A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Archive for December, 2013

Mom’s Birthday



Norma Moore.1930

Mom, 1930, about 3 months old (?)

Mom will be 84 tomorrow. Looking at her baby picture, I see the same fat baby cheeks that show up in most all the babies born in our family.

Mom c. 1944

Mom, age 15


In this photo, I see the girl that Dad fell head-over-heels for and married four months later.

Cutie-Pie Norma

Mom, about 25

This is a picture of the mom my sister knew when she was little, before my brother was born.

Mom, age 32

Mom, age 32

And this is a picture of Mom when I was a baby, the mom my sister and brother both knew, but before I can really remember.

Mom & Kay c. 1969

Mom, around age 39, with me, about age 8

And now, the Mom I remember, still very slender, still very youthful, but with that scary 60’s-era bouffant or whatever it’s called.

Norma, age 60

Norma, age 60

After they retired and moved out to the country, Mom didn’t want to spend the money for the weekly hairdresser’s appointment, so she started getting the tightly-curled, old lady afro perm that she still gets today (see above – same hairstyle she gets at Fantastic Sam’s ). I have no memory of what my mother’s natural hair looks like, although I suspect it would be just like mine, straight and baby-fine. I keep mine very short, but it seems like I remember hearing her say that she doesn’t like the shape of her head, and so a cut like mine would not sound like a good plan to her at all.  (How does a person decide she has a funny-shaped head??)

Mom, age 80

Mom, age 80 (almost)

See – the same perm (well, this one needs trimming a little) and she doesn’t dye her hair at all. I don’t think that gray at her temples showed up until she was 70.

9.10.11 105

Mom, almost 82, at the front of the grocery

And here she is a couple of years ago, sitting where she always sits when we go grocery shopping. She visits with the cashiers and baggers while Steve and I walk all around the store.

12.19.13 camera download 070And here she is last month at Thanksgiving, sitting in the living room of the house she lived in before she moved in with me.

We went out to dinner tonight, but I forgot to take any photos. She’ll be going to The Neighborly Care center tomorrow, and she made sure they know it’s her birthday. They’ve invited me to come for cake, so that’s what I’ll be doing on my lunch break. And I already have my camera in my purse.



To A Better Year in 2014

Following the road ahead

Following the road ahead

2013 has been a difficult year for me.

Mother fell in early March and cut her head so badly she needed 24 stitches. She ended up in the hospital for almost a week and then a rehab center  for an additional 5 weeks. When we finally got her home (with the addition of a walker for her to actually use instead of just drape clothing on), it was with the understanding that she wouldn’t be left alone until all the therapists had signed off, so it was into May before I was able to get back to my full schedule at work.

At which point Bella, my 11-year-old lab mix stopped being able to use her back legs. We tried steroids and pain meds and shots, but when she became totally unable to walk, plus in obvious pain, we had to make the decision to put her to sleep, which happened the first week of June.

The slightly annoying pain in my shoulders became increasingly un-ignorable. After several weeks of NSAIDS and two rounds of steroid injections, my orthopedist recommended surgery. I balked and went to an acupuncturist. Several rounds of acupuncture produced no pain relief for my shoulders, although it did successfully address some other issues. I’m still dealing with my shoulder issues, but they seem to be improving with the help of Dr. Joe, my sports medicine chiropractor.

With all that, I’ve decided that the black-eyed peas consumed last New Year’s Day were wholly inadequate to the task of bringing luck into 2013, so we’re going to be doing something different on New Year’s Day 2014. We’ll still have black-eyed peas, probably in the form of Hopping John, but since all this crap started in the beginning of March, I’m thinking I must have eaten only 1/5 the necessary amount, so I’ll increase my intake proportionately. I have also decided to add a few other foods and rituals to the mix.

A little internet surfing turned up tangerines as a lucky fruit, being round and golden like coins, for money in the new year. Pork and cabbage are both considered lucky, pork because pigs root ‘forward” and cabbage because it is green like cash. We’ll still have our midnight toasts (with sparkling juice – we’re not big drinkers anymore) and noisemakers (maybe bells this year, rather than clackers) and kisses, and I’m sure Mother will open the door to yell ‘Happy New Year’ to the sky as she does every year.

My friend, Alexandra, tells me that in her native Venezuela, people who want to travel stand ready with suitcases by the front door so they can step out with them into the New Year, and then also step back inside to be sure of a safe return home. I read that in Wales, people open their back doors at the first stroke of midnight to release all the old year’s bad luck, shut the door again to lock it out, and then at the 12th stroke of midnight, open the front door to welcome the new year’s good luck in.

Hungary has a Jack Straw effigy that is burned to get rid of the year’s evils and mistakes, but I’m thinking a New Year’s bonfire in the back yard can receive both regrets and wishes written on small pieces of paper without the symbolism of human sacrifice, thankyouverymuch.

I found a bunch of other stuff on the ‘net, but I think this is plenty. Oh, and a friend at work mentioned having the priest bless her mother’s home for the new year. I don’t know that I could get any priest to come to the Lutheran/Buddhist/Heathen/Agnostic household to give a blessing, but I do have Denise Linn‘s book, Sacred Space, that I believe I can put to good use.

C’mon, 2014 – I’m ready for you.

PMS Alert!



Dear MyMonthlyCycles Member, 

This is to remind you that you should be getting your period in approximately 3 day(s) on December 28, 2013.

The average number of days between your periods, based on your tracking history, is 26 days.


I read blog posts that sometimes share amazingly personal information and wonder how the authors can bring themselves to be so open as to put such highly personal stuff out on the intertubes. Information that will be there forever, forever linked with their names. I read writing books that say writing is about plumbing the depths – and, one would hope, the heights – of one’s history and psyche for compelling topics that will strike chords with one’s readers. I guess I’m doing a little of that today.

The e-mail message above was in my inbox this morning. (Merry Christmas!) It was immediately forwarded to my husband as one of our more important marriage preservation rituals. When were were dating, I was very careful to impress upon him the fact that for ADDers, out-of-sight is truly out-of-mind, and for this particular ADDer, any memory from more than three days ago gets transferred (hopefully) into the “big pool of Before” and most of the time has no concrete calendar/date anchor unless linked to some larger world event. So, for years, even though women’s cycles are monthly, mine was always a surprise, with the only hint being the exponential increase in my bitchiness level a day or two prior.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this website and getting that little e-mail every month helps our household maintain equilibrium. I also thought that now that I’m in my 50’s, it would give me an indication as to when I’ll be done with this foolishness, but over the past couple of years, my 27 -day cycle has actually reduced itself to a 26-day cycle. My body really can’t do anything the normal way.

Ladies, forwarding that e-mail each month truly can save your man’s life, since he won’t inadvertantly ask you about it while in striking range. So – here ya go. My oversharing, public service announcement.  Merry Christmas.


Tramadol 50 mg tablets

I have been having trouble with my shoulders and even had shoulder surgery scheduled before following my son’s advice on getting a second opinion. In between scheduling the surgery and seeing Dr. Joe, I told my orthopedist that the Naprosen just wasn’t cutting it anymore (and had actually never worked that well) and was also starting to bother my stomach.

A script for tramadol was called in to my local pharmacy and it worked wonderfully. I read a little about it and saw that in addition to acting as an opioid agonist, it had properties in common with Effexor regarding serotonin and nor-epinephrine. I thought that sounded reasonable since mood and pain have related neural pathways. What I didn’t realize is that it has a high chance of habituation and really unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. I also didn’t realize that since it is a very strong pain-killer, the prescribing physician is very careful about how scripts are handled. And by very careful, I mean they make it a serious pain in the ass. Only 30 pills at a time. No pharmacy-generated refills. Every prescription has to be requested by the patient to the recorded refill line 24-hours in advance, with each request being run by the nurse for specific approval. It’s a process that has broken down often enough for me to begin experience frustration before even making the first call (sometimes the first of 3 or 4 calls before the script request is actually processed).

Now that the physical therapy has progressed to the point that I’m really feeling good and being able to use my arms a lot more and experiencing a lot less pain, I wanted to see what my pain levels would be without the pain medication. I decided to skip my morning dose and start taking it only in the evening. This turned out to be a terrible plan. By 2:30 pm, I began to experience what I later realized were atypical withdrawal symptoms associated with the neurotransmitter component of the medication. Nausea, agitation, myalgia, plus the original shoulder pain.

Once I got home, took one of the pills, and it had time to take effect, I realized I had a little bit of a problem. I had no way to truly assess my pain levels now compared to my pain levels before because coming off the drug causes all-over muscle pain, kinda like the flu. Also, the last round of trying to get a new prescription had me down to my last pill and becoming panicky. Now, just thinking about having to go through the very frustrating script request process causes a creeping anxiety the closer I am to needing more because I’m worried about not remembering to call in time (and call and call and call since their promised 24-hour turn-around somehow seems to always take me 72 hours) to get the script in time before I run out. Counting my pills on Friday, I realized I would run out on Christmas Day. Which means I would need to call on Friday, just so I would also allow myself time to call again on Monday, and possibly Tuesday, in order to get the script in early enough to get it before the pharmacy closes on Christmas Eve.

It just became overwhelming thinking about it. I came home and tried to search for information on an appropriate reduction schedule. The ones I found were “home-made” by people in addiction groups, trying to wean themselves off 4 or 5 times the amount I am currently taking after having been on it for years for chronic pain. Not something that was terribly helpful, and was actually pretty scary reading through some of their stories about how addictive it is. I think if I had chronic pain that could not be treated, I wouldn’t resent the hassle so much, but that’s not the case.

So, on Friday night, I took 1/2 the dose I had been taking, and have been doing so all weekend. I’m still having sucky withdrawal symptoms, and I’m still not able to tell how much of the pain is breakthrough pain due to my shoulder stuff and how much is myalgia due to titrating off this stupid drug. Even though I was very glad that it helped so much with the pain, I’m pretty pissed off that it was prescribed with little information concerning the drug itself and its addictive properties.

I’m really glad it’s only been a matter of a few weeks and not years, and that my condition is responding to treatment and improving. I don’t know how people truly addicted, both physically and emotionally, to pain medications are able to maintain normal lives.

Thanksgiving in East Texas

Mother relaxing in a familiar spot

We drove to Texas for Thanksgiving this year. Part of our adventure was Thanksgiving Day in Wills Point, in the home Mom and Dad retired to in 1984. Dad passed away in 1988, but Mother lived there another 19 years, until she moved in with me in 2007. Currently my sister’s younger daughter is living there with her husband. All of my niece’s kids were there, and my sister’s older daughter and her son, too. And lots of children, including Mother’s newest great-great grandchild. It really brought back memories of when my children and their cousins were little and we would go to this same house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mother really enjoyed “going home”. She even got to watch the Cowboys win their football game.

Mother and a portion of her progeny

Mother and a portion of her progeny

Mother's newest great-great grandchild

Mother’s newest great-great grandchild

I thought all the noise from all the kids would stress me out since we don’t live with it day-to-day anymore, but it’s more like a slightly discordant symphony and ballet, and less like a cacophonous rabble when none of the little voices are crying specifically for you. My husband and I  just got to sit back and watch and listen and smile.

Gracie taking it all in

Gracie taking it all in

Gracie was very excited to see all the people and other dogs and had a great time socializing, but eventually even she had to take a little break.

Thanksgiving 2013 - Gracie hiding

Gracie taking refuge

We had a wonderful time. We’ve now invited ourselves to two different family members’ Thanksgiving celebrations over the last two years. I wonder who we’ll target next year?



Nativities on bookshelf 12.13.13

Miniature miniatures

I’m not sure just how long ago I started collecting Nativity scenes. I know it was after I was grown, after my kids were born and we started going to St. Paul Lutheran Church, where both of my children were baptized and later confirmed. I think the first one was the Mexican tin one, but I’m just not sure.

Mostly wooden, one from Russia, a couple from Jerusalem

Some I found at garage or estate sales. Some were given to me. Some I found at after-Christmas sales.

Mexican tin one on the far right may be the first one

I haven’t had them out on display for years. Since the kids are grown, I no longer attend church, and no one in my house but me has any kind of emotional connection or memory with them, they’ve just stayed in their boxes, surviving the gypsy times, and waiting for a chance to be seen and once again appreciated.

More kid-oriented

More kid-oriented

When my work sent out an e-mail about a decorating contest, I looked through the bins in the garage and rediscovered my collection. I thought I’d just choose one or two, but I ended up putting them all up around my office. My friends at work really seemed to enjoy them and it was nice to be able to share them and revisit each one myself.


Shopping Cart Rant


Okay, listen up. When you inconsiderately leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot, you:

  1. block a potential parking space (especially egregious when this is a space close-in, or even worse, the handicapped space).
  2. hazard that cart being blown by the wind into someone else’s car and possibly scratching or denting it – or both.
  3. make picking up the carts more difficult for the baggers, so they take longer and are less available inside to bag someone else’s groceries.
  4. show the world what a lazy, inconsiderate jerk you are.

And, as shown in the photo above – you don’t get half-credit for getting the cart to the BACK of the corral and then leaving it still blocking the parking space. For goodness’ sake, how hard is the extra 10 steps?


Library Loot

Thanksgiving 2013 phone pix plus 012

Back at the Oldsmar Library this week. After a “more aggressive” shoulder therapy session with Dr. Joe, I still had a full travel-cup of coffee from rushing out the door to make the appointment on time, and so I didn’t want to go somewhere where I had to buy a coffee to justify my taking up space. I remembered the” library cafe” and decided to head that way. Before getting settled in at one of the little tables, though, I visited their books-for-sale shelf – hardbacks $1; paperbacks 25¢. Score!

My writer’s shelf can always use another Joseph Campbell mythology reference book.

A Journey North is about a woman’s hike along the entirety of the Appalachian Trail – something I have always wanted to do, at least along part of it.

The Lost Boy is Dave Pelzer’s book about being in foster care, a sequel to his book, A Child Called ‘It’, about his early life as the family target of his mother’s insane abuse. I read the first book years ago. It was pretty horrifying and I could never bring myself to read more about it, but now I work in child services and our foster parents are often encouraged to read this, so when I saw it I decided it was time for me to read it, too.

I’ve read several books by Mitch Albom, so I grabbed this one, too.

Conversations With God as a fairly strange book. Neale Donald Walsh, as a writing and/or philosophy exercise, wrote out questions to God (whom he wasn’t sure existed) to see if he got any answers. As he wrote the questions, and thought about them, he felt answers coming into his mind that felt as if they were from outside his normal thinking process. He continued this over the course of weeks or months and ended up with some pretty profound answers that he believes came from somewhere besides his own brain. I read it several years ago and when I saw it, decided I’d like to read it again.

And finally, an Eyewitness Travel guide to Great Britain. I’ve always wished and hoped and longed to travel all over the world. I recently realized that I have never actually planned to travel. So, now I’m starting to make some travel plans. First, a Caribbean cruise out of the Port of Tampa, just to see if we like cruises, and also because Mother can go with us and I think she’ll actually enjoy it. And after that, yes, a trip to Great Britain will be in the works. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies.

Nude Nite

Several weeks ago, I saw something about Nude Nite coming to Tampa and I signed up for their e-mail list. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I got this in my inbox this morning, and it looks wonderful. Nudes in two and three dimensions, artists creating on-site, nude performance artists, others not quite nude, but performing in celebration of the human body.

I don’t remember ever feeling ashamed of my body and always puzzled over references to people (women, mostly) feeling the need to turn off the lights before undressing. I would be naked all the time if I could. I think it would be really cool to be an artist’s model in a drawing class and I’m also intrigued by bodycasts in different materials. One of the art forms I want to explore someday is papercraft, and I think body casting with paper would produce some very nice results.

I am definitely attending when this comes to Tampa. Somehow I don’t think my husband will argue too much. Anyone else want to go?

‘Tis The Season

2013 Xmas Tree

My concession to Christmas decorating

The holiday season always brings about a certain dilemma for me. I just don’t quite know what to do with it.

By the time I was born, my family didn’t really go to church anymore. When my brother and sister were little, I think my family attended a Baptist church, although it may have been Methodist. I vaguely remember us attending a service once or twice around Easter, although the Easter Bunny always visited our house and we hunted boiled, dyed eggs in the back yard. We always had a Christmas tree and Christmas presents, and I left milk and cookies out for Santa, and while we may have sang a few Christmas songs that actually mentioned the baby Jesus, the ones I remember most were about Santa Claus. I don’t remember a formal Christmas story or any Nativity scenes included in our holiday decorations.

When I was in grade school, I went with a neighbor child to her family’s church, and it being a Baptist church and big on outreach, they got me signed up to ride the Sunday bus and I attended church on my own until I was about 17 and became incredibly disenchanted with organized religion, Southern Baptist flavor in particular.

Fast forward a few years to when my children were very young, and their dad decided that the dad-thing to do was to attend church as a family. Never mind that I had never heard him give any opinion on religion or even knew that he had been confirmed in the Lutheran church. Fortunately, the church he chose was part of the most liberal of the Lutheran synods, we became members, and I made many very good friends in the almost two decades we attended. All through that time, when the children would ask me about religious concepts, I would answer, “Lutherans believe….” and then give an answer based on the tenets of ELCA-based Lutheranism.  Well, until they came home from Sunday School one Sunday and asked me about Hell. I told them it was a myth, a loving God would not throw anyone into a fiery abyss for eternity, and not to worry about it.

All during that time, though, in addition to the Christian inspirational books I was reading, I was reading about neo-paganism, Wicca, and other earth-based matriarchal religions, along with books on Buddhism, reincarnation, self-hypnosis, and meditation. And a bunch of other stuff, too. I loved the rituals of the church, the chanting of the Psalms and the liturgy. But sometimes I would be kneeling at the communion rail wondering how anthropologists from other worlds (I read a lot of science fiction, too) would interpret the widespread behaviors of ritual cannibalism, and if one were to fully believe in the Catholic transubstantiation, then the belief in the literal cannibalism of the half-human and half-divine God. And sometimes I would just accept the pastor’s blessing. I guess it depended on the day.

Fast forward again, and I now jokingly tell people that I am Lutheran-Buddhist-Heathen, except that it’s not really a joke; it’s actually a pretty accurate summation of the amalgam of my beliefs set. My husband is a Jewish agnostic/atheist, his  parents the same. My husband’s children were raised going to the Episcopal church with their mother, but I don’t believe they attend church anymore, either.

So, we come to the time of Midwinter Festivals and I am compelled by a sense of family to bring ours together in all their motley glory. But it seems strange to celebrate the birth of a Divine Child that I don’t believe literally existed. If there was an historic Jesus, I believe he would be quite taken aback to find that he has become raised up to Godhood and the center of quite an elaborate mythos. And since my husband has no emotional attachment to any of the traditional Jewish rituals of the season, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to attend to them, either.

This year, I have decided we will have a Festive Yule Feast, a Solstice Celebration. We have some wood from the grocery store to approximate a Yule log and I’m trying to find a market nearby that sells cabrito, as I understand a Yule goat is also a traditional festival food, although a pork roast standing in as a Yule Boar is also a possibility.

I like the idea of celebrating the point in the year where the sun changes its mind about going away and starts coming back a little more each day. Festival of Lights. Light of the World. Return of the Light. Ultimately, I guess we’re really all celebrating the same thing – our opportunity to come together to fight back the darkness of the longest night.

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