Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is here, which means another year is rapidly coming to an end.  I'll be sharing Thanksgiving dinner with friends on the island (Thea and Rich), which means a relaxing day at home and a great meal and evening with friends.

I've been doing fine since my mother's passing.  Again, I think so much of her had already gone and her last few weeks were so difficult that there has been some consolation in knowing that she is no longer going through that.  I did want to relate one of our last real conversations some months before she died.  One evening at dinner, she said out of the blue, "I'm proud of my clothes".  I told her that she had lots of nice clothes and always looked good in them.  Then, for some reason, I thought about Easter during my childhood and I said, "Do you remember when we used to get all dressed up for Easter.....crinolines, matching gloves, hats, shoes and purse?"  As I rattled off all those things of a time gone by, she began to smile.  When I ended the list with "corsages", we both had a belly laugh and she said, "We looked plum tacky!"  We laughed again and I said, "and we didn't even care!" We continued to recall several other things that we could both relate to and remember, to the point of someone actually commenting on how much fun we were having.  That is a lovely memory which I will cherish forever.

Friends have been great about getting me out and about.  
  • I have put down wine with two friends, Chris and Camille, so I will have a whole batch (30 bottles).  I hope to come up with a creative, holiday label and be generous with it as Christmas gifts, hostess gives,etc. 
  • Elaine and I went to Port Royal to see "The Great American Trailer Park Musical", which was set in the '80s and was as funny and irreverent as the name implies.  It was something totally different and thoroughly enjoyable.
  • Attended the First Progressive Issues Forum at the Unitarian Church.  Speakers were from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Imam from the Mosque in Savannah, and the Director of Public Affairs from Planned Parenthood.  Needless to say, for a political junkie, it was very informative.......especially after having just read Just Mercy, which I highly recommend. I also ran into many friends whom I hadn't see in a while so that part was fun, too.
  • Chris and I went to Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry, where the speaker was Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer, who had just put together a coffee table book called South: What it means to be here in heart and spirit.  I went in intending to NOT buy the book, but when she shared some of the stories and contributors, as well as the beautiful photographs, I caved quickly.  No doubt, it is the best of the South, not the darker side, but it is a lovely book.
  • And then there have been the usual things - feeding ferals, Precious Rosie and Puppy Class, Living Liberally, zentangle with Ana, and wonderful down time at home.

While Thanksgiving will be celebrated tomorrow, Christmas has come and gone in the Morris household.  Rosie has gotten her very own car seat!  She has adjusted well and seems to like it.  As you can see, she is secured into it, which makes it much safer.  Before the seat, she always wanted to be in my lap AND looking out the window.  Now, when we go someplace, she runs to the garage door, jumps up and down, and when I open the door she runs around to the passenger side of the car.  It didn't take her long to figure out that!  She is at her cutest when she puts her two front legs on the top of the basket and looks out.  

My gift to myself is the Instant Pot!  It is a 7 in 1 product:  it's a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice and multi-grain cooker.  It steams, sautees and makes yogurt.  It seems perfect for a vegetarian.  I bought the Power Cooker but returned it - vague directions and unable to make adjustments.  I then checked Amazon for the Instant Pot (recommended by Camille), which was already on sale.  I emailed them and asked if they would give me a Black Friday discount so that I didn't have to wait to order the produce.  Not only did they give me a 20% discount, but I ordered it on Friday and it was here on Monday. Merry Christmas!  So, I've been experimenting.- steaming leftover veggies in fridge, sauteeing cabbage, cooking brown rice, making 3-bean chili, baking potatoes, etc. Today I made my Southwestern Quinoa Salad to take for dinner tomorrow.  The quinoa was done on the multi-grain setting in 8 minutes.  I then used the same pot to sautee the carrots, red pepper, garlic and spices.  There was only one pot to clean!  I think this is going to be very useful, especially in the summer.  It is quiet, quick and doesn't heat up the kitchen. My mother had a stove-top pressure cooker that she used frequently, and I was terrified of it.  This is several generations removed from that.  There are many layers of safety features and it is virtually silent.  I will get rid of  my slow cooker, which I seldom used, but I can see using this frequently.  However, I'm to the point that I can't play with it any more until I eat all the food that I've already cooked in it!!

I can't end without giving you an update on Rosie.  This video shows you why she is the perfect dog for me, one who does not do mornings!  Wait for the end and listen for the ears!!
(Disclaimer: I had been awake since 7:30, having coffee and playing with my iPad! Rosie was the one sleeping in!)

With that I'll wish my Stateside friends a very Happy Thanksgiving.  If you aren't celebrating, I'll wish you a Thursday and weekend of many blessings and good fortune. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life Changes

As many of you already know, my mother passed away on October 15th.  She had survived
the worst of the move and seemed to be settling.  I was definitely feeling better about the care she was getting.  I went over at lunchtime and took her cornbread to have with her lunch.  She ate it all.  All was as usual with the exception of her having a build up of mucus in her throat.  I notified the nurse and she checked her immediately and helped remove it with a siphoning machine.  My day proceeded as usual until around 7PM when I received a call from Sue, the person on duty with Tidewater Hospice. She said it happened suddenly without pain, which was a blessing. Sue was as sweet as could be and gave me all of her contact numbers so I could call her at any time, if needed. She then went over to Ridgeland Nursing Center and took care of all of the details. Their chaplain and social worked contacted me before bedtime, but I asked that they come over the next day, which they did.

At that point I was just trying to get myself together to go to North Carolina for the service.  Mama had long ago filled out a form from the local funeral home specifying her wishes for her service. Taking a cue from a family member of Mrs. Baker at Bloom, I had also written a sketchy obituary for Mama.  The obituary along with other pertinent information, collected poems...and the two photos shown here were in a folder, so I didn't have to run around trying to collect everything I might need. The top photo is when she was gussied-up and looking good...and was used for her obituary.  The other is at home, on her porch, with her Smokey.......where she would really want to be and how I would want to remember her. She had wanted two soloists, but one was out of town; so, my cousin's husband, Julious, sang two songs that she had specified.  Another was used for the processional and my only addition was to have "I'll Fly Away" sung as the family felt.  The service was conducted by two ministers from her church who knew her well.  The only glitch was that Mama had managed to outlive many of her suggested pall bearers, so I had to extend the circle, but everyone asked was kind to comply. All in all, it went well and I felt good knowing it was what she wanted.  AND, I had Smokey cremated when he died and he was put in her casket!  I thought she would have liked that.....I plan to go with all of mine that have gone before!   Before I go farther, I would encourage all to specify what you would like done at your service.  I can't tell you how much help that was and how comforting for me to know that it was as she wanted it.

Her obituary is HERE.
The Order of Service is HERE.

I stayed with Laney and Julious from Sunday to Wednesday.  All the relatives on both sides were supportive and kind. It had literally been years since I'd been home and it was good to see everyone again. After the service about nine of the cousins got together at Laney's for homemade pizza and a catch-up.  Mama would have liked that, too, and it seemed strange to be there without her.  Laney sent me home with a car load of food and my friend Chris brought over a delicious Pumpkin Soup, a scrumptious Broccoli Sweet Potato Salad, and a yummy Orange Almond Coffee Cake.  I didn't have to think about food for most of a week, gave me time to notify those who required it and do the odd things that needed to be done.  Though I expect things to crop up over time, I hope most of the obligatory tasks have been done.

I'm doing okay after suddenly realizing that so much of her had already gone before she took her last breath.  If was mostly a matter of letting go of the body, on both her part and mine. It truly is "the long goodbye".  Her last months were so difficult, exacerbated by the sudden move,  that it was made easier by knowing she was not going through all of that any more.  I like to think of her as being whole again.....happy, at peace, and with those she loved. I'm focusing on how fortunate I was to have her this long: to have the time to live my life and come full circle and be able to help her, and put some of our demons to rest before the end.  I didn't see her but for a few minutes before the visitation.  While everyone else seemed to think she "looked good", I thought she looked dead!  My preference is to remember her in her prime, rather than the shell at the end.  There are moments of sadness, but overall I'm okay.

I've resumed feeding the feral cats, and Ana and I are getting together for zentangle on Tuesday.....first time since August 25!  I've also gotten involved in a neighborhood canasta game due to my inability to think quickly on my feet!  They actually play weekly, which is far to regular for me.  Now they've found someone to play full time and I'll be a sub, which worked out well.  There is still Drinking Liberally, Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry (meeting this coming Friday), and the Progressive Ladies' Group.  Chris and I will also be putting down another batch of wine for the holidays. Any creative holiday names for the label??  I'm wanting to make a special label but have no creative ideas.

I've even had a meetup with Cheryl, her mother and Nancy this past Friday at our usual Subway at Exit 8 on I-95.  We were so busy talking and laughing that we totally forgot to take a selfie!!  it was great to get together!

And then there's Rosie!!  I can't tell you how happy I am that I have her.  She is a delight and is settling in well.  We had to drop out of puppy class, but we will pick it up again soon.  Even so, she has gotten so much better on our walks and is a real snuggle-bug in bed.  If I'm quiet, I can go in and get a cup of coffee and my iPad and come back to bed without waking her.  She wakes up lazily....stretching, yawning, snuggling.  But, once she's awake, it's full tilt.  While I was away, the Tidewater Social Worker, who is also the daughter of a friend and a neighbor, kept Rosie with her two doggies. There was some growling and snapping when I took Rosie over and I was a little worried, but she sent photo updates while I was gone and they had become good buddies by the time I got back.  Even so, Rosie was very happy to see me, which made  me feel good.

Thanks to everyone who sent condolences by phone, cards, email, text, etc..  It means a lot to be thought about in times like this and I do appreciate your concern and good wishes. I know I owe lots of emails and I'm working on it.  In the meantime, I hope this will suffice.