I like it. I can comment on some people's easily, and on other's I have to jump through a bunch of hoops. I haven't upgraded to their template so I'm still using haloscan for you to comment on mine. Problems I need to know about?

I also added "Moose Musings". I devour books and lately more so than usual. I just finished Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilber. Where was this book three years ago when my own divorce was terrorizing my life? It's a little be "Under the Tuscan Sun", a little bit "what was I thinking", a lot of prayer including a few "why me's?", and a whole lot of insight. This woman doesn't have all the answers yet, she's still looking but she was willing to share what she went through and I found some peace in that. Lately, I've had a hard time finding that and at other times in the last month or so been very, very peaceful with things in my life.

I'm weeding my way through Eragon now, sort of like trying to read Lord of the Rings without knowing the terminology. Might have to break my rule and see the movie before I finish this one. Picked up Thomas Harris' new one; Hannibal Rising too. Might have to skip to that one :) Maybe a good mind disturbing book will but me back on track. Ha!

I was feeling extremely "merry" on Wednesday night when I looked ahead at the near four day weekend I had (I worked an hour or two on both Thursday and Friday) and was all excited for Christmas. Now, I have actually taken stock of all I have to do, what's left, and how much time I have to do it. YIKES! I'm not feeling so peaceful.

Went to church tonight and sure enough, the readings are regarding the search for peace, finding peace, etc. I tried very hard to focus and "be quiet". The little rat in my head wouldn't get off his damn wheel though...but as I take this little break to ramble, I do recognize I got a lot done tonight. Gifts for Mom, Dad, and my sister are wrapped, gifts for my secretaries are wrapped, a list of the gifts to be made is done, doing my aunt's gift during MNF tomorrow, Grandma's tomorrow night. Christmas cards...well, a Catholic Christmas goes to Epiphany the first weekend in January so I'm okay till then.

Folks, have a great week before Christmas. Try not to get wrapped up in it literally. Take some time for you, your family, and a little quiet. All needed!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm a big kid

I've had a long day at work and now I'm curled up with some crackers, a blanket and my feet up to do what...Watch the Grinch!

Friday, December 08, 2006

I need...

It isn't much...just a hot shower, a massage and another glass of wine.

It's been a long day. Too much has gone wrong today to blog about, but it started at 6:30 am and it's 6:30 pm; oh, yeah, I went to bed at 1:30 last night before all fo this started too. My calendar from this moment until Sunday at 5 pm is booked and today was not the day I needed to get ready for it.

I'm going to get my "things" in order for the next two days adn then hit that shower.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I'm getting ready to head over to the boyfriend's house but it's cold out. There is also that dry, flurry snow blowing all over too. Nothing stickin' on the ground but definitely cold out. A few weeks ago when I went to an art show I picked up this new hat and scarf! both a little different, both unique, a lot like me! I have gotten more comments and compliments on the hat. The top is the same green as the scarf but in an oatmeal solid. There's a big button on the side too that holds it beret like either on the side or in the back. I love it just because it comes over my years and the back of my neck....for all of you in the North, stay warm this week! Happy HNT

PS: Don't forget my Toys for Tots Challenge below :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Christmas Challenge

now that I'm in the mood, I want to try to get the rest of you there as well. Christmas can be a hard time for a lot of people. I was lucky, even when things were really tough I was able to both give and receive Christmas gifts. That isn't the case for everyone. There are a lot of parents that worry about not being able to turn the heat on in December let alone get their children something from Santa. There are kids out there who know things are tough and have just given up believing in Christmas.

I challenge each of you, no matter how rough your own situation is, to help someone else. I have given to Toys for Tots since my freshman year of college when a group of us got together in Knickerbocker's garage to make little wooden cars. there were a few years where all I could buy as a $10 toy and donate but there have been other years where I have been able to give a bag of balls and games for all ages.

I challenge you to do the same. The US Marine Corp coordinates with all sorts of other businesses so it should be easy to find a drop off point in your neighborhood. Here in Rochester it's the local country music station at a different business every morning and evening this entire week. Spend $5 on a childern's book instead of your latte this week, or spend $100 on a whole Santa bag of toys. Whatever you have, share it somehow. You might be surprised what it does for you!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy Moosemas!

Happy Moosemas! I warned you I was in the mood. I spent yesterday running shopping errands...Target for Toys for Tots, a few ornaments, the nursery for some Christmas wreaths and pine boughs, vet for my kitty's shots. Then I started decorating. It's not complete but I made a very good dent into it yesterday with my boyfriend's help.

Every year I buy one new moose ornament and through the years have gotten several really neat one's from friends and family as well. The above moose was last year's addition and I found him at Cabella's. The guy with the Benjamin Moosemore paint was a gift from family last year after I bought my new house.

The little guy hiding under his flannel I found in a shop up in Duluth three years ago. He's a bit on the shy side though.

The last several years I have stuck to bright blue and primary green decroations with silver accents. This year I decided I needed to change it up a bit. I kept the blue and green but changed the blue to more of a turqoise hue and added purple. I think it turned out nice.

Not sure where he showed up from but he's swinging on a string of beads, looks a little frosted though...wonder if he's cold?

I couldn't have a Christmas tree without some musical decorations. Os was devastated when I moved to Minnesota three years ago so he bought me these two ornaments (A bit fuzzy...sorry, I'll try again when the lights aren't on twinkle) but I have a tenor sax and a trombone so Os and I will always be together for the holidays.

I made the decision cleaning up fallen ornaments was easier than cleaning sap out of cat hair so instead of a real tree I bought long, soft pine boughs and decorated the mantle. I strung some purple and silver ribbon through it and have a wrought iron candle holder in the center. Once I have the candles I'll put a picture of those up too.

There is no good way to take a picture of a Christmas tree. So above you have with a flash to get the overall feel and below without a flash but the colors of the lights showup better. The cats haven't made it completely up the center yet but they usually wait until I'm at work so who knows whwat I will come home to tomorrow :)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

In the mood...

It's been a busy morning...

As I had mentioned, I hit a bit of my holiday panic the other day but I am starting to feel a bit better about the whole thing. This morning I added some new decorations to my collection. For the last three years I have used blue and green only. I wanted to use purple and gold this year but as Os pointed out to me, in this part of the country those are Viking's colors, not Carroll's colors. Instead of strictly purple and gold (which would have meant buying all new decorations) I simply added purple to my green and blue. I picked up a couple limey green pieces and a string of turquoise beads for something a bit different.

I talked my boyfriend into helping with the actual decorating by agreeing to put the tree up myself. I had never had an artificial tree really until I moved to Minnesota. Growing up, we usually always got a real one. However, in my first rental here, I wasn't allowed to have a real tree. I was very bummed by the idea of no fresh pine tree. But, I found a very lovely tree which is easy to put together, full, and looks nice. I never had house cats before either. I have found they like to climb up inside the tree and it is much easier to replace a branch then pick sap out of kitty fur :)

This morning I have the tree up and "settling". To make up for the lack of a fresh pine tree I bought a bundle of boughs and arranged them on my mantle (my fireplace is bricked in so no fire risk with fresh pine dangling over the edgy) and swirled lavendar and silver wired ribbon through it with a three tiered candelabera in the center. I'll post some pics when I get the candles going.

The ornaments are laid out, the tree is up, the mantle finished, the floor swept, a bag for Toys for Tots in the car, and now I'm off to the office to make some cards for the troops in Iraq. A local high school is sponsoring Hometown Gratitude with a mass shoebox mailing planned for next week. Figured I could add the cards to the pile so they have some greetings to send too. Tonight, my boyfriend and I will get the tree sparkling and maybe snap a few pictures.

Happy Holidays!