Today I video chatted with my parents while sitting in my car parked in my driveway, my three dogs slumbering in the backseat on a blanket I stuck there for them, knowing they would be noisy inside the house, but happy to curl up near me while I talked.
I chose the car because it was the only unoccupied space, every other room in the house being used as remote classrooms, practice rooms, and one at home office.
We started talking about favorite Lebanese dishes we each have been making lately, and planing our next shopping trip based on some recipes I hadn’t made in ages.
I love, love , loved when my mom pulled out her well loved, well used and well worn cookbook, with its oil stains and crumpled pages and handwritten notations. I loved it almost as much as I loved the sight of my mom’s hands in this picture holding the book up to the camera so I could see. Her hands are love itself.
Like so many of us I have been struggling with so much worry these days. It’s been hard to sleep and often hard to redirect my mind from what’s happening in the world.
I keep myself busy with projects inside, and spend as much time as possible doing things around the yard in the fresh air, spending time with the kids, hanging out with the animals to manage and ease my anxiety. We take walks each day to pass the time and to get a bit of exercise. We share meals together, play games, and talk. The walls feel alternately safe inside, and just a little close as the days and weeks pass.
A text from a friend came this afternoon saying she’d left a little something for me by my front door. A simple white envelope. Inside the envelope was a thin silver chain with the word “wish” dangling from it and a delicate glass ball with two dandelion seeds inside. There was a little handwritten note that made me smile and tear up reminding me to look on the bright side and to continue making wishes.
She and I usually spend all night at work together on our shifts. We’ve laughed and cried over each other’s trials and victories. So often our lives mirror each others. We each have big families in close quarters. Two of her sons and two of mine have the same names and even the same uniquely gifted brains.
We’re both fierce. We give the best advice and we are the worst at taking it.
We’ve stood side by side through some pretty hairy nights, and watched the sunrise through the windows in the morning with hope. We share life hacks and pool information to help each other through. We push each other to remember to take care of ourselves and always have eachothers back. Everything with hope and a wish.
Sometimes the littlest things bring such great comfort and so much hope. Like knowing someone still believes in you, and still believes in wishes.
Cooped inside for over a week with actual chickens, and climbing over 4 young adults, 3 dogs, and 1 hubby, I said to myself:
“You know what would be a fun, easy and delicious way to cheer everyone up? APPLE ROSES!”
According to a sadistic baker on line, with a perfectly clean and spacious kitchen, this should do the trick. She had pictures and an “easy how to video!” encouraging me and telling me this should only take me approximately 20 minutes, two apples, and a roll of puff pastry dough to pull off.
And someone else assembling it for you.
I’m thinking she left that last part out and is sitting somewhere in seclusion with a huge glass of wine, laughing her ass off and waiting for all the uploaded failed attempt pictures to start rolling in.
Unfazed by her perfect teeth and unnatural smile, I punched preheat on my oven, grabbed a knife and started in.
Step 1 was simply to cut the apples in half with the peel still on and slice the halves paper thin because the edge of the peel is supposed to look amazing like the red edge of a rose, and the paper thin is so the slices are easy to manipulate once they’re warmed in lemon water.
Only she lied.
20 minutes TOTAL prep time? Nope. I’m calling bullshit on this one. It took me almost that long hunched over the damn apples, squinting through my glasses and cursing as I alternately sliced too thin and too thick pieces, tossing them into the lemon water as fast as I could before they could brown in the swear infested air.
Step 2 seemed easy enough and here, I really thought I’d make up some time since the dough came ready made. I admit it was in my freezer for at least a year, pulled in and shoved back half a dozen times with aborted plans to make this or make that, so maybe I’m partially to blame.
Except when I carefully unrolled it, the sheet of dough came apart like I had opened a bag of shredded cheese. By now, the dogs had learned to swear and were sagely nodding and saying things like “wtf mom” and “damn girl, that looks BAD”. I smooshed the bits together, sprinkled flour and started to roll it back into a sheet. About 14 minutes later, now a full 34 minutes into that “easy 20 minute treat”, I had something roughly shaped like Antarctica. I decided that was as close to a rectangle as I was going to get, and proceeded to step 3.
The recipe called for apricot preserves, I had strawberry so strawberry it was. I thinned it like Satan instructed in her video, carefully picking out big bits of strawberry, and spread a thin layer over Antarctica.
Next I took the not very thinly sliced apples and layered them along one edge of the jammy dough, sprinkled on some cinnamon, and started to roll the first “rose”.
The woman looked adoringly at me as she rolled her own rose within seconds and plopped it with finesse into a buttered muffin tin.
Now it was my turn only they were hard as hell to roll. The apple slices were too thick and not very soft. The jammy, squishy dough kept coming apart and the slices kept popping out as I rolled and swore and scraped the globs of dough that refused to play along, sticking in clumps to my counter. I just sort of smushed and jammed them into place. Patting each “rose” like a toddler pats a cat to keep them from escaping the tin.
I surveyed my bouquet with a great deal of annoyance, now an entire hour into this endeavor and stuck the tray into the oven with one final cuss.
45 minutes later, having shoveled out my kitchen and hosed it back into a rough semblance of cleanliness, I pulled the apple treats from the oven. Using a pairing knife and a new batch of swears, I freed each blossom from its carmelized prison and set them on a plate with a dusting of powdered sugar.
I have to admit they looked fairly decent despite their inauspicious start and I patted myself on my back for enduring in the face of such adversity. I high fived the dogs, reminded them that people swears are only for people because dogs know better and people are, well, people, and gave them each a slice of ham for staying with me to the bitter end.
I’ll be here all week folks. Dont forget to tip your waiter, bon appetite, thank you and good night.
Someone recently asked how my partner and I are managing to practice social distancing while living together under the same little roof.
I’m so glad I was asked! I’m sure there are MANY readers also have these questions so I will answer them as best I can.
“Do you sleep on opposite ends of the house?
Does one of you sleep in the garage while the other sleeps upstairs?
What do you do if you dont have a garage?
Do you facetime meals from around the house?
Have you ever prepared for this with cybersex ? If so, are you willing to run a seminar online explaining the best cybersex positions?”
Partners should maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet. 10 feet is preferred, but for centuries men have been telling their partners that 6 feet is 10 feet, when actually it is closer to 5 feet, causing more than a few “animated conversations” and name calling (see “liar liar pants on fire” research paper published by Ura G’Damnliar in the American journal of Medicine’s Valentine’s day edition) so experts have settled on “10 feet” as the accepted distance for “safe and healthy partnering” assuming most will actually be closer to 6 feet at best.
2. Partners can safely sleep in the same bed as long as they observe the following precautions:
*sleep facing away from each other, and wear neoprene dive suits. The mask need only be worn if one of you is experiencing gas, and only by the person not experiencing gas so that you dont have to experience your partner’s gas.
Again, the mask only works when used properly and appropriately. Actual masks are the only accepted barrier. Please do not place a bag over your partner’s head no matter how tempting it may become.
We do not have a garage, and all available rooms have college kids squatting in them and eating all our cereal so we suit up and face away responsibly.
Remember: NO TOUCHY!
Meals are shared via Zoom conferencing. Diners have the option to dial in from any one of the three vehicles parked in the driveway, the goats enclosure, the main children coop, the fort on the swing set, the shed, and the covered porch.
An actual seat in the kitchen is reserved for whoever cooked the meal, also referred to as “the chairman of the feast”. Surprisingly, and as strange as this sounds, the honor or cooking the meal and getting the chairman’s seat is never sought after by the other squatters. Odd.
Sex. It’s the question you’ve all been waiting for me to answer so I’ll just get right to it.
Sex is a healthy and wonderful way to stay connected. To yourself. This virus is crazy catch so it’s time to take Trudie and Sting’s tantric example and practice mind f**king.
Sit across from your partner (10 feet/6feet apart) and maintain constant eye contact while repeating everything your partner says in a high whiny voice back to them. (Please refer to the April fools day publication of “I know you are but what am I??” By Styxx N’Stones)
This will definitely get a “rise” out of your partner and you will certainly feel elated and flushed from laughing when the vein on their temple throbs in time to the electronic dance music you insisted on to “set the mood”.
I will not be conducting an online course in Cybersex. Cybersex is really more of a deeply personal choice. What you choose to do with your computer is up to you, so long as its consensual, you establish a safe word with Siri/Alexa/Google (and honor it!), your computer feels respected, AND you make sure to wipe your keyboard down THOROUGHLY with alcohol.
You may want to throw a few back yourself since you’re clearly having more of a relationship with your computer than Charles Babbage, (the English mechanical engineer and polymath, who originated the concept of a programmable computer and is considered the “father of the computer”) EVER intended you to have…See? We’re LEARNING here. This is actually educational.
As for recommended positions during sex.. the politically correct positions tend to be favored by the twenty/thirtysomething crowd, and many partners never get around to actual sex because they’re too busy saying things like “after you”, “no, after YOU”, “No, no, after YOU!”. Often one or both will fall asleep, ending the exchange.
Older, less politically correct folks tend to be drawn to the Medicade for all position because a lot of us have parts of us that leak and need attention. This also makes for a compelling case of “NO TOUCHY”.
As a general rule of thumb, if it leaks, leave it alone and call someone to take a look at it.
Contagion is bad enough people, let’s not add faulty plumbing and floods to this. Its biblical enough out there these day. Contact your plumber or your doctor or both if needed, and PLEASE people, stay 6-10 feet the hell away from me until this is all over!
I certainly hope this helps. I love you all now dont sneeze on me.
It’s amazing how vast and deep our love grows for someone, without us even noticing the breadth, until we come close to losing them. Even if that someone is covered in fur, and leaves muddy paw prints all over the place.
Noel has always been a little miraculous with just how many lives shes touched through pet therapy. I’ve been reluctant to post an update on her healing until she was well and truly out of the woods and into the clear. We were worried she was just rallying for a bit because she was happy to be home with familiar smells and sounds and the people who adore her, and wanted to give it time.
Noel surprised us all, the vet included, and has grown stronger every day, and closer to her regular measure of silliness and self appointed enthusiastic yard protector.
Yesterday we took to the rail trail for the first real (gently paced, frequently stopping and sniffing paced) walk. It was such a delight to watch the three happy puppies (I know, I know they’re actually old ladies, but they’ll forever be puppies to me❤) hopping and skipping and sniffing and rolling around that trail.
There was no actual “walking”, just lots of ridiculous displays of joy. I abandoned any goal of reaching the mile markers, and just grinned and followed them from pile of interesting thing to pile of interesting thing.
Noel and I are hoping to be back in schools and hospitals soon, ready to snuggle when you are.
I have never been more proud of my daughter than I am right now.
That is saying a lot.
She was placed in the position of adding her voice to powerful messages of hateful teachings of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identification, and women’s rights while leading a retreat, a “safe space”, and she refused.
She did more than just refuse, she stood up to be counted. She spoke up. She stood toe to toe. She would not back down to pressure by adults she has revered.
It was a crushing moment. People let you down in those moments. Adults let you down when they hold a place of love and honor in your life and ask you to do something that you know in your heart to be wrong. Its crushing.
She stood tall and strong and refused to stand in front of her peers and add her voice to hate. She endured pressure and anger and judgment and still stood fast and strong. She tore the teachings up and dumped them exactly where they belong, in the trash, and she voted with her feet and walked out of those doors.
To those of you who face discrimination based on your sexual orientation, your gender identification, on anything at all know this;
We stand with you. You have our voice, our love, our vote and you are not alone.
God does not judge people.
People judge people.
Love is love. Hate is hate. When you encounter hate, stand up and stand strong.
You, every single one of you, are an irrepeatable gift.
You are loved.
THAT is your birthright and I will die defending it.
Affer a very, very long (albeit lovely) day of work, errands and life in general, I made my way upstairs to my bedroom to climb out of my clothes and into my jammie’s.
I stripped down to the skin God gave me, and stood for a moment to take a deep breath, when the thunderous sound of feet racing up the stairs was followed immediately by my door bursting open as I faced it wearing only surprise.
Two of my children exploded into the room.
We all screamed (for different reasons I imagine) and my daughter shoved her brother out into the hall, locked the door and fell onto my bed laughing and yelling at the banished boy.
They were arguing over who was my favorite. No lie.
They were arguing over who was my FAVORITE and they chose THAT particular moment to settle the debate.
Apparently my daughter had made grandiose claims tp her brother that I had texted to her earlier that SHE was the most favored.
Their arguing continued in my bedroom while I stood naked, completely NAKED. And stunned. And NAKED.
Did I mention that I was naked? Because I was. VERY NAKED. And yet they persisted in debating at full volume, the standing each had in my heart.
The heart inside my very naked body.
This may come as a surprise to some.of you but It is very hard to maintain a sense of dignity and decorum in this household under the best of circumstances.
“GET OUT!” I yelled into the vacuum of my children’s attention.
“GET OUT AND LET ME GET DRESSED! ALONE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY, GET OUT!”
My daughter scrambled off the bed and out the door, slamming it behind her while the two of them continued to argue about who I loved best.
Finally my son called loudly through the chaos
“JUST TELL US WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE!”
That was it. I snapped.
“SWEET BABY JEEZUZ! GO AWAY!”
I heard my son say quietly to my daughter as they retreated:
“See? I TOLD you it wasn’t you. It’s Jeezuz.”
And now for a drink. A strong one. But first, CLOTHES.
I’m at peace. Ish. At peace-ish. Despite not being remotely prepared for this holiday, I let go of the remnants of control I held onto and gave in. I surrendered and curled up in my bed, sleeping and healing for the past week.
That was both a solid and responsible decision health wise, and an incredibly foolish one the week before the holidays.
My doctor and family are equally surprised by my unprecedented show of good judgment, and my UPS driver is worried I’m seeing someone else.
I had a low moment texting with a friend, and complained that I still needed to start my holiday shopping. My friend who does not celebrate really much of anything sent back “Holiday shopping? What’s that?” So I explained:
“Holiday shopping is when you make a list of all of the people in your life that you want to disappoint, and you take that list to stores crowded with people carrying lists of people that THEY want to disappoint, and you elbow your way through them as you shove the one remaining cart with the stuck wheel through aisles of useless or too expensive stuff.
You cry off and on and eat loose purse candy to keep your blood sugar from plummeting you into mindless violent outbursts. You load your faulty wheeled cart full of items you are certain wont fit/last/be compatible/be to their taste and try very hard not to throw things in the direction of the speaker nearest you, the one playing the chipmunks Christmas song, the song that curdles your blood.
You peel every layer of clothing off while still maintaining a level of decency and decorum worthy of family venues because it’s a thousand degrees in the store. That’s to be expected. You are, in fact, in Hell. Hell is hot. You should have recalled this and dressed appropriately.
Once your cart is too heavy to shove, you turn it around and drag it tracktor style towards a checkout. Once piled on the conveyor belt you proceed to extract the kidney you think is least likely to survive your kids college years, and then auction it off to cover the tab at the register.
If the kidney is a no go, be prepared to trade your car in. Most cashiers are college kids too and have low enough standards in transportation options that they’ll probably be foolish enough to take your steel and plastic bumper car as payment for your stuff. Let them.
If you shop the same day I shop just know it will be combination snow/raining making it almost impossible to shove-drag your cart to your car all the way at the back of the lot. It’s always a combination snow/raining when I shop. Even in July. Dont ask. It just is
When you finally get it all home and into your kitchen where you absolutely WILL give up and drop the stuff, grab the big soup bowl from the cupboard and fill that baby to the top with your cooking wine. Sit right down on the floor and empty that soup bowl with the last of your loose purse candy. That’s your dinner. The family can feed itself.
That’s a a long title. Even for me. But honestly, if you’ve read my stuff before you can tell the kid next to you to buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Or tuck and roll if you dont. Your choice. It’s been a bumpy ride and I feel like really letting it out on the corners and I’m not gonna hit the breaks. Not today Satan.
I’ve been at war with my insurance company for months. It seems the treatment and the procedure I have every several months when I cant take the pain levels, the ones that have been used for over twenty years, this they now categorize as “experimental”, denied three appeals, and suggested my SPINE SPECIALIST (who absolutely will NOT) perform a delightful treatment wherein nerves at the base of my spine (but dont worry, only SOME nerves) are BURNED. Yeah, you read that right. And no, there is no great success rate, and no I’m not batcap crazy OR going to allow it.
A fourth physician’s appeal prevailed this morning, so everyone take a nice deep breath and a solid four fingers of Old Grandads along with me.
It’s a new policy and I’ve used language with people at the other end of my phone you’d blush hearing. To be fair, you don’t need to have stood next to me to have been privy. You could have been several states over by the second month and fiftieth phone argument and been gasping and clutching your pearl’s. Better? Good, we’re not stopping here so pee quickly and use the hand sanitizer.
I have fibromyalgia. Had it for years. During flareups I get swelling around the nerve bundles at the base of my spine. It’s…uncomfortable, to be ladylike, and makes my legs wonky and my feet idiotic.
I’ve seen all the best Boston has to offer over the years, and we have all agreed that if it can’t kill me, I can work with it. And I work the ever living hell out of it.
As my father says, “If everyone threw their problems into the middle of the room to get rid of them, they’d grab their own back and be thankful once they saw what else was out there “.
He’s right, and I am. Thankful.
Now while I’m full of gratitude and all, if any one of you tell me to try a supplement, or special diet, or fancy dance that will cure me because you know a guy who’s friend had a plumber who’s wife had a client who’s kid was part of a study that studied people who aren’t doctors or scientists and they once held a symposium on “fibromyalgia” and it magically went away, l swear on all that’s holy and righteous in this world I’ll kick you in the damn teeth and wear the ones that fall out on a necklace.
Today my favorite doctor’s office manager called his favorite patient. That’s me, I’m his favorite. See prior blogs and say hello to the others there wondering how in hell their search engine interpreted their request for free kittens for Christmas as #closertocrazy. Slap on a name tag, there are a lot of you.
Today I got the call to come in for the procedure (the one that works, not the one they used during the inquisition) and once again I was led to a room and left unsupervised.
You read that right. I’m alone in his office, waiting to be taken in and shot in the ass (well, between my dimples of venus…) multiple times. Alone in an office just full of fun things and not a person to slap my hand away and remind me I am someone’s mother. And it’s taking a while.
My favorite girl and I were both in need of a reset. It’s been a challenging several months for both of our bodies and both of our spirits needed a holiday refresh.
I’m blessed to have good friends who encouraged us to be impulsive and to come away and be wrapped up in the cheer of the seasonal beauty, all the sights, and the warmth of excellent company and conversation.
We boarded a bus out of Worcester and slept our way to the big apple, carrying only what we needed in backpacks (a wildly impressive fete for anyone who knows either of us), and wandered around Rockefeller Center, Saint Patrick’s cathedral, and Times Square, crashing at an old friends apartment just walking distance from it all.
We dined on pizza and thick slices of cheesecake, and burgers so huge and delicious I still picture it when I close my eyes. Not a single meal was sensible, restrained, or regretted.
We noshed and talked with old friends, took pictures, window shopped, and joined unexpectedly in a street performance on our way to the metro. “We need a mom for this” a guy yelled as he walked over and grabbed my arm, pulling me into the circle. So yeah, great, I’m the obvious mom in the crowd now, but I got to be part of the show so kiss my mom butt.
Tomorrow my favorite girl and I are meeting up with more dear friends for lunch, visiting the Cathedral of St John the Divine, and seeing “Chicago” at the incredible invitation of these amazing people I’m blessed to call part of my tribe.
Saturday morning we’ll hop a bus and sleep our way home and carry these memories for a lifetime.
I’m trying to stop waiting for the “right time”, “the best time”, or even good weather to do new things, to go new places, to be braver than I have been in the past.
It’s time to spread my wings, even if they feel weary and worn. Especially when they feel weary and worn. It’s time to just jump and see how far these wings and my wishes will take me.