Friday, November 30, 2007

Some Days Just Stink

I lost a resident today.

I wish I could say that it was a matter of her wandering away, of her playing hide and seek, of her simply ducking my calls.

But it's not.

Ms. T died this morning.

She was 79.

I don't work in a nursing home. I work in an apartment complex. We're just like every other unfurnished apartment complex, except we are subsidized by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and we are especially for seniors. What that means is that we can provide the type of living they are accustomed to but, due to small Social Security income checks, can no longer afford.

Still, because we are for seniors, over the 8-1/2 years I have been here, I have lost many residents. It's simply a matter of aging in place and the facts of life.

I have to admit, there are some deaths that don't affect me as much as others. I don't mean that callously or cruelly, it's just the way it works. I have so many residents, I don't know them all as closely as I do some. This death, however, hits a bit hard. For Ms. T and I - we have a history.

For the first couple of years that I worked at the complex, Ms. T and I hated each other. Okay - hate is extreme. But work with me, because it definitely went beyond extreme dislike for the two of us. She never admitted to her original thoughts of me, but I knew they weren't good. In my mind, Ms. T was a nasty, opinionated old woman who consistently complained about everything and everyone.

Then came the buzz on my alarm panel.

Because we are for seniors, our building has emergency pull cords in all of our apartments. During the day, we - the office staff - respond. If after hours, we have a monitoring company that will immediately dispatch an ambulance/fire.

The buzz on my panel came just as I was closing up my office. Checking the apartment, I gritted my teeth and called. No response. Grabbing my keys, I ran to her apartment - knocking as I went in, calling her name.

There she was, seated in her big chair, head back, eyes opening as I came in, looking just fine.

Until I caught the whistle and gasp rhythm that I realized immediately was her breathing.

"Ms. T? Do you need an ambulance?" I'm required to ask. I'm not allowed to assume.

A brief nod of her head as she continued the whistle/gasp and her eyes stayed fastened on me.

As I got her necessary paper, we have them all post, I took her phone and made my way to kneel on the floor beside her chair and dialed 911. I gave all the information they required. She was able to haltingly give me a brief description of what had preceeded, and I relayed the information.

The ambulance was on it's way.

Meanwhile, the whistles and gasps seemed to be getting faster and her eyes remained fastened on mine. I remember tears came to my eyes and I told her that I didn't know what else to do. I reached up to pat her hand and she grabbed it and gasped out "just ... please ... don't ... leave ... me". I turned her hand and held it softly, rubbing the back of it, looking into her eyes calmly and told her that nothing would move me. We watched each other for a moment and then she said the word ... "pray".

So, I did. For her. For me. For the both of us. When I looked back up at her face, she gasped a smile at me, just as the EMT's came through the door. She didn't release my hand until they loaded her onto the bus to go to the hospital.

It was late when I got home that night. I still had to close up my office, plus I called Ms. T's daughter to advise her of the situation and where her mom had been taken. The next day, her daughter stopped by to thank me and to give me the scoop on her mom's situation. The next week, Ms. T. came home.

Nothing was ever said between Ms. T and I about that day. For all intents and purposes, it might not have happened. Except it did and we both knew it and we both came to an understanding that what had been past was just that - past. We were both still there and we both appreciated the other's presence. We never became close, but we enjoyed each other's brief moments of company.

During the years that followed, I learned alot about Ms. T and her fight for life each day. I respected her fight to maintain her independence and her integrity. She was never one to let something slip, always fiercely determined to take care of her business - even as life twisted her once healthy body.

I lost a resident today.

More than that, I lost a friend I respected and admired. I wish you could have met her.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's Thursday, So It Must Be ... Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving.

Like the little train - I think of Thankgiving as the "little holiday that could".

Squished between the candy and costumed filled Halloween and the commercialism that seems to have overtaken Christmas, there is this little time when families come together and we as a nation remember that it's okay to give thanks for all that we have.

I am truly blessed and so, today, I am taking a moment to give thanks.

I give thanks for my family. They are all here with me today ... spending the day, relaxing, eating, watching football (well, they're watching football - I'll be watching them) and simply enjoying snatches of conversations with them, getting reaquainted, catching up and having fun.

I give thanks that I am fortunate and blessed to live in a country where my thoughts and beliefs are my own. They are not dictated by others and, whether others agree or disagree, I am free to voice them.

I give thanks for my girlies who fill my life with joy and happiness, even in the midst of driving me insane and coating my hair with strands of gray.

I give thanks for my nursery babes who show me each week the miracle of God's creation by the mere fact of their lives. Angels on earth that we are blessed to share.

I give thanks for my friends, both live and virtual. The give and take, the sharing of thoughts, the laughter, the tears, the frustration and the joy of emotions are always so much better when shared with a friend.

I give thanks for the opportunity to write. The joy received in being able to put words to paper (computer) and feel the pride of expression is something old and yet still so new and fresh.

I give thanks for the health I have for it means that I am alive to enjoy each day I am blessed to live.

I give thanks for the work that I do that provides for the creature comforts I have become accustomed to - home, food, electricity, water, etc.

And, of course, it is Thursday, so I also give thanks for Supernatural - to The Kripke, Jensen, Jared and all the writers and crew that provide us with quality television. The fun and joy I receive each week, whether it is in watching the program or sharing my thoughts with my blog buddies, is also a blessing rare and cherished.

So, there it is ... my list of thanks.

Thank you for reading and sharing in this little room where my thoughts tend to ramble.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I realize that it's not quite yet Thanksgiving ...

I understand that it's a bit early to send out Christmas greetings ...

However I stumbled upon something that I can't wait to share. This is that present that cannot be wrapped and it simply cannot wait.

For anyone who needs some Christmas cheer, I give you ...

The Kripke and his Three Elves

(may they forgive me)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three Way Conversations - Not What They Used To Be

Have you ever tried keeping up with three conversations at one time? It's a challenge, but it can be done. Seriously. Believe it or not, I can handle three verbal conversations at one time. It's not easy but after 12 years of 3 kids, you kinda get conditioned for it. I can generally follow the gist of what all three are trying to say - plus, I have the advantage of being face to face and can slow or stop one, two or all three and make them go one at a time.

I am also able to keep up/work through a multi child telephone conversation. A bit more of a challenge, but still ... it can be done.

However, I have a new challenge that I'm not sure I can surmount.

Cell phones.

A few years back I carried a cell phone for work. After a couple of years, it was deemed I didn't need one for work and I decided I didn't really need one for personal use. So I gave it up. That was about six years ago. At that point, cell phones were pretty basic - you placed and received phone calls. Some of the phones had some minor games on them and some extras such as calendars or calculators. But they were pretty basic.

Now they have evolved into something akin to a mini televison/radio/digital camera and ... oh ... yeah ... something to use to place or receive a call.

Or a text.

A what?

A text.

Is that like a school book? Something you use in school for learning history, biology, math, etc.? 'Cause that's what I recall when I referred to a text.

Nope. Texting ... the art of sending and receiving messages on a phone. I wouldn't necessarily call them written messages. Written messages include words found in the dictionary.

G2G - TTYL is not found in any dictionary I've ever used. (Oh ... translation for those text challenged: Got to go, talk to you later. Yeah. Took me a little bit too.)

So, last spring when I decided to get a cell phone, texting was not a high priority in my calling plan package. I seriously didn't think I would use it all that much. I forgot that I had a teenager with a cell phone and very limber thumbs.

This has been a challenge that I'm not sure I've really conquered yet. Although, I am learning and I'm getting faster. I don't have to send my pre-programed "What????" quick message to her nearly as often. Still - if I let her, she will get on a roll trying to have an entire conversation. For this, I don't really have patience. In the time it takes me to type out a brief message and send it, I could have dialed a phone, let it ring, talked for a few minutes and disconnected. So, after she sends three or four messages, I usually simply call her back and make her talk to me. It's not like we don't have free minutes - we do! Plus, I'm an old fogey. I LIKE hearing my kid's voice occasionally. Still, it's been nice to be able to keep up with her at odd and different times - particularly when she is traveling with her high school band - and I admit, I've done pretty good. I seem to be able to keep up with texting back and forth just fine.

That was then.

Last week, the twins had texting added to the cell phones they received for their birthday two months ago.

This is now.

Three kids all trying to have a texting conversation with me at the same time.

Frk me o, my thb's hrt!

(Freak me out, my thumbs hurt!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Thursday, So It Must Be Supernatural

I changed my cell phone message.

It was time.

Or atleast, everyone seemed to think so. Something about the fact that my message referred to the fact that it was new and if I wasn't answering, it was because I wasn't used to it and couldn't find it. Since that message was over 6 months old, I was told that I couldn't blame the "newness factor" for not being able to answer my phone.

So, I changed it. This is what I changed it to:

"Hi, this is Cindy and I can't find the phone, or ... well, if it's Thursday night, I'll be honest, it's Supernatural's new season and I'm not even looking. So. Please leave me your name and number at the tone and I promise I will give you a call back, because I'd really like to talk to you. So. Thanks for calling and have a wonderful day - and - if it's Thursday night, turn on your TV to CW and watch Supernatural, it's an excellent show! Bye!"

Go ahead. You can laugh. I laugh too. It was a spontaneous change as I was driving down the road on a Thursday night, anticipating the new episode I was going to watch that evening. I'm also honest enough with myself to recognize my obsession. I don't mind. (We also don't need to discuss the number of times I used the word "so". It's my grammatical weakness. Atleast it's not "uh".)

Why am I sharing this? Believe me, it's not because I feel the need to share my insanity ... although, I guess I am. It's actually so you will understand when you hear about this call I had the other night with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department.

I was actually on my cell phone the other night, talking with a friend and another call came in. Since the Caller ID said "Private", I chose not to interrupt my call but let the second caller fall to voice mail. After disconnecting with my friend, I found there was a voicemail message. So, I listened.

It was a message from a Deputy with the TCSD, letting me (the number he had called) know that he was trying to deliver a protective order, and I (the number he had called) was not at the place where I was to meet him.

Hmm. Since I wasn't working on any protective orders, nor could I fathom why anyone would serve one on me, I figured they had the wrong number. In situations like this, I feel it's the right thing to do, to call the person back and let them know that they had the wrong number. So I did. I called the TCSD number that he left and spoke with the Deputy. I explained the situation and that he had been given the incorrect number. We talked for a minute and then, as we prepared to say our farewells, he said:

"I know it's not Thursday night, but enjoy your show when it comes on."

I had to laugh. The Deputy laughed also. He told me that he always has to work on Thursday nights and had never seen it. I told him that the next time he has a free Thursday night, he really should try to see it and he said:

"I'll be off on Thanksgiving, so I'll be sure to check it out that night."

Oh yeah!!! Score one for cellphone message advertising.

I wonder if the show has a budget for that. Could someone get me The Kripke's number? I'll leave him a message and find out.

Meanwhile, it's Thursday night. There's a new episode. So ... you can call but I won't be answering ... enjoy the message!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Decadence or Depravity?

I love chocolate. Anyone who has met me - in real life or virtually - knows this. It's not a hidden fact. Whether it's a bag of M&Ms, a Hershey bar, a slice of pie, a bag of Oreos, a box of Russell Stovers, a homemade brownie, a bon-bon from Godiva or simply, in a moment of desperation for help with a chocolate jonesing - a handful of chocolate chips straight from the bag, I love it. I enjoy it. I savor it. I can make it last. I have a way to make a large 1lb bag of M&Ms last a week - I eat one color a day.

White chocolate is good. It doesn't create the craving that regular chocolate does and it doesn't completely satisfy the way regular chocolate does, however it's good. I like it. I enjoy it. More to the point, I don't turn it down when offered.

Dark chocolate is ... in my opinion ... heaven. When they made dark chocolate M&Ms, I felt I had actually gone to heaven. I know that dark chocolate is all the craze now, what with it's lower fat counts and antioxidants, but ask my mom - I was sneaking chocolate chips since I was my girlies age. Dove chocolate was one of the first to package bite size pieces individually. I decided they were my heroes. There's something about dark chocolate that cannot be described, rich and appealing as it's silky smoothness melts in your mouth.

Excuse me, I need to take a moment and have a chocolate break.

One of my favorite movies is "Chocolat" but the reasons for that are a whole different blog and no, it's not just because it includes Johnny Depp. (Although that doesn't hurt.) In the movie, the chocolatier uses a special chili pepper in preparing her chocolate treats. I've always wanted to sample some of them - they look and sound delightful.

Now, in honesty, I must admit I am not a big chocolate ice cream eater. Through the years, my steady favorite has always been a double dip cone - bottom scoop regular chocolate chip and the top scoop mint chocolate chip. Regular, full-on chocolate ice cream just isn't my cup of tea. Unless it's a particularly intense night of Supernatural, and then, I will admit that nothing helps better than Ben & Jerry's Double Chocolate Fudge ice cream. Seriously.

I also tend to have an issue with chocolate pudding. I like it. I do. I will make it and enjoy it. However, again, in all honesty, if it comes to ready made pudding - vanilla is better. It's true. Still, chocolate pudding is something I indulge in from time to time.

Chocolate is a comfort food, a tasty treat, a moment of sinful decadence. It has been and will continue to be something I truly enjoy. In moments of low cash flow, I am content with my M&Ms. When I have saved and can splurge a bit, it will always contain a form of chocolate.

Yet, I have to admit I have found a chocolate that actually repulses me. I have no desire to indulge and the idea of it is repugnant to me. Not due to the taste, for I have not tasted it. I don't plan to, even if the opportunity were ever to arise. There are times when even I, in my chocolatey goodness loving, simply cannot find the justification.

Just last week it was announced on the news that a restaurant in New York City has made it into the Guiness Book of World Records for creating and serving the most expensive chocolate dessert. For $25,000.00 you can have your chocolate mousse-like dessert (see above picture), a blend of some of the most expensive chocolates from around the world, in an edible gold bowl, the pedestal encircled with a gold and diamond bracelet and served with a special gold spoon encrusted with diamonds. (For purchasing the dessert, you get to keep the bracelet and the spoon.)

Now ... I'm not dumb. I realize that the $25,000 isn't just for the chocolate that will be eaten, that a good portion of the cost is for the pedestal bracelet and fancy spoon. Without those, I'm pretty sure the dessert's cost is not going to be $25,000. However, that's not the reason for my being repulsed by the thought of this chocolate.

I simply can't wrap my mind around the thought that anyone ... anyone ... could justify in their minds the fact of spending the amount of money it would take to purchase a car, to purchase a small house, to partially put a child through college on a dessert! The cost of this chocolate is more than many, many people make in a year. My mind cannot wrap itself around any type of reasoning that would justify spending that amount of money for a dessert that takes about 15 to 30 minutes to eat, has no nutritional value, and ... well ... let's face it, doesn't stay with you.

That's not decadence. That's depravity.

My prayer is simple. If fortune were ever to befall me, I pray that I have the intelligence to continue to enjoy my M&Ms and use that money for something a bit more worthwhile.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Forwarding an Email

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you want."

My Mom sent me an email this week. That's nothing new ... I actually get them almost daily which is one of the things I love most about the internet. While she does send me notes, keeping me up on what and how she and my Dad are doing, asking or answering questions, and filling me in on friends and relatives, she also sends me "other stuff" - recipes, funnies, thoughts and beautiful musical picture montages. Some of it I save, some I don't, but I always enjoy.

Every once in awhile my Mom will send me something that touches me especially deeply. Something that reaches in and speaks to my soul in one way or another. Something that hands me a thought or a phrase or an idea that ... from the moment I read it or hear it, I know that it cannot be ignored. When that happens, I usually internalize it - accept it and adopt it within myself. Occasionally I will share it with a friend - one or two special friends that I know will understand how this thought has affected me.

Sometimes, though, there is within me an urge to share the blessing that I have received to as many as I can. Whether it affects others as deeply as it does me is not the point, the point is that it is something that begs to be shared - to hopefully touch other people's lives. Now, I don't do alot of email forwarding. Not sure why, I just don't. However, this begged to be forwarded.

However, that doesn't mean I have to do it the regular way. Just as I can never seem to exactly follow a recipe (I always feel the need to add or take away something), I opted to forward this here, in my special room where I have begun to keep and share my thoughts.

The email contained a video link to a YouTube video. I had determined that I would post it today and so it was on my list of things I wanted to get done this morning during my calm, the girlies are sleeping time. Imagine my surprise and frustration when I get ready to embed the video only to find the link has been pulled from YouTube for licensing reasons! I decided to see if I could work around this, to "scale the brick wall" and started with a search on YouTube that led me to a gold mine of links and information. I have now spent the morning being even more blessed than I was originally.

You see, the original video was a 9.5 minute video from the Oprah Show (hence the lovely yank due to licensing - heaven forbid they allow something marvelous to be shared "for free") and it was a talk by a professor from Carnegie Mellon University - Randy Pausch. If you have seen this, then you know ... you have been blessed. If you have not seen it, I figured out that you can indeed still view it - you simply have to do it with Oprah's blessing by viewing it on her website. I am posting the link to the page on Oprah's website ... you can read the written, but I would suggest you simply scroll to the middle of the page and click on the link entitled "Watch Randy's famous "Last Lecture". It will take a couple of minutes to load and you have to suffer a 20 second commercial but trust me ... it is worth it.

Randy Pausch on Oprah

This is 10 minutes and is incredible. When I originally watched Randy's lecture, I was impressed. What I discovered this morning was even more fun and more impressive. I found the entire true "Last Lecture" given in it's original form. I have also discovered Randy's websites and so I spent the morning, not as I intended but simply enjoying the words of a truly gifted man and an inspirational professor that truly loved what he was doing.

If you'd like to view the lecture in it's entirety, you can find it HERE. The description says it is approx. 1 hour and 45 minutes in length. It's actually about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The first 8 minutes are the introductions from various faculty people and the last 22 minutes are the applause and commendations.

There's also a transcript available for anyone who can't catch everything he's saying ... the mic goes a bit wonky on occasion and you need your volume up for those moments.

It is my hope that by passing this on, someone else can truly be inspired to dream and to follow those dreams.

Childhood dreams really can come true. I know this is fact. I thank Randy for reminding me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Day After

I didn't get to go trick or treating last night. I missed it. I really and truly did. With the exception of one time 9 years ago, I haven't missed a year of wandering the streets of our neighborhood with either one, two, or three kids - gathering candy, checking out the other little goblins and ghouls, and simply enjoying the evening.

I missed the costumes and the mad rush to figure out how best to put on the make up.

I missed the scramble for flashlights and the figuring out whether coats would be needed (and if so ... how to get the coat UNDER the costume).

I missed walking the streets, either joined by a friend or simply me and the girlies.

I missed the decorations, the pumpkins, the jack-o-lanterns and the pleasant shared "Hellos!" with the others out wandering.

Over the years, with flashlight in hand, I have had the joy and pleasure of watching Baby Bop or a dalmation puppy or three M&Ms (plain & peanut) or "Duchess" from The Aristocats & twin "Marie"s or ghosts or princesses or witches or vampires knock on doors and cry out the words ... "Trick or Treat!" Whether neighbors we knew or neighbors we didn't, there has always been a festive joy and an evening of fun for those giving and receiving. Listening for and sometimes admonishing to remember to say "Thank you!" and then wandering on to the next house with a porch light lit. Some years we may have carried umbrellas or worn extra clothing to ward off the chill but spirits were always high and at the end of the journey, the last house was always our own.

Then would come the traditional dumping of the candy to check it out, to keep girlies safe and, for me, a tinge of sorrow would shadow the evening briefly. Each year I would remember my own joyous adventures with/without my little brother and the trust that my parents could feel in the goodies we would gather. However, in the world we have come to live in - it is better to be safe than to be sorry. The girlies have always known that the candy must wait until they got home, that it could not be eaten directly from the bucket, bag, or sack that they carried. A sad reality that they never realized was different.

Then laughter would return as dinner was eaten, stories were told, laughter was shouted at the oddness of make up without costume or simply smudged make up or hair gone every which way and, of course, picking out the best candy to eat first. Of course, for me, that was always the chocolate.

Yes, I missed Trick or Treating this year. It's not that I mind being on the "stay at home and pass out candy" side of it, it's just that I miss the pleasure of watching little girls enjoying the innocent excitement of a fun-filled evening.

I love the girls they have grown to become, I miss the girlies that used to be.