Sunday, September 28, 2014



Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother's glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
   But if thou live, remembered not to be,
   Die single and thine image dies with thee.

Always pondering

Well, not always, but, I am often pondering.  Yesterday Nick and I went to a memorial service for a man we have known for almost 40 years.  And didn't really know at all.   Dr. Warren Yates was a linguist at FSI ( the State Dept's Foreign Service Institute)...Nick had just started working for the State Department in 1975, were assigned our first overseas tour- Thailand.  Part of preparing for our transition to living there, we studied Thai at FSI.  We studied  Thai for 10 months  We met Dr Yates back then and we saw him, either when he was instructing us, or just passing in the hall.  He was an every day presence in our lives.

Fast forward to 1998.  I started attending UUCF (Universal Unitarian Congregation of Fairfax) .  The first day I went to church there, who should I see by Dr Yates.  Better known as Warren.

He was a "character", an overused word.  He had some history.  Farm kid from Georgia.  Soldier and POW in WWII. A scholar.  A father, a friend.  He was loved and he loved.   He was a sort of Will Rogers from the sounds of it- to paraphrase, he never met a man he didn't like.

As so often happens, we learn more about a person after they are gone than we ever knew during their life

It is enlightening to learn.  Learning about someone's life is almost a sort of voyeurism, but in a good way.  Looking at a life past and seeing so many points of view for the first time.

Warren died just short of his 95th birthday.  So full of intellect to the end.   

ลา  (good bye Warren)

Friday, September 26, 2014


I'm never even sure what day it is, most of the time.  I look at my phone and it tells me that day, date, and time.  And it is an "old fashioned" flip phone!

I had a semi busy day.  Went to the chiropractor.  My sciatica has been killing me, so that was a good thing- going to see the chiropractor that is. Then I went to the gym and got my membership started up again.  I had it halted when I was waiting for surgery and as I recovered.    I am planning to start going in and working out slowly, next week I hope.  I also called the Breastfeeding Center and told them that I am ready to start working again.   We can use some money.  And I get to do what I love while getting paid for it!  

The guy from Sears was supposed to come and work on the dryer between 1 and 5 today.  He came at 11:00.  I was not home.  Nick was here.  But we had timed our activities to be here during the hours we were told.  Oh well.  There was a service charge- which we knew about.  But Nick said that the guy took about a ton of lint and fuzz out of the inside of the dryer.  I saw it in the trash bag.  Amazing!  repairing the dryer will cost over $400.00.  Or, I should say "would".  We are going to have to go and buy a new dryer.     I even have to re-wash last weeks laundry because it has a burned smell from the dryer.   Oh well.

Somewhere, somehow I came across a web site with pictures of Shamian Island.   This is an island inside the city of Guangzhou, China.  The US Consulate in Guangzhou is (or was) on this island, and we lived there.  I felt so many feelings looking at these pictures.   I have seen many of the places where the pictures were taken.  We lived in the annex to the White Swan Hotel and used the pools and the restaurant there a lot.  We could even call for room service.   I was just starting to know my way around, and had enough of the language to get a taxi and to shop at the market- more or less.  I'm sure that if we had been there for the whole two years we were assigned to be, I would have really gotten to know my way around really well.

A few months ago I started to write about the various kitchens we have had in the places we have lived.  I need to go back and read my blog posts to see how far I got on that project.   I said back then that I would like to write about the bathrooms in our various homes.

There are things I have liked, and things I have disliked about everywhere we have lived.  There have even been things I loved about the places we've lived.  I have gained something and left pieces of myself everywhere we have spent time.

Tomorrow we plan to attend the memorial service of the man who was our linguist at the State Department when we studied Thai in 1975.  When we came back from Australia in 1998, and I joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, imagine my surprise when I saw this man at my church!  And so, tomorrow we will share memories and learn things about a man we knew for almost 40 years and probably didn't really know at all.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's all good!

Nick and I went to Baltimore this week for my three month post op MRI.  

Yesterday I got a call from Hopkins saying that there are no signs of any brain tumors, and that the surgery looks to be healing well.

How about that!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You are at the right place!

I have been fooling around with back grounds and various templates for my blog, which is why it is a different color.  I'm still here, Just greener with a touch of blue.  Everybody needs some change from time to time!

I slept so well last night.  I got up at about 8:00am to go to the bathroom, and then I went back to bed and slept until noon!  It feelt so good!

Carol came over with her two dogs.  We took all the dogs, her 2 and my one, to the dog park.   It was a really nice day for it and the dogs got to run around a lot.  That was great.

We met a woman (youngish- she said she's 48).  She told us about the myriad of medical problems she has.   Poor thing!  It was interesting to hear her talk and explain her conditions and the medications etc that she uses to make her life livable.  At one point, when she was talking, she want into a "stall" which I am guessing was a petit mal seizure seizure.  She was alright after though.  I wish I had given her my phone number.  Oh well, maybe we will meet there again.

Tuesday this week, I go in for my three month, post-op MRI.  I have Daizapam to take so I can keep calm inside the tube.   I am mostly thinking all is well and I will get a clean bill of health.   On the other hand, I have been having some bad headaches the last few days.  So I cannot help but think that maybe there are more tumors inside my skull!   I have been weaning off of my seizure medication, so that may have something to do with the headaches.

I can hardly keep my eyes open.  It's off to bed now for me.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I totally took today off

Not that I have to do anything any day.  But I do like to get up and dressed and do something.  Even if it just means sitting on the back deck getting bug bites.   The weather has cooled down a bit, so there are not as many bugs after me.

Today I woke up on my own.  By that I mean, no barking dog or cats throwing up.  Nice cool air coming in the window and I got myself up.  Of course, the first thing I do upon waking is going to the bathroom.  Usually the animals take their cue and get up as well.  The dog needs to go outside, and somehow, after 8 hours of sleeping, this little dog won't pee.  I have to say in my high pitch talking to the baby/ dog voice "go pee, go pee, go pee".  After he and I have walked around every square inch of the back yard and he has done nothing I might say "GO PEE DAMMMIT!!!".   and he does. Most of the time.  Pooping is the same  way.

Well I get to enjoy a few minutes alone with the neuritic dog with a shy bladder and I get to sip my coffee and eat my yogurt.   So the world is pretty good.

I was planning to take my car in for an oil change and a state inspection- must be done before the end of the month.  Next week will work just fine.

Yesterday (Thursday) morning, I went to my therapist.  The morning before (Wednesday) I went to my psychiatrist in the morning.  So I guess I am cured from crazy for a while!  I joke about it, but it really does help me to have someone objective to talk to about my life's struggles and joys and what my thoughts and hopes for the future are.  But that kind of work can take a lot of mental/ psychic energy.

Then last evening I went to my La Leche League meeting.   There were four of us Leaders there which was great!   A couple of really young babies- the youngest 11 days old!

When a chubby four month old, sitting on the floor across from me, looks at me and gives me a big smile, my day has been made.   Baby smiles are so honest and real and sometimes messy too.

After the meeting, some of us -with older or no kids- or babes in arms- go to the Silver Diner together.

So today, after having my head examined not once, but twice this week.  And sucking up the sunshine energy that babies give off, I am just too tired to force myself to do anyting besides stay in my night gown all day.  

Nick cleaned out the inside of the fridge and figured out what some of the smells were.  It's so nice to see the inside of the fridge so clean.  Even though it is empty!

Ok, Nite Nite.....

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sometimes I feel invisible

I was going to say "sometimes I feel dead", but that sounds way more frightening than I want to sound.  Too dramatic.

Anyone who has spent any time with me has heard me say how much I enjoy a clean house.  Bathrooms.   Kitchens.  Refrigerators.   Floors.  Tables.  Counter tops.    I even like doing the cleaning myself.  But not so much when there are always people around who don't notice.  Or don't care.  Or just don't get it.   Most people I know are more casual about these things I guess.  

And even though I look fine, and seem to have energy, I am still recovering from brain surgery.  BRAIN SURGERY!  Holy cow!  I tire easily.  I get sad easily.   I feel overwhelmed easily.

I occasionally ask for help.  Somehow it feels like asking for a birthday gift.  It means so much more when it is given just because it will make me happy that as an answer to an order or request.

Am I being passive aggressive?  I don't honestly know.  

I feel like if I were to vanish.  Just poof and be gone, nobody would really notice.  No, I don't mean if I die necessarily.   I just mean if I decided that I didn't want to live here, in this life, in this house, life would go on.   Nobody would clean the toilets, but it would be alright because nobody would notice.  And there wouldn't be a nag telling them.    The bills would go unpaid and the electricity, gas and water would all be turned off.  The trash would stop being picked up.  

I feel like I am having a bit of a pity party.  And I feel I have earned it.  

Last week I put up a list of goals for the week.  A sort of chore list.  But, since it did not specifically say that they were chores, just things I would like to see getting done, nobody even looked at the list.  

Am I doing something wrong?   yes, I am.  I know that I can ask for certain things, chores if you will, to be done.  But if they are not done, and I ask again, I am nagging.  I get told that "I do a lot around here". 

One day last week, when I was upstairs resting, I heard the vacuum cleaner being run.  I thought someone had sent their cleaning service to the wrong house or there were dirt thieves in the family room.  No, it was Nick.  he decided that it would be nice to clean up without asking.  Nick, it was nice.  It was thoughtful.  It was a kind and wonderful thing to do.   And I didn't feel so invisible that day.

On another subject, before the thought leaves me:   I have been saying that I don't feel anything had been really all that life changing since the surgery.  I am just the same old me.   It's funny because I was reading what I wrote a couple of weeks after surgery.  Back then I said that I was changed forever because my brain had been handled and muddled about.     So, maybe something profound has happened and I have just integrated it into all the rest of the jumbled up stuff in my attic

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How did it get to be Tuesday?

The weather the last few days has been super nice.  In the 60s and 70s.  I don't think it should ever go above 75°.  It is such a mood enhancer, at least for me, when the weather is enjoyable.   I almost think I could do without anti depressants if there was sunshine and good weather all the time!

Sunday I went to a breastfeeding seminar at Sibley Hospital.  I enjoyed learning a few new things, but more than that, I enjoyed being around other women.  And women who are as passionate about breastfeeding as I am.  Women who don't think I am a fanatic.  Maybe they are fanatics too.  Who cares.

Being among other "grown up" women though- I mean women in their 50s and above, we learn about each others health problems.  A long time, dear friend of mine just found out that she has lung cancer.  Another talked about how her husband was treated for tongue cancer.  I, of course had my brain tumor.   We talk and share because we know that we are human and fragile, yet strong at the same time.   I think we hold each other up.   Some with prayer.  Most with good words and thoughts.   Even if we cannot "fix" or cure our friends, we can be a part of each others lives.  We are all a part of life together.

Yesterday was a day of great accomplishments.   First I went to my chiropractor, who helped my back and hip feel better.  Then, I got home to an empty house.  Something I rarely experience these days.  Nick was at his mother's and Austin was at work.     I did about six loads of laundry; sheets, mattress pad, blankets.   I swept and vacuumed and mopped the kitchen floor.   I got sweaty and hot and felt great!  Doing something that is so basic, makes me happy.  Doing it alone is a gift.

Of course I wish I was not the only one in my world who feels that way.    I don't just mean the people I live with.  I mean the world in general looks upon housework as something that you have to do once in a while, but you hate doing it.   When I feel well enough and have the energy, I love it!    Recently, I was talking to Nick about how much cleaner I kept the house when the kids were little.  He laughed and said that his memory of those days are of the house being a mess.   Well, there were toys on the floor in the family room.  Buy that is mess, not dirt.    I cleaned the kitchen counter and the table and the floor.  I vacuumed regularly.   I even had a schedule (in my head) of what chores I would do on which day. I made a point, whenever possible, to wash sheets, towels, clothes and diapers on Fridays so I would not feel like I had to do anything at all on the weekend.   Friday was my busiest house cleaning day.

To be told it was a mess is just not understanding the difference between clean and tidy.   I never got work evaluations.   If I had issued evaluations to myself, I would have gotten high marks.  I do not expect anyone else to have my standards (but I wish they did), but I do expect to be respected for them.

Today has been another really nice weather day!  I went to Starbucks and met with all the mommies and babies.   One of the moms who left last winter for overseas, is in town for a few days.   She and her former baby, now 5 years old, and her new, 6 month old, were there.  That was so nice!  I was really happy to see them!

Another friend, who I have known since her 12 year old was a tiny baby, came with her 12 day old baby.  I knitted a sweater for her baby and gave it to her.  
I may help out with some housework if I can.

Now, for whatever reason, I have a headache and am tired.    I guess I tend to forget that I had brain surgery just three months ago.   The recovery is still going on.  And on and on.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I am tired, but happy

This evening we went out for Japanese food.  I think I ate raw fish.   Not too thrilled about that, but since it hasn't made me sick, I am not going to dwell on it.

We were celebrating Katie's birthday.  Katie is Austin's girlfriend.   Katie's mom and her boyfriend Jim,  and Nick and I all were there.

After dinner, we went to a place where they have karaoke.  It is a place that Austin and Katie go to a lot.  I think it's the first time I have ever been to a place like that.  I mean, the place was not that unique, but the people standing up and singing was new to me.

The songs were varied, but there seemed to be a lot from the 60's and 70's.  I was dancing in my seat!  I love that music and I love dancing and I love the energy I get from the music.  We sang along in our seats.  I cannot imagine I would ever do the singing with a mike, nut singing along and feeling the beat- that was great!

Now it is late.  I have a busy day tomorrow, so I have to get to bed.

As I said, I'm tired but I'm happy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I returned to work- sort of

Yesterday I made a lactation call for the first time in ages.  It was really nice and felt right.  Another long time LC friend shadowed me, which was fine.  I think she could have done the call on her own.  In fact, I know she could have, but she wanted me to do it, so I did.   It felt good to be doing something productive (and earning money for it).

Emotionally and physically I have been all over the map and around the world and back.  I know I am depressed.  I was born this way.  I am usually okay and can work with it, but the last few days I have had some really blue moments.   Just wanting to cry.  I am sure some of it has to do with my brain surgery and the fact that I am lowering the dose on one of my medications.   And my back, though not as bad as it was last week, still is unpredictable.   Of course, the truth is, I need to lose 100 pounds.   That is too touchy a subject for me to dwell on right here, right now.

And my head has settled down, no longer creeks and clicks, but I have a very lumpy skull.   It is so weird!

I feel so lonely.  I am home with Nick almost all the time, every day all day.  We get along although I know we both can get on each others nerves.  Not all the time though.  I miss my kids.   That's kind of a confusing and difficult thing to explain and for me to understand.   I really don't want them all living here again.  I just wish they were closer.  Or that they would call or write just to check in and see how I am doing.  And to let me have a little peek at their lives.   Of course, I know that's not the way things work.   I have always been the "great communicator".  I always wrote letters to anyone who wrote to me, and often to people who had not written to me.  Before the internet, I was a letter writing (by hand) machine.

I guess I am learning about the fucking empty nest.   

I think one of the things about being a mom to young kids is, that connection you make with the community.  I have always made friends with other moms with similar age kids.  There was a natural connection.  Here, in Reston, I always had other La Leche League moms as my best friends.  We would spend hours together going to play grounds and parks and even to just hang out at each others homes.  Overseas we moms all had the connection of being a part of a small community of expats.

But, as I am sure so often happens, the kids get older and go to school.  Not necessarily the same schools as your mom's play group friend's kids.   Then music lessons and baseball practice.  Then someone moves and the connections grow weaker.   We all live so many lives.  New parenthood.  I felt so smug as a new mom.  I thought I knew everything.  Fortunately for me, the books I read while pregnant laid a foundation for parenting that took me to attachment parenting and LLL.

But now, I am 60.  My "baby" is going to be 24 in a few months.  I don't really have any girlfriends to hang out with.   I have my sister, thank god for that!  I have my women's group on Monday evenings.  But I don't feel like I have any regular "buddy" to just talk with for hours or get a soda with.  Everyone's kids are grown and everyone is busy with their own lives.   My friends with retired husbands are more involved with doing things with their husbands.  That's a good thing.  Nick and I do things together.   But I need women friends!

There has been a lot of stuff about domestic violence on TV the last few days.  An NFL player was recorded knocking his wife out.   So all the talk is about abused women and that sort of thing.  Not everyone seems to understand that it is women who are the ones hurt most often.   I know that men can get abused.  But most of this is about women.

It can be harder for women to get out and away if they are abused and scared.   I went through the first 15 years of my life watching my dad beat the shit out of my mom and my sister and brother.  It was not a joke.  There was nowhere for my mom to go.  She had a high school education.  No job outside the home.  Nowhere to go.   No money.  She stayed because she had to.     I get really sad and upset just thinking about it, it makes me cry.

You know, I help so many people with their problems.  New moms and babies who just need some words of encouragement.  Friends who want to know about one thing or another- I research and find them the answers.   I think I give the impression of being this smart, strong woman who is so busy helping others that maybe I should not be bothered.   But, I would love to be "bothered".  Invited for a walk or for coffee or whatever.

I guess in some way I get a connection with my friends from facebook.   Yeah I do.  Funny, most of them are either family, or LLL friends!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Talking in the dark

The other night, when Nick and I were in bed, getting ready to go to sleep, we were talking.   We often talk to each other in the dark as we are drifting off to sleep.  This time, we were talking about marriage.  Being married.  I asked him how we knew that we should get married.  He said that we just "knew".   We talked about how young we were.  I was 18 and he was 24.  I thought he was so much older than me.  Ha!   He's the same age as my sister.  When we got married, my sister was already married and the mother of two.  A real grown up!

It's funny.  On TV whenever you see a show or an ad where there is an old couple, the couple is supposed to have been married for "25 years" or something leaning towards forever.  But, as I said to Nick, they are all so old.  They really do look ancient, some of them.   Nick made me laugh.  He said "maybe we are that old and just don't know it".  Maybe he is right!

We watched some of a show tonight on people who are retired and are living and traveling in their RVs (recreational vehicles).   When the people were interviewed, their name and age were put up on the screen.  Some were younger than me, some a little bit older.  They live very busy, active lives.  But, they look "old" to me.  Hard for me to relate to.   Am I an ageist?   Am I in denial?  Do I need my eyes checked (yes)?  It is just so strange to suddenly be in the next decade from where I was just a  few months ago.  I am 60!  That means I am in my sixties!  I almost wish I knew what I look like to strangers when they see me.  Note, I said "almost".

My back has been really killing me for the past few weeks.  I have been sitting against a heating pad, and even sleeping with it.   When I stand up, I feel like I am going to make a creaking sound.  I have to stand up really slowly.  Like I am 100 years old.   I went to the chiropractor yesterday.  It helped a bit, but still hurting today.  So, today I went to my regular internal medicine doctor.  He said I might have some compressed disks (?).  At least that's what I think he said.  I went to get some x-rays of my spine.  I laughed when the tech took me into the x-ray room and asked if there was any possibility I might be pregnant.  I asked her how many 60 year old women answered that question with a "yes".   She said it's a standard question.  I know that.  I get it.  It just struck me as funny!

By the way, when I told Nick about my spine, he said "that's what happens when you get old".  Well, he has a point!

My jaw has started cracking and popping too.  Wow, I may be getting older, but I am getting more interesting as well.   What's next?

I have been feeling so blue the last few days.   Not as if anything specific happened.  Pain makes you not feel too great, and maybe grumpy.  I guess it could make you feel blue too.  But I really think it is just that I am missing my kids.  I know that they really love me.  A lot.   And they care about me.  But they don't really "need" me.   They can all take care of themselves.  They all drive and do things that don't involve me at all.   They don't have to ask permission for anything.  Not from me anyway.  I am not there to kiss their boo boos.  Not that they would want me to.

When the kids were small, and under foot all the time, they really did need me.  Nick and I had to teach and protect them.  We helps them, or they sat on our laps.They screamed and got angry and scared and silly.   And I was there.  I got angry and screamed and got silly too.  It was such an intense and exhausting and exhilarating time.  I so often wished for a break.  Even a small one.  I thought the work would never, ever end.   Well, it did.   I still have to work at being a mom.  I have to be thoughtful in what I say and how I might be perceived.    Even though all five of them are older than I was when Nick and I got married, Ia m still their mom, and what I say matters.  They are not even aware of it I suppose.   I know I wasn't with my mom.  But, without thinking I could really say or some something hurtful or insulting, or just plain old annoying and patronizing.  Parenting adult children means being aware of the fine line you walk.  A tightrope at times.

My mother told me that John Kennedy Jr. (John John) said "you don't really become an adult until after your mother has died".   Is that true?  I wonder.   There have sure been a lot of times when I have wished I could speak to my Mommy.

This is what I wrote on Facebook yesterday:    
When all five lived at home, even before that, before there were five, there was a lot of noise, chaos and mess. I was always running around. I got so frustrated at times. I yelled at everyone. I couldn't have even have imagined having them out of my bed much less my house. I just want to hold them. I guess I always will hold them in my heart

Okay, I could write on and on into the night.  But I think I have said enough for one evening.