Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Funny Monday to Share

I'm bouncing back after my post Thanksgiving emotional letdown. Been busy preparing for the parking lot Yard Sale at Weeki Wachee this Friday and Saturday. I went through our Christmas decorations and culled out many things we'd actually retired over the years.

I thought about offering some things to the kids, then realized it is mostly a collection of kmick knacks accumulated from one holiday to the next. Things that anyone can still purchase at Target, Macy's, maybe even the Dollar Store. They already have their own collections growing in the back of some closet.

We had quite a collection of those little ceramic snowmen or Santas that housed tea lights. Kevin was crazy for candles. The first thing he did when he brought one home was light it. Just a few minutes to make sure it the wick was okay, I guess.  Some years it seemed as though every flat surface in the living room was occupied by an lighted Santa or miniature tree or Frosty.

Until one Christmas when I discovered battery-powered tea lights. And I picked up a box of them. That year the little ceramic candle holders were shining  through the holidays. Unknowingly, I ended that part of our holiday traditions. Wasn't quite the same for Kevin.

We also had a box of cheap decorations we'd used when we first set up a tree and slowly eliminated them as we accumulated better pieces. That's all going, too. Hopefully, someone else is starting out.

So, back to the yard sale this weekend at Weeki Wachee. Monday was a beautiful day here. We have a van that has the third row of seats.The back part of the seats is always folded down, but the seats take up a lot of space and we never use them. A few years ago Kevin attempted to take them out, but changed his mind when he couldn't figure out how to do it. You know those directions in the manual and how they don't quite make sense to some of us.

Well on Monday, I decided to try again, because I need the room more than the extra seating. Here I was with the rear door up, reading, rereading the directions on page 120  and fiddling with the locking handles. Anna (my neighbor) walks up with her dog Lady. "Whatcha doin?" she asks. I explained what I am trying to do and she immediately drops the leash and starts successfully fiddling with the locking handles.

Together we get the base freed and all that's left to do is slide this ridiculously heavy bank of seats back and out the rear door. But wait. One side is stuck or we had it tuned a bit so it wouldn't slide along the track. /So, now she is in the van pushing from the front and I am in back of the van pulling.

Just then Bill, our neighbor from across the street sticks his head out the door and tells us to wait a minute and he will help us. He was on the phone.  By then we'd secured Lady in a safer place as we quickly realized this sucker is heavy. Anna lost her husband a few years ago and over the years, we've had conversations about grief and loss. I never thought I'd be in the same position. We'd just talked about my up and down blue weekend and she reassured me, I would get through it.

Anna is small, but strong. She gets lots of exercise keeping Lady happy. So I thought this will take GIRL POWER.

We waited. For one minute. We gave each other a look, finally freed the seats and rolled them to the rear.

Yes they were heavy. We made a plan to put them on the carport. In all of my Lucy and Ethel moments of wisdom. I decided to back the van out of the driveway, turn around and back in so we wouldn't have to carry it as far.. I don't even know what I said to Anna, as I jumped in, started it up put it in reverse and slowly backed down the driveway.

Apparently Anna thought I was backing up a  away from the carport . When she thought I'd backed far enough away she started waving for me to stop. I didn't know what she was thinking. I immediately hit the brakes because I thought she was telling my to stop. Maybe there was a car coming or something. Well. you guessed it. When I hit the brakes, the seat flew up into the air and made a crash landing right in the middle of the street. Fortunately it is not a busy street.

We looked at each other and burst into boisterous, belly busting laughter. We couldn't  stop and I felt something good, like the huge weight of sadness being lifted away. I could breathe. I wanted to laugh as loudly as possible.

Amazingly, it wasn't damaged. I pulled the car back into the driveway. We hoisted it up and carried it up the drive to the carport when it sits. Anna, asked if I wanted to put it somewhere else. We considered the living room and that started another round of laughter.

Crazy, but that was just the pick-me-up I needed.

Remember Bill. Poor guy was tied up on the phone forever and missed the fun.

Wait there's more

Another funny  happened on Monday. Last week on Tuesday a UPS guy came to the door with a package. Stephanie told me she was having one of Serena;s birthday presents delivered at my house, as they would be there after it arrived. She told me UPS and more details like where it is coming from and contents. Details that lay dormant in my brain.

So I was busy doing three things at once when I saw him at the door and immediately knew he was delivering Serena's package. I went outside. He handed me the box and I said, "Do you by any chance have  the Christmas stamps?" He removed the ear phone from his ear and said, "What?"

"I need to go get Christmas stamps and thought you might some with you." He gave me a huge smile, tapped his chest pocket and replied, nope. no. He did not have any..

Okay so, like I said I was doing three things at once and was also considering if I should go to the post office to buy the stamps or order on line. Just then this guy comes along, at the same time the mail usually gets delivered and I immediately think he the mail carrier. Of course I didn't realize this until he was way down the street.

I was so embarrassed. I imagined him messaging his friends, family and coworkers about the nutty old lady he just ran into. Well, shortly after the seat incident, I was on the porch and heard  the UPS cart pull up across the street. In our community, they use a cart to delivery, this time of the year.

After he made the delivery and was returning to the cart, I called out to him, twice. He had to take out the ear phone to hear me. "Hey, sorry, but I thought you were the mail carrier last week when I asked about the stamps."

He laughed. Said he thought it was something like that. Then he waved and replied, "No worry. It's all good."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Two Kiwis and An Avocado

Sorry I've been away for so long. For the past nearly two weeks I've been happily busy cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving Day weekend visitors. Stephanie and Serena arrived Wednesday afternoon and from then on we found a lot to do.

We had Thanksgiving dinner with friends Sally and Anna. I am so grateful they are such wonderful friends. The dinner was superb and so was the company. It was so nice of them to share their Thanksgiving with us, as well as  good conversation.

Wednesday was pizza night and we started binge watching the last two seasons of Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the midnight Friday release of the Netflix Gilmore Girls Revival. Of course we'd already seen every second of that series, but wanted a refresher.

We were finally caught up by Thursday night and spent much of Friday in our pajamas, drinking hot chocolate, watching the newly released four-part series. What can I say. If I had my way, this series would never end.

Netflix revival

Then we binged on Switched at Birth. I am still not sure about that series. At first most of the characters are repulsive. As it goes on, seems like everyone  has good and bad sides. Anyway, I am still in season one and I think there are about hundred more to go.

Poor Stephanie. Each night she would sound the "It's ten o'clock, should we stop here for the night?' alarm. If it weren't for her reminders, my eyes would probably be stuck to the TV screen by now.

Can't get together without crafting

We did some crafting -- painted some clay gingerbread men and stars.

Cook, Bake, Eat

We made and ate a lot of goodies and good food. Stephanie is the Queen of mac 'n cheese, tasty omelets, pizza and  everything she decides to create. Serena rules when it comes to baking cupcakes. She made chocolate/Oreo cupcakes with a strawberry made to look like a pumpkin center. And pumpkin cupcakes that were the bomb.

Shop Local

We spent Saturday morning and afternoon in downtown Brooksville doing the city's Shop local event. We each had a check list of participating stores and restaurants to visit. Someone at each place checked our lists. Once we finished we handed the check lists in, expecting to win one of many prizes awarded in a drawing to those who completed the lists. We didn't win anything, but we did have a great time visiting some pretty neat shops and eating places. We had a tour of the Women's Club. Sampled some of of the restaurants popular dessert offering, received coupons and met some nice store owners.

Then we came home to wash our cars and spend our last evening together doing more binge watching.

The Downside

So what does all of this have to do with two kiwis and an avocado?  For years, every time Stephanie pays me a visit, as well as Maia, I pack up half the fridge and more for them to take home. I am a mom. That's what I do. Every time as soon as they've left the drive way and are out of sight, (besides crying) I find something else I meant to send home with them. Makes me feel yucky.

This morning I started packing Stephanie's cooler and loading some sacks with fruit, etc. well ahead of her 10 a.m. time for departure. I was so organized moving all of the things to send with her to the bottom shelf in the fridge. I  layered the cold items with ice cubes in the cooler. I divvied up  oranges and apples and repacked a bag for her. With all of that completed, I scanned the kitchen once more to make sure I didn't miss anything. Job well done. I gave myself a pat on the back  

She  and Serena packed the car and departed on their 4 hour trip home. I walked back into the house and immediately spied the two kiwis and avocado sitting in a bowl on the counter. I completely lost it.

What really hit me was how much I miss Kevin. All weekend we kept him in our thoughts and remembering of past holidays. 

I told Stephanie and Serena how we, Kevin and I spent many summer afternoons walking through downtown Brooksville and nearby neighborhoods.  We took pictures and Kevin wrote blog posts about our walks. We met locals who shared stories with us. 

Yesterday we visited many shops and restaurants that I'd been to with Kevin He loved the history of the city and the beautiful southern homes. He would have loved the Shop :Local event and seeing the Christmas House decked out for the holidays and the shops filled with art, antiques and quirky old stuff. 

Yesterday marked the fifth month of his passing. That is on my mind when I think how we spent most of our lives together, together. Now, each day, week, month, marks our time apart.

We kept saying he was with us, and I was okay with that. Today, once the girls drove away, I was overcome with sadness and have felt bad all day. I cry and my stomach as well as my heart is aching.

I thought I would breeze through the holidays. Just keep busy and take deep breaths. I was sure.

 I will be okay,  But this really hit me hard, something I never expected, despite the warnings from the recent Hospice sponsored Holidays workshop I attended regarding grief and what to watch for during this time of the year. 

Here is Kevin at a Rays game in 2013. Miss him everyday.

I have a couple of posts in draft, that I may finish this week. Sometimes I get in the middle of my thoughts and then hold back from sharing them. Thank you for reading my blog. I wish everyone a nice, happy holiday season. 

Love and hugs, Nancy

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Keeping busy, moving ahead

I've been in constant motion since I last wrote. This week I attended a workshop at Hospice that delved into coping with the holidays, went to the gym four days, walked 2 1/2 miles on three days, am finding the biweekly grief support group sessions very helpful and interesting, spent a lot of laborious time preparing for the weekend yard sale (which was pretty successful) and got to spend time with daughter Stephanie.

I have a feeling this will be a more like a novel.

So, here we go

I am so glad I attended the Hospice-sponsored Hope for the holidays workshop last Monday. Since Kevin passed away in June, I've done a fairly good job of moving from one day to the next, keeping myself occupied with tasks, responsibilities and social contacts. It's been workable, sort of.

But, the holiday season is around the corner and until this week, I've put off thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years with two grand kid birthdays in the mix. Kevin LOVED the holidays. I love reminiscing about Christmas and the wonderful times we shared. Looking ahead without him here makes me sad.

He had many traditions, starting with Thanksgiving dinner being accompanied by Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant, whenever possible. Speaking of music, Kevin had many hours worth of holiday music on his iPod.Before iPods he had holiday CDs. Before CDs he had tapes and when we first met he had holiday record albums. It was all we listened to very year for six weeks.

He loved the tree, decorating inside and a few lights here and there outdoors. We collected ornaments over the years and made many. I was thinking about listing some of his favorite Christmas objects, but the list is too long. Most are pieces given to us from family, daughters and grand kids. Everything Kevin collected was more than special to him. And he collected all that was the holidays.
Cookies. He helped make gingerbread cookies. I rolled the dough out and he mastered the cookie cutters. He also, mastered eating them -- gingerbread cookies were always his favorites and each year we would keep on making them until I slowed the production down around Easter. 

Cards. For quite a few years Kevin included a letter with the cards we sent. It was a synopsis of our year, the  high points. Last year, Kevin was weak and worn out from chemotherapy.  I'd been drawing cards Kevin sent as thank yous to friends and family who'd written to him during his fight with cancer. He asked me to make our Christmas cards. It was a fun project to do together. It meant a lot to Kevin. The only thing he enjoyed more was getting cards and pictures  from others.

For quite a few years he kept the cards we'd received. He was sentimental, like his mom. She always kept cards she'd received, from year to year. Kevin also purchased the cards we sent. To avoid being wasteful he would always try to use up leftover cards he'd bought for the year before. One Christmas, mom informed him we'd sent her the same card two years in a row. That was pretty funny and he made sure that didn't happen, again.

We celebrated most years with our children. At our house or at one of their homes. There were years when we celebrated by ourselves. We were never apart for the holidays. So, suddenly I am facing the holidays without Kevin doing all of the above. And it sucks.

Best to be prepared

This is where all I've learned at the holiday workshop is crucial to getting myself through it. One thing, I was being so blase about it I didn't realize how emotional it will be during the holidays. 

Every day it is important to have a plan. Grieving can take all of my energy. So, anxiety, stress and most emotions can be so destructive on my health and well being. It is so much better to wake up each morning with something planned for the day. I don't have to go overboard and I can slip a few options in, just in case I change my mind about the plan. 

This is even more important for getting through the holidays, solo. Basically, I can have a plan to spend those special days with friends or family and away from home. It isn't advisable to host  a big party on my own. I need to always have a plan B. For those accepting an invitation, they should make sure their  host understands they may not be able to make it through the whole day, may leave before dinner, if it gets too stressful. And by all means I should listen to my body as it will let me know what's best for me.

I would like to write more about the workshop, but all we covered was extensive and I am running out of steam. Everyone in the workshop had different circumstances and concerns to discuss. Some things I hadn't thought about. Other issues similar to my own. 

The things we all have in common to consider is keeping the memory of our loved ones in mind while sharing the holidays with others. We should talk about them and maybe ask each person bring up something they remember about him or her. Better yet, write each memory down, make a book to share at future holiday gatherings. 

Also maintaining our health and avoiding anxiety. For me, I have to be careful not to overdo with so many things going on at once. I get rattled and forgetful.

I am loving the gym. Stephanie came for the weekend to help me with the yard sale. My friend Anna helped me out on Friday morning and Stephanie arrived on Friday afternoon, in time to go to the gym with me and help with the sale on Saturday. I did pretty well selling things we hadn't needed or used for a long time. My food dehydrator that I used mostly for drying fruits to decorate wreathes, a Serger (machine for sewing) I've had for years, but never really got the hang of using. DVDs, small fridge we bought when our refrigerator quit working and a new one couldn't be delivered for two days, some hats and other things. Stephanie and I took some items to Goodwill on Saturday afternoon and packed the rest for an upcoming yard sale at Weeki Wachee. I will probably regret that decision.


One thing nice about having the yard sale was getting to talk to so many neighbors. Some stopped by to  offer their condolences and remind me to come visit them or holler if I need anything. Many are snowbirds, returning to their winter homes and are just finding out about Kevin's passing..

And getting to spend time with Stephanie.  

Well, it must be getting late. The cat is letting me know she's ready for bed. Until next time. 

Thank you for reading my posts and comments I receive. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Let's Talk About the Election (Just Kidding)

Just one thing. I like the tradition of voting on Election Day. So did Kevin. We early voted once and it seemed anticlimactic.  We had to stand in line and vote in some dinky little office. It had one quirky voting machine that didn't seem to work quite right. It was the 2012 Presidential Election. There were worries that some voters may get turned away and the best solution would be to vote early so any doubts could be worked out ahead of time.

So, I am holding my vote until Tuesday. Can't say that I will miss all of the craziness that's been going on during this election cycle. 

I was given a handout when I started attending the Hospice Grief Support Group. It has a lot of good information, including a task time line guide for getting through the grief process. 

From 0-3 months the Task is to mentally acknowledge the reality of the death, which involves getting through feeling numb, shocked, automatic/robotic responses, disbelief.

Tasks 2 and 3 deal with emotionally acknowledging the reality of the death, emotions range from unexpected outbursts of emotion and feeling like you are going crazy. And expression of the grief, through emotional, verbal,. artistic and physical expression.

Six to nine months is about the time for exploring one's self without physical presence of  loved one. According to the time line Task 4 is when a grieving person may start searching for a new self-identity: reevaluate  belief systems, develop new relationships, do some volunteering, get into new hobbies, return to old hobbies.

At some point last week I thought I was at that point. I took on the task of reopening my Etsy Shop, which is more work than you might think. A customer had written me a couple of months ago looking for another phone pouch. She'd noticed my shop was closed and was happy to finally hear from me. We went back and forth for a few days. about my creating a larger pouch to accommodate her larger phone. Doing this means getting the phone dimensions and working up a pattern for the new line of pouches and then sewing it.  I am also going through my inventory, culling out things I will no longer list, freshening some pieces with a new coat of varnish and making sure everything is in good condition after being packed away for a year and a half.

At the same time I am rounding up things to put in a yard sale next weekend. Doing so is off and on emotional despite where I feel I am regarding the task time line. Not so much of an emotional attachment to the objects I am getting rid of, but feeling emotional over the things I keep. 

I finally asked my customer for time for me to get settled and then I will make the pouch. Haven't heard back from her. I feel bad getting her hoped up and then having to ask her to wait.

So, I started out feeling cocky and ready to face reality. As the week wore on, I began feeling overwhelmed by the large bites I'd taken and fearful I am going to fail on everything I am trying to accomplish.

It is like growing up, again. But the safety net is old and has big holes in it. It isn't that I expect miracles nor do I ever think life could ever be as perfect as it was when I had Kevin here with me.

Taking on too many things at one time isn't new for me. I went through feeling lost and like a failure  when I was a child. At times it was devastating, but I got through it. Kevin was king at keeping things in perspective and reminding me to act like a human instead of trying to be a super human. I miss him so much.

The best part about last week was going to the gym, Tone U and  working out via the toning tables. I am still walking about two miles a day. My leg, knee and hip are feeling better and I  have more energy. Also love that Tone U is free because of my health insurance. 

Another happy spot has been our cat. She's been pretty lethargic and wasn't eating well. But this past week, she  is back to eating and coaxing me to play catch with her, daring me to grab her toys away from her. Here she is yesterday, with her favorites:

So you must be able to tell from this post, just how I am on an emotional roller coaster ride, despite my initial upbeat, positive outlook for the week. Maybe this is how it will be. Laura, the grief support group leader called and left me a message last week, checking on me and offering one on one support if I feel the need. I may call her. On Tuesday I am going to the support for getting through the holidays workshop and Thursday the grief support group meets, so I should be getting a hefty amount of attention and aid this week. As long as I have time to get all of the other things done. :)

Thank you for reading my posts and for your concerns, responses. Have a good week. Be healthy and happy.