Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today would have been my Mom's 66th Birthday. So in the hustle and bustle of the Halloween celebrations I pause and think of her a bit.

Her favorite cake to have on her Birthday was a chocolate cake with white butter cream icing.

She loved to dabble in spells.

Just after her cancer arrived my son and I discovered KIVA and introduced the concept to her. She loved the idea of lending to women around the world. She enjoyed reading their stories and imagining the ways in which her small contribution might make a big difference in their lives.

So, yesterday and today in Honor of Mom I broke my diet and had some chocolate cake with white icing.

Did my own little secret ritual to honor her.

And reinvested some of her KIVA loan money that had been accumulating.

When you loan money through KIVA it comes back to you! You can then reloan it. When Mom passed away I decided I would continue her account in her memory.

To see Mom's Page you can visit

You will be able to read about the women she has lent money to and how those women are using that money to change lives. Maybe you'll be inspired to start loaning as well.

Happy Birthday Mom! Wish you were here! XXOOO

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Suddenly... a Vision of Loveliness in White Chiffon

All of a sudden today I got an email from someone who attended my Mom's memorial service.

It made me smile... so here it is:

Hello, Ann. I just wanted to say thanks again for the warm memorial afternoon. I was glad we could have a Chelsea YC table.

I thought I should explain my entry in the guest book, which went something like, "A vision of loveliness in white chiffon." The year was 1986. The late Bob Yacavonis was the Commodore, and it was the second of my 20 years as Secretary. Bob wanted to give the place a little class, and to this end devised an evening of wine and crepes. He obtained a string trio, possibly from one of the local colleges, to provide the music and rounded up some of us officers and friends to make and serve the crepes and wine. Somehow, he roped your Mom into this. It was a lovely, but warm, July evening. The trio played on the gazebo while members gathered about the picnic tables in the shade. The cooks, meantime, were jammed into the then tiny kitchen. So there we were, the men all dressed up our whites and Club ties, the women in their best cocktail dresses, and all of us sweating bullets over hot crepe makers.

The beads of perspiration have faded with time, and so I'll always remember your Mom as that vision of loveliness in white chiffon.

Best regards,

Barry Meehan, CYC Commodore 2008 (and one-time crepe maker)

How sweet is that. My Mom sure knew how to class up a joint!

Photo of Mom and Dad at Chelsea Yacht Club on the Hudson River

Lines that Divide Us

Here is a video worth watching...

Cogitate on this for a while.

Share it with the people you love.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Walking the Talk...

Today I am relaunching my diet. When my Mom got sick my world got a lot out of wack. I had done very well on the South Beach Diet getting my weight down almost 40 pounds! But when my Mom got sick I reverted to my old way. Why not eat that whole container of Ben and Jerry's? Maybe we should all enjoy what we can while we can and worry later? Well that's just fine if you're going to die in 6 months but I'm NOT. I need these organs, bones, muscles etc. to work for me a lot longer than 6 months! So today I started up again.

I like the South Beach Diet. I don't feel like I am not allowed to eat. I just have to be very careful for 2 weeks about what I eat. Then I have to be less careful for a while till I loose all I want to loose. Then I just have to eat healthy food most of the time and I'll be just fine.

I like eating green veggies but I do miss potatoes... oh how I miss potatoes... Boiled, mashed, baked, fried how I love my potatoes. I'm an Irish girl you know. I don't feel the same longing for bread or rice. Unless it is warm fresh baked bread.

Something else wonderful happened to me today. I walked to my local grocery store. It saved some petrol and burned some calories all at the same time. I had to carry the groceries home, so I had to carefully plan what I was buying. It made it much easier to say NO to the bad stuff. It even makes it easier to say no to the bad stuff my son and husband want. "Sorry dear... I just don't have the room in my bag for chips." "Ice cream is very heavy and will melt on the way home!"

To keep me honest I am going to occasionally post my actual weight here on this blog. Shocking I know! I am doing this because I find it useful to be accountable to someone. So here it is. 183.5 pounds - 8:00am - Monday September 15.

Many people do not think I look like I weigh that much. That's nice... but I do... and it is NOT healthy for me to weigh that much. My paternal grandmother was built just like me and she developed diabetes as she aged. I can easily see that happening to me. I don't mind the occasional flu shot, but I don't want to have to give myself a daily shot of insulin if I can prevent that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In July we hosted a memorial celebration of my mom's life. It was a wonderful party held at the Newport Art Museum, upstairs on a stormy Sunday afternoon in July. Friends came from all over. We had framed photos of her up on the fireplace mantels and 3 large photo boards of her filled to overflowing with snapshots. The caterers provided a feast including her favorite chocolate cake with white icing and frozen Dells Lemonade!

I spoke a few words about my mother on behalf of myself and my siblings. I thought I'd publish that here, for posterity.


I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for coming today. I would also like to thank you all for the out pouring of support and love you have shown my mom, dad, and family during these last 14 months during my mom’s illness and after she passed away. Your words of encouragement, gifts, food and acts of kindness have been greatly appreciated even if we did not have the clarity of mind in the haze of this ordeal to write or say anything at the time.

When I think of my mother I am reminded of Jann Arden’s song about her mother. The song starts out “I’ve got money in my pocket, I like the color of my hair, I’ve got a friend who loves me, got a house, I’ve got a car, I’ve got a good mother and her voice is what keeps me here.”

When I hear those words I think: Hey that’s me! And Mike, and Kate. We’ve all turned out pretty well. We are all happily married to our best friend. None of us are in the poor house. We own our own homes. We all have generally reliable transportation, and only one of us has begun to resort to coloring our hair. (I won’t say who…)

Our mom, taught us to take care of ourselves. She was not the kind of mother who got up early to make us bacon and eggs. There were a few reasons why she did not do this. The first reason being that she was not really a morning person. (Truth be told we were all generally happier to have her stay in bed out of our way so we could decide ourselves if the temperature in mid February during a snow squall really did require a coat.) But she also did it so that we would learn to make our own breakfast and get ourselves to the bus on time and that if we did not take the coat and were cold it was our own darn fault. She believed that a parent’s job was to teach their child how to succeed with out them. Planned obsolescence was her goal I suppose.

And like the song she taught us to “face forward and be ourselves”. I often marveled with mom at how different each of us turned out to be. We each enjoy different lifestyles, hobbies, and personalities and we are each happy with what we have, who we are and the lives we have created. That is no small feat in today’s world. In the end she was an undeniable success as a mother.

But she did not do this alone. In the end Jann Arden says of her father “I’ve got a good father and his strength is what makes me cry.” I would be remiss if I did not point out Mom’s final parting lesson to us. She did not do any of this alone. Dad was always by her side, never more so than during her illness. We watched, as he took tender care of her. In the end her suffering provided us with an opportunity to witness what true love really is.

In the Bible 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that in the end three gifts abide: Faith, Hope and Love. The greatest of these is love.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Mother's Day funk...

This is the last picture I have of me with my mother.
We are on the beach in the summer of 2007.

In past years I enjoyed Mother’s Day. I when I lived in my home town before my son was born I would have all the Mother’s in our family over for a Mother’s Day Brunch. I’d set the table with the good china. There would be flowers and place cards. The food would be heavenly and the dessert decadent. There would be small but thoughtful gifts wrapped in beautiful paper.

Then I got pregnant, and the same year moved away from my hometown. Mother’s day was still nice. Now I got cards and gifts as well! Occasionally some of us were able to get together for Mother’s Day. Perhaps my Mom and Dad would visit for the weekend. Or we would go back to the hometown and stay with one family and visit the other. Now one of my grandmother’s was in a nursing home, the other had headed to Florida to do what grandmothers do in that tropical climate. Then we moved again.

Now we were much further from home. My son was in elementary school. My grandmothers had passed away. I received those lovely hand made elementary school gifts. I still have a booklet of coupons he made for me. He is upset I never turned them in but I like having them to look back at his handwriting and drawings. It is just a little bit fun to hold some of the coupon offers over his head from time to time as well.

When we bought a cottage up north Mother’s Day weekend became the weekend we went up to begin to open the cottage. Usually it was mild enough for us to get the water running. That was a marvelous Mother’s Day gift! After spending the winter cottage weekends camping with no running water it was wonderful to be able to simply flush a toilet again. I love to shower at the cottage with lake water. I much refer the slightly green ting to the smell of chlorine here in the city. Heck some children spend a lot of money on spa gift certificates so their moms can have an algae bath. All I had to do was go to the cottage! After a week of showering at the cottage my winter dry flaky skin vanishes.

Mother’s Day was still a good day in my book. Then came Zara. Zara was a puppy when we got her and a puppy when she left us. She was a rambunctious, silly Airedale Terrier who loved each of us, and the world at large. She was just 2 years old in the spring of 2005 when she was diagnosed with a congenital kidney disorder. There were some outstanding medial treatments we might have been able to do. We could have done dialysis, but some how taking her and hooking her up to tubes for hours for a treatment in a kennel at the vets even if we sat with her did not seem right. She would rather have us play with her in the yard. We briefly tried feeding her the special diet dog food for canines in her situation. If she ate just that and no treats she might have lived a bit longer. But she refused to eat it. So we went back to feeding her regular kibble with her favorite treats from time to time. She had helped us decide to live out her last days with as much joy as possible.

We made the difficult decision to put her down just before Mother’s Day 2005. We took her to the cottage for one glorious last weekend. We took her out on the boat and let her feel the wind in her hair. We let her sleep on the beds, even though her paws were muddy. We fed her bacon. We let her lay in the sun by the warm woodstove. Then on Monday morning we rode with her into the vets and sat with her with a kong full of peanut butter while the vet as gently as possible did what was best to end her suffering before it got too bad.

Mother’s Day 2006 we were opened the cottage with no muddy paws. No one rolled in a dead fish at the beach. No one sounded the alarm when the chipmunk came up on the deck. I was sad, but hopeful, and now we have Miss Ellie a rescued Airedale Pup from AireCanada.

I was looking forward to Mother’s Day 2007. Things were looking up. Then the phone rang, it was my father’s cell phone. My first tip that something was very wrong. He never uses the cell phone. He was in his car following my mother’s ambulance. She had bumped her head a few days ago and was having trouble walking. Her doctor had sent them to the local hospital to get a test and it showed a brain tumor. It was so serious they were moving her immediately to a larger hospital. Over the next few days as Mother’s Day approached we found out that my mother had stage 4 lung and brain cancer.

It was so strange to be picking out Mother’s Day cards. We usually picked out funny cards but I felt like I wanted to send a sentimental one. I did not want to send a sentimental one though, since I did not want her to worry that I was worried. I sent a mildly funny cheery one.

I was worried. Every part of my body ached with worry. When I slept I woke up in tears. I woke with my jaw clenched and my hands in fists. I woke each day feeling more tired than when I laid down.

I was right to worry. This year will be my first Mother’s Day with out my mother.

Friday, May 2, 2008

William Tell Overture A Mom's Version

Mother's Day will be soon and I'll post more on that at another time but I just had to share this with you all. Something to lighten the mood. I love the part where she sings "Stop Crying or I'll give your something real to cry about." That was a common phrase in my house growing up. Happy Mother's Day to all!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Trailer - Meeting David Wilson

Take a moment to watch the trailer and to read my thoughts. I hope if you watch the documentary you will come back and post your thoughts. Welcome. Grab a warm cuppa tea or an intoxication glass of wine and stay a while. Think deep thoughts.

Meeting David Wilson – Race Issues in America

Tonight on MSNBC they will be airing a Documentary called “Meeting David Wilson”. It is the true story of two David Wilsons.

The first David Wilson is a 28-year-old man of African American descent who grew up in a rough area of Newark, New Jersey. David Wilson beat the odds and he managed to land a job in the news industry in New York City. I say, “beat the odds”, not because I think he managed this by sheer luck. I say this because I believe that even if an African American works hard to get to get a great job he is still, even in 2008, even in the United States of America, needs to work harder and smarted than a white man would to accomplish the same achievements.

The second David Wilson is from rural North Carolina. He is 62 years of age. He is white. His ancestors farmed tobacco in Caswell County. He does not farm tobacco. (I am glad to hear that. I look forward to the day when no one farms that wicked weed.) This David Wilson is in the restaurant business and runs a chain of BBQ restaurants.

These 2 men who share a name had never met, until recently. Then David Wilson age 28 living in New York City decided to do some research into his roots. The research showed, as is often the case with African American in America, that his ancestors were slaves. Further research lead him to discover the second David Wilson age 62, in North Carolina. Seems that the David in North Carolina is descended from the people who owned the other David’s ancestors.

After MSNBC airs “Meeting David Wilson” they will be airing a discussion on the documentary and race issues in America. NBC Anchor Brain Williams will anchor the 90-minute discussion, broadcasted from Howard University. There will be several prominent people speaking Rev. Deforest Soaries, a republican activist; Michael Dyson, a Georgetown University Professor; Tom Joyner, a radio talk show host; and Malaak Compton-Rock and entrepreneur and wife of comedian Chris Rock. I hope they let the audience participate as well.

I am looking forward to watching this show tonight. I have been fascinated with the recent discussions on race relations in America. I was delighted with Barack Obama’s speech on March 18, 2008 regarding Race relations in the United States. I think it is amazing the discussions that are beginning to take place.

So watch the show tonight. Cogitate on it. I look forward to the discussion.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Welcome! Grab a cuppa tea or a glass of wine and stay a while! Think deep thoughts.

I am starting this blog with the hope that it will provide a forum for people to:

explore and share ideas;

investigate and debate issues;

hope and dream for a better world.

You are most welcome to post your ideas here, however please keep your posting to a PG rating or I will have to remove them.