Updates, discoveries and funnies.

I used the weather as an excuse to skip my walk this morning.  It rained all night–hard.photo-18 I know this because I woke up several times. That’s another excuse for not walking. Too little sleep.

I dreamed between spurts of wakefulness. I can recall this morning what I think was a brief encounter with my ex. Simpler times.  We were together, doing mundane tasks, together. Talking. Smiling. There was no anger, no angst. I would like to think my level of acceptance has risen to higher ground. I’m at peace.

I must say, though, that I am not quite so peaceful about my eye. Excited but not quite settled. I still wear a guard over my eye at night. That’s probably one reason for the wakefulness.  I’m still putting drops in my eye three times a day.  That’s down from four times.  And it’s one medication instead of the three this time last week.

The most important aspect of this scenario–my vision–is a work in progress.  The cataract surgery has achieved the desired goal. Increased clarity of color became evident after a few days.  It’s a miracle!

The cornea transplant benefits are more gradual. I have a very skilled doctor, and the surgery went well. He tells me that I will notice maximum visual benefits at about two months, or possibly three. I smile as I write this because I’m imagining how I would have been climbing the walls if I’d had this surgery in my middle age. I have much more patience now. I see differences almost daily and am confident I will reach the desired peak in a timely fashion. And in the end the result should be a major improvement.

I’m happy that I’ve been able to take care of myself the entire time except for needing a driver the first few days. I have discovered anew how generous and kind family and friends are. They have brought me food and sent cards.  Some have texted or emailed.  Some have called. Four different people took me for  birthday lunches, to all my favorite places. I am a lucky woman.

Moving along to the funnies part of this post. I love jamiedouglasillustration.com.  Many months ago I was searching the net for a bluebird of happiness. I came upon the illustration below.  It’s aptly named The Disillusioned Bluebird of Happiness. At the time, I contacted Jamie and asked if I could include it in one of my posts. He said I could as long as I gave him credit. In the meantime I lost my train of thought as to the bluebird and went on to other posts. But I saved this picture and I look at it from time to time because  it always makes me giggle. Thank you, Jamie, for entertaining me. Your illustrations remind me to hone my sense of humor and not to take life too seriously.  Other readers, check out Jamie’s blog.  You’ll be glad you did.Disillusioned-Bluebird-of-Happiness-38

One last thing to my favorite bloggers.  For some reason many of your email blog reminders have been sent to my Spam folder.  I don’t know why but am correcting those errors. Apparently it’s been going on for a while–maybe since I got my new computer. Aaaaargh!!

The eyes have it.

I love the eyes of babies and small children.blue_eyes_cute_baby-wide  They’re bright and clear and focused.  Their blues are bluer and their browns are browner than an older person’s.

I’m having surgery on one of my fading blue eyes this Friday.  I considered putting a photo of my eye(s) in this post but I kept remembering some of the adjectives writers use to describe eyes of the ancients and decided it wasn’t a good idea.  Bleary, filmy, cloudy, searching, cobwebby, murky are a few that come to mind.  I regret to report that any one of those words, or all of them, could be used to describe my eyes these days.

I was 53 when the ophthalmologist diagnosed my Fuchs corneal dystrophy.  He told me at the time that I would eventually need surgery to restore/improve vision.  Recently, my eye care specialist and I decided it was time.

For about a century the gold standard treatment for this condition has been corneal transplant.  In recent years doctors have learned to do a modified version of the transplant (DSEK).  A complete corneal transplant requires about a year for full recovery.  DSEK requires only 6 to 8 weeks.  My timing is good.  A two month recovery sounds way better than twelve.

I am fortunate to have family and friends to help out the first few days of my adventure.  My sweet daughter will take me to the surgical hospital and stay with me the first day.  (This is an outpatient procedure.)  She’s going to hang out with me while I lie flat on my back for the first 24 hours.  I have a friend/neighbor who insists she’s bringing food. There are other friends who have sworn to spring me and take me to lunch when I feel up to it but still can’t drive.  I might learn to like being pampered.  It’s been a long time.

Bring on the eye shield.  I’ll pretend to be a pirate.  Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

It’s snowing in the South.

I slept in this morning.  When I went to bed last night the snow had stopped but was predicted to restart at about 3:00 a.m.  It didn’t happen.  The wistful little girl in me felt a wave of disappointment.

photo-12 At ten o’clock this morning I was having a second cup of coffee when the world was suddenly quiet and I knew the snow was back.  All was right with the world. What is it about snow that calms all my beasts?

Even though I know this one is supposed to be a doozy and I will probably consider the snow itself to be a beast if it stays around long, for today I am serene and relaxed and happy.  And I love the snow.

It snowed for a long time yesterday but the accumulation was not significant because the ground temperature was warm.  That is not the case today.  Within a half hour of starting up again the street in front of my house was well covered. It’s supposed to continue for hours.

I’m on the line of the front that is expected to get freezing rain on top of snow.  I won’t likely enjoy that. photo-13 That’s when the greatest risk of losing power exists.  I’m a fickle snow adorer.  I want my snow with all my modern conveniences at hand.

My photos look as if they are black and white.  I like the look.  But I didn’t photo shop. The day is that gray. If you look closely you can see some hardy children trying to sled in their yard.

I won’t enumerate all the difficulties of being without power.  You know what they are.  I am fortunate to have gas logs.  That means I can stay warm. And Lulu the cat helps with that.  She’s also good company.  Well, most of the time.

Now I think I will bake some oatmeal muffins so I can have breakfast if the power goes down.

How’s the weather where you are?

The Wedding.

photo-7I must have mentioned that my oldest granddaughter planned to wed.  Our family has thought of little else these past weeks.  Saturday, January 25, was the big day.  

If ever there was a fairy-tale wedding, this was it.  Sometimes the stars align, details fall in place, and life feels just right.  When it happens to one as dear as a grandchild, Gramma rejoices and asks no questions. I felt lucky to be along for the ride.

The bride glowed and the groom beamed. photo-9 The minister gave a lovely homily on the importance of familial support, a charge, if you will, to both families, and to friends present, to support and encourage the couple.  I think that’s important and necessary so I was happy that he included it in the service.

The reception, I think, was the most fun one I’ve ever attended. photo-10 One granddaughter  entered the ballroom at The State Club, looked at the flowers and cake, turned an ear to the music and commented, “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life!”  Then she went to the dance floor and started to cut a rug with her brother.  She literally danced the night away–with Uncle D and Cousin A and Sister H and whoever else was willing to take to the floor.  Yep.  It was seven-year-old S, my youngest grandchild. Here she is with her big brother.

On Monday, two days after the wedding when I went out to walk with my buddies, they told me I still had that wedding glow about me.  I guess that’s what happens when a grandma sees her grandchild perfectly happy.

I’ve had great fun telling friends about the festivities.  The photo booth was a big hit.  The best I can tell photographers with funny props and instant pictures are all the rage these days. photo Afterward one can go online and order more copies to share if one chooses to do so. Need I say I’m not likely to want more of me but I might want some of family and friends. Here, my grandson, his dad and I ham it up for the camera. Because I used to teach Spanish, I had to don the sombrero. Or so they said. I was happy that it matched my wedding ensemble.  Question: What do a Spanish teacher, a 12-year-old rabbi and a goofy dunce have in common? Answer: We’re family having fun.

Sit down now.  I’ve saved the best for last. Okay, I admit it’s probably not the best part but it just could be the funniest. The band spokesman announced that all the “single ladies” should come on the floor to vie for the bridal bouquet. You know the story. The one who catches the bouquet is the next one to marry. photo-8This was a spontaneous act. Really. My ear heard “single ladies” and the usually silent imp on my shoulder kicked the stuffing out of common sense and decorum. I stood, said “That’s me!” and entered the fray with a broad grin on my face.

I think the bride couldn’t stand to miss an opportunity such as this. She threw it right to me.

I’ve had lots of questions relevant to my “catch.”  Questions about dating, marrying again, etc. The answer is NO.

My favorite comment, though, came from my new grandson-in-law. He said, “Every once in a while a moment comes along that you know you’ll always remember. Pat kicking ass to get that bouquet is one of those moments.” Thanks, J. I do get a bit competitive sometimes. Welcome to the family. We love you.

Christmas, 2013.

Another Christmas has come and gone and I think I’m doing okay.photo  It’s been seven years since D asked for a divorce.  This is the sixth Christmas I’ve spent as a woman alone.  Someone commented recently on my blogger friend’s post that there’s a great deal of difference between being alone and being lonely.  I’m a bit of an expert on the topic because I’ve been both.

I’m happy to report that this year, except for a couple of brief hours on Christmas Eve afternoon, I was merely alone, not lonely.  The lonely times are becoming shorter and shorter as I learn that being alone can be a blessing if I choose to make it so.

I think it’s all about acceptance of what is.  My mantra has become “It is what it is.”  I can often shrug off troubles by photo-4repeating this simple truism a time or two.  I admit it doesn’t work all the time but it helps.  I’ve learned to do when I start to feel lonely.

Paul Newman once said that he was able to deal with his son’s death only by doing for others.  His words gave me fresh perspective about how I was living my life.  I’ve become more conscious of others, especially around Christmas. I’ve finally figured out that it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as making toffee for friends and family.  (See photo above.)  Or taking a few seconds to text or email a friend who’s having a hard time.  Or a phone call. For me it’s taking a moment to think beyond myself and my concerns.

That’s easier said than done when you’re in the middle of the pain of rejection.photo-2 You can’t figure out who you are, let alone what you should or want to do.  I cried for months. I’m glad that’s over. I’m ever so slowly learning to trust other people again.  But I step cautiously.

As usual this post has taken a different direction than I expected.  Sometimes I think my fingers divorce my brain.  Or maybe my fingers tell my brain what to think.  I’m not sure what happens.

I started out expecting to tell you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza and Happy New Year.  The photo below shows Santa riding past my house on the Pineville fire engine.  You can see his arm.  The rest of him is blocked by a weird-looking little green elf.  Only in the American South.  Made my day.photo-3

A photo opportunity?

photo-1Erica Jong said, “My grandchildren are fabulous and funny.”

As far as I can tell, all grandparents feel that way about their grandchildren. I do.

Sometimes I get a wild notion, and if it has anything to do with the grandchildren, I go with it.  I probably don’t have to tell you that I often create all manner of unnecessary work for myself by thinking this way. Case in point–colorful crocheted hats for every child.  There are a few who aren’t children any longer.  But they’re still my children.

I made ten hats.  I have nine grandchildren but will happily add a grandson to my collection in January when he and my granddaughter wed.  Welcome, J!  And even though my older grandson is now living in the Colorado mountains and won’t be here, I have one for him.  Hey, I can hope, can’t I?  And I can send it to him in his Christmas package.  I miss you, grandson D.

I’m counting on them to go straight to a hat that suits them and prepare to mug for the camera.  And some goofy older kid will try on a hat that’s too small.  A younger one will put on a large hat, covering her/his face, and we will try to photograph all their antics.

Thanksgiving at Grammy’s.  Does it get any better than this?!?

To all who celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I wish you a joyful and peaceful day with family and friends.  To those who don’t, I wish you peace and joy, too.

A day for reflection.

photo-1My ex-husband and I first met Jim and Joe (not their real names) at least twenty-five years ago.  Happily, they have continued to include me in their lives by inviting me to their parties and life celebrations.

Very few of the people I met through or with D have kept me on their social lists.  That includes family.  I have come to understand it isn’t that most of them are cold or uncaring; they simply don’t know how to be inclusive in situations that they fear (real or imagined) may get a little “sticky.”  My fiery temper during our separation and divorce didn’t help.

But this post is not about me, it’s about the remarkable and always inclusive Jim and Joe.

Since gay marriage is still not legal in North Carolina, J and J went to New York a while back and tied the knot after almost thirty-five years together.  Legal or not, they’ve been married all those years.  They never needed a piece of paper for those of us who have loved them and recognized their commitment to each other.  Yet I find myself feeling joyful on their behalf now that they have taken this big step which wasn’t available to them before.

I was not surprised when I received this most recent invitation from J and J.  I had attended their “twenty-five-years-together anniversary.”  But I felt a warm glow when I saw the announcement that they had wed.  And I felt extraordinarily happy that I was considered one of many friends with whom they wanted to share their good news.

At three o’clock on a beautiful autumn day, surrounded by family and friends, J and J had a ceremony on the front steps of their lovely home.  We friends gathered on the lawn in front and celebrated with them.  There were chairs for those who can no longer stand.  A very eloquent gentleman made comments and then J and J reconfirmed their vows of commitment, each in his own words.  We cheered!

As I drove home, I noticed dark clouds gathering on the horizon and the wind was tossing yellow leaves into a whirling dervish dance.  As I drove through one leafy frenzy after another and another, I thought of the many frantic dances my friends Jim and Joe have had to perform as they were growing up feeling different.  As they met with intolerance at every turn.  As they quietly accepted that they had none of the rights that other committed couples shared. I wondered if they did the same dance over and over for each situation they encountered, or did they vary the steps sometimes.

I keep coming back to the last statement “the eloquent gentleman” made about J and J.  He said, “Jim and Joe have taught us all how to live our lives.”  As I shout “Amen” to that, I realize the answer to my pondering in the last paragraph.  Sometimes these wonderful human beings danced a waltz.  Some days they did the twist.  There must have been days when the hokie pokie seemed appropriate.

Now that I think about it, I doubt their dances were ever frenzied.  And the type of dance is irrelevant.  Whatever the dance, they did it together and with purpose.