A few of you recently made comments about my lack of updates.   The major reasons for that are:  Fibro fog, Fibro fatigue, and pain (caused by Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, pinched nerves, torn rotator cuff, etc.).  It’s a miracle I can hold a job and get meals on the table.  My online journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call it, is simply not a priority for me these days.

Anyway, I have the day off because of a snow storm, so I decided to devote some of it to a review of 2010.

January: Went to a welcome home dinner for a young man who was kicked out of the armed forces and sent home from Afghanistan after someone blew the whistle on him for being gay.

A furnace repairman might have saved our lives… He discovered that the hot water heater exhaust flue had been knocked off the flue vent.  It must have been off for quite some time because the flue gasses melted some of the pipe insulation. According to him, we were in danger of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

February: As I was going up to bed one night, I lost my balance and fell down a couple of stairs, twisting my right leg in the process, and landing heavily on it.  X-rays at the ER the next day revealed bone contusion and bruised muscles.  I just love adding more pain to my life.

In an unrelated incident – you know you’ve had too many MRIs when the technician recognizes you and greets you by saying, “Back for more?”

March: One of Leigh’s dear friends died during heart surgery.  Rest peacefully, Quicci.

Leigh had to have her cat, Simmy, put to sleep.  More heartbreak.

Daniel and I celebrated anniversary #5.

Developed an addiction to Chobani pomegranate Greek yogurt.

April: Had a “Scary headache” for the entire month.

May: Had the front porch painted, which turned out to be a very good thing because that’s pretty much where I spent my summer vacation…

June: Refinanced our mortgage to go from 6.25 interest rate down to 4.875.

July: Went to Seaside Heights.  Would have enjoyed it more if not for the god-awful heat. It should be against the law for temps to get that high (102).

My grandmother turned 99.

August: I was trapped at the chiropractor’s for two hours because of a devastating storm that passed through the area. Five cars in the parking lot were crushed under trees. One car belonged to my neighbor, and another to my cousin.  That storm was a sight to see!

The city damaged our driveway when they cut down the tree in front of our house.  They failed to respond to my letters, so a legal consultation will have to be the next step.

The front page of our local paper featured an article about a 17 year old girl I knew very well who was killed in a horrific accident the previous morning. In another section of the paper there was an obituary for a good friend of mine.  In three days, I lost two people I loved.  Rest peacefully Natia and Bob.

I turned 56.

While I was standing in the parking lot of a restaurant, a guy yelled, “Shorty, shorty!” When I turned around he asked, “Are you married?” I have to say that being called “shorty” made my day.

September: Adventures with ambien – Objects in photos seem to move just like they do in Harry Potter! Freaky, man.  I also discovered that I sometimes indulge in online shopping while under the influence of ambien. Definitely not a good thing.

Found out that the stabbing victim in a recent homicide was my father’s best friend.  Rest peacefully, Ron.

The results of my skin test revealed that I have perivascular dermatitis.  Because of the effing rash, my legs were so swollen I had elephant knees!

Reconnected with old friends (one of whom is Snooki’s mother).

Our community lost yet another young person who died much too soon. Rest peacefully, Zach.

October: One morning when Daniel was getting ready to drive me to work, we found a dead cat under the front tire. (No, it hadn’t been run over – it must have crawled there to die.) Not a good way to start the day.

This year’s Dress Up As A Literary Character costume – Esmeralda (from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo)

Had a very enjoyable time at the Sheep &Wool Festival. Chatting with some llamas and alpacas (actually, they were humming) was the best part.

Four years…I miss you, Mark. Rest peacefully.

November: An old high school friend died after a long battle with cancer. Her brother (who was a very little boy at the time) gave me the only nickname I’ve ever had – “wild eyes.”  Rest peacefully, Beth.

A former student and friend of my daughters died unexpectedly. Rest peacefully, Peter.

I found out about a whopper of a lie that was spread about me 25 years ago… Apparently, I was a coke addict!  Diet coke, maybe, but certainly not the white powdery stuff.  Sheesh.  I guess there’s a statute of limitations on slander/defamation of character, huh… Oh well, at least I got a good laugh out of it!

Was stunned to learn that an old online friend took his own life. He was such a kind person and gentle soul, not to mention a brilliant mathematician and skating enthusiast. I’m really going to miss his nickname for me (Stephanova) and the praying mantis warnings (personal joke). Rest peacefully, Robby.

Spent over three hours at the ER – Leigh’s myoclonic seizures caused her to fall down the stairs AND on the driveway as we were guiding her to the car to take her to the hospital. They did NOTHING, and we finally announced that we were leaving (but not before I created a bit of a scene).  As Leigh pointed out, a Veterinary Clinic wouldn’t treat an ANIMAL that way. They wouldn’t just throw a cat or dog in a crate and let it seizure for three hours. Unbelievable!

Another ER visit  – for me, this time.  Diagnosis: mesenteric lymphadenitis – inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes. Causes pain that mimics acute appendicitis. I hope I never have to experience that kind of pain again.   That was the most agonizing experience of my life, and I’m no stranger to pain.

A former student (and Leigh’s childhood friend) celebrated the release of his first book. Congratulations, Daniel!

December: As usual, I hosted the Christmas festivities.

My former mother-in-law died on December 28th.  She had just been at my house for Christmas, and was in fine spirits, and seemed to be in good health. During the early hours of the 27th, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and had already suffered irreparable brain damage by the time she was found.   The all-day bedside vigil before she passed away was heart wrenching and draining. Rest peacefully, Marj.

All in all, it was a pretty shitty year with far too many deaths.  Which is another reason why I didn’t update.  So there you go.

Song of the Day: Bad Year by Sicko

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I received another good dose of holiday spirit yesterday when a student presented me with a card.  Inside, she wrote:

I have been so lucky (and happy) to have you to confide in!  Seeing and talking to you always lifts my spirits.  It has been a blessing to have you in my life.  My words could not cover the amount of gratitude I have for all your help!  Thank you so much!  You’re like my school mommy!  You’re an amazing and encouraging woman!  I pray you get all you want and deserve!  Love, B

I cried when I read her words.  There’s a lot of crap going on at work (for one thing, I’m involved in a grievance against an administrator), but kids like B, along with my “merry band of misfits,” remind me of what’s important about my job – the students.

Speaking of students, here’s an update on Manny the Puppet Master.  He’s been busy working on his resumé and applying for jobs.  Please keep your fingers crossed for him.  He deserves a break.

Merry Christmas!

Song of the Day:  It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.

Smells Like Christmas Spirit

December 20, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the library office with a few students, one of whom has seen (and caused) more than his fair share of trouble. On display on the shelves in the office are some of the librarian’s souvenirs from her trips, including a marionette from South America.   Manny has had no prior experience with string puppets, so we were all amazed and delighted when he picked it up, laid down a beat, and made the clown dance.

After watching his performance, I decided to get Manny his very own marionette.  I put it in a Christmas gift bag, and gave it to him this past Thursday.  I wish you could have seen his face when he saw me holding that bag out to him.  His expression was one of pure disbelief.  He kept saying, “No.  Really?  No. Really?  That’s a present for me?”   I was finally able to convince Manny that it was indeed for him.  Much to my surprise,  he had tears in his eyes as he accepted the gift.  When he looked inside and saw the marionette, a huge smile spread across his face.  He thanked me over and over, and gave me a big hug.

Manny is a “tough guy,” and I thought he might be embarrassed to walk around the halls with a puppet, so I suggested that he put it in his backpack. He said, “Are you kidding?? I want to show this off!!”

Manny’s priceless reaction to an unexpected gift really touched my heart and gave me a good dose of Christmas spirit.

Song of the Day:  The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles

“Sharing so much joy and cheer
What a wonderful feeling.”

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Today is going to be pretty low-key.  Leigh is still away at college, and Rebecca is getting ready to move on Tuesday.   To add insult to injury, she’s taking my new “grandson” with her.  Meet Dexter the adorable corgi.

Rebecca will be taking a break from her packing to spend some time with me this afternoon.  I invited my mother over for lunch (salmon and pasta salad), and Becca will be joining us.   It’s kind of sad to be bidding my daughter a fond farewell on Mother’s Day.   The sting is lessened, however, because she’ll still be around for a while.  She’s going to come back twice a week for summer and fall classes at a local SUNY school.   There’s nothing comparable in the area she’s moving to, so she decided to commute until she completes her Bachelor’s degree.  I don’t know what she’s going to do about her Master’s, but I’m sure she’ll work something out.

I’m amazed at how quickly Becca and Matt were able to put this move together.  At first, it looked like it was going to be difficult to find a decent apartment, especially one that allows pets.    They were very disheartened after looking at one unsatisfactory place after another.   But then fortune smiled upon them, and they found an apartment they really like.  I hope they will be very happy there.

Goodbye and good luck, my dear daughter!  (Becca is in the front of the photo.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there.

Song of the Day:  So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music

Isabella, We Are Rising

April 10, 2009

Wednesday morning, My Friend asked me to act as a model for her Reflexology display at a Wellness Fair at a local college.  It was great.  I lounged on a zero gravity recliner chair wrapped in a blanket, getting my feet worked on.  It was so relaxing.

Afterwards, I paid a long overdue visit to my chiropractor, who said that my neck was in distress.  That would explain the horrendous headache I’ve been plagued with all week.  While the headache is not quite gone, it is more bearable.  It also helps that we’ve had a couple of days of decent weather.  Yesterday morning I put some pansies into porch planters.

In the evening, we went to dinner to celebrate Leigh’s birthday. My baby is 21.

As for Easter, at first we weren’t going to do anything. My sister, Michele, and I declared that Thanksgiving and Christmas are more than enough when it comes to hosting family gatherings. We refuse to bear the burden of another holiday. It would suit me just fine to stay home and try to mentally prepare myself for returning to work on Monday (I’m dreading it), but The Ex invited us to his place. Fortunately, it will be very low-key.

Rebecca is taking me out to lunch for Pad Thai this afternoon, so I’d better get back to what I was doing (moving the light clothing up and the heavy clothing down). Groan.

Song of the Day: Easter by Patti Smith (from which the title of which this entry comes)

I’ve got a few things I want to talk about, but before I get to that I’d like to post the Bucket List that’s going around Facebook.  I was tagged by Penny.  (This list, by the way, is not the same as Fifty-nine Out of One Hundred.)

Things you have done during your lifetime:
( ) Gone on a blind date
(x ) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die
(x) Been to Canada
(x ) Been to Mexico
(x) Been to Florida
(x ) Been to Hawaii
(x) Been on a plane
(x ) Been on a helicopter (in Kauai, Hawaii)
(x) Been lost
(x) Gone to Washington, DC
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers

(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang Karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t.
(x ) Made prank phone calls
(x ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(x ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain-naked
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(x ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x ) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating

(X) Gone to the movies
(x ) Been deep sea fishing
(x ) Driven across the United States

( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
(x) Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(x) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(x ) Seen a falling star and made a wish
(x ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(x) Seen the Statue of Liberty

( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( ) Been on a cruise
(x) Traveled by train
(x ) Traveled by motorcycle  (It wasn’t exactly traveling, but I have been on motorcycles, as a passenger.)
(x) Been horseback riding
(x ) Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
(x ) Been to Disney World (Actually, it was Disney Land in CA)

( ) Truly believe in the power of prayer
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean  (I’ve been on whale watches, but didn’t see any whales.)
(X) Been to Niagara Falls
(x ) Ridden on an elephant  (I have a picture of that experience, but don’t feel like digging through thousands of photos to find it.)

( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
( x) Been water-skiing
() Been snow-skiing
(x ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
() Been to a Major League Baseball game
() Been to a National Football League game

On to the next item… The last time I saw Dr. What Do You Want Me to Do, he referred me to an allergist because of my frequent problems with runny nose and sneezing.  I went for allergy testing yesterday, and it turns out that I’m not allergic to anything.  I do, however, have a deiviated septum.  I also have nonallergic rhinitis, which means that I am very sensitive to irritants such as dust and odors.  Changes in weather and chronic health conditions can also trigger nonallergic rhinitis symptoms.  The Mayo Clinic notes that this condition can make you miserable.  It sure does.  Lucky me.

In other news, we are going to pick up our new car today. Our current vehicle is a 1995 Chevy Cavalier.   It’s getting to the point where we are putting more money than is fiscally responsible into a car that is fourteen years old.  So, we looked for the cheapest decent car we could find and decided upon a 2009 Hyundai Accent, ranked number 17 out of 35 in affordable small cars by US News & World Report.  The color is charcoal grey.

We’re going to have to be even more creative in our budgeting now that we’ll be adding a car payment to our monthly expenses.  Our car insurance has gone up,too,  but it’s not as bad as I had feared.  Daniel called around (including Geico), and the best deal we got came from Liberty Mutual.  They also offered us a better deal on our home insurance, so we switched that over, as well.  Wish us luck!

Besides picking up our new car, we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with take-out food.  I don’t want to go to a restaurant because they’re too crowded and you get the bum’s rush on holidays such as this one.  Take-out Chinese will do nicely.  Not having to cook is a beautiful thing.

After dinner, I will snuggle up with my sweetie, savor my Lindt Lindor Truffles,  and watch a romantic episode of The Sopranos.  We don’t have HBO, so we’ve been getting the DVDs from Netflix.  We’re almost at the end, and I have to say that I can see why the series was so popular.  I’m really loving it.

Speaking of loving, go on and kiss the girl (or guy, whichever the case may be).


Reading: Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Song of the Day:  My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

The holiday gathering at my house was very nice.  At least that’s what I heard.  I wouldn’t know because I was on my feet in the kitchen from 7:30 am until 9:30 pm.

Actually, I did sit down a few times, but the breaks only lasted for a few minutes.  I didn’t even have a chance to eat.  Just about the only socializing I did was when someone would come into the kitchen to either lend a hand (my sister, Michele, and my sister-in-law, Stephanie) or to get in my way (everybody else).

My mother came over in the morning to help stuff shells, thank goodness.  (By the way, Nancy, I followed the recipe on the Ronzoni jumbo shells box.)  If she hadn’t done that, I would have been greeting guests in my pajamas.

It really was a brutal day.  Little things were piling up and wearing me down.  For one thing, my ex MIL kept asking for coffee and ice cream, and this was before dinner, mind you.  Never mind the fact that I didn’t have any ice cream.  Anyway, I had a mini-meltdown at one point, and had to keep my face averted to hide the tears.

I’ve been feeling pretty awful since then, both physically and emotionally.   A lot of people have had a sad Christmas this year, and I know I should be grateful that all my family members were together, with everyone in festive spirits, but I can’t help feeling like I was left out. I feel like I missed Christmas.

And then there’s this god-awful pain.  By the end of the day, I was in agony.  Yesterday I was hurting so bad I could barely move, and today doesn’t look like it will be much better.  Every muscle in my body is aching.

Fortunately, my niece, Kristen,

took over the bulk of the photographer duties again this year.  I’m glad of that because there wouldn’t have been many pictures otherwise, since I was trapped in the kitchen for most of the day.

While Kristen was busy snapping photos, her sister, Rachel, curled up under a blanket with an Archie digest.

My ex MIL loved the afghan I knitted for her.

I wish this shot of my mother had come out better.  Her outfit was gorgeous.  Of course, she bought it at a thrift shop.

Penny was chillin’.

Ellie hung out with my grandmother and ex MIL.

Speaking of my grandmother, here she is in all her ninety-seven year old glory.

This is me in the kitchen, putting on the brave, false face.

And here I am on one of my rare excursions out of the kitchen.  This smile is more genuine because I’m finally relaxing.  (You will notice that I chopped off a lot of hair.  I was getting bored with my hairstyle and needed a change, but didn’t want to do anything too drastic… yet.)

By the way, in my last entry, I mentioned that we would be squeezing twenty-three people into my small house, but we actually ended up squeezing in twenty-six people.  My sister, Patti, called in the morning to ask if she could bring a friend who had no family and would be spending the holiday alone.  Of course I said yes, and even wrapped up a bag of Lindt chocolates I had bought for myself (I love those things) so she wouldn’t be left out during the opening of gifts.  Then I invited my cousin and her friend, Bob, to come over for dessert.  What the hell.  The more the merrier.

I do have to say that I received some really nice gifts.  I’ve always wanted a red pocketbook, and, thanks to Rebecca, I now have one.  She and her boyfriend also gave me a gift certificate to the restaurant that My Friend and I call “Our Place.”  Leigh gave me beautiful leather gloves with a cashmere lining.   The gorgeous boots and comfy slippers are from Daniel.  My ex MIL gave us money, bless her heart, so I guess that made up for the repeated requests for coffee and ice cream.

I have a dentist appointment for root planing and scaling this morning (oh joy, more pain), and a party to go to this evening, so I’d better get moving.

Song of the Day:  It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over by Lenny Kravitz

Make the Yuletide Gay

December 25, 2008

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for the good mojo. Leigh’s ultrasound revealed a cluster of cysts, but they look benign. She’ll know more when she goes for her follow-up visit in two weeks.

Secondly, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Including me, there will be twenty-three people crammed into my small house. I set up three tables, but there’s still only room for 20. My brother’s two young daughters will have to find someplace else to eat, and so will I, if I get a chance to eat, that is. Hostessing duties will keep me pretty busy throughout the long, hard day I have ahead of me.

Today’s menu for 23 people:


Crabbies (The recipe can be found in this entry.)

Mexican Chili Cheese Dip:

Spread softened cream cheese (8 oz) on bottom of a pie plate or quiche dish. Add contents of 15 oz. can of chili. (I use Bush’s or Hormel.) Spread contents of small jar of salsa over the chili. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, approximately 20 minutes. Serve with Tostitos Scoops.

First course:
6 lbs stuffed shells
meatballs (I “only” made 50, so people will have to be considerate.)

Second course:

18 lb glazed spiral ham

Corn casserole (I have to double the recipe):

Melt one stick of butter. Beat 2 eggs. Drain 1 can whole kernel corn and put in bowl with one can of creamed corn. Add 8 oz. sour cream and 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix.   Mix all the ingredients together. Bake in a 2-quart, buttered casserole dish with a lid in a 350-degree oven for one hour. Remove lid for last five minutes so the top gets golden brown.

Crunchy Cole Slaw (Everybody loves this, so I have to triple the recipe.)

1 cup oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup whie vinegar
2 packets beef flavor (comes with Ramen noodles; the block kind, not the noodles in a cup)

1 lb. cole slaw
2 packages of Ramen noodles. Break them up and cook them according to package directions, although they should be slightly undercooked for this recipe.
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 carrots cut into strips

**Prepare dressing 2 hours early and do not add to slaw until ready to serve.

Dinner rolls


I made fudge, and Mike’s girlfriend is making cookies. My mother and brother, Frank, are also bringing desserts. Michele and Patti are providing the wine. I think I’m going to need it to get through this holiday.

Click here for an interactive Christmas message.

Follow this link to see another special greeting from me to you.

Song of the Day: We Wish You a Merry Christmas